Veryl Goodnight on Forrest Fenn…

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Late last spring I met up with Forrest in Santa Fe where we filmed the Santa Fe Interviews.  One warm evening we went out on Canyon Road to a gallery benefit. We had some difficulty locating the host gallery and had to ask directions. It was a real lesson in the high esteem to which folks hold Forrest.

After walking this way and that for awhile we found a young gallery owner out sweeping dust off her immaculate porch and asked her where Medicine Man Gallery was located. Since it was after the time when most galleries were closed for the evening Forrest complimented the woman on her work ethic and shop hours. She smiled and asked me who we were, probably thinking we were from the IRS or something. As I pointed at Forrest I said, “This is Forrest Fenn.” My lord! You would have thought I was introducing her to Mark Ruffolo. She (I’m not making this up) actually swooned. If you don’t know what swooning is you need to watch some Beatles concert films. Forrest is a legend in Santa Fe and his gallery is still revered at mythic scale even though he sold it 25 years ago

Veryl Goodnight inside her sculpture, “The Day The Wall Came Down”.

The reason we were headed to this particular gallery that evening was because the main event was a beautiful bronze by renown artist, Veryl Goodnight. Veryl is the artist that created “The Day The Wall Came Down” which celebrates the reunification of East and West Germany. The “bigger-than-life” sculpture was a gift from the American People to the People of Berlin and lives in Germany. A second lives in Texas at the George Bush Library.

I was entirely out of my realm at a Canyon Road gallery event but Roger and Veryl took the time to make me feel welcome. Very, very nice folks indeed. The following note from Veryl appeared in my mailbox soon after the Newsweek story hit the streets. It is titled, The Real Forrest Fenn.

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Thank you for giving me a venue to jump in and defend Forrest Fenn, who I have know for close to forty years.  In my opinion, Tony completely missed the mark in his Newsweek Article.  He worked so hard to make Forrest out as an unethical grave robber, that he failed to see a the brilliant and generous man. After all, isn’t bad news supposed to sell better than good news? Forrest has always charted his own course, and enjoys walking along the fine line of controversy, as portrayed repeatedly in “Thrill of the Chase.” Forrest would give you the shirt of his own back in a blizzard – as soon as he felt you deserved it.
My husband, Roger Brooks, and I have gone Treasure Hunting twice, with the invaluable aid of our “Research Department,” Melanie Brown.  Our first adventure took us into the Gallatin National Forest during a snowstorm last May.  As we passed through an old burn, the wind made the standing dead lodgepole pines creak and moan and we encountered fresh grizzly bear tracks.  I came home and painted “No Place For the Meek.”

Veryl Goodnight’s, “No Place For The Meek”.

The painting was certainly inspired by the trip, but it was inspired even more by a recent “lesson” Forrest had given me about composition and paying more attention to line when I was painting.  I have been a professional artist, mostly as a sculptor, for over forty years.  Forrest didn’t have to take his time to speed up my return to painting.  There was nothing in it for him as he no longer sells art, but he did take his time, and did so with so much sincerity, that he teared up as he pushed me up the creative path.

THAT is the Forrest Fenn that Tony never saw.  THAT is the Forrest Fenn who is giving hundreds of people he has never met,  a dream and an adventure along the way. I, for one, hope that it will be many, many years before Forrest’s bones accompany the treasure.  And I hope the treasure is found while Forrest is still alive, for he deserves the recognition of having done something that no one else, no matter how wealthy, has done for others.
Veryl Goodnight
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Please visit Veryl’s website  by clicking HERE to see more of her wondrous paintings and sculptures and read the entire story of “The Day The Wall Came Down”.
Thank you Veryl.
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