The Iron Rooster of Santa Fe County
Years ago I got a bargain on two old cast iron chickens. They’re probably 20th century Spanish or from over there someplace. The rooster weighs 70 pounds, and is almost 2’ tall. Here’s a photo of the hen. Both were rusty brown and ugly-dull finished.
I really liked those things, but my wife saw them on our kitchen table asked if I was okay, and felt my forehead to see if I had a temperature. That suddenly gave me terrible buyer’s remorse. I looked at the chickens again and out in the garage they went. It really bothers me to make art mistakes like that. And then I thought of my friend Joe Anna Arnett.
No one in the world is better at painting still life florals than she is, and you have to love her as a person. That’s an envious position for anyone to be in.
A call to Joe Anna brought her running with her husband, Jim Asher, who also is a world class painter, a watercolorist.
Joe Anna took one look at my rooster and groped for the nearest chair. I’m sure she was thinking, “Oh my, what did I do to deserve this?” She had never put paint on an iron rooster before, at least not a tall, heavy, cold, brown one. She was not smiling when I put that thing in the back of her car. At home, Jim put it by a heater to warm it up, probably hoping it would melt.
I didn’t hear from Joe Anna for a month, then one day an email came in. She wanted to bring my chicken home. I just knew she was weary of it, and whatever catastrophes that occurred in her studio would probably be my fault. Maybe it fell over and broke her paint box, or the weight of it collapsed a leg on her Woodbridge table and sent her coffee cup splashing across the floor. I didn’t feel too good.
The iron rooster was covered with a black garbage bag when Jim put it on my table, and stepped back behind the counter. I looked at Joe Anna and she looked at me, neither of us smiling. After a long few seconds, she nodded toward the plastic bag, insinuating that I should pull it off.
Wow, this is what was under the bag. When Joe Anna saw me grinning she started laughing, and we hugged. I love it when I make really great art decisions. f
Google them and look at their paintings.
James Asher Santa Fe
Joe Anna Arnett