‘They Call the Thing Rodeo’ exhibit opens Friday at Jace Romick Gallery

Photographer Jace Romick is opening a new exhibit in his self-titled gallery called 'They Call the Thing Rodeo' that will open Friday in time for First Friday Art Walk and the Steamboat Pro Rodeo opening weekend. (Photo by Shelby Reardon)

Romick had been thinking of doing a rodeo exhibit for a while, but the timing finally forced him to pull the trigger. His “They Call the Thing Rodeo” exhibit opens Friday just in time for the Steamboat Pro Rodeo Series’ opening weekend and July’s First Friday Artwalk.

The exhibit will feature 15 to 20 of his favorite shots of the Steamboat Pro Rodeo series — a small number that was difficult to pin down since he’s taken 6,000 rodeo shots over the past eight years. He’s also hoping to work with the Tread of Pioneers Museum to secure some older photos of the Brent Romick Arena at Howelsen Hill rodeo grounds, an arena named for Jace’s brother. The exhibit will likely run through the summer, and already, Romick is thinking it could be a yearly installment.

“It saddens me sometimes to see how the rodeo is sometimes getting forgotten,” Romick said. “Sometimes, I think that Steamboat and its residents and its new residents, they moved here for that reason, but now, they’re forgetting that’s what they loved about Steamboat.”

Romick hopes the gallery can pay homage to the history of Steamboat and remind people that rodeo and Western charm are still very much in Steamboat’s present.

Jace and his brother Brent, the Steamboat Pro Rodeo board chairman, and their father Jack have been involved with the rodeo for decades.

Jace Romick whittled down the selection over the past few weeks, ultimately choosing a small group that feature each event of the rodeo. He wanted the subject to be wearing their hat, the background to be clear and the photo to be undoubtedly crisp. He wanted to showcase images of technically correct athletes, not sloppy performances. He also edited out advertisements to ensure the viewer isn’t distracted and focuses on the movement of the subject.

There’s a large black and white photo of a horse in mid-air already hanging in the gallery. He chose that photo and the crop that nearly cuts out the rider because of the hole in his boot, the dirt falling off the horse’s shoes and the detail in the rider’s fingers clinging onto the loop.

Mostly, he chose photos that aren’t typical.

“Everybody has seen a traditional rodeo photograph,” Romick said. “I try to get photographs that are a little bit more unique, a little bit more abstract and something that’s going to sell to someone who doesn’t even appreciate rodeo.”

The collection is named “They Call the Thing Rodeo,” after a famous Garth Brooks song. He hopes to add to the collection throughout the summer.

“Whether it’s a bull fighter or a trick roper or whether it’s the rodeo clown,” he said. “It’s kind of the whole aspect of what rodeo’s about.”

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