Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Few Gems

I was in Buenos Aires and had to get to a tango performance or my stay there would not be complete. The show at Café Tortoni started at 11 PM. I arrived at the café and had a light refreshment before going downstairs into an areea that resembled a cave. The audience sat in the dark at tables as the performance began on a stage lit with colored lights that filtered through smoke effects to give just the right atmosphere for the passionate dancing. An ensemble of live tango musicians played adjacent to the dancers. Everything was intimate, especially as the room was small.

In the dark I strained for good views and snapped photos. I didn't know what I would get. A few gems came through and since then some of the pictures have made more than enough income for the entire trip to Argentina.

Yesterday, a married couple from Arizona came to The Boone Gallery and bought the two images shown here. This exchange reminded me of the whole evening and how fortunate I am to be able to make a living from art.

To read earlier posts from the trip, go to: Buenos Aires or Tango Embrace

Monday, September 10, 2018

Oldest Continuing Festival

I love community celebrations where friends and family come together for festivity and conviviality. Among celebrations in the United States, the Fiesta de Santa Fe is the oldest continuing festival. It began in September of 1712; 54 years before the American declaration of independence.

The most recent fiesta occurred on the city square last weekend. The Boone Gallery is only steps off the plaza so it was easy to hear plenty of music, see dancing, enjoy food, and arts & crafts. Parades and processions rounded out the activities.

In the final hours a mass was held at St. Francis Cathedral downtown. The original charter from 1712 states that fiesta is to end with a prayerful mass. I went with Amy just as bells were ringing and enjoyed the hour-long service with singing and sermon in the stone cathedral. From there, churchgoers walked with lit candles in the cool evening air through darkened streets to a hilltop nearby, where a huge cross stands guard over the city. Bonfires lit the way. The final parade was accompanied by singing and ended with prayer over the city.

Here are more photos, and videos of dancing:

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Zozobra, The Burning Of Old Man Gloom

He burns every year to great fanfare. Zozobra is called “Old Man Gloom”, and is constructed each year then burned at a stake in front of a large crowd. He has grown from his original height of about nine feet into the largest marionette in the world—50’ (15.21 m) tall. The event is the cause of great jubilation and people come from far and wide to witness it. The spectacle is the official start to Santa Fe’s Fiesta.

My partner Amy Córdova won the contest to have her artwork depicted on the Zozobra poster and was given special tickets. The theme was the sixties so she incorporated symbols from that era.  I haven’t been in years, and had issues with the burning of an effigy. Amy doesn’t like being in big crowds and was tempted to not go. But she is one of the stars of the show this year and I insisted we attend.

It is always a crazy event and people get bloodthirsty and overly excited. There is never enough parking and the field where he is burned is packed with all types of folks. I have a van so we put bicycles in it and drove as close as we could, then rode.

The air felt cool, with dramatic dark clouds becoming darker by the moment as the sun began setting. A steady stream of people walked on closed streets guarded by police at checkpoints. Near the park, Christian protestors proclaimed against the event, holding signs and entreating for Jesus. We found a fence, and locked our bikes to it. Our bags were checked and to my surprise we had to empty a thermos with coconut water in it. Only water from inside the park allowed. Our picnic food was okay.

I held Amy’s hand and pulled her forward through the crowd. People were everywhere, some already arrived and others streaming in. “I haven’t seen a crowd like this since carnival in Rio de Janeiro!” I said. We stopped at a concession stand to see Amy’s posters on sale then continued weaving into the mass of people standing or seated on blankets. I felt determined to arrive at the best vantage point available to us and we reached a spot directly in front of Zozobra and claimed a tiny patch of lawn. Now we had to wait an hour and half.

A bandstand nearby was the venue for live music that blared through loudspeakers. Anticipation was in the air as lightning flashed in the sky and thunder clapped. Zozobra stood at the top of a row of steps gazing imperturbably down at us. He looked clean and white against the dark blue expanse of sky. Around his neck hung a bolo tie.

“I felt a raindrop!” Amy exclaimed. Yep, soon it was raining steadily. Most people had brought ponchos or an umbrella. How could we have not bothered? Oh well, the music continued, lightning flashed behind Zozobra and thunder rolled.

At nine o:clock the mayor came out and shouted “Viva fiesta!” A proclamation reciting all the sins of Zozobra was read. The crowd chanted the verdict, “Burn him”.  Ghouls swarmed down the stairs, people with fiery torches pranced, and a beautiful woman fire dancer dressed in red leapt about with flaming torches at Zozobra’s feet. He began to move and moan. A string of firecrackers flashed from both sides of his head. His eyes came aglow. HIs head turned from side to side. Zozobra awoke and seemed to sense his fate. Then a little flame started him afire. All the crowd stood—some screaming burn him! I found myself shouting with the rest. It felt good. He seemed to catch fire from the inside. Light came from his mouth and he groaned loudly. Fireworks began shooting up behind his back as colored lights bathed him aglow. He became illuminated in fire and flickering brilliance. Everyone felt ecstatic, and some maybe a little sad. This year, I didn’t feel sad for him . . . he was built to burn; fulfilling his purpose. Anyway, he will be back again next year.

