Paint by Numbers: A Charles Bloom Murder Mystery was recently featured in the Fall 2012 issue of the Smithsonian magazine, National Museum of the American Indian.Read More
Excerpt published online courtesy ABQJournal
By David Steinberg / Journal Staff Writer on Sun, Aug 12, 2012
AT BOOKWORKS: The store at 4022 Rio Grande NW hosts these events this week. … Mark Sublette chats about his new novel, “Paint By Numbers: A Charles Bloom Mystery,” at 3 p.m. today. Sublette is owner of Santa Fe’s Medicine Man Gallery.Read More
Published online courtesy Pasatiempo – The Sante Fe New Mexican
August 10, 2012
Blood on the Gallery Floor: A Murder Mystery Leads to Canyon Road
by Craig Smith for the New Mexican
Great art has great power, but it sometimes seems to bring out the worst in people – from greed, envy, and swindling to forgery, false reputations, and horrible obsession. A seminal painting, powerful sculpture, or stored piece of pottery may have sprung from pure ideals, but more than a few have wound up with figurative blood splattered on them.
Fortunately, even the most fought-over pieces of art seldom have real deaths attributed to them. So you can imagine the shock for Santa Fe art dealer Charles Bloom when the best and most promising of his artists, Willard Yellowhorse, dies under particularly macabre and revolting circumstances in New York. His attempts to unravel the mystery lead him to the Navajo Nation, where he meets Willard’s sister, Rachael – and all hell breaks loose, in more ways than one.
Paint by Numbers is Mark Sublette’s first published novel. The book, from Just Me Publishing, draws deeply on Sublette’s own experiences. Like Bloom, he is a gallerist, owner of Medicine Man Gallery in Santa Fe and Tucson. He primarily sells Western art, works by contemporary artists, and Native American art, including black-on-black pottery.
“I’ve always loved murder mysteries and always loved thrillers as well,” said Sublette, who gives three signings of the new book this week – at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe (during the Santa Fe Show art fair), at Bookworks in Albuquerque, and at his Santa Fe gallery. “I first put pen to paper – and at that time it really was pen to paper, now it’s keyboard to computer – probably about 10 years ago.
“This particular book is the second murder mystery I’ve written, but the first in a series about Charles Bloom and his life as an art dealer. I’ve written five books in the series, but this is the first one to come out.”
A New Mexico native, born and raised in Portales, Sublette was exposed to Native American art and loved it from an early age. He remembers buying his first piece of pottery under Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors portal when he was about 7. But later, his life took a different path.
“I was a medical doctor before I was an art dealer, and it’s given me insight into different types of humanity. I can delve into areas of the human psyche that other people can’t.” His specialty is sports and preventative medicine, although “I worked in a lot of emergency rooms, and as a naval doctor I used to have to do the brig. Some of (the prisoners) were really bad-ass people.
“I was practicing for six years and realized where I wanted to be was art. The basic ways to put it is, I stopped dreaming about medicine and started dreaming about art. I got an offer from a professional medical group that worked with the Phoenix Suns. I had an epiphany at that moment that if I took that job, I’d be a doctor for the rest of my life.
“I was already selling art on the side, and I thought I had to go with what my gut and heart said. I have a great wife, and she was kind of my Rachael Yellowhorse. She supported me in every way – she was in medicine too. Eleven years ago she got out and now is in the gallery business.”
Sublette doesn’t regret his years in medicine, and he maintains his medical license. “Being a doctor was good training for a lot of things. People say being a gallery owner is high stress. I figure my worst day as an art dealer is always better than an average day as a physician.”
Did Sublette find Charles Bloom from the moment he began to write Paint by Numbers, or did the character develop over time? He said introspection and his own experiences played a big part in it, but Bloom eventually began to move and react as his own character, and not always as Sublette had planned.
“The thing is, when you write an involved character, you find yourself examining your own world and your own morality. It’s an introspective look. I don’t care who the character might be, male or female. I think there’s part of you that shares some of their beliefs.” That includes villains, he said – though he hopes that what one has in common with a depraved personality are things one despises in real life.
Santa Fe and parts of the Navajo Nation, including the Toadlene Trading Post near Newcomb, New Mexico, play big parts in Paint by Numbers. “All the little nuances of Santa Fe are things I experienced,” Sublette said. “I can’t help walk down the street or go down to the Plaza or smell the piñon smoke without thinking, Wow, this would be great for my book. There is very much an awareness of ‘around town’ – the different environments. Looking down on the Plaza from an upper-deck gallery of a friend of Charles’ – that’s a real window I’ve looked out of. I know where it is. I used one restaurant no longer here” – Café Dominic, formerly on Guadalupe Street.
“The Toadlena Trading Post is a real post. The guy who runs it is a friend of mine. I’ve spent a lot of time out there. What inspired me there was that you see daily lives unfolding in the trading post.
Sublette believes that philosophical and moral ideas belong in books (including thrillers) as much as plot and character development do. “I think all my books have that. Usually it’s a moral statement that you make choices in your life. Those choices have consequences for you, for others. You can live your life trying to be a good person or you can spend your life on the dark side. It’s a thin line.”
As a result, the book “also shows the underbelly of the art world. There are things that happen – you get the sense of a little feel of the things in the art world that are going on. Charles Bloom… tries to be a good human being, but like all people he has his flaws. Good people have to deal with the issues that make us what we are.”
