27 December 2008

Tamari No Atua (God's Child) New light and Prussian Blue

Tamari No Atua (God's Child) by Paul Gauguin.


I am cleaning out and reorganizing the years of bookmarks that were lost then found. From one computer to another it's amazing to see how much time and research lies hidden behind the simple lines. It is dusk in the peublo. A huge swarm of the beloved birds moves in a wave across the dusky blues of sunset; my heart leaps in the recognition of their familiarity; When the winds blow so hard I wonder how do they keep in the sky and in formation? They remain here in el Pueblo - it makes me so happy to know they are here still for months yet to come as the cold sets in and the sun goes down.

It's been a rather quiet holiday for me. I retreated from the world and emerged to engage in making mashed potatoes and ambrosia for the epic dinner at Carmela's house; her family and grandchildren, the MacCallum's and a couple expats listening to Spencer recite poetry after the evening meal of ham and salt fish Mexicano style. I made devil eggs the way Dkish's mom would and hung back in Kitchenlandia where I am most at home doing KP. Later after people left and went to bed Carmela and I watched on her newly installed cabel super sized tv a program about Paul Gauguin's painting. I feel in love all over again with this artist who perhaps was both beast and artist. I've loved his paintings and have identified with these women connected with the fruits of the earth. This was not your usual Christmas story; it was in fact sad and yet spoke for the desire for beauty. In this painting, his wife, his child, a daughter born on Christmas and who died a few days later. Gauguin had put everything into this painting; and waited for someone to SEE it....it wasn't appreciated for it's depth til after his death; how we wait for acknowledgement, to be seen, to be recognized, to find a patron who believes in our work and not necessarily us personally. But what we do for our art! How he suffered and had to sell out to follow his calling; Yet across the time and how his work has inspired me to paint when I paint. I was touched to recognize his love for the sacred feminine face of God a vision before his time.

I learnt I didn't get the grant I had applied for from NALAC. My dad told me gently enough....another dear Juan letra....so many applicants, and please do apply again....it's just how it is...you write, you edit, you do your work, get letters of support, and roll the dice; I figure my work wasn't edgy enough, not dark enough, too Mexican, maybe I'm not Mexican enough....Gauguin didn't get an artist grant; I'm only slightly disappointed because I am still doing exactly what I want to be doing, I am in the world I love, I am learning and creating; I have two stories to write, and have had the good fortune of support of people who believe in my work; I have a client/patron/friend who has allowed me the means to continue my research as I work on his project. Not getting the grant doesn't lessen the belief in my work....it just would have been nice; might have gone to Christo Rey or buy that D300 camera..... but in time....one must keep doing it and not give up. I have the gift of my old teacher Gauguin who has returned in the dark to keep it real and in perspective... he has returned with the returning light and inspires me to not lose heart and do a painting with prussian blue lines....still the light shines.....




I saw one of the most beautiful pots I have ever seen. I was at Carmela's when the young couple came to the door just after I did. They brought in their pots and laid them on the table. My eyes fill with intricate design and my imagination starts weaving stories. I dream underwater dreams that evening with dogs and horses and birds all flying underwater. It is a magical vision. The pot almost fell... all us lost our breath and resumed breathing again. If I had a couple grand I would have bought it myself just to encourage this artist to keep true to his vision and not sell out for something smaller, cheaper, "affordable". So I didn't get the grant but I did help be the bridge to a Christmas sale of the fantastical pot. QUE MILAGRO!! I can not express my happiness when the artist's father came to my house carrying his son's olla with his daughter carrying her big,fat, beautiful brown baby into my little house; To give them the check and touch again the world in a pot and have it lay on my couch like a magical egg and be the conduit made my day. It is the return of the light....the creator, the new life, the new vision. If I hadn't known I would be blessed with an amazing assignment -what would I have known to look for? I weigh my slight disappointment against this great moment-I suppose I all do is put another hook on the line and go fish. I head my boat into the upstream wind and row downstream, pacing myself and giving it all I got.

