Tis The Season in Taos

You can’t go far these days without bumping into “the season.” I found these utterly charming hand carved and painted wood angels in Country Furnishings of Taos, one of the stores carrying my cards these days. They were dressing up for the holidays the week before Thanksgiving. Of course being myself in the business of making and selling my art and crafts I have nothing but a positive spin on this flurry of fresh beauty changing hands.

My main focus these days has been my participation in the TaosFolk.Com show now in full swing at the Stables Gallery until the day before Christmas. A small cadre of four women are in charge of this ambitious and innovative alternative to the typical holiday crafts show that involves each artist setting up a “booth” in some dreary large space. Here the setting itself is half the delight. Meg Greenwood, an interior designer, is in charge of the aesthetics and she knows how to work magic. This year the look is contemporary. There is no greenery in sight, but it feels like you have entered a place of beauty and interestingness.

I found this tiny dress to be an outstanding example of unexpected interestingness. The small items on the left are also by the same fabric artist. I regret that I was moving too fast to make notes about who made what as I was taking photos but I’m assuming you will or have already gone there yourself. One of the “rules” of the Taos Folk show is that all crafts have a retail price under $100.

This is a backside view of my area in the show, with a hanging card rack visible just to the right of center. The table to the right of that is someone else’s space. As you can see adding height by using boxes is integral to this year’s contemporary style.

One last Taos Folk photo shows the table where choices are finalized and free gift wrapping is generously and lovingly provided. I was allowed in this show last year on the Monday after Thanksgiving (3 days after it opened) and was generously offered a small card table in the back room. Being new in town I had joined the town’s annual Christmas crafts fair held in the style of individual booth spaces in large ballrooms. I had to create my own “space” and be there on site for three long days. Needless to say I was grateful to be allowed to transfer my unsold items to the Taos Folk show and pretty much walk away. Last year’s show was so popular that this time around they had a jury process to select artists, 40 I believe. Each artist has a photo and a bio on the TaosFolk.Com site.

Here’s a look at my encaustic tree ornaments in the painting step of the process. After the images are printed on rice paper and glued they are overpainted with oils. Once dry there is a final thin coating of encaustic medium to give durability and, as a bonus, a great smell similar to our local pinon pine.

A few days before Thanksgiving I decided to explore a gallery that has been on my mind. It was located north of Taos, a direction I rarely go since I live to the south. The gallery, Envision, is part of a complex of stores just south of the Waldorf School. I had driven by it many times and always wanted to stop there but was caught up in some purposeful bee-line for a different destination. The gallery has a large outdoor display of wind driven outdoor sculpture which you see from the road.

Instead of visiting Envision Gallery (closed) I entered its neighbor store, the Medicine House & Tea Shop, as you see painted on the glass in my photo which also reflects the outdoor sculpture. This is an experience I would recommend to all of my friends. I met April Dunbar, one of the two owners. She is an Ayervedic practitioner who can use tongue diagnosis to recommend the herbal tea appropriate for your healing. Yes, you show her your tongue. Needless to say I was eager for personal health analysis as always.

I am really starting to get it that Taos has nooks and crannies of interestingness that will never end. I’m so happy with my joyful job of sharing my discoveries with others.

Tin ornament from Taos Folk

Wabi-Sabi Tutorial–Part 2

A year ago I ran into a book at the Taos library, Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers. It must be in every library in the country because this had to be at least the third time I found it (in three different towns). Each time I took it home with a thrill of excitement and curiosity. Now the book is like an old friend. Anyway I decided to do a blog then defining Wabi-Sabi and taking photos for it that would illustrate its concepts. Here is a LINK to this former blog: Wabi-Sabi Anyone?

First, a short definition: Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese ideal of beauty based on surface characteristics of earthiness, imperfection and variegation. It is everything that is not modern, smooth, polished, purely decorative, or mass-produced. Wabi-Sabi is about the present (time frozen), finds truth in the uncontrollability of nature, even romanticizes it.

Things Wabi-Sabi reflect the natural process of life on planet earth, the cycles and ravages of time, the effects of weathering, the dents, stains and cracks of attrition. However, objects will still possess an undiminished poise and strength of character.

This very old native sage is an example of aging with dignity. Note the rusty tin can in the lower right corner. With Wabi-Sabi there is always an underlying sense of change and impermanence.

 Here the lack of substance felt in the white morning glories reaching toward the white clouds also touches on an aspect of Wabi-Sabi, a sense that things are not as substantial as our culture presents them. We know that in a few hours the flowers will be losing their present form and the clouds will be long gone. The photo also illustrates that sense of present time–here today, gone tomorrow.

