A resident of Kerrville, Texas, Jim Reno was a sculptor of western subjects, especially horses and the depiction of their unique personalities and realistic movements. Other themes for Reno sculptures are portrait statues of historical figures including Robert Justus Kleberg Jr., founder of the King Ranch; Comanche Indian leader Quanah Parker; and famed cattleman Charles Goodnight. His work "Dreams and Memories" was commissioned by the rodeo executive committee in honor of the Texas Sesquicentennial.
Jim Reno grew up in New Castle, Indiana, riding racehorses and polo ponies and developed a special affection for those animals. He also showed early art talent and attended the John Herron Art Institute on a five-year scholarship. Then he went to Texas to become a sculptor's assistant. However, he could not find a sculptor who was making enough of a living to pay an assistant, so he took a job cutting horses.
Beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he was able to pay his own bills from sculpting because many owners of champion horses began choosing him to do portraits. In 1973, Reno did the official bronze portrait for Penny Tweedy of Triple Crown winner Secretariat. The sculpture, titled "Secretariat---31 Lengths", is in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Racing at Saratoga, New York, and was featured at the White House when President and Mrs. Gerald Ford hosted the Irish State Dinner. Later Reno did a second portrait bronze commission of Secretariat, life-size and shown as an older stud horse, for the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Other horse-race sculptures by Reno are of Mr. San Peppy, Dash-for-Cash, Spend-a-Buck and Doc O'Lena.
Jim Reno continued a parallel career of training cutting horses, and served six terms as president of the National Cutting Horse Association.
The sculptor lived on a Hill Country ranch on which he raised cutting horses.
In spring 2005, the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville held an exhibition of work by Reno that portrays scenes of Texas history, modern ranch activities, rodeo contests and polo games. Other exhibition venues have been the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and the National Academy of Design.
"The Daily Times", Kerrville, Texas, February 17, 2005 http://dailytimes.com/print.lasso?wcd=14366 Courtesy, Keith Claussen, Morris Communications
Peggy and Harold Samuels, "Contemporary Western Artists"