Tuesday, March 17, 2020

WORD PAINTINGS #85 - RESPITE


Llano Quemado, New Mexico - 3/17/20  - Taking the day off today.  All hell broke loose last Friday when the shelves at Smith's Grocery in town were bare to the bone!  Thought I was calm as a cucumber until today when I STOPPED!  I bought into the panic buying with a large pantry order on Amazon and another order of frozen food from Schwann's home delivery service.  Night before last I bought a small upright freezer from Sears! GUILTY!  Hoping today will mark the beginning of my return to sanity!

Scary flashbacks to all panics similar to this time....Pearl Harbor (I was a small child, but WWII affected every day of the first six years of my little life), hiding under our desks waiting for atomic bomb attacks which never happened, but scarred our fragile child minds forever.  Oh, and the summer- long polio quarantine when my brother and I couldn't leave the front porch - children were sick and dying all around us until Dr. Salk discovered his miracle vaccine.  My brother had fever and symptoms and my mother believed he had a "mild case" of polio.  The Chicago blizzard of 1967 - grocery stores emptied out overnight and staples were selling at black market prices.  The big 2010 gas outage with no heat in the house for ten days with temps ten and even twenty below zero- a little electric heater in the bedroom for me and my animal pals, Virginia Woolf and Rosie.  Times of uncertainty - fear and panic. Each time the beginning of a "new normal".

Somehow this time feels oddly unlike all the others.  This virus is occurring world-wide -pages and pages of obituaries in the Italian newspapers....a decision not to save anyone 80 or older (gave me chills).  Save Your Life warnings - forced social isolation. San Francisco is shut down completely and Gov. Cuomo is ready to do the same in New York.

My family is "out there" in all of this.  One of my girls trying to get her belongings from New York to her new home in Santa Fe - hoping the movers arrive today and she can get a plane ticket to leave the big city tomorrow.  Her sister caring for her husband who had surgery yesterday.  My brother and his family at M.D.Anderson in Houston caring for one of his daughters who is very ill.  What me worry?  Messaged my brother today - "If thoughts are prayers I am praying for you all day long".  Same for my twin girls and their significant others, my granddaughter - my friends and helpers Doug, Hope and Dan!   Feeling helpless and a little scared.

For me, social isolation is not only a necessity, but a dear old friend! Still in my pajamas at one in the afternoon.  Making myself useful in small ways - still trying to catch up from last year's dramas.  Worked with Dan the Man, my computer whiz to update my website this morning.  Taxes almost finished on the dining room table.  Gave up watching the news yesterday.  Watched the CYA press conference with the president and his sidekick and wondered how we ever got to be governed by this motley crew of grifters?  Are we without hope, doomed forever? Actually I have had the growing feeling that all these Orwellian characters needed to be exposed.  All their conspiracies exposed - all the rocks turned over because none of this corruption is new - years and years of rot!

This horrific time might just be the waking up of the world to a new value system - I think the tanking stock market is a good indication of great change.  What will happen when families are forced to be together - to get acquainted, talk and listen to each other?  What will happen to the planet when factories are not burping toxic gases into the air and automobiles aren't spewing gunk from their exhaust pipes? What if our food insecurities cause us to grow little victory gardens to feed healthier food to our children?  What if we stop shopping for things we really don't need?  What if we learn to listen deeply to one another without taking sides?  What if we learn to live another way with less chaos and panic? What if this is our time to separate from our old habits and values and the beginning of great social change?

In the meantime, there was this little bird on my back portal singing the sweetest song this morning - busy building her nest.  I can see the ground turning green with little seedlings - the Crazy Cosmos seeds I planted next to the well last fall - the start of my "meadow in the front of my house.  One geranium plant in my office has ten fist-sized pink blooms and her potted friends try their best to keep up - makes me smile every time I look at them.   Work on my new 40"x40" painting "First Snow" progresses and I am excited to start all over again tomorrow morning - hoping to complete it by the end of next week.  Somehow I know all the trauma in life before has prepared us for this time; it is entirely possible that we will not only survive but create a more tolerant and compassionate society  - one small planet, one people, please....