So too I listen and wait for my own line to follow. This is my first attempts to do Paquime with Rex. My friend,model,muse, little brother, co-conspirator....fellow student who plays art with me. We use the pots of Sabino from Mata Ortiz my father got when he was here a year ago; There is the migrations from the walls from the cave. How will I weave time and place? Moons and stars? Who will speak to my heart, and guide my mind and hand? How far will I need to travel? How much to learn before I can tell the tale? These are photo sketches in the making....they are at the end of one year's work and the beginning of next years work. Where will the images take me this time??? So there is much work to do regardless, so many roads to travel and the unknown places the winds of change will blow us.


04 December 2008

Injun Ninjas: A portrait study inspired by Native American arts




My friend Micky had one of those classic Stetsons from back in the day and I saw an amazing drawing of a Navajo Man sitting.
The forms elegant reminiscent of earlier times and those silhouettes made famous by the Taos Painters. My model,friend and Muse,Rex Bizahaloni and I have collaborated on various projects over the years. We enjoy the collaboration and pour over books and look for additional props. We are often inspired by an object, or a story. These are just the raw images I begin with. I imagine them in sepia, and eventually as photo-paintings on canvas. I also have wanted to make a portrait of how I imagine someone from the ancient puebloan cultures might dress. It still has yet to evolve to where I see it in my minds eye, but it's a beginning. I also wanted to mix in elements of TC Cannon, the 70's pop colors, the modern and the classic,bold patterns have always caught my eye. We've talked about this idea for over a year. It's been a long time since we both shot in the studio. After all the documentary work in Mexico I found I had to change gears, and wrap my head around the space. Sometimes I really do wonder how and what I'll do. But then it's like drawing or writing, you just have to begin. Maybe it will work and maybe it will spur me on to another idea. This set explores some of the cliche archetypes of the Native American with our own spin-ideally I want to do another set with Rex's hair in a traditional Navajo style.
Rex is like my brother. He has helped me teach art to kids on the rez, has been my cook assistant on a Grand Canyon River trip, he is a traditional dancer, and artist. We both worked at the same downtown cafe at different times. We are familia and
I am always honored to have him model for me. It is a great way to explore history and learn from the past. We honor those who've gone before us whose light still inspires us in our creative play and work.

Here's some examples of TC Cannon and the Taos Painters, and another link exploring Native American Art.






T. C. Cannon (1946-1978)
Collector #2
Hasinai/Gaigwa (Caddo/Kiowa)
"The beauty of living a solitary existence is that you never have anyone to blame. The discipline of the late afternoon studio and early morning writing table are my only points of reference for days on end. My interpretations of what I see, hear and dream require small rooms devoid of mortal voice, whether heroic or absurd!"

William Wallo and John Pickard, T.C. Cannon -- Native American: A New View of the West, (Oklahoma City: National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, 1990).
1970, acrylic on canvas
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Gift of Harrison Eiteljorg, acc. 94.11.1

I have also been inspired by Helen Hardin. Memories of her float up from the past. I met her when I was a child and I remember thinking how beautiful she was and that she was a painter who was passionate. I have thought about her over the years when I begin to paint. Her images speak more to me now as I begin to explore the symbols and myths that connect my home in Mexico and my home at the base of the sacred mountain here in Flagstaff. I look at pictographs and try to imagine how can I incorporate their language and symbolism into my work so it may not be cliche; I seek for a deeper meaning and want to connect the past to the future. I wonder sometimes if it is correct for me to paint or interpret these historic marks; I feel I need to learn as much as I can and to look to these artists and learn from them. They have gone but their art still speaks. How does one translate a poem? I suppose one has to feel it in ones gut and respond with one's heart. Theirs weren't an easy life. But they left us images that are courageous as they are beautifully seen.
Here's a tribute to Helen Hardin I found.



15 November 2008

Inspirations and ? What will my rose be?