For more about Zozobra: 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Old Man Gloom

It's that time of year when the people of Santa Fe celebrate with an annual fiesta. A spectacular occurrence sets off the festivities with a bang: the burning of Old Man Gloom—otherwise known as Zozobra. "Zozobra is a hideous but harmless fifty-foot bogeyman marionette. He is a toothless, empty-headed facade. He has no guts and doesn't have a leg to stand on. He is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. He never wins. He moans and groans, rolls his eyes and twists his head. His mouth gapes and chomps. His arms flail about in frustration. Every year we do him in. We string him up and burn him down in ablaze of fireworks. At last, he is gone, taking with him all our troubles for another whole year. Santa Fe celebrates another victory. Viva la Fiesta!" - A.W. Denninger

At a Zozobra event and poster signing

My partner, Amy Córdova had two of her artworks selected for posters of the event, which draws tens of thousands of people. The local Kiwanis Club is the sponsor and proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Fe. The theme for this year was the era of the sixties. So Amy made a take-off of the Beatles Abbey Road Cover and also Zozobra wearing bell-bottoms and John Lennon glasses.

Amy, signing her posters
Amy was given four VIP passes to the burning, so we will be close up. Next week I will post a story with photos of the burning of “Old Man Gloom.”

"Light My Fire" by Amy Córdova
to purchase, click here: Light My Fire
"Zozo Does Abbey Road" by Amy Córdova
to purchase, click here: Zozobra_Abbey

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Regal Pageantry

At the center of my town is a plaza. It is well-used, especially in summer with frequent festivals and music concerts. Santa Fe, New Mexico is the oldest state capitol in the nation, founded in 1608 by New Mexico's third Spanish governor, Don Pedro de Peralta. It was made the capital of the territory in 1610. At over 7,000 feet above sea level, it is the United State's highest capital city. Santa Fe is the third-largest art market in the United States, after New York and Los Angeles.

Folk festival
I am fortunate that the Boone Gallery is just steps off of the plaza. There is usually music there, tourists from all parts of the globe visit, and I have been surprised by car shows, motorcycle gatherings, avant-garde music raves, Spanish markets, folk festival parades, pet parades, and now the big daddy of them all—Annual Indian Market which commenced this weekend.

Classic car show

Usually, despite being so close to the center of action during Indian Market, my shop is quiet—like being in the eye of a hurricane of cultural and commercial activity.

This is understandable since there are over 200 fabulous Indian artists spread across the plaza and adjacent streets. The masses of people are busy perusing and purchasing Native American arts and crafts.

Traditional Native Attire
A favorite attraction during the market is a fashion show. There are various categories including traditional and contemporary. Natives from all over North America present themselves in hand made attire and it makes for regal pageantry.

To add to my happiness sharing the plaza with indigenous Americans, a local hotel owner came in my gallery and bought one of my large paintings; a colorful river scene. Nature is the most native of all. Thank you Santa Fe plaza.

Embudo, oil on linen, 36x48 inches. Print available

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Prosperity, Longevity and Happiness

We first met in a little art gallery in Hoi An, Vietnam. The front door on the cobbled street was wide open and I walked in, curious about the shelves and walls covered with magical wood carvings. After a brief greeting with the young sales woman, I became entranced by three carved figures, standing together on a shelf. They are meant to stay together and I bought all three, along with a teak wood Buddha and a few other carved objects.

The three have been with me for years now. I forgot what each man represents and sent photos to a friend in Vietnam who sent me the info. Over time I lost track again.

They stand on a bookcase and offer silent blessings each day. I could not tell Amy what they personify and had to work hard to come up with three phrases; happiness, longevity and prosperity . . . but could not identify which is which.

A search on the internet came up with answers. They are “Sanxing” the 3 Star Gods. In my picture above, the first figure, from the left is Lu Sing, who wears the ornate head dress. He is the deity of prosperity and gives guidance in matters of career, social status and fortune. The next figure, with bulbous forehead and holding a peach in one hand is Shou Xing. The peach represents immortality. He knows how long every human being will live. He carries a gourd, attached to a dragonhead staff, that holds the elixir of life. The last figure is Fu Xing, auspiciously associated with the planet Jupiter and considered the personification of good fortune. He is generally depicted in scholar's dress, holding a scroll, on which is sometimes written the character "Fu". He may also be seen holding a child, or surrounded by children. Mine also has a crane at his feet.

Knowing the meaning behind the sculptures deepens their effect. May they always stand together for the highest good.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

The Clouds

When my friend Therese saw the likeness of birds in twilight clouds and showed me the photograph she took, I thought to make a painting. It hung in my gallery for several months. A few days ago a woman from Denver, Colorado became entranced with it and bought it.

