Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Laundromat Angel | Morgan City, Louisiana

I love a good industrial port city and Morgan City definitely fits the bill. I do some banking and tour around a bit but laundry is critical. The crowded laundromat parking lot is full of homeboys, large families and other rough looking folk loitering outside which has me going into reverse. A lap around town, demonstrates that this is the only option and I return to the same intimidating scene. 

On The Road
I enter and fill two front loaders noticing that it seems cleaner than it appeared from the outside. Thinking that if these folks see my computer they might try to rob me when I’m in doing my laundry, I return to the van to work. Best to get in and out of here. Well, I go back in and find one of my loads sitting in two inches of water. The attendant is nice and helps me get them into another washer but this means I’ll be here another two hours. Annoyed and a bit pissy, I return to the van and work on my now camouflaged with newspaper computer. When finally packed and ready to go, I can’t find my wallet. I search and search and begin to unload the van. A woman, who looks like she has emptied all her polyester bedding from her trailer into her barely running beater, yells “Honey, you lookin fer your wallet?” Stunned, I nod and she says she saw it atop of the washer and turned it in to the attendant. I thank her profusely, feeling the shame of my preemptive judgment of her, this place and its patrons. I’m such a cracker from the north.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On Food & The Art of the Up Sell | Morgan City, Louisiana

April  2012
We spend the night at a truck stop with an adjoining hamburger joint. It is a cavernous space bathed in pink neon lighting illuminating black & white booths. It has the prerequisite 1950’s nostalgia hanging from the walls and an enormous soda fountain counter wrapped around the kitchen like a fist. I have to remind myself I’m in Cajun country and not in California. My server is a robust African American woman with tenacious training in the art of the up-sell. She walks me through the menu of burger choices with such enthusiasm and detail that I am led to upgrading my burger’s ounces, mushrooms, bacon, upscaling my cheese, my fries are curled and made from sweet potatoes to bring the meal to San Francisco prices. I don’t mind a bit, that’s how good she is. The burger comes and it isn’t overdone and of reasonable size. This is the mainstream American measure of a burger outside of San Francisco. It isn’t some amazing Frisco-foraged-find like a kobe beef slider with fried dandelion leaves and French tarragon goat cheese. (I just made that up, call it the Asian Frogman.)
The food scene in San Francisco believes in the basic gospel of the trinity: Organic, Local, and Sustainable. But like any religion it’s the fundamentalists that get the attention. These folks specialize in urban grown, raw, slow cooked, vibrational, foraged, small batch, entrepreneur bred, and a host of other micro attentive endeavors.  Restaurants race to invent the new mashup of ethnic cuisines with reinvented foraged delectables that have been infused with something of pedigree. Here there are no refugees from the Dinner Wars with San Francisco becoming the Vatican of Food and Alice Waters as Pope.  I’m a former foodie practitioner who would rather be served than serve these days. I enjoy documenting how far the SF food fever has flung across the country and am amazed even more to land somewhere it hasn’t yet grazed.
Before I’m even halfway through my burger, I meet my server’s questioning but optimistic smile with an approving nod and she laughs and says “Well we ain’t world famous, fer nothing!  You should try our chocolate milkshake, its outta of this world, you want M&M’s on that?”

