Friday, December 30, 2022

Shirley's Ride 2007

When we first moved back to New Mexico in 1992,  I met and became good friends with one of our neighbors, most probably because we shared the same very black sense of humor.  In 2007 she asked me to do a commission based on a large painting she had seen in my studio called "Mud Truck". When her father had died, her three sisters had attempted to keep her from inheriting her share of his very large estate through various means of trickery and chicanery.  It didn't work, because, after a long court battle, she won.  And this is what the painting is about:  my neighbor, driving her cloud car with her three "pious"( but really evil) sisters in the back floating over a wasteland of bodies and trash.  The car is made of clouds and trumpeting angels, the tires are teeth, the exhaust hundreds of small bodies floating away.  Six signs guide her way,: a pedestrian walking sign, a stop sign, a one way sign(pointing the wrong way), a road closed sign(with graffiti), a do not pass sign, and a sign reminding us not to throw litter in this trash strewn landscape. On the side of the car is writing that says, ironically,  "Love Me". The painting is all about greed, and the triumph of good over evil. She was able to use her inheritance to buy, among other things, a number of my paintings, including this one.  This fall her husband called me to let me know that she had died.  I wish that I would have written this blog before she passed.  I know she would have loved it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Barefoot Riders 2013

Barefoot Rider(Girl) 49"x41"  

Barefoot Rider(Boy) 48"x45"

The “Barefoot Riders” series is about the journeys we take in life: what we are given to start with and what we will encounter along the way.  “Barefoot Rider (Girl)” is the portrait of a young friend whose mother immigrated from Mexico.  Although born and raised in the United States, she grew up in a home with no father present, where Spanish was the primary language, with a grandmother who didn’t speak English and a mother who had to learn the language in order to support the family. The white horse she is riding has shuttered eyes, letting us know that her journey has not always been clear or easy.

Barefoot Rider (Boy)” is also about life’s journey, in this case a young indigenous boy with a monk’s tonsure. His mount, also white, has no bridle, and only a whip in the boy’s hand to guide the two.  Both riders and their mounts are constructed of imagery drawn from multiple sources.  Trees, sticks and earth combine with part of a Navajo rug make up the Girl’s horse while a cluster of flowers make the saddle.  The Boy and his horse are made of different elements, including lava rocks and urban graffiti—elements somewhat harsher than the Girl’s. By being aware of what the horses and their riders are made of, it’s possible to see the bits and pieces of two life journeys, similar yet very different. 


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Rough Ride 2022

For the last four weeks, I've been teaching a six week concentration at Penland School of Craft in Penland, North Carolina.  Six weeks is a long time for me to teach--I usually do one to two week workshops in different locations around the country.  It is intense.  We meet every weekday from 9-5 and students are expected to apply what they've learned  in the first few weeks to their images, going wherever that takes them. As the students do more and more of their own work, I'm able to work as well, both for demos and to try new processes. My rule in making work in a workshop is that everything I use has to come from somewhere else--the trash, materials the students don't want, magazines, or anything I find along the way. I do have access to my photos, but only what's on my phone, nothing that I brought from  home, although I did bring paint and brushes. "Rough Ride" is about teaching this long workshop while still not having quite recovered from Covid(June 6 of 2022), being older, and dealing with the various complex problems that present themselves in working with 12 very different, very emotional, and very sensitive people.  In other words, artists.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Mirror 1998

An email came into my mailbox a week ago from a lawyer representing the estate of collectors of mine who had recently passed away.  She wanted to know if I had information on "Mirror", which surprisingly I did(I'm not know for my excellent record keeping). A few days later she emailed me back to let me know that the piece was for sale at  "Consignment Warehouse" in Santa Fe.  She also gave me the price of the piece and suggested I could buy it back and then resell it.  I had loved the piece, and after thinking long and hard and, against my better judgement, I called up the store and bought it back, driving up to Santa Fe the next day to pick it up.  It was an upscale consignment store, with $4000 second hand couches and large heavy tables for much more.  There was lots of "art" on the walls, most of which you would  find comfortably hanging in a hotel lobby.  I wandered around and looked at things, then went to pick up my piece from the front desk.  The clerk had brought it out and laid it on the counter with no wrapping or any kind of protection, but it was in perfect shape.  It sat there glowing at me, and then rested in the back seat of my car and did the same.  I was filled with a kind of quiet joy that "Mirror" had come back home.

