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Veryl Goodnight shares stories that inspired her art

Veryl Goodnight poses with one of her sled dogs last fall at her new gallery in downtown Mancos. She gave a presentation last week at the Mancos Library about the inspiration for some of her works.

Mancos painter and sculptor Veryl Goodnight condensed her 50-year career into an hourlong talk at the Mancos Public Library on March 23.

Goodnight shared stories of inspiration about her various works in the talk, titled “Trail Visions: A Creative Journey.”

“Most of the time when I work, it’s something that’s really in my heart,” she said.

Her monument “The Day The Wall Came Down” depicts five horses jumping over the destroyed Berlin Wall. After the wall fell in Berlin in November 1989, she said she had a dream about horses jumping over the wall. It took her nine years to see that dream realized and create the 7-ton monument, she said.

“You can’t do something like this without a lot of angels looking at you,” she said of the piece.

Two bronze castings of the monument were created. One is at the Allied Museum in Berlin, and the other at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.

Former President George H.W. Bush, for whom the library is named, couldn’t make the dedication of “The Day The Wall Came Down” in College Station when it was placed there in 1997, Goodnight said. Instead, he flew to Berlin a year later when the second casting was placed at the Allied Museum, Goodnight said.

In the 1980s, when Goodnight spent time in Denver and Santa Fe, she had a wildlife rehabilitation license. She kept animals on her property and created sculptures and paintings inspired by the wildlife, she said.

Goodnight and her husband Roger Brooks raised a buffalo calf named Charlie at their home in Santa Fe. Veryl and Roger flew to Idaho to find Charlie, an orphan calf, and flew him back to Santa Fe. They invited Charlie into their home and bottle-raised him as a calf, Goodnight said.

Veryl and Roger continued to spend time with Charlie as he grew into a massive adult buffalo. Health issues prevented Charlie from becoming part of a herd, so he stayed in Santa Fe and often went on hikes with Roger, Goodnight said.

Charlie was the inspiration for Goodnight’s 2000 sculpture “Back From The Brink,” which depicts a pioneer woman bottle-feeding a bison calf.

“There are stories here — tremendous stories,” Goodnight said.

Goodnight’s sculpture of a bald eagle, “On The Crest of a Wave,” was created in 1980. She studied the form and anatomy of the eagle, down to the differences between feathers on the bird’s wings.

The sculpture became one of the first American art pieces to tour China in the 1980s, Goodnight said. A casting of the piece also was located at the American embassy in Botswana, she said.

Goodnight’s oil painting “Olga’s Return” depicts a woman traveling down a mountain hill with four burros in tow. The piece was inspired by the story of Olga Little, who lived in Southwest Colorado in the early 1900s. Little transported gold and silver ore on the backs of burros from the mines high in the La Plata Mountains to the railroad station south of Hesperus, Goodnight said.

“Trail Visions” also is the name Goodnight has given to the window displays at her new gallery, 106 Grand Ave. The windows will display information about history and her artwork and will rotate periodically, she said. She hopes to see people stop and take in the information, she said.

“The windows of the gallery are a gift to the town,” she said.


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