Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Velvet Rock

     Today I introduce you to a friend.
     Amy Hale Auker is a lot of things… wordsmith, mother, rancher, horsewoman, poet, rock hound, writer, part-time explorer, and loving companion.
     We met two years ago in Prescott, AZ at the Phippen Museum Art Show awards banquet, where my painting titled “Brother” was given the Museum’s Foundation Award.  Interestingly enough, this painting was our common ground.  The subject of my painting, Brother Daniel, was a friend and mentor to Amy during her “growing up” years on the Pitchfork Ranch.  
Coincidentally, (I’m not sure that word ever applies to my relationships in this blessed life I live) I had happened upon the house she lived in when I visited the Pitchfork last year.  The small talk at our table grew into a conversation of the heart, and she has become a long-distance friend to my wife, Pam and me.
     Amy is representative of so many of the women I have captured in watercolor, and I am looking forward to painting her story soon. 
She wears her past on her sleeve, and it’s her interesting life and the many decisions that have brought her to where she is now that make her so colorful.
     She has a unique gift, which combined with her vision of ranch life, has given her the ability to see as a writer sees.  The cadence of her prose seeps into your soul.  Descriptors and subtleties of life on the ranch become her world, and she will transport you, if you will go with her …. dusty tack rooms, powdery round pens with coyote fences of long cut cedar, and the sound and smells of horses and cattle; this is her world.  Savor her words, for there is much wisdom to glean from those who live at the end of dirt roads.

     Meet my friend Amy:

Lots of Gone In Her Eyes

She’s a better hand with a horse than he is, and she has to be because brute strength and courage-from-a-can are not tools in her box.

He scorns the tools that are in her box, her soft, quiet ways, her determination to let the colt come to her, the time she spends in a pen that’s round, the advice she’s listened to from old men gone soft.

He’s more wham and jam, rope ‘em and choke ‘em, make ‘em spin a hole in the dirt, jerk, job, jab, give ‘em a taste of iron, teach that son of a bitch who’s boss, and he’ll get a horse with lots of white in his eye, lumps on his ribs, fear on his breath, a hard mouth, and don’t turn your back.

He’s all big hat, no cattle, big spurs, no balls.

She watches videos from the guys who advocate a better way than the Lonesome Dove-get-on-‘em-and-ride while he makes fun from the kitchen where he drinks whiskey with his buddies.

She knows about wham and jam, choke ‘er while you make ‘er spin, jerk, job, jab, give ‘er a taste of a real man, teach that bitch who’s boss, and he gets a girl with lots of gone in her eyes, plans on her mind, fear of the dark, a hard heart, and sympathy for every horse he rides.

Amy’s first book, titled Rightful Place was edited by famed singer/songwriter/poet Andy Wilkinson, and is being published by Texas Tech University Press.  The book will be part of their Spring 2011 catalog.  An excerpt can be read at, a site that offers poetry, prose, and contemporary expressions of the American West. Amy will be performing both prose and poetry at the Prescott Cowboy Poetry Gathering in August (Lots of Gone In Her Eyes will be one of her oral presentations).  In January 2011, she will appear at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.  

All images © Mark Kohler Studio.


  1. Wow! I gotta get that book.

  2. Takes my breath away... and my words. Wonderful post.

  3. Looking forward to seeing Rightful Place in its rightful place in bookstores and on bookshelves around the country.

  4. I met Amy just a bit before the Prescott gathering, where I met you (remember a red-haired gal with a camera?), down at the Alpine Gathering. I instantly recognized the spark in her, the truth of her, the love she lived in. when I got to know her a bit better and read some of her words, I was still surprised at JUST how good she is at word crafting. I shoulda known, but she fooled me a bit with her quiet intensity and humility and who knew she had those wildfires raging through her? There's not a woman, or man, who can't identify in some way with the words Amy gifts us with. If she put the book out for pre-order, and who knows she might've already, she'd do very well before the book even hits the shelves.

  5. Everything you've said about Amy is right on! Pam and I instantly had a connection with her and Gail and we look forward to getting to know them better. Every once in a while, God leads us down a path that is rich in rewards and their friendship falls in that category. And the talent! I can't wait to see what they do next.