Joe Beeler, a founding member of CAA, was a pioneer in the territory of contemporary Western art. He was there at the beginning of the tremendous development of that territory in the early 1960s. The key event in Beeler's pioneering activity was the founding, in 1965, of the Cowboy Artists of America. From that association of like-minded people flows a stream of fine art works—making the exhibitions eagerly anticipated and commercially successful.
Raised in Oklahoma and Missouri, Beeler received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Kansas State Teachers College and continued his studies at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. His professional career began in illustration at the University of Oklahoma Press in Norman. This gave him the confidence to pursue an artist's career, and collectors were quick to acquire his paintings. The success of his one-man show at the Thomas Gilcrease Museum in 1960 established him on a course that would lead to national acclaim and a string of honors and awards.
Numerous medals and awards have been bestowed on Beeler's work, including gold and silver honors in sculpture, silver in drawing, and an Artists' Choice Award, all from the CAA organization; there aren't many artists who can claim such versatility. In 1994, the Arizona Historic League named him an “Arizona History Maker”—an award presented to a very select group of Arizonans. In 1998, Canada's Cowboy Festival presented “Living Legends Awards” to six individuals in different categories of cowboy culture, and Beeler was the artist honored by the Canadian group.