Monday, July 5, 2010

wesley barlow's last portrait

wesley barlow at cedar ridge, az (navajo nation)
highway 89 north headed toward the north rim of the grand canyon

This pasting began last night and boy, was it one of those days.  I left home around 6 pm headed to Page to pick Jamaal up so we could go pasting on the remains of a beautiful slab rock building on Highway 89 in Cedar Ridge.  I'm guessing the building dates back to the late 1800s, similar to the Old Red Lake Trading Post.  It's about 85 miles from my house.

Jamaal lives in Page with him mom, some 55 miles away but in route to Cedar Ridge.  As I was approaching Page, traffic came to an abrupt stop about 10 miles outside of town.  There was a 2 vehicle accident.  A rescue helicopter was landing just as I stopped.  Forty five minutes later a second helicopter landed.  At this point, several cars in front of me turned around and found a dirt track access road paralleling the main highway.  Wanting to get on with the pasting as the evening sun was getting low in the western sky, I followed.  After bumping along at 5 miles an hour for about 3 miles, we got to a point where the traffic on the access road came to a stop.  Now there was traffic stopped on both the highway and the access road.  I waited here about 20 minutes.  When I got out to see what was going on, a "dualie" truck was stuck in stand.  After 20 more minutes of helping to push, we got him out.  Of course the traffic on the highway had been flowing for 10 minutes by the time we got the truck out.  The community of strangers made of locals and tourists all laughed saying we should have just stayed on the main highway though we were happy to have gotten the truck out.

I got to Page, picked up Jamaal and away we went into the setting sun with another 30 miles of driving to go.  We got to the site and set up quickly.  I slipped into my coveralls, opened the wheat paste container and to my surprise, it was as runny as water.  In my year of wheat pasting I've never seen that.  It still had substance and body when I left home.  All I can figure is that it overheated when I rolled the windows up to go help push the truck out of the sand.  Anyway, we got the lamb and kid piece up with the watery paste but I didn't want to risk putting Wesley's photo up.  Since the sun was down, I decided to return early in the morning (since this was an unsanctioned hit).  

To my surprise, Jamaal, my 13 year old, too cool for school, son not only said he was interested in coming back in the morning, but that he'd just come spend the night over at my house.  Now, this is a big deal.  He hates coming over to my house because "'s boring."  Boring?  Hardly.

We got home at 11 last night.  I made 2 fresh pots of wheat paste while Jamaal watched the loop of sports "news" that ESPN runs every 30 minutes.  I can't tell you how many times I heard that Lebron James may be going to the Knicks but there's a remote chance still he'll stay in Cleveland.  (We're hoping he stays in Cleveland.)  I shouldn't complain about Jamaal's interest in sports.  As some one pointed out to me recently, the one thing about playing organized sports is that it teaches discipline and has delayed his introduction to the drug and alcohol scene in school.

At 5 a.m. we were up and out of bed.  Actually, I was up and out of bed.  Jamaal was crashed out in front of the t.v. which was still looping the same sports "news."  I let him sleep until 5:40.  By 6 we were on the road headed back to Cedar Ridge.  We started working at 7:30 and were done by 8:15.  I was afraid the barking dogs would alert folks to our presence.  If they saw us, they didn't seem to care.  Regardless, it was a beautiful morning for sharing art and stories with my son.

wesley barlow's last portrait (03.94)

mad respect to faux reel and jr who explored pasting faces on similar surfaces:

faux reel:



Anonymous Martha said...

It made me laugh that Jamaal thinks your place is boring...!

July 5, 2010 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger chip thomas said...

it's reminds me of a joni mitchell lyric where she talks about the foolish boy. he'll learn.

i hope you're well.


July 5, 2010 at 1:33 PM  

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