Sunday, December 30, 2012

Holiday Cheer

It took me sixty years before I experienced being thrown out on the street. Thank God, I can laugh about it. My wife owns a home in White Rock, New Mexico, a community about 35 miles from Santa Fe, where my gallery and studio are located. I do not like living in White Rock, so I have kept a residence in Santa Fe. Traveling is my passion, and I choose not to own a home . . . that would tie me down. I rent places that are furnished, and come and go as I please. Heidi Of The Mountains stays with me one week, and then lives in White Rock the next and I go a couple nights to be with her.

Here is my story, to which I could laugh or cry—but mostly I laugh. A gentleman named Joe had come into my gallery, seeking representation for his photography. He owned a poodle dog, and became acquainted with Heidi, because, at the time, we owned a poodle puppy (since deceased.) The man and his wife had traveled out of the USA, and he called himself an “international” photographer. This fellow brought his wife in to meet us, then invited us to dinner at his house in the foothills of Santa Fe. We dined with them and began to become friends, sharing poodle stories and tales from overseas. I agreed to show the man’s photos for one month. Meanwhile, I had been occasionally sleeping in my studio, since I had a residential lease expire. The gentleman and his wife suggested that, since they had three homes in three different states, and they spent most of their time in Colorado, we could pay a small rent and stay at their home in Santa Fe, for a duration of four to six months. The woman, Sheila, told Heidi, “It is a win-win situation.” Initially, I had a slightly weird feeling about the suggestion, but agreed anyway.

The couple left town, and Heidi and I moved some belongings into the house. Although the home was outside of town, it was quiet and comfortable. Sheila and Joe had said that they might visit us for brief periods occasionally, but that we could remain. We lived at the house for three months with only one visit. Meanwhile, I took Joe’s work out of my gallery because it did not sell, and my own photography was selling. After that, things changed.

Just before Christmas, the homeowners arrived. I had known they were coming for a few days, so had done extra cleaning. Joe seemed less friendly, and I noticed that Sheila berated him when he tracked snow into the house. Heidi and I left after two nights, and went to White Rock. The day before Christmas, we received an Email demanding that we get our belongings out immediately. That would mean that on Christmas day, we were expected to move. Impossible, because we were with Heidi’s family that day, and furthermore, my daughter who I do not see often, had arrived from Chicago. Heidi said that from her experience as an officer of justice, they could not expel us on such short notice. But they did. They took all our belongings and piled them in their driveway, in the snow, covered with a tarp. They sent us an Email as explanation, citing several complaints, including that the kitchen dishes were not in the proper order in the cabinets, that we had clothes strewn around in our bedroom, and that we had tacked a blanket over the large window in our bedroom to block the cold air.

I have found another place to live—a sweet, furnished guesthouse, just a few minutes from my gallery, and close to my studio. Heidi told me she had sent light and love to Sheila and Joe but the message came back unopened. “Did you send them an Email?” I asked. “NO, it was telepathic,” she replied. And so, that is my little story of holiday cheer.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Worth A Thousand Words

My ritual of writing a blog every week has resulted in 350 posts to date. Once the cadence established itself, remarkably it took on a life of its own, so that the postings have occurred even from the far corners of the planet.

Usually, a story or theme presents itself during the week prior to my Sunday posting, but occasionally, Sunday arrives and I am at a loss to write anything. Fortunately, life is like a kaleidoscope, and with a little twist, fantastic shapes and colors arrive that offer new patterns for viewing.

I once took a poetry workshop from Arthur Sze, a poet laureate of the city of Santa Fe, where I live. It so happened that he collected poignant pictures, clipped from magazines and newspapers, and he used these images to provoke his imagination in new ways. I think that this is the power of images, for it is said, “One picture is worth a thousand words.”

The picture I include today is worth at least a thousand words.

While I was out photographing on the streets of Madrid, Spain, one summer day, I came to a bustling plaza, and as I wandered, I heard the jangling of coins in a cup. A man with no arms stood gripping a canister by his teeth and wagged his head to and fro, shaking coins to make them clink together. This was all he could do . . . his handicap was great. I felt pity, and wondered at his existence in such a state.

Later, I was on a street nearby, walking slowly, when I came upon the same man, seated on a curb, smoking a cigarette. Next to him on the pavement was a man with no legs. I stopped in my tracks in front of them. The man with no legs had lit the cigarette for his friend and put it in his mouth. I motioned to take their picture and they both grinned.

This photograph is worth a thousand words.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Heaven and Earth

“All Heaven and Earth
Flowered white obliterate...
Snow...unceasing snow”
― Hashin, Japanese Haiku: Two Hundred Twenty Examples of Seventeen-Syllable Poems

I live in a place that receives snow in winter, and although it can be inconvenient, it is also beautiful and poetic. When snow falls, the world changes in front of our eyes, it becomes silent, and shrouded, as if a blanket has been thrown over everything, and it is time to sleep.

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?" J. B. Priestley

Today, as I drove to my gallery, I had to detour to take pictures of the magical landscape. It is only ephemeral, this vision, because as the sun warms the earth, the blanket melts away and sharp forms spring forth once again.

Did you know that very light snow is known to occur at high latitudes on Mars?

Here on planet Earth, the world record for the highest seasonal total snowfall was measured in the United States at Mount Baker Ski Area, outside of the town Bellingham, Washington during the 1998–1999 season. Mount Baker received 2,896 cm (1,140 in. - or 95 ft) of snow.

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Laocoön and His Sons, Greek marble sculpture, 25 BC
David, by Michaelangelo, Italy, 1501-1504
"Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither..."
(The Book of Job 1:21)

Artwork, by its nature and essence, is meant to be shared and provoke reaction. When I post my artwork on Facebook, I am sharing my creativity and passion with a community of friends and acquaintances. Usually, I am posting my landscape paintings and photography. Occasionally, after considered forethought, I may post a nude, but then, I have to appear before the court of moral judgment, (at least in my mind), whereas with the other artwork there is no such hindrance.

Since I have made friends in Muslim countries who are now Facebook friends, I especially do not want to offend them with my nude postings, or for that matter, any prim occidentals.
NU ACCROUPI, by Pablo Picasso, 20th century

In western culture, we are accustomed to seeing wonderful depictions of nudes in art. Especially, ancient Greek civilization glorified the human form in art and rendered fabulous and inspiring stone sculptures idealizing it. As the centuries unfolded, the nude in art came into conflict with religious doctrines, but had sufficient respectability and integrity to withstand wholesale persecution—and thus continue being included in some societies as an emblem of high art. Today, when you look inside of art history books, the pages include many nudes. It seems artists cannot be cut off from the body.
Melody, oil on canvas, by Steven Boone, 2011

Facebook, in a sense, is a universal country. It cannot be dictated by the mores of one sector of the population without the risk of being shut down entirely, as in China or as it is closely watched by authorities in Iran and other fascist type states. Facebook, and other social media sites also have safeguards against pornography, which is a danger to society. The history of the nude in art is not pornography, but celebration of the glory and beauty of our human form—that which is closest to us.

"Art is never pure, we should keep it far away from the innocent ignorant. Yes, art is dangerous. If it is pure it is not art."
 Pablo Picasso, (Spanish; 25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973)

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Nobody Complained

Celebrating the festival of Diwali, Varanasi, India
Have you ever gone to a movie and been the only one in the theater? The lights dim and the movie begins and you have the entire space to yourself—your own private screening. Last Thursday, I was at work in my studio when Heidi Of The Mountains called from her desk at my gallery and said that only four people had come in since she opened. “Do you want to see a movie? The film Samsara begins at 3:45 this afternoon.” I thought about it a moment and realized that this is a very slow time for galleries on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, and said, “Sure, I will meet you.”

We arrived together at the ticket desk at the small art cinema. A young woman was the only person there. She took our money, gave us our ticket, served popcorn, and directed us into the theater. It was empty. My feeling was happiness that we could claim the entire space. We sat in the middle, leaned into each other and as we shared popcorn, the lights went off and the movie began.

The New York Times describes the documentary movie Samsara as “Around the world in 99 minutes, and no words.” Samsara is a Sanskrit word for the ever-turning wheel of life, and the film is a dream-like journey over the entire earth, with stunning time lapse filming that illustrates the constant flow of a changing world. A musical score accompanies the moving images, but no spoken words. We watched and discussed in normal voices the movie as it unfolded . . . nobody complained.