Earth from below. An amazing window into our world and inspiring words into the work of photographer Stephen Alvarez.

Beautiful,evocativepoetic imagery by
Gary Isaacs.
Gene Jacque Gaudel

FREEWILL ASTROLOGY: Gemini Horoscope for week of November 13, 2008

"There is a rose in Spanish Harlem," sings Ben E. King in his old pop ballad. "It is a special one/ It's never seen the sun/ It only comes out when the moon is on the run." King is fantasizing with longing about an alluring woman from a hardscrabble neighborhood. The rose is "growing in the street/ right up through the concrete" -- a delicate beauty blooming amidst tough conditions. Your assignment, Gemini, is to cultivate a connection with your equivalent of that rose.

Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up. Through some magic you don’t fully understand, you’re still breathing and your heart is beating, even though you’ve been unconscious for many hours. The air is a mix of gases that’s just right for your body’s needs, as it was before you fell asleep.

You can see! Light of many colors floods into your eyes, registered by nerves that took God or evolution or some process millions of years to perfect. The interesting gift of these vivid hues is furthermore made possible by an unimaginably immense globe of fire, the sun, that continually detonates nuclear reactions in order to convert its body into light and heat and energy for your personal use.

You can walk! Your legs work wonderfully well. Your heart circulates your blood all the way down to replenish the energy of the muscles in your feet and calves and thighs, and when the blood has delivered its blessings, it finds its way back to your heart to be refreshed. This wondrous mystery recurs over and over again without stopping every hour of your life.

You can smell aromas and you can hear sounds and you can taste tastes, many of which are quite enjoyable. You can think! You can feel feelings and visualize images of things that don't even exist. You’re in possession of the extraordinary power of self-awareness. Do you realize how far-fetched that stupendous ability is? You not only know that you are you. You also know that you know that you know you are you.

Each of the 50 trillion cells in your body can be considered a sentient being in its own right, and they all act together as a community, performing an ongoing act of prodigious collaboration.

By some improbable series of coincidences or long-term divine plan, language has come into existence. Millions of people have collaborated for many centuries to cultivate a system for communication that you understand very well. Speaking and reading and writing give you great pleasure and a tremendous sense of potency.

Do you remember when you were born, by the way? It was a difficult miracle that involved many people who worked very hard on your behalf. No less miraculous is the fact that you have continued to grow since then, with millions of new cells being born within you all the time to replace the old ones that are dying. It's just like magic.

The Big Read and a little Dance poem


Reading. I love to read and look at books. It's my favorite past time no matter where I am or where I go I am always carrying at least ten books, copies of articles,magazines, picture books, poetry books, journals and writing. I love to start my day with coffee in bed and open a book and write in my journal. There is just not enough time in the day to read and absorb everything I want to learn it seems. Yesterday my dad gave me a set of his old Frank Waters books about the Hopis and the southwestern cultures. They have the patina of beautiful worn covers and pages.He got them before I was born. Before he was a marine in Trinidad where he would fall in love and get married to my mom. More than forty years later he pulls them from a shelf and sets them before me. A karin of knowledge beckoning me to dip into my mind into the pools of perception. I open the pages; a Scarlet Ibis feather falls out of the the book Talking Gods. Words wait patiently.

Interesting things to read that make you go hmmmmm.
neabigread.org
http://freewillastrology.com/

AT THIS PARTY by HAFIZ

I don't want to be the only one here
Telling all the secrets --

Filling up all the bowls at this party,
Taking all the laughs.

I would like you
To start putting things on the table
That can also feed the soul
The way I do.

That way
We can invite

A hell of a lot more
Friends.



Late in the night I read the poem Dkish sent me, here's to dancing with you on the page, in a reflection, in memory,
laughing in a dream hoping to meet again and DANCE the way we did last summer!

Cast All Your Votes for Dancing

I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.

I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.

But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.

You can stay that way
And even bloom!

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions' beautiful laughter.

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved
And, my dear,
From the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.

