prayer for twisted
sister hoping she won’t Trippen
in her “to Paula from Santa’s
Dry Goods” boots
à la Fonda…
Sep 2 2013
prayer for twisted
sister hoping she won’t Trippen
in her “to Paula from Santa’s
Dry Goods” boots
à la Fonda…
Aug 9 2013
Cow mom cries
Dinner bell gong
Home Head Song
Lives do Part
love of heart.
Udderly belle pavé
Mon p’tit choufleur…
Je t’aime beaucoup.
pour le weekend!
Aug 3 2013
Jul 9 2013
Sometimes for a Cowgirl…
there must be risks
…that one takes
…with one’s actions
…that were never a conscious thought…
but, it might just be
that it was worth the risk
…despite the costs…
to get ‘The Boot‘!
God has a plan
….put on your boots
and cinch up the straps…
ladies… we’re going for another ride...!
-Paula Elizabeth Graves, July 9, 2013.
Jan 22 2013
This has worked very well for me.
If you can’t build it, paint it.
It applies from wanting a plywood porch to be recessed shaker panels to a relationship, it works both physically and in my head.
Since I’m not a trained faux painter nor could I afford one, it’s always a project. And sometimes in life that’s all it takes to stay the course, if that is what is warranted at the time. Someone else above or deep inside knows that, and it’s because it’s best for everyone right then do to just that. The idea with this concept is that somewhere along the way the only equity involved is mine and the only capital is sweat, time, life, effort, imagination, creativity and love. And sometimes a gallon of paint!
Make lemonade! A chair of bowlies! Cook for someone special. Sometimes it’s not work you love, it’s loving your work, it’s all the same stuff.
Pretending and painting it real.
I did this all over the second house where we raised our family from ’96 until they were gone in ’09 and was there this last June ’12.
As with anyone who returns to a former home, I realized it was now someone else’s to care for. It almost seemed as if no one lived there. In thinking back, it is surprising that this experience was quiet and comforting in a way, as I am writing this after unpacking things from the final move from my house, June 2012. Things can change quickly, so I as a historian, I wanted to get this recorded sometime around the time the changes occurred.
A house on a ranch that has been a headquarters and gathering place for over 120 years belongs to so many people. It is above all a functional place for the office and many many meals that relate to activities of the ranch. It truly belongs to everyone that has ever worked on that ranch, though there have in fact only been the occupants below, until summer ’12. If anyone claims it as home, they missed the boat and the point of tenure. We are caretakers of history and place that belongs to a whole land system.
So no one ever called it Paula’s house. It was the ranch headquarters. I wanted others to feel this way, and wanted all the employees to eat together. This was unlike the former ranch foreman’s wife who wanted hierarchy of men, for her husband ate with the Adams family while cowboys all ate in the bunkhouse. For the boss, it meant business and ranching come before domestic activities in hierarchy for the space. Inherently it sets up the domestic structure as “work first” and home improvements as having “no return on investment.” A home on a ranch has little value in a real estate or relative sense to larger scope of setting. In many ways, I still like to keep the idea of any real estate investment & improvements as having some kind of return, in part as design is where I sell my services.
Our situation was not unique. There are others for whom marriage is also intertwined with business for their “first homes.” For example, my father’s first job of being a marine began with their early instruction to enlisted men that they were “married first to the marines.” My mother’s parents ensured that she was not in military housing and they lived off-base at Quantico, but there was no “off-ranch” housing for the debutante bride. I had sweat equity and paint to invest of myself to make it my own, and I gave it my all.
So back to the ranch history….
I never examined the title to this headquarters in depth, for I was too busy living the life. It’s at the Headquarters, about 12″ thick. But, from my own knowledge it is assumed that there was one homesteader who proved up the claim, before speculators moved into area and bought up some land along the river which was then used for commercial cattle production.
In case of the early history of the XI Headquarters, prior to ownership of William Robert and Colonel Charles Summers (absentee business owner), the property was operated by McCoy Brothers. No further earlier research has been done (by me that I sought when I had tasks with website), but it is assumed that this was an association with McCoy Brothers that operated many ranches in early years of cattle drives during post-civil war. Dodge City was the closet shipping point in that region in this period around 1880s.
