Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An Angus Legend: Frank C. Murphy

Today, the Angus community received word of the passing of a legend. Longtime Angus artist Frank Champion Murphy passed away June 28 in his home state of Illinois.

I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Murphy on several different occasions, and he was a true gentleman. Although he grew up in the Chicago area, he spent his summers in Texas on his grandparents' cattle ranch, and had drawn and painted for the American Angus Association for nearly 60 years. He was very fond of the Angus breed, and you could tell that by the time and energy he spent on each of his pieces.

In 2002, Frank was commissioned to paint, "In Apple Blossom Time," for the Association. The original hangs just outside my office near my friend and assistant, Monica's desk. Number 1 of 1500 signed and numbered hangs in my office--no I didn't buy that one, I have 528 at home--and it is one of my favorite Murphy pieces, depicting a "typical" Midwest farm scene in the springtime. While creating this masterpiece, Frank taught me a little about art. Remember, I struggle with stick people. He taught me that there is "no true black" that he paints an Angus using a multitude of colors. He also used several cows, including my friend Tanya's El to put together his "ideal" mama cow for this picture.

Of course, who doesn't love the calf and the butterfly? I loved working in the PR department, and handing this or the calf and prairie dog out at trade show booths--especially to multi-generation visitors. It was always fun to hear the grandparent pick "just one" up for the grandchild at home "because I had it in my room when I was a kid." This original is also outside my office, and I pass it, only about 72 times a day when I'm going to the photocopier.

And, then of course, some of my all time favorites are the pencil sketches. That is how Frank really got his start for the Association--sketching Angus for some early 1950s ad campaigns. The Angus Foundation has turned a series of four of these into their "Profitmaker" series and sells them. I bought the set last year, framed them, and gifted them two at a time to my dad for Father's Day and Christmas--only after I had Frank personalize and sign one of them. Hang onto that one Dad!

Frank painted up until his last days, including last September's Angus Journal cover, which showed the changing times, a family in front of a backdrop at a county fair, getting photographed with a camera phone.

In my mind, he truly is an Angus legend, and has contributed greatly to the breed and the Angus Foundation through his time and talent. I know there is a big canvas, and "the cattle upon a thousand hills" for Frank Champion Murphy to paint in Heaven. I know he'll paint them all Angus. God Bless you, Frank.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Just what Ms. Independent Needed

It's July 4, and I'm not wearing red, white and blue nor sporting little flag earrings. As a matter of fact, if it hadn't been for church this morning it might have been really easy to pull the covers back over my head and just not face to world today. You say I'm not patriotic; that's where you are wrong. I'm just tired of how commercialized Independence Day has become! And, it's pretty simple in this town, where it seems the neighbors have been setting off LOUD fireworks for the past 10 nights until way past my bedtime, and employee productivity has likely been down all week with everyone chatting about their "big weekend plans". I think that most people forget why we even celebrate Independence Day, and so I have been rather "scrooge" like about the holiday until this morning at church.

You see, we had a special visitor at Ashland United Methodist this morning. Lt. Colonel Tim Karcher came and greeted the congregation as the service started. He and his wife were married at AUMC, and it is his church home, but just a little more than a year ago, he was fighting for his life, while fighting for OUR freedom. Late in June 2009, he lost both of his legs when a bomb hit his vehicle in Iraq. As he sat in his wheel chair at the front of the church and thanked the congregation for their prayers, he reminded us of a simple message. God hears our prayers, and He always answers them. I wish everyone could hear Lt. Colonel Tim's message. Maybe more people would pray.

So, it's people like Lt. Colonel Karcher in Iraq; my grandpa, Captain Donald C. Stannard in the Pacific Theater of Japan during WW2; and friends Justin Rutledge, Josh Moritz, Rodney Harp, Brandon Douglas, Jarrett Martin, and so many other men and women who have served and are serving our country that have allowed us to keep our freedom that I'd like to recognize on this Independence Day. Thank you for our freedom. Thank you for allowing us to live in a country where we can pray. God Bless our service men & women and God Bless the U.S.A.