Ghost Ranch

The time it takes

How do you reconcile the time it takes to weave a tapestry with the fast-paced consumer society we now live in? How do you switch between the slowness of the practice and the rest of your life? (Spoiler: I don't have the answer.)

Tapestry, like any art, takes space to create. I think you need a certain head space especially for designing. But the weaving can also go all wrong if you aren’t paying attention. And if you’re worrying about the next article or class or that you promised Sally Jane you’d help out with the committee to save the spotted toad but you really couldn’t give a flying fig about the little critter today, it may not go well with your tapestry.

Actually creating that mental space is the thing. I will admit that I have not been particularly successful at this in the last year. In fact, I have been an abysmal failure. I think you have to start with the mental space and then create some kind of practice where you just do it. Every day.

I am at Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, NM this week. I am here to learn about time. This is a place that I have come back to repeatedly since I was a little kid. My parents brought us here every summer. I took wonderful classes once the instructors were persuaded to let a kid in. A couple summers I worked with Felipe Ortega, the Jicarilla Apache micaceous clay potter. He was the first person who told me I should be an artist. (He also told me I shouldn’t go to college and that just wasn’t going to happen in my world… but eventually I came back to the artist part. He was right about that.)

This retreat center has been run by the Presbyterian Church, USA for many decades now, but the place has layers of history which include Georgia O’Keeffe, cattle rustlers, First Peoples, and dinosaurs. When you’re someplace where you can actually see dinosaurs (coelophysis if you care)… well, that is quite a marker of how big time is.

I took a hike early this morning up to Chimney Rock. This inscription was at the top.

Our lives are a brief flash of brilliance. Chase your dreams.
I wrote this for me. But maybe you see yourself here too.

Happy dreaming,

Speaking of time…
This Mirrix Weave-Along warping is taking forever! The warp went on okay, but there are about a billion heddles. I’m thankful I threw in a couple extra spools for someone on the trip to who I’m delivering a loom. She is going to have to order her own. I need them! (Serves me right for warping at 18 epi, 10 inches wide. Should have followed Claudia’s instructions.) If my math is right, I need 270 heddles for this warp.

I tried valiantly to finish putting the heddles on this morning at the campground, but the flies drove me to the library. The campground is a little too close to the horse corral.

You can see the whole Milky Way here. When was the last time you saw the Milky Way?

Georgia's mountain

I do a lot of driving for my job.  I try not to take kids in far-flung reaches of the county (and my county is bigger than most eastern states by a lot), but I did take a child who lives right under Peternal--Georgia O'Keefe's self-aclaimed personal mountain.  I love going up to the Piedra Lumbre.  I drove up to see this child this morning and had a few extra moments at Abiquiu Lake.  The water is high, and at 8am on a Tuesday, it is perfectly quiet.

I find myself telling people occasionally that the Piedra Lumbre is my heart place.  I'm not entirely sure what that means even.  We went to Ghost Ranch a lot when I was a kid, so maybe that childhood association has something to do with it.  It is mostly just a feeling I have when I am there... that the place is somehow different and that time doesn't mean anything there among the red rocks and surrounding mesas.  I know many tapestry weavers who have woven images of Peternal.  I've never been drawn to weaving landscapes myself.  All I know is that there is no way I could capture the feeling of the place in a tapestry.  It is too silent, too huge, and too personal.  I'll leave Georgia's mountain for her...  I can't promise I won't climb it again though.  But when I'm on the top I'll say a little prayer of thanks to Georgia for being the woman of the Piedra Lumbre that she was.

Bauhaus Talks

I had a great trip to NM the end of May to continue working on the Bauhaus project with Cornelia Theimer Gardella and James Koehler. Conni finished the description of our project--she got the lions share of the work here as she was translating German to English and back again. Fortunately she is exceptionally good at this! Here is the link to the project description should you be interested:

Bauhaus project description

We are working on finding grant money to help us fund the project and also trying to firm up some show locations for the summer of 2009. We are hoping to get into a community gallery in Erfurt, Germany as our first stop. We'd like to find a gallery in New Mexico to hang the show in late summer or fall of 2009.

Piedra Lumbre

I grew up in New Mexico, and have spent many happy years since leaving for college living there and visiting. I now live just north of the Colorado border near Blanca, CO, but the red rocks and the blue skies of New Mexico call me back over and over. Last week I made a trip to Ghost Ranch--a place of many happy childhood memories. Now I go there to hang weaving, mostly through Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center. The Piedra Lumbre (the name for the area around Ghost Ranch which means valley of shining stone) is most certainly one of the most stunning places I have ever had the privelege of spending time. It is really indescribable--the blue sky, multiple colors of red and yellow rocks, the blue reservoir, the sagebrush, Georga O'Keefe's famous Pedernal mountain... and then there is Ghost Ranch, that oasis of green alfalfa and friendly people. Anyway, I went to Ghost Ranch's Piedra Lumbre center to hang a new set of weavings there. One of them was my newest piece, This Time I Dance II. The new piece was a further exploration of ideas from This Time I Dance (see prior post) and used the same colorways.

In my experience, when hanging weaving shows in New Mexico, the weavings all get laid on the floor as they are chosen to put on the walls. This is always difficult for me. After all, I spent many hours making that piece of art which is now in danger of being stepped on and is undoubtedly picking up fuzz and dirt from the old carpet it is lying on. But my friend Conni ( convinced me to take a deep breath and let it go, and indeed, the show was hung without incident. If you visit the show (it hangs from now until July 6th), you'll notice the wide variety of art hanging there. They are not pieces I would probably group together, but it is an interesting representation of work being done in northern New Mexico fiber arts. So if you're going through northern NM any time soon, stop and visit. Ghost Ranch is always worth the time, and the weaving shows there are always something to see.