Monday, March 26, 2012

love for a fallen brother

my next door neighbor started working at the clinic 8 and 1/2 years ago.  i was responsible for hiring him.  during the job interview he touched me deeply when he looked me in the eyes and said "i'll always give 100% and you'll always be able to count on me."  over the years he's consistently demonstrated that.

he is from west africa originally.  although we're very different, we grew to become friends and look after one another.  when i had 2 rez dogs, he'd take care of them and water my plants during my extended leaves.  his positivity and ever present laughter brightened up my life as well as the lives of his patients and co-workers.  we tease him at work about his aphorisms.  he was fond of saying things like "failure to prepare is preparing to fail."  walking home with him daily i grew tired of saying "see you tomorrow" because i knew the inevitable response would be "god willing."  why couldn't he just say "yeah, see you tomorrow."  so instead, i started saying "have a good evening" as we parted ways.  i didn't like thinking that one day we wouldn't share the walk home or see one another tomorrow.

3 nights ago jamaal and i drove him to the emergency room in flagstaff because he'd been demonstrating confusion and difficulty expressing himself.  his upbeat affect had been replaced by a sullenness and flat affect.  his co-workers asked him if he was depressed which he denied.  he'd been seen several times at a nearby clinic and each time he'd return saying "they say i just have to get my blood pressure down."  before leaving for flagstaff we checked his blood pressure.  it was fine.

he was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer that carries a dismal prognosis.  i'm not even sure he's aware of it yet.  after spending time with him this weekend in the icu, i went out yesterday and did the one thing that brings me joy.  i pasted with him in mind (though the image is not of him), and reflected on the lessons i've learned from doing so over the past 3 years - about how the images are here for only a short while before passing away; about how each wall is different and how important it is to appreciate it's unique qualities and how ultimately i have to let go.  but as long as the images are here, i can love them as intensely as i want.

so, here's to you neighbor.  godspeed.

Monday, March 19, 2012

high country news

thanks sarah!


Friday, March 16, 2012

phun in phoenix

i write this with the smell of dog shit all too present.  you see, i accidentally stepped in it as i was unloading my car to start the installation of step by the funeral home in phoenix.  it was located on the little grassy area right in front of where i was going to be working.  unable to remove it, i placed rocks over it as a reminder to not step there again.  in retrospect, i should have buried it.  the smell was my companion for the next 4 hours and although i've long since changed shoes and showered, the smell lingers with a pungency that would make stale cheese jealous.

speaking of strong smells, as i was slowly driving to steve and julia's house this evening, i passed by a house where a blooming plant aroma was so intoxicating, i slowed even more to appreciate it.

the piece above is a collaboration with jenny ignaszewski, an artist based in phoenix.  our initial idea was to have step's head tethered to the ground like gulliver.  but in recognition of the piece being put up next to the parking lot for a funeral home, the plan is to have the ropes breaking as step's spirit is released.  i don't know if the piece works.  i tried putting myself into the mindset of someone coming to wish a loved one farewell.  it'll be interesting getting feedback from the funeral director as to what her clients say.  the funeral director dug it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

koyaanisqatsi 2

this past december in phoenix i started a series of installations i called koyaanisqatsi (or crazy life, life out of balance).  this piece outside tuba city is a continuation of that series.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

ain't it funny sometimes...

grandma's new bike on j.r.'s house

I'd been excited for a while to get back outdoors on the rez to get a big piece up.  I was happy with the pieces I got up in Phoenix this winter.  (Thank you Phoenix...)  

i started making wheat paste last night.  i made 5 gallons and went to bed after a long day.  i slept in this morning and got up about 9:30.  i made 5 more gallons hoping that'd be enough for the installation.  since i've been collecting all this stuff i've been hearing about, like (acrylic matt medium, wall paper glue and some other coating products i've been experimenting with), i brought that along to use as filler if i didn't have enough wheat paste.

i gotta say.  it was an incredibly beautiful day.  after a long, cold winter it felt great to be able to strip down to my tee shirt while working on a southwest facing wall (with an ambient temperature of 58 fahrenheit).  the sky was a deep, super blue and there wasn't a lot of wind (but, just enough to seriously threaten shit).  

i got to the site around 1:30 p.m.  after documenting "grandma's new bike," i started scrapping her off to prep the wall for the next piece.  i unloaded a few things, peeled a little paint and thought, "damn.  i'm getting hungry."

so i packed everything up and drove 10 miles into tuba city to mcdonald's.  how sad is that? (but damn are those fries good!)  by the time i drove back to the house, got everything unloaded and started to seriously scrap off "grandma's new bike," it was after 2 p.m.  

i worked until it was getting cold as shit and my fingers hurt from when i'd dip them in the paste. they'd get immediately cold from the wind hitting them when i'd take them out.  there were just enough loose staples and screws sticking out the wrong way that i was started to get sloppy and careless and not remember where those areas where and i'd scratch my hand.  and i was getting hungry again.

i packed the paste, my little wooden box with the music and all of the other supplies.  it was getting cold; the sun was starting to set.  i was in the long shadow of a far away hill.  i didn't relish washing my brushes, cleaning broom handles and rinsing an empty 5 gallon paste bucket in the cold.  but boom.  i did it.  i packed up the ladder and was getting ready to drive away when a vehicle pulled up.  i thought that was cool because i'd worked for 4 hours on the house and hadn't gotten a car horn, shout or any other form of love all day.  i was reflecting on how this had been an atypical day in that way when i hear a voice say "...remember me?"

it was my buddy chris.   i thing he said "awwww, you don't remember me!"  i looked at him and laughed and said "'re chris.  of course i remember you."  we laughed for a while.  

i asked him what he's doing over here and not in cameron?  he and his wife are living nearby while waiting to get their homesite lease in cameron.  it's been 2 years he said.  i asked him to introduce me to his wife who was sitting warmly in their 4x4.  she rolled the window down and we changed heys.  

as we were leaving, i asked chris if he still has the same phone number.  he said no and started to tell me what his new one is.  because my hands were to cold to enter text into my touchscreen phone, i gave him one of my card.  i smiled when i saw which one it was because it's my favorite one.  ( sells little business cards where you can design your own and get the cutest, coolest little cardholder. i had several different cards in a holder and didn't know which one was on top.)  

i then cracked a big smile, slapping my knee, when i realized which card chris was getting.

he loved it and showed it to his wife.  she too remembered the day and handed the card back to chris with a smile on her face.

ain't it funny sometimes...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

installing alice

 with my friend, annette.

flagstaff pop up show (03.02.12)

step helped me install work for a pop show in flagstaff last night.  it was the most fun i've had doing an indoor show installation.  much of what i worked on were found objects including the functioning tv (that became a dog which showed "koyaanisqatsi" in the show window of the store), the stairs (on which i got to try my first lenticular) and the chest of drawers (which became the lamb + kid bed stand).

i used the show as an opportunity to talk about and attempt to fund raise for a project i'm working on called "the painted desert" which seeks to bring street artists whose work i love to the rez to paint murals and to teach mural making workshops to youth.  the response from the vendors and the artists contacted have all been positive.  so stay tuned for the painted desert.