"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.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The books of July

I just reserved the latest Harry Potter book from Best of Books in Edmond.
Not for my grandkids, but for me is J.K. Rowling's, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
I'll drive over to the book store about midnight Saturday to see the kids dressed up to get theirs, since it is released at 12:01 July 31. I've done this for all the others through the years, and I'm excited.
It's not a novel though, but a play. Ah creativity. And when I'm through, the grandchildren can have it. But I won't finish it before the end of the month, like I have four other books this month.
Most recently completed was by Mitch Albom of Tuesday's With Morey. It's the time keeper, a fable about the man who cursed us by inventing time, and how we're controlled by time in everything we do. Think about it, and more on that later. We listened to the four CD set on our way to and from New Mexico.
On that trip to New Mexico, in our favorite town at the base of our favorite mountains, the Truchas, we found a little book, another fable, by a Truchas artist, in the High Raod Marketplace.
 It's all about art--Mauve Sky, Yellow House by artist Judith Hert, with paintings by "Morris Mouse." This book also stretches your mind with her/his paintings and fable.
Before that, browsing Best of Books, I picked up my first book by well known western writer C.J. Box. Shots Fired, short stories set in Wyoming, some featuring his main character Joe Picket.
And earlier in the month, I found there  another book, by the super creative Austin Kleon of Steal Like an Artist, titled Show your Work. 

Two fables, two about art and creativity, and some fiction. All inspirational and idea-spurring--a good month, with Harry Potter coming up.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The colors of enchantment

Ghost Ranch in New Mexico--Georgia O'Keefe country. The colors and landscapes of enchantment. 
Everywhere you turn there are dramatic landscapes and colors to spur the imagination. Ancient geology of millions of years on full display, always changing under the ever-fluid light of the vast sky.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Out here there's the sky--New Mexico

Storm building over the Jemez
"The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monotonous and still, — and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world. The plain was there, under one’s feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud. Even the mountains were mere ant-hills under it. Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. The landscape one longed for when one was away, the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!" --Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

New Mexico gets in your soul. Called the "Land of Enchantment," I find it more the land of the Spirit.
This last trip after a long absence made me more aware than ever, especially the skies, as the monsoon season arrives and the clouds build over the mountains.
Thunderheads building over the Sangre de Cristos.
I wrote, "As dramatic and sometimes "tortured" the vast raw landscape is, the sky and clouds exaggerate, multiply and dwarf it. The mountains are but the blue pedestals upon which they grow."
Three years ago I wrote about not wanting to live in a land of "cloudless day" as in the words of the old Gospel song, "Today's clouds and living in texture." 
Penitente morada at Abiquiu
As a child of the Great Plains and the Southwest, I can think of nothing more boring. Sure, it's a metaphor, but peace and beauty only come from dramatic contrasts, not uniform sameness. Actually, the clouds and skies of New Mexico accent the ancient land and its religions.
Georgia O'Keefe's Perdenal
New Mexico is the land of the sky. There's even a 1948 book, Sky Determines by Ross Calvin, in my New Mexico collection.
For years and many articles I have attributed a quote to Willa Cather, and discovered I'd made it up, and nobody had challenged me. She didn't write it, so I guess it's mine if someone else hasn't already written it, though it summarizes her great writing in Death Comes for the Archbishop.
"Out here there's the sky." 
 This multitude of photos on different roads from last week gives only a small idea of  how and why the New Mexico sky is so powerful in the physical and spiritual world, creating wonder. 
Evening sky looking north from the Rio Chama bosque, Abiquiu

Friday, July 22, 2016

Portrait of the artist, old and young

Portrait of the artist as an old man, New Mexico
--Photo at Abiquiu, 2016, Susan Henry Clark
For many years, I ignored my heritage...art.
My father was an accomplished, if unknown, portrait and landscape artist, and he let us boys dabble in art when we were young. 
Art seemed natural. We grew up around it every day of  our lives...paintings and portraits on the walls, his drive to have a studio, no matter where we lived.
I inherited that, and ignored it, till about 20 years ago, urged by my first wonderful wife to take watercolor lessons. Since then I've continued, with ups and downs, and successes and failures and encouragements from my second wonderful wife and others. 
Plein aire subject, Aibquiu
And for my grandchildren wanting to paint when they come to our house, unaware of the genetic talent they have from their great grandfather.
Thank you, Dad, for getting us to New Mexico, for putting art around us all the time, and for my loved ones for knowing what I didn't know.
Early morning work, watercolor
Portrait of the artist as a young man--Terrence M. Clark photo, 1947

The Russians are here

Coffee with Clark page hits this week
I have no idea why, but the number of hits on this blog in the past two days has skyrocketed, because of good people in Russia.
I haven't even written about Russia, that country that lost 9 million people defending their country from Hitler. Even though this is is a non-political blog, I wonder if they wonder what's happening in this country, when the great Russian chess master Kasperov, compares Trump to Putin and Hitler.
Don't know, but welcome Russians, and a toast to freedom loving people everywhere who fear the iron fist of ego-driven authoritarian government.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I am journalism...and so can you

