Organizations* : CAA
Known for his detailed, well researched sculpture of authentic depiction of the historical American West in the tradition of Charles Russell and Frederic Remington, Bill Nebeker of Prescott, Arizona has been a member of the Cowboy Artists of America* since 1978. Among his honors at annual exhibitions of the CAA are the Sculpture Award, Gold in 1989 and Silver in 1985; and Kiekhofer Award for Best of Show, 1989. In Kerrville, Texas, the Cowboy Artists Museum featured a 30 year retrospective of his work in the late 1990s.
He does not have traditional art training and describes himself as having irregular work habits, working sometimes intensely and then taking many days off. He has been a full-time artist since 1976, and is devoted to realism and accurate depiction of his subjects, which include Indians, cowboys, frontier settlers and animals. "When he sculpts Native Americans, he researches their culture, clothing, weapons and symbols to be sure his depiction is historically accurate, with the dignity they deserve." (CA).
He was inspired to become a sculptor in the early 1960s when he saw sculpture by George Phippen at a one-man show in Skull Valley, Arizona.
Once established on his path of creating western sculpture and the year after Phippen died (1966), Nebeker began to work at Phippen's foundry, the Bear Paw Bronze Works in Skull Valley, operated by a son of Phippen. Nebeker's wife, Merry, also took a job at the foundry, and because of this immersion, Nebeker received a hands-on education from the Phippen family in making western sculpture. He also met many top western sculptors such as Veryl Goodnight, Richard Greeves, and Joe Beeler.
Realizing he could make more money selling his own sculpture, Nebeker quit the job at the foundry in 1978 and moved to Prescott with his family, which by then was three children as well as his wife.
Arizona has recognized Nebeker as one of its outstanding artists. In 2009, he was named Arizona Culturekeeper by representatives of the Arizona State Historical Society who give the honor to an individual who "has made a positive impact on Arizona's history, culture or economy, and are pioneers of Arizona through family ties, business, civic leadership or passiona contributions to a cause that is distinctily Arizona." (CA).
* For references for these terms and others, see AskART Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx
Sources: Mary Nelson, "The Beat of a Different Drum", Art of the West, September/October 2005, pp. 56-61
CA Catalogue, Cowboy Artists of America, 44th Annual Exhibition 2009, p. 18