Jeff Sailors and Patricia Carroll
[October 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]
There’s quite a story in that painting on the cover. It began 25 years ago, when Jeff Sailors from Montana was participating in an art show in Sedona, Arizona. He spotted that painting in another booth. The artist (and booth vendor) was Patricia Carroll. “I took one look at that painting, and I knew I wanted it,” he said. “I took one look at her, and I knew I wanted her, too.” Patricia wasn’t available, but the painting was, so Jeff traded one of his hand-hitched horsehair pieces for the painting. He still has it.
Nineteen years later their paths crossed again— another unexpected encounter. Jeff and Patricia were both living in eastern Colorado and were only about 70 miles apart. “I had been on one of those dating sites for a long time,” Jeff said. Unexpectedly, he found himself “matched” to Patricia. She had posted some of her paintings on her profile. “The artwork looked familiar,” Jeff said. “I looked at the signature on that piece and compared it to my painting. The signatures matched, and I knew I’d found Patricia again. I joined the site and connected with Patricia. This is a story with a romantic twist, isn’t it?”
Five years later, Jeff and Patricia were no miles apart, living together—working, telling stories, laughing, and making art together in their studio (a converted turkey barn), and showing their art in their Enchanted Mesa Gallery, in Cedaredge, Colorado.
Before and during those in-between years, Jeff, who’d spent the most part of 50 years on a horse (buckskinning, packing, and later, re-enacting, and appearing as an extra in Hollywood movies—more about all that later), was making and selling hand-hitched horsehair belts and bridles. “It took me 13 years to find someone to teach me how to do it,” he explained. His work is in collections and museums around the world including the Smithsonian. “It takes weeks to make one and only minutes to sell it. I’d go to those big shows and sell them all so fast, I’d have to pay people to let me keep them for the duration of the show and deliver them afterward!”
Although horses are his passion, and he’s done his share of cowboy-ing, in those “in-between years,” Jeff was also working a buffalo ranch. “I called myself a ‘buffalaro’, ” he explained. “That isn’t the same as a cowboy. It’s not exactly a job, but it can be hard work. It took 60 days to gather 1,200 buffalo together. You only have to handle buffalo once a year, but when you do, you have to be careful.” While Jeff was hanging out with his bison and having some interesting alien encounters on that ranch (more about that later), he was also traveling back and forth to Guadalajara where he had a factory that produced his hand-hitched horsehair items.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Jeff is a storyteller—an art form in and of itself. (More about that later.)