Thursday, December 31, 2020

Transformation 2020

Coyote Mother started out as Girl with Two Dogs WalkingI loved the fierceness of the girl, her blouse covered in red splashes(blood?), and the two tough little snarly dogs next to her large bare feet.  I worked for several weeks fine tuning the figure:  The head made from a grafettied wall with just the right lips, the two small eyes next to the large grafettied eye, the hair made from snake's bodies, and even the angle of the leashes had to be adjusted and then readjusted--not too tight, not too loose.  Finished, I was ready to glue it down. But then, when presented to my husband, it got a lukewarm response and I backed out with images of the piece sitting in my storage for the next twenty years, unloved and unseen.

Next came this image:  Woman with Two Dogs Walking.  Dogs stayed the same, the hands and leashes stayed the same(although I made the hands smaller) all else changed.  Again, I spent a long time fine tuning the image, printing out head after head to get just the right feeling of  bewilderment and confusion as the two dogs took off in different directions.  What could I keep from Girl and what had to go? The lovely Red splashed top went, the hug bare-feet, the perfect little green miniskirt, all  back into their prospective boxes to (hopefully) be used another time.  Finished at last, I called in my husband again, and, while I didn't get a lukewarm response, I didn't get wild approval either.  Then, when I compared the two, I actually liked Girl better, not quite so saccharine.  Despondent, depressed, ready to throw in the towel, I thought to try one more time.

Coyote Mother unfolded herself, and a mother coyote, out for a walk with her two rambunctious pups made her appearance. The hands, the dogs and leashes(but not the dog's heads)and the basic central format stayed the same, but all else changed.  This time the piece came fairly quickly, decisively.  The little snakes on the ground showed up to remind us that you can't ever be too watchful as the pups check in with their mom, looking for reassurance and guidance. The trees and the animals, everything in the image, are all made from and of nature. Then today, while working in my studio, hearing our dogs barking hysterically, I glanced out the window to see a male and female coyote loping easily along on the other side of the our fence. And I knew that this time, at last, I had gotten it right.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Humpty Dumpty 2009

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Hubris:  excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

Hubris, to me, is one of those words that doesn't sound like what it is, probably because I want to assign humble to it, and it's the opposite of humble.  To me, this image is about hubris, my own included, but I can't help but see it everywhere.  I did the painting soon after the melt down of 2008.  Talk about hubris!  People confident that they could make money hand over fist to the detriment of us all.  In 2016 our hubris in assuming Hilary Clinton would win the presidential election--we were all so confident that our side was right and would win.  Arrogance in calling the supporters of the other side, "deplorables" as if they didn't matter and didn't have ears. 2020 and we have a pandemic--people assuming that they won't be susceptible to this terrible terrible virus, that, like a cobra, hidden in the grass, can let 100 people go by but then strike and kill the 101st, and kill them a horrible way.  2020--the presidential election--this time the hubris of the sitting president who is so arrogant and confident of himself that he completely ignores the terrible virus and encourages flagrant disregard of the most basic of safety precautions. It causes him to lose the election.  And then hubris in the biggest arena of all--a civilization that isn't taking care of it's home, the planet.  Arrogance in assuming it will be just fine as we pull the planet to pieces bit by bit.  And this will be the biggest, hardest fall of them all, and we might just not be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

After the Operation 1984

For most of my adult life I've had respiratory issues: bad seasonal and food allergies and then sinusitis after sinusitis, about one a year since I was twenty-eight--almost 40 years worth. On Nov.16 I'm having nasal surgery to try and correct some of those problems. The surgeon will go in and shift things around and trim the turbinates, altogether about 90 minutes total time if there are no complications. I'm not looking forward to Monday, but what I'm really dreading are the days that follow. For about a week I will have to breath through my mouth and will be limited in what I can do physically(no bending over, no lifting of anything over 10 pounds, no jogging, nor horse back riding etc.), and of course the pain and discomfort of having your nose sliced up and rearranged. Yesterday I met with the surgeon and realized how much I was turning over to this man: trusting that he will do a good job, that he will be capable, and kind, and, most importantly, knowing that he will do the his very best to take care of my poor, troublesome nose.   

***addendum:  The surgery was cancelled because the hospital didn't get the result of my covid test in time(I was on the gurney all ready to go in my hospital gown and hospital socks all paper work filled out).  It was rescheduled for the following Friday, but but then Covid had gotten even more out of control and I decided to cancel it.  So I sit with my nose intact, waiting to see if I will reschedule it for sometime in 2021.  Meanwhile, my wonderful surgeon, is scheduling five months out, and as of Jan. 1 will no longer take my insurance(Medicare).

