10 March 2012


!!! VIVA VILLA !!!

I have been invited by renowned Chef Zarela to present my work on the ranching and food traditions of Chihuahua this summer in New York City. It has been a really exciting project to share the love and passion of the history with a larger audience. Although I am Arizona the gran Amor for the Borderlands continues to unfold in the most unexpected places.

It has been five years since I first went with the support of  my dear friend Jason and heard of the Villista Cabalgata - Our lives have been forever altered upon our first meeting with the General .  

For more about Zarela's amazing food as life please visit her website:

The one thing that I have learned since launching the Chihuahua Querida Home Page is that every person recommended to me by Carmela Wallace and Raechel Runnng  who I have invited to take part in our upcoming celebration gave a resounding yes with almost a missionary zeal  to show the glory and diversity of  their beloved Chihuahua was. The beauty of it is that everyone has a specialty . Some promote potters, others have worked in the spectacular Paquime anthropological site, Carmela  and scientists from all over the world  are dedicated to  sustainability and conservation, still others give tours.  Whether it is to reveal the secret of making teach cooks to make the prized Chihuahua or Mennonite cheese or sing the praises of sotol, a local  mezcal-like spirit- everyone is eager to join us in the fun.  Of course their fun is sharing their experiences with the public so you need to go to the events. Alone on cannot share life; others must be there
And then there is Narciso Martinez who lives his life as Pancho Villa. He looks like  him,  gives exciting presentations, leads the 137 kilometer cabalgata reenacting Pancho Villa’s ride to victory and speaks just like him. Impersonator, body snatcher, alter ego, devoted fan , brilliant performer and storyteller that brings both tears and laughter.  He will be performing here exactly on the 5th of June, Pancho Villas 132nd birthday at a place to be determined by how any people sign up.  
The price is $25.00 per person payable through PayPal
Now who will volunteer to maka a cake. maybe a few  and we can vote for the best.
He asked me to go pick him up at the airport because sometimes the authorities think  he is crazy.  Why don’ t we all form a posse to welcome him to the city? That’s a perfect NY1 story!

Narciso Martinez “Pancho Villa” photogragh taken by Raechel  Running


REACH -U R LIFE - Connect HEAL Prosper

NACA(Native Americans for Community Action) staff choose us both to be Winners in their Logo contest; Lintara's words and my imagery were combined to create the logo for their new Suicide Prevention Program. GRACIAS NACA for the opportunity to address a community issue to inspire HOPE for those who are struggling to return to Health. 

Below are the sketches I made in photoshop.

FlagLIVE 2012 FEB LOVE & Heartbreak Songs


Favorite LOVE & HEARTBREAK Songs 

Cover of FLAGLIVE FEB 2012 

I was invited to submit my favorite songs for the LOVE issue- A fun exercise in memoir - 
of course it was edited down to a couple sentences for the article but I wanted to share the process; I suggest click the link above and put your heart light on - remember the love we have experienced- achy braky heart- unrequited- and forever and a day. Count your blessings - there's nothing like hearing the audience sing " Volver Volver", one of THE most passionate love songs with Chevala Vargas with so much gusto! 

