Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Forward

This image seems to sum up the year for me. Been there done that and have the bullet holes to prove it. It is in the lead to be my Epiphany card. I did not send out any Christmas cards this year because of the new computer and not appropriate software for the Windows 7 operating program. Bill Gates lies. Yes, it is friendlier than Vista but now all inclusive like XP. And because of the crash of my old computer I did not have the online download registries that would allow me to just upgrade. My incompetent computer nerd just keeps giving and giving and giving.

I have downloaded a free trial for Corel Paint Shop and am going to test it out on the Epiphany card and this photo. I am positive about the new opportunities with the new computer and the new year. I went looking for astrological forecasts and all of them were rather rosy and flowery and not me except this one from Big Sky Astrology on the occasion of the January 4 solar eclipse.

GeminiYou don’t like to get “heavy,” so most people never suspect that this is a lonely time of year for you, even when you’re surrounded by loved ones; and at this eclipse season, the weight of both loneliness and a fear of intimacy may feel particularly burdensome.  Trust, intimacy, and introspection can be overwhelming waters for you; as a human you naturally long for them when they’re absent; but when you have them, you may feel as though you’re drowning. What keeps you afloat as the new year begins is your commitment to something bright, happy and hopeful – be it your children, the child within you, your creative muse, a passionate pursuit, or simply the fact that the sun will rise tomorrow, bringing with it the possibility of joy.

This definitely fits with the new directions I am heading in my art this January. No fairs looming and enough work ready to submit for jurying into fairs I am now looking to do some edgy or dark pieces for exhibitions. Not making any forecasts for beyond January this year. The past year showed I had no control over goals anyway, but I do want to do more with my photography this year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mag 46 - Tossed aside

Tossed Aside

The once beloved
The soft kid gloves he'd given her
Tossed Aside
Upon the hard wood floor
Like he had dropped her.

J. Binford-Bell 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Best Gifts of 2010

Nikon D90
When I was young and every Christmas meant a new doll my parents used to ask me to get out my dolls and clean and dress them all up to show my appreciation for them. My brother and I would also sort through our old toys and pick those we were passing along to the toy drive for poorer children. With my father we would clean and fix them up, and then put them in boxes and wrap them. Today toy drives are about purchasing new toys and I think there is a message missed in that.

This year of 2010 was not the best of years and my sister and I had promised each other a super Christmas and then there was the new computer for me and a new septic tank for me to bust the budgets. But my sister and her fur kids are joining me for Christmas and that is a wonderful gift in and of itself. Besides not all gifts are at Christmas.

As I grow older my friends and I have agreed to not feel we must gift at this time of year. It frees us up to find the perfect gift and the perfect time and wrap it and give it as a complete surprise. And sometimes they are not things but time spent together. Jessica deciding to go to the spa seriously and haul me along has been a wonderful gift. Getting in shape has been super but so has the windshield time to and from Taos. And my friend, Dianne, coming up to sit my house and four dogs and three cats while my sister and I escaped to Utah, or her opening up her house for Thanksgiving are immeasurable gifts.

And my sister gifted me this summer with a weekend at the St Francis in Santa Fe (photos of which were lost in the dreaded computer crash) and the Nikon D90 camera that just keeps giving and giving and giving. On another shopping trip to Santa Fe we jokingly gave each other identical all-in-one socket tools at Loew's. With all the other unpacking from the vehicles we both left this small item in our cars. Hers turned out to be the perfect thing to take off her high lift jack from the jeep when she got stuck in mud. I am putting mine in the emergency box.

Surviving 2010 has probably been the best gift of the year. I have a list of friends that did not make it. And thanks especially for my sister making it out of the Zuni Mountains this fall.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Orphan Child

The Bell Tower
On a recent trip to San Fidel, New Mexico my sister and I drove by the now abandoned San Fidel Indian School. It was one of the many church run boarding schools supported by the government in the late 1800's in the United States. Here is a link to NPR's program on the subject. I will let them tell the tale.

Fortunately we no longer take Indian children from their parents and their culture and this particular Catholic owned church and school is abandoned. Given the age and architecture of this church that is rather sad and so I recorded it digitally as I do many of the New Mexico Churches I see and one day plan to paint. It was a stormy day and the abandoned buildings seemed haunted by disturbing spirits. I know that is rather airy fairy but do believe negative energy can be attached to places.

