Poteet Victory

photo courtesy of Victory Contemporary
photo courtesy of Victory Contemporary

Poteet Victory is one of the world’s most in-demand and collectible contemporary Native American artists. Although Victory’s work is abstract, his Cherokee-Choctaw influence still shines through his paintings. He has Native American heritage from his dad’s side; his grandmother was Cherokee, and grandfather was part Choctaw.

Born and raised in Idabel, Oklahoma, Victory was active in the rodeo circuit, riding bulls and wild horses by age fifteen. It was then that Victory was first approached by his mentor, Harold Stevenson, who is famous for the controversial painting, The New Adam, which is now in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. Stevenson asked Victory to model for his painting Alexander The Great, a modeling venture that lasted the entire summer and ignited Victory’s desire to chase his dream of becoming the accomplished artist he is today.

After graduating high school and attending Oklahoma University through his junior year, Victory bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii. There he mastered silk screening, after which he moved to Dallas and established his own company “Divine Designs,” which was the first t-shirt printing business of its kind. He began printing t-shirts for major record companies and other large corporations such as Frito Lay and Coca-Cola.

Once Victory had acquired the resources to pursue his long-time desire to paint, he sold his business in Dallas and moved to New York City. He attended the Art Students League for two years but ultimately refined his unique painting style on his own through many years of habitude. While in NYC, Victory met Andy Warhol and mingled with those at Warhol’s Factory while consulting with Warhol on silk screening. Victory was also invited to socialize with other eminent artists and socialites, where he had the unique ability to surprise them with his down-to-earth insights.

J. Robert Keating just completed his biography, Poteet Victory. “I never dreamed that someone would write my biography. It was not my idea, but when Keating heard about my life, he contacted me and wanted to write about it, and I agreed,” said Victory. Victory will be the first inductee to the Choctaw Artist Hall of Fame this October and he will be donating a painting to the new Choctaw Casino.

After over thirty years of painting, Victory remains as authentic as ever and still has that hometown charm. Although he prefers to work behind an easel, Victory will always be a “cowboy” at heart. His gallery, Victory Contemporary, is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico and you can view his art at victorycontemporary.com.

What is your favorite Texarkana memory?

Living in Idabel, we did not have any music stores. I bought an electric piano in downtown Texarkana in tenth grade to use with my band. I also came back and bought an organ at a later time.

Who is someone from Texarkana who impacted your life?

The closest friend I have in Texarkana is Dr. Jeff Young. My wife and I spent our honeymoon in his condo in New Mexico.

What do you love about Texarkana?

Even from New Mexico, my wife and I listen to Jeff Shreve preach at First Baptist Texarkana on Sunday mornings.

What do you think makes Texarkana famous?

Smokey and the Bandit. Everybody knows where Texarkana is.

How do you describe Texarkana to your friends?

Texarkana is 70 miles from Idabel (where I grew up). It is a small Dallas. Growing up, you could get whatever you needed in Texarkana. It is unusual because it sits on the line of Texas and Arkansas.

What do you miss about the area?

I miss not having the space I was used to in southeastern Oklahoma. Everything was open, and I did not feel claustrophobic. I miss the big mountains and lakes of the region. I have contemplated buying a cabin at Hochatown, but I am so busy running my gallery and painting daily. I know it would be a good investment, but I would not be able to enjoy it.

What words do you live by?

I have always believed in being as honest as possible in everything I do. I think it is really important to be truthful in art. You would not want to paint something that you do not know. For example, you would not want a New Yorker painting cowboys. You need a connection to your subject matter. I believe in being truthful in every part of your life. Sometimes being dishonest seems like it will benefit you at the moment, but it never does.

TXK Roots is Texarkana Magazine’s forum to highlight and honor Texarkana natives who have accomplished big things in the world. These folks may have relocated, but they took the values, education, work ethic and creativity instilled in them by growing up in this unique border city and used these qualities to blaze extraordinary trails. We asked them to share their thoughts about growing up here. No matter how far from Texarkana they may find themselves, we will always consider them our neighbors and we are proud to claim them as forever members of our extended Texarkana community. After all, “everyone is famous in their hometown!”

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