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The horses in "Three Wolves" are special as they represent pockets of small herds that have somehow survived unattended, unknown and unseen by man. One of these isolated wild herds, descended from a strain of pure Spanish mustangs thought to have disappeared a century ago, was discovered in 1989 fighting to survive in a remote canyon in Arizona’s San Luis Mountains. Their ancestors, introduced some three hundred years ago by Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, carried conquistadors on their gold expeditions and Apache warriors on raids as they sought to avoid capture. Thought to be part of a ranch herd allowed to run free, this little band of one hundred horses had survived mountain lions, drought and thieves. By mid-1990, however, authorities who located only 77 survivors of the struggling little herd, took immediate action and placed these remaining members with breeders determined to save the mustang’s rare bloodlines.
Thirty years ago, the sheer existence of Mexican gray wolves was in question. Once the most widely distributed land predator in the world, the gray wolf originally flourished as far south as Mexico City. But in 1970, the last Mexican gray wolf in New Mexico was poisoned.
Placed under the Endangered Species Act, several groups joined together to preserve the last of a dying breed. Its success is evident; they were reintroduced into the wild and have flourished.
"'Three Wolves' is perhaps more symbolic than any of my other paintings. Of the three wolves, only one is real, representing the anticipated success of the reintroduction program. Two are hidden, representing the future, when, hopefully, wolves will be numerous enough and comfortable enough to behave naturally, as they would in the wild. Here, the dominant wolf is running flat out, legs tucked under him, sprinting out of the sheer luxury of being alive and out of the knowledge that he is first. The second wolf races to catch up, with mouth agape, challenging the leader. All three run with the horses, for they share a time and place in history.
The horses are symbolic as well. While the mares are important, their role in the picture is deemphasized. Their foals, however, represent hope for the future, as concerned breeders seek to protect and to continue these and other rare bloodlines. The foals are exceptional in their own right, for one is a medicine hat paint, the other, a war bonnet paint. Some Native American tribes considered horses with these markings to be imbued with supernatural power. As tiny groups of rare animals survive despite insurmountable odds, their rescues provide a precious second chance for them and for us, as well.