Orren Mixer passed away this week at 87. Many of you have been touched by him, even if you didn't know his name or have the priviledge of spending some time with him, as I did. Orren was a painter and a true horse lover. His painting of the "ideal" American Quarter Horse became an icon of this breed and is seen still on the AQHA web site and in AQHA advertising. Same with his paintings of American Paint Horses. And if you have seen the "Legends" series of books published by Western Horseman, you have seen his work on the covers of those books, too.
I met Orren only once, at the AQHA World Show, around 2000. AQHA hired Diana and me to do audio interviews with the new world champions and upload them to the AQHA web site, along with photos, to create virtually "live" coverage of the event. We did that for four of the world shows and met some great people. We also developed some opinions about what is wrong with showing, but that's another story. We loved being around the horses and the people and the excitement.
Orren had a booth in the trade show area and I couldn't believe he was just standing there, so accessible! I was totally familiar with his work and a big fan. I introduced myself and he put me completely at ease. I then realized I had a golden opportunity and I asked him for an interview. He said yes and we did it right there in his booth. I got him talking about his life and some of the famous paintings he did. We laughed and became friends. Years later, when I wanted to publish excerpts from some of my interviews in Horse Smarts, he graciously agreed. I'm going to rerun that original interview in my 5/17/08 show. And if you want to hear some short pieces, go to The Horse Show Minute section of my site and search on "mixer".
In a way, this is the end of an era. I'm so glad we that hour together back in 2000.