by Winsip Custer CPW News Service
BJ Foxtail was not always a highly celebrated Native American Indian artist. He remembers when he was breaking horses on the Rocking BM Ranch in Toas, New Mexico and wondering if the horse he was working would make good jerky.
|Little Colt Backfire|
sold for $11.2 Million
"When I moved to Fort Worth, I was inspired by other painters. I tried my hand at painting like Fredrick Remington and Charles Russell, but their styles and mine didn't match. My work is clearly primitive art. I may have broken broncos, but whenever I saw a bronze Remington bronco buster statue I wanted to paint it red. Then I stumbled onto the work of Denver Moore and I felt a freedom that I had never felt in my life. His painting "Escaping the Plantation" provided a powerful point of reference for me and was the inspiriation for my painting, 'Leaving the Reservation'", said BJ.
"Denver's not only a painter, but also a musician. My friend, Lee Atwater, encourged me to keep up my Indian jazz flute which I'd play from time to time at places like Red, Hot And Blue, a popular barbeque restaurant in Fort Worth. It was in Fort Worth that I sold my first painting, "Cow Chips", for $2000. That was a lot of money for a medium sized brown on brown on brown in pastels. Of course Lee had been the aide to South Carolina Senator, Strom Thurmond, so he was able to give Denver alot of insights on just why he would want to escape the plantation....almost as much as Atwater's friends Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff gave to me in helping me to look beyond the Reservation. When Lee took sick with cancer, you can imagine how I felt when it was his close buddies who were offering me such astronomical prices for my paintings. I didn't understand it then, just as I don't understand it now, but I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and I just thank the Great Spirit for bringing me such good fortune."
I interviewed BJ in his loft apartment on the lower East Side in New York City where he oversees the Smoke Signal Gallery near the Whitney Museum. "I will die a happy man," said BJ. "I have bought a burial plot near Horace Greeley's in the Greenwood Cemetery. I plan to have carved on my tomb stone "Go East Young Red Man", said B.J.