If one were to guess the vocation of this striking figure from Oklahoma… rancher, horseman, tradesman would be at first logical, especially upon hearing one of Poteet’s colorful tales of life in Idabel. However, hang around long enough and you are certain to be drawn into an engaging conversation about any number of topics from stories of Harold Stevenson, Warhol or Rauschenberg to an insightful comment about neuroscience, quantum physics or individual awareness. What you would probably not hear from this unaffected artist are how his works have made it in to the personal collections of such interesting folks as Anthony Hopkins, Larry Hagman, the late Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler, Madonna, Led Zeppelin’s lead vocalist Robert Plant and Vidal Sassoon. You might notice Patricia Cornwell’s books on the shelf; she is a fan as well. She incorporated Poteet and one of her favorite paintings into her 2008 novel, Scarpetta.
Not everyone appreciates Poteet’s candid and direct personality, but it is difficult not to admire the resolute and constant energy he has devoted to authenticity in both his personal life and his work. His fresh and unconventional manner was a sort of fascination to the more ‘sophisticated’ principals of the New York art scene when Poteet studied at the Art Students League in the early 1980’s. Harold Stevenson, also from Idabel and Poteet’s mentor (who painted the controversial The New Adam now in the Guggenheim Museum’s permanent collection), made the introductions to Andy Warhol, Rauschenberg and others. (Note: Harold Stevenson and Poteet were two of six creative artists chosen for the prestigious 100 Year Retrospective held in Bartlesville, OK in 2007 held at Price Tower. The six honorees selected had each achieved international acclaim and the list included authors, performers and artists.) Harold Stevenson, one of ‘The New Realists’, helped Andy Warhol get his first exhibition, and often invited Poteet to join their groups of notables as he knew Poteet would pleasantly shock and delight with his fresh insight.
This facet of Poteet’s personality has fueled thirty years of painting. Often, artists are susceptible to influence by the world of commercialism, ‘artspeak’ (as Poteet puts it)—or critics...or admirers—Poteet has remained authentic. He has a wide range of styles but several elements remain constant… Poteet’s powerful command of composition, color, shape and his proprietary finish time after time create breathtaking pieces that evoke powerful responses.
McLarry Modern, Santa Fe, NM—Aug 2009, 2010, 2011
McLarry Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM—Aug 2007, 2008
Gallery 225, Santa Fe, NM—Aug 2006
Patricia Carlisle Gallery, Santa Fe, NM—
Aug 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
Primavera Gallery, Ojai, CA—2002, 2004
Oklahoma State Capitol, A Native Son’s Creative Gift—
May 18-July 5,1998
Meyer Gallery Scottsdale, AZ—Feb 12,1998
Contemporary Southwest Gallery, Santa Fe, NM—
Aug 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
Expressions in Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM—Dec 1994
Almiranta Chorruca—Mallorca, Spain
American Entertainer, Madonna
Author, Patricia Cornwell
British Stage and Movie Actor, Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins
Burt’s Bees Original Founder, Sunny Justice
Darrell Keith Law Firm—Ft. Worth, Texas
D2 Consulting—Brooklyn, Minnesota
Horizons Health Care Corporation—Hutchinson, Kansas
Raymond James Financial—St. Petersburg, Florida
Lead Led Zeppelin Singer, Robert Plant
Los Alamos National Bank—Santa Fe, New Mexico
Los Angeles Times Publisher, Otis Chandler
Mark Sakautzky Interior Design—Hamburg, Germany
Milagro Computer Systems—Austin, Texas
Piper Industries—Orlando, Florida
Schmidt Sportsworld—Essen, Germany
Suncare Health Inc.—Tallahassee, Florida
University of Oklahoma College of Law—Norman, Oklahoma
Watson & Barnes—Raleigh, North Carolina
Williams Companies, Inc.—Tulsa, Oklahoma
Santa Fean Magazine Aug/Sept 2011
By Devon Jackson
Spend any amount of engaged time with Poteet Victory and you’ll soon realize it’s not unlike the feeling you get when taking in his paintings. What initially strikes you as simple, straightforward, and down to earth gradually deepens, increasing in complexity and nuance. His paintings, most of them decidedly abstract, aim for and explore the spiritual, primarily through color and form at their most essential. And Victory himself, once you get past the soft Sooner twang, the aw-shucks demeanor, and the ranching and rodeo background, is as sophisticated and informed an artist as you’ll ever meet.
Get him to talking about his most recent and ongoing series, Abbreviated Portraits, for instance, and he’ll reference everything from the latest neuroscientific takes on the way the brain processes and remembers images to Joseph Campbell’s iconographic studies of mythology to Marcel Proust’s insights into the way smell triggers memory. Not that he puts any of this across didactically, or that it’s at all striving or trying to impress. Quite the opposite. And that’s what’s so disarming and what warms you up to both Victory and to his paintings. His art exudes its creator’s humility as much as his intellect.
In a life of turning points, one of the first and deepest for Victory, who grew up in a family of roughnecks in cow punching Idabel, Oklahoma, was his encounter, at age 15, with fellow Idabellan Harold Stephenson, an accomplished painter who’d moved to New York City and so charmed Andy Warhol that the Pop artist named his first film after him. “I’d been rodeoing bulls and riding horses bareback,” recalls Victory, now 64. “After on of the rodeos Stephenson came up to me and asked if I’d pose as Alexander the Great. He needed someone who could sit on a horse in his studio. So I posed for him over the next two summers. He’d talk about art and the philosophy of art. That really stuck with me.”
After serving in the Army, learning silk-screening in Maui, and then founding and, in 1980, selling off a successful T-shirt business, Victory lit out for the Arts Students League in New York, where he again hooked up with Stephenson (who introduced him to Warhol and to Rauschenberg) and honed his emerging skills as a fine artist fifteen years later, after having returned to Oklahoma (and after his wife asked him for a divorce), Victory moved to Santa Fe, where, within weeks, he was bartending at Vanessie. ‘It was the perfect thing for a person like me,” he says. “I didn’t know anybody and through that job I got to meet everybody.” The owner soon hung up some of his works, which quickly sold. By 1991, he was painting full-time.
Since then, Victory (who’s 3/8 Cherokee and Choctaw) has abandoned realism and Native imager almost entirely. And brushes, “I’m a lot more comfortable with a knife than a brush,” he says, “so I paint everything on the knife. And I actually don’t paint; I sculpt.” Lately he’s been “sculpting” away on his potentially ground-breaking series Abbreviated Portraits, wherein he has distilled a person down to his or her archetypal essence. Having come up with the idea from texting (and the way people abridge their words when doing so), these pieces are as much about surface and color as his other works have always been coveted for. (Madonna, Robert Plant, and Anthony Hopkins are among his collectors.) This series’ abbreviations of Paul Newman, John Wayne, and Dolly Parton, however, reflect not only our ADD-ish times, but also gibe with Victory’s creative and spiritual pursuits. His premise is that our brains store information consciously and subconsciously mostly in basic shapes and forms, and therefore we share the same references for certain images–for Newman, Wayne, Cher. “So when I come up with these abstract shapes and forms,” says Victory excitedly, “I see them, and I know you’re seeing them, too.”
Subliminally, or cosmically, they inspire a ruckus at McLarry Modern on Canyon Road–and with Stephenson and others. “They’ve become a phenomenon here at the gallery,” marvels Victory. “And after Harold saw them he told me. You have got to keep pursuing this. This destroys modern art.”