Here’s a scan of a brochure I did of sequent occupancy for the Kansas State Historical Society Tour that came to the ranch over a decade ago. I will likely tell more about this in a later post as the timeline shows key events that coincide with ownership and how it changes hands over time as well as how agriculture and production change.
The study of succession of people that dwell within a house in a linear fashion throughout life of building is called sequent occupancy. I did this with a ranch in the Flint Hills, studying also the evolving patterns of use within the house and outbuildings over a 100 year period, adjacent organic patterning of lands that supported this house by various families that move in and out, merge, divide and or are re-grown over time. Nothing is ever the same, or can stay the same to exist. Change, adaptation, evolution is integral for survival of anything, buildings included.
But back to this house. I’ll quit talking, here are a few pictures of the “after”, or as it is, the present, summer ’12.
It looks very beautiful and simple and quiet. It looks like my father-in-law’s who was most at peace, alone, with his land. I think in the end, they will remember that the women did their jobs, just as the mother cows do theirs, by instinct for survival and to protect children as they see best while it is their responsibility.
This landscape is one of nature, animals, and men who understand that humans are that. Land parcels and employees shrink, but expenses mount. What was historically slave labor and a part-time staff of transient cowboys becomes a very cared for and well-employed existence. There is no bookkeeper or secretary living on the ranch, and it’s a staffed by a handful of people. Overwhelming in such a primitive and isolated existence with DSL, but rancher’s do it.
So, with no money, I wanted to make any improvements I made to the house elegant and historically appropriate. Below you’ll see the minimal additions of fireplace, corner tv cupboard, and work-laundry stations.
The entry hall’s first room was John Adams office. That is, I heard both John and his father say, “Don’t think I’m livin’ out here for my health!” It was work, and we were the workers to nurture the next generation of ranch-raised Adams in that XIT Headquarters. It was something I was committed to do for life, good, bad, indifferent. Plus, it’s a pretty good mindset for how to get two kids raised with two parents and a good enough marriage which remained intact through an unorthodox lifestyle of two high schools in two cities and about 40,000 miles on my car a year for domestic driving. I was never bored.
My feeling is that if I am ever bored anywhere,
then it is because I am boring.
I think I am not bored and not boring,
though at times I wish I were.
But, with travels to Santa Fe and primitive painting an appreciation, I did handpaint cabinets for a little New Mexican Artist’s folly. It covered an boxy oak cabinet divider that was hauled into the house to separate John Adams desk from the entry hall when one entered the foyer. It’s final morphoses was to be a leather tooled landscape to “panel” the four sections, with image of horizonline of the river and cattle crossing from a family photograph.
The former divider, pre 2012, during tenure of John Adams Family. Painted stuff.
That is, this painting was just “en route” but it definitely filled a need on those dark days when the bathroom floorboards were wet and the red ants and mold would appear. It probably wasn’t appropriate for when son became Boss, but it filled the bill in the whimsical years of young children and middle-age marriage.
I also did drawings to duplicate dimensions of the historic 6 panel doors. This was done, minus the sticking, so it wouldn’t “mimic” history and fool any viewer as to historical accuracy. They replaced cheap hollow core that a foreman had put in during the time period when the Headquarters was a tenant house. It was a major improvement, and looked as if they had always been there. The Talavera Mexican in the kitchen, of course, would never have been there.
The local Mexican Revolution was a (relatively speaking) recent change in the southwest Kansas landscape that came after the pivot irrigator, corn, feedyards and packing houses all moved west in the 70s and 80s.
We kept the same alder cabinets with chrome pulls of the 1950s kitchen as I felt that things all come back around and they have. And with private schools a personal high school choice, there was no money or time to re-do a kitchen (wouldn’t anyway, I loved it!) or bathrooms (yes, I would have! as mentioned there are red ants and wet underfloors..mold, ancient toilets from the 60s….).
But back to the place. Here are the before pictures. They seem funny, don’t they? Who was that nut, some broad from Santa Fe? or a Kansas City chick who grew up at an art gallery? She lasted 28 years??! They said she’d never last six months! Modern-Wild, colorful, imaginative, happy and wet in a landscape that to most appears archaic, tan, static. The color selection, though it may seem odd, made reference to the Mexican tile added to the kitchen as backsplash from counter to cabinets. That is, the navy in the center and torquoise of the outer door frame matched the Talavera French fleurs-de-lys which tiled the perimeter of the kitchen.
