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Boots as Big as Texas Kick Off RodeoHouston's 2019 Season

Local artist Shelbi Nicole named her boot, shown at far right, The Whimsy Western Boot.
Local artist Shelbi Nicole named her boot, shown at far right, The Whimsy Western Boot.
Photo by Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
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Bucking broncos, Ferris wheels, trail riders, country music stars, bluebonnets and Texas-sized spurs. Local artists called forth iconic images from the Lone Star State when painting new fiberglass boots for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. They're colorful, unique and, at six feet in height, they're perfect for taking selfies. Visitors will find Boot Row sponsored by Tecovas between NRG Stadium and NRG Astrodome.

Shelbi Nicole, owner of Shelbi Nicole Designs, took a break from her steady stream of art, murals and signage projects to paint her boot, dubbed The Whimsy Western Boot. It's playful and fun, and also riffs on her just opened The Whimsy World, an immersive, Yayoi Kusama-like experience that's wrapping up its downtown iteration and about to open in Sugar Land Town Square on March 15.

Nicole tells us that the boot was one of the more unique canvases that she's worked on in her career. It also seems that she's come full circle. "I'm just really excited," says Nicole, about having an entry in Boot Row. "When I was a child I entered a competition [at RodeoHouston]. It was the school art show." Now, years later as an adult, Nicole is back at HLSR, though on a much grander scale.

Second from left: Johnny J. Rojas created the spur while seven other School Art Committee members did the painting. Third from left: Artist Paige Atkinson worked on her boot for about six weeks.
Second from left: Johnny J. Rojas created the spur while seven other School Art Committee members did the painting. Third from left: Artist Paige Atkinson worked on her boot for about six weeks.
Photo by Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Local artist Paige Atkinson also has an entry in Boot Row. She works full-time as a school art therapist and, while working in her garage studio at home, often turns to themes of livestock and longhorns in her paintings.

Atkinson says she doesn't usually name her pieces, but she does name her animals and she's dubbed her longhorn George. (Shown third from left in the above photo).

"I grew up in the city. I've never had any experience with FFA. My only experience with livestock has been at the rodeo, but I'm always respectful of those who do work with animals," says Atkinson. "They're beautiful, amazing subjects."

Of course it doesn't hurt that she attended the University of Texas, where longhorn culture runs deep.

Atkinson says she loved working on the larger scale of the fiberglass boot and would like to try her hand on a mural next. "It was so much fun to make. I appreciate the opportunity," says Atkinson. "It was my first time making a public art piece in Houston; it was such a joy."

Other artists who worked on this year's Boot Row are Dusti Joyner, Dan Dollahon (with two entries), and Kristin Tevlin.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is scheduled for February 25 through March 17 at Three NRG Park. For information, visit rodeohouston.com. Grounds passes gain access to all events on NRG Park, except for the rodeo and concert in NRG Stadium. $5 to $15, or $35 for the season.

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