Jay Contway

American [1935-2019]

Jay Joseph Contway was born February 13, 1935 in Malta, Montana and passed away November 21, 2019 in Great Falls, Montana. He was divinely blessed with a God-given talent for western art. He painted in watercolor and oil, but as we all know, his greatest gift was his ability to sculpt in clay and cast in bronze. No one made a better cow horse than Jay Contway. His attention to detail and action made him one of the best cowboy sculptors ever known.

Jay was educated in Malta, graduating from high school in 1953. He took a job that summer with an oil crew in Oklahoma, thus beginning a life of constant travel and education. Jay later obtained a teaching certificate from Northern Montana College in Havre and took his first teaching position in Loring in 1955. He taught in Lodge Pole, Dupuyer, New Miami Hutterite Colony, Cutbank, and Great Falls. When the school year ended so did the paychecks so Jay went to work in the arena calf roping during the summer rodeo season. He won the North Central Montana Rodeo Association calf roping championship in 1964, ’65, ’66 and filled his Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association permit. 

When the art began to sell, Jay retired from teaching. Jay bought his property west of Great Falls in the spring of 1967 by selling a rope horse to J.O. Anderson to make the down payment. Eventually Jay was able to build his own foundry, thus controlling the entire process of his work from clay to casting.

 He closed his foundry at the age of 77 when his legs no longer had the strength to lift a crucible filled with boiling metal. His one constant was Shirley Turner, who helped him operate his foundry for 39 years. Her contribution to his art production was as important as his own. Jay moved his casting to Montana foundries and the work went on but for Jay, it was never as much fun as when he had complete command.

The Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada contributed to Jay’s worldwide recognition. For 31consecutive years the rodeo committee gave a Jay Contway bronze as part of their trophy program, allowing the provision of over 160 pieces of art for the stampede. During those years Jay displayed his art at the Calgary Stampede Western Art Show. 

Beginning in 1984 Jay contributed to the Quick Draw Program, a scholarship fund for southern Alberta youth. Jay continued to donate for 27 years becoming the only artist to make such a contribution. He displayed his art at the National Finals Rodeo Cowboy Christmas in Las Vegas for over 30 years. Jay featured and sold his art from box stalls and auction rings, to ballrooms and exhibition halls in more towns and cities than he could count, all while gathering a following of hundreds.

Jay’s travels took him through western United States and Canada, Mexico, the islands of the Bahamas, and among the art galleries of Europe. The art in Paris was outstanding but it was a small museum in Madrid that provided Jay the greatest inspiration of all. It was here that he saw the beginning of the Bronze Age. No explanation was necessary. Jay understood what he was looking at. 

Over the years Jay won numerous awards but the most important recognitions of his career were the inductions into the Calgary Stampede Western Art Show Hall of Fame in 2009, the C.M. Russell Museum Skull Society of Artists 2014 & 2015, the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in 2015, and the Montana Pro-Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame in 2016. His final salute came in September of 2019 when he received the Saddle of Honor Award from the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and the C.M. Russell Museum.

Biography from J Contway Legacy Art

Jay Contway headshot - Hodgins Art Auctions

A Few Notable Results from Hodgins Art Auctions

Jay Contway

A NORTH WEST MOUNTED POLICE OFFICER CONFRONTING A WHISKEY TRADER; 1986
bronze; ed. #1/1
14 x 21.5 x 16 in.

Sold for $ 5,850 – May 2015

Jay Contway

30 YEARS GATHERING
cold-painted bronze; ed. #9/25
23 x 31.5 x 13 in.

Sold for $ 4,095 – November 2018

Jay Contway

ALMOST HOME; 2008
cold-painted bronze; ed. #16/100
14 x 21.5 x 9 in.

Sold for $ 3,510 – November 2018

Jay Contway

TURNING ‘EM NORTH (MONTANA CENTENNIAL CATTLE DRIVE); 1989
bronze; ed. #11/100
17.75 x 19 x 14.75 in.

Sold for $ 2,700  – December 2019

We are always seeking works by Jay Contway to be included in future auctions.

If you are interested in selling with us, or wish to get our opinion of the value of your artworks, please contact us for an appointment to evaluate your artwork for auction.

Alternately, you can easily submit details of your artworks through our Request of Auction Estimates form.

More Extensive Results from our Previous Auctions

1,053.00
Price Realized: $

Artist: Jay Contway

Title: GUY WEADICK

Date: 1997

Medium: 1997

Dimensions: 17.5 x 7 x 8 in. (27.3 x 19.1 x 15.2 cm), excluding base

Notes:

signed, dated & editioned in the cast; titled on the artist’s plaque

800.00
Estimate:
1,200.00
 - 

LOT: 148

Auction: 2023 September | Hodgins Art Auctions

105.00
Price Realized: $

Artist: Jay Contway

Title: FANCY DANCER

Date: 1990

Medium: 1990

Dimensions: 10.75 x 7.5 x 6 in. (27.3 x 19.1 x 15.2 cm), excluding base

Notes:

signed, dated & editioned in the cast; titled on the artist’s plaque

600.00
Estimate:
800.00
 - 

LOT: 149

Auction: 2023 September | Hodgins Art Auctions

1,404.00
Price Realized: $

Artist: Jay Contway

Title: BEAR AND BULL

Date: 1990

Medium: 1990

Dimensions: 9.5 x 14.5 x 8 in. (24.1 x 36.8 x 20.3 cm), excluding base

Notes:

signed, dated & editioned in the cast; titled on the artist’s plaque
Note: While the title appears to be a financial market reference, the inspiration for this piece was drawn from a 1989 incident, between a grizzly and a bison, in Yellowstone National Park.

700.00
Estimate:
1,000.00
 - 

LOT: 157

Auction: 2023 September | Hodgins Art Auctions

431.25
Price Realized: $

Artist: Jay Contway

Title: UNTITLED (COYOTE HOWLING)

Date: 1971

Medium: bronze sculpture; ed #40/100

Dimensions: 5.5 in. high

Notes:

signed, dated & editioned

400.00
Estimate:
500.00
 - 

LOT: 53

Auction: 2007 November | Hodgins Art Auctions

345.00
Price Realized: $

Artist: Jay Contway

Title: COYOTE ON A SKULL

Medium: bronze; ed. #18/100

Dimensions: 7.5 x 6 x 6.25 in. (19.1 x 15.2 x 15.9 cm)

Notes:

signed & editioned

400.00
Estimate:
600.00
 - 

LOT: 158A

Auction: 2008 November | Hodgins Art Auctions

2,530.00
Price Realized: $

Artist: Jay Contway

Title: THE REP

Date: 1982

Medium: bronze; ed. #12/100

Dimensions: 14 x 27 x 10 in. (35.6 x 68.6 x 25.4 cm)

Notes:

signed, titled, dated & editioned
Provenance: Estate of Benton Mackid, Calgary

2,000.00
Estimate:
3,000.00
 - 

LOT: 77

Auction: 2010 November | Hodgins Art Auctions

Loading..

Hodgins Art Auctions Ltd. Logo

Since 1983, Hodgins Art Auctions is your trusted source for buying and selling art by Jay Contway and other important artists.

We are always accepting consignments of quality Canadian & International art.

At Hodgins you will always be dealing with a knowledgeable partner in the company. We provide responsive and efficient service, transparency, and are committed to your satisfaction.

Join Our Newsletter