Gladys Roldán-de-Moras was a young girl in Monterrey, Mexico, when she began to paint. But she was not allowed to study art. 

Her father was a conservative man who believed art was not for intellectuals, she said. That’s how she landed in medical school. She chose a focus that would keep her close to her creative side: plastic surgery.

Roldán-de-Moras got married and left medical school to move to Texas with her husband. Shortly after, she earned a degree in biology from The University of Texas at Austin. But her interest in art never abated, pushing her to attend her first formal art workshop in Lubbock. 

She’s now been painting for more than 35 years. 

If you go…

What: National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame’s 47th annual Induction Luncheon and Ceremony

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Where: Dickies Arena, 1911 Montgomery St.

Individual tickets will be available on Oct. 1.

Her paintings of escaramuzas and charros, the men and women in the world of charrería — competitive horse performances — garnered international acclaim. Her Western art captured the attention of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

In November, she will become the first Mexican-born cowgirl inducted into the Fort Worth museum, according to museum officials. The nomination is important for her and the committee as a way to further represent the Mexican and Spanish cultures that shaped the American West.

“I just hope that I continue to represent my culture the way it should be,” Roldán-de-Moras, 60, said. “It’s with great honor and with great responsibility that I accept (the nomination).”

Gladys Roldán-de-Moras’ “Chinas Poblanas” and “Siempre” were on display at the Prix de West Exhibition and Sale at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City until August 6, 2023. (Courtesy photo | National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum)

Roldán-de-Moras had been on the committee’s radar for a couple of years, said Diana Vela, associate executive director of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. 

Rodeo has its roots in Mexico and Spain, Vela said. Roldán-de-Moras’ nomination is important to the museum because it acknowledges what these cultures gave to the United States. 

Vela has studied the women in history who traveled to the Old West. Recovering women’s voices is important to her, because history hasn’t always recorded what women do, she said. 

“Her work is beautiful and she has a passion that evokes passion and pride in the culture and the heritage,” said Vela. “I’m really proud that we are inducting someone who was born in Mexico and who’s bringing the culture into the museum.”

Roldán-de-Moras joins four other cowgirls being inducted Nov. 14 at Dickies Arena.

The escaramuzas in Roldán-de-Moras’ paintings are dressed in bright-colored, ruffled dresses. The women wear their sombreros proudly. Others have their hair in slick ponytails with colorful flowers and ribbons. They usually are shown riding their horses or admiring them. 

“It’s with great pride that I try to portray the charro and the escaramuza,” she said.

Roldán-de-Moras, who lives in San Antonio, was drawn to charrería because of her charro grandfather. He, along with other men in Mexico, pushed for the equestrian performances to become Mexico’s national sport. 

“I started to understand that not only was I continuing the love of my grandfather for the charrería, but I was also trying to get the world to know, especially the United States and in the Western art, what charrería is,” she said. 

She owes her nomination to the escaramuzas who inspire her art. 

“If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I’m at,” Roldán-de-Moras said. “By painting something I love, I just happened to fall in this niche that nobody had ever done. I’m just very grateful that it was me.”

Patrick Kimble has been taking Roldán-de-Moras’ art classes for almost 30 years. He paints cowboys, Indians and horses. His Western paintings are as close to her technique as possible, he said.  

She is dedicated to her art, he said. Roldán-de-Moras will spend up to 12 hours painting in her studio. 

“I cannot work as hard as Gladys does,” he said. “She always delivers and comes through with these brilliant pieces of art.” 

Kimble said Roldán-de-Moras has been a patient mentor and a source of encouragement for his painting. The two have become close friends. 

He admires how involved she gets with her subjects to express their feelings on canvas.

“Gladys is just first class at everything she does. She will go and paint these girls and get involved with their lives. She knows the horses’ names. She knows the families. It’s not just that she’s painting these objects that she doesn’t know anything about,” he said. 

Roldán-de-Moras has won many awards for her paintings. One of her two pieces at the Prix de West in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum won the Frederic Remington Award. This was her first exhibition at the museum in Oklahoma City. 

The only person Roldán-de-Moras sees herself competing against is herself. “Then these beautiful things happen,” she said about her nomination and her awards.

Marcela Sanchez is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Marcela Sanchez is a 2023 summer reporting fellow. She’s a North Texas native pursuing a master's in journalism, media and globalization from Aarhus University in Denmark and Charles University in the...