Monday, October 3, 2011
I did this image in the early 1980's. At that time I lived on the Zuni Indian Reservation, and would often make the long drive between Zuni and Albuquerque. We traveled on a two lane black top from Zuni to Grants, then picked up I-40 to head on into Albuquerque for shopping, the airport, whatever we couldn't get in Gallup or Zuni. On this particular trip I happened to pull over at a wide place in the road that we would sometimes stop at just before we got to the intersection of I-40. On one of the fence posts (all fences are barbed wire with either metal or wooden fence posts) I saw a steers' head stuck onto the fence post. It was askew, titled to one side. It hadn't been there too long, the eyes still looked back at me. A few crows sat on the nearby posts, waiting to start in. I had my camera, photographed the head, then proceeded on.
30 years later I wonder what that head was doing there. Had someone poached the steer, then stuck the head on the fence as a kind of sticking their tongue out gesture, or had someone just wanted to get rid of a steers' head they had riding around in the back of their pickup? I didn't think of it at the time, just took the photo and went on my way. Later, when I printed the head out and started my painting, I found myself bringing him back to life, alive and well in a vibrant New Mexico landscape. The painting went to my first New York City show where it sold, and, hopefully keeps on living somewhere in that area.