Tuesday, August 9, 2022

WORD PAINTINGS #125 - LOST AND FOUND

6 August 2022 (Llano Quemado, New Mexico) - So often life is a balancing act!  It falls to pieces but miracle after miracle the missing pieces show up and we get to sort them out one by one - leaving behind those that no longer fit.  This is such an interesting time to be alive!!  

After all the extremely crunchy dry and smoke-filled days the monsoon arrived in full force.  Bright white lightning and great booming thunder claps.  Sleepwalking is no longer an option.  Wake up to Mother Nature - this is no time to be caught napping.  See the brilliant flash over the mountains - count - one thousand one, one thousand two and when you finally hear the thunderclap, it announces the distance of the storm.  Shut it all down - hold your breath - here comes the storm!  We would be less than grateful to complain about it now - we are in a God moment. Watch the morning clouds form and build over the mountains. Mid afternoon the skies darken and the drama begins - thrillingly beautiful! Boom!!! Wake up! It is an adventure to be alive! Early evening and the rain stops - some distant rainbows, glorious sunsets - Breathless!

Lightning strike so close to the house three weeks ago just moments after I shut down my big computer.  My hair sizzled and my beeper beeped. Blew out the internet to all my devices! Complete silence!!! Next day called large corporate phone company and answered questions from a robot for about half an hour. He - it - discerned it was a problem not easy to solve, so I was referred to a recorded voice urging me to stay on the line. After ninety impatient  minutes I felt stupid and quit the game....the corporation game of putting you on hold forever and ever!

Prior to the Big Boom I watched a documentary on David Hockney.  Excited by his imagination and invention - the development of his work - his life changes. Especially the stories of he and his best friend going to Italy to see operas - and how opera inspires him.  Tears - remembrances of times past when I would paint (and sometimes sing along very badly) to my operas....Puccini, Verdi, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, Pavarotti, Price.   

Haven't been able to listen to my operas since my son died seven years ago...an enormous blank space just waiting for me to be filled with my music again.  Inspired by Hockney I spent days searching for my absolute favorite - Leontyne Price singing arias from Verdi and Puccini. Each time I looked through my music I lost hope of finding that recording.  Ironically the lightning strike, through a series of strange circumstances, killed service to all my devices...laptop, iPad, TV and stereo for ten whole days!!!!  Complete silence - only my easel, paints and the spectacular monsoon clouds which formed every afternoon!

Imagined what it was like for the contemplative monk Thomas Merton isolating in his little cabin to pray and write.  No praying or writing but silent days at the easel - pure concentration! No distractions! A physical and emotional break from the "real world" fed to me daily through pundits and politicians.  Earthshaking realization brought on by the Great Silence - I don't have to listen or attach my attention to their words as before!  Ten days to detox from all the noise. After a while I began to feel My Real World return to me. Days of imagination and quiet joy.

Yes, one morning I found the light blue CD cover with Leontyne's beautiful face.  I found it!  Thanks to David Hockney a small piece of my life has been returned!  Still hesitating to listen - just look at the CD cover and remember all those those days when the house was filled with music. Time for me to open my heart and listen to the beauty of those glorious voices again!

The wonderful fellows at Taos Net set me up again through their internet service.  Cancelling Century Link internet which was part of a bundle....beware of bundles!

Gratefully my intense reliance of TV News hasn't returned.  Being "well Informed" about things I cannot change is now an option and not a necessity.  Silence is totally underrated.  This is my real world....DC

 

DISTANT THUNDER (Ranchitos Road - Taos, New Mexico) - 24"x36" Work in Progress (Underpainting) Color notes are posted to my Art Journal - https://donnaclair.blogspot.com/  Projected completion: 8/10/22

NEW from my easel ..... Online Gallery.

 

 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

WORD PAINTINGS #124 - RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, RAIN - BLESSED RAIN!!!

WORD PAINTINGS #124 (How I Came to New Mexico and Learned About Life and Art) -RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, RAIN - BLESSED RAIN!!!