Only one question...why hoard tons of toilet paper?    

Saturday, March 14, 2020

WORD PAINTINGS #84 - SOCIAL DISTANCING


Llano Quemado, N.M. - 13 March 2020.....Taking stock today - going to give in and self-quarantine for two months.  A lot of work to do - many changes.  Above image is my new 40"x40" painting of Truchas - "First Snow".  The frame has been delivered just waiting for me to complete this canvas.  Another instance of "just holding the brush" - the piece seems to have a mind of its own and truly is painting itself.  Love it when this happens!

World news is scary - sense we are beyond "freefall" as a country and now on the edge of total collapse.  The Senate has recessed for the weekend - criminal lack of response to the pandemic.  Reading Li Edelkoort's posts - she believes this global crisis will cause us to reassess our value systems - create simple but more meaningful lives. Amazing twist on what most believe is total disaster.  Panic reigns.  Grocery store shelves are empty - people are hoarding toilet paper and fighting in the aisles over canned goods!!

Am reminded of another time when this happened - that huge Chicago snowstorm of 1967 - the world seemed to stop for about ten days until all the streets were plowed and the grocery stores stocked their shelves.  That weekend milk and bread sold from the back of semis stranded on the highways for $10 each!  My twins were three weeks old, their brother 18 months....no formula, no food in the house. Their father was stranded at work.  An angel next door took a sled and bought formula for the babies. We survived then - we will again!

Started to buy into the panic.  My daughter was headed for Germany yesterday - her baggage checked in - she cancelled her trip just before she was to board the plane.  Had spent two tense days trying to talk her out of the trip - what do mothers know???  Go ahead, ignore me.  Big sighs of relief when she called that she stayed in New York.  

Thinking of the devastation this crisis will cause in so many lives.  It isn't just the virus, many will never recover from the cancellations and closures.  Not only illness to consider, but financial collapse for many.  A global recession is predicted. Futile to blame our fearless leader - we have been on this slide for more than thirty years...greed is not good and now we are paying the price!  Middle income and poor families will suffer the most. Imagining bread lines and soup kitchens popping up all over in an attempt to feed hungry people who no longer have jobs.

Have been an introvert for most of my life.  Telling an artist to keep a "social distance" is a no-brainer and an unexpected gift from the Art Gods.  However, there are millions of moms who have no idea how they will feed a hungry family, or how they will keep their jobs if they have to stay home with their children while schools are closed.  Caregivers, restaurant workers, nurses, doctors - all at great risk.  Politics and elections fade in importance - we are at the mercy of three very old men who promise to change America for the better. Honestly, I don't believe them.  What I do believe is that our country will never be the same as it was.  The result of  total CHAOS is CHANGE!!!!  Perhaps we can start with greater kindness, compassion and understanding toward our fellow travelers -- one small planet, one people, please!  We can do better, be better.....

Thursday, February 20, 2020

WORD PAINTINGS #83 - O WHERE O WHERE IS CHICHICASTENANGO?


21 February 2020 -Llano Quemado, New Mexico -  Last night Josh Gates, Archaeologist and Explorer (Expedition Unknown) began a trek to the Pre-Classic Mayan site of El Mirador in Guatemala (dates back to 2000 BC!).  Was so excited to see them fly into Guatemala City, stock up supplies, load their gear onto helicopters and fly to the island of Flores in the Department of Peten.  I saw familiar places... memories of my empty-handed leap into The Great Unknown!

