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B. Pat Pattison

Who B. Pat Pattison was—where he or she was from, where he/she studied, how long he/she lived in Taos—we may never know.

Years of searching revealed no information about the artist... until recently.

An article from the November 6, 1938, edition of the ‘Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’ recently posted online describes in detail an exhibition of Taos artists that was to take place at Texas Tech University. Among such notables as E.I. Couse, O.E. Berninghaus, Nicolai Fechin, Dorothy Brett, Howard Cook and Gene Kloss is a mention of the inclusion of three works by Pat Pattison, including the two prints ‘Elk- Foot’ and ‘Ol’ Boy.’

The graphic vibrance and bold modernity of these portraits is remarkable, particularly in consideration of the fact that they are at least 83 years old. Pattison’s command of his/her medium is absolute and the dramatic effect of the half-shaded face of the handsome Ol’ Boy and the three-quarter-shaded face of the even more handsome Elk Foot is quite extraordinary. Pattison’s use of serrated lines in the subject’s faces and in the patterns of Elk Foot’s blanket and Ol’ Boy’s plaid shirt gives an energetic, rhythmic cohesion to the image. Pattison’s incorporation of the borders of the print and the informational margin at the bottom as graphic elements adds to the sophistication of the composition.

Like his portraitist, the identity of Ol’ Boy remains a mystery, but his cohort Jerry ‘Elk Foot’ Mirabal is well known as a model for both E.I. Couse and J.H. Sharp. One of Couse’s early Taos masterpieces is a full-length, life-size portrait of Elk Foot that resides in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.