Thursday, February 28, 2013

Welcome to the World of BBB Art

February 28, 2013

   Been crazy busy working on several project. The most ambitious of the four is this little site:

Bob Boze Bell Art Website

   Wanted you all to be the first to take a gander. It's not totally done (there's place holder Greek copy in the Vaquero Sayings but we'll get that up as soon as I can figure out the math of the postings.

"I never did very well in math—I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn't meant my answers literally."

—Calvin Trillin

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Hot Rods of Allen P. Bell

February 26, 2013
  My father was a bit of a hot rodder. Some of my earliest memories are of driving home from visiting Hauan and Bell relatives in Iowa and sleeping in the back seat. On several of these rides I was awakened by a violent lurching. I heard my mother say from the front seat, "Oh, Allen don't pass him here," but we shot forward with a roar, then swerved back into the right lane. Bright headlights glared in the back window and lit up the interior. I could see my mother's face and hear her nervous laughter.

  "He's coming back for more, "my dad said with a laugh and the lights disappeared from the back window then came along side. It all lit up the inside of the car with wild patterns. Now wide awake, I heard and felt my dad gun the car, and my mother, once again the voice of reason, said, "You showed him, why don't we let him win one?" and my dad just grunted and floored the car again, and we shot off into the dark as I rolled around the back seat like a peanut in a pinball machine.

Here is a photo of my father and that car:

I am not good on these old cars prior to the fifties. But a couple guys on Facebook said it's a 1937 Ford Deluxe Tudor Sedan with a V8 engine. Someone else mentioned it had baby moons, but Jim Cherry scoffed at this: "Those aren't baby moons, those are factory dog dishes." Ha.

Here's a side view of this puppy, taken at my grandpa's farm north of Thompson, Iowa:

"There goes that damn Bell kid!"
—Every neighbor Carl and Minnie Bell ever had

"I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to the these teachers."
—Kahlil Gibran.

Monday, February 25, 2013

King of The Clouds

February 25, 2013
Worked the last week on a new True West Moment featuring one of my favorite artists. Did a sketch of him based on a 1930s photograph by his then wife Dorothea Lange:

Didn't want to just duplicate what she had done, so refined it, looking for other options:

Decided to mash up a silhouette with one of his distinctive paintings:

Then decided it should be his most famous painting:

That's "Cloud World" in the foreground and, of course, his famous Thunderbird watch fob on his hip. Speaking of hip, this artist had it goin' on in more ways than one (hint: he was a cocky guy):

"O, I am Maynard Dixon,

And I live out here, alone

With pencil and pen and paint-brush

And a camp stool for my throne

King of the desert country

Holding a magic key

To the world's magnificent treasure

None can unlock but me!"

—Maynard Dixon

Shotguns at Midnight: The Virgil Earp Shooting

February 25, 2013
  Several years ago (2006?) video shooter Mike Pelligatti and I, along with Paul Hutton and a sound man, traveled down to Tombstone to film the shooting of Virgil Earp as a possible pilot for a Classic Gunfights TV show. With the help of local actors we only had one problem: we didn't have a permit to film on the streets. So we did what so many production companies with no cash do: we decided to beg for forgiveness rather than ask for permission and we shot with no permit. AND, we fired off the shotguns at midnite at the very last moment, thus enacting the actual event at the actual time it happened. The sheriff did come, we begged for forgiveness and he let us go.

Shotguns at Midnite

"I've still got one good arm to hug you."

—Virgil to Allie, his wife

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Poaching Notes From The Road Gurus

February 24, 2013
   Quite cool out today. I've had a fire in my studio stove all day. Snuggled in and went through my clip file for the past year and culled out road notes I want to steal, I mean poach, I mean BE INSPIRED by:

"My family took trips for two reasons only: to attend Sanctified Brethren Bible conferences for several days of preaching and Bible study or to visit relatives who we actually liked, so my memories of travel are tied up with the Book of Deuteronomy and the imminence of the second coming, or feeding Aunt Bessie's chickens."
—Garrison Keillor

Quotes from New York Times road feature, "Drive, They Said"

"In the best rock songs, which are also by no coincidence the best driving songs, there's a moment when all the gears come into play—a pause just before the chorus when everything in the universe seems, for the briefest of moments, to expand and your scalp tingles and lifts a millimeter toward infinity."
—Kirk Johnson

 "itchin' for a run-in, head out on the highway. . ."