3 July 2022 (Llano Quemado, New Mexico) - Sunday morning silence - not even the birds are singing!  Truth is we are all exhausted from the heavy drama of this time since the fires began in April.  Fell asleep to the sounds of a gentle, steady rain last night - the sweet smells of grass and earth.  Everything just feels softer, better....more hopeful.  There is a definite harshness in the high desert without moisture.  High winds and sand storms added to the disquiet of every living thing.  Even the neighborhood dogs are silent this morning. Am picturing them all curled up in a shady spot on some cool morning grass.  It feels like being in church!  The fields that were a crispy brown just a week ago are now a brilliant green.  Yesterday the suburban sounds of lawnmowers seemed no longer a nuisance, but instead a sign of great relief that the monsoon is finally here! 

So much has happened this year - pandemic still with us, the invasion of Ukraine,  the devastating fires and, of course, the ongoing 24/7 Trumpathon. 

Many shifts and changes in my little life as well.  My two favorite words are "adapt" and "adjust".  At the soon to be age of 83 it is time for a fearless and thorough inventory of life and my time left on this planet.  One big surprise was my departure from Chimayo Trading.  Many, many stories of my life with galleries, consignments, agents, negotiations - endless striving.  Sometimes change is pressed upon me - I resist until there is no other option than to walk away - relationships, marriages, business arrangements.  It is never any one thing - I wait until there is a huge pile up and the decisions are made for me. Now what?

So, here I am - this beautiful Sunday morning.  Heading to my easel to set up a fresh new palette.....big globs of juicy colors and the delicious smells of linseed oil and turpentine!  My addiction!  The new work "Late Winter Storm" (another precious Truchas memory) will hopefully find its way to completion this afternoon.  Fascination with my family tree on Ancestry is leading me in a whole new direction - my unknown  history - Polish, German, Russian. Mysteries and Surprises - some dating back to the 1500s!  Found an old book "Poland" by James Michener on Audible - 30 listening hours.  Wow! That means 30 working hours at the easel!  Off to set up my paints!

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"More than Doers, we are Deciders. Once our decision becomes clear, the Universe supports and empowers our actions." The Book of Runes

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4 July 2022 Independence Day!!!  Happy Birthday America! Happy New Day to Me! A day of decision-making. Slow to get up - wonderful storm last night - winds, loud banging claps of thunder - hail against my windows.  Some heart-pounding minutes - and then the peaceful sounds of a gentle rain and the glorious smell of wet puddley earth!  Grateful.

Worked today to complete Late Winter Storm - new 24"x30".  Here it is - another Truchas memory!  Enjoy! DC



Saturday, June 11, 2022

WORD PAINTINGS # 123 - UP IN SMOKE!

 


WORD PAINTINGS #123 (How I Came to New Mexico and Learned about Art and Life) - UP IN SMOKE!

11 June 2022 (Llano Quemado, New Mexico) - The Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon fire has consumed over 320,000 acres and is 67% contained. Yesterday a new fire broke out north of El Rito burning 500 acres. Today it has grown to 3,500 acres with no containment!  Woke up in the middle of the night having a hard time breathing due to the smoke.  Ashes on the windowsills this morning!  Many planes and helicopters flying over the house on Thursday.  Gratefully there isn't much wind this afternoon. Update: 4:00 PM The wind is howling - view of Taos Mountain completely obscured by thick smoke!  Damn!

A story on FB this morning of an elderly gentleman, owner of 170 acres in one of the villages that was under fire - it is all gone.  He now resides in a living center in Santa Fe and it is entirely possible that it is there he will spend his last days.  Am living right in between two fires now.  Hearing and reading stories of loss and heartbreak - assessing the damage has only just begun.  

Watching "Gaslit" the story of John and Martha Mitchell during the Watergate hearings.  So small by comparison to the January 6th coup attempt.  Found an Errol Morris interview  with Steve Bannon on Amazon and rented it last week but can't stand the sound of Bannon's voice!.  Want to understand how he can commit treason (allegedly), be indicted and still be able to continue spouting his conspiracies via podcast.  Waiting for my copy of the Atlantic with an article calling him "The American Rasputin".  Perhaps I am too cynical, but am having that old "Muller Report" skepticism - we might go through this information and all this drama and still no one will be held accountable.  When it was revealed that this committee has no authority to bring charges and in the end will turn all evidence of criminality to the Justice Department, it felt like deja vu all over again.

