Gabriel Horn’s latest adventure started eight years ago at an art auction in Los Angeles. The Fort Worth actor was looking to buy some artwork when a pencil drawing of Jesus Christ caught his eye.
“I have a great sense of facial recognition,” he said. “I recognized the face from other Picasso paintings from his Blue period. I also collect autographs, so I noticed the signature.”
His quest to authenticate the picture and trace its history forms the basis of his documentary film project, Picasso’s Christ.
The 38-year-old started out as an actor, attending Dallas’ KD Studios after graduating from Cleburne High School. An itinerant career took him between Virginia, Los Angeles, and North Texas again. His career in front of the camera includes the lead role in Tom Huckabee’s road-trip comedy Carried Away, but he admits it hasn’t been as prolific as others’.
“I want really juicy roles that turn me inside out,” he said. “I’m really picky. If I wanted to make a living accepting every vampire and zombie role, I could probably do OK, but I don’t need to do it so bad that I’m willing to sacrifice what I think is vital about it.”
Instead, he has shifted more of his efforts to producing films, which he was inspired to do by working construction out east. “I made this correlation between a builder and a producer,” he said. “They’re nothing but the guys who generate a blueprint and gather together contractors. From then on, I was never intimidated by a producer.”
He served as a co-producer on Carried Away, but he also created the humorous web series Nick Plenty: Internet Millionaire! and the TV series Ghostbreakers, which currently airs on the Family Channel. The experience has taught him patience and the value of managing expectations, he says.
He bought the drawing with the idea of making a documentary film about it. He won’t say how much money he spent on Picasso’s Christ, but says it was “significant” and added, “There’s been times when I wish I hadn’t.”
He was further intrigued when he found a label on the back of the drawing from the Andrew Crispo Gallery, a New York venue whose owner was notoriously involved in the 1985 “Death Mask Murder,” which brought to light Crispo’s penchant for cocaine-fueled S&M sex orgies. (Another man was convicted of the murder, but some still believe Crispo committed it.) Horn is trying to find a safe way to approach Crispo, who was subsequently involved in other violent crimes, but in the meantime, he’s keeping to the safer confines of art museums, trying to find experts to weigh in on the art. Picasso sketchbooks in museums around the world might help validate the provenance of Horn’s drawing.
Horn’s previous projects were financed by investors or himself, but he’s taking a different route with Picasso’s Christ, using Gofundme.com.
“This project doesn’t need much money,” he said. “It’s so small, and the audience is so large, it makes sense we can attract donations. I didn’t want to get into a big campaign with t-shirts and stickers, so we said anyone who donates will get a ‘thank you’ on the Internet Movie Database. If we can find a capital partner, we can do this quickly. If not, we’ll just go along.”