"This stretch of road, barren and pure, reminds us always: This is why we drive."
—Sam Sifton

"A desert landscape is defined as much by absence as anything."
—A.G. Sulzberger

When Your Guru Calls Shotgun
By Noa Jones

The author drives a guru she calls Rinpoche (RIM-po-shay which means rabbi or reverend) from Seattle to New York City. They drive through Washington state, then Idaho towards her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. As they drive through Idaho he says, "America has nothing to worry about. So much natural beauty." She stops in Orofino because she thinks he would enjoy the Nez Perce Indian Reservation but she can't find any members of the tribe. They move on, going through Yellowstone Park. "It's like Tibet," he says calmly. Their next stop is Thermopolis, Wyoming which is a disappointment. They check into a hotel "seeped in stinky sulfuric fumes, right down to the sheets." They go down to the pool and as they sit in their bathing suits they hear guests in the pool, talking politics—red state, blue state stuff. She is slightly embarrassed at their red neck ways because she wants to impress her guru and they are so provincial. They go on to Boulder where it gets better for her. They attend an art opening in Denver. Then on to Chicago. She says, "The calm that settled over us deepened." and "All trips have a low point, and I believe ours took place trying to escape Toledo, Ohio." Their GPS system led them to an inner city cafe that was closed, it started to rain very hard and they ended up having mediocre Chinese food on plastic plates. Much later, when she successfully drops him off in New York, she is relieved. Then this:

"Later, when I asked Rinpoche what the highlight of the trip was, he said, "Listening to those people talk in the pool."

Ah, Grasshopper, there is road wisdom in this story, no?

"The West was a mythical land to an American boy back then, and as you rode through Montana, you could visualize Roy and Gene and John Wayne galloping along in defense of women and children and civilization."
—Garrison Keillor

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Roadside Stop That Changed My Life

February 23, 2012
   In the late 1950s we were coming back to Arizona from Iowa when I actually got my father to stop at a place I had picked out on the trip to Iowa, when we zoomed by going east. It was 43 miles east of Albuquerque, New Mexico and on the south side of the road. When my dad careened into the dusty parking lot, he looked into the back seat and said to me, "Kid, you've got 15 minutes." This is what I saw inside:

I met Diane Potter here at the True West World Headquarters this morning to look at her five volume collection of Route 66 postcards (and menus!). She had an extra one of the Longhorn and she gifted this to me. You can see some of her incredible collection on Facebook at:

Diane's Route 66 Postcards

   Anyway, back to the Longhorn experience in 1958: I took it all in, I bought an authentic photo of Billy the Kid for a quarter and then we were back on the road and my father had to goose the '57 Ford with the continental kit on the back, to catch up with all the trucks that got by us while we were in the museum.

  A couple months later, I discovered the photograph of Billy was a fake. I read about it in the pages of True West magazine and I was so upset I vowed to find out the truth of the Old West and share it with anyone who would listen.

"There is a fine line between hobby and insanity."
—Dave Barry

Friday, February 22, 2013

Texas Ranger Border Etiquette

February 22, 2013
   Delving into the heart of "The Grapes of Wrath" now. They just buried grandpa illegally alongside the road. Steinbeck utilizes so many classic images from the road, like this:

"People in flight along 66. And the concrete shone like a mirror under the sun, and in the distance the heat made it seem that there were pools of water in the road."

I'd post a painting I did of this exact phenom, but I can't find it. Also, I have to say I grew up with some beautiful women in Mohave County. This is a Mojave Maiden, I have framed in my studio. Ain't she a beauty?

