Saturday, 18 September 2010

Terminus Albuquerque

Here I am at the end of my Eco Art USA adventure. What an amazing journey.

Originally I'd planned to travel with Wren until she leaves on Sept 29th, but I'm cutting my trip short because I've decided to

A) join Wren for her drive from Shrewsbury, UK to Segou, Mali, leaving the UK in mid-November -- which means I need to get back to SF to pack

B) see my parents before they leave Holland for good in early October -- which means I need to get back to SF sooner

So I'm flying back to San Francisco from Albuquerque today, leaving Wren with Basia and up to who knows what adventures in the next 10 days.

J gets up early (6-ish) and woke W up. Followed their convo in the kitchen, then later W's convo w B in the study, excavating B's extensive library on water-related topics. Got up 8.30, and J cooked us a hearty breakfast of tortillas with eggs & cheese & tomatoes & avocado, which we enjoyed at the table in the garden as the sun broke through the trees. Another scorcher on the way. / Checked in on-line for my flight. / 9.30 - B & J took us to the farmers market and crafts fair in Robinson (?) Park, 10min away. Baskets of purple & white eggplants and colorful peppers, corn and squash; stalls with fresh goats cheese; and lots of people B & J know. Families and friends on blankets on the grass, listening to live music, amps powered by solar panels. Got veggies, chocolate-almond croissants, rice & bean boxes, ginger-honey teas. / Art Museum to see B's out-stretched hands fountain-sculpture that is fed by the rain. Also works out front by Patrick Simpson (Rose's father) and Nora Naranjo-Morse -- see Santa Fe blogs. / The Land Gallery to drop off the books we'd borrowed and a check for the anthology W is buying. T & E's car was out front, but no answer at the door. / 516 Gallery, where the Street Art Show is being installed. Unexpectedly Suzanne and Reanna were both there, and B was thrilled to introduced us. A muralist was on a scaffold outside. / Rio Grande in Tingley (?) Park, to visit the river and see where B had displayed her ice books embedded with seeds (and the launched the unfired clay ducks too, maybe?). Picnicked on rice & beans in the shade under the cottonwood trees. / Sleepy. All napped once back home 1.30 - 2.30 / Wrote postcards, did last accounts, re-packed. / B & W drove me to the airport, just 10mins away.
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Friday, 17 September 2010

Basia & John in Albuquerque


Slept (1.30-8.30) in the kiva downstairs as I was going to be up later than Wren. Finished contacts, expenses, blogged, talked to V (tora tora tora). Lovely circular room, huge beams in the ceiling (and a huge flat screen TV). Chatted w W over a cuppa for about an hour, conscious this is our last morning 'at home' together. Beginnings of a migraine (W). W made us BLTs which we consumed on the terrace in the sun. Cleaned out car, went through papers, found more contacts. Made health appointments in London. Wrote L & S & S to let them know I'll be in London in Oct. Wrote R & C & M & A & M & G & A & S to make dates in SF. Wrote check for speeding ticket. Odalesque shots of W. Lunch of Thai soup & lasagna, then W tried to sleep off migraine till 4pm while I packed. Left for Albuquerque at 5pm via post office; last dose of 'La Lacuna'. At Basia Irland's off of Bryn Mawr Ave by 6.30, having stopped for gas and a bottle o wine. Welcomed by Basia & John. Pinot Grigio and spaghetti with pesto (and olives) in the garden. Animated conversation, wide ranging. Like a river (...speaking of rivers...). All tucked in by 10.30.

Fantastic people, Basia & John; alert, well-traveled, pragmatically academic.
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Thursday, 16 September 2010

Conference of the Birds, by John Heilpern

I'm loving this book, an account of the English theatre director Peter Brook's search for a new kind of theatre, fundamental and expressive of core human experience. He embarked with twenty or so actors (including a young Helen Mirren) on a journey traversing the Sahara, a journey above all of self-knowledge and letting go, creating spontaneous 'plays' in the most unlikely of places to audiences who shared no language or conventions with the actors.  Totally absurd, and keenly observed with a wry yet loving eye by John Heilpern. First published in 1977.

