19 October 2017

The Gorgeous, Imperfect Mosaic – Soul Of America, New Mexico

By: Jon Katz

The Gorgeous Mosaic

New Mexico is not a perfect place, nor does it pretend to be. Much of its beauty comes from its imperfection.

To me, it is a stirringly beautiful place, a Gorgeous Mosaic, what I love most about America, what some of our most powerful leaders seem to have forgotten in their rush to power.

There are all kinds of different landscapes here, many stunningly beautiful, and all kinds of people, a magnificent mix of cultures – rich, poor, Hispanic, Native-American, Caucasian, all the people of the rainbow. They exist together, and have for centuries, not without conflict or trouble, but  mostly with acceptance and tolerance.

The cattlemen live alongside the artists, and the artists live alongside the working people, and the Native-American culture and influence is everywhere, in the open, along with casinos and their bowling alleys and the mysterious pueblos and the adobe houses that never seem to fall apart.

The beauty of the mountains and hills and clay mounds are a backdrop to this mosaic, but they don't define the place for me. It is the friendliness and individuality and diversity of the people that evoke the American ideal to me, I see why Georgia O'Keefe was so comfortable and creative here I feel the same way just being here a few days.

I have a sense of freedom and openness here – a hothouse for creativity, a huge incubus.

Yesterday, we met Richard, tending his wife's art gallery while she was out shopping.

He makes the wooden saints that line the walls.

He was (is) a rabid Beatles fan so he also made a life out of making and selling Beatle art, mostly wooden wall hangings with writing on them. He went to see Ringo Starr in a concert carrying some Ringo Starr art he made and a woman came up and said she was Starr's daughter and she would tell her father about Richard and his art, and show him the artwork, but Richard just laughed and said "if you are Ringo's daughter, I am the Pope."

He wouldn't turn over the art.

He was stunned later to hear Starr talking about his daughter flying in to meet him. He laughs when he tells the story, and soon we were off, talking about my work, my life. He was beginning to invite us to dinner when we left. I was touched by his openness and warmth and individuality.

He was free.

America is about freedom to me, and about acceptance and tolerance and the mixing of different worlds. Somehow, the people who are supposed to be celebrating this are threatening it. Richard is the true hero to me, a man who gives up safety and security to follow his passion and devote his life to it, he isn't living on a corporate slaveship or ranting about the left or the right or posting nasty messages on Facebook.

Freedom to speak openly and live his life, the most precious kind of freedom.

Richard is living his life, and wide open to strangers from the outside world. Can I take your portrait?

Sure, he said, and thanks. I hope I don't break he camera. Odd, but I've already met a dozen Richard's in just two days here.

He gave us a fistful of postcards to take home and only charged me half of a $30 pottery cup I dropped and broke. Maria took it and wrapped it up, she will fix it when we get home. We are here until next Wednesday and I am eager to see what happens next, we have a lot of places to go – Taos today.


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18 October 2017

The Courtyard. Georgia O’Keefe’s Home And Studio

By: Jon Katz

The Courtyard

I took this shot of an interior courtyard in the O'Keefe home. She was a formidable personality and every inch of the inside and out of her home in Abiquiu was beautifl and carefully planned. We had to drive to a nearby inn and take a shuttle bus. Two guides monitored as our tour guide walked us through the history of O'Keefe's home (she moved to Santa Fe at the very end of her life, and died there at age 98.) The color and feel of the stucco was amazing.

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Pilgrimage to Abiquiu: The Ghost Of Georgia O’Keefe

By: Jon Katz

In Search Of Georgia O'Keefe: Her courtyard

It was curious to receive so many messages from people urging us to go to the small town (250 residents) of Abiquiu to see the last home and studio of the famed artist Georgia O'Keefe. She is why we came here, why we found a place to stay to stay nearby.  The rest is kind of a creative tour of an amazingly creative place.