this is a work in progress - 

Chose one out of a million or choose ten -I’ve lost count of my favorites. Love songs break your heart open- the list changes with the seasons of our lives we  learn of Love’s many faces - Sentimental with the ages we learn to forgive and forget.   First crushes and we’re on our way. We roll the dice and take a chance - fooled around and fell in love and it will never be like this again - Can’t live with you or without you Honky Tonkin bee bop baby-  Some love songs are train songs hollering down the line - your heart a dime flattened on the tracks of life and someone else’s lucky dime when all you had was an operator and some loose change. It’s the kickin can Sunday morning song - Some dreams are torn bags caught in a trees, riding  fences,  caught in a trap, and  rustling wild in the wind moaning like Nina Simone and some love sets you free - 
 Joplin’s Summertime,  makes you wanna make out or remember your mother’s tender hand on your head remembered in black and white memories on snowy tv’s - There’s so many lost hearts and  flip flops; Tequila sunrises  and Pina Coladas down in Jamacia it goes on and on.  Sweetheart - Return to me -and don’t call me  darling darlin’ with an accent; “If the phone don’t ring you know it’s me “- Ooo baby,  the unexpected pains and fireworks you had no idea existed till you kiss - Hearts lifted with wings we dip and dive down the highway of love, crash and burn and are inspired to fly  again -You are the sun, the moon, the stars with Orion in your eyes - and we’re loving ,touching, squeezing the juice out of life ; Na Na Na Na Na.... drinking from the proverbial well, running on empty along the beach down to the sea of love -  We’re  lost and found on the River of no return - with your Huckleberry friend or down in Mexico where the cake was left out in the rain - yeah ain’t LOVE funny  and it’s so hard being green ? It’s the soundtrack to our life’s movie - the birds and the bees; lullabies and too short and the endless good byes and when will I see you again ? Love lifts us up and takes us down to the  deep whisky bottom of delta river blues - Thousands of kisses get lost like blue eyes crying in the rain to the sea. - City streets dark n stormy nights and starry lights in winter - hot desert nights can make you feel alone and forsaken - Makes you wanna holler for some water for your Soul.  Roses and strange fruits bloom in Spanish Harlem, in the ghetto and the Kentucky rain keeps coming down - we’ve got Elvis on the dashboard along with Jesus to help get us through the night. We hold our breath like a  late night corner sax jazz note is a long kiss good night - always and forever till the end of time  cause it’s  only rock n roll baby - 

FLAG LIVE ; LOVE SONGS  from RAEchel Running 
*Fallaste Corazon  Pedro Infante
*El Ultimo Trago  Chevala Vargas
*Volver Volver  Vincente Fernandez & Bukia
*Seven Year Ache  Rosanne Cash 
*Rolling in the Deep  Adele
*Fallaste Corazon  Pedro Infante
*El Ultimo Trago  Chevala Vargas
*Volver Volver  Vincente Fernandez & Bukia 
AMOR ! “Picante pero sabroso” - LOVE - burning HOT but delicious - Mexican Heartbreak songs can truly be expressed like none other the famous Mexican singers Pedro Infante, Chevala Vargas, y Vincente Fernandez.  They are a nice side served enchilada style for sunday mornings regrets ; the yearning and the suffering made all the more difficult to forget - they’re the salt and lime added to your wounds or your drink -- the deep cry of the earth and commiseration with strangers, instant or long time best friends who sing you back to the light from a dark place.  These songs may fill your cup with sorrow or courage to love again - 
*Seven Year Ache        Rosanne Cash 
Country rez roads and late night Navajo radio driving and dive bars - living downtown - 
HOT MONTE red lights getting your kicks on RT66 and the Kiva Lounge - Fenders, and Reggae and street preachers screaming“ JUSUS LOVES YOU ! “ Edie’s jamming upstairs and their chanting at the  Hari Krishna feast - 5 and Dimes and pennies on the tracks -Cowboys, Indians, Hippies, Tree huggers and New Agers - cruisin w/ Sista Mama - high School and katchinas - alley flowers and Max’s Tamale shop with Ranchos and The Stones in the juke box- Blue Bayou and  Emmy Lou singing your mama’s blues - Reflecting back on it all I wonder, how is it we learn to  love broken heart songs when we were so young ?
*Rolling in the Deep  Adele
I always get turned on to great music from my bro JP - late night beers at his kitchen table ; he’s cooking something great - NPR is on; the TV and itunes- it’s a his river stereo or the latest ski helmet with surround a sound. He puts it on my head and next thing I know I’m ‘Rolling in the Deep”. How did he intuit it was the song I needed followed by “Honey Badger” for comic relief. Brother love - 