More laundry room painted stuff, pre-2012.
The southwest Kansas landscape is not dull at all, but bland to the untrained eye and “slow” by today’s time clock visualization of “action”. But nothing ever is unchanging. It is a vast landscape so harsh the Indians left it alone, and even the Comanches dwelled there only a short time. It was always meant to be empty and void of people.
It works best for those who are content to operate without community, perhaps even functioning best in absence of it. I hope that I did not become one of them, with the requirement to stand alone. I did embrace the ranch lifestyle to experience each moment.
So my point is this….
the wild colors were perhaps what I saw in the place where I lived, alive with all these critters of the landscape, and full of color.
The places where I felt more connected in history and might have felt sweet sad were Jack and Lacy’s bedroom. They looked exactly the same at the time that I visited. That is, except for a little “I’m putting it here” empty nesting going on that dad did and all parents do when trying to collect their children’s belongings and re-claim their space.
When I went into Jack’s, there was a monarch butterfly that somehow had gotten into the house (with me? or was hanging out in Jack’s pad while he’s at KU?). I knew I wasn’t there alone and it made me feel happy. I would still and always belong in some sort of way within that house. Maybe everyone feels this way when they knock on that door of their childhood home and ask if they may see where they had lived while growing up. It’s much much easier to remember it than it ever was to live there, day in and day out, though I only realize it now that I am in a city. As for raising kids here, it was a lot of fun and we had each other and the ranch.
But, it’s funny, the laundry room was very noticeable to me as I spent hours in here. It was like a runway, so big, but animal blood-soaked laundry caked with manure was plentiful. I made it super efficient in a minimum of space that I devoted to micro-design organization. This was for the totally selfish desire to eliminate annoyance with anyone else about clothes piling up, taking to room, etc. My goal was always to design away angst, and then let go of control and let chips & towels fall where it may.
It was jarring at first. In part because I realized the memo about my paying to replace these doors and claim my artwork for a Lace or Jack, a rental, guest house, or to cart to Santa Fe to sell had either not been passed on by attorney or was ignored. I let that part go, bigger fish to fry on that visit. But, I questioned that maybe they had been replaced…
June 2012. Something is different…
It was as it they had not used primer or perhaps it needed another coat of paint as there was something dark coming through. There was some shadowing of the former two-color tone and it had a bluish cast, but I couldn’t see any critters. I thought maybe they had even used a sander. But, then I opened up a door and looked and found this spot. Yes!
And I knew, someone at some point, if they studied that house and really looked as an architectural historian does, would know there was another story besides the beige. That I was there, and there was color! As both KC Mo housing and my sister said for re-sale, “I don’t think that’s what anyone wants to see” but it is what I wanted to see when I was in there doing laundry. Laundry always feels pretty good and cleansing at times, or a least necessary. I painted a picture and while I was there, I got to look at it and it made me happy, it made me feel good.
There is always a clue someone forgot to erase….the historian building detective.
And here’s what it was like from about 1997 to 2011. Enjoy, all these critters were right there living alongside me down there on the Cimarron River, some in the house :). And we all did laundry together, my friends and me.
If you can’t build it, paint it
on the wall or in your mind.
Pretend when that works, make it real when action is required.
And then do it again, if not in the same place as it won’t ever be the same way, in a new place, in a new way.
Life is short! God has a plan, and I think he uses a lot of paint.
It’s the economy….
Jan 20 2013
Isn’t this why we run?
Because we are always running.
Running around doing or saying or something.
But it is only when we are truly running that we get that zen moment of the true freedom of
I have returned to Kansas City after 30 years of living away and I am doing just this, every day in every way. Friends, family, childhood places and spaces, re-visiting a history of mine and of the City Beautiful of Kansas City.
Above tells a story of my journey, but I am here to discuss my training program for Hospital Hill. Well, it was 28 years of running with, at best, a dog along the Cimarron River on the XIT Ranch in southwest Kansas. So my peer group was few, but I did fair pretty well in the local races such as
The Dodge City Marathon which,
as Participant of One,
I Won. Get the isolated picture?