Old Man Walking 2022

Recently, I tried to leap onto the back of a bareback horse the way I had as a younger woman.  I would stand by their left side, facing their rump, then, with a little jump, swing my right leg up over their back, catching it with my heel and then pulling myself up and over.  It never failed to impress--I could do it on any horse. Imagine my horror when I went to spring onto my friend's horse to impress her and instead of my foot hooking over his back, it smacked right into the middle of his belly.  He gave me a somewhat concerned look, and I tried again and again, finally succeeding, but just barely.  He stood the entire time, waiting patiently for whatever dumb human thing it was that I wanted to do. I tried on another, smaller horse a year or so later, and this time couldn't get my leg over her back. I gave up after a few tries. Where the heck did those loose muscles and powerful legs of mine go?  I guess, turned to sticks.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Mother and Daughter with Small Dog Walking 2005

In 2005 when I made this little painting my daughters were 12 and 9.  Now they are 35 and 32, grown with their own lives, the elder daughter married with a two year old son, and the younger daughter soon to be married.  The mother is walking into what seems to be a rough and rocky landscape with a bleakly overcast sky, holding the daughter's hand, the dog following close behind, as good dogs will do.  I didn't know then what was to come, what would happen to those two dearly loved daughters, only that we were going forward into the future with courage and the belief that things would work out.  What is to come is still unknown, and now, with grandchildren, it still seems the same: we will continue to go forward as a family, hoping that love and courage will take us where we need to go.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Woman with Worries 2022

So much to worry about, so little time.  Big problems like a terrible, senseless war that doesn't seem like it will ever end, bad forest fires in your back yard. A country so divided that you count your friends by the party they voted for, and you make snarly faces when you meet someone who voted for the other party.  You have a grandson in Texas, and the Uvalde shootings suddenly seem very close. The old person chute that you started sliding down not so long ago is going faster and faster, and you know you can't get off or slow it down. Friends your age and younger, have dementia.  At first you were alarmed but now it's becoming common place(this after many of your parents and your friend's parents have died with this awful disease), and you worry that you will be next. The specter of covid hangs over everything, and even though you just got it, you know you aren't really safe anymore as the variants spread like wildfire: vaxed and boosted seeming to make no difference. There seems too be no silver lining to any of the dark clouds looming on the horizon, and the lightening strikes keep getting closer and closer.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Coyote Watching 2021

If I had to use just one term to define the coyotes that live around us in our semi-rural environment here in New Mexico it would be "wary".  Like the murders of crows that startle and take off en-mass when I lift my camera to take a photograph, the coyotes are completely aware when I share their space.  It might be a casual glance to let me know they know I'm watching, or more likely, taking off at a dead run when they see that my attention is too acute. They are so very different from dogs--their close cousins--with their noisy, unaware, and blundering ways. I so love this about them--that intelligence and awareness that lets them exist in both worlds simultaneously--that which is natural and that which isn't.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Rabbit Running (with Blue Feet) 2022

We share our outdoor space with cottontail rabbits.  They are, to quote the cliche, adorable, with their large floppy ears, beautiful soft grey fur, and big, dark, liquid eyes. However, I don't think much of them. Nothing like starting out your day swerving off the road to avoid  hitting a rabbit, or worse yet, actually hitting and killing or maiming one. They are fast and can weave and dodge like nobody's business, but it doesn't help when you are being "chased" by a car, and blinded by it's headlights. I watch in fascination when I take my two small dogs for a walk, and they present themselves with no fear just a few feet away. "If I'm just still enough, they won't see me". Not smart, not when you're a prey animal and one of the two little dogs happens to be a rat terrier.  But, there they are for me to photograph, hiding, frozen in the grass (although not really being hidden), or squished on the road, eyes glazing over when I get to them, pulling my camera out to photograph their not too long dead, somewhat flattened, bodies. But perhaps in the big picture, as you are dinner to a host of other animals, and although lovely to look at, it's probably best that you're not the sharpest tack in the box.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Coyote Father & Coyote Mother (with Clouds and Rain) 2021