Friday, April 5, 2013

Casino Royal Swim | Lake Charles, Louisiana

April 19-20, 2012
Southern heat is unrelenting and we are wilting as we try to make good time. We get as far as Lake Charles, near Lafayette, Louisiana and the casinos are shouting out their existence via billboards along the highway. Feeling lucky, I pull off to one that looks promising called L’Auberge Du Lac. I put a call in to my friend Frannie, who knows casinos inside and out. She landed Diesel and me a free week’s stay in Vegas last year. But this isn’t Vegas; there are no deals on rooms; and I am in desperate need of a shower. 
I pull into the parking lot that has arrows to the RV side, of course every casino’s parking lot would be open to RVs. So I clean up as best I can and hit the seafood buffet, give myself a tour of the beautiful air conditioned casino, lose a little money and stop for a night cap before heading back to the van. In the AM, I cruise out to the pool area and see that it requires checking in. When the pool opens I figure I'll give it a shot and tell the attendant Room 417 and see if I can’t just bluff my way in.
 I have time to kill so I decide I should actually make sure there is a room 417 and head to the elevator. Walking down the deep-carpeted hallway, I see room 417’s door open, and surprisingly this 40 something blond woman comes out who looks lot like me. I join her in the elevator and making small talk, ask if she is going to the pool. She shakes her head and says she is joining her husband for brunch. Spy quality feelings fill me as I smile over my good sleuthing and we depart on the first floor as I head to the pool. “Christine Hendrick room 417 please” I say with such authority, that the attendant replies “of course” and hands me a towel, a key to a locker and a wrist band so I can come and go from the pool area. Now, I don’t know where that name came from but it has such an “above suspicion” air that it works.
I enter a landscape architect’s dream. The pool is a river that snakes its way around sculptural islands, under bridges, fed by waterfalls and with a strong current to it. I find myself floating by a swim-up bar sunken into the side of the river with a thatched roof. I think, “Would Ms. Hendrick charge a drink to Ms. 417’s hotel bill?” Debating this moral dilemma proved too long for the current, which had moved me past my temptation and was happily distracted by a surprise waterfall under a bridge. I finish my slumming in the Jacuzzi and washed my hair in the bathhouse. This takes the miles I have traveled right out of my bones. I’m soft and relaxed returning to the van. Feeling lucky? yep, like I just won the jackpot.
From the 4th Floor...would you call this a Pool Complex?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Austin, Houston to Galveston

April 2012
Note: I have resumed the blog, people! I will be posting my transcribed voice memos I made during the trip last year over the next couple of months.
Another day in Austin…it’s hot and we head to Barton Springs for a dip in the cool spring waters. A local gives us a tip to hike past the pay area and take a path in the woods to a private spring. We hike in, trying to look for an area that isn’t full of algae, when we spot a mailman walking across an old cement jetty that has long ago crumbled. Mailmen are the best scouts; they know the area. He tells me to get over to the other side and hike up to a beautiful stone walled spring.  I walk over the cement while Diesel decides to walk across the creek.  He jumps in and disappears under the algae and is gone for what feels like minutes. I wonder, is this how it ends? I prepare myself to go after him. As if on cue, the water breaks with a flying greyhound that lands on the beach and shakes his skinny body ‘til all fours are off the ground.  He must have been surprised when he hit the bottom and used his steroid induced thigh muscles to launch himself straight up and out. Indignant over this experience he follows me shuddering, sputtering and sneezing along the cement jetty to the other side.  We find our spring and I soak but Diesel doesn’t trust the water anymore and stays in the shade.
That night, I found myself going with Ian to the Red River District to a bar, I think, named the White Swan. Its interior is all white and fashioned after a French apothecary.  Ian is a tall bearded redhead with a hint of granola lifestyle. He is now a computer programmer but his first career was that of a musician. He had played all the venues in Austin and sold a composition to Beyonce’s sister, Solange, who I had just met in Marfa. Given the size of Texas, it’s a bit telling that the creative class has so much overlap.

Street Graffiti in the Red River District

 Ian walks me around the Red River District and tells me about Austin’s South by-Southwest music event. I had heard of it but thought it was a big coliseum music concert and I’ve never been interested in mega concerts. But learning that it’s more like San Francisco’s Litquake crawl, where all different kinds of venues that host bands even at gas stations, it sounds like an amazing event not to miss. I will try sometime to get back to Austin for it. At the White Swan…The band comes on and it’s a speed core band. We exit to another club that is a turn of the century steam punk feel with a funky jazz trio. Here we can talk and discuss the peculiarities of Austin, what bands are in town and more dirt on Solange’s career.  As a parting tip, He tells me to stop in Houston on my way to Galveston if only for the art.  