I have a hunch this is Moon Nish's mama. And in addition to the good looking In-dins we had some outrageous tourists visit us as well:

"Jugs Iced Beyonce"

And speaking of Route 66, Dan The Man Harshberger is stylizing some photos of our classmates out of our yearbooks for our growing up on the road project:

Pretty amazing work, Dan.

Whipped out a little study this morning before coming into work. Those old time Rangers down around Brownsville were not, how you say, sensitive or PC. This is "Texas Ranger Border Greeting", or "Buenos Dias To You Too, Amigo."

Daily Whipout #139, "Buenos Dias To You Too, Amigo"

"66 is the mother road, the road of flight."
—John Steinbeck's first mention of Route 66 being the "mother road," Chapter 12, page 118, "The Grapes of Wrath"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fay Wray Weighs In On New Mexico Mexican Food

February 21, 2013
   I forgot to post a Lone Light painting I did a couple days ago of Zane Gray's cabin in twilight:

Daily Whipout # 137, "Lonely Cabin"

Here's an odd publicity photo of a famous actress. Do you recognize her?

This is Fay Wray of "King Kong" fame probably holding up the score for New Mexico Mexican food vs. Sonoran Mexican food.

And speaking of knowing the score. when it comes to sausage, this is where I'd like to get my meat:

Connie Connelly found this great publicity shot from the 1950s.

"When you have bacon in your mouth you don't care who the president is."
—Louis CK

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One Crazy Snowstorm

February 20, 2013
   Late last week Chad Hays, who works for me, asked for the next Wednesday off (today) to go see a golf tournament in Tucson. He later rescinded the request, saying there was a 70% chance of rain. I thought to myself, "Hey, man, this is Arizona. It could be sunny and eighty, for all we know."

  Well, it turns out Chad made a good call. Woke up to a light rain this morning and it was quite cool out. The weather forecasters said it should clear out by noon, but when Ken A. and I went to lunch at Rubios, it was still coming down when we came back at one. Then, at about three it started to hail. That was kind of weird. But it kept coming and by four our parking lot looked like this:

The hail gradually turned to snow and it came down and just kept coming. People were running through the office, exclaiming, "This is crazy. This is just crazy!" (Okay, full disclosure, this was me). Finally, I bundled up and walked outside, hiked up the hill behind the True West World Headquarters and took this shot of Black Mountain.

At about 5:15 I headed for home. At the top of School House Road I took this photo of Elephant Butte, with Sugarloaf looking like the Matterhorn:

On the drive home it was crazy. People stopped in washes, kids running and throwing snowballs. I've live out here for 55 years and I've never seen it like this. Sure it's snowed before but this one was weird. Crazy weird. Not sure why, but it was.

Got home and marveled at the home turf. Here's the view to the north of us:

And here's Ratcliff Ridge:

Even my chickens were weirded out. Check out that rooster. He's never seen anything like this!

But the final note of the symphony happened at about six. I was walking over to the main house when I saw Ratcliff Ridge in darkness and Continental Mountain behind it lit up. I ran and got my phone—yes, my phone!—and took this photo:

And as I walked back to the house, I looked over my shoulder for one more peek and it was gone.

"In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite."
—Paul Dirac

When A Texas Ranger Is Portrayed By A Non Ranger

February 20, 2013
  Wrestling with a Texas Ranger cover we are working on for May. The problem we face is we have run group shots on the past two covers and I just don't want to go there again because the covers get stale and elicit remarks like, "I already have that issue," or, worse, "Well, that's the same old cover they've run for the past three issues." Not good. Did a sketch of the cover I really want:

Ranger advancing with a rifle in a border town. The problem is finding any old photos that illustrate this. Had Dan The Man Harshberger create a new photo from the pieces of several existing photos and he came up with a very strong cover image, but we're concerned it's a bit odd, or even unethical, to illustrate a non-Ranger as a Ranger.

It's an interesting dilemma: no one would blink if I did an illustration of this, from a composite of existing photographs, but when you use a real photo of someone as a photo illustration it gets dicey. What do you think?

We may go with an art cover to illustrate The Deadliest Corridor on the Texas border:

Hmmmmm. We're on the hunt. Stay tuned.