We wanted and needed a vacation bu Abiquiu is a pilgrimage for us, to honor a brilliant artist who took full control of her life and attached herself to a beautiful space and drew her inspiration from it. Maria and I were slack-jawed, it.  It was more beautiful and special than we had imagined. Maria wrote about it on her blog, and I will let her speak for it. I was a bit overwhelmed.

I guess we went looking for her ghost, and we found it there, her spirit is all over every inch of that beautiful space.

I was nearly speechless by the feeling of the place, and I took a few photos of the magical courtyards and rooms of her home, where she lived and worked until she was well into her 90's. It is a creative temple, she was a powerful presence, and every bit of the house reflects that.

I love O'Keefe's work and understand it better now. I also admire her determination, courage and strength, she found her place, stayed there and worked hard every day of her long life to create. When her eyes failed, she painted more abstractly or took up clay pottery.

We will go back in a few days to visit some of the places she painted. Tomorrow visit Taos and some museums there.

For those asking, our schedule is quite uncertain. I am not blogging or checking e-mail during the day, I will past at night. Not relaxing  yet, but getting close. Much love and compassion to you.

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The Cottonwoods/New Mexico

By: Jon Katz

The Cottonwoods

I expected to see desert in New Mexico, I did not expect to see the miles and miles of gorgeous trees, especially the Cottonwoods, now turning yellow in the Fall. They are the most elegant and beautiful trees I have yet seen in my life.

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Falling In Love About With The Glorious Brew That Is New Mexico

By: Jon Katz


Falling In Love A Bit: A Misty Scenic Highway

I have to admit to falling in love a bit with New Mexico. I've only been here with Maria for a couple of days (we come home next Wednesday),  but this place is already in my head. NM is not one thing but many different things, all jumbled up together in a feast of the eye and the mind.

There is the most astonishing natural beauty I have ever seen. Apart from its stunning landscapes (which change completely every few miles), I am reminded of a number of different places I have loved – New York City, the old West and East Villages, the old Bowery, Provincetown, Savannah, the Old West (cowboys and cattle ranches the size of Rhode Island),  the Florida Keys, parts of LA., the broken town towns of Route 66 (which runs through New Mexico.

The beauty and the ramshackle live side by side in New Mexico, it is, so far, the most egalitarian place I have ever seen. Almost every property has a different kind of fence, many ramshackle and falling apart. Why? "It's a New Mexico thing?"

There are artists everywhere, and a rich legacy of American culture. Oddballs live next to rich second homers and ski lodges, stunning mountains loom up behind shacks with goats and chickens (and fences), it is a hip place and a poor place, often right in the same place.

And the towns all have the greatest names.

Today we took a drive up to Abiquiu, the last home of Georgia O'Keefe, and we were both speechles at the richness and beauty of the landscape. On the ride up, miles and miles of adobe shacks and shanties, dead restaurants, abandoned trailer parks, Native-American reservations with casinos and bowling alleys,  artist studios,  decaying gas stations, and hundreds of trailer parks with who have seen better days.

They don't seem to obliterate their past in New Mexico, as they do in the East, they just ignore it and move ahead. The past, present and future share the same space.  I haven't Taos (tomorrow) or Santa Fe yet, we go to Taos tomorrow, but O'Keefe's home and studio were very powerful and magical.

The trailer parks and shanties look natural here, not out of place at all, like they grew organically out of the ground. I'm sure there are tons of rich people too, haven't run across them yet, but I know they are there.

I have a new favorite tree, the Cottonwoods, now changing color, they transcend even the eastern oak for their beauty and structure. I'll put up a photo or two. When I visit New York I wonder where all the characters and artists and oddballs and free spirits have gone. They are here, and it is a great joy to see them.

In much of America, individualism has been pushed aside by corporatism. It very much lives here.

This place is a literal riot, the most beautiful and friendliest mish-mash of geography and culture I have ever seen. I do love it. More to come.

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