A Tradition of Murals in the San Simon Valley

At Art & Other Adventures with Narca, the website and blog for one of the longtime local artists Narca Moore-Craig, there is a description, an idea, a coalescence of thought used to describe the tradition of the artistic community practicing in the area.  The term is the "Bootheel School" which is centered around the Chiricahua Gallery in Rodeo New Mexico.  This idea has a historical and ongoing context which deserves some elaboration.

The San Simon Valley is big place flanked by mountain ranges lying in both Arizona and New Mexico.  The views for those in the valley are large and expansive and this "big picture" view is reflected in some of the artwork found around the valley, specifically murals.   Three individual artists have created murals over a span of 60+ years and the tradition continues today.

In the late 1940's the first mural in Rodeo was painted in the Rodeo Tavern.  Created by Charles Malcolm Campbell, it was reportedly painted to resolve an outstanding a bar tab at the Tavern.  Although the stories are second and third hand  the work is signed and the stylistic depiction of some of the horses and faces are characteristic of other work by Campbell.  Little is available online about Campbell and why he spent time in Rodeo is unknown.  Perhaps it was during his transition from New Orleans to Phoenix during the pre-interstate days when the southern route west was along Highway 80, known as the Dixie Overland Highway and the Broadway of America, that he came to Rodeo and stayed for awhile.  Whatever the reason the results of his time spent here are being preserved and are visible in the dining room of the Rodeo Tavern and a portion of the mural is used as a logo for Rodeo.

Segment of the mural in the north east corner of the dining room with artist signature.

Segment of the mural in the south west corner of the dining room

The next artist, Bob Waldmire, divided his time between his home in Illinois and his home outside Portal Arizona.  Known primarily for his work documenting Route 66, he also created sketches and paintings about Highway 80.  One of his last murals covers one wall of the Rodeo Grocery and Cafe in Rodeo.  It is a depiction of the transcontinental route along Highway 80 and has an inset highlighting Rodeo.  Waldmires' work is still available online

Bob Waldmire's mural in the Rodeo Grocery and Cafe

Inset on the mural depicting Rodeo.

Another artist residing outside Portal, Terry Miller, carries on the tradition of mural work creating individual pieces for home owners.  Her work is found in Rodeo, Portal, and to the west in Bisbee.  Her wall sized murals (shown below is an example from the Painted Pony Resort) capture various western themes are are imbued with life like activity.

Dancing Kachina wall mural


  1. Very nice blog of murals in the Rodeo area by several different artists.

  2. Thank you. I forgot to mention that you also use a segment of the Campbell mural for the logo at Mountain Valley Lodge.

  3. Nancy Cloudt, owner of Rodeo Grocery has two regrets: one that Bob didn't finish his mural before he died, but her main regret was that Bob didn't sign it.
    My husband and I knew Bob and he was quite a character!

  4. I suspect it was unsigned since it was unfinished. But it's uniqueness is only increased by being Bob's last unfinished mural. Stylistically, it is clearly the work of Bob Waldmire.