Quotes quoted by Heilpern that reflect other conversations going on inside and outside my head:

p.150 - Rene Daumal, author of the unfinished masterpiece 'Mount Analogue' [...] wrote:

I am dead because I lack desire;
I lack desire because I think I possess;
I think I possess because I do not try to give.
In trying to give, you see that you have nothing;
Seeing you have nothing, you try to give of yourself;
Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing;
Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become;
In desiring to become, you begin to live.

p.160 -  [Peter Brook] referred to a speech in Peter Weiss's 'Marat Sade' in which Marat talks of revolution and the new age. Imagination can't break down any real barriers, he says. For each man betrays the revolution, however hard he fights. Each is so clogged with dead ideas that even the best of us are unable to control our own lives. Look how everyone wants to cling to something from the past, a souvenir of the old regime. This man decided to keep his painting.This one keeps his horse. He keeps his estate. He keeps his factories. This man couldn't part with his shipyards. This one kept his army and that one keeps his king. Each preaches the cause of revolution and the dawn of the new age. Everyone fears the unknown. 'We stand here more oppressed than when we began,' says Marat, pointing at his audience. 'And they think the revolution's been won.'

Last Day in Santa Fay -- Kowboyz & Coyote Cantina

Thursday, September 16th


Choppy night, woke up 4am and woke Wren up too, neither could get back to sleep for a couple hours. Wren roused me at 10am with a cup of tea. 11.15am meeting with Sabrina Pratt, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Arts Commission, at her Main Post Office office. Smiled at the project; responded with some helpful contacts; said she didn't have a budget at the moment for temporary projects. A positive reception overall, the door is still open. Wren is to email her info on Sabrina as goddess of the River Severn. Returned home for some soup and a re-working of the letter of introduction / request for a meeting to Juliet Myers, Director of SITE Santa Fe. Our plan had been to go to Taos this afternoon, but at 1.30pm the prospect of a 3hr round-trip for at most a 3hr visit (and the Taos Pueblo having unpredictable closing times, at that) wasn't super appealing. So stayed home and did admin that needs doing before I leave -- updating the contact list mostly, and expenses. Popped out at 5pm to Kowboyz, a used cowboy boot store on Guadelupe. Turns out the 'used' boots are collectors' items, going for anywhere upwards of $190, with a substantial portion in the $700-1,000 range. Home to drop off the car and amble down the hill to the Coyote Cantina on Water Street (behind the Plaza) with its outdoor rooftop seating (recommended by Michael Sugarman the other day). Lots of beautifully crafted silver, turquoise and coral in the shop windows along the way. Tasty dinner of "Hot Pig" (delectably spiced tenderloin on grilled polenta) and the "Al Pastor" tacos, washed down with a margarita and daiquiri, accompanied by reflections on motherhood and daughterhood (it's Wren's eldest's 22nd birthday today).

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Santa Fe: New Mexico History Museum - Dr Fran Levine & Ernest Thompson Seton, Museum of Fine Arts, Galleries

Wednesday, September 15th

An amazing day of connection and learning and beauty.


A kiss for Dr Fran Levine from her cousin Michael Nolan in SF
Dozing interspersed with a paragraph or two from Conference of the Birds. Heave-ho'ed at 9am and washed hair, determined to 'hit Santa Fe' (either galleries or museums, but SOMETHING) at 10am. Put in a call to Dr Fran Levine -- kissing cousin of Michael Nolan and Director of the New Mexico History Museum and Palace of the Governors -- which she returned shortly after 10am just as I was sitting down to my granola. Skedaddled down to the Plaza pronto, as the only time she had to meet us was 'now-ish'. Met (11-11.30am) on the outside terrace of the museum's Cowden Cafe in the shade, sipping Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus juice). Fran was attentive and seemed genuinely touched by Wren's Mile in Their Shoes project -- esp the community involvement and the inspirational video aspects. She suggested the best people to connect with in Santa Fe would be the Director of SITE Santa Fe (where the Art Biennial is hosted) and the City of Santa Fe Arts Coordinator -- both of whom are close friends of hers -- and (on something of a side tangent related to Wren's recycled bangles made by Malian women from rubber shoes) also suggested we look into the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.

New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe
Stumbled upon 'Wild at Heart', the (temporary) exhibit about Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946). What an inspiring person. Went from being a wolf trapper (following in his grandfather's footsteps, killer of the last Scottish wolf in the 18th century) to being a naturalist and defender of wildlife (and inspiration to the likes of Sir David Attenborough). He was a co-founder of the Boy Scouts (though had some kind of falling out with Baden-Powell) and of the Woodcraft movement. But (interestingly) before he went 'back' to the wilderness, he attended the Royal Academy in London (and paid visits to the London Zoo) and also the Academie Julian in Paris.The man could draw. And his keen observations of nature also held water in biology and zoologoy circles. Impressively multi-talented and idealistically committed. // Then traced New Mexico's history from 1610 to the present in the most engaging, best laid-out, most contemporarily (is that a word?) narrated museum exhibit I've ever been to. Well done Fran Levine! The museum just opened in May of 2009 in a specially built new wing behind the Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe's first museum housed in one of the oldest buildings in the United States (dating from 1610).

Lunching al fresco at Cafe Paris

Late lunch outdoors at Cafe Paris (shouldn't that be 'Cafe de Paris'?), a 'True Montmartre Cafe' in leafy Burro Alley -- French onion soup and seafood salad topped off with a Napoleon. // Wandered back down Palace Avenue towards the Museum of Fine Arts and stopped in at a couple galleries. LewAllen Galleries had an exhibit on of Timothy Schmitz (ground marble and oil on canvas and wood panel), and some amazing glass work by Steve Klein (among other artists). Patina Gallery lured us in with Michael Wisner's clay pots with incised surfaces that make them look like woven baskets; the craftsmanship is mind-blowing. He sources the clay from his back yard in Colorado and the whites and blacks and browns are all natural (ie not glazes). Polly Whitcomb makes charming sculptures out of rusted metal and old wooden planks, combined with 'fresh' clay pods. And Boris Bally fashions old street signs into chairs and tables and bowls -- humorous and fabulous. Not to mention all the beautiful jewellery.

Museum of Fine Art in Santa Fe
Finally made it to the Museum of Fine Art and curator Joe Traugott's Sole Mates: Cowboy Boots and Art. Studded with stunningly stitched cowboy boots, of course, but the show was 'really' about exposing the myth of the cowboy and displaying how various artists have sought to undermine it. And then there was Drip Tease, a collection of John Tinker's vaguely humorous explorations of (solid, non-dripping) drops and drips. Stopped in at the gift shop and fell in love with Michael Michaud's leaf ear-rings cast in bronze from the actual organic matter using a traditional wax casting method. // Thirsty, we started home but dallied by the vendors who spread their wares along the covered promenade in front of the Palace of the Governors, and like magpies descended on the colorful Day-of-the-Dead paper mache dolls outside at the Rainbow Man's, to then discover inside an authentic Maria Martinez black-on-black vase we could actually touch (until now all her work has been behind museum glass).

Sunset veiwed from Emaho's terrace
Got home about 6pm to find Elena and Stefan (and Barbara) scrubbing the kitchen until it gleamed. Did laundry. Yvette came by to pick up Barbara for dinner,and the (remaining) four of us had left-over vegetable green curry over rice outside on the terrace along with very pleasant dinner conversation. After Wren and Stefan had left to tap on their computers, Elena and I stayed and talked about multi-cultural youths (hers: Dad Greek, Mom German, Berlin till 5, Athens till 19, Germany for university) and coming to oneself through 'letting go' and travel. A wonderful day, full of inspiring people and creativity and expression, and beauty.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Santa Fe - El Museo Culturel & Railyard Galleries

Tuesday, September 14th
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Taos - High Road, Millicent Rogers Museum, Earthships, Tres Orejas + Dinner with Carlos & Judit

Monday, September 13th

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