Growing up as the self-professed “weird art kid” in Roswell, New Mexico, Jim Vogel comes from a family of storytellers, a background that now pervades his own artwork. At home in the heart of New Mexico, Vogel paints scenes of New Mexican myth and folklore in an attempt to “put images to these stories I’ve heard over and over from my mother and father.” Reminiscent of Thomas Hart Benton’s social realist and regionalist works, Vogel’s narrative paintings feature frequently New Mexico’s working-class and rural poor in an attempt to relate the common man’s struggle. In addition to his paintings, Vogel creates elaborate, handmade frames to enhance his scenes. Based in Dixon, New Mexico, Vogel participated recently in “Taos Six Collection: An Homage to Joseph Henry Sharp” at the Blue Rain Gallery, in which he showed his work Matching the Color of Sangre de Christo, after Joseph Henry Sharp’s The Old Santos Mender. Framing of Elfego Baca in collaboration with Christen Vogel.
Vogel says, “I was inspired by the story of self-deputized Elfego Baca (1865–1945) of Socorro, NM, and his standoff with forty Tejano cowboys. In October of 1884, Baca arrested a cowboy for drunkenly shooting up the small town of San Francisco Plaza. After a quick frontier-style trial the cowboy was released with a small fine.
“Word of the arrest got back to the cowboy’s coworkers who then set out to avenge his treatment. This lead to a three-day standoff with Baca inside a small jacal building (post and adobe construction) and forty, possibly up to eighty, Tejano cowboys shooting at him from the plaza area. After 4,000 rounds fired and four dead cowboys outside, Baca agreed to surrender to an actual deputy with a guarantee of safe passage to Socorro. Elfego Baca was charged with the murder of the dead cowboys. At his trial Baca presented the bullet-riddled door to the jacal, pointing out that he was on the other side. He was acquitted.
“This came to be known as the Frisco Shootout. It was the springboard that lead to his burnished reputation and a career as the actual sheriff of Socorro County (elected this time), criminal lawyer, US marshal, bouncer in a Juarez casino, local politico, and classic Nuevo Mexicano legend.”