Hi Gary- This missive will be a little long and rambling, so please forgive. I did try to send you an email through silversage gallery but it was bounced back to me as undeliverable. I am searching for some information on Joe Back. My name is Barb and I live in Longmont, Colorado. Several years ago ( around 1999 or so ) I purchased a small piece which although unsigned, I believe may just be a Joe Back piece. Just lately I have decided to truly try to track that down and find out for sure, if that's possible. To that end, yesterday I began some phone calls in Dubois, and eventually I spoke with Carl over at the Headwaters Center, and he gave me your name and phone number as the person who knew Joe best. And internet search on you turned up a glory of western art that had me enthralled for quite some time. I was of course especially taken with the painting of Long's Peak. I did find your blog, and since I am a lover of small birds I very much enjoyed the bluebird and the evening grosbeak as well. And the Hunter and the Hunted was gorgeous. I liked it all, Gary--lol.Let me give you an account of how I came by the little piece. It's a hand carved wood piece of a small horse ( without any gear on him ) staked to a post and pulling back for all he's worth looking fairly well undone by the whole thing. It's a nice little piece about 4 & 1/2 inches tall including the base that he stands on. Years ago I owned a Joe Back piece of a pack pony totally loaded down with gear and I loved the piece, but somebody offered me too much money for it, and you know how that goes. At the time I did not really understand who Joe Back was. This little piece is very reminiscent of the style of the horse in that other piece. And here is why I suspect it might be one of Joe's pieces: I purchased the piece from an 87 year old lady whose parents were Les and Martie Bowman. The Bowmans were quite famous in their day as both flew airplanes, testing planes for the service, and training pilots for the Navy and in civilian life afterward they were barnstormers. Their daughter, Larnie, from whom I purchased the piece used to do wing walking when she was only eight years old and soloed as a pilot at 12. At any rate, later in life the Bowmans ran a big game outfitter and guide/pack operation out of Cody called the LB for many many years. During those years Les, as a ballistics expert, also tested firearms and scopes for many of the manufacturers at the time including Winchester and Weatherby. Larnie ( the daughter ) told me that her Mom had picked up this little carving probably in the 40's or 50's or so. She said her Mom had quite a collection of small art pieces that she picked up all over the US in her travels. So my line of thinking goes like this: Both the Bowmans and Joe Back were engaged in the same type of business in the same timeframe in the same area. It's almost inconceivable to me that they would not have known each other. And since Martie Bowman had an affinity for small art pieces and they were in the packing business, this is just the type of piece that would have greatly appealed to her. It's quite possible that she either bought the piece from Joe or was given it in friendship. Now I have rambled a long time, to really get to a couple of questions, but I definitely wanted to give you the history that I have on the piece. So....would you happen to know if Joe did any hand carving of wood pieces? And if so would you like me to email you jpegs of the piece so that you can have a look at it? I am hopeful that I can either authenticate the piece or lay it to rest as NOT one of Joe's. I am of course, very willing to pay for your opinion up front, and I am grateful for any help you might be able to give me. Thanks so much for your time away from your art to attend to this email. firstname.lastname@example.org Barb
Barb,thanks for writing. It very well may be a Joe Back piece. He was an amazing person. The last of his kind I might add. Wrote the bible on Horse Packing and is listed in the Cowboy Hall of Fame for it-in Oklahoma City. If you have a pix of the piece-send it to me and I'll see if I can really tell from that. No charge. Send to email@example.comApparantely our web site at the gallery is on the fritz and am waiting for my pardner, Tom Lucas to return from show he is doing in Scottsdale. His wife is our computer expert. Afraid I am no good on the things. Check out western art of Tom Lucas and his blog.
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