So now while enjoying urban life and the KC CoffeeShop Scene at Eddy delaHunt’s, I ran into Dr. Tom Pierce from whom I request all kinds of tips since my return to town. He handles just about anything with higher than average street knowledge of KC history and cultural geography, running groups, training tips, Westwood Hills homes, and where to find a person of male persuasion with whom I might go to dinner (no longer a point of focus)… (BTW, his recommendation for me was The Linda Hall Library).
And in ’12, despite the fact that I’d run an average of about 12 miles a month, he said of Hospital Hill three weeks before the race,
“mind over matter, you’ve been doing yoga, you’ll be fine.”
So here’s the pathetic picture of me struggling in at the final stretch. My goal was to break two hours, which I did not. I think maybe 2:05 or 2:07. But, he did give me tips on how to pace myself throughout the race.
So, my approach in counting down the weeks leading up to hospital hill as a guest blogger, are to pass along both his instructions and my own thoughts as I worked my way along the course through streets of my past. I’m an architect and preservationist, with a heavy dose of ADHD when I’m not in hyper focus.
So, I will share a little bit
of history and place
along with Tom’s words
on body chemistry and pace.
Tom is both a Dr. and Chemist, I believe.
Here is one of his best and first tips:
“Hold yourself upright. First, middle, last,
regardless of how you feel. Military carriage.“
It’s somewhat similar to what my cousin Gretchen told me at the start of my race of the last two years when encountering friends, family, foes?, fear and complicated factum.
“Hold your head up high.”
I think it’s a pretty good approach to running,
and an excellent approach to life.
Jan 2 2013
I was seeking my next art instructor on upcoming journeys southwest and was reviewing the type of medium that I wanted to explore. And, in doing so I realized that my mother, Ginny Graves, really had a pretty good idea about how she had worked with people, specifically, children people in exploring first their creativity in drawing as a mode of expression. That is, instead of describing things in words, she would instruct to draw a picture. And, then, “tell me about your picture.”
So, the early tools were crayons, pencils, markers, and used line as expression.
Next came paint.
As with everyone, I started both with pre-school art classes at the Nelson and in grade school with those powdered tempera artista paints. I can still smell that smell, because I always thought it smelled a little bit like, for want of a better word, barf. Well, I think that’s what it was, but maybe it was just that shaved sawdust like stuff they sprinkled over it when a person got sick all over their food tray in the lunchroom (me. I’ll never forget it and how everyone recoiled in horror, tripping over the lunchroom bench to get away with disdainful “eeeyyeeewwwwhoooaaahhhyuuuuuckkkk!”). By the time I helped my mom with her classes at Corinth library, they were pre-mixed in little plastic squeeze bottles so the mixing we had to do at Cedar Roe Branch of the Johnson County librairies was a thing of the past.
This was my finest work from that painting period. It is a picture of me at the Prairie Village Art Fair where I won first prize.
And, I pretty much stuck with this style and used it in books for French classes I taught in my mid-20s, shower invitatations, Christmas cards and maps. It’s basically just a bit of embellishment on the stick figure, and it’s worked pretty well for me on many occasions. As long as I can draw a circle and lines, I pretty well had the figurative part covered as far as I was concerned and moved on into the details which are what I really liked. All the little patterns, squiggles, repeats, and organization of whatever the topic might be. Achieving order in organizing detail, that’s what it was all about. In thinking of all of these things, I may have to do a blog post showcasing this fine body of line d’oeuvres.
I really don’t remember any other painting or drawing classes that I took in public school education. I’m sure I had some in grade school, but I mostly have remnants of that with clay objects. All of my drawing really came from home and from “work” when I was called upon to be the guinea pig for an upcoming workshop she was teaching, article she was writing, or book for which she needed an illustration. I loved this job, and if I could have someone put me to work like this right now, giving me some framework, supplies, task and a purpose I would feel I’d died and gone to heaven. It’s my job now, and I’m only just now realizing how wonderful it was to be gainfully employed with a sense of purpose while growing up.