Coyote Father(with Clouds and Rain)

Coyote Mother(with Rain and Clouds)

I know that coyotes are in the pasture behind our house when our two small dogs begin their shrill, constant, hysterical barking, running up and down alongside the fence(on our side), hackles up, ears pricked, vicious threats hurled across the wire at the coyotes.  The coyotes trot casually along, paying the little dogs no mind(although we all know they would love to have either both or one of these small dogs as a midday snack). One day one of these coyotes stayed in the field for a very long time, mostly laying down.  She was there for the better part of the day, and I didn't know if she was ill or perhaps getting ready to have pups. I  took my camera out every hour or so and took hundreds of photographs of her across the fence, laying in the grass, or moving from place to place. Afterward, from studying the photos, I got to know her well, her face, her markings, her movements. She was the pasture, she was nature, she was part of something I existed on the outskirts of. She was a wild thing that let me into her life for the briefest bit of time.



Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Horse Grazing 2020


 In February of 2020 I was brought back into the world of horses through a series of coincidences.  I found myself with a new set of friends that included two horses, two Sheltie dogs, and two transplanted South Africans. Although I had been familiar with horses for as long as I could remember, it still took me some time to get used to being around them again.  Their size, the power, and their unpredictability all induced quite a bit of anxiety in me when I would first enter the corral. They were big guys and one of the horses, Stormy, was young, just four when I started riding him. His galloping around the corral at full speed and his wild bucks when I went to catch him were simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. As the time went by, I still felt the same cautious concern when I entered their space, but it grew less and less, and now, it's pretty much gone. The opposite feeling to that anxiety is the feeling I get when I am around them when they are grazing.  Their precise, careful steps, their big powerful teeth cropping the grass as they slowly move forward, and their quiet, calm presence is a soporific for me, giving me the unspoken feeling that all is, and will continue to be, okay. This painting, quite large, was an attempt to capture that peace and calm.


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

A Life 2020

My mother died in October of 2019, and I recently put this little video together of her life.  It helped me, among other things, to see the entire arc of her life and not just those last ten years as she began her slow slide into dementia.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Coyote and Rabbit 2022

 Raised on PBS nature documentaries, there was always the confusion for me of who the "good guy" was.  Was it the young antelope, separated from the herd, then stalked and chased relentlessly until brought down by a pride of lions working in tandem?  We see her head, eyes still open, moments before she dies, the lions covering her body.  Or is it the mother lion, greeting her cubs after returning from feeding on the antelope?  Without this food, the somber voice-over tells us, the mother won't be able to produce milk for the babies,  and they will weaken and die.  We watch as the cubs swarm the mother's belly as she collapses on the ground, stretching out her long body so that there is room for all to feed.

As an adult, I came to realize that there was no one good guy, or, perhaps better said, all in nature is the "good guy".  Without one, we can't have the other.  Rabbits, and there are a lot of them, are eaten by predators, and predators, which there aren't so many of, face starvation if they don't find prey. They both live by their wits, and if they don't, they die. The reality, beyond the death of one animal or the other, is that both coyote and rabbit live on, headed in different directions but sharing the same world of sky and forest, life and death.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Jesus Leaving 2021


In the fall of 2019, before the craziness of Covid19 hit, my mother died. Before her dementia set in she had wanted to be cremated. However, when I ran it by her a few years before she passed, she was adamant that she did not want be cremated, and also adamant that she not be buried.  Now that the time was getting closer, it became clear that she just wasn't ready to die. But, finally, she agreed to be cremated(although it turns out the person who dies really doesn't have a say in the matter). We had planned on spreading her ashes that spring, but, of course, with Covid, we had to delay our plans. So, for almost two years, her ashes rested in a lovely box provided by the Neptune Society in our family room, underneath a little  hummingbird that my husband had carved. In September of 2021, fourteen of us, most of her immediate family, hiked in to a favorite spot of hers in the foothills outside of Santa Fe where she had regularly hiked with my brother and her dogs over the years. Each one of us took a handful of ashes, said a little something, opened our hands and then let the breeze take her away.