First newspaper in America, shut down after one issue, 1690
I asked earlier this year to teach a new class--history of journalism, which is no longer required and hasn't been taught in a few years--not my decision.
Our new chair, Dr. Mary Carver agreed, after I told her I'd teach anything else if it didn't "make." (We have to have 15 students for a class to "make.").
How do you make it "make"? History shouldn't be boring, so I have to make it compelling. I don't use an overpriced textbook (wait, that's redundant). There's so much available online today.
So I adopted the phrase from Colbert's book to help advertise this on an electronic poster in our building: "I am journalism...and so can you," to help offset the daunting "History of Journalism" course title.
But, I may have bitten off more than I can chew. There's so much to cover in such a short time (15 weeks, meeting twice a week for 1.25 hours.
In fairness to my students, many of them asked for the course when we were covering parts of history in other classes (Live from Baghdad, George Orwell, Ed Murrow, etc.). "We don't know this. We need this."
So I'm having to work some this summer to put it together, and that included putting it on Facebook for suggestions, which I got a load of ideas and inspiration from journalists, professors, former students and friends, both from UCO and OSU.
How to make it compelling and memorable?
Hint, it starts with a clip from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" about Hunter S. Thompson and the discussion begins with "Is this journalism? What is journalism?"
Then we go into the meat. With advice from friends and former students, very little time will be spent on traditional history, getting bogged down in the 1800s and early 1900s. Remember, the year 2000 is history to my students today.
So they need perspective, themes, influences, people.
Here's the first rough outline:

2.5 weeks--including syllabus /history outline, technology--themes
  • Fear and Loathing
  • what is journalism-Bon Jour
  • skim
  • Colonial
  • handset
  • public occurrences
  • printing press
  • Franklins
  • Thomas Paine
  • Federalist
  • Zenger
  • First Amendment--why?
  • roll of press in revolution
2.5  weeks--
  • party press
  • penny press
  • dailies
  • steam power
  • telegraph
  • wire services
  • Civil War
  • westward
  • Cherokee phoenix/advocate

2.5 weeks

  • Linotype
  • black press, suffrage press
  • Hearst and Pulitizer-business
  • yellow journalism/muckraking
  • chains
  • cartoons
  • photography
  • electricity
  • radio, Orson Wells
  • Depression--lang, et al
  • war correspondents--WWI, WWII
  • magazines
  • Oklahoma

2.5 weeks

  • TV,
  • red scare
  • Nixon /JFK debate
  • Civil rights
  • Supreme Court /Times v Sullivan
  • 'Nam/gonzo
  • underground
  • chains
  • Watergate
  • computers
  • space
4 weeks 
  • telecommunications act
  • Internet
  • cable--Turner, Murdoch
  • decline of papers and networks
  • wars
  • terrorism
  • phones
  • social/citizen journalism
  • student mini-reports

1 week flex time, tests

15 weeks, 2x a week

List of themes, discussion questions, writing-viewing assignments, student reports, terms, visuals and videos to come

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Landmark of the sad state of Oklahoma

Landmarks: the State Capital building from inside the Blue Belle Saloon
If there is a symbol of Oklahoma's sorry condition, it may be the historic old State Capital printing building in Guthrie.
This is personal to me for two reasons. I have many fond memories of the place, having taken University of Central Oklahoma journalism and photography students there when it was The State Capital Publishing Museum. And I'm a newspaper man.
It's full of antique hot metal publishing equipment, presses and more, dating from pre-statehood. It had operating Linotypes, job presses and more, which delighted my students as a peek into the early days of journalism in this state. 
My students in editing and advanced editing classes on field trips helped with printing and more, getting  hands-on education. You can literally smell history inside.

Then several years ago, the boiler in the building quit and the state and Historical Society couldn't afford to replace it. It's been closed since.
I read  a valuable article by Laura Eastes in this week's Oklahoma Gazette, "Historic Guthrie building's future is uncertain," about a possible developer wanting it, and the city wanting it to be restored as a museum.
That brought to mind a recent visit to Guthrie, an easy Saturday trip on the back roads, and we ate at the
It's a sad sign for our state
equally historic and reopened Blue Belle Saloon,  just across the street from the impressive old building. That's when I took these photos, waiting for a prompt to write about them. 
To me, the dangling sign on the front of the locked and decaying building says everything about the sad state of Oklahoma.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Getting there, fourth try

Watercolor is always an experiment in learning...I won't duplicate the photo,but I'll try to capture the essence

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Head in the clouds, and paint

Photo by Susan
We saw this beautiful thunderhead building west of Oklahoma City  this week. It just demands to be painted, if you've grown up on the Great Plains.
Or at least try to paint it, which is sort of my holiday weekend ordeal.
So far, two tries, and obviously from the flaws, more to come.
Here are the stages of the first one, and the completed larger second one. This deserves better. Time to start over.