“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes equal distance into the world within.” ~Lillian Smith
I am home. And yet I am not quite. There is just something about a visit to New Mexico that seems to alter a person’s perception of everything. Time, space and relationships all seem to coalesce into realities that feed a new notion that anything is possible. I find that I am really missing my experience in Taos. Wishing it were longer. That I could do it over again and replay every detail just as it was. And yet…. New Mexico seemed to come home with me as well. Like rose colored glasses, I am still under a spell that blankets most things in a light of beauty. As an artist, and especially one who likes to keep a sketchbook, I am pretty good at noticing the little things that bring beauty into my life. To note them and to savor them is to note and savor life itself. I am finding that this keen sense of beauty is magnified since my time in Taos. I will continue below with more of the magic that was This Big Trip. But first….
I am home:
And even with 100 degree heat and brutal humidity, I love this town. I love the people who call me back home when I have been too far afield for too long a time. I love that my little backyard mallard couple now have 7 beautiful little baby ducklings who are learning their way around our system of weedy waterways…
I love that I have dear friends who might live far away but come home just barely often enough that their young son knows his soul family. I love that I can play music in a ceili band. I love that I have even more traveling to do this summer….. but I digress. Where were we? Oh yes, Mabel’s. Back to Mabel’s…..
There are drawings all over the Mabel Dodge house that are attributed to Mabel’s husband Tony Lujan, a local Pueblo Indian man, the builder of this great house, and the love of Mabel’s life. These drawings, along with what I have read about Tony, speak to me of a rich inner life.
The Sunday of our trip was the day most of my students were due to arrive. Much time was spent preparing classroom space and supplies for their arrival. Having a space that looks and feels worthy of artmaking is crucial to the artmaking process for me. This gorgeous space in the Juniper House at the Mabel Dodge complex was just the ticket.
Each day we were greeted in the main house with meals that would make your mouth water. Here is Mabel’s kitchen:
Next year I will have to get some more photos of the staff that make the magic happen at Mabel’s. They were, every last one of them, wonderful. One of the folks who works in the kitchen just happened to live a number of years in Cincinnati and is an artist herself. I was a bit surprised to see her there, but was beginning by now to realize that there is a strange tie between Taos and the ol’ ‘Nati and I should just expect the unexpected. Another, who would give French pastry chefs a run for their money, is a Pueblo Indian woman who guided us to the most amazing shop at the Pueblo. But that is a story for another day….
Monday rolled around eventually and it was showtime! Each day of the workshop we would meet after breakfast in the Juniper House classroom space to get warmed up with our supplies. I have to admit, I got a little choked up each time my students would get all quiet and in the zone with their books and supplies.
I shared an exercise with them that I read about in a book by Dory Kanter that she calls ‘observation icons’. The idea is to capture little moments of your travel time a couple of times a day and then add them to your journal. I thought this might also be a way to get into the back door of art making because these little icons are so small (about 1″x 1″). Too small for any inner critics to interfere. I was right. The icons were a hit and a great warm-up each day. Here’s a sampling!
The classroom is wonderful, but the courtyard is even better! We were able to get outside and do some drawing of the grounds at the Mabel Dodge house. Next year there will hopefully be even more of this.
In the afternoon of that first day, my new friend Kate came to talk with the group. She is inspiring and so is her work and everyone thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and learning a bit about her process.
Later, as the sun was beginning to set, Kate took us to the famous church called San Francisco De Asis.
Pretty soon the New Mexico light began to work is evening magic.
There is so much mysticism that weaves in and out of everything in Taos. Everyone you talk to has a very matter-of-fact approach to the daily unexplainables. We received a gift of one of these little unexplainables in our gatehouse one afternoon in the form of this feather. We were filled with gratitude.
More to come in the coming days. I hope this finds you seeking, finding and spending quality time with, the magic moments in your own wild and precious life.