The first time I met Janice was at the hospital chapel. The walls of the chapel are lined with Annabel's watercolors, the frames of which are on hinges. Small bits of paper and pencils sit on ledges below, and visitors are invited to leave prayers and thoughts for their loved ones in cubbyholes behind the paintings. Janice clears out the prayers when she changes the flowers each day. She now has several thousand prayers, and an idea of what to do with them as well: “I think Annabel should make a calendar with twelve of her nicest works, one for each month, and we will pick 365 of the nicest prayers and put one on each day." Janice turns to Jim. "So Jim, if you would, please tell Annabel I have this calendar idea." Jim says nothing.
Now that the link between Jim and Annabel has become more broadly known in Texas, some of Annabel's fans have been more exposed to the work of Jim Magee. Laura Bush herself has been to the hill, with an entourage of secret security and a police helicopter overhead. And though Jim's work is difficult for Annabel fans, they give it their full attention and seem to remain unshakable in their allegiance to Annabel, regardless of their reaction to Jim. Janice explains that "Jim’s sculptures are so harsh to me, they scare me. I can see myself, if I could, watching Annabel paint, and Annabel would be painting, and it would be Jim. But I find it hard in my mind to picture Jim doing Jim Magee's work. What would he be like? I wonder, I don't know. Would he be attacking something viciously, or putting each thing very carefully down, like everything obviously is, but with all of the force of the metals he uses and all of that kind of thing, that's really harsh to me. If I ever got to see either one of them do the real work, I'd rather see Annabel than Jim."
I find Annabel's work beautiful, Jim's titles extraordinary, and the hill profound. But what I love most of all is the package as a whole. Jim's path has cut a dizzying trail through locales and social settings as disparate as the United Nations bureaucracy, the Manhattan art world, the gay Manhattan underworld, the genteel world of El Paso socialites, and the isolation of Cornudas, Texas. He has worked in film, sculpture, architecture, steel and ironwork, painting, and large-scale construction, without ever thinking about "mixed media." He has become two people without trying to be weird or schizophrenic. He has struggled every inch of the way: with difficult materials like rust and steel, with sandstorms and blistering heat, with his own personal demons. Through it all he has uncompromisingly followed connections and imperatives he felt deeply, even if he was not sure why. What he has done in short is lead a creative life.