New Mexico Musings
New Mexico is beautiful, and Taos is a small town. Believe it or not, rush hour claims traffic!
For such a small town, Taos has an amazing number of art galleries. It would seem even more galleries than Portland. The displays are primarily landscapes with a few figurative works cloaked with a Southwest theme. Some of the portrayals will have a face that is disguised, and sometimes the renderings are portraits. Some of the art depicts traditional native women with their babies swaddled alongside them as they tirelessly pull corn off cobs while the men stand by a wall with Mexican blankets hung in the background. I could create a contemporary piece of peeps in a Portland backyard “Portlandia” depicting men and women with tattoos and beers pulling corn off the cob. At the Harwood Museum in Taos, I did see just two figurative pieces by an artist who was a member of the established Taos Art Colony during the early 20th Century. I'm not sure if it was an engraving or an etching. I enjoyed seeing a figurative piece in the nude of a person lying on the bed relaxing in the summer breeze. Still another image was of a woman on the floor bent over reading a book.
The numerous displayed landscapes -- and yes, many are pretty good – with higher prices do seem to sell. Spring season is slow. The busy seasons are summer and fall.
Experience is a ride indeed
I recently attended The Hellene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos New Mexico as an artist in residency. Attending artists are of different disciplines and backgrounds from around the globe. Each artist is given a studio, time away from home, and the chance to explore Northern New Mexico. The talented bunch included poets, writers, film, and script writers. Artist-in-residence programs and other residency opportunities exist to invite artists, academicians, curators, and all manner of creative people for a time and space away from their usual environment and obligations. They provide a time of reflection, research, presentation and/or production. Some residencies are short stays and some are longer. This particular one here in Taos that I attended was 12 weeks.
The residency has 12 cabins – or casitas -- spaced about one-half acre apart from each other. The casitas are rustic and old, but at least they are functional. The original house is a gem from the 20th Century. The structure is filled with beautiful antiques and furnishings from when Helene passed in the 1960's, and the residency has kept the building nicely intact. I like to imagine the spirits of Georgia O’Keefe and Mabel Dodge walking through the halls with high eyebrows. There is a baby grand piano situated in the living room (like my mom would have had) with book shelves and stacks of music sheets revealing an occasional feather dusting. The kitchen is huge and features the original stove from the 1950's. Gawd, that stove looks like a 1950's style car! It was an intrigue and an interesting tour to see collections of native artifacts dating back at least one thousand years.
Feeling lonely, I met a few other fellows at the residency. We shared cordiality. I knew a couple of friends while attending. One person, originally from Portland, who has done the residency fell in love with Taos before deciding to move here. We occasionally met for drinks. Another friend I reconnected with is an old family friend who lives in Albuquerque. For many years, she and her husband would go skiing over the weekend, and we have kept in contact through Facebook and occasionally invited out for drinks. It was nice to anticipate, participate, and recognize some very interesting intellectual and educational conversations.
Once a week, on Thursdays suggested by one of the fellows, some of the artists of the residency would come and mingle in the common house of the campus. Potluck, wine or pizza would be shared. Sometime we would talk and get acquainted and become familiar with one another while getting to know the purposes for attending the residency. They were all very nice people from various backgrounds and disciplines, and we enjoyed some very interesting, intellectual, and educational conversations together. We also indulged in a bit of gaga and complaints. By the way, I was the only guy in the residency among 10 other women. Not all were attending the weekly mingle at the common house. There was one other gentleman who didn’t seem to want to attend the weekly. One fellow had complained he didn’t like the dishes, utensils, and cookware so she went out to buy herself a whole new set. I have feeling that she was a bit strange or weird about things. I loved the old stuff in my casita. I had cherished them, as they were all good energy from the many artists who have previously attended the residency every season for the past 50 years. I wish the pots and pans and utensils would speak or share their stories about the various attending artists.
One of the fellows here has been residency hopping from place to place. It's amusing, as she is a poet and must be good in order to get accepted into the residencies all over the USA and Europe. She has been to 30 -- really? She was only here for about a month before receiving an opportunity to attend a residency in Rome. I didn’t know she had already left.
Foreign reflection revealed
The weekly mingle at the common house where there is internet was interesting and fun. Sometimes we would watch a movie. Many of the fellows were script writers and film producers, visual artists / filmmakers, and probably watched a ton of movies. It seemed they liked to observe and share foreign films because of the way the movies were scripted and filmed, especially, Yorgos Lanthimos, a Greek director and producer. I enjoyed the foreign films too, as some were funny and some were just plain strange and weird. Foreign films, some Avant-Garde, portray the character support both good or bad, primarily confusing, weird, strange, and with psychological issues: Classically tragic. International Film Festivals and Cannes Film Festivals include some funny films and some odd films. These include Mr. Hulot's Holiday; The Seventh Seal, the 1957 Fantasy/Drama film, Diabolique, or Federico Fellini, to name a few. My favorite was Walkabout.
Other suggested movies included Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos; a Greek foreign film with English subtitles, and The Lobster, also by Yorgos Lanthimos.
Dogtooth was about a controlling, manipulative father (Christos Stergioglou) who locks his three adult offspring in a state of perpetual childhood by keeping them prisoner within the sprawling family compound. The children are bored to tears in spite of distractions like Christina (Anna Kalaitzidou), an employee of their father, who makes regular visits to sexually service the son (Hristos Passalis). Increasingly curious about the outside world, the older daughter (Aggeliki Papoulia) hatches a plan to escape.
The Lobster is set in a dystopian society where single people must find a mate within 45 days or be transformed into an animal of their choice.
The two shared movies were strange, weird, and bizarre and included psychological issues and the concerns of negative implications of people’s lives. I woke up in the middle of the night from strange dreams and couldn’t sleep after watching those movies. I think had I been subliminally affected subconsciously? It seems these movies had a kink to implicate how it could affect the viewers, and the results the films imply and do to us. I wonder if the fellow who liked to share these movies could be creating scripts and movies this bizarre. Not for me, as I would suggest them to Psychologists, or kink and fetish therapists. I prefer sex comedies, lol. Take care of yourself, be cautious, gentle and kind, and have fun! It’s interesting how foreign films would educate and share the personalities of other characters in the story as well as show the viewer their understanding of what is really going on in the real world. Some would recognize it as a message, a story, an analogy, or just a plain confusing thing for two to be discussing with one another about the films over a late night coffee at a café before going home and to have sex. Lol.
To be continued.
Christopher B Mooney
REALLY I want to inspire you about the intricacies of the art world, its forms, and people. And I want to share the fascinating -- and somewhat mysterious -- aspects of my journey as an artist.