*Happiness            Al Green
*Sleepwalk          Santo and Johnny
*Girl With the Faraway Eyes  Rolling Stones 
*Malagena Sala Rosa  Bud & Travis, Trio Calaveras
Total Eclipse of the Heart         Bonnie Tyler 
Happiness           Al Green
A state of being- it builds likes a wave and people break out in  spontaneous dance in the living rooms behind closed doors  ; on the side of the road ;  at weddings;  with your BBFs or alone in the kitchen one can channel Happiness - How can you not feel the LOVE when this song comes on ? You can’t help but feel a surge from head to toe and boogie -
Sleepwalk          Santo and Johnny
Slow dancing under the pine trees  at your friend’s wedding ; barefoot  in the kitchen dancing ;  late night driving under the moon on lost highways ; end of the movie tears; breakups and make ups ; I could listen to this song over and over and over again ;  when I was young I was told, “Love don’t go only lover’s do, close your eyes, the years, tears and love go by - 
Girl With the Faraway Eyes  Rolling Stones

Honky tonk on the jukebox in bars on front street down on ol’ sixty sixty - walking by looking into the dark neon - sultry summer nights- and long road trips; downtown hippy bars and Club 66-monsoon rains -on the banks of the mighty colorado under the Milky way- dancing in the dark, in the firelight singing with your compadres -hootin n hollerin in miraculous harmony - a classic honky tonkin love song and a lil’ help from sacred bleeding heart  of Jesus can always heals a pain or inspires a flame  -  timeless and forever 
*Malagena Sala Rosa  Bud & Travis  
I fell in love with Chihuahua when the US media had nothing good to say about it.  So love goes - it calls you and transcends hate and fear - We crave the words of the poet to say what we have trouble expressing - there are memories of being a baby on the south side with our Mexican neighbors - when Cinco De Mayo was about sharing Mexican culture and not a brand name beer holiday. - on my parent’s records ; Mariachis at El Charro Cafe- through open windows on summer nights - curtains billowing; on the side of the road, a blue glow from the dash board light, spinning in a slow dance - Women, men, solo and in commiseration - Mamas’ in Urique at the bottom of Copper Canyon - toothless handsome singers croon holding the long notes till a tear forms ; the yearning wafts through the years ; - we love and suffer together and toast , laugh and sing along - hearts are won, lost and found again - this is a song to fall in love and grow old with long after love’s come and gone to remember the sweetness.  Lost in translation but not in meaning -
*Tonight is What it Means to Be Young Movie: Streets of Fire 
*Total Eclipse of the Heart          Bonnie Tyler 
It’s a toss up - do I have to choose?   80’s Babies - 30 years later the era of rock n roll fairy tales still take you back to the 7th grade dance floor or the eccentrically fabulous Gay bars -Dancing Queens, spandex, high heels, shoulder pads;  back when geri curls,mullets and the feathered look were  cool - Stage lights, the ghost of Elvis and angels waiting for the sun - It’s Meatloaf and Rocky Horror - Hell is for Children and We’re living on a prayer- But we have tonight  and even if its’ the end  of the world or a new  beginning we party like it was 1999 in 2012.  More than ever we need love songs - We don’t need another hero because you’re my knight in shining armor coming to my  emotional rescue - Just between you and me , let’s make all  our dreams come true cause tonight was made for lovers and you’re my only one-  lil darlin’ we’re all waiting for love to walk in the door - so knock three times on the ceiling and answer the call, forgive and forget the past so we can live happily ever after,  imagine the world will be as One.  It’s only rock n roll baby but I like it. 

About :
Flagstaff Native, photographer, activist, educator, RAEchel Running loves "Keeping it real". She loves the path less traveled;  Cuban dark coffee;  REAL snow; Mexican street tacos and putting the LOVE as a main ingredient in her work in the food she cooks and the art she makes - from the bottom of Grand Canyon to south of the border,  Raechel's work is inspired by LOVE - for wild lands and rivers, sharing beautiful food with friends and familia; reading good books, art with art , sentimental music, learning new things about the world; She loves witnessing the unexpected miracles and celebrates the amazing and diversity of the  human spirit and the beautiful Earth.  She loves the beauty of LIFE itself.  LOVE > FEAR. 