I had my second formal painting class after I had Lace. The first was when I had worked with oils in a sort of “academic” class that my mother had found for me with a private teacher on Johnson Drive when I was in high school. She had a real bunny, and I modeled a Durer like rabbit, painted a cezanne-like-but-rounder Granny Apple Still life in oils, and learned some basics on making things look “real”, that is “realistic” by using line, shadow, and light sources. We worked dark to light, as I did in later classes, with the white being the “high” spots from which light reflected and applied last to bounce off the rounded apple forms.
Because I had studied art history, this kind of learning of structure behind form, technique, and use of light and shadow was really important to me to be exposed to; to me, it was “old school”. My mother had worked on the “creativity” part in providing the best atmosphere for “play” throughout my grade school and Jr. high years. She put me and others around artists doing art through visiting their workshops. I am very glad that she did this part first, because the technique and skill of the craft is a lot of work and can be both intimidating and limiting. Regardless of any opinion of whether or not it’s mandatory to get the “Beaux Arts” training, it was something that I needed for my own self-confidence. The basic KU drawing classes ABS 101 and 102 built upon this ability to use line, with of course the favorite monday class “Nudes of All Shapes and Sizes and Ages of KU Drama Majors Needing Extra Income.”
When I first learned to paint in oils, I think I only did about ten paintings. I’m fond of them. The choice of using oils, for me, was often a time factor in projects that were sandwiched in-between degrees and jobs and driving of kids both in daily country commutes and intra-state then for our cross-country secondary education for the Adams. That is, finding blocks of time, studio setup and takedown, portability and the drying time necessary with oils later became a challenge. So, as teaching, architecture school, work, cowboy cooking and family life changed, so did the medium to acrylics when I finally had a minute to return to paint one spring and crank out the “Dead Dog’s Portrait Gallery” Series.
These are the three “types” of oil paintings I did in class with Steve Heckmann at Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kansas.
The last oil I did was that of Lace with our black pug Mei Rose on a kilim stool which I showed in a blog post this year before Christmas entitled “what is real?” So, I had classified myself as the bourgeois painter of middle class subject matter in theme.
So, back to my pursuit of a mentor-painter-teacher. After learning I could not paint with Stephen Kilborn (watercolors) in Taos, I found a woman in Tucson who I knew would fit the bill when I saw her work. I sent her my history, my portfolio, my mini life story and waited for a response.
And, it was exactly the conversation I dreamed of having when she called. My pictures had said a thousand words, my story gave all the depth of family history in arts and angst. She embraced me and invited me to come and join her regular classes when I was in town. I am very grateful and so pleased she took me in, to get back into the classic oil medium and put brush in my hand. She applauded the academic efforts while acknowledging both my timidity and need for a nudge from the nest to express.
Though this painting was done in acrylic, which forces a different speed with quick drying times, it best expresses what I think will be my challenge and task in the upcoming month at this class. That is, to be free and paint happy.
It doesn’t mean it has to be perfect or done. That is the beauty of oil which can be re-worked.
And I would now be able to return to my mother’s original encouragement to express.
I’d earned the right to clothe my canvas in the elegant fabric of oils, but this time with folly.
Dec 25 2012
For Christmas this year I pretty much decided that I needed to be sure that I had a great day. I can’t really ever remembering particularly wanting the Heidi Doll. And that turtle Troll was probably something absolutely impossible to satisfy that my cre[aaazy, man!]ative mind had made up.
In this same way, no one really wanted to eat all those cookies or peanut butter balls, there was no family gathering at my house I needed to orchestrate, and I was around no one in particular who had any Christmas needs. Even my neighbor whose father had died was super super busy organizing stuff and planning a trip to Mexico, so we waved today while running to respective outings armed with food as I did have a two events with minor cooking responsibilities. So, I realized it should be a celebration and opportunity to have these few days to keep it simple and focus on what Christmas meant to me.
And I’ll tell you, it is a LOT less work. It makes me finally realize that term my father so often used about “make work”, though in different contexts than women. And, I do think is often what we (women) to do ourselves, at least if my yoga teachers had anything to share about their family Thanksgivings… I think we need to start competing on who can do less :). Much of what we do likely misses the point if we are expecting anything in return and when I started to simplify, I realized it wasn’t really missed much, if any. Green wreaths with cherries were pretty enough in my picture. Now, the prime rib …that’s something entirely different….
