"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Portrait of the artist as an old man, in the words of a student

This article, by Mervyn Yong Sheng Chua , who is from Maylasia and one of my students, appeared in the student newspaper The Vista, earlier this month along with Garett Fisbeck's photo. He's a good student, and only got one fact wrong, referring to me as a "wise man." He asked some good questions, that got me to thinking...

 "A lot has to do with passion, not a degree," Dr. Terry Clark, the director of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, says.
To many at UCO he is just known as Professor Clark, professor of journalism. However, at Adelante, the arts sale district, Clark is September’s featured artist of the month. The gallery is in the Paseo Arts District in Oklahoma City, between 30th Street and Walker. He exhibits there on a regular basis and has had 34 paintings featured.
Every first Friday of the month, there is a big art show and Clark’s paintings were chosen to be exhibited this past week, on Sept. 3.
Clark writes a monthly column, “Clark’s Critique,” for Oklahoma Publisher, the official monthly publication of the Oklahoma Press Association. This past summer, two of his articles were published in Persimmon Hill, the national magazine of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. , OKC Biz ran his article on the future of newspapers.
This year, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award from  the Oklahoma pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. His award-winning blog, Coffee with Clark, features watercolors, photography and writing. 
Clark grew up in the home of an artist. His father was good at oil and portraits, and Clark grew up loving to draw.  However, he only started watercolor painting 10 to 11 years ago.
“Watercolor painting was more of a hobby,” he said. “It was to divert from journalism, [it was] a place of refuge and rest. When you work on art, you forget everything else. You just focus on creating something or solving a problem”.
Professor’s inspirations comes from New Mexico. Although born in Dallas, Tex., he grew up in Albuquerque, N.M., and lived most of his life on the Great Plains: “the land of far horizons and dramatic skies”, Clark reminisces. Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent also inspired Professor Clark; they are his favorite painters for their great grasp of drama and light, as well as their breaking of the rules.
So why watercolor painting? Why not anything else?
“Watercolor painting humbles me,” Clark said.  “It is a difficult medium, especially if you want to control everything. You have to be creative, break more rules and always be ready to learn.”
Clark feels that watercolor painting applies to his teaching and journalism and gives him perspective on it.
“Things do not always turn out like you want them to,” he said. “You have to adapt and look at things from different angles.  There is not one right way of doing things”.
When it comes to advice on success, the wise man utters, “Just keep trying.”
“The main thing is to try and do what you want to do,” Clark said. “No matter what the art or job is, you have to be willing to take risks and fail. Without risks and failure, you will not grow and achieve different things.  Also, learn to laugh at yourself and not be so serious.
But above all, it is all about passion.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby

I had this article in today's Oklahoma Gazette. Can't wait to meet his photographer. Many of my stuents are coming too.

“It’s a seductive and powerful landscape, with a beguiling charm that didn’t want to let me go,” said the Santa Fe photographer of the legendary Ghost Ranch landscapes in New Mexico.
Oklahomans can share that experience when Craig Varjabedian’s exhibition of 69 large black and white images of the dramatic Georgia O’Keefe country opens Friday, Sept. 23 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Varjabedian is widely acclaimed for his images capturing the American West, taken over a photographic career of more than 35 years. The show features photos found in his Wrangler Award-winning companion book to the exhibition, Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby.
Why black and white when the landscape is renowned for its vibrant colors? “The place is much more subtle than just the colors,” he said. “I’m looking for things that are authentic.”
 “The world as I look at it is black and white,” Varjabedian said of capturing the mystique and beauty there. He had been visiting Ghost Ranch for about 10 years before he could take more than “just pretty pictures.”
“It took me a long time to figure out how to photograph that place. I became aware of the light—and that’s why black and white is so critical to what I wanted to do—it’s the light,” he said.
Varjabedian printed most of the 24-inch wide silver pints in his own darkroom, but had negatives scanned and digitally reproduced for about a dozen 30” by 40” “anchor” photos for the exhibition, he said.
“I work really hard in the darkroom to get the feeling I had at the moment I clicked the shutter, he said. “I hope the show allows people to join me in my experience, and also, that they might open doors to their own experiences.”
The exhibit, free and open to the public, will open at 4:30 p.m. with a reception followed by a book signing at 6:30. The show will be on display through Jan. 8, 2012.
Varjabedian will return Oct. 14-16 for a three-day photographic workshop that will include shooting at the Museum, the Clydesdale horses at Express Ranches, and historic Fort Reno.
“This is another way to reach out and get people to make their own images,” he said.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Window into another world....

