Quick Draw Painting

Once a year a Taos community art organization (TCA) puts on a benefit for itself called a Quick Draw. They invite some “in demand” Taos artists to donate their work by creating a painting in a couple of hours, and under the view of the public, to be auctioned off at the end of the day. This is Ed Sandoval, a popular local artist, working in the photo above. He is fun to watch as he is dramatic and expressive in his gestures. He paints like everyone’s unrealistic concept of how it’s done.

Jane Chandler, in contrast works in a quiet and self-contained manner, or did while I was watching. Here she’s executing a pastel drawing on a panel of some type that she had previously textured with brush strokes. As you can see she is working from a photo which she has attached to the top of her easel. There were about a dozen artists working in the courtyard of the Stables Gallery this year on a perfect-weather Saturday in late September.

On the same day and in the adjacent Kit Carson Park you could see this turtle drum I designed and painted on a 12″ drum for Sweet Medicine Drums, who had a booth set up in the weekend arts and crafts fair.

Some of you will recall the artful fabric piece I chose to photograph (out of all the great art) at the Arte de Descartes show a few blogs back? Well, Melissa Larson, the organizer of that event forwarded my blog to the artist, Susan Faeder, who lives in Pennsylvania (yes), and Susan emailed me to acknowledge me for featuring her. So I’ve now had the privilege of exchanging several emails with her and the fun of hopping around on her website. I’ve even seen a photo of her on her site and learned that once a year she takes groups of quilters on a field trip to Japan (yes). I am so excited and impressed to connect with her, at least so far as cyberspace allows. If you love Japanese fabrics she is for you! Oh and the photo above is of fairly recent work.

Meanwhile out in the natural world (in which I so gratefully live) I’ve noticed a new and charming transformation in the trees and bushes. The leaves are JUST starting to turn. I took a little walk-with-camera the other day so I could share with you this sometimes subtle color contrast with the still-dominant green.

Just today a fan of my blog was heard praising it to a friend saying that it feels like I really get around, judging from my photos. I thought that was funny because I’m such a homebody and don’t adventure around as much as I could, if only I would. I try not to make that a “should” which would make this blog a job and I want it always to be the joy it still is after a year and counting. Take these leaf photos. All I have to do is go on a little walk-about on the property where I live and I can always find natural beauty to photograph.

So remind me I said that when I complain about the barking dogs in the neighborhood or the gas-guzzling drive into town. These photos tell the story of what attracted me to this casita in Talpa in the first place. I remember reading, before I moved to Taos, that it’s important now (more than ever) to live in a natural environment that you can really love, because that attitude of notice and appreciation toward it is valuable now for the energetic balancing of Earth Herself.

And last, but not least, my beautiful corn plants. I feel, when I study them, I am peering into one of life’s great mysteries. Today I learned that each thread of silk you see there represents one kernel of corn waiting to be pollenated. By the way I am growing the type that makes small ears of multicolored corn. You could say it’s more of an art project than a food crop.

Lemon cucumbers at the farm market.

Temple’s Annual Bhandara Festival


Over the past 10 years or so I’ve heard fond tales of attending the annual Bhandara Festival, here at the local Hanuman Temple, from an old friend in Ketchum, Idaho. She had been many times with various friends and family members over a long span of time. So finally, a week ago, I got myself to this year’s festival. Usually it’s hot but this year it was cool and rainy, no doubt creating some logistical issues, if not the big puddles I discovered in the parking lot. I did arrive during a dry period just in time for the “Ram Lila,” an annual staged reenactment of the deeds of Lord Ram, Sita and the monkey Hanuman.

The three girls in this photo are playing the terrifying demons who threaten a happy ending to the story and the young boy is a bear. You can tell by his short, but furry, tail and the overall brown look.

The main focus of the festival is an annual prayerful commemoration of the death of the temple’s guru, Neem Karoli Baba, September 11, 1973. To learn more you can visit the temple’s website and select “festivals.”

