Ricardo Moreno Beasley has been compared to Charles Russell, the famous western artist. I prefer to place him in a category by himself for his unique style of pen and ink drawings and the fact that most of his sketches were stories told to him by vaqueros of the brush country or actual events that he lived or witnessed. Very few western artists can claim that fact.
Beasley was born near Kingsville in 1908 to Ricardo Beasley and Concepcion Moreno. He was one of six children, three boys and three girls. His paternal grandfather was Abraham Beasley, who came to the Brownsville area during the Mexican-American War in 1847. He had one of the first ferries between Matamoros and Brownsville. Abraham married Francis Jamison.
Ricardos maternal sides family were original Mexican grantees in the 1830s. His greatgrandfather was Santos Moreno, grantee of La Trinidad grant in present day Jim Wells county and Moreno was married to Maria Concepcion Garcia, daughter of Rafael Garcia Salinas, grantee of Las Mesteñas also known as La Gonzaleña in present day Brooks county.
Beasley was very proud of his Mexican ancestry and the way of life they had introduced into South Texas. Growing up on part of La Trinidad grant close to Palito Blanco, Tx., called Rancho Irapuato, he learned first hand how the vaqueros would work cattle and horses in the South Texas brush country.
At a young age he enjoyed art and his mother would provide books for him to study. Aside from that, Beasley was a self taught artist. He was soon sketching the chaparral of the brush country and the experiences of the men who were called vaqueros.
Beasley knew first hand the experiences of the vaqueros as he had his own ranch and raised cattle. He knew the difficulties that went with that type of work and trying to make ends meet with the elements of the South Texas brush country; the droughts that could last several years, the cold northers that could drop temperatures and freeze tender vegetation and trees, and also the torrential rains that did come down on occasion.
These elements and the stories that the vaqueros of the brush country would tell him were the basis for his drawings. Each drawing was very personal because the persons depicted in the drawings were actual people that he knew and not something that he made up or saw in a book.
Beasleys most productive years were the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, although he continued to draw up until the 1980s, when he became ill.
Ricardo Moreno Beasley passed away in 1994 and was buried at the cemetery at Rancho Irapuato which was part of the original La Trinidad.
Beasleys drawings were never published until this year when the book on the South Texas Ranchos, "Tejano Empire" by Andrés Tijerina carried 18 of his sketches depicting life of the vaqueros in the South Texas chaparral. Vaqueros depicted in the sketches were Teófilo Salinas, Santiago Muñoz, Sam Smithwick, Victor Suarez, Pedro Valerio, and Colon de la Garza. In the book one can get a glimpse of what Ricardo M. Beasley was trying to capture on canvas for future generations to observe and learn from his drawings. Also now people from all over the world will know what life was about on the South Texas Ranchos during the first half of the twentieth century.
The ranching industry of South Texas owes a lot to Ricardo M. Beasley for preserving the heritage of ranching through his sketches and stories. Beasley was an artist with his own style and when you see his artwork there is no comparison to Russell or Remington, it is simply... Beasley.