Windows into another world, 25 miles east of Santa Fe, at the 1600s ruin of the Spanish mission at Pecos Pueblo.
And in the foreground, the door to another world, the sacred Kiva of the Pecos Pueblo tribe

Artist idea of what the church looked like in the Spanish 1700, 25 miles east of Santa Fe. This window  above is at far right near rear of church.

Drawing from the opposite angle of the mission, looking southwest, rear of the church in the foreground.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The power of Pecos--chapter one

There are places where the universe is thin, some believe, and I believe that it is one of them.

I've been trying to write about the old adobe church ruin for quite a while, but for some reason, just couldn't sit down and do it. Even these sentences are coming slowly, but every once in a while, you're given a sign that provokes action.

We were thumbing through old National Geographics before giving them away, just to see if there was something to save (that's another several blog postings to come). We put one aside to look at later, because it was from 1990 with Quaddafi on the cover, illustrating an article on Libya coming out of isolation. I barely looked at it, and then, just a couple of weeks ago, discovered the very last article in  the issue was about this favorite place of mine.

Pecos National Monument, 25 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The article was about the ancestors of the now extinct pueblo--who now live at the Jemez Pueblo 100 miles west--gathering the remains of 2,067 of their ancestors from a Harvard museum and reburying them in their own sacred ground.
Pages from the past. National Geographic, November, 2000 about the return of Pecos Indian remains. Two religions--the old adobe Franciscan mission in the background, with a  circular kiva in the foreground, the ladder leading down into the earth for sacred and secret Indian ceremonies.
I don't much believe in serendipity or coincidence, but I know there are forces in the world that we don't grasp nor comprehend.  The discovered article was the prompt to sit down and write about this place of power for my imagination and spirit. I know I'm not alone.

I had just visited there Memorial Day and taken more photos, as I have done many times before, along with taking students there for photography and writing, wandering the ruins with family and friends and the spirits and presence of the very visible past.

I've watched over the years the continual improvements to the National Park Service Welcome Center and its unceasing efforts to preserve the earthen monument and rock walled pueblo ruins from further decay. You can see scaffolding in the photo at the top of the blog, taken Memorial Day, as workers continue their efforts.

The adobe church and pueblo are historic--even mentioned in Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. The skies and light of New Mexico continual change the color of the adobe---almost orange in the morning sun, muddy brown at midday, sometimes almost red in the evening.

 I've tried to paint it many times, never to my satisfaction. I will try again.
12 by 9, watercolor, 300 pound d'Arches paper
This is a traditional view, looking northeast, in the evening light. So-so, I think. Good enough to frame and hang at home because it's personal.

To me the most captivating part of the ruin is that window...it's almost like it's an entrance into another world. More on that later with photographs. By the way, that is not the front of the church. It is a window into where the bells once hung near the rear of the church. The projection on the left is the former apse of the church. The huge structure faced West.
5 by 7,  watercolor 140 pound d'Arches paper
This abstract--impressionistic, expressionistic painting was a departure for me, forced away from the traditional to really capture the spirit and force of the place rising out of sacred and power earth...I guess by the spirit and force of the place.

Obviously I need to do more of this, because I sold a very large painting of Taos pueblo in the same style at the Paseo Arts Festival--my larges sale in a long time. But Pecos' influence was first.

I don't believe you can measure the power of such places.
An earlier 11 by 14 photo of mine from one fall morning a few years ago. It hangs in my garage because I don't have a place for it.
  Next, more about the pueblo, its history and photographs of that mysterious window.

Monday, September 5, 2011

25 books for America?

In the bookstore the other day, I saw another of those books about books, listing 25 essentials for Americans. Basically they're good for irritating people: "Well, I would have chosen... instead."

I thumbed through it and knew most of them, but couldn't help and wonder why a few others were left out.