One of the pictures I took had a raven on the north bell tower. Visions of Edgar Allan Poe. And Juan Carlos Castaneda. Death comes from the left - life from the right. As I contemplated painting this church I could not get past that vision so I decided to paint it. I knew it would be one of my orphan child paintings - paintings that don't fit with the body of my work due to subject or color - but while this is not my story to tell, it is also not my story to ignore. Those that do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

I was going to display this painting at the gala reception at the gallery last night but it didn't fit with the others I took. I plan to enter it in the Winter Invitational Exhibit. Juried exhibits are where many of my orphan children go. And they seem to win awards if not purchases.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Magpie 45 - Images


Icons of such early memory
Representatives of a faith not met
A toddler's awe at color
Seen from a stroller prison.

Rome from my mother's view
Her agenda imprinted
On to my memories
Cathedrals and ruins.

St. Peters and the Spanish Steps
Fettuccine at Al Fredos
Italian ice at the coliseum
An artist born?
Or shaped by those early images?

J. Binford-Bell
December 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mermories Attached

Memories Attached

The task to clean out the basement
But suddenly she was slip sliding away
Down Mill Hill
Dad beneath her
Little brother atop.

More, more they yelled in delight
Their father pulling them up the hill for another flight
None of the three of them knew when to stop
The snow so fresh
The air so cold.

Then suddenly her feet were gone numb
Her brother screaming with icy blue hands
Hours in front of the old wood stove
The pain of warming limbs.
Her mother distraught.

Big Red, their transport to other lands
Stored in the basement
Dad to the dog house
She and her brother to the couch
Seeing the snow from behind the glass.

That moment
She swore to escape
The bonds of playing it safe
But Big Red was for ever
Entombed in the basement with memories attached.

J. Binford-Bell

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What Makes a Winner

Lamentation of the Spirits - Best of Show Illusions
It is that time of year again. No, not just the holidays, but when artists have to come up with some new work to submit to fairs, shows and exhibits. Judges for major fairs do not want to see the same work again and there is always this little line in judged exhibits - work must be completed in the last two years. To complicate matters one of the galleries I am in is having a retrospective of the original six female artists for its seventh anniversary. And the Moreno Valley Arts Council is calling for entries for a January exhibit. So while others are making the rounds of endless holiday parties I am trying to come up with at least three new and innovative works.

This always raises the question as to what makes a winner. A group of friends and I got into this discussion with photography recently. First it has to be a good. And this is true for all artistic endeavors, including poetry and music no doubt. Composition, which I would define as balance and proportion, is all important. And in painting or photography that balance and proportion extends to color and not merely the layout of shapes. A photographer can frame his shot and on the computer crop it to improve the composition. A painter gets total freedom over their composition.

The most important role of composition (and here I am going to expand and recklessly include poetry and music) is to catch the eye (or ear) of the viewer and draw them in. And move them deeper into the work and then release them. A static composition causes a subtle irritation in the viewer - a dissatisfaction. Admittedly their have been some movements in painting that sought just to slam the viewer against the canvas. Museums collect a lot of those.

I guess because I write I also believe that message or content is very important in the visual arts, but unfortunately has become rather back-staged (maybe it has something do do with those Slam movements). Art is so often today something pretty to hang on your walls. And those of us trying to make a living in these rough economic times are libel to pander to the masses on this. But this time of year, especially when entering a juried exhibit, we get to insert more message. It is by no means as obvious as in an essay but for those that are engaged in the work through composition it is there to be read.

When I am in the role of judge for an exhibition I always look for content. Does this very well crafted painting or photograph also say something to me? Those works that do make a statement will always win out over those which are just nicely practiced compositions of light and color. But judges are fickle. All viewers of art bring to the art their own experiences which alters their relationship to the work. Hey, I know people that don't like the Mona Lisa. Even the best of artists get rejected from time to time. And a prize winning piece can lose in the next competition.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Magpie 43 - Gone


The door
No holiday wreath
No lace curtains
The stoop  not swept of snow
Said it all.

Said it in ways
Her mother had not
Nor had the obit
In the small local paper
Or the lawyer reading the will.

It all hit home
In that instant
She saw the door
To the neat little cottage
Passed to her.

Her great aunt
Wasn't home
would never be again
Finally she was able to cry.

December 2010