“She captures the communication between horses and women, the total trust. Look at most of her work and she’ll go ahead and have them standing on the horses’ back. Being a horse lover myself, communication between horse and rider is vital. She picks that up in a whimsical way. It’s what I find between my own horses and myself. Horses give us the power we as humans would never have. And I see that in her work. As a horse person I felt a very strong connection to her work.”
Lowe in fact is a horse person herself, growing up riding. Along the banister in her home rests the saddle she had as a child in Missoula. She kept her horses at friends’ ranches or her dad would trade work for the horses’ upkeep.
“Painted Ladies,” is one of the pieces where the rider, with utmost confidence in her stance, plants her feet astride two horses. Painted Lady butterflies flit around a girl while she practices her tricks. The girl has a sense of abandon, with one hand on her hip, the other overhead twirling a rope like a hula hoop, as the butterflies sweep across the dwindling light.
“Those are the type of butterfly that we have here, and those horses could be paints,” Lowe says. “The woman is celebrating her freedom – the kind you have in your youth.”
Lowe knows that freedom from when she traveled around the world climbing and exploring with Alex Lowe. But she also knows the pang of loss deeply. Not only did she lose her husband, Alex Lowe, in 1999, but also her mother died two years later and her sister died of breast cancer last year.
“Alex’s death wasn’t the only one that hit me hard,” Lowe says, reaching for the blue marker. “Conrad and I have been through a lot.”
Lowe married Conrad Anker five years ago, and Anker adopted Lowe’s three sons.
“They all call him Dad now,” Lowe says, beaming at her luck to find love twice in a single lifetime. “We’re all pretty lucky to have each other.”
Ropes and ice picks, prayer rugs and photographs, like motes, graze the house, always present but only seen in moments of revealed sunlight, reminders of a life touched and loved -- not forgotten and not martyred.
Her sons, an intricate of any mother’s life, add to the quiet chaos.
Isaac, 10, is the biologist. His room is home to a tarantula named Chaco and a tank of fish. Other animal residents of the house include: Happy, a black lab, and a chocolate lab pup named Leroy Brown; Beanie, a cockatiel; two chickens; two bunnies and some tree squirrels Isaac is trying to rehabilitate and release into the “wild.” He also works at the Montana Outdoor Science School, taking care of their animals after school.