So, I started early to plan how I would spend this weekend, tomorrow and Tues, being free of any (moi??!!) past resentments, pre-conceptions, and time & money consuming last minute tasks. These had been likely only an attempt to try to control the happiness of others on Christmas Day while often neglecting my own needs. With all of this thought, I realized that the only thing that mattered with those primary relationships in life with whom I’d spent so much time was one special gift.
Jack said it perfectly in this note which came with this golden gift. The gift is very beautiful, well-crafted and made with loving hands so here is a picture of that first.
I love the way Jack forms clay, I’ll have to do another of his KU Basketball player.
But, it didn’t really even matter if he had given a gift or not, because his words just by themselves remind me of what this holiday is all about, Christ’s birthday. That is, Christmas is about the gift of Love. And, the idea aka the Faith in Christianity, is that the parent, God, had a son that was an embodiment of his love. And, Mary was the one who had the privilege of being his mother for the short time he was on this earth. Here is his note:
This wonderful person who gave, spoke, spread his gifts given to him by God his Creator was Jesus. You know? A really good kid. Took what he was given in terms of his abilities, and saw the positive. He spread it in the way that he was able, to others, learning to somehow speak in such a way that his message from God spoke to very many people. In the real world that we live in, you can imagine how he was somewhat of a threat to power structures. So he was killed.
That is, a person’s faith that God’s love is really what matters the most in getting through life and each day, was an idea that some in power felt needed to be put down. This is because fear is a very powerful force in governing others. While it was an entirely different time, in some ways it’s just the same. Fears, within ourselves in the fairly comfortable middle class reality of being fed and clothed, fears that society can evoke, fear we may let others evoke with theirs that ignites something also within us, and mostly within ourselves if we let it grip us. Fear of poverty, fear of indecision, fear of being alone, fear of self, fear of loss of self-control, fear of not being able to control. Whatever it is that pits one against another, and most often those two arewithin ourselves. Divide and conquer, right?
So God had a plan. If we can forgive ourselves for being human, we can always begin again by feeling love and gratitude.
God’s intentions came to us by way of a story told to a woman that saw Jesus after his image reappeared, but his body had disappeared. His spirit was still alive and he came back to tell what had happened.
I believe this happens to all of us in many ways with people that have come into our lives that are important. They come back in our dreams and in our thoughts. And if anyone else’s experiences are like mine, they are always positive. All gratitude.
Perhaps it’s easier to remember than it was to ever experience in real life. But, I do think at least focusing on the feeling of thanks makes everything about both giving and accepting love easier. It’s only then that I can see what I brought to that relationship and equally how well I treated and thought of myself within that relationship. It’s a mixed bag of responsibility, self-forgiveness, love and gratitude.
It’s only then that I can bring that to another on the holidays as there were so many things that I enjoyed. But this time doing it with more love, more understanding, more forgiveness both of self and of another for not fulfilling any “want” or “need” that I have or had neglected to give first to myself.
Got it, Paula? That is, first remember that I am a Child of God as Paul Rock’s pebble reminded me a few Sundays ago. Then, to feel thanks.
And to know that so often when I am alone, that I have the very best companion.
It’s a time to enter the quiet
that often can get lost
with all the hubbub,
it should be cherished.
Dec 23 2012
This post is kind of about person, place, thing, pet, and art.
So is this painting.
Lately, I am really trying to simplify and understand in (my) life, what really matters with all this “stuff”, changing context, people that converge & separate, and how the constant of art all fits into the picture.
So here goes…
First, a little bit about the “THING” in this image, which is the footstool covered with a kilim rug. It is one of the 9 pieces of furniture that I have purchased in my adulthood, not counting flea market finds. My house is mostly made up of furniture of my mother’s and Grandmother’s. There was little that I could, needed, or wanted to buy in southwest Kansas in general. Not to add, nor to buy almost anyplace that was better constructed or of more interesting design than anything I’d have by way of these two women of impeccable taste.
Plus, of course, I’m sentimental, and taking these objects from other “PLACES” in Kansas where my mother, Grandmother, and before that her mother had lived are one of the big things that made the ranch “PLACE” home before I knew it intimately.