You are with the Friend now.
Learn what actions of yours delight Him,
What actions of yours bring freedom
And Love.

Whenever you say God's name, dear pilgrim,
My ears wish my head was missing
So they could finally kiss each other
And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!

O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions' beautiful laughter

And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Now, sweet one,
Be wise.
Cast all your votes for Dancing!


Check out the Obama Dance Party in Seattle.
Don't Stop Believing!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qL-CgzQ0FY

13 November 2008

YAY WE WIN! Photogeekin with Obamalandia



Photo of photogeek Chip Thomasthis past summer.


Home at the foot of the sacred mountain kissed with snow. I have made the migration north to my mountain,my canyons
and the sacred land. It is so wonderfully strange to be in my Mexican world of Casas Grandes and read the Book of the HOPI.
I read in bed with my headlamp as there is no electricity in that part of the Casa Azul. It is just like camping. The crickets and
the barking dogs waft in through the screened in windows; I travel through the four worlds of myth and legends; I travel back
to the confluence of the Colorado River and remember the place of emergence and the sacred salt mine I remember seeing when I was a. I remember the canyon walls red, and rain growing over this land; chasing rainbows with my brother, and driving into rainstorms when we'd travel with our dad across the rez, the smell of rain and earth in summertime down pours.

Coming across the border this time I can feel the climate has changed in my country with the election of Obama. It is a new day, a new time and there is still a lot of work to do. It is amazing and exciting to see my country come alive again and be inspired by HOPE. A Letter to Obama from Alice Walker

For something you've never seen before check out Obama's photostream at flickr.com. It's a whole new era in photogeeking with the new Pres!

The world seems more connected and small. On election night I watched TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. it was very much for our times now. I had never read or seen the movie. In the DVD commentary which I highly encourage everyone to SEE. In the DVD extras actor Gregory Peck spoke so eloquently of his role and the importance of this book. I realized how what was then still offers a window into our present time. I felt Adicus Finich, as a man,father, reflects something of what I feel is what personified in Obama and the kind of man who protects his family as his community and vice versa.

He quoted Winston Churchill:
"We have surmounted all the perils and endured all the agonies of the past. We shall provide against and thus prevail over the dangers and problems of the future, withhold no sacrifice, grudge no toil, seek no sordid gain, fear no foe. All will be well. We have, I believe, within us the life-strength and guiding light by which the tormented world around us may find the harbour of safety, after a storm-beaten voyage." —Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, 9 November 1954

29 October 2008

Jesus and 4O CASAS and a birthday






I swear everyday is a fieldtrip. Whether it's the local church in the old mission style that our friend Grizlle did the mural for, or heading down the road in any given direction. I was suppose to go north but went south when least expected. I waffled about going home to do my presentation in Flagstaff. I couldn't read between the lines and tell if I was am on deck fully or not in Albuquerque for a writing workshop; everything felt wishy washy;kinda sorta; unclear and cloudy; seemed in either direction north it felt this way; I was so close to going had a ticket to ride but in the morning Emi says let's go to Quarenta 40 Casas! No doubt about it. Immediately EVERYTHING in me said a very loud resounding, head to my toes, from my heart YES!!! It's a 4 hour drive south towards Madero, across the desert down to Buena Ventura, up and over the mountains and across the open fields of juniper and pine; It looks like the plateau of home near Flagstaff. Emi, Jane and I. it is Jane's birthday. She has come to Casas Grandes to study and learn about the rock art of the region to compare and find the threads as related to her work at Zuni. If I had been to collage I would have wanted her to be my Chair Gal. What amazing company to be in and what a way to celebrate the world! so off we go down the road into the bright dazzling sunshine of the morning with Mexican songs serenading us ladies and the unfolding desert. Here are some of the photos and the wonderful people from the park we met, Simon and David. David has worked in this canyon for over 15 years. He tells us how there are over 150 sites and this cliff dwelling was still occupied when the Spaniards came. It is the same geography of Valle de las Cuevas. The air smells sweet, a small stream gurgles below. The pines smell like my memories of trees from my home in Flagstaff,AZ. David offers us warm hot coffee and walks with us up the steep incline; It is a little more than a mile down and back. I feel happy because I know it means so much for Jane to be here; I can see and feel it; This is exactly where I was meant to be. more soon!

22 October 2008

Computer havoc; a song,a death, life goes on.





7 pm. it is already dark and I am sitting outside CASA NOPAL uploading photos to flickr, and Cowboys and Indians.Catching up with DKish and my Poppie; trying to sort out whatever happened with my computer last week when everything got shuffled or disappeared. It was quite disconcerting and no measure of help can really take me back to where I was. what's a GRRL to do?
Backup and smile at the universe and get real with the world; Close the computer and sigh. Instead I went to a book signing out under the stars at the Presidencia for Julian a local art historian and teacher. A small trio began to play; an accordion,a guitar, an old upright base. The songs they sing are about Chihuahua, the revolution, the sierras, love; in this intimacy I am in awe and am reminded this is why I am here; Julian's students are beautiful shy girls, they serve the bocitas, a few familiar faces from my pueblo, Horacio who last year invited to me to join them at his family's plot at the cemetery asks me if I am coming this year; I met some of the other potters from Mata Ortiz; they remember me from the rodeo; Chinese Mexicans; Mexican Chinese; Cowboys and potters; the 1st and 2nd generations of Mata Ortiz potters. Wives,daughters, and sons. We all shake hands. There is a formality that I love here and miss when I go home to the NOrth. Kids do cartwheels in the grass in the moonlight. The bass player smiles, the people move into a circle and add their voices to the song they know. It is wonderful to hear; the computer is what it is. I am reminded to not be attached to material things; the word 'non attachment' floats through my mind. be here now. Listen. Look up. This is a gift. Count your blessings. Remember why you are here. Some things are out of your control and others are waiting to be felt and seen.

I am thinking of my friends who have lost loved ones or who are traveling through to the other side of life; Zman's dad, ARtie. Carmela's dog Apollonia. Dkish's furry friend Monday. The Midge. Old age and pain. heart attacks and alcoholism. There is an outpouring of love for these people. Across the street in two day three funerals; one related to the crazy cartel shakedown; the son of the owner of the Marysol where I eat heavenly burritos stopped to help someone and got shot in Nuevo...border wars are at the door; Families line the streets; Men drink beer and smoke cigarettes in the shade. Later I see one of the abuelitas from the parade with her beautiful big, fat grand baby carrying her down the street. Without knowing it the funeral has changed guard; the young man at the beginning of his life and an older grandmother has come to her own time of rest. People walk to the little chapel to pay their respects; all the generations; each will be walked to the cemetery for their final rest. I have not photographed this.... instead I chose to offer my compassion; a touch on the arm, a hug, a handshake. I don't want to "take" something away from them. I wonder about what my response is; Death unites us all and I imagine these people I know and don't know meeting on the other side and somehow accompanying one another. That's how I imagine it. I say my mantra; I say a prayer to Our Lady. I look at the beautiful day; the golden leaves more golden than the day before. The memory of songs
connecting us to the stars and to the brown earth where we return. The ache of love's memory haunting....the love for this world. Everything still so beautiful; so sad, so amazing. What matters are these little moments given.shared. I want to remember and not forget as I still remember when I fell in love one spring with life itself. Something is gone and yet something still remains. A small ember lingers like a note of a song and disappears into the night.

The Midge:
Jeffrey Allan Siegel, 36, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008, in Flagstaff.
Mr. Siegel was born May 5, 1972, in St. Paul, Minn. He was a free spirit who truly enjoyed the challenges of climbing the rock walls of Yosemite and Zion National Park. He loved the thrill of running the big rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and yet he also enjoyed the peace and tranquility of floating down the Verde River. His family and friends will remember the laughter he brought to all.

