Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tired Angel 2000

I recently ran into an old friend, Bruce Davis, at an opening and we reminisced about the series of photographs that I had taken of him in 1999. He asked if I would send him some of those images so he could use them for his profile image on Facebook. I happily agreed, then forgot all about it as so often happens now with my not functioning quite as well as it used to older brain.  Then, while sitting and working on my computer today, this image cycled in as my screen saver:  Bruce, mirrored sunglasses in place, a true Contemporary Angel--exhausted and burdened with wings so heavy and so weighty that he can barely stand, worn out from the never ending job of just trying to do his job.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Woman with Her Own Coyote 2015

I've written in this blog before about my love/hate relationship with coyotes, my main issue being that I am the owner of a small, intense, rat terrier who thinks he can, with no assistance from anyone, take down and kill any coyote that crosses his path.  This, of course, is felonious.  He is clearly forgetting the time he was caught, carried, and then dropped by a coyote when the coyote heard my husband's shouts. 

My love relationship with coyotes is based on the fact that they are wild, smart as hell, incredibly athletic, and just all around wonderful, surviving, like crows, by co-existing with their horrible neighbors, us humans.   I like to think this coyote and I share some things in common: we both have the same expressions--wily, knowing, and calm; we are both pragmatic and sensible creatures; we both like to watch more than to be watched; and we both wear Dansko clogs on our shapely, muscular legs.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Man with an Ax 1998



I've spent the last several weeks scanning many of my old black and white negatives and putting them into my computer.  It's been a long and interesting journey, seeing so many images from my past, and at the same time trying to figure out just which photos I should take the time and energy to convert to digital--there are thousands of negatives to choose from.  Almost all of my photographs were taken with the idea of doing something more to them, none were ever shown "as is". What interests me now, in going through them, is what I was trying, unknowingly, to capture.

I've found three recurrent themes that run through these photographs: the first reflects a kind of awkwardness, that moment when things are just that much out of kilter, wrong but not drastically so;  the second is a sense of ominousness; and the third is, often times, one of sadness or worry.  There are sweet images, ones of friends or family or pets, but they tend to be the minority, and not the ones I used.  What I'm seeing now is that the altered, painted image distilled what the original photo was about and boosted it, underscoring the awkwardness or the fear or the loneliness.

I have a vague idea that is formulating about how to use these photographs once again, but I am and am not the person I was 20-30 years ago. This may be the start of a new visual journey for me, or it may be no more then looking back through the black and white scrap book of my life.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Arab Show 1979

I've spent the last week scanning many of my old black and white negatives into my computer.  It's been wonderful--taking a long and extensive trip into my fairly distant past(I started with my first camera when I was nine and stopped shooting film in 2004 ).  A good number of my negatives are of the large horse events in and around Phoenix in the late 70's and early 80's.  Many of the horse people, especially the Arab and gaited horse people, have a love of pretense and and kind of sleaziness that was intensely attractive to me.

I took this photograph and then painted with gouache over it. I subsequently gave the painted photo to my dealer as a gift, and she turned around and sold it soon after.  I was hurt by her selling it so promptly. Of course, she might have just needed the money and/or not liked the image.  I had kept no record of it, but I remember that I had loved the painting and had assumed she would do the same.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Nick Teasing 1981

In the fuzzy reaches of my memory, sometime around the age of 8-9, I can remember my mother and father getting a divorce. My next memories are of Nick appearing in our lives.  An artist, Greek, emotional, a great cook, and just generally fun to be with, he took our little family's stilted identity and shook it hard.  There were emotional outbursts, there were wild rides in our 49 chevy pickup truck through the pinon trees, and there were dinners filled with good food and many different friends, and lots and lots of laughter.  He and my mother married and he remained my stepfather for the next 20 years until he and my mother divorced, bitterly.

Nick is now 88 and living in assisted living.  His mind is going fast, on a faster downhill slide than his body, which is still fairly healthy.  We had great hopes for him in assisted living, a lovely place full of activities and active, interesting older people.  But this has not happened.  He is constantly in hot water with the establishment:  sunbathing in his underpants in the large central courtyard, letting his little dog Koukla loose to poop and go after other dogs(that are on leashes), then forgetting and leaving her outside to roam and upset people.  He gets lost on a regular basis, forgets his walker, and has alienated many of the female residents by his liberal use of  the word  "fuck".  Koukla has been banned, and he is heartbroken.  Cracks are beginning to appear between family members working to figure out what is best as we inch toward the possibility of Nick being booted out of his current home. 