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Man with a Baby 2001

In July of 1987, I delivered a baby girl.  She was my first child, another daughter, Teal, came three years later.  Now that first baby is having her own baby, due any day, already a few days past his due date.  I think back to that day, 33 years ago, and think what a huge seismic shift that baby made to my life.  Everything changed and was never the same again.  She was born before we had computers, or cell phones, before we had email or social media, before we worried over climate change or politics gone terribly awry.  But mostly, she changed the way I saw the world, moving from the center of it, off to the side, where the baby, and later her sister would seat themselves, front and center.  I learned from my baby how to be a good parent, because I had to be, and I learned from watching my husband, what a good father was, because I hadn't had that in my life. I learned from those babies what unconditional love meant because I hadn't known that either. I'm not sure what changes being a grandmother will bring for me, but I know that, for my daughter, her new baby will make her life richer and fuller beyond all imagining.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Troubled Dreams 1994

Winescapes with Holly Roberts


This past month Deborah Klochko, the director of the Museum of Photograpic Arts(MOPA)in San Diego, did a Zoom interview with me for their series, "Winescapes", a series of interviews with people involved in the world of photography, either as artists, curators, or collectors.  It's just under an hour, and it was a delightful interview for me, with Deborah taking me back to the early days of my career up until the present.  Her questions were thoughtful, insightful, and fun and we illustrated each time period with images along with pictures of my studio.  If you have the time, grab a snack and a drink and settle in and give it a watch.  And if you have more time and love photography, there are 8 more interviews to give you a better understanding of the contemporary world of photography.

Winescapes with Holly Roberts 


Monday, August 31, 2020

Double Deer 2019

I know for me, as an artist, 2020 has been crazy, as it has been for all of us, artists or not.  I was due to have an exhibit in April at Candela Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.  When I was making my plane and hotel reservations in February, Gordon Stettinius, the owner of the gallery, and I talked about my flight, and this virus that seemed to be going around.  Neither of us was really concerned, and from the opening I was going to go to West Palm Beach in Florida to the Norton Museum, to teach a week long workshop.  Meanwhile, my husband, Robert Wilson and I, had a show together at the UNM Hospital which opened in mid February, and almost simultaneously we prepared for another exhibit in Tucson with Etherton Gallery, to open in March, Go Figure.  We loaded up the truck and Bob drove his sculptures and my paintings to the Gallery to be ready for the opening on March 17.  The next day the country shut down.  My show with Candela was cancelled, as was the workshop.  The show was up at Etherton, but the gallery was closed, and our show at UNMH was, of course, totally off limits to anyone but patients and staff. All my workshops were cancelled through the end of December.  I felt as if I had two lives that I was living:  the one that I had planned for but never happened and the real one where everything had constricted and drawn in on itself.

Candela Gallery is going to go ahead with my show with them, Primitive Visions, and there will be a real opening, although, of course, I won't be there(they plan on publishing a small catalog of work in the show as a way to reach out to people). We got our work back from the Hospital a few weeks ago, and Etherton Gallery has extended our exhibit into the fall--TBA. So things are limping along, but in a brave, who knows what the heck is going to happen sort of way. One the one hand I feel badly, but on the other, I know that this is just the price we are all having to pay for the strange calamity that has befallen the world--and of course knowing that it could have been so much worse.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Two Rabbits Fighting 2020

 Edwin Fisher, a professor of health behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill ... worries about depression, suicide rates and marital problems — things that are currently at heightened rates because of the pandemic.Huffpost 8/6/2020

It's a harsh, contentious, post covid world.  I've been called a bigot and a racist by strangers for seemingly non bigot and non racist events.  I've gotten into strange tussles with close friends, which all seem to spring from some sort of twisted covid related issue.  When I'm out in public, I'm always looking for the "Karen" in the crowd, the person wearing their mask around their chin, or not wearing one at all.  When I see that person, I'm outraged(although I never say anything). And that doesn't come anywhere near approaching what is happening on a national level. Most of us, our screens in front of us, watch in horror as we see people attack each other and burn and loot buildings, while deadly shootings seem to be the order of the day. These cottontail rabbits, that I see on a daily basis, seemingly so harmless and gentle, but, like us, there's most probably trouble brewing under those big eyes and that fluffy fur.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Supplicant 2017

 Supplicant:  someone who prays or entreats humbly

The year 2020 has rocketed out of control. It seems to be a storm of awful things happening, from the global pandemic, to civil unrest, to trying to make sense of a leader who appears, for all intents and purposes, to just simply be evil.  And then personally, a number of close friends have had frightening things happen to them, really bad things. When I did this painting three years ago I wasn't sure of exactly what the painting was saying, just that it was an important piece for me.  But now, in the midst of all of this, I'm starting to understand: giving up control of thinking we are in control, and asking, or praying for understanding, whatever that means. I think the piece is about turning over to a greater power because, really, what else can we do?

