The Boss

“The Boss,” oil on linen panel, 9×12

Politics in Northern New Mexico might seem complicated to an outsider, but to someone who is either from here or has been here so long it doesn’t matter, it’s actually pretty straightforward.

Blocks of votes are controlled by individuals who hold sway over others. It’s that simple. It’s either about money or influence, or a combination of both. The rightness or wrongness of a particular issue doesn’t really matter in the long run. It’s all about the bosses.

At the newspaper, in the archives, and on the walls of hallways are photographs of rooms of men. It’s not impossible to see who’s who and what’s what in the photograph if you know a little something about cultural anthropology. Who is in the center? Do others in the photograph display deferential posture? And since most older photographs are posed, much that is on display is purposeful and meant to be seen.

I decided to make the Boss’ right-hand man a priest instead of a strongman, though I know this is probably not often the case. A “Yes Man” is reading the paper. It’s his job to apprise the Boss if his name appears anywhere. On the left, a man and woman have come to the Boss for a favor. We know this because of the hat in his hand.

Outside, visible through the window is the Boss’ mother. She takes care of the small child at her knee. It is either his child through marriage or an illegitimate child of his through a powerful dalliance.

The Boss is relaxed. The Boss is unshakable. The Boss has seen it all.