Louise Serpa

"Cottoneye Sheds Another"  1989*

"Glen Adair, Arizona Rodeo Association, Sonoita, Arizona"  1964*

"Roy Clemente On Pace"  1985*

"Matt Martin High School

Rodeo Finals"  1974*

"Widowmaker"  1963*

"Jeff Kobza At Work"  1983*

"Dave Appleton, Tailor Made"  1981*

"Jack Milligan, Casa Grande"  1964*

Louise Serpa -- the Ansel Adams of Rodeo Photography

Louise Serpa grew up as a​ rebellious​ New York debutante, but her heart​ always​ belonged to the West.  Her love

affair with the rodeo began when as a teenage Louise took a trip with her mother to a dude ranch.  Later, when

studying music at Vassar, she would become a cowgirl, sneaking to New York City on the train to watch the

National Rodeo Finals at Madison Square Garden. In her 30’s the transformation was complete when she moved 

to Wyoming and picked up a camera to support her new life.  With no formal training as a photographer, Serpa

moved from taking photos at children's rodeos to professional rodeo events in Tucson, where she gained the trust

and respect of competitors.

 

In 1965, she would become, fittingly, the first female photographer to receive her Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association (PRCA) card, allowing her to take pictures inside the professional arenas. She spent a half-century photographing bulls and riders amid the grit and dust. “There have been a number of notable rodeo photographers and they each had their unique style,” said Chuck Schroeder, the executive director of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. “Hers was certainly the most artful of any that had ever been.”  Serpa died in 2012 at the age of 86.  

 

Selected public and private collections:

Serpa’s work is in the permanent collection of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK, the Center for Creative Photography at University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, Tucson Museum of Art and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.  Her work is in the personal collections of Ralph Lauren and Bruce Weber.  Louise Serpa was the subject of an Apeture Monograph, "Rodeo," published in 1994 and a biography, "Never Don't Pay Attention, The Life of Rodeo Photographer, Louise L. Serpa," by Jan Cleere, published in September, 2015.

 

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