Sunday, September 2, 2018

Alter Ego 1999

 At various times in my life, I've had short hair, but for the most part,  I've had the same hair style since I was six years old:  long and straight, worn in a pony tail or down.  After years of threatening to cut my hair short again, I finally made my way into Crazy Jane's Hair Salon, clutching a photo of Jamie Lee Curtis so that Jane would have a good idea of what I wanted my hair to look like.  After carefully braiding it, then securing the braid with rubber bands, with a few cuts of Jane's very sharp scissors, the braid was off and ready to be sent to Locks of Love . 

Now, with short hair, I find that I don't really know who I am.  I startle when I see reflections of myself and I'm constantly looking at women with short hair(mostly older) and thinking, "Yikes, is that me?"  Some part of me has wanted a change, but I'm not sure if that part wants to be more masculine or more feminine, to stand out more or be less obvious.  I know that part of wanting that change has to do with aging, and trying to look either more age appropriate, or, conversely, younger.  Two days after my haircut, I spoke with the eye glass adjuster at Costco, and told her that I'd had my hair cut because I thought older woman shouldn't have long hair.  She thought for a moment, then said, "People in my family that are older all have long hair.  It's our tradition(she was from Taos Pueblo)".  It gave me pause, and made me rethink my hypothesis about older women and long hair.  In the meantime, I keep staring at the stranger in the mirror and not really believing people when they tell me how great my hair looks.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Two Giants in Their Garden 2018

These two giants are brothers.  The older brother is in front. He is the smarter, stronger one, but not very kind or caring.  Because of this, the younger brother is full of insecurities, and worries constantly about what the older brother thinks of him. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Angry Mother 2016

My mother-in-law was a very elegant 1950's mother.  She was--and is--quite beautiful, now 92,  Albuquerque's own Jackie Onassis. In our scruffy little western city, my mother-in-law stood out like a sore thumb, always dressed to the nine's with beautiful clothes and scarves, always with makeup and hair done, and always in heels.  Something that couldn't have been easy with four kids and a husband who sometimes brought home the bacon, and sometimes didn't.  At one point, she and my father-in-law went to the Mrs. America contest in Florida, and they returned with a pink vacuum cleaner for her and a billiard table for him.

But there was another side to my mother-in-law--not the Donna Reed side.  It was dark and frightening. To this day my husband has vacuum-noise-induced anxiety because of his PTSD around what we call "angry vacuuming". One minute she would be the Loretta Young of the Northeast Heights, and then, there it would be--pure rage over something seemingly trivial at the time. We still see it in her, now with inhibitions gone as her dementia increases.  This small painting must have hit a note with others, either angry mothers or the children of angry mothers, because when this piece was taken to the Dallas Art Fair in the spring of 2016, it sold immediately.  Soon after that, several of the buyer's friends returned to the booth, demanding to know where they could find their own "Angry Mother".

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wild Pony 2018

Most recently, I've found myself becoming involved, once again, with horses.  A friend purchased a horse in March, having never owned one before, and I have been helping her out with him.  It's as if a sealed door to my past has opened, and memories have been flooding in.  So much of my childhood was based on my life with horses, hours spent riding by myself in the open ranch land around our home in Santa Fe, or treating my horse much as other kids treated their bicycles, using him as a way to get places as effortlessly as possible. My library was awash with horse and dog books:  Misty of Chincoteague, the entire set of The Black Stallion, King of the Wind, Smokey, and of course, Black Beauty, just to name the ones I still own and treasure.  The stories formed my moral compass and gave me an understanding of how things worked, at least from a horse's perspective.  As an adult, it was my 20 year old mare's inability to conceive that convinced me that, if I was going to have children, I'd better get going or I would soon be too old.

Many of my horse memories are painful, having to do with problems that arose with my horses, or accidents that could have been fatal--a friend being dragged by that same 20 year old mare.  Some of the worst memories are ones of having to say goodbye to a favorite horse, or having to say no to being offered a gift of a horse because I didn't have the money to take care of him.  And now, I'm not sure where I've landed with this new horse life. Something has shifted, but it's a wobbly shift, with no clear direction and no real sense of where I'm headed or where I'll end up. So I find myself watching YouTube, giving my chair directions on how to make a perfect 20 centimeter circle using my inside(imaginary) rein and my(real)outside leg.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Young Woman Watching 2017

Part of starting a new body of work is trying to think of ways to make images that are new, not only to me, but to all people that look seriously at art. I've been making images now for almost 40 years, and I find that my main battle is in not letting myself do what I know how to do, what I've become good at and comfortable with.  Why would anyone want to do something that's easy, and familiar, that they are skilled at, when they can make themselves extremely anxious by doing what they've never done before?