1956 - First semester of my Junior year at Pulaski High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Miss Schaefer's Beginning Spanish Class.  Each year Miss Schaefer and Miss Flynn, the other Spanish language instructor, would spend their Easter vacations exploring countries in Latin America.  On their return that year they co-lectured our class on their visit to Guatemala and all the colorful Easter ceremonies and processions. Miss Flynn described in detail their experiences on Easter Sunday in a city with the exotic name of Chichicastenango!  My sixteen-year old brain couldn't comprehend the courage it would take to make such a journey!  Their joy in the telling of their experiences made me wonder if one day I could find myself in the middle of that ancient marketplace in Chichicastenango.  I didn't know when or how....if ever.

Not long after that time my father was transferred back to Chicago.  We packed up the car and on a rainy November day - I waved goodbye to my boyfriend, Bob, and cried big ugly tears to leave my "Happy Days" life behind (Yes, they could have filmed that wonderful program at my high school - with a whole bunch of Fonzie look alikes!).  Life got very serious after our move to the suburbs of the big city. I didn't want to grow up! - Graduation, secretarial jobs in the Loop, marriage and three children - and in l967 our move to the alien planet of the high desert Southwest. 

1970 - Santa Fe, New Mexico -A few lifetimes  later my art life cried out for change/inspiration and two places were on my wish list.  The first was a train ride from El Paso through Copper Canyon in Mexico all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Topolobampo, Mexico.  Inspired by George Carlson's pastel paintings of the Tarahumara, I thought "why not"? And the other place which had lived in my dreams for almost 25 years was,  you guessed it, Chchicastenango, Guatemala!!!   

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

WORD PAINTINGS #82 - DOING DISHES


Llano Quemado, N.M. - 20 February 2020 -A light snow this morning - whole bunch of jobs lined up, a resistance to all of them at first - too easy to stay in bed!  One foot in front of another; one day at a time!  Still playing catch up after last year's dramas.  Yes, a pile of dishes are in the kitchen sink.

Sunday drive to the Mesa - late afternoon.  Finally ended up at a place called Carson just as the sun was setting.  An old abandoned schoolhouse silhouetted against the last rays of light.  Deeply rutted road - lonesome fence posts, patches of snow - muted colors dark ochres and umbers - pure Heaven!  This morning (before doing the dishes) I began to edit the sixty or seventy new photos.  Pulled out seven or eight to study the possibilities for new paintings.  If I choose to go ahead, these new pieces will be starkly different from my other work.  Open spaces - a peaceful loneliness - solitude.

Packaged up three prints to be delivered.  Ordered some double wall cardboard to ship prints.  Put a pot roast in the slow cooker.  Had a quick lunch.  Thinking about all the possibilities for the new work - painting in my head....seeing changes in the photos for more solid compositions.  Did the paperwork for two little auction pieces that sold this afternoon.  No time for politics today.  Low wi-fi.  A lot of annoying buffering since the flood.  Sometimes no news is good news...a mental cleanse!

Put on some CDs of my favorite Mexican singers - Jose Jose and Luis Miguel.  Sat down at the easel and began to paint a 6"x8" of the small church of San Ysidro - this week's new auction painting.  Tomorrow I will gesso some 30"x40" canvases for the new work.  Each day is a moving meditation - quietly going from one "job" to another trying to do each task for its own sake.  There is definitely a craft to painting and preparation is everything - my version of "doing dishes".

Oh, yes I finally did the dishes in the kitchen sink!  This was a very good day...glad I didn't stay in bed, I would have missed it!         
 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

WORD PAINTINGS #81 - RACHEL CORRIE

 

 

THE WORDS OF RACHEL CORRIE (b1979-d2003)
ON LEAVING HER HOME IN OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON…

