Monday, March 28, 2011

back in cameron


navajo pride (as is written on jim's cap)

lux's crew

i've not met lux and his crew yet but they're getting some nice work up.

for me, it was a lovely day in cameron but super windy.  i was determined however and came up with a strategy to install in the wind that worked well.  the biggest challenge really was finding enough room for the ladder on the small piece of ground around the base of the tank.  

the highlight of the day was seeing a grandpa take his herd of sheep and sheep dogs into the moenkopi wash to get water.  he had about 20 sheep and goats.  they were in the wash for about an hour or so before returning slowly.  i thought it was funny that he and the sheep walk past this art every day.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


i've been in a reflective mode of late.  this june will mark 2 years since i started doing the wheat paste project.  it's been an amazing ride.  i've met and worked with incredible people, people i don't know that i would have interacted with otherwise.

i started this project before kinko's became fedex office.  the folks at the flagstaff branch have been truly great and patient in working with me.  (i've worked in my home darkroom for 23 years and anyone who knows anything about darkroom work knows how exacting a darkroom photographer can be.)  

i'm thankful for the friendships i've made there.  i especially want to thank anders, a mandarin speaking computer nerd at nau, who was there at the beginning of the project and who has helped me trouble shoot everything from the optimal size to the optimal file format.  he'll be leaving for parts unknown come june.  so anders, all the best to you and thanks for your support over the past 21 months.

anders with one of our first prints off the océ printer

Saturday, March 19, 2011

and then it occurred to me...

as i  was prepping big paper for san francisco that as much as this project is about letting go, it's also about accepting change.

Friday, March 18, 2011


i came across these guys today.  actually, they found me.  but i checked their twitter feed and found that i really, really liked it.  theirs is a voice of inspiration at a time when it's needed (kinda like hearing milton nascimento's voice at just the right moment).  ha!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

beautiful day in the neighborhood

well, let me start by saying that it was an absolutely gorgeous day today.  i've been wanting to hit those red garage doors at black mesa junction for some time now and today was the day.

but, i digress.  i want to share a story.  about a month or so ago i got an email from a woman saying she'd been reading my blog for a couple months or so.  she told me how she showed the wheat paste images on the blog to her husband who asked whose work this is.  she responded with something to the effect "...oh, some guy named chip thomas,"  to which he said "wait, there was a chip thomas at the alternative quaker junior high school he attended in the early 70s."  when the woman wrote to me she asked if i'm the chip thomas who attended the alternative quaker junior high school in north carolina known as the arthur morgan school.  i told her i am.

she said she discovered the blog because she'd seen the wheat pasted images driving across the rez between durango and sedona where her mom lives.  so yeah, who pulled up today as i was pasting and asked if i'm chip thomas?

yes, it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood and it was a blast meeting you and your daughter cheryl!

Friday, March 4, 2011



  hunter's toy

repeat indefinitely...

Thursday, March 3, 2011


wait.  this is supposed to be a blog about wheat pasting and life on the navajo nation right?  what's up with photos of seagulls, you ask?  well, it's all connected.  i'm here in fort lauderdale visiting a friend who is trying to get a struggling mom + pop type hotel up and running a block from the beach.  it's an old school, no frills kind of place with lots of people staying economically for days to weeks at a time.  i just needed a break from the scene in northern arizona and came here for a few days.

in truth, i'm getting ready for a really big installation soon on the west coast and i want to get the mural concept together over the next several days.  yeah, i'm a little freaked at the opportunity i have to rock this wall. i trust rockage will happen though.  meanwhile, i'm chillaxing like a mofo watching the gulls ride the wind.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I was about 30 miles from home en route to Phoenix when I saw her standing along the side of the road.  I see lots of hitchhikers but not too many young women hitchhiking alone.  I passed her then backed up to give her a ride.  I assumed she was going to Tuba City, some 20 miles away.  She said she was going to Flagstaff.   

The heavy fragrance of perfume filled the air as we traveled in awkward silence.  She called someone on her cell phone to tell them she'd gotten a ride and told them exactly where we were on the road.  This happened several times over the next hour and a half.  I liked the way she'd accessorized for the trip - the lonely pink flower on the side of her head complimented her chipped fingernail polish.  It reminded me of Flora Purim meets Billy Holiday.

I asked her name.  Marina" she said.  

I told her mine and she said she recognized me from the clinic.  I attempted to make small talk and noted that this is nice weather for hitchhiking - not too cold, not too windy.  (In fact, it's nice weather for wheat pasting too!)  I asked if she hitchhikes often.  She said she'd been doing it since age 14.  She's 19 now.

Someone called Marina on her cell phone.  She told them that we were in Tuba City now going down the hill towards the pawn shop and that she'd gotten lucky.  This ride was going to take her all the way into Flagstaff.   After the call she said " stepdad said he's one of your patients and he says hi."

Marina asked whether I was doing a day trip to Flagstaff.  People frequently ask this when they're trying to figure out their ride back home.  I told her I was going to Phoenix.  She asked if I was aware of where the shelter is in Flagstaff and how much it cost to stay there.  I wanted to make sure I understood her situation so I repeated what I thought I heard - she was going to Flagstaff and didn't have a place to stay.  And like Peace Pilgrim (, whom I'd met many years ago while I was in college, Marina had no luggage - just the essentials stuffed into her pockets.

"Yeah, that's right."  I called this guy to see if I could stay with him but he hasn't called back yet."  

I asked why she was going to Flagstaff.  "Well, my boyfriend - he's in jail.  He's been there since January.  You may have heard about it on the radio.  He was drinking.  I tried to tell him not to but he has an anger management problem.  He went and broke out windows at the high school and community college in Page.  He did over $7000.00 in damage.  Tomorrow morning he has a hearing and the judge says he may be released.  I'm going to be there with him.  I hope he gets to come back with me."

As Marina and I talked about what she likes about hip hop and why she doesn't like to dance, I sent my wheat pasting co-conspirator, Stephanie (aka "Step"), a text asking if Marina could stay with her tonight.  I dropped Marina off there and got a message from Step a couple hours later saying "...fed, showered, and now she's asleep cozy under a down comforter in the next room.  so young."

Here's to hoping Marina and Truzinsky (her boyfriend), make it back safely to the rez tomorrow.