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Stretching 2020

I come from a long line of stiff people. To combat this, for the past four or five years I'd been taking "senior yoga", an hour class that met at the senior center every Wednesday morning at 8:15.  It was mostly woman, most of us from the 50's up, with a few men and, infrequently, a young person(always a woman ) coming along with her mother. The price was right($5 per class) and it was a ten minute bike ride from my house, which was my favorite part of the experience. At times the class would be jam packed, and I'd have to fight for a place for my mat, people turning their eyes away so they wouldn't have to move.  I didn't really like it, and I never seemed to get more limber or more flexible. I would watch the minutes pass on the clock on the wall with agonizing slowness.  Then covid came, and the class was cancelled.  Compelled to at least not get any stiffer, I started doing yoga online at home. I could put in the amount of time I wanted to spend doing the class(30 minutes), and how much shivasana(5 minutes). And now, with the magic of the internet,  I often manage to "forget" that it's yoga day, and I still watch the minutes plod along once I force myself to get going.  But, as my daughter says, it's not really cheating if you bend your legs a little. Or, as in my case, a lot.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Riding Lesson 2020

Teaching is a big part of my life. In my practice as a studio artist, I'm mostly alone, so teaching gives me a way to be with people. I have the ability to see and understand, at whatever level my students are at, what they need and I feel connected and close to the people I work with in ways we don't normally get to be. My ego seems to shrink to next to nothing, and without that old ego bobbing up and getting in the way, incredible things often happen with my students, not always, but more often then not.  I often feel as if I have mind-melded with them, and can see exactly where they need to go because of it.

With Covid 19, my teaching is on hold. All workshops and classes have been cancelled this spring and into the summer.  In September of 2020 Anderson Ranch is going to try using our class as a test to see if it’s possible to teach with face coverings and social distancing.  It's still not for sure if we will have enough students, and I think we are all nervous about the outcome. I don't know if we will all be able to stay on the horse and ride, or if distancing  and the uncomfortableness of wearing a face mask will cause us to all slide off, landing in the dirt and dust on the ground as the horse takes off.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Blessing 2020

At a very tender age, I went into intense negotiations with my parents:  I would give up my bottle if I could have a pair of cowboy boots. Next were horseback riding lessons starting from the age of four. By about age six, our family moved to a house in the country where we could have horses and since my mother had kept a horse every summer in Colorado when she was a girl, she always made it a priority that I would have a horse as well.  I started with Rio Grande, graduated to Hondo Bay, then a neighbor's horse, Charm, then a gift from another neighbor of Rebb, a retired race horse.  So I put in my 10,000 hours (as Malcolm Gladwell says), and was as comfortable on a horse as any person could be.  My horses were my best friends as well as being my main mode of transportation.  I spent most of my time alone with them, and that's what carried me into those other worlds where my imagination and my curiosity could rule the day.  But, as I got older and had children of my own, my life moved me away from horses and I went on without them.

This winter I met a lovely woman who had a horse that needed riding, "Stormy", a young gray gelding.  What started out as a casual offer to ride, has now turned into a consistent, regular part of my life, not to mention that, like the teenager I once was, I have fallen head over heels in love with this lovely, goofy, sweet, and talented guy. That world has reopened up for me, and I find myself learning about horses in new ways, understanding how they work with the brain of an adult as opposed to one of a child--entire new philosophies have emerged about how to treat and train horses.  But mostly, I find that I take a huge amount of  pleasure and joy from, once again, having a horse in my life.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Man Jumping From a Roof 1999

Life is very strange in this epoch of Covid 19.  Most of the country has been locked down--sheltering in place--for the last two months of March and April.  When one does have to go out, one has to be careful not to breathe another person's possibly infected out breath, so we practice "social distancing" and we wear masks.  We can't see each others faces because we should be wearing those masks, but when we are outside, exercising, we don't have to be as careful with our masks, we just can't get close to anyone and we become very anxious when a stranger comes too close. The country is torn politically, with the democrats being good mask wearers and social distancers, the republicans, not so much. Everything seems normal, but terribly not.  Same air, same TV programs, same food, same relationships with people but a constant stream of information coming in about the horrors of the disease, the deaths and the terrible economic toll.  We witness shaming behaviors from others, and we ourselves want to shame those that aren't taking precautions, while at the same time people go out of their way to be open, friendly, and encouraging. It seems crazily, bleakly hopeless, but still, we seem to be muddling through it, just hoping that we will land, somehow, on our feet.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Frightened Child 1992

 Frightened Child, Monoprint, 22"x30"

Sometime in 1992, or thereabouts, I was invited by the Washington University Art Department in St. Louis to do a print.  I based the print on a painting I had done of my youngest daughter when she was a toddler, which was based on a photo I had taken of her when she was crying. It was hard, mainly because I had an audience--all of the art students and teachers who were interested in me and my work watched as I struggled with trying to make something work.  I have a natural tendency to A) show off and B) want to please, and while that's not such a bad thing in social situations, it's deadly when you are trying to make an image  I can't even listen to music when I work, much less have 20 people standing around silently watching(and judging) me. The photograph was reversed in the printing process, and I remember being displeased when I did the monoprint, although, of course pretending to be pleased(pleaser, remember?).  However, recently, while trying to bring some semblance of order to the work I have here in my studio, I came across the print buried in my flat files. I was no longer displeased, in fact I thought the print good.  I had disliked it so much that I never even photographed it. What strikes me now is the force of the emotion; Teal's crying face, and the wolf/child figure that is so threatening.  It seems to me now, that it is even more frightening than the original one that it is based on, perhaps because now we have the very real wolf of Covid 19 at the door, or even inside us.

Frightened Child, Oil on Silver print, 20"x24"

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Awkward Rider 2018

I have memories of always owning and riding horses, having traded my bottle(when I was four)for a pair of cowgirl boots so I could take riding lessons. We owned horses throughout my childhood, and I always had a special horse that was mine, progressing to better horses as I got older.  I rode mostly bareback, treating my horses much as other kids did their bicycles, and having those horses in my life is probably what most helped me arrive at adulthood (more or less) in one piece,.  However, when I started riding again, now a much older person, I was shocked to find that, although I still had all that muscle memory, things were different.  When I went to get on, the horses' back seemed miles away, and the ground seemed just as far once I did manage to get up. Where I could once throw my leg over a bareback horse and spring on, I now stood futilely by his side, tossing my leg up only to slam into his side with it, again and again. A ride meant that I would be sore for days after, and I found that I was nervous being around the horses on the ground--they just seemed so big and unpredictable.

But now, I'm finding that once again, being around horses is helping me get through the stress and worry of this tough time of Covid19.  It's very hard to think about all the things that are going wrong when you might find yourself being dragged through the dirt, or being stepped on, or run away with. So, in many ways I find I'm back to my 14 year old self, escaping the world through the wonderful portal of being with a horse.  The ride is a little different now, but I'm getting the two things I most need--a different focus and a connection to something that isn't dark and scary.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Coyote at the Door(Five Trees) 2019

the wolf is at the/(one's) door

Some danger, threat, or calamity imminent or at hand.

Since I don't have photographs of wolves, but only of coyotes, I used a coyote for my canine in Coyote at the Door(Five Trees). The two faces in the windows of the house are my husband and I, but it could be, of course, anyone.  When I made this painting, and two others that are similar, all having to do with canines at the door, I was dealing with friends recently diagnosed with cancer, the ever present threat of climate change, the decline and eventual death of my parents, and political leadership that was(is)terrifying just to name the most obvious.  But little did I know that all of that would become secondary to what seemed like not a big deal at the time--out of China--a flu like illness called Covid 19, or, the Corona Virus. Currently, this is all my friends and family can talk about, and we watch the news and read the internet obsessively to find out the latest.  A week ago, most of us were still taking it lightly, but now, when I go out to shop, I use hand sanitizer after every entrance in and out of a store, and once I get home I wash my hands for 20 seconds with soap and water singing "Happy Birthday to Me" twice.  As well most of us are trying hard not to touch our faces and practicing some form of social isolation(not so hard for an introvert). Shelves are bare of strange things like toilet paper, bottled water and dog food.  All of our plans for travel for the spring have been cancelled, including an opening reception in Tucson at  Etherton Gallery  for a show called Go Figure. The stock market has tanked, and people are becoming more and more frightened as the weeks go by and the numbers of victims goes up.  Who knew that things could get so much worse when they already seemed so bad?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Five Birds 2020