Not to be forgotten is the damned pandemic! Friend messaged me today that cases have spiked again in Santa Fe this week.  Read that Moderna is coming out with a booster shot that is quite effective against the Omicron variant." 

Am back at work - almost finished with my new 24"x30" canvas "Late Winter Storm".  Vividly remember the cold and windy February afternoon in Truchas.  Brings back all my wonderment of living in that magical place - "How did I get so lucky?"  It is so good to lose myself in this work - seven hours of working and painting yesterday.  Taking off today to water my plants and take a nap!

Monstrous clouds formed several afternoons earlier this week.  They promised a deluge, only to be dissipated by the afternoon winds.  So near and yet so far!

The war in Ukraine lit a spark.  Out of curiosity I signed up for Ancestry and in my spare time (?) am working on my family tree.  An intriguing mixture of German, Polish and Russian - with a little of the Vikings in there, too.  On the German side I have been able to trace back to my ninth great-grandfather born in 1530!  

Still working on the Polish side - great mystery due to World War II. As a little girl I remember sewing some money into the hem of a big black coat to send to our family in "the old country".  Large group of women got together on my grandmother's screened-in porch in Chicago.  By the time we were finished there was a huge stack of cartons to be shipped to Poland - possibly Gdansk the port Hitler invaded on September 1st 1939.  Months later many whispers....it was obvious we didn't need to send anymore boxes.  Understand that I might not be able to go too far back on that side of the family - the records have been lost forever.

Although I bought the audiobook "Bloodlands" by Professor Timothy Snyder about  Hitler and Stalin invading Europe. Deciding to put it aside for a while - too relevant.  There is so much going on right now, it is difficult to keep one's balance!    Need to lighten up - at least click my heels and pretend!  Instead a little book "Come, Tell Me How You Live" a first person account of Agatha Christie's trip to the mid-East with her archaeologist husband Mr. Mallowan.   In times of stress, routine is my great friend! Paint, read and water my plants - trying to keep it simple.  Maybe one or two rain dances in the studio....DC   


Sunday, June 5, 2022

WORD PAINTINGS #122 - BACK TO THE BEGINNING AGAIN!

           WORD PAINTINGS #122 (How I Came to New Mexico and Learned About Art and Life)

            A MAN IS RICH AS HIS WOODPILE (From the High Road, Northern New Mexico)

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WORD PAINTINGS #122 (How I Came to New Mexico and Learned About Art and Life)

5 June 2022 (Llano Quemado, New Mexico) - A perfectly beautiful Sunday morning!  Finally the sky is clear of smoke!  Two days ago storm clouds began to form, but alas no rain.  There are still 2843 people fighting the blaze which has now spread to 317,571 acres.  Thanks to all the firefighters and fire personnel here from all over the country the Calf Canyon/Hermit's Peak Fire is 65% contained.  Saw the first plumes of smoke from my kitchen window on April 5th - and here we are now.  Many days of heavy smoke and fear of being the next town to be evacuated.  

Sadly large parts of  the northern New Mexico way of life going back to the earliest days will never be replaced...gone forever.  With it goes part of my heart.  One Sunday about three weeks ago the losses took their toll and I broke down.  These places have been my life for the past 55 years. Even more than the landscape it has been the culture of these villages that has healed and sustained me.  Yes, a man truly is as rich as the size of his woodpile in this little part of the world and large parts of fields and forest are now gone.  Homes that have withstood the elements for 100 or 200 years no longer exist and many have to find a new place to live - a new way of living. The transition might be impossible for some families.  So far the communities surrounding the fires have all pitched in with food and clothing - there is hope out there!  We have come together for our neighbors!

Finally accepting that the pandemic will be with us for a long time.  On to the next crisis - the war in Ukraine.  This morning Putin warned the west (meaning the U.S.) not to send long range missles or else!  Or else what?  Nuclear retaliation?  The NRA Convention met the weekend after the Uvalde massacre - a group of men who want you to believe in their "manhood" - more balls than brains.  Can't image the fear any child feels going into a classroom today. I remember hiding under my desk for fear of an atom bomb attack.  How does any parent drop their child at school in the morning continue on with the rest of their day?  Damn this blood and guts culture of ours!!!!  Damn the stupidity!!!

