Saturday, November 27, 2010

when it's too cold to paste...

i set out yesterday to visit an old friend whom i've photographed often over the years.  in fact, i was telling wookie yesterday i have a photo up in the clinic of her jumping rope when she was about 5.  i took care of her mom when she was pregnant with wookie and have taken care of wookie in her 2 pregnancies.

wookie spent this past year in phoenix with her new boyfriend.  she admitted yesterday she was with him because he has a car and a place to stay.  yet, they got evicted from their apartment and spent 2 weeks living out of their car in the parking lot of the apartment complex where they'd been staying.  her kids were with her husband's mom on the rez 5 hours away during this time.  yeah, wookie is married still.  her husband cheated on her.  he's 24 and impregnated a 17 year old high school student. 

wookie wasn't certain who her youngest son, owen's, father is.  it is either her husband or her new boyfriend.  she told me about how a radio station in phoenix sponsors paternity testing if people who call in are willing to share their stories on the air and the results of the paternity test.  she called in, got paternity tested and shared her story over the air.  she learned that her husband is the father of both her children.  it was shortly after this that her new boyfriend dropped her, they became homeless and she ended up moving back to the rez.

she reminisced about how she never really knew her dad.  a couple years ago she wrote an open letter to the navajo times news paper asking if anyone knew his whereabouts and through this she found him after a 14 year break.  wookie cried about having blown an opportunity to attend college for free several years ago when her foster mom took her to buffalo, new york.  wookie's mom was drinking heavily at the time and all agreed it was best for wookie to get out of that environment.  she said the day after she got to new york she learned she was pregnant at 17 with her then boyfriend's child, aidan.  abortion was never an option for her and she didn't want to put the baby up for adoption.  so, within 6 months of escaping the trauma of her home life, she was back.

now, she's enrolled in trade school again in phoenix which is to begin in february.  we talked about what it would take for her to realize her dreams, where she'll get money and where she might stay.  despite several setbacks, wookie is trying to remain optimistic.

wookie, around age 5

these photos came from hanging out with wookie, owen and aidan yesterday afternoon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

3 steps

I honestly thought I could get the piece of Stephanie up by myself today.  It's tricky working from a ladder on a cylindrical wall having to lean 3 feet over to align the piece so the ladder isn't resting on the piece I just put up.  In fact, I couldn't do it and had to rest the ladder on the strip I just pasted invariably tearing holes in the piece.  O well.  Had it not been for an art student from NAU (Lauren Vanier), who was there doing a school assignment and a passerby/artist named Elton Manygoats, I never would have gotten that piece up.  

A big shout out to my wheat pasting muse!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

outside tuba city

outside tuba city

further outside tuba city

For about the past year I've been noticing a boarded up house as I approach Tuba City that I've wanted to paste.  I salivate over this house.  Since my bigger installations take a lot of time when working alone, I decided I'd try to find out who owns the house and get permission.  Never seeing anyone at the house when I pass by, I was tempted several times over the summer to get there around 4 a.m. on a full moon night and just hit it.  But I never did.  Although the house is boarded up, there's a horse corral with 4 healthy horses.  Somebody has to feed them.

Today I noticed that someone at the house.  I pulled off the road and saw a truck at the horse corral.  A woman was there with 3 young children.  A girl of about 8 was on horseback practicing barrel racing while 2 younger children played in the back of the pickup.  I introduced myself to the woman and gave her my history.

"Hi.  My name is Chip.  I work at Inscription House.  I've lived and worked there for 23 years.  Last summer I started doing an art project placing large photographs along the roadside.  You've probably seen them."  

At this point most people go "...O yeah.  So you're the one."  I told the woman I'd like to paste the boarded house.  She said I'd have to "that man" as she pointed off into the distance.  About 200 yards away a man was galloping on a horse coming towards us.  As he was approaching I asked the woman if that was her husband.  She said yes.  I asked what she thought he'd say about the proposal.  "He'll probably like it," she said.  I told her that if he didn't I was counting on her to soften him up.  She laughed.  I asked her what her husband's name is.  "J R" she said.  "Nice," I thought.  An auspicious beginning.

 I gave him the same spiel.  When I said I work at Inscription House, he lightened up.  He said "O yeah, you used to be my dad's doctor.  I was telling my wife and kids about you recently.  Back around 1994 you used to go to Chee Secody's place to photograph guys practicing bull riders."  He asked if I still have those photographs because he wanted to show them to his wife and kids.

watching the bull riders practice at chee secody's - 1994

I drove home with a fat smile on my face - happy that I was reacquainted with someone from 15 years ago and thankful to have an opportunity for a sanctioned hit on prime real estate outside Tuba City.