"When you forgive, you in no way change the past—but, you sure do change the future."
—Bernard Meltzer

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Topock Is Ready for Its Closeup

February 19, 2013
After finishing "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac, I decided I needed to read all of the road classics. I'm currently reading two books, "Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck and "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat Moon. Both are pretty spectacular reads.

Also rented John Ford's "Grapes of Wrath" to see what all the hub bub about that is. Pretty interesting project for Ford (he won the Oscar for best director). He had just done Stagecoach with John Wayne, which, of course, uses Monument Valley to great affect. So in "Grapes," he sends out a second unit to film road shots on Route 66, but the project is so controversial (the book was widely banned because of its anti-growers stance) the film crew resorts to a fake name of the movie they are shooting, "The Route 66 Story" or some such off-putting title. Anyway, the photography is absolutely stunning. Shooting in black and white, the cinematographer goes for really dark, dramatic shadows:

The caption is on the pic because I turned on the caption app in order to savor the language of the script.

Also, check out this road shot of the Joad truck ambling down a desert highway.

Very dark landscape with only the road and the vanishing point showing in the distance. Also note the single, unbroken stripe on the road. I have a hunch this was shot on the Navajo res and not Route 66, because there are other shots of sheep on the highway that were obviously shot up by Kayenta. It makes sense because, as i said, Ford had just been there for "Stagecoach" and probably instructed the second unit to get scenes from there. Although on a second look this could be the long hill coming out of Ashfork with the long butte west of Seligman in the right distance.

There is a shot of the truck crossing the Pecos River, which would be at Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Strangely, there are no shots of Texas, with the sequence jumping from Oklahoma, to the Pecos and then to the Arizona-New Mexico line:

This scene is amazing on a couple counts, the first being, check out the dirt road in Arizona! So the pavement ends when you leave New Mexico? At least in 1939-40 it did. Also check out the syntax on the sign: "You now leave New Mexico"? Who's writing this, Chief Stereotype?

And, once they are in Arizona they encounter the dreaded inspection station, where the friendly Zonie official tells the Okies to "keep moving."

Ah, Arizona, where everyone is welcome as long as you are not a Mexican, Indian, black, Okie, or a Democrat.

Arizona Welcomes You, Sort of

Then we skip Winslow, Holbrook, Flagstaff (don't forget Winona), Ashfork, Seligman, Peach Springs, Valentine and Kingman and we have an extended sequence at Topock on the Colorado River:

When someone tells grandma that is California over there, she spits. Ha. This is obviously a matt painting done in the studio but those are the Needles buttes over there, which the town is named for:

That is a classic sign. And here's a very familiar sight to folks in Mohave County:

This is the Topock Bridge connecting California to Arizona on Route 66. I have crossed this bridge many times on our way to play Needles, California teams.

"Any traveler who misses the journey, misses about all he's going to get."
—William Least Heat Moon, "Blue Highways

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jugs Iced Free & Battlescars of The Apache Republic

February 18, 2013
   Worked over the weekend on several projects. The Top Secret Writer and I are creating a sweet little villain for the Mickey Free story. Everyone called him Curley, but his real name was Battlescars:

Daily Whipout #133, "Battlescars of The Apache Republic"

Part Apache and part Mojave, Curly had facial tattoos to match his many battlescars. One, mean dude, he was.

Meanwhile, watched "Grapes of Wrath" last night and was very impressed with the cinematography. Some of the best I've ever seen. No surprise then that the guy who filmed it, also did "Citizen Kane." Talbot I believe is his name. Just brilliant lighting. Anyway, I was impressed with a scene of Tom Joad and the preacher approaching the Joad farm house and so this morning I whipped out a little study inspired by the memory of the scene:

Daily Whipout #134, "Coffee's On"

Also, worked on a concept piece for my Route 66 project. Also whipped that out this morning before I came into work:

Daily Whipout #135, "Jugs Iced Free"

As I told my Kingman compadres—Bugs and Big D—this is inspired by a whole lot of Mary Jane R. and a pinch of Mary Kay H. Ha.

