Sunday, October 17, 2010

circle k, kayenta

Monday, October 11, 2010

indigenous people's day 2010 - part 2

i tried getting the crew together, but they weren't able to come this weekend.  yote said maybe next weekend.  i hope so but, i went out today thinking about them and hit 3 sites - hugo's roadside stand on 89 north, austin nix's rodeo announcer's stand in tuba city and the old cow springs trading post.

in short, it was stupid!

"erica at the shooting range" 89 north
i shot the source photo in 1996 in kayenta, az.

austin nix's rodeo announcer's stand 
outside tuba city
this source photo comes from the navajo nation fair in 1996.  i really liked meeting tom and putting these pictures up for him, especially knowing how excited he is to get the art and that he'll be using the announcer's stand next weekend at the tuba city fair.

my old stomping grounds - cow springs trading post remains 
(i love this place.)
the source photo here also comes from the 1996 navajo nation fair rodeo in window, rock, az.

moebius strip

god, i love series!

indigenous people's day 2010 - part 1

a year ago this weekend, indigenous people's day, yote, step and i formed what we called "no reservation required crew."  why?  because you don't need a reservation to see the work along the roadside and 2, do we really need reservations?  we pasted black mesa juntion first with lula + minne.  yote did the cornstalks and the ravens (which even a few of the locals thought were real).

that was on a saturday.  on sunday we did the abandoned house at bitter springs.  i'd been attracted to this house because of it's tall, flat, brick chimney.  at 14 feet, it offered one of the few chances to "go big" on the rez.  

step, yote and i were all gathered at my house.  yote and i finished cutting out pieces for the day's installation.   step helped me make the wheat paste while that was happening.  over the course of the morning it'd become really, really windy.  since the site where we were going was about 85 to 90 miles away, i didn't want to drive all the way over there to have it be too windy.  we'd had big problems the day before getting lula on her horse up.  the wind ripped her head from her body.  (this was before i realized it was far easier to unroll the paper down the wall rather than trying to put up a big, long sheet that becomes a sail.)

i'd about talked everybody out of not going when step said she thought we should do it. the house is in a valley and might be totally blocked from the wind.  the car shook violently from the wind as we left inscription house.  an hour later and 15 minutes later, late in the afternoon, we arrived to absolutely no wind at all.  we couldn't believe it and didn't talk about the fact that there was no wind because we didn't want to jinx it.

i was a little worried about putting hosteen hank up in 2 pieces.  this was one of the few big, multipart pieces i'd done.  i hadn't yet discovered registry marks.  anyway, we got it and had a great time doing it.  i'd brought a solar light to install over the chimney to provide some illumination to the ché but had decided it was too late, the sun was setting quickly so i'd do it another time.  step and yote talked me into getting it up.  

the video of that installation with the light coming on at the end summarizes my weekend with yote and step.  we'd had an incredible weekend making art together and we were loving what we were seeing and creating.  it was perfection.

on monday, we hit the tanks at gray mountain.  over the course of that weekend, we had a lot of good interactions with people and we loved it.  exhausted, i took them out to eat at cameron trading post.  

then, well after dark, step and i snuck into the tuba city fair grounds as workers were preparing the carnival rides for the fair the following weekend.  we put the horseless brocho rider on the rodeo grounds ticket booth with one of yote's ravens.  that was a nice little mash up.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

beat bop and beyond...

chris stain said he got his name from rammellzee's rap on "beat bop."  you know the song.  it was the ending credits song for henry chalfant's "style wars."  (

 basquiat was on this song playing bongos after his rap got scratched.)  rammellzee talks about being a "stain on a train."  thus, "chris stain."  how can you not love that?

thanks for the love chris!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

kicking it with hugo hernandez

What a beautiful man Hugo Hernandez is.  After working solo for four hours installing Aidan on his house, he stopped by to chat for a bit as I was packing up.  He said he was just coming back from visiting family in Chihuahua State, Mexico.  My first question was whether he had trouble coming back into the U.S.

Hugo said he likes to cross back and forth between New Mexico and Mexico.  I forget the name of the small town in southern New Mexico where he goes over the border.  He said that it was easier than he thought it would be getting back into the U.S.  He told of a big machine with a huge mechanical arm sweeping over a line of vehicles looking for contraband.  The machine is so sensitive he said that drivers are told to take their cigarettes with them as the exit their vehicles and to empty their ash trays.  Otherwise, this will set the machine off and initiate a detailed search of the vehicle.  The border guards also have dogs to sniff each vehicle passing over the border.  I didn't ask but I assume Hugo is a citizen of the U.S.  I was never really sure until today.   When he spoke of the ease with which he reentered the U.S., he acknowledged that he didn't come back through Arizona.  We agreed SB 1070 is a mean-spirited law.