My daughter took this photo two summers ago. This was a new environment for them and Emma was exploring the world of the beach only a short distance from their house. Every element in the photo relates to the natural setting and shows how integrated Emma is with that, especially with the birds and the breeze. Seemingly she has become one with it all.

Wabi-Sabi colors tend toward muddy, earthy tones, and this photo reflects the brownish color of the water, it’s patterns of flow defined by subtle gradations of light and dark. The large and softly rounded rock defines the surface of the water with its soft light colored surface and explains the dynamics of the presence of the autumn leaves stranded near the river bank.

It’s mid-November as I write this and certainly a Wabi-Sabi time of year, if there was one. Nature reminds us every day that the future-oriented seasons in nature, spring and summer, are clearly behind us. All we have for now is the present and for the next month or so, until the Winter Solstice, we feel our daily sunlight diminishing . The sensation is one of going backward, rather than forward, and toward the dark rather than the light. There is a vague sense of loss in the air. All very Wabi-Sabi, as it reminds us strongly of the impermanent and cyclical nature of our existence.

It’s easy to guess that this photo was taken at the Taos Pueblo. It is all about the beauty of Wabi-Sabi with it’s earthy adobe textures, the rounded natural shapes in the lower right corner. Only the white door offers a clue about our present modern time and its contrasting squared shapes. I feel this juxtaposition of aesthetic styles highlights the more dominant Wabi-Sabi elements.

This is a photo of a painting I did earlier this year, which conveys a Wabi-Sabi sense of change and impermanence. The inspiration was a drawing I did after listening to a dream shared by one of my Ketchum friends in our weekly dream group. In her dream she was falling down through the branches of a tall tree in a forest. In the dream this was not as painful as it sounds. I think our dream group interpreted it (and the dreamer concurred) as freeing, a transformational letting go of attachments. This would explain why there are small branches falling (looking like deer antlers) and not autumn leaves. I made a gift of it to my sister Linda and her husband Eric who created (and support) my beautiful website.

The last zinnia, aging gracefully.

The Siren Song of a Santa Fe Gallery

Yes, my fine art has now found a home in a gallery in Santa Fe on the landmark street, Canyon Road. Friends from Ketchum, Idaho, who have seen my emergence as a fine artist these past 7 years or so will love seeing the logo of this gallery since the image of a heart found its way into much of my early work.

The owner, sculptor Heidi Kujat, considered the paintings on my website and liked my flowers for her gallery. Since roses are her favorites I agreed to paint four of them, all 12X12 oil paintings with a final layer of encaustic. And she thought November would be a good time to introduce my work so I had only a couple of weeks to complete it. But what’s a little drama when you hear the “siren’s call?”

This photo shows the entrance to the Gallerie Corazon, which is set back from the road, but easy to find if you follow the pink signs. In a blog three weeks ago I used a photo of the charming gateway to this courtyard. I remember the day I took it I was prepared to be impressed before I opened the door. I asked Heidi about this close-to-nature energetic feel to the space and she acknowledged it was all her doing.

Here’s a detail from one of the four paintings: Pink Rose #1. Years ago when I started making these flower paintings, which all have in common this “macro” perspective, I was just figuring out that I could make a close-up photo of a flower into a painting. I managed this by printing an enlarged version on rice paper in sections and then gluing these together on a wood panel. Some of these first paintings were small enough that it only took a single sheet of printed rice paper and many of these older pieces are now sold or given to family members who admired them.

We all know that the be-here-now present is where the magic lives and so I’m sinking into the present reality that a dream has manifested and I am changed by that, whatever happens next. Sing on seductive Sirens!

 As I write this blog we are having a wild weather day here in Taos. The winds are howling and some version of wet snow, sleet or rain is being whipped around on its way down from grey skies. Trees that had beautiful fall colors yesterday are bare now thanks to the high velocity of the wind. I am one of those people who love the summer garden time of the year best of all so this kind of weather feels like the combined forces of destruction (cold and wind) are tearing apart my ideal world order. Such is life on cyclical planet earth.

 Those who have lived around me closely know that I always grow borage. This last summer I bought a package of seeds and was determined to carry on this personal tradition. Only a few plants came up and those that did grew slowly. I pondered this and figured out that because of the succulent nature of this plant it did not like the dry heat of the Taos summer. With the rain we had in September and the days getting progressively shorter my two borage plants performed a seeming miracle and suddenly grew like weeds.

The lovely blue flowers can be lifted off their sepals and eaten (or added atop a special salad). They have a sweetness that is pleasing. Borage is considered an herb and is know to impart courage.

I’ve been admiring the last stand of this late blooming sunflower in the back garden and finally took a photo, which captures its surprising color combinations.

Pink Rose #2