Out in the barn behind the house, a zebra is tethered in her stall, waiting for a facelift from Butch and Cathy Mounce. The 3-foot long wooden creature is one of the many custom rocking horses Butch Mounce has created over the past 15 years with help from his wife for the children in his family.
The Mounces moved to Tyler in May to downsize in their retirement, be closer to family and spend more time together creating art.
Cathy is a mosaic artist, but the first step in her creative process is to wait for her husband to build her a wooden frame.
"With mosaics, you've got to have the frame to start with. He's really good at wood. He's done everything from building my frames to building a log house," she said, referring to the 3,800 square foot home her husband built over the course of five years in Gainesville.
The couple are big fans of Western culture, nature scenes and animals. Horses tend to be a common theme in the Mounce household, with many of Cathy's mosaics showcasing images of cowboys and bucking broncos.
Butch's artistic talents extend beyond his woodworking - he also paints, a hobby he picked up in his 20s - but it's the wood work for which he is known. In fact, one of Butch's rocking horses was built for an auction for the John Wayne Cancer Society and fetched a bid of $2,300, Cathy said. The auctioned rocking horse was built in the image of Trigger - the palomino horse made famous in Western cowboy movies with actor Roy Rogers. The Mounces completed the piece with an engraved black saddle with the words "happy trails."
The Mounces enjoy the creativity they are afforded through their art, and the time they now get to spend together as individual artists who complement each other's work.
They look forward to entering their pieces in art shows and also selling their work at festivals.
"Hopefully we can make a little money in our 'golden years' as they say," Cathy said.