His sister passed away recently.  That was why he returned home to Mexico.  He said Chihuahua is mountainous like Flagstaff but about 1000 feet higher.   It's lush there.  His corn field in Chihuahua is the size of 4 football fields (and I think he meant soccer pitches which are larger than football fields).  He laughed at the size of the small cornfields on the rez.  He told me of plans to pump water from the Moenkopi Wash nearby to the home he's building on the rez to irrigate the yard for grass.  He plans to have only a small garden at his new home.

Hugo's wife is Navajo.  I asked if he's ever taken his wife and children to Mexico.  He said he has and when they get there, they don't want to leave.  They find it so beautiful, they want to stay in Mexico. But then he told of the drug violence happening in his village and how people are afraid to come out of their houses in the afternoons as a lot of innocent people have been randomly shot while talking with someone they didn't know had a history with drug cartels.  Yet, Hugo thinks things are improving.

When I asked him about the completion date for his house, he said he hopes to have it completed by Christmas of this year.  That's a little over 2 months away.  When I asked how long it's taken to get to this point, he answered 6 years but added he'd be further along had he not gotten ill this past year.  I didn't ask what happened.  

Meanwhile, I was thinking "...Dang, I'm going to get buffed in 2 months."  O well.  On a similar note, I'd planned to paste Ben drinking from his favorite cup on a trailer outside Tuba City tomorrow only to learn as I drove today by that it'd been hauled away.  Note to self - the wheat pasting project is about letting go...

When I asked Hugo about pasting the roadside stand again and whether he plans to use it as he'd once indicated, he reiterated that he has no problem with me pasting the stand but added he doesn't plan to use it.  He told me that the Arizona Department of Transportation plans to start work over the next year widening the road to make Highway 89 North a four lane highway from Flagstaff to the Utah border.  

"What?!," I said thinking "how is it I don't know these things?"  

A lot of roadside stands are going to be demolished.  They were supposed to start the road widening project this past May but something happened, he said.

Hugo with one of his daughters

On my incredibly beautiful drive home, watching a harvest moon set in the west in my rearview mirror, I contemplated the odds of Hugo finishing his house in 2 months as ADOT begins demolishing bead stands.  

Progress.  It's like my dad used to say - "...Nothing says the same.  Things either get better or worse.  But they don't stay the same."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

tornado weather

okay, maybe i never noticed it before because i wasn't engaged in an activity that depended so heavily on "good" weather.  that's funny.  "good" weather; it reminds me of my peeps talking about having "good" hair.  what's "good" hair?"  what's "good" weather?  at this point in my life, having any hair is good hair.  i'm more discriminating when it comes to the weather.

for me, "good" weather is weather that isn't so cold that my hands freeze when i put them into wheat paste; it isn't so windy that my paper rips as it starts to unroll and it isn't raining or snowing.  having said that, arizona has had 2 tornadoes in the past 4 months.  what's up with that?  fortunately, no one was hurt either time.  but damn, it's makes wheat pasting unthinkable.  to all you global warming skeptics, i say take up wheat pasting or any other activity that requires you being outdoors and record trends in temperature and other weather patterns over several years.  something is going on.

but hey, this posting isn't about the weather or global warming, it's about letting go of preconceived ideas.  that's apropos in that the wheat pasting project in general is about letting go.  so this is the situation, i found myself mildly annoyed recently that someone who really digs my work has a political philosophy that differs from my own.  i have to laugh now as i see the beauty of this but for the longest i had a preconceived idea of people with whom my work would resonate.  i imagined them essentially being of my political persuasion and having similar interests.  but no,  that's not always the case.

i've said repeatedly how i hoped my photography would challenge viewers to question and hopefully change preconceived negative ideas of people of color and/or the dispossessed.  the fact that someone who identifies as a conservative, christian, military wife finds my work of interest and forwards it to her friends is the best compliment i could ever hope for.  i almost missed that point.

it's like this summer when i was interviewed by a weekly paper in flagstaff, az and i told the reporter that my work is conceptual.  even though she had a tape recorder she said that my work is perceptual.  i was bummed.  that wasn't what i said.  but a friend pointed out that perhaps the reporter had really given me a gift. by suggesting my work is perceptual, the focus is on the viewer's visceral response to and engagement in the work.  wikipedia quotes sol lewitt in defining conceptual art:

“In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”

the execution of my outdoor installations is hardly a perfunctory affair.  wikipedia says this about perceptual art:

In practice, perceptual art may be interpreted as the engagement of multi-sensory experiential stimuli combined with the multiplicity of interpretive meanings on the part of an observer. Sometimes, the role of observer is obscured as members of the public may unwittingly or unknowingly be participants in the creation of the artwork itself.

in truth, that sounds like something steve coleman might write about his m base approach to music improvisation (Macro - Basic Array of Structured Extemporizations,, but i digress.

i give thanks for my good hair in bad weather and perceptualist art that challenges my preconceived ideas of who it touches.  and that's the way it is...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

516 arts installations (albuquerque, nm)

dancing girls with big fros

minnie + lula

okay, with 3 shows since july and a rainy monsoon season behind me, it's time to paste the rez again!

Friday, October 1, 2010


aidan at 2nd + gold