Painted on a bandana background, it refers to Cowboy culture prior to the invention of barb wire fencing, which led to the fencing off of range land and permanently changed ranching culture in North America.
Previously ranching operations ranged freely across much on north america, with herds intermingling. The job of Cowboy was crucial and harsh. Rounding up and herding, sorting and branding cattle on the open range; cowboys lived with the cattle for the season, eating, sleeping and working on the range in makeshift and improvised settings.
The text of this painting, Free Range Coffee, playfully alludes to both this reality, and to the current desirability of free range ranching practices as part of the ethical treatment of livestock, though it can’t hope to approach the scope of that earlier free range.
While branding is seen as a questionable practice for some, it was also an indispensable practice for free range ranching of that era, without which it would have been difficult to maintain an open borders practice while tracking livestock ownership. The painting includes three brands (in the flames in front of the coffee pot), belonging to three of the big four founders of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.