Sunday, September 30, 2018

Two Doves

We all knew it was a message of love coming from heaven above. A once in a lifetime display never to be seen again. It’s been nineteen years since it happened but is still mentioned and makes me think how SPIRIT can use all creation to communicate to humans. Moreover, beings in the next world can give us physical signs that write indelible language upon our souls.

Someone recently read my memoir of my daughter Naomi called, A Heart Traced In Sand, Reflections On A Daughter’s Struggle For Life, and he mentioned the event. The story concludes the book. It demonstrates how life is interwoven through many realms; visible and invisible.

Naomi died of cancer in 1999 at age nineteen after a heroic battle to stay in the world she loved. One year later a group of devoted friends gathered at our home to remember her life. A woman who had been Naomi’s teacher brought materials to make a cord that we all could hold. Small pouches holding sacred objects like rose petals and each person’s note to Naomi were tied to the cord. We all went outside to a lawn and garden then stood together in a circle holding the cord and our prayer bags. One by one we read our remembrance and prayer. The sky had been cloudy and now it rained lightly in a mist. This was unusual because we had been in a drought. A dazzling rainbow appeared beside us. When the last person had read, we all stood together in unity. Suddenly two doves appeared directly above our circle, hovered for a second then dove spiraling downward so closely that their wings almost touched. Down they flew with rapidly beating wings and in perfect precision flew upward again, only to spiral down in place and rise again. The beating wings and precision of their spirals was joyous. It was apparent they came to bring a message of love to us. Then they flew away. One young person burst out, exclaiming, “I hope she keeps sending us messages like that, letting us know everything is okay!”

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hanging From Clothespins

The picture of the bandaged head hanging from a clothesline with an ear pinned next to it took her by surprise. The young woman had been happily thumbing through my print drawer full of colorful landscape images. She spotted something different and could not take her eyes off it. I explained, "This is Vincent Van Gogh after he cut off his ear."
"Wow," she said, "I have to go get my boyfriend and bring him to look at this. He is across the hall at the jewelry shop buying a bolo tie."

A few minutes later the couple came in and I explained that the painting is part of my series called Hangups—images of faces hanging from clothespins. I showed them my book and pointed out Van Gogh, All Hung Up. "This one is in a museum in Arles, France, where Van Gogh lived." I said.
They bought the print: signed, numbered, and made with archival ink on 100% cotton rag paper. To go along with it I included a book.

Yes, Van Gogh did it. It was the night before Christmas Eve in 1888 -- a cold Sunday evening in the French city of Arles -- when Vincent Van Gogh took the razor he kept on his small dressing table and slashed off his left earlobe. After he was bandaged, he made a self-portrait that I used in my painting—exactly as he painted it. And I put his ear next to him.

The Hangups are my most unique series of art. I made the first on a whim in 1993 and more soon followed. My most prolific year was 1996 but I had to stop because they are unsettling. The last one I made was Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump when they were candidates for president in 2016.

See the book, click here: Hangups

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: