For my friends following my Venice Biennale blogs, sorry I’m taking so long – bit off too much to chew. But I’ll get back to it.
Got back from Santa Fe Sunday night. That evening, having pre-dinner cocktails on the deck, my friends were surprised when a Swainson’s hawk took a detour under the deck ceiling, just over our heads. We didn’t see what it caught, but P. said that it was chasing a smaller bird. Swainson’s don’t prey on small birds, but Harris hawks do, so maybe it was an immature Harris as they also have the narrow tail stripes.
Monday morning overcast and cool – lovely! The birds were all atwitter. Almost sounded like a rain forest of cheeps and tweets and coos and such; sound carries farther in moist air. A rabbit dashed out of my rosemary when I opened the door. A cardinal flashed its colors. The creosote branches were bouncing as green-backed lesser goldfinches were eating the seeds.
A clatter of rocks: a javelina mother and baby were walking next to the fence. The rest of the herd, trailing, single file, on tiptoes (looks like that with those tiny hooves) through the desert, continuing up next to the house to the street. I went out front to take photos of them emitting from the area between the houses. Then I heard a sound – one appeared behind me! Had come up on the other side of the house. He posed a few feet from me, then raised his hackles. I explained that I only wanted photos and he joined the herd. Then more approached from behind. Not enjoying being surrounded, I ducked inside.
A slow rain Monday night, no thunder or lightening, but pleasant. However, next morning I scratched the dirt – only the first quarter inch was damp, the rest completely dry.
Tagged along with San Diego friends as they were driving to Santa Fe for the Opera, staying at my house halfway there and back. The first evening there saw Rossini’s La Donna Del Lago (The Lady of the Lake) which they had wanted to see because of the star, Joyce DiDonato.
The libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola (whose verses are described as “limpid” by one critic) is based on the French translation of The Lady of the Lake, a narrative poem written in 1810 by Sir Walter Scott, whose … basic story has been noted as coming from “the hint of an incident stemming from the frequent custom of James V, the King of Scotland, of walking through the kingdom in disguise”
DiDonato had a beautiful voice, but I wasn’t fond of the opera, an Opera Seria (melodramma serio) that predominated in Europe from the 1710s to c. 1770. The King of Scotland (sung by a black tenor, Lawrence Brownlee, but that’s consistent with the film The Last King of Scotland) and the Chief of the Highlanders who oppose the King’s oppression are both in love with our heroine, Elena, just because she is beautiful – she could be empty-headed for all they cared, but she’s in love with a guy who sneaks around avoiding the battles, Malcolm, a part that was written for a castrato
a male singer, especially in the 18th century, castrated before puberty to prevent his soprano or contralto voice range from changing
so the part is now commonly sung by a mezzo soprano. Marianna Pizzolato, in the trouser role as Malcom, had a gorgeous voice, but I’m sorry, she was short and dumpy, which the horrid kilt emphasized, and had a higher voice that Elena, so I couldn’t get my head around that. Call me superficial. I also had a hard time with everyone singing in Italian in Scotland. Yeah, yeah, I know opera’s like that, but wouldn’t it have been awesome translated into Scottish?
And when the Highlanders ripped off their shirts to paint blue X’s on their nicely muscled chests (well, most of them, maybe not the two in the left front), I was appreciative.
Next morning we went to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum . Two terrific videos to explain most everything. Hadn’t known that Alfred Stieglitz had photographed her in the nude when she was 23. The videos didn’t mention that she seduced him, though he was married and 47. Or that he chose to [take these photos] at his family’s apartment while his wife was away, but she returned while their session was still in progress. Anyway, his wife kicked him out, they were divorced, although his wife delayed it for six years, and he married O’Keefe. But because of O’Keefe actions, her art would be viewed in erotic terms. Guess that, because it was an O’Keefe museum, they wanted to portray her in a better light.
Stieglitz took more than 350 portraits of her, one of which, titled “Hands,” sold in 2006 for $1.47 million.
Couldn’t take photos of half of her work, those which were part of private collections. Here her “iconic” skull, Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory, and, of course, the mountains of northern New Mexico, Black Mesa Landscape.
Next the New Mexico Museum of Art. The building itself was photogenic. Lots of interesting art downstairs, but I only took a few photos. A couple more O’Keefes, the cottonwood outside her window, and her home in Abiquiu, New Mexico, where she lived after Stieglitz died. This one, White Hat, White Horse, White Guy just because I loved the title. (You’ll have to click on it to read it.)
Cup O’ Joe – Sarkisian floating in a cut (normal size) or coffee. You must listed to the sound effects on these. http://vimeo.com/46860210
Book I – with Sarkisian crawling all over a life-sized dictionary, writing on it. http://vimeo.com/45263989 (Don’t need to watch the details at the end.)
Ink Blot, with Sarkisian crawling out of the ink spilling from a life-size ink bottle.
