BOOTWMN (Canada/US/UK 2015) 11 minutes

Deana McGuffin is a third generation New Mexico boot maker, handcrafting wearable pieces of art. When she is approached by a Canadian artist and a San Francisco tattooer to create a gay themed cowboy boot, a story unravels of a unique collaboration that takes them to the heart of cowboy country in Northern Texas. BOOTWMN is a heartwarming, intimate and at times funny portrait of the queering of a traditional art form.

Producers: Paige Gratland, Sam McWilliams Directors: Paige Gratland, Sam McWilliams Editor: Bonnie Rae Brickman Camera: Erin Hudson Additional Camera: Paige Gratland, Sam McWilliams, Elia Singer Interviewer: Elia Singer Star: Deana McGuffin

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The Gay State Boot, 2013

When Sam and her partner, the artist Paige Gratland, got involved in the same-sex country western dance scene, they quickly realized they needed some good looking dancing boots. Paige, of course, wanted to make them herself, and proceeded to research bootmakers in North America. Out of approximately 250 traditional cowboy boot makers, two were women, and one was the incomparable Deana McGuffin, third generation New Mexico bootmaker. Paige and Sam travelled to Albuquerque to do a three week course in traditional cowboy boot making. Paige was inspired by the 1949-51 State Boots, a series designed by the famous Texas boot company Lucchese, with a pair of boots made to represent each state. She wanted to add The Gay State Boot to the collection, and Sam got to tag along to help.

Paige and Sam were so inspired by their mentor Deana McGuffin, that they made a short film about her, entitled, BOOTWMN, that has been successfully navigating the international and domestic film festival circuits.

Deana McGuffin

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The Traffic Cone Series

The Traffic Cone Series 2013
Watercolor on paper

The Traffic Cone Series is an homage to these little orange buddies I see scattered throughout the daily landscape. I find their shape, form and colors somehow comforting and humorous, grounding and ever-present.

Painting them allowed me the pleasure of really looking, to spend time staring at an object and describing with paint what I see. Both the looking and the time painting are anchors as solid as these sturdy, flexible cones, grounding a person in this world.

I am interested in the form and the surface. It’s a luxury to describe a luminous body and its surface texture with paint. I get excited when a flick of paint gains meaning through our optical-cerebral connection; a touch of ochre becomes a discarded cigarette butt stuck in a crack of cement.

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© Sam McWilliams 2017