Since painting is what always guides me, that's my first jump off the cliff:  how can I paint in a way that's new to me, or newish, after all these years of painting?  With that in mind, I recently discovered how to make clean hard edges with masking tape and polymer medium using colors new to me, purchased at Michael's, where all the serious hobbyists shop.  Painting finished, then another precipice to leap off of, this time finding, from my hoard of materials, the right photographs in combination with the right hand-painted papers, along with materials that have no logic to the painting but that somehow work--in this case, a page from an Asian textbook.  As well, I used my mother's pinking shears to cut the bangs, beautiful scissors that are probably as old as I am. And finally, after weeks of trying things out, putting different elements together, discarding, then reforming, I have a finished piece that pleases me. It seems new and different, a self portrait of a much younger me, something I didn't realize until I finished writing this piece.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Two Children Playing 2017/destroyed June 2018

  1. Sophies choice(Noun)
    A choice between two persons or things that will result in the death or destruction of the person or thing not chosen.
  2. Origin: From the title of the book Sophie's Choice by William Styron  Wictionary

    As I continue to work, and accumulate more work, much of which doesn't sell, and some of which never even gets exhibited, I have to face the fact that some of the work must die, or better said, be recycled so that I can make another image on the panel or surface it inhabited.  I sometimes think I'm not the best person to make the decision, being way too close to the images to have to choose.  But if not me, then who?  I can't even ask this of my husband, who is game to help me in anyway he can. So, it's up to me. I put the candidates for the death squad on the wall, and look at them for several days, sometimes weeks, sometimes years.  At last I decide who must go under the big gesso brush, then put them out on tables on the porch, all neatly lined up, and, with my heart breaking a little, dip my brush into the bucket of white Kilz and go to work. After two coats, sanding between each one, I'm left with ten to twelve beautiful new surfaces, all ready to start a new lives. But still, for a little while at least, I will remember  what exised underneath those beautiful white surfaces.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Mean Truck 2007

On May 5th of this year, my husband and I headed home, back to New Mexico, from Penland School of Crafts, located in the mountains of northwest North Carolina.  We had been there since early March, me teaching and Bob taking a sculpture class.  Our two small dogs, Niko and Sophie, were nestled into pillows behind the passenger seat of our 2006 Toyota Tacoma truck, which was packed to the gills.  It was full of Bob's sculptures, and all that we had needed for an extended stay including our art supplies and lots and lots of pottery that we had bought while we were there. It was going to be a long drive, one that we were familiar with since we had made the same trip two months before.

We weren't looking forward to it.  Both of us had come down with bad head colds that week, and the virus seemed to be getting worse as it progressed.  None-the-less, we could do nothing except head out early that Saturday morning, heads throbbing, noses running, coughing and sneezing as we pulled away. Our first mishap happened while I was sleeping:  Bob missed the turn for I-40 in Knoxsville and I woke up to signs telling us that we were just outside of Chattanooga.  The wrong turn took us an hour out of our way, but we eventually reunited with I-40.  Our next mishap happened when we stopped at our first rest stop in Tennessee and, upon opening the door to let the dogs out, we were presented with the partially digested contents of Sophie's breakfast sliding down the side of the seat.

We drove and drove, listening to Herman Wouk's "The Wind's of War", 45 hours in all, something we could fall asleep and wake up to without missing too much of the plot.  We checked into the La Quinta Inn in Little Rock, Arkansas after 13 hours of driving.  Exhausted, moving like the living dead, we took care of the dogs, and then stumbled into bed.  The next day we took off again, determined to make it back home in one long day's worth of driving. I-40 was an endless stream of 18 wheelers, us passing some, some passing us, shaking our little truck each time they did.  Rain that was so hard we could barely see drenched us outside of Memphis, and then a gradual browning of the growth on the sides of the road as we continued west.  Another 13 hour day, both of us trading off the driving, sleeping when we weren't driving. At 9:30 that night we drove into our driveway,  breathing in the familiar warm, dry desert air, glad to be home, wondering if we had really arrived or were just hallucinating.