Finished version(start of the flu), of Five Birds

I finished this piece in my last week at Anderson Ranch this past January. I was there to teach and work on my own art for three weeks in the glorious winter that is Snowmass, Colorado. I was vaguely aware of the fact that I was developing a cough and my joints were starting to ache, but, since I had already been sick with a cold and sinusitis for the past two weeks, I didn't pay much attention.  Things weren't going well as I adhered the pieces to the panel, shifting ever so slightly as I went to but them down.  The bird caught in the man's hand was too low, so I had to peel his body back up, re-cut it to make the body bigger, and then add wings to cover up where I had pulled it up.  In the process, I lost the big bird's hands and had to remake them, and as well, somehow the beak went from being small and sweet to large and threatening. Even the three birds in the trees seemed now to be alarmed rather than interested. And for some, flu connected reason, I thought the legs should be walking instead of standing still.  The image went from being welcoming and sweet to dark and threatening. But it was done, glued down, and there was nothing more I could do.  I cleaned up, wobbled to my room on aching legs, and finally admitted to myself that I was coming down with the flu, realizing Five Birds had become an accurate representation of what the world had become for me.

First (pre-flu) unfinished version of 5 birds

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Figure with Spots(and Open Arms) 2018

The photo that forms the basis of this image was taken from a clipping of some kind showing a woman who was going through chemotherapy, and was bald as a result.  I didn't know the woman(girl?), but I loved the image.  It had a spare honesty that caused me to "borrow" it to use for my own images.  Recently, I've been battling my own health issues and for most of 2020 I've been walking around with what feels like a bucket on my head--sinusitis. But along with my poor health, the world has been hit with the Corona Virus, and when I mention that I had contracted the flu, the first thing people ask me is, "Were you in China?"  The news everyday is a recounting of the number of people who have been afflicted, cruise ships stuck in ports with all aboard quarantined, the daily death toll from the virus, and pictures from China of people being chased and beaten for not having their white masks on.

We live in a germy world, surrounded by viruses and bacteria, not to mention environmental pollutants and toxins.  It almost seems a miracle to me that we do as well as we do, and having just gone through the deaths of my parents at or near the age of 90, who didn't die of any illness, but of just of being old, I have to think that we either dodge those zinging particles of illness and death or we don't.  Either way, we just keep on keeping on, and hoping for the best.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Travelers 2020

In early January of this year I loaded up my little Mazda with it's newly aquired snow tires and headed for Snowmass, Colorado, to teach a three week immersive at Anderson Ranch.  This was my 6th time teaching the Winter Immersive, and I was looking forward to it.  It meant twenty-one cold, snowy, wonderful days in the Colorado Rockies, teaching in the mornings, and cross country skiing in the afternoons, then back to the school to my studio to work on my own. I would visit good friends, spend time with my daughter who lives in Snowmass, and just generally enjoy myself.

But not to be.  On my arrival I noticed a slight drippy nose, then a cough, then of course, the start of a cold. It lasted a few days, then turned into a sinusitis.  After spending a small fortune on humidifiers, herbs, and nose sprays, at the end of the second week I began to feel better.  But again, not to be. To my great dismay, I realized, after a day spent with a dry, hacking cough and muscle aches and joint pains, that I had started up with the flu.  For the next few days I wobbled around campus feeling sorry for myself, finished up with my class, packed, and headed home(which meant a 9 hour drive including a snow covered 10,000 foot pass). Still sick, back home in New Mexico, I marvel that there was ever  a time when I felt well, and wonder that I could have been so cavalier about feeling good.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Quarrel 2000

In 2000, after the Gore/Bush fiasco, when we waited for the Florida votes to be recounted, I thought things had hit a new low.  Everyone was anxious and unhappy as we waited for the results of the vote to come in.  I remember walking around for several weeks with a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach  Now, at the end of 2019, I look back almost nostalgically--what a sweet and innocent time it was. A few votes gone astray, a president I didn't much like, but, what the heck, in comparison, now it seems like a chapter right our of Leave it to Beaver-"Not to worry. We'll get it all worked out Beav!"

Currently, all seems terrible, horrible, awful: the climate, the shootings in schools, houses of worship or anywhere people gather, the huge schism between left and right, the courts, the enormous discrepancy between the haves and the have-nots, the persistent racism--all the tough issues we thought could be taken care of are now hopelessly lost in a quagmire of anger and hatred. As we roll forward into 2020 I can only hope that, as the poet Robert Bly liked to say, we have to go deep into our ashes-the misery, the hurt and the anger-before we can rise up and see the world in a different way, and that, hopefully, we are at or near the bottom of those ashes. But I think that’s Pollyanna of me. I think we have further down to go, much further, before we can start back up.