RAEchel Running Loves  making new friends in spite of Homeland Security warnings - in Copper Canyon, Chihuahua, Mexico. www.raechelrunning.com 
RAEchel Running LOVEs the good work of her  amigos in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico with friends, Gil Gillenwater, founder of www.ranchofeliz.com and fellow photographer Dawn Kish.YOUTUBE- LOVE& Heartbreak SETYOUTube LINK: FAV Heartbreak & LOVE Songs 2012 SET


MARCH 2012

article and interview with Betsy Bruner and Raechel Running 
This is an expanded reflection based on Betsy's questions for the article with a bit more of my thoughts about the influence of the women on my art and life.

Sledding down the hill in the 1960s from the top of Birch Street to downtown, artist Raechel Running said children under five didn’t worry about being hit by a car in those days. Running, 46, whose father is the well-regarded photographer John Running, was born and raised in a smaller Flagstaff, but today she has a global consciousness seasoned by five years of living part time in Casas Grandes in ChihuahuahaMexico.

She has established an international reputation for her photography, graphic design, writing, filmmaking and activism about border issues and immigration, the environment and land stewardship.Her early interest in art was sparked by her cultural environment, which included two creative parents and their equally creative friends, including a number of inspiring women.

“If we’re looking at the women who have influenced my artistic development, it started with my mother, Helen Lau Running,” Running recalled. “She taught me to create art  a very young age,at the k itchen table, crafting the home with interesting people, and taking us kids out to have many diverse experiences.” Helen came from the island of Trinidad when she was 19 and felt right at home here. When I was twelve she collaborated on a  book written by Kathy Hooker, ' Time Amongst the Navajo' that went on to win is still used in classrooms today. " Mom, I discovered  at a community garden potluck this past fall that she was one of the first members of the first community gardens back in the day - I was so proud of her as I saw families and beautiful food shared -  I see how the movement is growing and  is helping to change the world to a healthier and happier place. " 

Women living in the Flagstaff area who had a strong impact on her growing up included  Sue Bennett, photographer Ann Zwinger, artist and natural history author ;  Dr.Kaye, Dance Ethnologist and Rosemary Jobowski, teacher of the Flagstaff School of Ballet; art teachers, Anne Kramer and Barbara Vanderbeck ; and Phyllis Hogan, ethno-botoinst and owner of Winter Sun Trading Company. "Most were single moms raising kids and doing their thing bringing us kids along for the ride following their dreams; Those experiences shaped our lives. " Running reflects smiling,  "They took us to the symphony and modern dances ; they played Linda Rondstadt, Broadway Musicals and Pow Wow music; drove VW bugs, had eccentric friends who  lived in Tee Pees; The Moms took us camping  and made us eat whole wheat bread,ride your bicycle and play outside  - it wasn't the Partridge Family but we sure weren't parked in front of the TV.  
It was 'weird' back then but  when  we went out into the world we realized we were prepared and what an amazing world they had exposed us to. They were Awesome !  

“Phyllis bought my first photograph and gave me my first photography job when I was 15. We still collaborate on projects.I am more inspired to learn about Native cultures, the arts, and the value of plants since I've been in Mexico. The connections through Phyllis's ethno-botanical passions she shared with me since I was a teenager are at the root of my current interests in my borderland work. Ancient traders and artists help shaped the cultures that are the southwest for thousands of years.  I am developing  my own  skin care line with her daughter Denise, of Super Salve - Botanicas Americas inspired by the migrations and  plants of the Americas which I'm really excited about. ” she said.

Spending her childhood years in the South Side and downtown was an exciting diverse community. There was the local color;  the Natives, with the Blacks and the Mexicans,” she said. “We had these groovy hippie baby-sitters who were artists, kept diaries, played music, rode their  bikes, ran the river, read cool books, and ate organic food in the ‘70s." 

As a frontier town, Flagstaff has always attracted people, including women, who were looking for creative challenges.“It’s about women who were drawn west and were captivated by the arts and landscape,” Running observed. “They are examples of adventurous spirits and minds. These women lived in Flagstaff, but they had this great interest in the world.”