I emailed a friend whose ex-husband, a victim of Alzheimer's,  died recently to ask her about his last accommodations, a place called the Retreat, here in Albuquerque.  Her response was positive, but what she said at the end of her email is what stayed with me the most , "This whole process is so hard and so sad".  And she is so right.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Black Eye 1998 and 2016


                                                                                             *photo by Andrea Wallace
In 1998, while playing soccer, my face got in the way of the ball. The result was a black eye that lingered for about two weeks, going from black to purple to red, and finally fading away. Two weeks ago, our youngest daughter was mugged in a smash and grab by a young woman.  The bruise is just now starting to fade away.

We are discovering that people are reacting very differently to Teal's black eye than they did to mine. While my eye was healing, I found that people wouldn't look at me, assuming that my black eye was the result of some kind of domestic abuse.  This was not just in stores, but even at parties, and other places where I knew people.  It seemed that if someone made eye contact with me then they would have to ask, very simply, "What happened to you?" and they just didn't want to go there.   When I asked Teal how people were reacting to her black eye, and her story was quite different,  "I'm getting tired of telling people what happened.  I wish they wouldn't ask". She works as a server at a very nice restaurant and she said that about half of her customers ask what happened, the other half don't.  I don't know if this difference is because she is younger than I was when I got my black eye(I was in my 40's), or if it's a sign that now, 18 years later, we are just more aware and sympathetic--less afraid to go to those dark places. I hope it's the latter.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

After the Flood 2016

 On March 16, of this year, after a morning bike ride with my friend Susan Zimmerman, I trotted out to the studio in my bike garb(cleated shoes, Lycra pants and top)to gather the trash to be picked up that day.  With a "what's wrong with this picture" feeling, I saw that water was pouring out of the front door.  Inside I could hear a roaring noise, which turned out to be the inlet valve to the hot water heater. Water was gushing out and had been for some 12-14 hours.

In a panic, I had to figure out how to turn the water off( it turns out to be not such an easy task)and then call the plumber.  The plumber, a neighbor and a friend, made it from the other side of the city in 20 minutes.  Once there, he directed me to call our insurance company, saying that they would get the ball rolling, and they did.
The insurance company called Steamatic, and they came within the hour.  Within a few hours we had emptied the studio of water, repaired the faulty pipe, and set up ten huge electric fans and two large dehumidifiers, which were to run for about a week, drying things out as best they could.
The next step was to cut the drywall on the exterior walls about a foot and 1/2 up from the floor and remove the insulation which supposedly wicks the moisture and can cause mold. I had my doubts about this happening, but, at the same time, didn't want to take any chances.
The drywall was then replaced and taped.  The dry wall mudders were next in line, and they arrived and made a huge mess.  When they finished, there was dried white mud everywhere, and white footprints all around the studio floor.  They used my utility sink to empty their dirty water, which backed up and wouldn't drain.  Adding insult to injury, they smoked inside the studio, their empty food wrappers(mostly candy)and cigarette butts everywhere.  The job had to be redone and then cleaned up.
As terrible as the mudders were, the painters were just that wonderful.  Perhaps because we all spoke the language of paint, I felt an immediate affinity with them, a family business of brothers, uncles and nephews.  They were good spirited, funny, and able to do things with their brushes that I can only dream of.
And then there were the Steamatic guys:  Albert(on the right) was with me from the very first hour of getting everything back.  Warm, kind, and sympathetic, they were extremely careful in everything they did, especially in the handling of my art.  My husband and I had removed it all from the studio so that the workers could do their work, and the Steamatic guys helped me put it all back, no mean feat(think four truckloads to the garage and back, all having to go back in a systematic order).
Since I had to keep working through all of this, I set up in our living room.  It worked fine, and I liked the close proximity to the refrigerator, but I had to be careful about not making a mess.

My studio, on the left, pre-flood, on the right, post.  Leaner, cleaner, stripped down of 22 years of accumulated artist type hoarding.




None of my art was damaged.  I had everything in storage units that rest about four inches off the floor.  What was damaged was replaceable, and insurance covered most of it.  We had a $1000 deductible, and except for a minor skirmish with the insurance company they paid for everything above the deductible, probably between 6-7000 dollars.  It was six weeks almost to the day from the event to me moving back in. I've spent the time since organizing and eliminating as much as I can, all the while being absolutely certain that I'm tossing something irreplaceable.  The flood wasn't something I would wish on anyone, however, it certainly wasn't the worst thing that could have happened. In the big scale of bad stuff that happens, this was only a tiny tiny blip on the cosmic meter.