100 Day Project: Week 14

100 Day Project, Projects

Day 92: April 22

Lines.

Day 93: April 23

Where did this day go? It’s amazing how long and short the days are.

Day 94: April 24

Literally put one line down today. I’m so frustrated. Nothing feels right. No idea I’m working on is coming together right. Binging tv instead.

Day 95: April 25

Bringing some ideas full circle.

Day 96: April 26

Finished up a piece from yesterday with lines. So close.

Day 97: April 27

Nada to say.

Day 98: April 28

98/100 Days

100 Day Project: Week 13

100 Day Project, Projects

Day 85: April 15

The end is nigh! Nigh! I’m so excited. It’s like a light went on. I’m seeing possibilities on blank paper today.

Day 86: April 16

Why didn’t I find paint circles sooner in this process? Decided to use extra paint left over in a circle and it went down a new rabbit hole.

Day 87: April 17

lines. If I learned nothing else, I learned to sooth myself by making lines and letting my headspace fall away. That lesson I do not want to lose. When I’m stuck. I can just make lines until I unstick. And the exercise rarely fails. It’s soothing and loosens my creativity.

Day 88: April 18

I’m stuck on my painting so I’m using the 100 Day to work out a problem. That’s a new development.

Day 89: April 19

Exploring whatever I feel at this point. Trying not to overthink.

Day 90: April 20

Not exactly productive. Feeling stuck at the same stage on all pieces. Meanwhile I’m completely engrossed in stripping a canvas for reuse.

Day 91: April 21

Oh… wow! Wow! Wow! I cannot believe we are here.

100 Day Project: Week 12

100 Day Project, Projects

Day 78: April 8

I promise I worked on it.

Day 79: April 9

Where do the days go! Blink and they cascade. Playing more with feathers.

Day 80: April 10

Feathers. I found my bag of feathers to explore.

Day 81: April 11

I should probably do something about posting last week.

Ok… I did it! I really procrastinated on that one. Other than that hurdle… still playing with feathers.

… and was inspired and industrious today. That’s the lesson isn’t it. To just keep showing up day after day. Through all the mood variations and life obstacles.

Day 82: April 12

Take the productivity when it comes. Because it goes. I cannot do anything right today! I throw in the towel.

Day 83: April 13

A very late start today. I mean my days flipped somewhere. I have an hour left in the day to do something.

Another successful Day in Isolation.

Day 84: April 14

I don’t have to love everything that I create.

84/100 Days

Thoughts in Isolation

Art Journal, Self Reflection

Friday, March 27, 2020

Day 1: I cried yesterday. Somewhere in Minnesota we reached the boreal forest and it felt like being suffocated. I dreamed so long of traveling (without the means of doing so). My heart irrational. I cried “I know all these trees!”

On the other hand I have a home to come to. Both physically and geographical. When times were difficult before, when I had no where to go, or no money, or the relationship was over; I had that in my father’s land. And I have that now. An imperfect home in the woods. Walls, roof and heat.

Today we unpack. Do laundry. Assess the winter damage: one bedroom, the drywall of the ceiling partially collapsed and water damage to the floor. Something wrong with the stink stack. The kitchen faucet is partially broke. The shower head is completely shattered and the pipes are damaged in the wall. Somehow the wood shed is still standing, against expectations. The dishwasher isn’t quite right. Something in the switch. I found thistle seed stashes. Somebody (or somebodies) small and furry is living in my home.

News: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is Covid-19 positive with mild symptoms.

News: Our President is making it personal with the Governor of Michigan. Suppliers are being told not to send supplies, even when the President stated governors should procure their own.

I am afraid now, more than ever. I am more angry than I’ve ever been. I am helpless. I took a long bath, my first in eight months. I can’t get calm. I’m going to go for a nap. To try to get out from these overwhelming feelings. I have too many people working in nursing. I am breaking down. I cry, seeing their faces. Terrified for them.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Day 2: The cat doesn’t stop crying. He bellows in empty rooms. He may be channeling my feelings. I was weepy and I’m now hollowed out. I can’t even go out to escape. There’s no escape. My body escapes for me. Drowsiness comes down often. This is the life of the damaged. My brain takes care of me by putting me to sleep.