We are all born and someday we’ll all die. Most likely to some degree alone.
What if our aloneness isn’t a tragedy? What if our aloneness is what allows us to speak the truth without being afraid? What if our aloneness is what allows us to adventure – to experience the world as a dynamic presence – as a changeable, interactive thing?
If I lived in Bosnia or Rwanda or who knows where else, needless death wouldn’t be a distant symbol to me, it wouldn’t be a metaphor, it would be a reality.
And I have no right to this metaphor. But I use it to console myself. To give a fraction of meaning to something enormous and needless.
This realization. This realization that I will live my life in this world where I have privileges.
I can’t cool boiling waters in Russia. I can’t be Picasso. I can’t be Jesus. I can’t save the planet single-handedly.
I can wash dishes.
Vividly remember the day I heard about the circumstances of this young American woman's death in Palestine.  As I am writing this, all those feelings come back to me.  My rude awakening to the real world began with my journey to Guatemala and Honduras in 1991.  Innocently I packed my bags  for that trip believing that I would photograph some colorful market scenes, return to Taos with enough material for 100 or so oil paintings.  Little did I realize that I would come back without any shred of blissful ignorance.  I had seen the bitter truth of my country and the consequences of its devastating influence around the world.   My shining city on the hill was no more. My Disneyland worldview disappeared ...

Llano Quemado, N.M. - Journal entry February 10 --A flood of biblical proportions!!!! Was working on my computer in the back of the house - when I went into the studio area about an inch of water. Back to my office - another inch of water - no internet, no phone, and blissfully no TV!   An unsettling week - the Impeachment and round the clock noise about the glitch in the Iowa caucus.  It is rumored that renegade Republican sympathizers jammed the phone lines so that delegates were unable to call in their vote totals.  Even that noisy reprobate Steve Bannon was a guest on the Bill Maher show gloating and oh so smug over the administrations “victories!.  Watching the firings of those people  who bravely testified was a fully expected nasty conclusion to this second week in February.   Watching them perp walked out of the White House gave me Sen. Joe McCarthy flashbacks! After more than three years of hoping things will turn around and our country could have a chance to heal from the division and vitriol, not being able to watch TV tonight is truly a blessing.

A new book arrived this week - Mary Oliver’s essays titled UPSTREAM.  She describes the awesome nature around her and her words are ever so peaceful and calming - so welcome tonight! Perfect!

Despite all the craziness in Washington, real life takes over and one needs to allow and trust that there are beneficent forces in the Universe - this dark time cannot last forever….so I tell myself.  The Fog of Politics!

Years ago I read a book by Serge Kahili King, a Hawaiian kahuna.  His teachings were about creating one’s own reality….impossible to do when the whole world feels  so dark and out of whack.  Gathered some books around me - always a big stack next to my bed.  Reading was once my greatest joy; now the pile sits untouched for days, even weeks because I watch the news, hoping for some respite from the chaos.  Once my best friends they have been replaced by the iPad, Facebook and all the grisly cable news.  How truly SAD!

Watching virtue and morals crumble every day - crooks and liars accountable to no one is making me physically ill.  Time for me to create  my own reality one more time.  At the tender age of eighty, I can’t afford to waste time wishing and hoping life will go back to “normal” because theywon’t.  Our country is forever changed!

Time to take the focus off things I cannot change.  I need to believe in beauty again.    In between moppings tonight, I looked out my studio window toward Taos Mountain at sunset.  The sky turned a pale pink  and slowly the full moon (a Supermoon they tell me) began to rise over the Pecos foothills. Forgotten during my move is an unopened double CD set of Pavarotti’s Greatest hits.  Tomorrow I will sit at my easel and complete a small painting to go to auction on eBay next week - it just might make someone happy.  I can’t make the world sane again, but maybe I can try to create some peace in this  corner of my little world.  Time to do the dishes...

Friday, January 24, 2020

WORD PAINTINGS #80 - FROM THE PORTAL

“If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with… There's no place like home.” Dorothy - The Wizard of Oz

Studio #5/20 - HUNTER'S MOON (10/12/2019 - Llano Quemado, New Mexico - 40"x30" Original Oil

25 January 2020 - Llano Quemado, New Mexico - No long naps for me this winter!  Finally completed Hunter's Moon - the night last fall when I was feeling a little worse for wear after all the chaos of previous months. Grabbed my jacket and camera and the whole world turned right side up once more!  This painting has been made in my mind a hundred times since that night - and here it is!