Haven't been able to paint for about six weeks.  Wracking my brain to find hope for this world of ours.  There are no real solutions out there.  Politicians and religious leaders don't have the answers, they are too busy fighting with each other.  Instead of uniting in strength in order to make things better, they allow differences to tear them apart.  The outlook is definitely dark and gloomy.  Born on 3 September 1939 the first part of my life was all about war - now I realize that it isn't peace that some of our world leaders seek, but profit.  There is big money in war and the guns that kill.  How many wars have there been since 1939??? - too many to remember.

“The images of peace are ephemeral. The language of peace is subtle. The reasons for peace, the definitions of peace, the very idea of peace have to be invented, and invented again.

Children, everybody, here’s what to do during war: In a time of destruction, create something. A poem. A parade. A community. A school. A vow. A moral principle. One peaceful moment.”

—From THE FIFTH BOOK OF PEACE, Maxine Hong Kingston

Time to acknowledge the peace that surrounds me at this moment on this beautiful Sunday morning.  My Art Gods are standing at attention, just waiting for me to go to work again.  On my easel is the beginning of a new painting..."Late Winter Storm" (Truchas, New Mexico).  Will work on it today. Am grateful for all those years of roaming the mountain roads and photographing the villages - I still have the images and can fix my mind to relive every bit of those times.  Thinking it might be too painful to roam some of those old roads now -  it is best to wait a while. In the meantime I will sit at my easel and just paint.

 

PEACE!.....DC

  

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

WORD PAINTINGS #121 -WHAT IF LIFE BEGINS AT EJACULATION?

WORD PAINTINGS #121 - (How I Came to New Mexico and learned about Art and Life - "What if Life begins at Ejaculation?"

Two weeks ago I read the remarks by Clarence Thomas in regard to the public's response to Justice Alito's leaked decision to overturn Roe vs Wade.  Shocked and surprised by memories of another life, it was time for me to put the pieces together and admit to myself the unromantic truth of how I came to New Mexico 55 years ago. Broken and confused I had no idea of the long and amazing journey just ahead for my little family.

What is so disturbing to me is that pregnancy seems to be some form of immaculate conception used as a cudgel against the woman and her rights. Some states are proposing laws that will charge a woman, her doctor, or any helper with homicide with a sentence of ten years in prison.  The Texas law that offers a $10,000 bounty if there are any attempts to obtain an abortion. This same law has recently been adopted by Oklahoma. This is the wild west of political power and a woman's worst nightmare - losing control of her body and her very future.  This is the complete opposite of freedom.  What is missing here?  We suddenly find a government that refuses to acknowledge a man's contribution to abortion.  Men and their fertile sperm are never mentioned! The failure to hold a man accountable in any way for his part in the pregnancy and support of the woman and the child is mind-boggling.  Crusty old men are making decisions that will forever impact a woman's power to make choices.  Some salvation in the form of birth control is next item on their list of things to repeal and catapult us back to the Dark Ages of women's health care.  Question: Does birth control contribute to fewer abortions? Why ban birth control?

Men are one-half of the baby-making process!  Many men do it right and take responsibility for the babies they help bring into the world. Others seem to have no idea what makes a baby and prefer to blame the woman for getting pregnant in the first place - especially the Supreme Court Justices and the men they choose to ignore.  Struggled with myself whether or not to tell my truth at this time....it is now or never! 

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 My labor pains began at four in the morning of December 9th 1966. Only five minutes apart we had no time to waste getting to the hospital.  My parents came to watch our 18 month old son until our regular babysitter could step in.  My husband taught English Literature at a small Catholic college in East Chicago, Indiana and our babysitter of some months was one of his students.  Leaving the house that morning I had no idea that this was one of the most significant days of my life. Revelations and changes would crush all my cozy dreams of a happy marriage to a highly regarded English professor, raising our babies together, and creating a good home for us to share - all vanished in one devastating phone call.

