Bulldogger by Jay O'Meilia

Sculpture of rodeo legend Bill Pickett

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Sports painter and sculptor Jay O’Meilia (b. 1927) captures the strength of Bill Pickett, the cowboy credited with inventing the sport of steer wrestling, called bulldogging. Pickett’s performances made him a star and wild west shows a national success, giving rise to the professional sport of rodeo.

Bill Pickett (1870–1932) was an African American cowboy from Texas. Pickett learned his roping and riding skills working as a cowboy on a Texas ranch before joining the 101 Ranch Wild West show in 1905. Pickett’s unique technique for wrestling steers — biting the steer on the lip while throwing the animal down — caught the attention of the wild west show’s producers. Billed as “The Dusky Demon,” Pickett was one of their top acts for 26 years. Barred from competing in most rodeos, Pickett toured the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, and England, demonstrating his bulldogging technique, which he had perfected for maximum showmanship. In 1984, the all-black Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo was created in honor.

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Bulldogger by Jay O'Meilia Artifact from Oklahoma City
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