News: the President declares a state of emergency for Michigan. They send 1000 N95 Masks. It’s a hysterically low number. I take solace in governor Coumo’s daily briefings. He’s the leader in this crisis.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day 3: Anger. I’ve always despised Sundays and Holidays because of the limits put on what you can and cannot go and do. But now every day feels like a Sunday. If I could sleep through till this was over I would, but I can’t and I shouldn’t. I’ve already slid too far into the comforts of sleep. Instead I’m going to try to set some daily expectations for myself.

Coffee & 100 Day Project

Clean Something

Read

Art

Today I cleaned one area in the kitchen. Which led to some open shelves. Good enough. More than I set out to do.

News: the President accused New York hospitals of nefarious activity with PPE in the corona task force news conference. Every day I listen to that and to Governor Coumo. Thank the stars for Fauci and Coumo.

Monday March 30, 2020

Day 4: Hope is a tender thing. Hope is a small newborn babe. Hope is a fire in night. Hope. My husband had an interview this morning. It sounds like a job offer is coming, for after the Covid-19 crisis. There’s hope in this darkness. Hope can crush a human under its enormous weight. Hope can be dashed. I wait in the wilderness with hope in my heart.

News: Yesterday the President announced 30 more days of Social Distancing.

Coffee and failed attempt at 100 Day Project

News

Got internet access

Cleaned out bookcase and purged books

Napped

Tried to watch Pet Cemetery

Ran away and worked on The Painting, it goes well

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Day 5: More overcast days than sunny moments, the weather is concurrent with my oppressed mood. The cat continues to cry. Yowls if he cannot see me. Sometimes I drug him with catnip to get it to stop. He is unhappy.

People are expressing feelings of derealization on social media. Welcome to the world of trauma my friends. Only, we are just getting started. My trauma responses are in full gear. Numbness. Sleeping long hours. Fatigue. Loss of interest. Derealization. The only way is through. The way through is to try a little every day to be human until the fog lifts. Go through the motions until they aren’t motions. Set little attainable goals.

News: The administration “believes” the peak of cases will hit in two weeks.

Coffee and the motions of the 100 Day Project

Forced myself to clean a couple walls and two shelves. That’s enough of that.

Bath

Reading

Weight of drowsiness overtook me: nap

Coumo and then Trump news briefings

Staring at a wall

Cut paper for Polaroid project

April 1, 2020

Day 6: My mental health is unraveling. It is a chore to get myself to do things. I let off Instagram and my Charley Lakes Studio Facebook page . Fine. I am trying to get the fortitude to work on the Polaroid project. I’m barely putting effort forth into the 100 Day Project. I’m sleeping in and napping. I know this headspace well. And it is not a good place. This is not where I thought I’d be last week. I’m fighting my way through.

News: Florida finally has a “stay at home” order. Kurt fixed the shower.

Coffee and 100 Day Project (posted last weeks blog) while listening to NPR updates.

Leftover pancakes and Coumo briefing. Which I turned off. I felt my body descend into drowsiness. That’s enough.

Read

Nap

Cleaned off kitchen cupboard fronts: literally the least I could commit to

Stare out the window

Watch “Witcher” and cut paper. I have no idea what is going on. What is the plot?

April 2, 2020

Day 7: The sun shines. I feel lighter. I drink coffee and explore social media. I am appalled at the ridiculous conspiracy theories on tap. Like the time I read a thick book on why atheists were right (I turned agnostic), I come out of this time absolutely sure conspiracy theorists are dead wrong. I’ve had enough. Everyone seems to have their favorite. As though the reality of this world isn’t fantastic enough. Reality is far more amazing than given credit. Maybe we need more arts and sciences. To sit in wonder of the mundane without need of some spectacular shadowy double truth.

News: Michigan officially suspends the K-12 school year. The Democratic National Convention moved to August.

Coffee & 100 Day Project & NPR podcasts: productive

Can’t get the Coumo briefing to play.

Read

Nap

Polaroid Project

Witcher… finished it. I think I get it. Maybe.

April 3, 2020

Day 8: The days blur. Woke up well after noon. Oops. I watch people on social media, who weren’t taking the situation serious, change their tune. I hate cleaning. And I hate having a messy house. Conundrums.

News: Etsy sent out a request asking for its makers to make masks.

Coffee & 100 Day Project

Stare out the window

Polaroid project

Refuse to nap… sort of watch a movie and start a tv show: “the expanse”

Life is becoming so small…

April 4, 2020

Day 9: My vessel facilitates anger. I vibrate with it. I am nobody. I, and everyone I know, we are acceptable losses to the capitalist gods of greed. What a better world this would be if we weren’t tethered to live in an expansion economy. There must be other ways we can live? Surely???

News: no news intake, need mental space today

Coffee & slow simmering anger

100 Day Project

Polaroid Project

Thought long and hard about cleaning… not today!

Binge watching “The Expanse” (don’t judge me. I’ve not watched anything since October)

April 5, 2020

Day 10: The snow is going away fast. When we arrived home, our house was snowed in. We had to break a trail through deep snow to haul necessities in. Now? The driveway is mud.

News: Texas issues “stay at home order”

Coffee & 100 Day Project

A walk

getting fancy… have the easel in the house for the painting now

more “the expanse”

Monday, April 6, 2020

Day 11: I realized I was checking out of reality. I put NPR on this morning and I couldn’t even finish my coffee before I was back in bed. So check out of reality it’s going to have to be if I want to be awake. Or save news for a bedtime snack.

News: prime minister Boris Johnson in the ICU and the Queen gives a rare speech. A tiger in a zoo is infected.

Coffee and 100 Day Project

Nap

Painting

TV

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Day 12: It rains.

Coffee

Sleep

100 Day Project

TV

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Day 13: The sun shines. The cat cries.

Coffee & 100 Day Project

Read

Sleep

Read

Sleep

TV

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Day 14: Hope. A year after my husband lost his job. A year of stress and worry and adventure. Good news today. Fragile news amongst the sea of uncertainty. News that could evaporate as the world continues to be tossed upside down by a virus.

Coffee…

100 Day Project: Week 10

100 Day Project, Projects

Day 64: March 25

Started three new pieces last night playing with plant textures. Added paint today. Flattening the collected plant material in my sketchbook helped. Still awful to work with.

Day 65: March 26

I can work freely now that I am home. First I had to make a trip through the snow to the camper each time I needed something. But mostly I don’t feel like it. I start and stop. All day. Starts and stops. And staring. I’m exhausted from the drive across the country. I’m emotionally exhausted from the this world turned upside-down. I’ve begun a new blog writing ritual to get me through without the travel writing.

Day 66: March 27

Art work is the last thing I feel like doing. I feel like I’m resting on the work that came before and I think that’s ok right now. I’m just showing up for now.

Day 67: March 28

Tossed some paint on a piece I wasn’t going to. Glad I did. Started a second canvas based on the works I’ve done in the 100 Day Project.

Day 68: March 29

I lost a day somewhere. I don’t know how. I thought this was (today) March 30.

Day 69: March 30

Creative block this morning. Not even doing lines helped. Maybe later. The canvasses go better.

Day 70: March 31

These texture studies are infuriating.

Days 70/100

100 Day Project: Week 9

100 Day Project, Projects

Day 57: March 18

No sooner had I put pen to paper than we were informed the California State Park we were staying at for the night was closing because of the corona virus outbreak. Off we go. Maybe later I’ll be able to get last week’s post together.

Day 58: March 19

If nothing else then just make lines and the rest will follow later. Even if I barely make one piece this week of lines, little by little every day. How life can crash in. We are traveling long days, much longer than we ever did before. We may slow down here, but home is the goal.

Day 59: March 20

I was able to put a little paint where it was needed on various pieces last night. Then worked on lines on a piece this morning. We were still in California when the new state-wide shelter-in-place order went through. Moving east. Still working on art through this.

Day 60: March 21

Tired. If you wonder where the progress photos went, I killed the camera on my phone. One too many drops. Photos will have to wait until the end of the week batch. It’s too much of a hassle to do it daily. Finished a textured piece last night. Working on others this morning. Started collecting more plant stuff on the road and, after learning my lesson, they are flattening in my sketchbook. Some of these earlier pieces are being held down by linen strips because they are so unruly.

Day 61: March 22

I did something this morning. But that was ages ago and a state of the union away. I showed up. Goodnight.

Day 62: March 23

Coffee. Pen. Paper. Morning light. Road.

Day 63: March 24

I’m here, minimally. But every little bit adds to the whole. Will attempt to carve out time to document works today. We. Will. See.

Days 64/100
In progress.

100 Day Project: Week 5

100 Day Project, Projects

Day 29: February 19

Yesterday afternoon through this morning we spent in an area with no cell service. I was able to get a lot of pieces to a starting point and a couple ready to take some color this morning before we packed up for the road. I even varied some techniques. This is a good time to explore those “what will happen if I do this” moments.

Day 30: February 20

I had some time on my hands. We had no cell service so I went to bed early and woke up in the wee hours of the night. I had a lot of extra hours of dark to fill with creative practice.

One day’s creative practice… but I kept going.

The Cow Skull on White Ground:

I began by playing more with the idea of a textured shape. That worked well in the previous skull pieces. The textures took the paint well and added interest without me working for it. For this one I knew I wanted the skull on a white ground. But white isn’t white, is it? I like using negative space. I felt a lot of pressure by professors to fill that space unnecessarily with details. For this one I used extra textures, a little color and played with paint drips. Even though it is nowhere near precisianism, it reminds me of Georgia O’keefe. I came to it from my own direction, but I recognize I may have interests inline with her work. Started reading up on her life and work.

Acrylic (white, burnt sienna, raw umber), glass bead texture, ceramic stucco texture, cotton fabric, and Faber-Castell black ink pen.

Big Skull:

Added a layer of burnt Sienna to the cow skull shape. Let that dry before fleshing out his lights and darks and adding splatters/drips.

Acrylic paint (white, burnt sienna, and raw umber), fabric, and Faber-Castell black ink pen.

Connections:

I wanted to continue to study the acrylic colors: white, burnt Sienna and raw umber together. Decided to try a contrasting textured with ceramic cement.

Acrylic (white, black, burnt sienna, raw umber), ceramic stucco texture, and Faber-Castell black ink pen.

Leftover Paint:

I hate leaving leftover paint so I smeared it on a piece of paper. Then came back to it later and added some doodles.

Acrylic paint (white, burnt sienna, raw umber) and Faber-Castell black ink pen.

Green:

I wanted to try out some green. I hated it. I tried mixing it a few different ways. It has also become an experimental color study.

In progress. Not impressed by this green.

Day 31: February 21

I’m so tired. Today was turned on it’s head. Instead of spending the day with art at a campsite in Sequoia National Forest we drove pointedly away from there. A storm was coming. So I touched the paper tonight. Caught up my notes to the blog on the 100 Day, because there was no internet connection up there either. And now I stare at that atrocity that is the green color study. I’m not ready for THAT. I think I’ll put some color on a raven.

Day 32: February 22

I tried last night to make that green experiment into something. Everything made it worse. So I painted it black, because that’s what was in my hand. And that sparked my interest, but the previous brush strokes were to visible. I mixed in the ceramic stucco texture and let it dry overnight. This morning it struck me to make lines, of course. From this piece I think I may want to explore more.