Each morning when I raise the shade in the studio and look at Taos Mountain, I know that this move could not have happened without the chaos and this painting would never have been made!  Looking back on my life from the vantage of my 80 years I am astonished when I realize that those ugly times when I felt so broken and ready to throw in the towel this new place has breathed life into my old Self.  How did this happen? The only word to describe this time is Grace!  Each day is truly a gift!

Can't walk without my cane and am unable to eat as much green chile as I'd like, but today I took an empty-handed leap into the void - ordered six 30"x40" linen canvases, ten frames and four quarts of English Distilled Turpentine!!!  Working through these quiet winter months, ten new paintings have either been sketched out or underpainted.  Laughed with a friend this afternoon that I could be overly optimistic, but what the Hell - why not? As long as there is paint on my brush, I'll just keep painting.....

Hug an artist today!  DC
  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #79 - TO BE CONTINUED....


5 December 2019 - Llano Quemado, New Mexico    Snowstorm predicted for today - all hunkered down and ready to hibernate.  The pantry and freezer are all filled up.  You would think I live a thousand miles from the nearest store...got caught in that great Chicago blizzard ('67 ?) with 3 hungry babies - have never been the same!  Taboret is jammed full of new paint tubes; the last canvas order arrived today - six 20"x20" all ready for a couple coats of gesso this weekend.  Delightful surprise in my big red box of photos and source material gathered through the past few years.  At least ten images just hiding in plain sight. Sometimes they have to sit a while - waiting to "become" paintings.  A bunch of new Audible books on my iPad - going to reread Graham Hancock's AMERICA BEFORE - love his work. Finish the 24"x12" "Acequia" painting and two or three small auction pieces before the 15th and then shut down for two weeks of quiet preparation for the new work....sketches and underpaintings.  Let it snow!!!

Moving forward....just whisperings to my Art Gods about what I would like to accomplish in this coming New Year.  My living situation inspires me to work everyday.  Still organizing from the move, but plan to make the time at the easel a top priority.  Hoping to share more stories on this blog - next I want to write about my all-time favorite living artist, George Carlson. Made some important creative choices because of his work.  He lived in Taos as a young painter.  Did the most amazing pastels of the Tarahumara in Copper Canyon, Mexico.  Moved on to become an award-winning bronze sculptor - still painting large beautiful landscapes of the Channeled Scablands in Washington State.

George's pastels made me want to try something new.  Bought my first set of Rowney pastels from England and spent quite a few happy years covered in multi-colored dust!  Ramon Kelly's portraits, Carlson's pastels and stories of the Tarahumara inspired my trip to Guatemala in 1991.  This was the height of the "civil war" in that country.  I heard a radio ad for an anthropological experience. Had just sold a big painting - I signed up and was on my way to the Mayan ruins in Central America!  Considering the fact that I have been agoraphobic all my life, there are a few more interesting stories to tell....machine guns everywhere and a scary Sunday morning at the Chinese money changer's abode in Antigua!

Looking into my big red box of source materials brings back so many great memories of the places I have loved all these years.  Going into my stories of that life-changing time in Guatemala will be interesting especially in light of America's current immigration policies.  The other day I heard that some of the asylum seekers are being turned away not to their own home countries, but to villages deep in the jungles of Guatemala! I thought this was a joke. The information sounded so insane - but I trusted the reporter enough to believe it could be true.

Looking forward to spending some snowy winter afternoons painting and storytelling - might be full of surprises!


 



WORD PAINTINGS #85 - RESPITE

Llano Quemado, New Mexico - 3/17/20  - Taking the day off today.  All hell broke loose last Friday when the shelves at Smith's Grocer...