Myth of Lazarus
Acrylic on canvas, 50" x 72" For Rory Wagner, poems, expressions or phrases would become etched on his mind. He would reflect, ponder and muse over them. Then years, perhaps decades later, his personal interpretation of those words would visually allow us a glimpse into his inner contemplations. In the mid-70s, Wagner met Buffy Sainte-Marie, a pureblood Canadian Cree singer-songwriter. In his own words, “To say that Buffy was impressive would be an understatement. What an amazing and wonderful person she was!” At some point, they discussed Lazarus and the myth that he should be the sole beneficiary of Jesus’ mercy. Wagner recalled it this way, “She spoke words that sounded to me like a poem or song. Words that I found unforgettable, and have been thinking about occasionally ever since. ‘As the dark horse watched, The beautiful man died. As the painted crow watched, The beautiful man arose, Like Lazarus long before.’ ” The young man in this painting is Plains Cree. The bead patterns on the “headstall” and Breechclout are of Cree design (although subject to interpretation by the artist). The moccasins are Sioux, which would have been common among many Plains Tribes. The Hair-Plates are copper discs. The various beads are trade, some Venetian, some Russian. The feather on the Pony is from a Mourning Dove. The Crow’s head is painted red (the color of power) with white dots (hail marks).