Icons of the West

When I was a child, westerns were extremely popular in both the television and at the movies.  Cowboys were good (especially if they wore a white hat), Indians were mostly bad, Easterners were idiots and fops, and bankers (who were sometimes Easterners) were evil.  That in a nutshell is the iconic and idealized version of the west, and it perhaps carries a tiny nugget of truth along with a great lump of mythologizing.

Most importantly in the West of the imagination is the cowboy, that lone figure battling against the forces of nature and the encroaching civilization (darn those Easterners).  Armed with a gun and a moral code, bringing law to the lawless frontier, whether it likes it or not.

Here’s a bit of art distilling the essence of the west into a single existential cowboy.   This art resides at the Santa Fe airport, and I am not entirely sure what it means.

Cowboys have to have someone to fight and overcome, so how about a studly Indian.  This guy did not waste his time making arrows and such, he looks as though he hit the gym and worked out everyday.

Every cowboy and Indian needs a horse.  The one the Greeks used to fool the Trojans was not nearly as splendid as this one.

Lest we forget that there were others inhabiting the West, here are some Mariachi ghosts to round out this small tour of icons.

Meh

If this year so far had a theme, it would probably be “meh”.  And the reason is: last December I somehow injured my shoulder, so I haven’t been able to do very much activity.  First, I did the useless physical therapy.  When that didn’t do anything, I got the MRI (note to self: always keep the credit cards far away from the machine to prevent de-magnetization.)

When my regular doctor saw these pictures back in January he said “Huh, I don’t think the bone is supposed to be in that position.”  This was not exactly a comforting statement.

So I was scheduled for surgery at the end of February, just before the big annual orthopedic convention.  But, I got some sort of bug the day before surgery was scheduled, so it was a no go.  My doctor did not learn any new painless techniques at convention, so I got the standard treatment recently.

This is what my shoulder will look like on the inside, except that mine has a new screw in the bone, and the loose bit has been sewed down to this anchor.   So in mere six weeks or more I will be as good as new (or as good as Dr.  Frankenstein can make me).

Ordinary food

I did challenge myself to see if the food I make really looks that bad, so I made everything from the last post.

Here’s my version of a taco salad, lettuce, beans, meat, green onion (I did put in some avocado because the previous one had some), avocado, tomato, tortilla chips, and cheese.   The dressing is salsa and mayo.   It’s an easy recipe and one can add or subtract ingredients to use up whatever is at hand.

Here’s my version of corn soup, it’s rather bland looking in comparison to the restaurant one, but mine has bacon in it, so it wins the contest.  Ingredients are corn, potato, onions, broth and bacon, so the recipe is simple and delicious.

The taco is being propped up by the kitchen shears, which were close at hand.   I don’t have a fancy holder for tacos, but the tacos are okay if a little lopsided.   Meat. salsa, lettuce, tomato and lots of cheese in a commercially made shell.   (Not as tasty as the restaurant ones) 🙁

The stuffed Poblano  pepper does not look nearly as nice as the restaurant version, but both were equally delicious.  Mine has a meat, onion, green chili and bread stuffing, and is disguised in a green chili sauce and plenty of cheese.

Ultimately, I like both kinds of creations:  in restaurant food they need it to look nice (and hopefully taste nice) so that one feels that the food is worth the money, but home cooking means that food is prepared exactly to one’s own preference, and that is a good thing too.

 

 

Beautiful Food

Back when photos required film, I really doubt if many food pictures were taken by ordinary photographers.   Film required that one’s picture be in focus, with correct lighting and then there was the expense and the waiting period for it to be developed, before finding out if the picture was a success.  But with a digital phone it is super easy to take multiple pictures at no cost (other than the cost of having a phone).   Thus there has been a giant boom in both selfies and food pictures.

This is the most ordinary of dishes, a taco salad.   I assure you that one’s I make for myself do not look this beautiful.

Corn soup with heart-shaped chili oil at a fancy restaurant.   Corn soup is a very traditional Native thing.   I often make it from the recipe I got handed down from my grandmother on the Rez    This version was so delicious that I was quite tempted to lick the bowl.

This is also a new taken on an ordinary item, roasted vegetable tacos on freshly made corn tortillas, something I would never make.

I do make stuffed Poblano peppers, but they never look like this (mine are covered in green chili sauce and cheese).   Once again it is the beautiful sauces (tomato and red chili) that made it memorable.

I speculate that part of why we take pictures of food is to remember it (perhaps even in the hope of re-creating it), and the other part is to make our social media friends jealous.  🙂  I hope this worked.

Training

I hate to drive long distances (over four hours away), so after I got to Santa Fe, there was the question of how to get back.   I could take a plane ($$$) to Denver, and then take the shuttle home.   Or I could take the train and see if I still liked it as a way to travel.   I hadn’t taken a train in America in years (at least 35), but I had taken trains in Europe, so I decided to give it a go.

The first issue:  the train doesn’t actually go to Santa Fe (because of the grade), so it was off to Lamy, NM.

The train creeps along a similar, but slightly different path than the interstate (motorway).   I wondered who had lived in these adobe ruins, and how long ago that was.

This ruin was the Casteneda Hotel, built by Fred Harvey to draw tourists to the southwest.  It hasn’t been in use for years, but someone with deep pockets is renovating the place in the hope of attracting rich tourists  (who like to ride the train) again.

The train does feature this lovely observation car so that one can watch the scenery as it goes by.   No photos, but I did see wild turkeys, buffalo, deer, antelope and elk as we rolled along.

