"The drawings tell a Tobey story," Rebecca Tobey says, pointing to some on the great bear's body that depict ghosts. You know how in the West at night, she asks, you might hear a breeze or the wind, and it sounds like voices?
"Gene always believed that what you're hearing are the people and living things that came before," she says to the sound of the w.ind rustling through the branches of an aspen nearby. Thunder rolls from slowly approaching thunderclouds.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" she says.
It's not something to fear, just as the imposing grizzly should not be feared, but instead respected and acknowledged for its manlike traits, she says.
Rebecca, 58, grew up the daughter of an Oak Ridge scientist in east Tennessee, where she also gained a deep affinity for animals and nature.
They met in Santa Fe in 1984 when Gene showed some of his work in the gallery where she worked, and a year later, they were married. They blended a family of five children, now all grown, including two who have become artists themselves.
Rebecca says she still senses Gene in her life. He's still in the house, in their artwork, in pictures on the walls, in her soul. .
She admits candidly she's not ready to give up the collaboration. She may never give it up, though she acknowledges that no one can say what will happen tomorrow.
"We were two pieces of the same puzzle," she says.
"There was never competition over a piece,'! she says. "It was always a true collaboration of two people creating one piece of art."
After Rebecca's world changed, she's had to face doubts, from within; and from galleries, about what happens now. She's resolved to carryon by finishing the pieces they had started, and by continuing to create new artwork. '