Texas Business
Went to the Menil collection and as you enter, music in the bushes is set off by the pedestrians. It was so faint; I would have missed if it were not for the enthusiastic guard who told me about it. Coming from San Francisco, this “environmental-based interactive art has become commonplace in the coastal creative world. From Palo Alto to NYU’s Tisch School, to the playa at Burning Man, participatory art is a mainstay. I pretend amazement and feel guilty about my jadedness. If it doesn’t shoot fire, I have been known, along with my burner friends, to yell “Booor-ring”.
We enter the museum and take in the Menil collection of some amazing contemporary art. This neighborhood houses many of Houston’s best art treasures so we hit them all. Crossing the green lawns, Diesel is dogged by the heat, and is showing signs of a wilting spirit. We approach Rothko’s chapel and the dog picks up his pace, heading directly to the reflective pond.  Barnett Newman's “Broken Obelisk” elegantly pierces the water, its form reflected on the ripples emanating from the panting ribcage of a greyhound. His form and stillness, aside from his rhythmic panting, fits into the scene, at least in my head it does. I let him lie there for a while to cool off. Some tourists take his picture and then I leave him to plop down in the grass, groaning his appreciation. 

Diesel Reflecting in a Rothko Reflective pond

Entering the Rothko Chapel …a vast carpeted room with octagon walls, modern chairs, and a preacher podium.  There is something municipal to it rather than spiritual. A meeting room for atheists to worship in, perhaps. There were only three people in the chapel and they are all sitting and staring down at their hands. I walk the perimeter of the room to get a close-up of Rothko’s paintings. Huge panels that are monochromatic, or at least they seem so at first glance. Upon closer inspection the blacks are not all uniform and there is a topography that forms on the canvas surface. You can feel the labor under the simplicity of the work. 
Rothko Chapel, Houston, TX

After checking out Cy Twombly’s museum and another walk for Diesel to stretch his legs, we head for Galveston. It’s been three months since I have seen the sunset on the ocean. The gulf awaits us!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Austin TX


Headed out of the Truck Stop for Austin. This sleeping in truck stops is economical but not for your sleep.  At times there have been gurgling Mac trucks idling next to Foxy Brown the whole night. My needs have gotten smaller and my tolerance is high, as long as I have a bathroom, fill my thermos with hot water and sleep in a safer place than a rest stop.
In the AM, I'm heading east on 10 and have 6 hours to get to Austin. The plan is to rendezvous with Ian and Jill, a couple I met briefly in SF.

Crossing Texas in April, the wildflowers make the highway a colorful blur as the desert gives way to lush vegetation and the rolling hills are painted thick with purple and yellow. “Yaw Missy, it’s the right time of year to cross Texas.” A local drawled to me.  This is a fertile area and far from West Texas landscape. I pull into a little town called Fredericksburg settled by Germans. Hence the wineries, beer gardens, galleries and home furnishing stores line the streets of this small town. I’m craving a beer but resist the delay of my Austin arrival by forgoing the Beer Garden temptation. Driving on, we come to President Johnson’s hometown, where they have renamed everything Johnson. Heard the presidential library was excellent but still trying to make time. 

I find myself a $12 a night accommodation in Austin at the Pecan Grove RV Park. It’s nestled in Barton Springs and looks like I’ve found the place that Austin folk go to unwind. The park is lush with rolling hills, picnic tables, a public swimming hole and hiking trails. I park the van, shower, and rendezvous with Jill and Ian at of all places, a beer garden in the newly developed part of Austin, by the airport. Diesel sits under the picnic table and acknowledges every plate of food that gets passed over his head. Jill is a writer and editor for American Fiction, a small non-profit and is working with the SF folks of Litquake for Austin’s version of the literary festival.  Ian is a computer programmer, and an accomplished musician. In retelling my Marfa experience he blurts out that he knows Solange, Beyonnce’s sister.  He sold her a song for one of her albums and she remixed it to end up in one of her movies. Small creative class here in Texas or at least they all know each other. Later Ian would take me around to the Red River Street scene and we would check out three different bars all with live music.