"It was so cold the other day in Cheyenne that I saw a lawyer going down the street with his hands in his own pocket."
—Alan Simpson

Author Glenn Boyer Has Passed

February 18, 2013
  I just received word from the family that author Glenn Boyer passed on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, at the age of 89. His destination is unclear but his intent will be forever known.

"You sons of bitches have been looking for a fight and now you can have it."
—Wyatt Earp

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mattie Earp's Gravesite Dedication

February 17, 2013
Yesterday, my production manager Robert Ray and his wife Bea and I drove out to Superior for the dedication of a cemetery fence we—The True West Preservation Society—helped finance.  This is the Pinal graveyard where Mattie Earp, Wyatt's second wife, is buried. There has been vandalism and outright stealing at the site for a long time.

 The few graves remaining, like this one, are few and far between. That is Picket Post Mountain in the background.

One of the locals, Manny Guzman (who has a relative buried in the cemetery) told me Mattie Earp originally had a headstone but in the early 1960s "someone from Tombstone stole it." This is so rude, but so typical. It's the reason there is a cage over Billy the Kid's grave (and they still got inside!)

Here is a photo of Manny and the Guzman family in front of the new sign marking the cemetery.

That's Manny in the cowboy hat. The Guzman family has lived in the Superior area for five generations. Names to follow.

The stealing of Mattie's headstone in the early sixties would be about the time that John Gilchriese and another researcher (Robert Mullin?) discovered the coroner's inquest that Wyatt's second wife had committed suicide after declaring that Wyatt Earp had ruined her life. Up to that time hardly anyone knew about her and the discovery caused a stir among Earp fans because of the salacious details of the report and remember, this was just after The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp TV show, and there were some who predicted that Wyatt Earp would never have another movie made about him (how wrong they were on that point!).

Mattie died in 1888 after Wyatt had abandoned her and taken up with Josephine Marcus.

This gravestone was recently added and according to the Forest Service is not in the exact location of her grave (they are keeping it secret for obvious reasons).

"I went in and saw by the position that she was lying in that something was wrong. I lit a light and went up to the bed and looked at her and her arms and face were covered with black spots. I suppose she had been taking more laudanum and had taken too much and was dead or dying. I felt her pulse and found they weren't beating. I asked Beeler what she had been taking and he said he poured her some laudanum and she had taken the whole bottle."

Coroner: "What is the name of the deceased, if you know?"

"Mattie Earp."

Coroner: "Did you hear the deceased threaten her own life?"

"I have. Earp, she said, had wrecked her life by deserting her and she didn't want to live."
—T.J. Flannery, 30, a laborer from Pinal, Arizona Territory

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Praise From Texas

February 15, 2013
  Sometimes I get really creative mail here at the True West World Headquarters.

Here's part of the letter inside:

"In 1957 my mother sent me to Sanderson, Texas for the summer. There was absolutely nothing to do. The theatre opened at two and that was my home. So before the theatre I'd hang at the local drug store and it was there I discovered True West! It was printed on newsprint and headquartered out of Austin! You sir, have maintained the quality of TW with your marvelous illustrations and fantastic stories. May the good lord continue to give you a full imagination and take care of your hands!"
—Your amigo in Texas, Rudolph Gonzalez, San Antonio, Texas

Mercantile Dawn

February 15, 2013
Got up this morning and bailed into another Lone Light painting. Started with one of the work-up paintings I did last weekend.

Bill Dunn's critique that my last kitchen light painting looked like someone was "welding in the living room" forced me to try and go more subtle. Ended up here:

Daily Whipout #128, "Mercantile Dawn"

Had another open house at Bronzesmith yesterday for our Not-So-Gentle Tamer project. Two Kingman classmates of mine drove over to see it. Karen Johnson Collins and Jan Key Prefontane. Took them both to lunch at Leff-T's Steakhouse in Dewey. Fun catching up with these Kingman beauties. Jan told a funny story about working at a legendary Route 66 diner:

"My sister Renee and I worked as waitresses at the City Cafe after I graduated from high school. This guy came in every day and played 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash, then he'd sit at the counter, leaning forward with his arms crossed. He'd push his muscles out with his thumbs behind his biceps and stare at me for the entire song. He came in every day and did this. I hated that song for years."
—Jan Prefontane

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Last Apache Welder?