Acrylic paint (black), ceramic stucco, white posca pen.

This morning’s second finish; another raven. Playing with different applications of texture and color combinations. I was going to polish it up more, but decided to leave the painting areas less perfect. Not usually something I’d do, but I’m leaving more room for experiments right now.

Acrylic paint (cadmium orange, white, and thalo blue), Faber-Castell black ink pen, white posca pen, and ceramic stucco.

Day 33: February 23

This morning I started in on The For Agreements… then my human pushed me out the door. Don’t know if I’ll get back to anything today or not.

Day 34: February 24

I don’t think the lines were working this morning’s piece. I’m going to paint over them later. Try something else…

Day 35: February 25

Ok I don’t hate it today. But we are going with a different color combo. Onward.

Acrylic (white, raw umber, cerulean blue), Faber-Castell black ink pen and ceramic stucco texture. In progress.
Week 5, 35/100 Days
35/100 in progress.

Essay: Understanding

Art Journal, Artistic Growth, Self Reflection, Thoughts

If you have followed along this far I’m sure it is clear I struggle with my identity as an artist. I’m using both my time traveling across country since October 30th and the 100 Day Project to focus on developing my artistic voice and understanding my motivations. And along the way completely muddling up my website. Your welcome reader.

Today I had a breakthrough. It started two days ago really. I posted a piece of bird wing on Instagram. At first I was going to stop myself out of fear of losing my audience. Instead I went ahead. I decided I need to be authentically me and that includes sharing my inner world. I added a caption about how I saw beauty in life cycles.

That started it, but I didn’t know it.

I’ve been reading books about artists, following art blogs, going to galleries, museums and listening to art related podcasts. You know, immersing myself. Out of this came the idea that there is a thread in my life, specific to my experiences that can inform my work. Other artists could point to childhood memories that easily intertwined with their adult artworks.

I just could not see it.

I always felt like I had to make a choice. And each choice would be leaving behind an aspect of creating that I enjoyed. If I chose painting, I’d have to let go of blockprinting. If I chose drawing I’d never paint. If I did trees, I couldn’t do animals. If I tried a new medium it wouldn’t fit with the rest of my work.

I was missing what my work has been about entirely.

Entirely.

From dead trees, ravens, crows, up-cycling, cats, decaying buildings, dying saguaros, desert vistas, water, spiral symbols, animal bones, skulls, gardening, seasons, the mysteries of world religions, even attention to textures and certain aspects of Japanese culture it’s been about life cycles. And importantly life out of death.

But why?

Perhaps because the day I was born, October 30 (the same day we departed) was the one year anniversary of my Grandmother’s murder. I grew up with that as the dinner conversation for years. My father never got over it. My aunt wrote a fictionalized book inspired by it (absolutely worth reading: available here!). I’d say it was the single most defining event of my childhood.

Then during my twenties, when I most needed to lean on my father for support to go back to school, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He made poor life decisions, leaned on me, and I spent five years watching him die slowly before the real end when I watched him suffer for weeks and eternal days. He didn’t know where he was, let alone who I was. I had a complicated relationship with my Father. It took time to understand his imperfect humanity. When the time comes to say your final goodbyes to a parent or someone with a terminal illness, you too will find complex feelings hidden away to deal with.

After that I chose to work in home health for two years and a nursing home for over four years. (After college I felt no inspiration to do art, until the ink doodles started compulsively taking over and I couldn’t ignore my creative needs anymore). I wanted to give to others the peace I had from knowing my father was cared for. Being close to death was somehow being close to my father. Giving comfort and kindness to the sick and dying was giving it to him, in a way.

For a long time, unconsciously, my art work has been about life after death. Life from death. Beauty in death. I just didn’t know it. I don’t need to change what I’m doing. I just needed to understand it. I can accept and embrace the materials, media and subjects that speak to me. And know I’m giving something to the world uniquely mine that I can be proud of.

