Recycled Art Show & Tell

This fabric piece by Susan Faeder was my favorite. It’s not large or nicely framed, nor do I have any idea who Susan is, but it won my heart. So painterly, and her self-expression is so full of feeling. Yes, I’m blogging about last Saturday’s Arte de Descartes that I mentioned last week while focusing mainly on the organizer and originator of this 11-year Taos recycled art tradition, Melissa Larson.

Also greatly admired this wood and metal piece by Lydia Garcia. It takes the idea of retablo art to a new level. As the title suggests…glorious! And I won’t be able to show all the art that had a similar energetic quality to these first two, but I will say that this is the kind of art that I expected to find more of in Taos when I moved here, now 15 months ago–art that feels authentic, from the soul, and with its own inherent quality of liveliness and spirit. And for this reason I highly recommend any of you reading this who missed the opening to try and get by the Stables Gallery and see this show, a true Taos treasure. It’s open until September 11 and the hours are normal business hours.

This construction is by Sybille Palmer, a Taos local and art friend of mine. It’s titled Ceremony and is expressive of an aspect of one of my favorite themes, the Divine Feminine. The small painting to the right is my collage named Shakti Yantra, which expresses something similar but in a highly symbolic language. The juxtaposition of the two pieces feels harmonic.

Out in the courtyard during the first two hours of the opening was Reuben Medina and his band of several musical friends. It is my understanding that Reuben has a kind of open house at his place on Sundays for a musical gathering, but don’t just show up on my word please. He obviously loves music and the idea of playing in a spontaneous way in the context of a group. This approach lent a beautiful atmosphere to the courtyard where lots of folks were milling about, some in anticipation of the fashion show.

The recycled fashion show (called Glam Trash) started at 6 PM with a bang–this very relaxed and dramatic woman on stilts. Wish I had her name to offer. But this photo captures the excitement of the moment when she appeared to start things off. Also I love the way the photo reflects the natural beauty of this courtyard dedicated to art of all kinds throughout the seasons in Taos. It is an extension of the Stables Gallery which is basically a public gallery, operated by the Taos Art Organization, TAO.

There were, of course, many charming and delightful women who walked the “catwalk,” some in shoes that made walking in gravel a challenge–women of all ages and shapes and degrees of swagger and interesting outfits. But there were also many young girls and this one stood out in my photos. Her outfit was named, “Everything.”

And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the band that played for the fashion show. Each person walking down the path had her own individual music. As I hope you can see from this photo the kind of music played somewhat defies typing. Horns were a big part of the sound, I’ll say that. The complexity of the drums and percussion you can only surmise from the set-up on the lower left corner of the photo. The entire event–this celebration of recycling was a wake-up call to the spirit side of myself and I expect that was the effect it had on everyone. What a collaborative creation, a kind of art “happening” in the heart of downtown Taos! I’m proud to have been a small part of it.

My other collage in the show–Divine Feminine Yantra

Pow Wow Comes to Taos

A three-day local event, the annual Pow Wow is held on the beautiful lands of the Taos Pueblo. I let this event slip past me last summer and so was determined to attend this time round. I went on the middle day, Saturday. Since I planned to take photos I went in the afternoon, not sure if I would have the light needed in the cooler, evening session. This photo above is one of the first I took and you can see that the usual clear blue skies of Taos are still a little smoky from the surrounding forest fires. And it was a warm day, at least in the high 80s.

My first focus was naturally on the dancing. This photo shows a young girl doing traditional style dancing. Note the arrangements for spectators around the dance circle, with its ramada for shade filled with leafy branches of Siberian Elms. Behind that people have set up their own canopied shelters. The size of the dancing area seemed huge and the sheer number of spectators impressive. I realized that without a telephoto lens my photos of dancers were not going to be that special so I immediately began to look elsewhere for subjects to capture the story of the event.

For instance, this photo shot at close range could stand for all the beautiful regalia offered up to the gods of the Pow Wow and anyone else there lucky to be at this feasting table. I can say today as I write that the best gift I received was seeing the eyes in the faces of the many Native American children there. I found many beautiful souls peering through and understood that their futures would attract more respect and wider possibilities than their people have seen for many generations. And I saw that this change is emerging from a foundation of knowing and embracing their family and tribal heritage, which, by the way, was always aligned with treating the earth and all its life forms as sacred and interrelated.

These enthusiastic men were drumming together to accompany the dancers. I saw that along the sides of the circle were similar groups like this. They would take turns so no one group became tired. As you see in this photo they put their heart and strength into it and at times fiercely so.

This group of men are not drumming but were sitting in a circle like the ones in the previous photo. I assumed they were drummers awaiting their turn. Looking closer I see a couple have numbers attached to their clothing so they must also be participating in the dances.

Eventually I left the arena of the dancing and strolled along the crafts booths lined up in second circle set back from the central one. I discovered the booth for Lynn Wozniak’s local drum company, Sweet Medicine Drums. By now it was probably the hottest part of the day and Lynn was sitting alone having a bite of lunch. I asked if I could sit down with her and she was very welcoming. I had been on my feet for a bit too long in the hot sun and really needed a shady spot. It was that or head for home.

As fortune would have it Lynn and I seemed to really connect and we parted hours later like old friends. I promised to meet her in her drum-making studio soon to talk about applying my artistic talents to drum painting. As it turns out I once worked for a drum maker as a painter and have the photo resume to back up that claim. The longer I stayed around the goings-on in the booth the more respect I came to have for this vibrant and loving elder woman.

As I was leaving Ketchum 14 months ago there was one person in Taos I was advised to keep my eyes and ears open to meet, Grandmother Jean. It tuns out that Lynn is one of her best friends.

I’ll close with a detail from one of two “recycled art” collages I’ve been creating this week for an upcoming Taos show, “Arte De Descartes XI.”

Divine Feminine Yantra