Brian Norwood's sculpture The Trail Ahead depicts the cowboys of JAL ranch. Photograph by Brian Norwood.

WHEN BRIAN NORWOOD WAS RAISING MONEY for a metal sculpture in Jal, a nearby rancher offered a sizable check, with one hitch: Could Norwood make a cowboy look like Henry Scott? Scott was a wagon boss on the original JAL Ranch, which gave the southeastern New Mexico town its name, and in the 1950s he had worked the rancher’s own spread. Norwood said he’d try and got to work, cutting 10-by-40-foot sheets of steel into four cowboys and 13 head of cattle. In 2000, The Trail Ahead debuted on a patch of land just north of town. The array stretches 400 feet, with some pieces topping 20 feet tall. (Scott’s depiction is on the right above.) But by then, the rancher had lost his sight and couldn’t judge how well Norwood had hit the mark. Six months later, the artist was speaking to a group when a bowlegged man ambled up to him. “That second feller there, was that Henry Scott?” the man said. Puzzled, Norwood asked the man’s wife how he knew. “Oh, he worked with Henry Scott every day when he was 16 years old,” she said. “I told her, ‘That’s the greatest compliment I will ever receive as an artist.’ I love telling that story.”

See The Trail Ahead from Third Street, in Jal. (You can also walk up to it.) Learn more about Brian Norwood and his art.

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