Thoughts from the Road: Part 3

Art Journal, The Road, Thoughts

Texas

Let Me Set the Scene

First Impressions of Texas, More and Greener Trees Than Expected, Fairfield Lake State Park
Branded Texas Horse
Texas Officially Greets Us With Longhorns
Colorado River, Texas
San Antonio River Walk, Texas

The ground is angry here. The sky is horizon to horizon tucked across rolling hills of cattle, longhorn cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and sometimes some exotic imports that make you question your sanity. Texas, like Florida, is fenced up, the wild places gone (at least in the places I went to). To the northeast more trees than I imagined Texas to have. Closer to San Antonio the prickly pear cactus are thick and the trees grow lower and scrubbier.

I’ve seen the smallest whitetail six point buck. A perfect rack on a comically sized deer (to my Michigan eyes). My first armadillo. Then my second and third of these lumbering disinterested snuffing creatures. At one state park an angry cardinal attacked our camper for two days. I walked out of a bathroom at twilight to be greeted by a scorpion. Once, only once, I tried to get a low angle photograph and got a hand full of pickers.

And that is Texas for me, more beautiful than I ever thought, and also more angry. I found rich art scenes in small towns and the cities we stopped (Austin & San Antonio). Some towns were perfectly tidy and full of robust downtown business while others were near empty. I saw houses, lived in, that couldn’t possibly hold in a high wind. Endless, endless, endless fences of every kind. I yearn for land without fences. Ranch houses in brick. Ranch houses rustic. Ranch houses in stone. New ranch houses and old.

Spanish Moss, Texas
Friendliest Grackles Downtown Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas Cityscape
Abandoned Stone Structure Texas

The Alamo

The Alamo was one of those places I wanted to see. Connived to see. There was always something about that place and its history that charmed me from and early age. Now it is a garden paradise nestled in a city and it is hard to convert it in the mind to the wilderness outpost it once was.

The Alamo, San Antonio Texas

Guadeloupe River State Park

Bald Cypress, Guadeloupe River State Park, Texas

The best way to see Texas (in my humblest opinion) is by staying in the Texas State Parks. They are a big deal, plan ahead. Make reservations. We couldn’t always stay at our first picks and sometimes…

You get a spectacular gift.

My first view of the river was a limestone cliff bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun. The bald cypress trees in full fall foliage making perfect reflections against the glass still river. Twisty bunches of roots befriending each other. On the trails I found strange oaks growing in surprising directions stunted by the rocky lack of soil. One trail ended in a cliff overlook of the Guadeloupe River where we watched the sun set on a photoshoot of a child in a white dress and velvet boots.

Bald Cypress Roots, Guadeloupe River State Park, Texas
Guadeloupe River State Park, Texas

Caprock Canyon State Park

Buffalo and Vista, Photograph by Kurt Babcock

As we drove north towards the Texas Panhandle, Texas began to look like Texas to me. Flat and dry with plateau formations in the distance. Dry river beds. Caprock Canyon rises red out of the plains. Buffalo roam the park, which makes getting to the bathroom tricky at times. Or in our case handling upset dogs that have never encountered cows let alone buffalo.

The Angry Ground, Caprock Canyon State Park, Texas
Sunset Buffalo

Lake Arrowhead State Park, Wichita Falls, Texas

Backroad Wichita, Texas

There are a lot of places named Wichita and that can make conversations confusing. One of my friends thought I was going to see mountains.

I’ll save you the suspense. This place is flat. (We did find the Wichita Mountains later).

We were looking for a place to hole up for the holiday weekend. Anyplace. Because, as we learned, you must make reservations for the state parks in Texas. Planning is key. There is an app for that (TX State Parks).

