It was 41 years ago next month that Bill Oakton came to see me and took this photo.
He was a writer for New Mexico Business Journal, a magazine that seriously reported on commercial re-financing, risk management, the problems with overstocking inventory, and other similar subjects.
The publisher heard that Santa Fe was somewhat of an art community and he wanted to do a story about it. So Bill called the Chamber of Commerce and they sent him to me. When he showed up at our gallery, I was busy with a client. That gave Bill a few minutes to stroll through the 7 spacious rooms in which we sold art.
Evidently, he had had a conversation with his editor and they decided it wouldn’t be much of a story, but since Bill was going to be in town on other business anyway, he might as well drop in for a short interview.
To him, art meant “hobby,” and he was ready to write a delightful little quarter-page item about art for the New Mexico masses, and put it on the back page.
As Bill wandered around looking at wall stickers, he was thinking about Sunday afternoon paintings priced at several hundred dollars, or maybe $500 max. He wasn’t ready for $3,500 on the bottom, and more than several paintings priced in the middle six figure range.
When he entered my office and shook my hand, the conversation went something like this:
“Mr Fenn, you must really love art.”
“No, art is a business to me.”
“You mean you just don’t, really, really love art?”
“Listen Bill, my business is like most others, is the owner of One Hour Martinizing supposed to love dirty clothes?”
That did it, and we started laughing, me at me and him at him. The coffee discussion after that lasted more than an hour. He wanted me to advertise in his magazine, and I told him that his pages were too serious for me. He countered with, “what’s not serious about a $350,000 painting?” The repartee went on like that for a while, like two little kids playing in a grown-up sand box.
When the December, 1978, issue of New Mexico Business Journal was published, it contained two stories about me. One was titled, “The business of art, and the other, “Money, not love. One sub-title read, “Santa Fe’s Forrest Fenn is a maverick in the art business, because he deals in art, not because he loves it, but to make money.”
I always try to give writers something they can use.
And the editor put my picture on the cover. f