finally! a dream come true. i pasted casa de hugo hernandez today. my friend linda came along. i'd told her i'd wanted to see if i could do this big a piece by myself; so she just hung out and took pictures. hank is 16 feet; thelma is 15.
what a beautiful day! the sky was so, so blue - almost azure like a fall sky. on the horizon, breaking through the blue, i'd see the snow-covered san francisco peaks and would draw inspiration from that.
a couple members from the community stopped by as i was pasting. one older couple, who run a roadside stand, asked about the process. they told linda that i'd done the image of wookie with her son aidan on their stand last summer. today they gave me turquoise and silvery jewelry as a way of saying thanks.
I stopped at Black Mesa Junction this morning to get gas while in route to a day long meeting in Kayenta. I was shocked to discover that the collaboration I did with the Shonto school students a week ago Tuesday was totally down. Totally fucking down. There was no trace of it ever having been there. (That's the good news, I guess. Wheat paste art can be washed off without a hint of its existence. But I'm hardly celebrating that.) I had to smile when I recognized the dog who'd eaten the wheat paste from the bucket and off the wall who holds his head slightly crooked with a permanent smile on his face.
It happened once before at Black Mesa that a piece I put up there was partially removed. When that happened I spent the day thinking it'd been vandalized. Later I learned from Nick, the store manager, that snow melting from the roof damaged the piece.
I spent the day in Kayenta at a work related meeting bummed that one of the few big walls where I live is no longer available for street art. I stopped by the store once again in route home to see if I could talk with Nick. He'd expressed support of the public art project and was confused as to why the work was buffed. Yeah, it was a raw, unfocused piece on the front of the store, but why didn't he call to let me know the piece was being removed like he did when he had a concern about the last big piece I'd put up there. Nick wasn't there but another manager (John, who also happens to be a patient of mine), was. He said that youth from the community had written graffiti on the lower hanging pieces the Shonto students put up. Some pieces had been ripped from the local dogs eating the wheat paste off the wall. Rez dogs and wheat paste. Not a good combination. The store owner didn't like the pieces on the front wall of the store or the condition they were in and said that everything had to be taken down. Bummer. However, John said that the walls I used previously were still available to me.
In truth, that was all I wanted to hear. I'd spent the day wondering whether my image of a dog wearing a large protective collar parachuting back to the rez was considered offensive to the community. In fact, I was sure that was what led to the buff. As an outsider to this culture, I'm still trying to walk the fine line between presenting imagery that the culture considers offensive and foreign versus culturally sensitive creative expression.
So hmmm, let me get this straight. It wasn't about the dog parachuting back to the rez, eh? Cool. I love the story of Roscoe the rez dog returning to earth nostalgic for home. I like that image and want to use it again. In fact, I will!
i pasted black mesa shopping center april 13, 2010 with 4 students from shonto prepartory school, their teacher, a chaperone + my friend, yu. the morning air was cold, especially working in the shade, but the girls were great.
the students chose as our theme "navajo space ships" and "rez dogs." go figure.
i imagined a rez dog going on a mission into space, reluctantly. somewhere along the way roscoe the rez dog became nostalgic for red dirt and slick rock. he knew there were sheep back at home needing to be herded and trucks to be chased for no apparent reason. besides, roscoe was the leader of the western agency (shonto division), pack of rez dogs and didn't want his status as alpha male threatened by some rogue rez renegade dog. so, like any good rez dog in outer space, roscoe parachuted home.
"ground control to major tom, roscoe tom that is..."
Yesterday, Easter Sunday, I returned to Red Lake with my friend, Linda. Actually, it worked out perfectly. When we walked back to Lorenzo's office, I told him I followed through and brought him the nurse he requested and then asked "...where's my sheepherder?"
It occurred to me last week after looking at photos from pasting Red Lake that I should have put a sheep + kid image on the ice container and do it in such a way that Lorenzo could still use the cooler. I used an old Boy Scouts bowie knife to separate the lamb's legs from the body so the ice box door could still be used. One of the cashiers who was standing close by watching said to another cashier "...O look. He's a good inlaw. He can butcher. He just cut the leg off."
It was great again hanging out at the store. Later in the day Linda mentioned that she'd heard from a friend that the old Red Lake Trading Post had been built by the Babbit Brothers two years before Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation.
This time a different relative of Lorenzo's named Chris helped me. He really got into it. He joined me as I was putting the piece up on the ice cooler and then did the "kid running left" image pretty much by himself.
Ned, in the red hat, showed up. He asked where I was going and whether I had room to get him to the junction some 18 miles away. "Yeah," I said. "Sure." And then it hit him. He recognized me and said "...Ooooh. I know you. You're Thomas from the clinic. You know my mom and dad and you took pictures of me in 1998." I didn't recognize him but when he told me who his parents were, boom! I knew who he was (though I still didn't remember taking pictures of him).
I ended up giving Ned a ride 35 miles to the road up to his parent's place (though his dad passed away several years ago and his mom is in a nursing home in Flagstaff. He went to their place to meet up with his kids who were coming in from Salt Lake City.)
Ned talked incessantly on the ride back. At one point he told me what's his wife's name is and said "...she's got a big ass, like... like... like..." Linda and I looked at each other somewhat incredulously waiting with baited breath to hear what Ned's wife's ass was like.
"It's like your people's asses," he said.
"Okay. I got the image in my head," i responded.
Ned reminded me of one of his favorite photos that I took of his parents. We laughed about the irony of his parents being outdoors while a recently born baby goat was inside. I'd just picked his mom up who'd been hitchhiking and took her to her octagon. When we got there I cracked up upon seeing the goat inside.
the madman's, guy + marie feb 1998
He said it's up still in their house even though they aren't there anymore.