My first day in Austin starts with Jill’s recommendations. I head out to find the bookstore, Domy that she thought I would like and found myself lost and driving by her other recommendation: Wally Workman Gallery. A woman smoking out of the gallery window greets me and I think I love her for that transgression. We discuss Ian Shultz’s work and she tells me he shows in San Francisco. Wally Workman, and that is her name, gave me the tour of her gallery and recommendations on other galleries to check out. Loved Ian Shultz’s large expressionist strokes of his paintings and hope to catch a show of his in San Francisco.

Finding my way to the other side of town, I enter Domy Books. A “creative space” and bookstore. Graphic Novels, self-published writers, a great art show and an event schedule for live readings. Russell, the proprietor loved Diesel and when he heard our story, was eager to give me tips on Austin and where to go. He knew Tim from the bookstore in Marfa and I was beginning to think I am in this network of fascinating people that are conspiring to keep me in their web.  From there we headed out on Russell’s tips. On South Congress we hit the food truck and shop scene. A beautiful airstream ablaze with Hey Cupcake met me with a greedy eye. Musicians lugging equipment to their next gig. Dogs and more dogs, in the bookstores and in a beautiful vintage/object d’art junk shop.

It’s getting close to sunset and I take my leftover lunch from Magnolia Café and hike it down to the South Congress Bridge. There is a crowd forming for the spectacle of the flight of Bats that emerges every evening to feed. By 8pm the nocturnal creatures finally leave their roost and if it weren’t for the red searchlights from the tour boats on the river, one might not see them at all. Apparently, other times of the year make for better viewing.

My first foray into the Austin nightclub scene is to “The Broken Spoke”. Russell recommended it, as it’s a classic real deal Texas Honky Tonk nightclub with live music and two-step dancing. I enter the hall and there is a cover, the woman drawls, “You alone, honey? You gonna dance with men that ask?” I nodded and stuttered something about not knowing how to 2 step. She motions me to go on in, free of charge. I find a table with a woman in full western glitzy outfit. I sit really close to the band as they are tight and pulling me in with every twang on their guitar. Watching the dancing was like watching a free for all interpretation of the 2 step. There were college kids throwing their partners through the air and a ninety-year-old couple moving evenly and smartly through the crowd. Another middle aged man had a swing partner who put them all to shame. The band was tight and the dancers interpreted their music with a Honky Tonk glee. The band introduces the woman sitting with me as she used to play with them. Her voice roars out of this little woman with fantastic clarity and she takes the house down. I’m blushing with that instant fan feeling when she comes back down to sit with me. Jane has her own band now and we have a drink together while her new found fans come up and congratulate her on her fine voice.

Closing my first Austin bar and its only Tuesday.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Very Large Array & Marfa, TX

