Five years ago, Patricia Lawton lost a painting and she assumed it was gone forever. But then about three weeks ago, it turned up at Distinctive Decor Antiques in Vernon.
Lawton’s painting is a cowboy and his horse, titled ‘Billy and Joe’.
“Joe is the horse,” Lawton joked.
Lawton has been painting for 80 years, and first painted ‘Billy and Joe’ ten years ago for the titular Billy and his wife, fellow residents of Vernon. He asked Lawton to paint a picture of him and his horse, and she did so gladly.
Lawton said that she always loved painting people and animals— “anything that tells a story.”
‘Billy and Joe’ disappeared after she left it along with other paintings with friends, while she was moving houses. During this time, Lawton’s friends had some work done on their home— ‘Billy and Joe’ was lost in the process.
“Who knows where the painting ever went, but it was gone when they brought the paintings back,” said Lawton.
Following the loss of her painting, Lawton immediately put an ad to the paper. Five years pass, and she doesn’t hear anything.
Then last month, she gets a call from someone who saw her painting in an antique store and recognized it from the paper. Lawton said the woman that called her keeps a collection of old papers right by the kitchen. That’s how she made the connection.
“Lo and behold staring up at her was a picture of me holding this painting,” Lawton said. “And she’d been in that antique store because she was kind of an antique freak.”
Lawton phoned the police and the painting of ‘Billy and Joe’ was retrieved from the antique store. She said the first thing she did when she got the painting was phone Billy’s wife, now a widow, about the news.
“She was just overjoyed,” Lawton said.
“She said I want to buy it for my children.”
Lawton expects to sell ‘Billy and Joe’ in the coming weeks. Right now, she’s working on painting three children for their grandfather.
She said that she doesn’t know what happened to ‘Billy and Joe’, and probably won’t ever find out.
“I cannot accuse anybody. I’m just thankful to get it back.”