 "The women made Flagstaff an extended family that exists to this day. I think they  bridged art and nurtured our communities. They co-created a bigger sense of Home.    They were courageous and true to themselves.They were fiercely independent as well as passionate about what we ate and taking care of the planet ; inclusivity and diversity; and doing your part with heart against the odds. Everybody has to support each other and raise us to be curious and engaged with life and cultivated our interests.Their art and lives exemplify the Spirit of the west. I am grateful for growing up here at the foot of the Sacred Mountain which I believe needs our stewardship more than ever because of what I was taught as a kid - as in art as in life ! " 



Agua Prieta, Sonora
DEC 2011, US/Mexico border 

"The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn't indicate or promise, and which the other kind couldn't detect."  
MARK TWAIN, Joan of Arc


Gil Gillenwater, Founder, RANCHO FELIZ
"Walls don't work -What works is providing people the opportunities necessary for them to live and raise their families with dignity in their own country." 

"The image of the US/MX border being used as a volleyball net is so poignant. No matter how high or far we build the wall, people will find a way to connect. It’s our nature as human beings. History should have taught us that by now. There are much more intelligent and humane ways to stem illegal immigration than wasting money building an ineffectual wall. Hopefully our politicians will “Wake Up” soon to some more operative solutions. "


A personal reflection on the week:

It was a few days before Christmas and Dkish and I crossed the US/MEXICO border to document  a Rancho Feliz Volunteer Exchange.

Rancho Feliz  is a  24 year US non profit providing opportunities for families in Mexico. It is a hand up not a hand out - a redistribution of opportunities providing a cultural  exchange rooted in service through education, health and community care.  

It is hard to look through a little hole in the fence and see one's own country from the other side.  It looks the same - but it's different the very moment you cross. I can't exactly put my finger on it -  it just is different - el otro lado -from either side shares the same air space, same land - but it's just different . 

We cross in Naco and headed east - we got directions to the gym at a stop light from the next car over.  Next morning a crowd of over 1500 Mexicans from a barrio in Agua Prieta, Sonora,  waited patiently outside in cool desert blue of smoke in the barrio of the Rancho Feliz Community. Founder, Gil Gillenwater and long time friends and supporters gather at Casa Gringo over coffee with Mexican vanilla and cinnamon begin a day in service.  Let the celebration begin !

There was no mob scene- no pepper spraying incidents over high dollar shoes - Everywhere signs of Christmas where in Mexico the Virgin of Guadlupe reigns supreme over plastic Santa Claus and Bart Simpson. An artist in disguise as  Santa and his helpers in sporty blue hosted and hand off the full bags consisting of food staples -people, families and kids move through the Rancho Feliz neighborhood and poured onto the basketball court. They joined  more volunteers with Buddhist eyes blazing on orange bright shirts like eastern monks overlooking everything - trucks and people unloaded ten tons of food into boxes and  bags,to be donated to a thousand families who like the sea waits along the shore of the borderlands.

 Brassy and sassy , distorted Norteno music warmed people up as they stood in the crisp morning air  - kids played games - jumped rope and bounced around hanging onto the legs and arms of their loved ones giving the ambiance of the scene the silence almost like a church gathering into a spirited carnival of celebration -  the corn and hot dog vendors were already in place - this was not just another  day in borderlandia. 

Three countries; Canada, US, and Mexico - A Canadian's Woman's volleyball ,  the  Ryerson RAMs, the Rancho Feliz Community compromised of Arizonans and Mexicans - and the  local Sonoran volleyball teams overcame borders - borders of "fear" ; Through their own personal language, backgrounds, each person contributes their own experience and like cluster of bubbles on a stream, merge and become one; each discovers a new depth of  gratitude, acceptance, and an appreciation of the service of  compassion together worlds apart from the headlines. 