Despite the complex and often gruesome ins and outs in Sublette’s plot, in the end there is a degree of “justice and clarification” for Charles Bloom and Rachael Yellowhorse. “I like my books to end that way. I like it when you can walk away and feel good. It doesn’t mean that everything has to happen that you like. But I think overall, when you walk away, you should have a smile.”Read More
Sante Fe, Friday, August 10th
The Santa Fe Show
During Opening Night Gala
El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe
555 Camino de la Familia
Paint by Numbers: A Charles Bloom Murder Mystery
Book Signing with author Mark Sublette
Hardcover, 264 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9855448-0-5
To place an order: firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free: 800.422.9382Read More
by Mark Sublette
Cover painting by Francis Livingston
$40.00, few copies remain
To place an order: email@example.com or call toll free: 800.422.9382
“From the gripping prologue to the twist-upon-twist conclusion, Mark Sublette’s PAINT BY NUMBERS will keep you up nights… unable to stop turning the page!” – – Sandi Ault, best-selling author of the WILD Mystery Series
“Mark Sublette’s first novel is… marvelous. The white art dealer Charles Bloom lives in New Mexico with Indians. His impressive work is constantly taken away by those who go for nothing but money in New York. But Charles Bloom never stops in following great creativity… neither should we.” – – Michael Blake, Dances with Wolves
“A deadly mystery about art and ambition, stretching from Navajoland to New York.” – – Wolf Schneider, abqARTS
“This riveting art mystery, in the tradition of the late Tony Hillerman, successfully develops an intriguing tale that captures the essence of the creative spirit of the Navajo from the Toadlena region.” – – Mark Winter, The Master Weavers and owner of the Historic Toadlena Trading Post
Bloom’s on Canyon Road, specializing in contemporary Native American art, once was a powerhouse gallery in Santa Fe. Then it lost its best-known artist, Willard Yellowhorse. Worse yet was Yellowhorse’s premature death soon after arriving in New York City under very suspicious circumstances.
With Yellowhorse’s final painting STRUGGLE, about to be sold at auction, gallery owner Charles Bloom’s inner voice keeps asking two unrelenting questions: how did Willard Yellowhorse really die, and who if anyone killed him? The answers for Charles lay somewhere deep inside the Navajo nation, Yellowhorse’s ancestral home. Charles will need the help of Yellowhorse’s sister, Rachael, and her grandfather, the nearly 100-year-old medicine man Hastiin Sherman, to unlock the key to Yellowhorse’s death. What Charles Bloom doesn’t realize is the evil coyote spirit that tracked down Yellowhorse is still watching and Charles could be next, if he isn’t careful….
A Charles Bloom murder mystery set in Santa Fe and Indian Country. Perfect for fans of Tony Hillerman.
A conversation with Mark Sublette, author of PAINT BY NUMBERS: A CHARLES BLOOM MURDER MYSTERY
Q: Since you are an art gallery owner in Santa Fe, and so is Charles Bloom, how is he like you and how is he not like you?
A: Bloom deals in strictly contemporary Native material, all modern works. I handle primarily antique Native artifacts and western art. From a dealer standpoint, I’m sure I have felt many of the same emotions working in the art profession.
Q: How much of what you write about in this book is true?
A: I use a few deceased artists and historic facts to help bring scenes to life, but all the events surrounding these characters are fictitious. The geographic locations and timelines are accurate, and the Toadlena Trading Post is real. This is one of the reasons I include my photos–so you know what’s real.
Q: Is Bloom’s much like your Medicine Man Gallery?
A: We’re both located on the 600 Block of Canyon Road! The feel of Bloom’s is similar to many historic galleries on Canyon Road.
Q: How many times have you been to Navajoland, and does it still have hogans without electricity?
A: I love to visit the Navajo Reservation. The land has a starkness that is palatable and in some ways it’s just like it was 100 years ago. There are still hogans and houses without electricity or water. Having said that, young men in hoodies listening to rap are also a part of today’s rez.
Q: Does Canyon de Chelly really have all those old crypts?
A: There are crypts in Canyon de Chelly, but you won’t be able to see them as they are well hidden and not something that would be shared with outsiders.
Q: Is the character of Willard Yellowhorse modeled on any real-life Native painter, like maybe TC Cannon?
A: Willard is no one and everyone. He is the creative power that can be found in all artists. He and his sister Rachael Yellowhorse in my mind embody people I would meet not only on the reservation but at a university. Well educated, yet respecting their culture.
Q: Have you ever met the famous people appearing in this book, like Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, and Jean-Michel Basquiat?
A: They were before my time, but captured my imagination in books and films. Since all the scenes I place them in are figments of my imagination, I sort of turn them into fictional characters, respecting how I would expect them to behave, and bringing some cachet of their times.
Q: Have you ever known an art dealer as unscrupulous as Bernard?
A: Thankfully no…though it’s possible they’re out there.
Q: Have you ever been to an auction at Sotheby’s in New York?
A: Many times.
Q: Do you believe in coyote spirits and evil chindi?
A: Surprisingly I do. There are some places and things we don’t understand, especially when it comes to Native American beliefs, and I don’t take those beliefs lightly.
Q: Did you take all the 22 photos in this book, and which ones are of Navajoland?
A: They are all my images, and mostly of Navajoland. There’s one of New York City, and one is a drawing by Maynard Dixon of Canyon de Muerto done in 1923. The images were mostly taken around the Toadlena Trading Post, Gallup, and Canyon de Chelly.
Q: When is the next Charles Bloom book coming out?
A: The next book comes out summer 2013 and is titled Kayenta Crossing. That book is more focused on the Navajo Reservation, with a new character who’s a young medical doctor, and of course Charles Bloom is back. The story for that particular book has been rolling around in my head for over a decade!Read More