Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Bare Bones

Bare Bone by J. Binford-Bell

Mornings in Black Lake, New Mexico include walks with the fur kids. And the camera. Mardi Gras and Magique are sniffing out everything and I am snooping around trying to find a new subject on a well worn path. Which brings me to the bare bones.

Both my immediate neighbors and myself have medium to large size dogs that we treat and amuse with marrow bones. Cid's, an organic food store in Taos, is our major source of these canine treasures. And I am often totally shocked at the number of these I must buy when I clean up the yard before mowing or gather them into a basket when sorting through the living room. This is expected. But I and my neighbor fence our dogs except for these morning excursions. So why are there so many of these on the path?

Winged Thief by J. Binford-Bell

I think I must blame it on the ravens. They seem to be attracted by round white objects. I know this because I am four miles from the Angel Fire Resort Golf Course and there are also golf balls in my yard. I find them when I pick up the bones before mowing. I am told that the Ravens think they are eggs and drop them from on high to break them open. Golf balls must be very disappointing for them. And they look funny flying with them in their mouths. I have, however, never seen them with a bone in the air.

Course it could be some small land based mammal that is squeezing through the largish openings in our fences and stealing the bones. They are welcome to them. But part of me wants to install a motion activated camera so I can find out what goes on in my neighborhood at night or when I am gone.

A couple nights ago I was awakened by a pack of coyotes at 2:30 in the morning. My paranoid neighbor has night goggles and guns (should I be concerned?) and he went out at that hour unconcerned about tripping over dog bones in his yard, and reports that it was six coyotes trying to down a full sized elk in the field behind our fenced yards. BTW the fence is not an issue here as the elk bound over it all the time. The elk got in a couple lucky kicks and after 45 minutes the battle was called without a clear winner.

This all made it suddenly clear to me that on any given morning walk I might find more than bare bones. There could be a severely wounded elk or coyote, or the cooling body of one or both. I live on the edge of civilization and the wild has not conceded that ground just yet.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

So Sunday?

Apologies to Monet

And I find myself asking what that is all about. Us humans seem to want to mark time. Measure it off in neat little blocks like weeks and months, days and hours. None of them make a lot of sense. Seven days in a week/why not 5? And we know they have the number of days in a month all screwed up. Sometimes our formula for keeping time has been so out of step with the rotations of the earth and paths of the planets that there have had to be corrections. Rioting in the streets once because the populace thought 10 days had been stolen from them.

And yet we suddenly seem so very sure of not merely our measurement of time but the civilizations that came before that we are sure the world is ending on December 21st of this year per the Mayans that did not even have a December. Let alone the year 2012 CE. CE stands for Common Era incidentally and replaces AD which I always said as After Death when it meant Years of our Lord. But he was not everyone's Lord so the CE makes sense. And instead of Before Christ it is Before the Common Era or BCE. All of which has nothing whatsoever to do with the Mayan Calendar. And watch as I must every documentary on the Mayans it seems that we took some tremendous leaps from having only fragments of their written language to being able to totally predict when they say the world is going to end.

And by the way that really depends upon the calendar stone you are referring to. Seems their calendars ran out when they got to the edge of the stone. Newer calendars required bigger stones or dropping off a bunch of their Before the Common Era years. There are stones that predict the world already being over, and you could argue that for the Mayan civilization as we know it, it is. And given that we have not unearthed all the cities and temples of that civilization there could be stones that go beyond 2012. See computers programmed before we comprehended a 2000, or at a minimum had no room for calculations beyond 1999,  and those programmed since with more memory.

Still I have this otherwise educated friend that is basing her entire life this year on there being no December 22, 2012. I personally think she is crazy. She thinks I am because I have a workshop scheduled for early 2013. But I do see a certain logic in knowing the world will end on a certain day. It will be a Friday. I find it far more rational than the Rapture which is not to be mistaken for the end of the world and has no fixed date. Obviously it is totally up to the whim of our Lord. Well, your Lord. Or some lord.

And this is Sunday which is the Lord's day and named after the Roman (ergo pagan) God Sol or literally dies solis.

I began this blog with a photograph and an apology to Monet. I probably now need to apologize to the Romans, the Mayans and I suppose the Christians. I have a cold and it makes for muddled thinking.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Complexity of Life

July Spider Web by J. Binford-Bell

It has been an interesting week. At such times I am rather amazed at the complexity of life. I thought it was just allergies and resultant congestion, and had you asked me I would say it had been going on for just two to 3 weeks. That I might be losing my hearing only occurred to me in the middle of the night when I would wake up being only able to hear the roar of my own pulsing blood.

It was allergies and blocked Eustachian tubes, but it was also wax buildup in my ear canal. It it was not just two weeks bur more like four that the combo had gotten bad enough to notice. How long it was bad enough my cat noticed is hard to say. Living with just fur kids has its issues. There is nobody to tell you that you are not listening to them. I just figured Wee Willow was not meowing.

Finally got in to see the doctor and get the problem on the way to healing on Thursday. It was then I noticed that not only could I hear Wee Willow meow but I could hear her stomp! And who knew that tissue made a noise. At one point I actually considered putting cotton in my ears. The world was too noisy at times.