A Poem for the Midge:
I saw you walk away down the dark alley the last time I was home
and I had the sad feeling as I called your name I would never see you again.
Word of your passing comes to me and I wonder of the pain of losing yourself
in the drink; the eddy your soul's boat was never able to break.
I don't understand how or why.

I hear the laugher of our friends on the porch
I hear your laughter, your long hair sometimes in your face
under a ball cap; I remember you brushing it for Dk's birthday party.
Ajo laughing and your generosity of heart expressed in sharing the gift
of so many crab legs; you never held back.

You had the insight of perception,
a kind spirit, and always a helping hand.

I still hear your soft voice expressing your joy for photography, for nature.
Little notes of insight into what you love but couldn't hold onto.
Something in you broke and lost the line to lead you out of the maze
of your own sorrow.

Alone you left. But not alone anymore as you melt into the great mystery
and return as the child who loved this world.

I imagine you and Monday.Two souls, one human,one dog
united on the other side; familiar to one another,
and we are blessed to have know you for a little while.

A sticker remains on the pink VW bus.
Midge has a posse and that is us.

02 October 2008

Homies,Cowboys,and a homage to corn



It has been very busy here in the humble town I live in. I live in constant surprise. It is not uncommon to have strangers come; some with the beautiful Mata Ortiz pots; sometimes raw opals, old mexican antiques that could be anybodies treasure or junk; somedays it's the Tarahumara women, or my neighbors grandson, or the young boy man selling the local harvest: chaliche in the spring, peaches in mid summer and now apples; The other day my friend Roberto's nephew Beto stopped in with his cousins while I was eating lunch and reading HOUSE OF RAIN. I was lost in the Sierras taken back there by Childs words and then I was back answering the door which is a blue curtain blowing between the worlds of inside and outside. I was surprized to see Beto; Last time I saw him here was over a year and a half ago; he stood aback as is the custom here when people come to your door out of respect; two other men were with him, his cousins, Juan and Luis. Juan is a potter from Mata Ortiz and I had heard about his olla, his pot of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the only one Emi MacCallum had ever seen in the Mata Ortiz style. I wish I could have seen it and now the artist who made it was at my door.

Meeting the local Homies took me back to my San Fran Mission days. I recognized the tattoo style they each wore. I have watched worlds interconnect here since my time here and it was happening again; The Vida Loca, the past, the present; Homies who if you changed their hats would look like they had come out of the classic westerns like the TREASURE of the SIERRA MADRES or some Italian spaghetti western shot in the deserts of Spain. I see the faces of warriors, and Toltec and Spanish princes; I see the struggle of being on one of the border or the other; they dream of America and I dream of Mexico.
Before they left I asked if I could take their picture; Just a wall in the empty studio and some window light. Timeless.Classic.

Then there is corn. I learned from HOUSE OF RAIN it is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the Americas over 5,000 years ago. There is a sample of corn on the Colorado Plateau dated over 3700 years ago that travelled from the heartland of Mesoamerica across and over the the backbone of the americas. Perhaps I am drawn to this country and these stories because it speaks to a place inside of me feeling the currents and connections of time.

My young friend Pamela who modeled for me this past summer and I worked on a small series here in la Casa Nopal. I have been inspired over the years and find connections to the poetry of Jimmy Sanitago Baca to all I feel about these threads of the natural world, the barrio, the flowers that bloom in the under shadows of la vida loca; He shared his new novel about a migrant workers at REFORMA, the latino librarian organization a couple weeks ago in El Paso,TX. The main character is a woman named NOPAL. I thought of these pictures I made before I knew about the novel and was inspired to work a few of the images up late into the night last night.