New Mexico/TEXAS
April 7th – April 13
High and strange indeed, New Mexico is a NASA cowboy, Navajo artist who lives in an adobe. I will miss this wonderful strange place where the scientific future and the ancient past cross-pollinate in the land of enchantment.
As I head out, I take in the transformation of spring on the now blushing landscape. Shedding the mud color, everything is blooming rapidly into green, yellows, and reds with the distant mountains of purple. New Mexico is morphing into its other side from the monotone winter to every saturated hue on the color wheel.
Heard Space?
I launch American Bones road trip with one last stop in New Mexico, the Very Large Array, fondly known as the VLA… really. Apparently it has been in countless movies but “Contact” is the only one that comes to mind. As the world’s premier Radio Astronomy Observatory, it is listening to galactic noise - like black holes. It’s science architecture that eavesdrops on the Universe, our giant ears in an infinite café.
Exiting the highway, one drives another 30 minutes till coming to an area where the satellite dishes start to appear. It’s as if they are all listening in one direction while one or two are distracted and face another direction. The landscape becomes surreal with these massive dishes in rows like an orchard of robots. They are on huge tracks and have the ability to move 360 degrees. Surprisingly you can walk right up to them and take in their epic proportions, as if you were in a pre 911-world. They remind me of Pixar’s animated desk lamp and seem “cute” with collared faces looking into space. They are inspiring as I can see their imagery as scientific illustrations in a silkscreen, a block print and in photographs.
Reflection From the Control Room Window
The VLA visitor center is dense with explanation and a little over the geek top in regards to discussions of computer capacity for the data crunching. The gift shop was not inspired either. This pains me to see lousy graphics on mugs, key chains and mouse pads as well as T Shirts and other unrelated knickknacks. This interest in gift shops will be a theme in the trip. I am compulsively analyzing the missed opportunities in imagery, graphics and the lack of local art in these places. I would love to change the fact that the manufacturing of American souvenirs is made in China. More on that topic later.

Diesel is wilting from the heat and is eager to get into the dark van and hold his muzzle to the window wind. We head south to the town, Truth or Consequences. Yes, it is named after the show, but it is known as Spa City for the hot springs and Branson's SpacePort America. Yes, you have to go to New Mexico to be a space tourist. I wonder if they have a gift shop...

Small and sweet, my favorite little restaurant is called Deli Belly. I have stopped here before and ate under the shade of a vine trellis. The food is locally made and wonderful. The proprietor gave me a heads up on Marfa TX. She made sure I knew about the Prada Store. A collaboration of German artists built a one room Prada store and stocked it with a few shoes and purses in the middle of the desert. I drove for another couple of hours and soon forgot about the store and thought about the heat. It’s the kind of heat that sandwiches you from above and from the sweltering ground. I see a building go past with an awning I swear said Prada. I stop and turn around on the spot. There is a door but it does not open. It has lights that go on at night but there is no one there. It's is 194 miles south of El Paso, close to the hostage taking town of Juarez, Mexico. There is nothing there.

A luxury store in the wilderness is a statement on perceptions of value; well that is my take away.
I love it and see grant funded art installed in the wilderness, as its own statement on value. Public art will be another theme in my travels.

It's time for the photo shoot, it is a luxury goods store after all.  I think I’m appropriately dressed in a little black dress with cowboy boots. Diesel lurks his lithe body around the store with his hound nose to the ground and Foxy has the right hue but still manages to ruin the neighborhood. My only company is the train going by about 100 yards away. The engineer blows his lonesome whistle as I wave and he responds with a luxurious long note.

Foxy Prada Brown
Diesel vs Prada

I'm Prada Myself
Now I will be late getting to my tour and there are no refunds for my “block tour” for ex New Yorker, architect and sculptor, Donald Judd’sStudio and living space. I get to town and no one is there at the Judd offices. He bought half the town, so it’s hard to know exactly which building is actually the right location. I go across to the hotel to get directions, and the man tells me where to go for the block tour. I meet a crowd of folks that that are standing outside these massive oak doors to the Judd compound. This beautiful woman says we have been waiting for you. I apologize profusely for being late and thank them for waiting for me. She is wearing hounds tooth gym shorts made of silk with a silk butterfly top. Her skin is cocoa and her black hair is thick wavy corkscrews down past her shoulders. She is dewy sweet and of Creole descent with super- model possibility. Her escort is this handsome African American man with cotton Capri pants, and sporting light blue espadrilles. The four other young people are all from New Orleans and are architectural students with an interest in Donald Judd’s life work. They gather around me with such eagerness that I’m taken back a bit. I look into their faces and ask,
 “Who is the guide?”
 “Why, you’re not?” Blurts out a young architect.