And here’s some commentary. In Extruded Video Engine the parts are from Los Alamos! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaSYcmeqtb4
He talks about his own work:
This site shows photos, better than mine, of many of his pieces:
We also checked out a couple of galleries, the Chuck Jones Gallery with a panoply of Warner Bros and Disney animators, and Dr. Seuss.1
And the Patina Gallery2, which had fantastic jewelry and prices to match.
The next day while my friend L. schmoozed with New Mexico buddies from Silver City, P. and I went on the 90 minute Ghost Ranch tour, where O’Keefe had first rented a house, on sojourns from New York. It was over an hour’s drive north of Santa Fe, up past Abiquiu.
[A deer has just crossed my driveway, with an old gash on its side. Deer do not pose for photo ops. Just took this quickly through my window.]
We were on a small tour bus, with a guide who works as a docent at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, only giving one tour at the Ghost Ranch on Saturdays. She was marvelous! This was the highlight of the weekend. We were there to see the locations where O’Keefe painted many of her pictures. The bus would stop at a site, the guide would hold up a large photo of a painting, we’d disembark, and she’d point to the appropriate view. O’Keefe would do a series of each spot, the first painting being realistic, the rest gradually turning abstract.
First there were dinosaurs, then, a few years later (200 million), Navajos and other tribes. The Spanish conquistadors were here in 1598. In 1766 the Spanish king awarded a land grant to Captain Pedro Martin Serrano, but he lost the Ghost Ranch section in a poker game. The original Ghost House was built by the cattle-rustling Archuleta brothers in 1892. (Good place to hide the cattle.) Sometime in the late 1800’s (??) one of the Johnson brothers (as in Johnson & Johnson medical stuff) built a house, which now contains the 16K volume library.
In the 1900’s tourist were coming by the Santa Fe Railroad to see cowboys. Carol Stanley, a pianist from Boston, visited and married a cowboy sometime around 1920. With friends, they opened a dude ranch nearby. In 1931 Carol bought Ghost Ranch.
Arthur Pack, one of the country’s first environmentalists, bought the Ghost Ranch in 1936 (and later built the Ghost Ranch Lodge in Tucson where he and his family moved in 1946, had a golf course here named for him, and was one of the two men instrumental in establishing the Desert Museum). He built a house on the 6K acres, and bought 15K more acres! By then it was quite a dude ranch with rodeos, Native American dancers, Mexican musicians, wilderness trips in Lincoln touring cars.
O’Keefe used to rent a house from him, but finally pressured him into selling it to her. She wasn’t too happy when in 1955 he donated the ranch to the Presbyterian Church. She supposedly said she didn’t want to be around “churchy” people. She eventually became friends of the first director of Ghost Ranch, Jim Hall, and his wife.
Next morning my friends went to visit a friend of his mother’s (100 years old!) after breakfast, so I browsed through the Summer Arts Market erected on the Square, and, of course, bough a piece of Native American jewelry. But my friends showed up before Street Feet opened, so I missed getting a pair of these great sandals:
Pikolinos makes these extraordinary sandals in Spain with beadwork embroidered by Maasai women. 100% of Pikolinos’ profits from the sales of this collection go to building schools and health centers in the Maasai Mara.
Because of Maasai warrior and community activist William Kikanae, Pikolinos has actually hired more than 1,600 Maasai women to embroider Pikolinos’s leather with their traditional patterns, colors and designs.4 (Here a photo of Maasai women I took in Tanzania four years ago.) Kikanae has gotten a lot of press; read the right-hand column here: http://zurukenya.wordpress.com/tag/maasai-people/
Had to stop in Hatch, Chile Capital of the World, for my friends, who used to live in New Mexico, and love that hot hot hot Mexican food there, to buy two bags of chiles, and to lunch on Sparky’s World Famous Green Chile Cheeseburger. Loved this guy’s tractor/bike.
Gardening in Idaho
My daughter sent some more photos of her garden.
Thanks for the garden plan – the garden I initially feared would be too big can barely contain the things growing within! Had to say thanks for the good plan, never would have done it on my own! Here are pics!
Garden: romaine, sunflowers, cabbage, chard, cucumbers, carrots, strawberries, tomatoes, squash (pumpkin?), basil, chives, lavender, potatoes. Ready now: lettuce, chard, and a few tomatoes. Waiting patiently for others…
Foxes in Livermore, California
My friend sent a photo of a family of free ranging gray foxes he habituated. In doing so he discovered how crucial they are to reducing destruction caused by the gophers, mice, voles and rats to [his] small fruit tree orchard.
Here are the delightful four gray foxes, seated less than 3 feet away from me. The fox in background is their mother; she standing guard for coyotes while her youngsters eat their treats. She never eats until after they have eaten. The youngsters are intently watching me, because they are very curious about what I am doing with the camera in my hand.
Since our temps will be back in the 100’s this weekend, I’m glad I’ll be visiting my son in Canada.
Tags: Georgia O’Keefe, Georgia O’Keefe Museum, Ghost Ranch tour, gray foxes, Hatch - New Mexico, Joyce DiDonato, La Donna Del Lago, Maasai women, New Mexico Museum of Art, Peter Sarkisian, Santa Fe Opera