Nina Simone is singing on my itunes; WiLD is the Wind haunting and yearnful. This is how I feel in my deep love for Mexico,the land and her people. I am in love everyday. This melancholic joy. I think of corn and my dead homeboys who blessed me on their corners when I was lost and eighteen. I hear them still and feel this great sentiment for life itself.
I

26 September 2008

cowboy coffee in the Sierras


cowboycoffee
Originally uploaded by RMRunningphoto
fresh hot coffee. worked up this image for the TRAPPINGS OF THE WEST exhibit. I love it because it was a rainy day and we had to make coffee and a fire in the rain. It was a true moment of the west with my guide Jorge Hawkins.

09 September 2008

Jack Kerouac once said, "Your art is the Holy Ghost blowing through your soul."


I've been thinking about James Lee Burke. Listening to his books on tape read by Will Patton. My dad gave me one for the road trip back to Mexico over a month ago. Lousiana or the border wars both hover over our heads days; some kind of storms brewing .I am grateful for JLB's perspective; his way of describing people, feelings about current events and the best and worst that are our characters. We agree, my dad and I, that JLB writes like a photographer SEEs.

I found this essay Burke wrote and wanted to share it with you. WRITERS ON WRITING BY James LEE BURKE.

"A real writer is driven both by obsession and a secret vanity, namely that he has a perfect vision of the truth, in the same way that the camera lens can close perfectly on a piece of the external world. "

"Jack Kerouac once said, "Your art is the Holy Ghost blowing through your soul." He also said that there was no such thing as failure in art, not when you genuinely invest yourself in it. What a critic might call failure is just part of larger work that is ongoing.

The material for the stories is everywhere. The whole human family becomes your cast of characters. You can give voice to those who have none and expose those who would turn the earth into a sludge pit. As an artist you have automatic membership in a group that is loathed, feared and denigrated by every dictator and demagogue in the world.

03 August 2008

Our Lady of Hope Esparanza


My new friend, little sister, muse: Pamela was visiting from Mexico City here in Casas Grandes. I was inspired to ask her to model for me to explore some ideas that I had and haven't found a "model" to work with in the way I work back home in our studio. She
was just beautiful. It was my first time doing a set of work at the Casa Nopal and the window light in the library is that exactly of what we try to recreate in the studio. More images will come from this set but for now here is what I made in the digital darkroom of the imagination.

Miracles of Chile and the Guadalupe Ranch





This is the year I am learning about agriculture. I was invited to go to the Chile fields to see how the organic farm is growing chiles. Early in the morning light men and women work the rows of plants. It is intimate, hard, repetitive, enduring work. The
weather patterns are not the same and there has been more rain on record recently than in the past hundred years. Men and women labor to protect, and nurture these plants that will eventually become jars of organic El Pinto Chile. I am completely fascinated with learning about where our food comes from and who grows it. There are board meetings held in offices through
out the world and here in the middle of a chile field in Casas Grandes a meeting ensues to discuss the crop at hand. I have never met an agricultural Engineer; my friend Randy shows me the plants; never have I peered under the protective leaves to
see how a chile grows. The morning air is heavy with moisture from the rains; it feels unseasonably like the tropics. Gorge holds a small flower to his eye and studies it. He speaks of how he has never seen a year like this one, nor an organic project such as this. The conditions are all different. His kind eyes look across the fields contemplating fate. The workers had help
drain the fields bucket by bucket a week or so ago...too much water at the wrong time is not good for the plants. He speaks softly with wisdom,concern, and love. "We love our fields like we love our country," The small white flower in his hand is so small. Later when editing my pictures I notice how the workers also appear so small, like flowers in a sea of green. I too love
this country, and these chiles and the people who work this land.

