Mack Boles says growing up he spent a lot of time following his older brother Wayne around wanting to be involved with whatever he was doing at the time.
“I have been drawing since I was four years old,” Boles said. “One day my brother came from school and sat down at the kitchen table grabbed a pencil and pad and started drawing. It inspired me so I started drawing too. I used to get into trouble all the time in grade school for drawing. I really liked it. It was really fun.”
Boles, a graphic artist by trade, has continued that passion of artwork with one of his latest projects titled “Geronimo” which is a print of the famed Native American leader of the Bedonkohe Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars.
“Geronimo” was the name given to him during a battle with Mexican soldiers. He was born June 16, 1829 and died on Feb. 17, 1909. He is buried at Ft. Sill in Lawton.
Boles donated the framed print to be auctioned off during the 89er Day Celebration’s Chuck wagon Dinner to be held Tuesday, April 17 at the Logan County Fairgrounds.
Boles previously donated artwork to the 89er celebration.
“I usually donate a piece of artwork for the 89er committee,” Boles said. “It’s just my way of giving back to the Guthrie community.”
Boles said he got the inspiration for making the Geronimo print during his U.S. Army stint at Ft. Sill.
“I was in the military taking howitzer training at Ft. Sill and little did I know that is where he surrendered,” Boles said. “The jail cell that he surrendered in is still there. It’s part of a historical part of their post.”
After an attack by a company of Mexican soldiers killed his mother, wife and three children in 1858, Geronimo joined revenge attacks on the Mexicans. During his career as a war chief, he was notorious for consistently urging raids upon Mexican provinces and their towns, and later against American locations across Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas.
In 1886 Geronimo surrendered to U.S. authorities after a lengthy pursuit. As a prisoner of war in old age he became a celebrity and appeared in fairs but was never allowed to return to the land of his birth. He later regretted his surrender and claimed the conditions he made had been ignored. Geronimo died in 1909 from complications of pneumonia at Fort Sill.
“When Geronimo was a teenager he witnessed a terrible event outside his family tent,” Boles said. “At this point and time the Native Americans and the soldiers were having a lot of battles. He saw the soldiers come over a hill and kill his mother, father and his entire family. This caused him to start drinking and made him purchase a gun. He then encouraged his friends to do the same thing and had them join him in his tribe to go after the soldiers. He did this for years.
Boles said Geronimo later started negotiating his terms for surrender which was “Don’t kill me and I’ll surrender.”
Boles said while at Ft. Sill Geronimo changed his ways dramatically.
“He quit drinking and the Army built him a house and a garden out on the post,” Boles said. “Then was able to do whatever he felt like doing. He went to a lot of festivals and conventions around the country.”
Boles said the Geronimo print is based off of a history book photo of Geronimo and members of his tribe.
“This is what inspired me to do this painting,” Boles said. “I was taking Howitzer cannon training in the Army at Ft. Sill and I saw his original cell and his home site and heard those stories about him. I found it in a history book. The art that I did of Geronimo was done from the last photo taken of him with his tribe while he was negotiating his surrender.”
Boles grew up in Guthrie and later moved to Dallas where he worked as a graphic artist for 30 years. He had artwork featured in several Dallas-area galleries.
Boles later made the decision to move back to Guthrie.
Today, he operates Sundown Gallery located at 116 West Oklahoma which features a large variety of his artwork.
Boles said he has continued to pursue his artwork for a simple reason.
“It’s fun,” Boles said. “I’m inspired to do it.”
89er Buttons reflecting this year’s theme “Heroes of Service” and recognizing the military, the police and the firefighters, are available at Guthrie businesses. In addition to the Chuck Wagon Feed and Western Art Auction on April 17 and the Rodeo April 20-21, the 89er Carnival comes to town Wednesday through Saturday and over 60 art/craft/food vendors in downtown Guthrie. Mechanical Bull riding and Rock Wall climbing present new and exciting opportunities this year. The Old Timer Baseball game is scheduled for Thursday at Squires Field at 6PM and of course the Largest Parade in Oklahoma kicks off at noon on Saturday and will be broadcast on Channel 20. Additional information may be found on www.89erdays.com.