After we clear up the fact, I am not the tour guide, and all these folks have not been waiting for me, but for someone to open the gates. It dawns on me this is it, I have just driven 5 hours to get to this tour of the abode of an esteemed sculptor, installation artist and architect for nothing. I am crestfallen as its Sunday night and nothing else art related in town is open till Wednesday.
The beautiful Creole woman mentions the fact her friend told her to go to the bookstore in town, as Tim knows everyone. All agree that might be the best and only idea we have. Walking the three blocks in this tiny ranching town and I learn my new friend is Beyoncé’s sister, Solange. Well, that explains the fabulous bone structure. We all pile into Tim’s bookstore and it is an uber hip architectural bookstore with thousands of ways I could spend my money. Here we are in a one-horse town, filled with ranchers, celebrities, architects and New Yorkers. Where I am I? True to his reputation, Tim puts a call in and we get a guide with keys to the massive oak doors and start our “Block Tour”.
Behind the cement block walls is a hundred feet of gravel interrupted by a perfect rectangle concrete pool on the left. Alongside the pool runs a custom-built picnic table fit for twenty under a modern trellis of vines. There are two huge warehouses on the right and directly across the span of gravel is a U shaped wall that runs along the outer wall but slopes down to throw the horizon off. Our guide tells us that Judd came here from New York to ensure that his sculptures and installations would be permanently installed and viewed exactly as he intended. Lucky for him, his reputation has enough pull to make Marfa a destination for the culturally literate and elite. So much so, you can eat a five star very expensive dinner at one of the many fine dining establishments in town. We tour his workshops and his living quarters (there are many, including the bank in town). He has a library in one of these warehouses and he seems to have so many interests that a Dewy Decimal System seems appropriate here. Every space has a wooden framed futon-like couch bed and it always faces the wall. He loved to entertain guests and these would be the guest rooms, cavernous spaces with steel, wood and books for company.
Looking Back to the Entrance of Donald Judd's Block Residence
We are not allowed to take pictures but I got one off looking back at the entrance and a view of his customized Jeep.
The environment he created reminds me of the Bay Area artist, David Ireland. Here, space, form, light and materials create an effect that can be dictated to conform to merging living working spaces. Judd started this project of living in and among his creations in the 60’s, and there are parts of his live/work spaces that are extremely contemporary today. We now value the open-air plan so much that our kitchens in our houses now conform to it. He truly lived in the refined air that surrounded and define his sculptures and architectural dalliances.
We wrap up the tour and thank our guide, who couldn’t stop staring at our in-house celebrity. He was a doll and I forgot his name but he lived only a block away from the “Block”.

I found myself later at “Planet Marfa” a sweet little local hangout outdoor bar. It had a sunken Tepee that held a crowd of drinkers. I ordered from the bar menu the chips/salsa and a hotdog. My waitress/owner and chef, looked like Andrew Wyeth’s lover and muse, Helga; she had long Germanic braids and she cooed over Diesel. Then Tom walked in, a huge white handlebar mustache, a bigger white cowboy hat and just wanted to drawl with a doll. Super sweet, he didn’t think much of the architect in town but he liked the movies that came through. Apparently Johnny Depp was in town, just in from New Mexico. Hope Johnny Depp and I's paths will cross again someday. Our Helga was dropping off oil lanterns as the light was fading, and I asked Tom if I could take his picture.
Marfa Rancher Tom
Tom was my only portrait I took in Marfa. I’m just getting the hang of this. Helga and Solange were a pleasure to meet and a missed opportunity. Talk about Foxy Prada Brown, Solange was it.
Headed out of town that night and slept at a truck stop. Crossing the Hill Country of Texas the next day, with a three-day stint in Austin.

