Thursday, June 24, 2021
Theodore Waddell Chronicles a Rancher’s Life in ‘Cheatgrass Dreams’
Monday, May 10, 2021


Theodore Waddell’s latest book “Cheatgrass Dreams” has been chosen as a finalist for the 2021 Western Writers of America 2021 Spur Awards. Waddell’s book is a finalist in the Contemporary Nonfiction category.

Western Writers of America honors the best in Western literature each year. It will honor winners and finalists at its annual convention June 16 through 19 in Loveland, Colo.

Waddell, one of the West’s most celebrated contemporary artists, was a working cattle rancher in a remote part of Central Montana for the better part of three decades. His new book illustrates those years with short stories and essays that depict the humor and heartbreak, the struggle and beauty of ranch life.

Each essay is accompanied by a painting and line drawings

“Theodore Waddell writes of his wild reverence for the land and the fellow beings with whom he shares Her; as if he’s slapping oils onto colossal canvasses—unafraid to lay it on thick and gritty, and you bet, poetically musical and sentimental,” said Cowboy Poet Paul Zarzyski, himself the recipient of the 2005 montana Governor’s Arts Award for Literature.

Born in Billings, Mont., Waddell studied art at the Brooklyn Museum Art School in New York in 1962-63. In 1968 he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture and Printmaking from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich.

He joined the University of Montana’s Art Faculty in 1968 and retired from teaching in 1976. It was after that that he began working as a rancher and artist whose abstract impressionistic renderings of cows and other wildlife reflect his love of the land. He is a recipient of the Montana Governor’s Arts Award and in 2015 he received Artist of the Year honors form the Yellowstone Art Museum.

“Cheatgrass Dreams” is available at Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum, where Waddell’s work is represented, and at




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