My dad and our model and friend Brandy had given me the Guadalupe; it was a surprise as if she had appeared miraculously in
my apartment months ago....I had an inspriation to bring her to Mexico and start photographing her in places. My dad asked me if I had done any images with her yet and up until this morning I had not. When I unfurled her out of the van and opened
her up to her full stature the people in the fields and my friend and I, we were all taken by the incongruity of her Pressence;
I do believe She is here anyways but it was so beautiful; It's as if Big Mom appeared and we all wanted our pictures taken with Her. it was one of the most fun and magical moments. As I left the campo, the gate keeper saw her in the back of my van.
I asked if he'd like a portrait with her; He reverently knelt down next to her by the tall,waving corn and removed his hat. He gifted me with two stories of his own personal experiences of how She had helped save his daughter when she was born prematurely and when he was diagnosed with cancer. She appeared to him twice in his life. He patiently explained the significance of Her symbolism to me; some of which I've heard but to hear it from a man in the middle of the corn field was a gift. As I drove off I noticed the sign outside the gate. I had just left Guadalupe Ranch. She is everywhere.

17 July 2008

The HOPIs and summer rain






Summer in Flagstaff. Fouth of July Red,White,and Blue and something older than our country. The Hopi's came to dance in our
Heritage Square. My dad John, was doing portraits; I was heading north to Wyoming for a job; I made these pictures before leaving. I am getting ready to head south to Mexico on Saturday; I look forward to the return, to feel the horizon open and just feet first back into the country that has captivated my heart and imagination.

29 June 2008

Traveling to the Sacred Mountain






This land I love coming home to. The sight of the Sacred Mountain, The San Francisco Peaks, and a beautiful name in Navajo and Hopi that I wouldn't even know how to spell. The rain clouds form out of nothing on the far off horizon. It is comforting to
me always when the rain follows or leads me. North to South. South to North. Each way leads to home.

26 June 2008

Making movies on location



The boys are back in town. Film makers, Scott Peterson and Peter Biagi have returned to the valley and to whip up a little Thai food for Spencer and Emi. Wish I was there to sample it!! We met last summer when they began to work on this project. Interestingly enough the Front Line story on Juan Quezada was our mutual lead for our work in Casas Grandes.

Check out their short and give them some support!! The Renaissance of Mata Ortiz

The Finder and the Maker.Spencer MacCallum and Juan Quezada;
These men are STARS in my eyes. I am grateful to them both for sharing their passions and love for
this amazing landscape and cultural treasure. AY,AY,AY!! CHIHUAHUA!!!



Mama Tierra:Mayaguel

Mayahuel, Goddess and protector of the Maguey plant. Agave milk, the gift of Queen Xochi who gave Pulque to the people . In these times I think of how we need nurturing Mother's milk.

More links on the Aztec Gods and Goddesses:
MesoAmerican Goddesses:
The Gods of Ancient Mexico







I did my first painting in a long time. It was how I spent my birthday; good to feel charcoal in hand, and think about turning edges of dark and light. I had spent the day before LOOKing at agaves with Juan. their points, the designs imprinted from before unfolding. I will be exhibiting the painting at the Festival Nuevo Paquime at the Museum of Northern Cultures through out July.

I love how when following a line of inspiration how it unfolds as you learn more. My dear friend and bro, my mentor for over 25 years has always and continues to educate me and open my mind to new teachings and ideas about the mythic southwest and Mexico. When I told him about the passage in Frank Water's book, MYSTIC MEXICO, Sal referred me to the Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexio and the Maya.






23 June 2008

FESTIVAL NUEVO PAQUIME July 18 to 27, 2008



Festival Nueva Paquime July 18 to 27, 2008
Casas Grande Region Mexico
Celebrate the cultures of Northern Mexico during a ten day festival.
Spanish: Festivalnuevapaquime.com
English: Mata Ortiz Calendar.com

VIVA LA VIDA Art & Photography
Exhibition at Casa Azul July 22, 2008 Tuesday 5pm
with RAechel Running and artist friends of the
Center for Casas Grandes Studies:
Matiz Jewelry: Micky Vanderwagon and Ariel Renteria
Potters:Diego Valles & Antonio Nunez
Sculptor:Roberto Hernandez
A Collection of Chihuahuan and Mennonite Quilts
Mexican Furniture:

Please visit us on FLickr.com !! Center for Casas Grandes Studies & RMRunningphoto