That call came one evening after dinner.  Our babysitter's mother told me that her daughter was pregnant and my husband was the father of her child!  Apparently she had gotten pregnant in my bed while I was in the hospital giving birth to the twins. My son was in his crib across the hall.  And, she asked, what was I going to do about it?  Exhausted from giving birth, I broke down and went to some dark never-land where I wanted to stay forever.  Called our physician who kindly made a house call and talked with me for a long time. He counseled me to leave.  Gratefully trauma has always led me to a level of numbness which allows me to go through the motions until I can gain my equilibrium.  Leaving was not an option.  The girls were only weeks old and on a every three hour feeding schedule. Their baby brother was in shock at not one but two new midnight howlers.  And there were a few more surprises to come!!

The babysitter and her family were strict Catholics.  Abortion was out of the question.  She was given an airplane ticket to Florida where she gave birth to a baby boy.  Her father was a made man and there was a contract put on my husband's life if he ever set foot in East Chicago again.  He lost his job.  We had no money. A good friend lived in Santa Fe. He rented a little adobe house for us.  I had one week to pack up the house before we could make our "getaway"!  We arrived in Santa Fe in August of 1967, about one month before the birth of his fourth child (in two years)!  That is the truth of how I came to New Mexico and Learned About Art and Life!!! But wait, there's more. 

The father of my children secured a teaching job at a local college.  Days after our divorce was final, he married one of his students, adopted her daughter and fathered two more children in a short span of time. They eventually divorced.  In a few short years he found himself the father of seven children none of whom he supported in any way!!!  Yes, Justice Thomas, life does begin at ejaculation!  Many years and three more marriages, I'm certain he gives no thought to the wreckage he has left behind.

What was lost in all this drama was my being able to live the fullness of life with my babies.  Most of the time I was terrified that we wouldn't have enough food, or that we would be evicted because I couldn't pay the rent.  If there were sicknesses (and there were many) I was the responsible party and had to pay the hospital bills instead of the utility bills.  Too early in their little lives they were latchkey children.  Anytime I had to take him to court for child support I was made to feel guilty for the divorce and expecting their father to be financially responsible for his children.  On the days he said he would visit he would "forget" and they would stand at the front window and sob.  These things will never be forgotten - it isn't even my job to forgive....I leave that to a higher authority.

Being raised Catholic, abortion was never an option for me.  Having friends who have had abortions, I know it is the most difficult decision anyone ever has to make.  During my high school years back alley abortions were common.  The wealthier families sent their daughters to some secret place to give birth and the baby was put up in "closed" adoptions - never to know their biological mother or father.  The boy was sent away and his name was never to be mentioned again.  Dark secrets forever.

Even though I am old, if I put myself in the position of young women today I am beyond rage at the patriarchy that continues to hold women hostage. I am pro CHOICE!  If most of our politicians were seriously questioned regarding their Christian principles, I am sure you would come away knowing in your heart it is only about the next election cycle.  How dare they?


Thursday, May 5, 2022

WORD PAINTINGS #120 - A CRUEL SEASON


 

WORD PAINTINGS #120 (How I Came to New Mexico and Learned About Life and Art) - A CRUEL SEASON

4 May 2022 (Llano Quemado, New Mexico) - View from my kitchen window: What began as a few plumes of white over towards Las Vegas on or about the 20th of April became 75,000 acres forest fire on Friday; as of this morning it has grown to 160,000 acres and it is only 20% contained.  Evacuation centers are open in Penasco and Taos - the towns of Mora and Las Vegas are under severe threat and total evacuation.  The cause seems to be a "controlled burn" by the Forest Service. Homes, vacation cabins, livestock, wildlife - gone.  Have been roaming the roads in these villages for 55 years - so many beautiful days!  Heavy smoke from this fire and the one burning in Jemez. Fear, sadness - deep grief.  Prayers for the firefighters, all those evacuees - we need prayers - and a lot of rain! 

Our clear and present danger sure takes the attention off the war in Ukraine.  Ali Velshi is back home covering all the abortion news.  President Zelensky's fear that the world will look away from the horror and destruction is becoming a reality.  Less news from there this past week.  They say no news is good news.  That doesn't feel right.  The gung ho enthusiasm for the Ukranian fighting spirit isn't quite as loud and bullish as it was.  Imagine Ukraine a year from now - will these brave people will still be fighting this fake-made up war?  Will the devastation be so complete that the rest of the world will be forced to look away?  Considering that all of Europe is under threat now it is hard to imagine that will happen.  Heard Chef Jose Andres say this country will need a Marshall Plan in order to rebuild.  Prayers for the Ukranian people.

