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.