I bought this kilim stool in the “PLACE” which was Santa Fe in my 20s on a trip with Gina and my mom. It was from a man, Stephen Miller, who also helped me to purchase a dhurrie to match a (Rainbow Decorator) Smith & Co. loveseat I’d spotted the summer before I was married. This also had received “stamp of approval” from Bobbi Smith who worked for Jack Rees Interiors, a prominent KC decorator with ‘a clientele who collected.’ I’d interned with her at Jack Rees, the summer of 1980. She was a close friend of my Grandmother Millie.
Coincidentally, she had also picked out some upholstery for John Adams Grandmother Jessie. So, she also knew the rancher’s wife budget & priorities :), at least in the department of home interiors. Do not take this as disparaging. It’s often far more expensive to upholster quality items that will never be made “like they used to” than it is to buy new. I live by the same in much of my philosophy on domestic interiors. Do less, do it well, less often. It’s kind of an environmental thing akin to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It also might be called being a bit “Scotch” at times, while “French” and “German” at others.
Stephen Miller’s Oriental Rugs was located catty corner from Pasqual’s and across from Doodlets, depending upon what you consume when you’re in SF. I discovered in a recent conversation with a salesperson in a rug store on Canyon Road, that this store’s (Santa Kilim) owner had been associated with Stephen, moved to Guadalupe (where I bought a kilim kabul rug chair), and is now on Canyon Road. The owner even remember acquiring the rugs and his series of upholstered chairs using them.
I had this kilim stool in my living room at both the East and West Ranch Headquarters on the Cimarron River, my two “home” ‘s for the last 28 years. It is now in my home in Kansas City in Hyde Park, looks “smash” as Bobbi Smith would say.
But, back to the idea of what I was thinking about when I came across this picture I’d taken of Lacy touching her face within the painting… “what is real?” That is, in a material world, what is it that connects us to place, person, things, even pets? And in seeing this, it inspired the post because it somehow was also connected to my personal ventures in “art” to find meaning, often un-consciously and under wrap.
I’m not going to talk about the person(s) because that’s person(all). We all have these persons and I’d imagine we all have similar feelings when we feel gratitude for having shared time and place with them.
Same goes for pets, it seems there are many out there these days who are having no issues in experiencing their feelings about their dogs 🙂 or expressing them. But, I will put in this picture of Rosie. It is a fake. That is, her Black Pug Ancestress pictured in the oil is the late Mei Rose, whose death preceded this photo by about 18 years when a speeding UPS truck brought about her early demise*. Anyway, Rosie cooperated in this photo setup. And I guess this means this second photo of the post is the realization of a new series of ‘family portrait photo genre’ entitled “what is real?”
note re UPS: [In his defense, I’m sure they lose quite a bit of money on their rural customers. He later asked me, “what happened to that little black pug of yours?” but I said nothing]
So, here brings in art. I had this portrait of Lacy sitting by my (father’s former) drafting table which has now moved from its location in the bay window at the XIT Ranch to the bay window of The Illinois, 1 North. It is an oil that I had done, after I’d mastered dogs and artichokes.
As an art history major and also having grown up in the Education Wing at the Nelson, I had always been fascinated with the Early American and English Portraiture. The subject matter I’m referencing is that of children or a child, often dressed as a small adult, placed and painted in the context of “the house on the hill” or within a domestic interior. I also admired the later painter, John Singer Sargent, and his ability to incorporate person in place. But, BTW, Sargent was one whose work totally intimidated and blocked from painting.
So, the “primitive itinerant painter” version of the painting type pictured below was a little more approachable relative to my skillset. You’ll recognize the genre from Balis’s painting below that hangs at the Nelson of George and Emma Eastman at the ol’ homeplace. I realize this does not exactly represent the simple folk nor the humblest paintings which I was emulating, but I wanted you to get the “type” at the high end. That is, I think these are the Kodak kids in their “best available painter for the Kodak $$” moment. But you can see what I mean about the naïf nature of the painting with their big doll heads and stick-like bodies. It was do’able.