As an artist I am acutely aware when my vision is blurred. But the gradual dulling of my auditory senses was noticed only in that I was turning up the volume on TV and computer and stereo. When you finally get to 100% on all controls you sense that something might be wrong. Frankly I first believed it was my computer speakers. I actually went to Amazon and looked for some new ones. Thought I would get some for my flat screen TV too.

I blame it on the ear buds on my Ipod. I have changed to the buttons now. Some people think the ear buds like qtips push the ear wax down in your ear. That an toughing it through a horrid allergy season with the wildfire smoke and drought. I don't know if I will every turn up the volume on an audio device without asking myself why it is necessary.

I find myself really attune to Beethoven now. I plan to watch my DVD of Dearly Beloved again tonight. What he went through is so much more meaningful to me even though my brush with deafness was short and temporary it could have not been if ignored for much longer. We have blood pressure cuffs for home, and test devices for blood sugar. Why hasn't someone come up with a little box that emits certain tones (I found I was losing the low tones first) at a set volume so you could test your hearing? Why do we schedule yearly eye exams but not routine hearing exams?

So today I was at last able to sit down with a friend that mumbles, and looks down or away, and have a conversation with her. I didn't have to ask what once or stomp my feet like my cat because I was not being heard. But there is something to be said for silence. You see so much more.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sea Change

Clouds in My Coffee by J. Binford-Bell

Respect yourself enough to walk away
from anything which no longer  serves you, grows you
or makes you happy.

A year ago this month I made some tsunami like changes in my life. After more than 17 years deeply involved in art organizations in my valley I quit. Never one to do things half way I decided to no longer do art fairs (decision based on sound financial analysis), and to leave a gallery I had been involved in for nine years (decision based on independent market research - I talked to my customers). And I decided to take a break from painting to devote my energies to photography for a while. We all need a vacation.

After winning several prizes for my photography and selling quite a few I am diving back into the shallow end of painting. By that I mean I have given up the "production" painting that doing fairs demands and working on  pieces that mean something to me. Some are from photographs that as always were a springboard for my paintings. I tried plein aire and it isn't me.

I have no regrets about the decisions I made a year ago. It was time to move forward and apart. But as in any change their are aspects one will miss. The good part about fairs was the networking with art friends. So I will be attending Artsfest this year as a visitor instead of a player to say hi to friends and then back to my open studio to welcome art tourists to look at my paintings, my photography, my jewelry, and my sister's photography.

That is where studios have it all over fairs. An artist can show all their work; not just the medium that was juried in. And for the collector that is where studios have it over galleries. Galleries exhibit the taste of the gallery owner not the soul of the artist. At a studio you can see the whole range of an artist's work and not just the 4 to 10 pieces the owner of a gallery chooses to show.

The economic crisis of the last few years has been the death of a lot of galleries and some of my artist friends have lost work in the untimely closing of a couple. Fairs too are hurting because of cheap prints and Chinese knock offs. Fairs I had to struggle to get into once are now calling me after deadlines and asking if I want to get in late because they have open spaces. Artists are cutting costs and pulling back into their studios and small exhibits. Doing fairs was horridly expensive. But artists are still creating art. And I like to think better art because they are not dancing to the fiddle of fairs and galleries. And open studios and art trails are springing up everywhere for the art tourist to explore.

So has this sea change been wise? For me personally yes. For me artistically yes. The jury is still out on financially. I have cut expenditures by cutting out fairs. And sales have been steady but needs to grow. Marketing is an ever changing dynamic. My work is better displayed than in the gallery where it was. I am discovering daily new ways to cheaply promote my work but I do not think I have totally maxed that potential because for years I depended on the gallery and the fairs to be my agency for promotion.

I am happier, and that is probably the key to it all.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

OMG It is Tuesday

Peony by J. Binford-Bell

Or day 185 on my 366 day photography challenge on my Facebook Page. I am debating the above picture to be day 186. And while I am focused on that I totally missed Monday. Half the year is gone. Photographs taken and posted. Six months too hastily spent it would seem.

I am, as usual, not where I would have liked to be at this juncture in 2012 but I feel far better positioned than I was a year ago. Lots has changed. And lots remains the same.

This time last year I was madly putting paint to canvas to get half a dozen new pieces to take to Artfest here in Angel Fire. This year I have two paintings on the table I would like to finish for people visiting my gallery this summer. And I have almost 30 new photographs taken, matted and framed. And I have 25 photographs of my sisters my studio now represents. And all my jewelry is in my studio now instead of split between here and Artspace Gallery. Old Town Gallery in Cimarron still represents my paintings.

My big success this summer has been my garden. I love the lettuce and greens it is producing for me and my friends. As I have stated before one of the reasons I decided to get out of doing fairs was it did not allow me to garden. One had to go and as fairs with the economy seemed to cost more than they brought in I decided to do the garden. It is a total sense of joy for me. And probably why I have not painted so much yet. It took a lot of work to rearrange everything and build the tunnels and plant the garden.

I see the last half of 2012 as giving me more time in the studio to paint and teach.