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Home » Artists » Las Vegas COWBOY Christmas: Gary Thompson ~ Lonesome Sage Sculptures

Sour in color, deformed in shape, and featuring lethal textures, Cacti are the essence of RAW BEAUTY.
Artist Gary Thompson is so drawn to these complex succulents that he has chosen them to be the muse for his forged metal art work.

Cactus Candelabra

I originally met Gary at Cowboy Christmas in Vegas this past December, but it is Dripping Springs, Texas that he calls home.  A 60 acre ranch, surrounded by oak trees, at the head waters of Onion Creek, is the inspirational setting for this veteran sculptor who forges copper and brass to create his original art.

Yucca Lamp ~ PatinaBorn and raised in Austin, Texas, Gary had an early introduction to working with metal.When he was just five or six years old he would visit his grandfather’s blacksmith shop in Elroy, Texas. There he would run around playing with the hammers and anvils, watching his grandpa weld and sharpen discs for the local farmers. From that early interest in working with his hands, Gary eventually found himself entering ~ and winning ~ art contests in high school.  In the late sixties he began using any kind of scrap metal {including Crisco cans and motor parts} to form sculptures and express his creativity.

Cactus Wreath

Gary found it rewarding to make something people would want to buy.  Back then his sculptures were primarily butterflies and mushrooms, the iconic trends of that era.  Gary noted that in his early days a lot of his friends quit there day jobs, but he never did.  Citing a reserved nature and desire for financial stability, Gary usually attended one show a month throughout the early eighties while working a traditional job Monday through Friday.  Eventually his career responsiblities increased and, while Gary never sold his equipment, he did put his art career on hold.

Cactus Entrance TableThroughout the years he had played with his tools and found an attraction to CACTUS.  Gary remembers the first time he drove through Arizona he was “just in awe at the beauty of the cactus… it’s a different look and a different setting. The Joshua Trees fascinated me.”  More recently he picked up a Spanish cactus and is looking forward to re-creating it’s odd-shaped ears.  It is the irregularity of their extensions, and the simple beauty of their forms that makes the cactus so special.Cactus Close Up 

After 32 years in the dry cleaning business, and a dabble in real estate, Gary and his wife, Nancy, were ready to downsize and enjoy a more peaceful pace. 

When they bought their Texas Hill Country property there was a 68 year old ranch house and an old barn that they began to renovate.  Cherishing the history of old homes, the simple designs and rugged materials, the Thompsons spent three years renovating their property ~ the last project was giving the old dairy barn a second life as a studio and work space for Gary’s art career, which he had also been renovating…

Cactus Floor Lamp ~ Patina

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While building his 9 to 5 career, Gary had missed going to shows and seeing old friends.  He enjoys meeting people and sharing his art with them.  Now that Gary is retired he has been hitting the show circuit pretty hard and he is “loving every minute of it”.  With his rekindled love for his art, Gary is also finding acclaim.  Forging copper and brass he has won awards at the Rockport Art Festival, participated in the prestigious Laguna Gloria Art Festival in Austin, and is also one of a selected group of Texas Original artists.  

Native Yucca

In order to keep supply for the shows he attends Gary often keeps several pieces going at one time in the studio. Like painters who need to allow time for their paint to dry to keep from making mud, Gary also needs time to let each piece rest.  This keeps his “creative juices” flowing and ensures that each piece is something that Gary is honored to share with his patrons.

A dedicated Austin Rodeo volunteer and director, and a hard working Texas boy, Gary understands how hard people work for a dollar, and he is still humbled when people choose to spend their money on his sculptures.  True to form, he admits that he never sells his art.  “It sells itself.”  Yes it does, Gary.  Visit Gary’s Website at

Cactus Sculpture

NOTE:  Among the events on Gary’s extensive schedule is the Dripping Springs Studio Tour which includes Gary’s Dairy barn-turned-studio.  Gary will also be back in Vegas next December at the 2009 Cowboy Christmas event.  Other shows this year will include: