Sunday, June 29, 2014

Opening And Closing Of A Door

The Steven Boone Gallery is doing very well—and closing! In fact, today is the last day the doors will be open for art lovers to browse and buy a piece of art from off the gallery walls. My wife is happier than I am about the change. She sees it as liberation from a business that has struggled and used valuable resources. The street, Canyon Road, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has 100 art galleries, and many find that they cannot make enough money in a thoroughly saturated market. Winter months are especially grueling and exorbitant rents must be paid regardless if there are only twenty curious people that come in the entire week. 

The business requires vast hours of attention, and now that it is closing, she says, “We have more time for just the two of us, together.” 

I am philosophical about the investment, and believe years of good will come from the effort. Seeds have been sown and some are not finished bearing fruit.

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.   Carl Sandburg 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hey Jude

Sometimes life events transpire that make us turn our face in awe to the invisible realm and wonder at the intelligence that abides there. I have two examples to share; one that I read last week in a news report, and my own recent experience.
The Guardian ran a story titled, WorldCup: Dream told John Brooks he would score USA winner against Ghana. In the report, we learn about a young soccer player for team USA, only 21 years old, who never had played in an official match and was a second-string player, who had a dream two days before the first world-cup match against Ghana, that in the 8oth minute of the match he scored a header goal from the corner of the field that won the game. Two days later in the real game, against all odds, he scored the winning goal exactly as his dream had prophesied—a header from the corner in the 86th minute. We have to ask ourselves, where did this prior intelligence of future events come from?
Strawbearer, Mixed-media on board, 60 x 36 inches
My own personal experience occurred several days ago. I was in my art gallery when mid-morning, a woman walking her dog breezed in. She was dressed casually, not wearing make-up, and though I try not and judge people as to whether they are art buyers or lookers, I thought certainly, she is a looker out for a stroll. She barely spent five minutes in the gallery, lingering longer in one room. We said good-bye and she disappeared. I quickly forgot about her and went about doing some menial work, but as I worked, a song came into my head and I could not get it out from my brain. The song is Hey Jude, by the Beatles, and it practically screamed in my ears. Fifteen minutes later the lady with her dog arrives again, this time with her husband trailing behind. We all went to an artwork called Strawbearer, an unusual piece I made a couple years ago that I have shown sporadically, and have always been fond of. It is from a photograph I made in India, when I was traveling between cities by car and spotted a person carrying an immense bundle of straw on his head and shoulders. Although I was moving and he was walking, I snapped the shutter and got a dreamily blurred picture of a fantastic scene. Much later, in my studio, I printed the image as a large format picture on canvas, mounted it on board, covered the surface with encaustic (beeswax and resin heated into a liquid medium) and put straw into the surface while it was still hot, so that when it cooled everything remained intact and secure. 
The woman and husband took measurements, and she gave me her contact information to e-mail her a photo of the work and possibly take it to her home for a trial installation. They left, and when I looked at the card, noticed her name—Jude. To make a long story short, I took Strawbearer to their home, helped hang it in their living room and two days later, Jude and her husband Lynn bought it.

If I pay attention, I can see a clue had been given in advance of the main event.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Art For The Heart

An older couple came into The Steven Boone Gallery, browsing with pleasure the rooms full of art. They eventually focused on sunset paintings and mentioned that they were newly arrived in Santa Fe and were just beginning to visit art galleries. The two were dressed casually, and the gentleman seemed about ten years older than the woman—maybe in his early seventies. They left, and when they did not come back that day, I forgot about them.

Two days later, just before noon, the two arrived back, and I exclaimed, “Happy to see you again!” The man replied, “We came back because of you.” They browsed slowly through the gallery while I stayed near them, assisting, but keeping a respectful distance so that they could focus on the art. They eventually agreed between themselves what two pieces they liked best, and purchased them. One painting was a buoyant group of open-faced sunflowers, and the other was a sunset with bright colors at the horizon and an old dirt road entering the picture from the foreground and heading toward the distance.

I asked the man his occupation and he replied that he is a cardiologist. The two collect art, and have visited major museums around the world. I asked if he had been to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and he said, yes, and that he studied Van Gogh's life from a medical perspective too. While writing a check, the woman looked into my eyes and said they enjoyed, “Meeting the artist. “ I replied that it is also my pleasure to meet the people who buy my art, because my paintings are like children and it is good to know where my children go to live the rest of their days.

I thought later, that the man seemed to have a full heart when he was with me . . . and the art contributed to his happiness. How appropriate that he is a heart specialist then . . . and it made me think of slogan: Art For The Heart.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

See Things Differently

Golden Gate Bridge, viewed from the Sausalito side
There is something about travel—new places bring new vision. That is, when we leave what we are accustomed to and set forth into the unknown, we will be surprised and see things differently. For some, this is dreadful . . . and for others, like me, it is necessary. My mother has not been away from her home for thirty years. She reads five books a week, watches the birds outside of her dining room window, smells the roses that are freshly cut and brought indoors from her garden, and sleeps whenever she feels like it. All comfortable to her so that she stays relaxed.

When I went to San Francisco last Tuesday, I took only sandals and a few light clothes to pack in my suitcase with art supplies. When the plane landed, the temperature was cool and moist, and because my favorite hotel is near the Pacific by the Golden Gate Bridge, it was even cooler, and foggy. OK, I was a bit cold, and wondered why I did not pack shoes. Even so, I love the place so much that during the next several days, wearing sandals with socks, I set about going forth to places that stimulate me and also hold memory from my last days with Naomi before she died. 

Painting of Muir Beach, oil on board, 12x9 inches
Wednesday, after coffee at my favorite java joint along Ocean beach, down the hill from my hotel, I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge toward Sausalito. It was cold and foggy but I knew that likely, the sun would be shining warmly on the other side. Sure enough, across the bridge, the clouds dissipated, and I was cruising through the hills in picturesque brilliance, arriving at Muir Beach. Flowers bloomed along the rugged coast and I set up my easel to paint in the early afternoon. I had the place to my self and worked undisturbed for a couple hours, listening to the breaking waves, smelling the sage and scented earth, feeling my primitive earth connection, and letting the spectacular scenery fill my eyes. While painting, the joy of giving freedom to impulse through art holds me to one place, and rather than be bored, I am struggling to express and give birth to art.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Candle Burning At Both Ends

Heidi Of The Mountains took off to Mexico for a week with a few girlfriends, and now it is my turn. 

San Francisco is just a few hours away by air and it holds special significance as being where I spent the last months of my oldest daughter's life with her. After Naomi's death in 1999, I would go back every spring and find the same places that now hold her footprint and summon my memory. I stay in the same hotel—The Seal Rock Inn, by Sutro Park, and it feels like home. Golden Gate Park is nearby, and I know it like the back of my hand. Each morning I go to a coffee house that is a local landmark, along Ocean Beach. I may stop and watch the surfers in wet suits, some of them kite surfing. 
Sutro Park, looking down to Ocean Beach

The Thinker, at Legion Of Honor Museum

Windmill in the Golden Gate Park

As usual, I will go across the Golden Gate Bridge, driving north to Sausalito and then over to the redwood forests. I like to go to Muir Beach, where Naomi and I visited, and I set up my easel and make a painting on the hillside by the coast, where I can look out over wildflowers to the little cove and see the Pacific Ocean waves frothing white as they churn toward the shore.

I always go to art museums, and check out the current exhibitions. And there is a sushi restaurant I always return to, and the Japanese chef is at the bar . . . it is a family business . . . and I notice how everything is the same; the wooden tables, the view to the street, the sushi bar with it's delicacies in view, and the same guy, aging little by little, year by year, but cordial and smiling as ever.

The hills along the Pacific Ocean near Muir Beach
When Naomi was with me, we were like candles burning at both ends. Each day we sought magic and healing, and though she was dying, I could see how she relished the moments she had left. For me, always next to her, every moment had a special poignancy, so when I go back, now, years later, the poignancy comes from touching familiar places that summon all my feeling from memories.