To help build a community from the foundation up is made up of the examples of  working together - trust;  balance ; elbow grease; sport, laughter, hard work and fun -  these same principles in the appreciation of the little things that are at the heart of  a healthy community - These are the stories that make a house a home and that is what memories are made of. Cement was mixed, blocks hauled, carried and placed with care. One families dream became the dream of everyone involved.  


There is the warmth emanating  from within this circle on this 2000 mile line drawn in the desert - A circle of strong young women stood proud together with the winds of change in their hair -with  determination and inspired vision into the storm towards the future. The team grows closer; a huddle of sisters who explode with energy and force. Moments of  sincerity  and new friendships are forged through the language of sport ; hand gestures; and some 8th grade spanish. Volleyball shoes and face book names are exchanged; hugs and kisses ensue saying hello and good bye; proud to be a fan - and the gran corazon that is Mexico grandly and humbly welcomes and tells you to come back soon - “ Bienviendos’ y “Volver Volver” - 

The  worn faces of grandparents seen in classical paintings and black and white photographs are wrapped in Disney inspired towels and baby blankets; their soft shoulders under a drapery of folds replace traditional rebozos, draped over head and wrapped elegantly in an earthy form gestures that express the long waiting - their smiles are like long roads of unimaginable journeys -from faraway they came to this urban island of pallets and cartons to follow a dream beyond the fence. 

The bright eyed children look deep into your own. Boxes and bags are handed off - little ones and old ones weeble wobble down the sidewalk - the smiles grow and replace weariness and hesitation of being a stranger in a strange land - more smiles are volleyed -passed back and forth - the lines disappear -something like food in the belly  replaces the emptiness of the street.

We shake hands like they do when offering ‘the peace’ in mass - but this isn’t religious or a church but rather a spiritual moment on a dirt street strewn with the detritus of fast food and one use plastic bags flutter like strewn flowers paling in the elements where so many abuelas give their blessings. 'A Dios Bediga', murmured  softly and breaking into warm smiles that melt you like homemade fresh tortillas do; there’s a touch on the shoulder; a soft hand- a tug on a shirt and a reciprocated gesture from a brown eyed little girl who looks up at you and gives you a piece of candy.
PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE -Compassion beyond Borders

There is over 2000 miles of border fence dividing our countries- yet , ' They look through your smile and see you for who you truly are ', Brianna expresses, her voice soft, a sentimental clarity deeply felt in the winter light, a shimmering tear of understanding something so BIG  in  the small gesture of a girl, one of 1500 faces in the crowd gives us all the greatest gift  of this tender and fearless story once upon a time in the west -

How do moments like this transform a life? our life? the lives of others?  the world ? 

 I look to the west a golden band the grey military fence actually looks beautiful - a golden thread between earth and sky. It is like an art installation made of  recycled airstrip material used in wars from before I was born... no wonder it doesn’t work it has a violent past - painful beauty because of the light - I look east - storm clouds - dark, brooding - clouds part and a golden beam of light spills in a rainbow cascade - somewhere in Chihuahua - Home where the Zuni Baby Rainbow lives - ancient trade routes fascinate me ; current immigration policies are at odds of human character - and here we are on the other side in humanitarian service - 

The black and white headlines are replaced with the timeless magnificence of the desert- brutal, naked truths and hard realities soften with the touch of a woman's heart and the compassion of people working to making a little right in the world - I was inspired to see them as Luchadoras- Heroines like Joan of Arc - at the helm of these changing times - the vibrancy of youthful athleticism and agile minds - the energy of wild colts honing their skills and their heart -  Like the landscape of our Souls it too unfolds and shines forth a multi colored ray of hope that can not be fenced -   the light turns radiant against the storm. A sign for the times to follow. 

FELIZ NAVIDAD and here's to a transformative 2012.

GRACIAS GIL for having me document your projects these past couple of years : , Thank you Dkish for finally coming back to Mexico- driving and being my good road buddy,lighting gal and bbf  - 
 Gracias  to the wonderful people of Rancho Feliz and the Volleyball women's teams- may we continue to follow the path in a state of grace -