Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tucson Weekly, Watering Dirt, Santana's "Smooth" Southwest October

What is uniquely desert behavior on a perfect October day? Dancing shamelessly in the sun to the sounds of Santana's song, "Smooth" (Supernatural), while wielding a garden hose, spraying a quarter of an acre of in-town dirt as clouds race overhead making curly-cue shapes, the way one might picture the bended notes of a great Santana riff.

I'm not alone. In Renée Downing's opinion piece in the local alternative news weekly, Tucson Weekly, she writes about this kind of collective giddiness when October hits the Old Pueblo. We know that we're going to have eight months of balmy days, cool days, and a few days in which we can actually wear sweaters.

I put down that hose long enough to paint this painting: Harvest, (16" x 20," oil on artists' board).

Hope you're having a great week, wherever you are, from behind cool sunglasses.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mighty Vole Hunts Ubiquitous Cactus Fruit

What a mouthful this title is! Just for fun, I thought I'd paint from my imagination and see what developed. This one is painted on a Dick Blick Artist's Board, 16" x 20," with Winsor & Newton Artisan (water miscible) paints.

I've been absolutely enamored of prickly pear fruit this summer and have spent days boiling and processing the fruits we collected last month. We drove out to the desert northwest of Tucson and collected four large buckets full of the tunas. We tapped our buckets with large tongs to alert any rattlesnakes, and we kept our eyes to the ground for scurrying scorpions. I can't tell you how fun it was...truly. I felt a connection to the earth as we harvested a little bit of its bounty.

So, I guess I'm the little desert vole seeking fruit that will last through the winter.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tucson Museum of Art and "Street Cred"

Breathe in. Breathe out. Start again. I know. It's been a long time since I've posted anything. I want to thank Barbara, Linny and Jala for their encouraging notes. I feel immensely inspired, edified, and motivated, to continue posting because of these artists' dedication and passion for art. Here's my little watercolor of happiness today (2 1/2" x 3," in moleskine notebook). The Arizona Biennial '09 has ended at the Tucson Museum of Art and my little painting is back home, symbol of more than I can put into words. But...I'll try. 

Since each of us live parallel lives as artists and citizens, when do we come to terms with being fully grown, both as humans in community and artists with credibility? Is it when we are famous (locally/nationally) as artists? Is it when we make money from our work, and how much is enough? Is it when we've spent years working for a stable neighborhood, participating as volunteers, learning and acquiring the tools to shape and change things for the better? We do this shaping thing with each of our canvasses and art careers, too. My point, and I do have one (remember that line?), is that we decide, we decide, we decide our standing--through quiet reflection, honest assessment and healthy humility, irrespective of public acknowledgment. 

That said, I was walking around our 'hood the other day, remembering all that we've worked on to make it better around here. It reminded me of the big event from last year. We were targeted by some gang members who decided to shoot up our place. We happened to be huddled outside at the time, up against the studio, in fact. Both of our cars took bullets and one to the house over my son's room. Later, a friend said that our vehicles now have some "street cred." You know, we did chuckle at that. Why? How could we? Because we survived and eventually got the gang out of the neighborhood (major hard work). We won.

Art has been like this, too. It's been more than thirty years since I had my epiphany/vision to become an artist. There have been delays, setbacks, loss, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and personal triumph. I'll bet you have experienced similar things. I haven't achieved fame or fortune--yet (smiling here), but I have reached a goal by being in the Tucson Museum of Art! That was pretty fantastic when I think of where I was way back then. I'd say I've got a little "street cred."