Butterfly Maiden

by forrest fenn

These vignettes from Forrest’s collection are only to share. To see 294 additional pieces  please visit


I hope these kachina dolls don’t take this personally, but I like old things, especially if they are powerful, and gracefully show their age. These three do. More than a hundred years ago the Hopi Indians in Arizona carved them from roots of a cottonwood tree. Most kachinas have multiple duties, but some stand out more than others. Faith is a big part of the colorful Kachina Culture.

This Butterfly Maiden has faded over time, but has kept her Mona Lisa twinkle. At least for me she has. Nothing about her has changed in the 50 years since she came to live with me. She pollinates dreams and makes them come true. Look her up if you don’t believe it. That’s why she’s my all-time favorite.

Kachinas are made to teach Hopi children how to dress for the dances, and the Sao Hemis is one of the most elaborate. Although customs change over the generations some things don’t. Sao Hemis always wears a kilt, a tablita, and their bodies are painted with black corn smut.

The Three Horn kachina is a warrior who likes to sing excitedly when he dances. He’s one of the guards and, when needed, can rush into action with great swiftness. He brings rain to the ground that insures a good harvest. And a good harvest can mean the children will be healthy, the crops will grow, and the water will be potable.

Two books on archaeology say that the Kachina Culture didn’t exist in pre-historic times, but we found those accounts to be fraught with misdirection.

Painting by James Asher

I found two helmet style masks at San Lazaro Pueblo, and paid to have them excavated by professional archaeologists. Radiocarbon (C-14) and archaeomagnetic dates show that the masks were used between 1450 and 1520. The pueblo was prehistoric until 1540 when a Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado entered the Southwestern landscape. The official archaeological record is being revised to reflect my discovery. f


by forrest fenn

These vignettes from Forrest’s collection are only to share. To see 294 additional pieces  please visit


paintericonI used to collect paint palettes. I had about twenty of those things and they looked so good hanging on a wall in our guest house that when we sold the business I just left them there, except for a couple of course.



Clark Hulings donated this one. He was a special friend whose work we sold in our gallery. Clark was getting a lot of publicity and winning awards at important shows, so his work quickly escalated in value. In the early 1970s, I gave my wife one of his paintings for her birthday. I paid $6,500 for it.

After a few years Peggy’s mother retired. She had been managing a ladies’ ready-to-wear store in San Angelo. My wife came to me and said, “You know, Honey, I really love that Hulings painting, but my mother needs a place to live and I’d like to help her.” So we sold the painting and bought her mother a home with the money.


Now I have just one small floral by Clark. It’s called “A Single Rose.” Wish I’d kept some of his larger works. My wife thinks this one is hers and I don’t have the guts to tell her it isn’t. Does that mean it is hers?

Ben Stahl was another special friend. He was the kind of guy you wanted to be around and just stay there for a long time. We had a show for him and one of the most popular paintings depicted a cowboy on a ladder who was about to climb into a hay loft. The title was “The Way the West was Won.” We sold it quickly, and could’ve sold it another ten times. Ben painted this condensed version and gave it to me.

One of Ben’s favorite subjects was saloon scenes. They had combustion and always included ladies who were familiar with the nighttime jingle of spurs. They don’t make artists with Ben’s flavor anymore.