Ah, and then there is our "Supreme Court" and their leaked decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Crusty old men and one evangelical white woman with a really annoying voice are deciding the fate of American women - and men.  Think the dog has caught the car this time and they have taken too big a bite out of women's rights.  No doubt they will come for LGBT rights, birth control, gay marriage - power and control.  Their fear of the changing demographics in this country is palpable.  If I was a defeatist, I would say that we are screwed!  Scary men are doing scary things under the guise of protecting our freedom and liberty - all in the name of Christianity.  Sadly Christ is nowhere to be found in this New World Order. Considering their ex-President is acknowledged to be a serial sex offender and two of the Justices are alleged sex offenders...how dare they? Prayers for the Justices of the Supreme Court.

Graduated from high school in 1957 - and Roe v. Wade became law in 1973.  Yes I remember the "good old days".  Wealthy families in Chicago Heights and Flossmoor sent their girls to Florida to have an abortion or give birth and put their babies up for adoption.  My best friend returned from her Florida trip to find a surprise from her daddy - a white Cadillac convertible - she felt no joy when we all piled in with her for our evening "joy rides". She was always sad and broken and I know that every day of her life she thought about her baby.  In our town there was a three story brick house with a long flight of stairs going to the top floor.  Everyone knew that was the place where girls from not so wealthy families took care of their problem. This is what I know is true....I believe in the right to choose.  I believe this, in most cases, is a the most painful choice a woman will ever have to make, but it is her CHOICE.   We are at the mercy of a sweeping authoritarian movement. Prayers for all women everywhere today.

PS: The smoky skies have cleared this afternoon - praying for rain.  DC

Friday, April 29, 2022

WORD PAINTINGS #119 - GOING TO SANCTUARY

 

 

30 April 2022 (Llano Quemado, New Mexico) - High winds, forest fires - smoky haze settling on Taos Valley.  Heard yesterday that he winds will pick up again today. I can hear some whistles at the windows.  Rain clouds formed over the area across from my kitchen window.  Plumes of smoke from the Las Vegas fire. My heart leapt with anticipation.  Within a short time the skies were again a bright but smoky blue - no rain!  Mother Nature just teasing us with the hope of relief.

The saga of my new painting Centinelas de Oro roared to life again this week with more pressure for me to sell.  Guilt trips galore!  Art conflicts are a pain in the ass!  Money rules in this business.  Have been selling my work in New Mexico for 55 years and some things never change. Pressure to produce and sell, sell, sell.  Fighting for the right to keep my own painting.  Craziness!  Holding back my resentment and anger.  Instead the arguments just roll around in my head like black clouds disrupting my process.  Painting will be varnished and signed this weekend.  The frame is waiting.  A sense of fulfillment to see it hanging on my wall next week.  

The clouds parted yesterday afternoon.  Grocery day, housecleaning day - closet purge!  Time to sit down and set up a new painting from a February day in Truchas. Back into my "Donna Bubble", my sanctuary.  When I was a child my crayons and coloring books helped my little world to right itself whenever family life got too loud and scary.  My own private "cone of silence".   Need to come back home to myself now.

"Evening Shadows" is almost finished.  Scene from an evening drive along Ranchitos Road - the Immaculate Conception capilla - always lovely and serene. 

 

Waiting for my DNA kit from Ancestry.  The war in Ukraine is bringing up some vivid memories of my family during the years of WWII.  My relatives in Poland all came from the same village south of Danzig - the port where the first invasion took place on September lst 1939 - I was born on the 3rd. Today Poland's population has increased by 10% due to Ukranians fleeing to safety.  The Polish people are opening their hearts and homes to complete strangers.  I am so proud to be Polish!  This is the beginning of a new journey for me.  In my family there were only whispers of what really went on during the war years - SSsssh! The children will hear.  I want to remember....

Back to my Bubble!  - DC

 

WORD PAINTINGS #125 - LOST AND FOUND

6 August 2022 (Llano Quemado, New Mexico) - So often life is a balancing act!  It falls to pieces but miracle after miracle the missing piec...