For the last four nights I’ve been listening to the too-fast drum beat of what I like to call the tell-tale-heart of this park or its resident oil rig. A novelty for travelers, but for me who doesn’t tolerate an analog clock ticking, it was a low level feel of doom. My husband couldn’t hear it. Twenty-four hours a day pumping away at the earth. About an hour south there are miles of wind turbines rising gracefully in uneven clusters. I think even Don Quixote would take pause at these. A little further south a solar farm. Meanwhile at Arrow Lake oil derricks emerge out of the shallow muddy waters.

Lake Arrowhead, Wichita Falls, Texas
Triumph, Wichita Falls, Texas. Stopped at a lot of old rusted classics waiting for buyers.

Side Trip Through Oklahoma: Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and Black Kettle National Grasslands

Knowing you’ll never go to a place again and having nothing but time leads to extra adventures on your plate. Why not see what Oklahoma looks like? Looks much like Texas. Has few trees and golden December grass stretching to the horizon under wisps of clouds. blue skies, and cattle.

Interesting Textures of the Rocks, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma

We entered the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge under the warnings of “artillery shells passing overhead.” They do things a lot different outside of Michigan. The road wound through the low stony mountains, small deep blue lakes, rolling grass plains complete with buffalo that we saw and longhorns that we did not see.

The Black Kettle National Grasslands was a different experience. We entered through the town of Cheyenne, Oklahoma. I was excited to learn there was a cluster of museums in town, and then a bit disappointed when they were not addressing the elephant in the room, so I did not stop. I was not interested in their one-room school house.

The elephant in the room. The National Grassland is named for the Indian Chief Black Kettle, who’s village was attacked outside of Cheyanne by General Custer. A simple history of Black Kettle National Grassland was that it was Native American Land, then it was Reservation land, then it was opened to settlers, and then the dust bowl hit. Now it is a mix of private and public land and I was pressed to figure out which part was public. (Okhistory.org)

Black Kettle National Grasslands, Oklahoma

Amarillo & Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Brindle Longhorn Greeting, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon Texas

We drove into the sunset, I mean directly into the blinding fury of retinal damage with no relief, and as dusk set in so did the aromas of the Texas Panhandle. Cattle feed lots plus other mysteries. My google searches yielded an unrealistic fantasy of the prettily named Amarillo. There were enough galleries and museums around to fool this traveler.

I Googled again. The Panhandle has a reputation (one that’ll punch you in the guts) (I don’t think ax body spray could even compete). A word on the feed lots. They hit hard. Not just the smell, but emotionally. The first one we passed I saw cows standing on cows. In others they had more room. The ones in Hereford, Texas look painfully big on satellite images. Now I am not going to condemn anyones diet, but we can do this better. We can choose local and small farms. Where I am from we have a food co-op and they visit/vet the farms.

Palo Duro has the reputation of the Grand Canyon of Texas. We descended (ten percent grade warning) in the dark and woke up in the middle of a canyon. Frosty sunrise coffee. Perfect overwhelming vista in every direction. Picturesque rock outcrops. Falling rocks next 100 feet. Watch out for wild boar and rattle snakes. Texas Panhandle in December.

View on the way up the Canyon wall, while I was still optimistic.

One word of advice, if your husband wants to go hiking here, ask questions. After traveling and sitting any movement is welcome, I looked forward to a hike. However, hiking up 500 ft of difficult canyon wall trail is not the place to start hiking when you are not used to activity. At the top we both agreed that the down descent seemed scarier then going up, so we took the “easier trail” to the road. Ladies and Gentlemen, this was not easy, we hiked further up the Canyon. Up. Further up. At the top I got a hiking stick from the Canyon Gallery. My prize for 500 ft of elevation. With the jello legs of a foal I walked with my husband down the glorious ten percent grade black top to our truck. Thankful it was December and not August.

Palo Duro Canyon View, Canyon, Texas

For more images from me follow my FB: Charley Lakes Studio or Instagram: Charley_Lakes_Studio

Cultural Appropriation: Mixed Thoughts from a Visual Artist

Art Journal, Thoughts

On good days I think I get the arguments around cultural appropriation. On others I throw in the towel and decide I am irrelevant to cultural debates at my ripe age of thirty-seven. I’ve had it explained to me by those in the “know” aka as a college age girl deeply into social issues. I’ve read articles and been subjected to the hostility of news reports. Just when my brain says yes that very much makes sense… it gets pushed too far and says “wait… what?!?”