Can’t recall how this elephant fit into the story but it was an interesting photo. That’s the lovely couple in the upper left corner, Ram and Sita.

This fine gentleman (wish I had learned his name, sorry), who served as one of two narrators of the story, was sporting a live snake around his neck. I found that very impressive, to say the least. Ahh, Taos, how you live up to the myth just when I least expect it. Get’s me every time, right in the sweet spot of my heart. This was taken during the bowing end of the play. For the performance he was sitting on a throne and he managed to look very at home there.

As part of my volunteer work for the upcoming SEED3 art show I volunteered to go over to Gael Minton’s flourishing garden and take some photos for promotional materials in the show’s exploratorium room.

I selected this one to mark the hint of fall colors peeking out here and there. I think some night temperatures have reached the low 40s so far. Well, it all depends on your location here but I got that number from the local weather stats delivered via the internet from the Weather Channel.

Gael’s garden is not too far from where I live and she has access to acequia water there that comes from the same Rio Chiquito “mother” ditch as ours, just different branches. I took a tour of her garden in the spring and blogged about it but there wasn’t much to photograph at that time. I’m trying to make up for it a bit here. She calls her place Squash Blossom Farm and it’s a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm. I greatly admire her beautiful and wise food production and her passion for preserving the acequia tradition here in the Taos valley.

Calendula seeds emerging from the flower head

Corn, Tomatoes and Dahlias

The dahlias on view at the farm market just get bigger and more spectacular this time of year. Just as other plants and flowers begin to wane in September others find their time in the spotlight. I overheard someone say the other day that in Taos our first frost could come anytime after the middle of September. I wanted to argue that point but realized it was just my own desire speaking–to see my tomatoes, pole beans, cucumbers and corn have time to really peak.

These rain-sparkled heavenly blue morning glories will gladly continue to grow and bloom til freezing temperatures come. That same guy who was reminding his listeners that a cold night could come soon also added that last fall’s good gardening weather continued longer than average. Since last year was my first in Taos I guess I made the optimistic mistake of thinking that long growing season was normal here. Guess only time will tell? But speaking of weather we have had strikingly cooler temps the past several days along with rainy skies. I have turned on my radiant floor and finally this morning could feel its slight warmth as I hopped out of bed. Nice.

This is a shot of my own corn patch now doing what corn plants are programmed to do and I have so enjoyed the close-up view this year. Living here in New Mexico you can tangibly feel the story of corn as an essential and sacred plant.  I once visited Mesa Verde (in Colorado in the Four Corners area) and saw how the Anasazi lived communally on a treeless mesa because they understood how to grow corn and other plants. Here in the Taos Pueblo there are many ceremonies between May and October that revolve around corn as a symbol of life sustenance. It’s ironic that in modern times corn has been tweeked and manipulated by science into something we have to fear and avoid, as in “fructose corn syrup.”

Another sign of the times in September is an abundance of flowering marigolds. Not sure when I put it together but there’s something special about stringing marigolds together like this photo illustrates. It likely can mean different things in different cultures but it always feels sacred and special. I like to use them on an altar. It takes a lot of marigolds to produce a string of them the size of the one in this photo so growing them around here can become more like a crop than a few plants in the flower garden. In this spirit I have grown more marigolds this summer than ever before in my life and I’m enjoying the “fruits” of my efforts in a way that is hard to explain. Perhaps they symbolize a kind of blessing in their abundance?

This is a seeding fennel plant, one of many photos I’ve taken this month in preparation for a collage I’m doing for the upcoming (October 8 opening) SEED3 show at the Stables Gallery. I use it here to show that for many plants this is an end-time in their cycle. I have a parsley plant in a similar stage of maturity, one that had overwintered and thus matured sooner than those planted from seed. The beautiful pea plants I grew earlier I removed entirely and replaced them with morning glories, which seem to grow fast here and are enjoying the same stick tipi supports that the peas had.

This Zinnia painting can be viewed on my website.