Karen had recently moved with her husband to Colorado from the east coast and had left much of her art collection behind, in order to begin fresh. “Our house has been bare because I have not wanted to buy anything unless I really love it."

It pleases me greatly to be able to meet the people who purchase my art. I was able to look into Karen’s eyes and see her excitement. I was there when she took a picture on her phone and sent it to her husband for approval. He replied, “Nice.” She laughed at how when he says “nice” it usually means something much more. Then she looked back at the painting and pointed to a face she saw in the clouds. Therese saw the face too, and eventually so did I.

Pareibiola is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to see or hear a vague or random image or sound as something significant. Some people do this regularly and others don’t. My father admitted he never could see the, “man in the moon.”

I love looking at skies with clouds that shape shift and turn colors. Especially sunsets give me great joy and a sense of awe. I made a photograph of a landscape with clouds forming the shape of a heart over mountains. Even my father, bless his departed soul, would be able to see it.

For more, see: The Geese Are Clouds

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Creative Mind of Amy Córdova 

Saints, shamans, spirit beings, extra-terrestrials, creatures of every type, the sun and moon . . . these are just some of the subjects of the creative mind of Amy Córdova.

I first met Amy at a dinner hosted by mutual friends. She was dressed liked an artist with a colorful blouse and skirt, and Native American jewelry. After discovering her art background, I asked if she would be interested in putting her work in my gallery and working there while I went to Venice, Italy to live. I planned to be gone several months.

 It has been six months since I returned and Amy and I have become partners in many walks of life. We make art together, manage the gallery as a team, share meals, read fairy-tales together, pray together and more.

In less than a week my gallery is hosting a one-woman show for Amy. It is during Spanish Market in Santa Fe; appropriate because of her Spanish heritage. Fortunately, my gallery is just steps away from the plaza, where all the activity takes place.

The name of Amy’s show is Querencia, and refresh to “a deep rooted longing and love for a specific place and those who inhabit that place.”

For more, click here: Amy Córdova

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Earth Is One

 It is a rite of passage each year in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The second weekend in July brings artisans from all over the globe together for an extravaganza of popular, of-the-people art: the International Folk Art Market.

People come from far and wide converge on the grounds of Santa Fe's Folk Art Museum. I love most having the unique opportunity to see artists from places I might never visit, dressed in their native costumes and gathered in one place amidst all of their artwork. Tents shelter everyone from the sun.

I ask people and they are usually delighted and honored when I take their photograph. Then I see what Baha'u'llah meant when he said, The earth is one country, and mankind its citizens.

Sunday, July 08, 2018


I have loved drawing nudes for as long as I have been an artist. It is an age-old practice in western art. Art history books are full of them. Some of the most famous museum pieces in the world are “au naturel”. The most impressive I have seen in person is Michelangelo’s colossal sculpture in Florence, Italy, called David

 The drawing group I attend on Tuesday nights is devoted to figures. A model of either sex takes poses for three hours. This particular group likes mostly short “gesture” poses lasting from 1-10 minutes.

When I am drawing a gesture pose, my skills from years of study are used fluidly and instinctively. I don’t have time to worry about mistakes—or correcting anything. It  is all impulse.

The longest pose is about forty minutes. Then I can gauge proportions, study foreshortening, make corrections and take time shading.

What greater art is there than the human form?

Sunday, July 01, 2018


The nineteenth anniversary of the death of my nineteen year old daughter Naomi is nearing—July 5, 2018.

After she died I thought of the meaning of the number nineteen. It is made of the numerals 1 and 9; the beginning and end of all single digits. It includes all the rest of the numbers, so symbolizes unity. Adding one and nine makes ten: 1 + 0 equals one. Oneness.

It was not an accident that Naomi completed her life at nineteen. I often thought she was burning through lifetimes rapidly. Like a shooting star, she shone brilliantly through intense experiences, shedding brilliant light in a short burst before suddenly disappearing. Naomi burned the dross of existence through intense suffering and redemption. She said, “Hardship is something that will make us stronger. I don't know if I have complete evidence of this, but I think that in every situation there is good in it.”

The day we went to a doctor and he gave us the terrible news that she had Ewings Sarcoma, a virulent cancer, I realized this world is shifting sands and not permanent, yet I wanted with all my being to know we could trust her life would continue here on earth. It seemed impossible to think otherwise.
Knowing she had cancer that most certainly would destroy her, the first thing Naomi did on arriving home from the medical clinic was to make a beautiful drawing using colored pencils. A serenely peaceful figure garbed in a beautifully embellished blue gown seems to be listening in meditation. A halo is around her head and her hair streams in rivulets like sun rays in all directions within the orb. A SPIRIT being stands upon a butterfly wing at her shoulder within the halo, seeming to talk to her. A necklace around her neck holds a feather. Behind, two seedlings are growing and blossoming. From below, a tender green shoot with leaves and tendrils grows up and out of the top of the picture. No sign of fear in this artwork, only peace, light and signs of Divine guidance.

And this is what Naomi became before kissing life goodbye and embarking on her journey in the next world.