Wagner was uncompromising in his work. If he wasn’t satisfied with a painting, he was known to destroy it and start anew.
It’s not surprising that he chose Taos, NM as his home. Taos has long been a Mecca for those in search of a life at its largest; those who refused to compromise, and those who demanded freedom in their daily existence. Soon after he arrived Rory happened into the gallery of RC Gorman. RC became his mentor and helped him get settled into the artistic community. They became lifelong friends.
Rory was a self-taught painter, he was initially drawn to the work of the Dutch master of portraiture, Vermeer. One of his favorite early subjects was the American Cowboy, an icon of don’t fence me in heroism.
Wagner was uncompromising in his work. If he wasn’t satisfied with a painting, he was known to destroy it and start anew. He was meticulous, researching the smallest details of the subjects he painted.
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 beadwork and feathering, Wagner often used small double aught brushes. It took Rory hours and hours, day after day to complete beadwork.