Parting Looks

HJN Harold, age 6, with his palomino horse Silver.

Harold, age 6, with his palomino horse Silver on the family ranch in the Glass Mountains east of Alpine, Texas.

HJN longhorn steer

HJN. Longhorn steer. Welded metal.

Harold’s welded tonnage of heroic longhorn steer stands about eight feet tall at the poll (the space between his ears). It’s from an early period — the 80’s. Harold donated the steer to his alma mater, Sul Ross State University (its mascot is the Longhorn), where he earned his master’s degree in business administration in his twenties. It graces the hillside campus of that institution overlooking Alpine, Texas, the seat of Brewster County. Brewster is the largest Texas county, and one of the emptiest in regards to human habitation. The school was named after Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross, 19th governor of Texas.

HJN Harold at his forge.

Harold was fond of this photo of himself working at his forge. The tin of Prince Albert tobacco is a prop planted in his pocket with full intentionality. He also liked to flaunt a pouch of Red Man chewing tobacco or roll-your-own Bull Durham. It was part of the mystique of stolid “hombres” he remembered from his youth — a cult of masculinity perhaps never quite outgrown.

I used to say somewhat peevishly that my father was the most photographed man in the county. Snapshots of him are legion, including one in which he modeled buck naked in a sylvan setting for a bevy of rapt life drawing students. He was in his fifties and exuded the aura of a burly satyr.

He was an avid craftsman from an early age. He learned carpentry from his brother-in-law, Jesse James, who designed and built houses in the Pecos area. Harold worked for Jesse for a time before obtaining his masters degree and taking up teaching. He picked up welding somewhere along the way, and received tutoring in blacksmithing later in life from Jim De Leon, a descendant of Martin De Leon. Martin was a Spaniard credited with founding Victoria in the late 1700’s. Jim’s smithy lay a block away from Harold’s studio, by the river.

HJN Abuelita (Grandma)

Oil on canvas. Unknown elderly woman. Harold labeled her “Abuelita,” the affectionate diminutive for “abuela” (grandmother). Inexplicably, the painting’s not dated.

HJN Grandma 2

Acrylic on paper. Elderly woman. I don’t know who she was.

(c) 2019 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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