This is M’s uncle’s place, and I know that I have posted pictures from the house looking towards the tracks.  That’s Santa Clara mesa in the background.

And I know I have posted lots of pictures of the mound, too bad that it was an overcast day this time.   And you can see that it is dry as a bone there.

The beautiful high plains of New Mexico, with Capulin in the distance.  I never get tired of this view, although I am usually looking at it from the other direction as I come over Raton Pass.   Yes it was definitely a great idea to ride the train this time.

Still more art

There is a certain pleasure in unchanging exhibits at art museums.   It is quite lovely to visit with one’s favorite pieces of art.  When I was a youngster I loved to visit Hosukai’s Great Wave  in it’s hidden corner of the big art museum.  And I thought it was was both beautiful and enigmatic (and a lovely shade of blue).

But there is also something to be said for changing exhibits, especially in a smaller museum, like our local museum.  One never knows what sort of things might be on display:  like these bits of art from Haiti.

I have no idea what this means and all the artistic blather that inspired this piece, I thought it looked interesting (and it was covered in glitter, which is always a good thing).

I do love surrealist art as well.

I had wondered what to do with my collection of tiny plastic figures, here was the answer staring me in the face.

Why not?

Sometimes one has to just surrender to the art.

Cosplay

Halloween only comes once a year, October 31st (although people do sneak in extra parties around this date), so what is a person who likes to dress up to do?   Cosplay offers the opportunity for one to dress up as a myriad of sci-fi and popular culture icons.  Young women favor sexy characters, like Harley Quinn, etc.  but there really wasn’t a way for old people to play too.  Until now.

Star Wars created the opportunity for some great cosplay, this was a temporary booth where one could rent fancy dress, be an empress for a day.

But for some costumes one has to have the build to wear them.   If you’re tall, and wish to be anonymous, how about Chewbacca?  And you don’t have to say anything.

Then there is dressing up as an old Luke Skywalker and princess Admiral Leia?   (And save the rather chilly slavegirl Leia outfit for the very young women).

 

He seemed a little tall for a Han Solo, but obviously was having fun with it, and I suppose that is the main point of doing this.

More Inspiration

Although my town is in always in the shadow of the metropolis to the north, we do get the occasional bits of interesting things happening.   Besides getting to see Lynda Barry, this month also offered a chance to see in person some artwork from another artist that I admire, but only know from the internet.  And it was fabulous!

This is a picture that I took from a video installation (sorry for the picture quality, I am an indifferent photographer).  Chiho Aoshima does these anthropomorphic high-rise buildings, mixed with images from Japanese folklore.

It makes me want to squee with adorableness of these buildings.

But there is a fly in the ointment, a mythological figure turns into a cloud of black smoke and then the volcano erupts in this paradise.

Alien ships appear.  Notice that the foreground is a cemetery, yikes.  And what does it all mean?

A floating deity appears briefly in  a cloud.

Then a  tsunami knocks over some of the buildings, and makes the rest wobble about.

Bad things are happening, the black and white building grows legs and gets up to move because things are so bad.   But the standing buildings grow construction cranes to repair themselves, the sky clears and the rainbow returns.

There’s a happy ending, until it starts all over again, much like life.

Inspiration

Back in 2014 I decided that I wanted to go to Europe, and that it would be nice to combine this trip with some sort of workshop or real reason to be there.   So I came up with two great choices:  One was learn to write a blog, with the author of the blog Spitalfields Life.  This was a two day workshop in London (and this is why this blog exists).  My other choice, was eight days over two weeks in France, to learn to write cartoons.   As I speak terrible French and could not leave Miss Dog in the kennel for too long I decided on London.

So later I was going to take a class in New York state from this second choice, I had signed up and paid my money, but Miss Dog was ill and I was afraid to leave her lest she die in my absence.  So I had never seen this artist in person until now and I was really excited to have the opportunity to see her right here in town.  The snow didn’t materialize, and it was two wonderful hours of hearing Lynda Barry speak.

She has moved from drawing about life, to the intersection of neuroscience and art, which are two things that I like.

And I love that she shares some of my obsessions, like octopi,  blackbirds, chickens and ghosts.

I did say that she was inspiration too, here is a page from my first collage book, which she kindly signed.

I had shown this page to the author of Spitalfields Life last November, and he mentioned that he had gone to the same college as the poet, just 400 years apart.  🙂  (So they never got to hang out together).

It was fabulous to see her in the flesh  and hear her talk.  And I decided that if I ever get a chance to take a workshop with her I must seize the opportunity.  (Maybe).

 

 

 

More Art

The local public university, which started out years ago as an extension of the state university, located in an old unused tuberculosis hospital, has slowly been expanding into the surrounding area.  And that is good, because there just was not enough *#*^!+# parking at the main site.  And one of the expanding things that the university has is a new art gallery space in a theater building.  The inaugural show has just been hung, so I stopped in to check it out.  I missed the actual opening, and this is good because there were apparently 650 people crammed into the space for this (and it certainly means I would have missed out on the wine and nibbles).

I have paint cans and other bits of stuff laying about in my garage, why didn’t I ever think of displaying them like this?  (Oh, it’s because I would trip over the strings).   What you can’t see in this picture is that there was a barrier to prevent any mishaps.

The woman barely visible in this shot is studying to be a curator, so that she can put together shows like this one.

The artist only needed two colors of paint to finish this one.

I guess he forgot that paint runs.

This one is made up of multiple canvases,  painted together to make a work large enough to cover the entire wall of this gallery.  And me and the other two people at the show got to enjoy the works without any art talk to distract us.   😉