Lynell Sandvick has a print of a portrait of her son Larry Sandvick and grandson Dylan Sandvick hanging in her home in Killdeer. It’s a great portrait of Larry sitting in a barn, carving a wooden horse for his son, painted in 2005 by well-known Montana artist Loren Entz.
By Pat Ratliff
If you haven’t seen the painting, check out the December 2013 Western Horseman magazine. The painting is featured on the cover, as well as in an article inside.
The painting, titled “The Gift Horse,” was created for the Prix de West Invitational Art Show & Sale at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, according to Jennifer Denison, author of the article.
“Spending time with family, giving and sharing reflect the spirit of the holiday season,” she said.
According to Denison the painting comes from the phrase “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
“Kids dream and wish for all kinds of things for Christmas, but in this painting I wanted to show the kid’s dad carving him a special gift,” artist Entz said. “What makes it so special is that it’s from his dad, made by his dad, and it has heirloom value and more sentimental value than a store bought gift.”
And who better to feature in Western Horseman than Killdeer native Larry “Wild Man” Sandvick?
Sandvick, who now lives in Kaycee, Wyoming, is a 12 time National Finals Rodeo bareback rider. A fan favorite on the rodeo circuit, Sandvick was considered one of the world’s top bareback riders, with the reputation as the Wild Man of Rodeo.
“I had just moved to Billings and I had run into this painter who had received a commission to paint the picture,” Larry Sandvick said. “The first version had a gal and her daughter dressed up in 1800’s clothes, but that didn’t work out.
“The painter (Entz) had seen a picture of me going into the rodeo finals and ask me if I would be interested in something like that.”
Sandvick was interested and accepted the offer to pose for the picture in a barn between Bridger and Fromberg, Montana.
“He took us to this old barn,” Sandvick said. “It was really cold. He took a lot of pictures of Dylan and I.
“He paid us to sit there and freeze,” Sandvick laughed.
According to Sandvick, two versions of the picture were painted before the picture came out just right.
“He made several copies of the final picture and gave one to me,” he said. “I gave mine to mom (Lynell Sandvick) for safekeeping.
“The original was auctioned off at an auction that benefits rural people,” Sandvick said. “They do things like pay medical bills, things like that. They bring in the top guys from the rodeo circuit.
“It was real fun, the guys go and sign autographs at the children’s hospital, and they have a big banquet and dance.
“I think the painting sold for around $5,000.”
But that was a few years ago, and Sandvick doesn’t think about the painting much anymore. He didn’t even know it was going to be featured on the Western Horseman cover.
“My brother Monte called me and told me it was on the cover,” Sandvick said. “It’s pretty life like.
“What was amazing to me is that you could read my buckle in the painting.”
But the back-story on the painting doesn’t stop there.
“We got paid for posing for those pictures,” Sandvick said. “The artist gave us a check.
“Dylan must have been about five-years-old then. He thought he was going to be a big boy for modeling.
“He asked if he could carry the check, and I let him carry it and kind of forgot about it.”
When we got home, we were cleaning up outside and the boys were burning some trash. They must have run out of things to burn so Dylan took the check and burned it too, he had no idea of what it was worth.
“We went to town the next day and passed the bank and I asked Dylan for the check… and he got this look on his face.
“I had to call back the artist and ask him to give me another check, I was so embarrassed.”
To buy your own copy of the Western Horseman, visit your local magazine seller. They are online at westernhorseman.com.