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Verne Rainey stood in the new artists space of the Clymer Museum/Gallery and couldn’t help but smile at the irony of it all. Then again, a little karma never hurt a guy.

Back in March, space sponsor Debbie Hulbert with Keigh Design would introduce the first three artists that would display their work at the exhibit, presenting three local talents ranging from glass sculptor, photography and guitar string art.


Ironically, Verne and his wife, Mary, were captured in a discussion with glass sculptor Brenda McPherson in a photo that ran in the Daily Record. That was March 14, three days before the pandemic came crashing down with all its restrictions, quarantines and the mayhem that followed.

As he stood looking at the work currently on display, Rainey smiled, took a deep breath and looked on in wonder because the exhibit he was looking at was his work on that very same wall seventh months later.

Twenty-two photographs from Verne Rainey Ellensburg Ranch Photography went up at the Clymer Museum/Gallery on Wednesday and will run through Nov. 6. Rainey has a lot to say about a lot of things, but two words seemed most appropriate.

“I’m honored,” he said.


His face was hidden behind a facial mask that has become part of the new normal, but his eyes gave away a sense of pride. It’s the Clymer and his photographs depicting visions of ranch life in the Kittitas Valley where there for all to see. That’s the best part of this whole deal.

“I just want people to see the work.”

It all started working at Mike Alberg’s ranch when he started photographing his friend’s sons as they grew in the responsibility of a working ranch. His eye for detail is focused on the western lifestyle and documenting what happens daily in ranch life.

“Mary and I found that documenting the hard-working cowboys, ranchers and farmers in the Kittitas Valley was our focus,” said Rainey, who received a degree in educational media from Central Washington State College. “The emphasis has always been the families and next generation to follow.”


Generation Next in the ranching world can be envisioned in different ways — roping cattle, bucking hay or just capturing the spirit of the personality that would rather spend their day in the saddle than anything else.

He’s not so much a rodeo photographer, but his work called “First Buckle,” captured the pride of a young cowboy after winning his first buckle at a local rodeo.

“I started putting out calendars in 2014, so I could show families what I’d been doing,” he said. “They became so popular around the valley, people were wanting them, and I couldn’t keep up with the demand.

“I had a website designed last year that gives me a chance to put up the pictures so that everyone can see them. Last year, I started a section called ‘Cowboys of the Kittitas,’ that’s been pretty well received.”


He and Mary have been married 35 years now. She takes part in his wanderings from ranch to ranch, takes photographs right along side.

“He sets the shutter speed and aperture, and I just shoot,” she said.

“I think she has a better eye than I do,” Verne said. “There’s a picture of hers up there on the wall, fits right in there with the rest of them.”

His work documents the West and shares the rural heritage with everyone that looks on. If people walk away with a better understanding of how things are done here in the Pacific Northwest, he’s done what he set out to do. If not, he’s exposed Generation Next in a different way of looking at things.

“We don’t charge for local ranch photography,” he explained. “The goal is to document and share our rural heritage. One hundred percent of any print sales on display are donated to support the John Clymer museum.

“I’m just proud to be here and that people can see the work.”


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