And for me, a fan of non-fiction, there was only one.  But anyway, chronologically, here's the ones on the list that I recognized, and you probably guessed most of them anyway:

  1. The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  2. The Last of the Mohicans
  3. The Scarlet Letter
  4. Walden
  5. Moby Dick
  6. Leaves of Grass
  7. Little Women
  8. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  9. My Antonio--I'd have picked Death Comes for the Archbishop
  10. The Great Gatsby
  11. The Sun Also Rises--but what about the Old Man and The Sea?
  12. The Grapes of Wrath
  13. On The Road
  14. The Cat in the Hat
  15. To Kill a Mockingbird

Others recommended which I disagree with were North of Boston, The Weary Blues, USA, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Go Down, Moses, The Adventures of Angie Marsh, The Crying of Lot 49, Song of Solomon, Love Medicine.

 But I wonder, what about Catch 22?  Uncle Tom's Cabin? Gone with the Wind? A River Runs Through It? In Cold Blood? The Naked and the Dead? Look Homeward Angel? The Sound and The Fury or Absalom, Absalom? Fahrenheit 451? The Fountainhead? Blue Highways (non-fiction, thank you)?

Hey, I was an english major, but repented.

Of course, my favorite novel, Heart of Darkness, isn't on it because it's English.

Your suggestions?

Attack of the doves

It must be migration time. The doves have invaded the back yard....six or eight at a time, gorging on the feeders, while the Chickadees and Titmice and other small ones try to get in for a meager seed.

Apostrophe catastrophe

By the way, in case you've forgotten "it's" is contraction for "it is"...So small town living may be at "its" best, as long as "it's" not grammar you're talking about.
Apostrophe Catastrophe. High dollar mistake. Labor Day trip to Arcadia, six miles east, and the town, home of the historic red barn on us 66, has put up a new banner advertising itself. Whichever ad or pr agency, or banner company the town used, flunks English. Notice the "it's."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sailor

He's been in my life a long time.

Today. 89 years ago in Comanche, Oklahoma, Michael Henry Clark was born, the fourth of eventual five Clark boys to Erle Thweatt and Cuba Jon Miller Clark. Michael, after whom I have my middle name, is the only survivor of those five boys.
Terrence, Lewis, Rex, Mike and Champ Clark, in the home of their mother Cuba Reasor inWhitesboro, Tex., in 1973.  photo by me. Dad died later that year.

Mike ran away from home in the 30s, hitching a free ride to the east coast, and eventually enlisted in the Navy. In WWII he was a signalman on board PC1212 a sub hunter in the Caribbean.

After the war he went on to earn his bachelors and masters degrees at the University of Colorado, and was called back up to serve in the Koren War, on  LST 975, that landed in the first invasion wave at Inchon. He was on the bridge, under fire, using semaphore flags when it hit the beach. A mortar shell went through the deck a few feet from him, and didn't explode.

He went on to teach English and other subjects in Espanola and other places when I was growing up in Albuquerque. In fact, he was the one who helped move us from Fort Worth to New Mexico, and we often went places with him in New Mexico when I was a kid. 
Mike and I at Bandalier, years ago.
Then he taught English in Ecuador, Iran, Libya, and Mali as a Fulbright before returning to New Mexico and teaching subjects at the Indian Arts Institute in Santa Fe, where he retired.
Terry and Mike on the bridge of his Santa Fe apartment.

Last November, after living in the same apartment for 32 years overlooking the federal cemetery and the Sangre de Cristos, we had to move him to a Veterans home in Colorado, where he is today, in dry dock as it were, but doing well for an old sailor.

Mike and Dad...the war years.
I've learned much about my Dad I didn't know over the past few years, and understand that Mike and Dad must have had a special bond as brothers. especially to give me his name. 
Mike was best man at our wedding at the Nedra Mattucci Gallery in Santa Fe a few years ago.

Happy birthday, sailor. Carpe Diem. Thanks.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

At the art show

First Friday...Susan and Terry, with some of my watercolors in the background at Adelante in Paseo. 34 paintings up through Sept. I'll be there Saturday mornings painting. Photo by Garett Fisbeck, my journalism-photography student extraordinaire.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Shadow of the Cross--watercolor

First Friday, tonight, Paseo--"Shadow of the Cross" Ranchos de Taos" 14 by 11, one of my watercolor paintings exhibited at Adelante! Gallery

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Friday art show

Gate to High Lonesome, 22 by 12, watercolor, 300 pound d'Arches paper. Framed and ready to hang.

First Friday at Paseo tomorrow...all the galleries open, including Adelante Gallery, with 34 of my landscapes.  Come and see, from 5 by 7 to larger than this one.

Adelante--in purple