Monday, April 16, 2012


February-March 2012
My residency in Corrales, New Mexico was due in equal parts good fortune, timing and connections.  I had no idea of what to expect.  Living in a historic town settled in the 1800’s turned out to be a perfect backdrop to be inspired by old architecture, rural setting and a posse of New Mexican artists. I spent the first week just getting settled and understanding adobe masonry and what nails will penetrate their thick walls. I unfurled 12 feet of butcher paper to sketch out my new paintings. The tape peels off and my paper falls in the dust that sheds from the clay coating on the wall. Apparently they use mud to finish the walls and as it dries, it flakes off. The whole landscape is made from dust and mud so suppose it makes sense to use it in the architecture. But trying to affix anything to the walls is a major undertaking. Sara, my host, keeps handing me cement nails, but I am sure my screws with my drill will do the trick. But alas, when I have nothing hanging after repeated attempts, I meekly ask for those cement nails she has been hocking. 
With a few canvases, stretched and precariously hanging on a cement nail, I start to paint my coyote critters. The image came from a gun shop as a  “Target Critter Series”. The graphic is a slouching coyote with neon orange outline and a black overlay that will give way to orange when  struck by the marksman. Ultimately this would work as a silkscreen but I imagine no New Mexican would wear it as a T-shirt for fear of being a target. It’s ironic that this “pest” has a rich folkloric history but now is the subject of a target practice series. 
I owe my residency connection to Jade and her husband, Tom. They are a lovely couple that I met last summer on my first visit to New Mexico. Jade is a painter from Mexico City and a branch off of Frieda. She has a lovely lilt to her voice, long black hair - a classic Spanish beauty. Tom is a rocking roll boy from Boston, instantly familiar to me having lived in Boston around the same time. We both worked at the infamous Coffee Connection, he at Faneuil Hall and I in Harvard Square.  We shared common grounds in more ways than one.
My first excursion was to the San Juan Pueblo north of Santa Fe for a “Deer Dance”, a ritual dance that apparently every tribe reenacts the hunter and the pursued deer with a dance.  Jade and Tom drove along with their friend, Jonathan Longcore, retired Delta Airline employee who took the job for the ability to travel for the rest of his life. He studied anthropology and music with a dissertation on both, only to find he would have to have two jobs, one fundraising for travel and another for his work.  Delta served him well and has traveled the world ever since.
When we arrive at the Deer Dance, I am told that they will not allow photographs or sketches and might even confiscate either if you try. So we approach a long line of yellow-capped Indians chanting and moving slowly forward. There is a group with drums that position themselves midway on the side of the lineup, keeping the rhythm and chanting. There are men, boys and few girls but I do not see any women participating in the dance. Their costumes are complex and wonder how I will remember the details when an old Indian wrapped in a polyester blanket asks if we would like to photograph and if so there is a fee of $20.00.  When I ask, “Who do I pay?” he answers with a tooth short grin, “Me”. 
I shoot and shoot; I’m on my knees…I run ahead of the lineup, I shoot the two hunters that taunt the lineup. One shot comes into focus; it’s the one of the deer hunter with yellow war face paint that I thought KISS invented. He is leaning forward with his arrows on his back and in the background is an Indian woman spectator wrapped in one of those ubiquitous polyester blankets, with a large Indian face printed on it. I think to myself, the American Indian’s image was confiscated a long time ago.
There will be an opening at Sara’s Gallery, Gathering of Artists at the end of my residency. The paintings I will be showing are about my experiences with the southwest, some are portraits from early photographers, Carl Moon and Edward Curtis; others are inspired from the deer dance and local landmarks. While everything is brown here during these late winter months, the paintings take on the colors of yellow, red and blue. It’s the memory from a New Mexico summer. 
The photographs are more representative of the present experience. I gather them on my walks with Diesel along the ditch that is dry for the first month, then a roaring river for the second. I learned there is a Ditch Master that has the high honor of releasing the water to the neighborhoods. If you are wealthy enough, you can have your own bypass ditch. This redirected water, floods your field for your horses & cattle to graze on.  The brown dust turns to mud and then blooms in a field of green grass.