February 14, 2013
  Tweaked a couple paintings this morning before I came into work. One of the Lone Light Paintings I started last weekend turned into an homage to Frank Tenney Johnson.

Frank calls nocturnes like these, "The Midnite Visitor," etc., but I'm reading "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck, and he describes a youngster who is full of testosterone and roaming the countryside until he comes back "from squirtin' around." Ha. It gets better. Here's how Tom Joad's father describes his youngest son:

"He's a-billygoatin' aroun' the country. Tom-cattin' hisself to death. Smart-aleck sixteen-year-older, an' his nuts is just a-eggin' him on. He don't think of nothin' but girls and engines."

Daily Whipout #126, "The Horndog Visitor:

Also re-tweaked a study I posted a couple days ago. Thought it need a little more definition. Always a gamble, the fear being destroying anything subtle for the sake of clarity. not sure of the verdict, but it's too late now.

Daily Whipout #127, "The Last Apache Raider"

Got an amusing but succinct critique of a recent Lone-Light painting. My Canadian compadre Bill Dunn said in reference to this painting:


"I like the way you’ve walked us around to the darker side of the house with

the sun glow on the other side. This is working in a number for your last works.

However, you can’t forget what is producing the light you see in the window.

There are no power poles???? so it has to be lamp light!

You would think with that amount of light filling the window someone was

welding in the living room!!"

—Bill Dunn

"He was as lecherous as always. Vicious and cruel and impatient, like a frantic child, and the whole structure overlaid with amusement. He drank too much, when he could get it, ate too much when it was there, talked too much all the time."
—John Steinbeck, describing Tom Joad's grandfather in "Grapes of Wrath"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Under The Tonto Grin, Part II

February 13, 2013
   Still working on a logo for a friend of mine who wants a Cave Creek Cowboy and a Tonto Apache aligned and gazing at the same future. Did six sketches, this being the most recent.

Also working on a love letter to growing up on Route 66. Sent this page of old photos down to Dan The Man's this afternoon. This is out of my grandparent's photo album showing my father's gas station in Peach Springs in 1947.

This was where I got my arm in a washing machine ringer. I have a bad scar on the inside crook of my left arm but thanks to Dr. Arnold in Kingman, I can still use my left arm. Frankly, I'm somewhat amazed I made it this far. In addition to putting my hand in the washing machine wringer in Peach Springs, because I was fascinated by the contraption, I also leaned in a stock tank on the Bell family farm and almost drowned. I was saved by a Ladies Aid woman who saw my feet flailing in the air as I leaned over and went right in. I also was enamored of an elevator conveyor belt driven that was loading corn out of my grandfather's corn crib and I would have rode it, but my grandfather was onto my poor judgement and took me down to the house where my grandmother tied me to the clothesline on a leash. They still laugh about this in Iowa whenever I go back.

Anyway, I often wonder how I made it to the here and the now. This is the theme of a song I have been listening to quite a bit lately.  As you probably already know, I absolutely love Loudon Wainwright's album Older Than My Old Man Now. One song could have been written about my own life, including the year of my birth (and the motive of my parents):

The strangest story ever told

is how I got to be this old

At the close of World War II

my folks did the deed that the young folks do

In '46 out I came

This world would never be the same

I don't know why, I'm not sure how,

I wound up here in the here and the now

chorus [sung by his kids]: 

He don't know why, he's not sure why, 

he ended up here in the here and the now.

In the 1950s I was just a kid

Did all the kid stuff all you people did

I rode a bike, I threw a ball

childhood yeah, I got through it all

The sixties came I got incensed

The girls were scary and the parents were pissed

I don't know why, I'm not sure how

I wound up here in the here and the now.

Chorus sung by his kids. Repeat.

"Whatever it is that hits the fan will not be evenly distributed."
—Old Vaquero Saying