Rory Wagner
Rory Wagner (1950-2010) painted rich, realistically rendered figures mostly of Native American heritage. His style mirrored that of the Dutch master painter Jan Vermeer.

He was a self-taught painter. One of his favorite early subjects was the American Cowboy, an icon of don’t-fence-me-in heroism.

Raised in Florida, he moved to Taos, New Mexico, in the late 1970s to pursue his painting career. On his arrival in Taos, he happened into the gallery of R.C. Gorman. R.C. helped get Rory settled in the artistic community, became his mentor, and was his lifelong friend.

As his work matured, around the mid-80s, the faces of indigenous peoples have replaced his cowboys. As always, Rory did his homework. With the same meticulous care used to build each image, he researched the smallest details of the subjects he painted.

His technique was unique. He blended the complex skin-tones by rubbing pigment onto the canvas. He used to joke that he rubbed instead of painted. To achieve the authenticity of bead work and feathering, Rory often used small double-aught brushes. “It takes me hours and hours, day upon day, to complete every one of them,” he said.

Rory’s work almost defies description. He painted primarily large canvases, but even in his smaller pieces there is a compelling, larger-than-life quality. Is it the eyes? Each face demands your attention with those incredibly luminous eyes. Rory’s faces transcend the ordinary and explore the nobility of our human potential.

R.C. Gorman commissioned Rory to do a portrait of himself that hung in Gorman’s home, and he later painted Gorman’s father and aunt. He also painted portraits of Burt Reynolds and many other celebrities during his career.

Rory won many awards over the years, including being honored by Governor Bill Richardson with the New Mexico Governors Award “Excellence in the Arts” in 2006.

Many of his canvases through the years have been placed in public and corporate settings. His work is in the Mercy Regional Center in Durango, Colorado; the Booth Western Museum in Cartersville, Georgia; The Taos Civic Plaza and Convention Center in Taos, New Mexico; as well as several galleries throughout the Southwest.

Oil Paintings
Giclee Prints
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