The Beyonce Argument

I will admit that I was pulled into a Facebook battle about cultural appropriation with wits far exceeding mine. I was being schooled on cultural appropriation. Just as I was losing I asked if it was ok for Beyonce to do it.

Is it ok for Beyonce to do it?

That is how art gets created. Ideas and imagery are exchanged and woven together to create a new narrative. Artists look for new languages of symbolism to inform their work. We travel, frequent museums and galleries, and read obscure literature. We look for inspiration in every aspect of our world and beyond. If you have an interest, there is an artist out there making work about it.

In one answer it was ok for Beyonce to do it because she was a woman of color and it was somehow different. “It just was.”

In another answer it was not. Beyonce held the power as a western woman, the various groups she wore the costumes of did not.

I do cringe now when I see a pop star step out in the dress of another culture. The results are often beautiful and interesting see Iggy Izaelia, Beyonce, Nikki Minaj, and Gwen Stefani (note: probably all of them at one time or another).

And…

I’ll tell you.

While sitting through an informative video at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs Mississippi these thoughts crossed my mind. This white Ocean Springs’ male artist like many artists before was influenced by primitive cultures and their symbolism.

More well known was the influence of Japanese art on Western art starting with Impressionism. We are talking influence on artists from Klimt to Monet.

Should the way art history is taught in light of cultural appropriation change? I would say yes. (At least from how I was taught)

Should artists stop being influenced by other people and cultures. I don’t know what the right answer is. I am absolutely sure that there will be a richness among the arts lost if that give and take between diverse people is quashed.

Voodoo dolls in a gift shop. Many people pick up this mass produced keepsake in Louisiana. Voodoo is mixed up with Hoodoo in the common imagination. It is far richer and more interesting than a tourist shop doll.
Alligator Heads at a small town restaurant, Louisiana. They may be the most authentic thing I’ve ever seen for sale ever anywhere.

Here is my understanding as of November 30, 2019. (Warning I can and will change my mind as new arguments are presented to me).

  • If you visit another culture and (for example) take photographs of a ceremony. Then later exhibit them with an explanation and sensitive understanding, this would be of cultural value.
  • If you bring back an object of spiritual value from that same culture and use it in a photoshoot with a model and no context, this would be construed as offensive, even if the results were aesthetically pleasing.
  • Authenticity can be difficult to come by. We should try to support it. What do I mean? When you are out there in the world buy local. That could mean local artists and/or indigenous goods from indigenous people. (not an original thought, a mix of my beliefs and newly acquired learning from the inter-webs). Spend a little more for something handmade by the real deal. In some cases less, but whatever you do, please run as fast as you can from mass produced tourist junk shops imported from China. If you visit China find a local artist to buy from.
  • When minority groups ask for local school mascot to have a name change from say “Redmen” or “Redskins.” Instead of digging in our heels and saying its always been that way, may be listen to why. We’ll get used to a new name.
  • Halloween… sometimes we could let somethings be politically incorrect.
  • If art history surveys are still taught the same as they were approximately ten years ago when I went to a liberal arts college, some adjustments could be considered. Even at that time they were struggling even with how to talk about women in the world of art history, unless it was the great Frida. Seeing the history of Western art through the lens of cultural appropriation would be beneficial. Anyone taking a good course? Shout it out in the comments.

Writing about this topic has helped immensely in solidifying my understanding, but the term cultural appropriation is being tossed around the media like a hot potato. I just like to remind myself that I can be a kind person and a supreme jerk. People are people wherever you go, even when google maps takes you through the rougher sides of city.

Let’s have a dialog. Thoughts? Opinions? Corrections? Leave a message.