It’s really a mixed bag of feelings I have when I look at these paintings, because I often think, “Poor little Mr. Master with this noose of a plantation already around his starched collar… and the little mistress, well adorned with her bracelet, lacy pants, and festooned sunhat.” Isn’t that jaded, with both sentiments sweet and savory? But, I also see that these children are growing up in this beautiful place, and they are often with a pet or something in their hands that you know gave them pleasure. And, the pride and love that the parents felt in having this executed, commemorating their children’s presence in a special place of meaning at a given age.
In all honesty, when I did this painting of Lacy, I don’t think I thought much about the fact that it is the parents that dress up their toy, arrange it in the portrait setup, and then document it for their own memory and point in time. As so many parents did before me and as we will forever do with the children we raise, I just did it.
I was pretty insecure about my ability to master features, though I actually think I did a pretty good job with Lacy’s face. I had sketched her before. So, I decided that since I lived in the country that I was the Itinerant Painter. I pretty much have to pretend when I launch into any creative endeavor.
Itinerant painter was the term for the artist-by-trade who traveled around, outside of the city, to landowners and others in the country who would perhaps not otherwise have traveled to the city to have their children painted. This was, of course, before the common existence of cameras to capture family “snapshots” at given key points along the timeline of their lives.
So, I don’t know how I exactly composed the room interior in the painting, except that the Guy Chaddock loveseat mentioned above was upholstered in a this cerulean blue color. I am sure that the checkerboard came from…
Plus, the checkerboard went great with Lace’s outfit in the painting. Lacy’s portrait clothing ensemble, BTW, was given to her by her Grandmother GG. It says, “Spot the Dog” on her shirt. So, I have to put in that picture.[I guess I forgot about “la mode” when I was pondering above on “person“, “place“, “thing“, “a pet” and “art”. How could I??]
But, to answer my ponderings above…
For me, art can encapsulate persons, places, things (and pets!). It somehow helps me to feel all of it that perhaps I rushed past at the time in all of the excitement.
It captures all the emotions that so easily just escape into energy, often misplaced, and puts it in one spot that gives some release to the maker.
…maybe to others, but I don’t feel that it really ever starts with that.
Dec 15 2012
I am now permanently settled in Hyde Park in Kansas City. It is very urban in my new neighborhood, at least as far as that definition goes west of the Mississippi. And of course, it’s all relative as I’ve been living for 28 years on a place where my next closest landowner was 8 miles away and a trek to another cowboy house was a city block.
And, I have been pondering as to whether or not I think Rosie has adjusted to urban living.
I have identified some defects of character that she perhaps needs to work on. It’s not that these haven’t improved since Rosie and I moved to Wichita in February 11, at least she knows herself better. But they still, and will likely always need, daily work.
In fact, here’s a picture from Rosie at Starbucks at Central and Rock (Wichita) after she finally got the attention she wanted and was holding court.
I even felt kind of sorry for the little boy dog beside the table. Once she’d found her ladies, he was ignored not only by Rosie, but by all the other missies who might have otherwise found him quite adorable.
a) One was in Santa Fe at Vargas Mall where I waswith a friend who was mailing some stuff to Ebay. These canines were big black labs. The owner, a calm organic transplant to New Mexico, was not happy all and shrank back in terror. The barking so reverberated in the mall that my friend around the corner at the UPS store came out to see about the ruckus.
I’m sure they were likely way more evolved than she, living in the Land of Enchantment and everything. And…she does have a bit of a Napoleon Complex.
b) This 2nd catfight was with the somewhat-but-not-enough-non-speaking younger 3rd European wife of my neighbor in Wichita. She doesn’t speak English, but actually quite mirror’d her one dog in behavior in both lack of respose and reaction as Rosie did her usual (friendly?) barking. Frankly, her husband told me later that his one dog was very aggressive and the other a sweetheart. He said it happens all the time, and that Rosie probably got the hostile scent, scent’sing two against one (the owner and fiesty dog).
We both just sat, like good mothers, and let them work it out themselves until we realized that someone was going to fight to win. With that, I pulled Rosie back and we both smiled at each other, very impressed with our girls street savvy and ferocity.
a final note:
Rosie did say she would work on her end but advises me to remember, “What you think of me and my dog is none of my business.” That is, it is only a reflection of her, NOT ME, so who cares? Is this really true?
And another tidbit of wisdom from her. In a kind way she suggested that when I am overly worrying about her, that
She is a wise one.