Category Archives: Blog

Visionomatic & other Artful Images



A few notes from an artful weekend. It began with wine & roses at Casa Rondena in honor of a graduate (thank you Kate & congratulations!!), an overnight retreat at a cheerful Victoria airbnb (with a pink claw foot tub –yes fabulous) in a historic downtown ABQ neighbor –walking distance to the famed Artichoke Café and the Grove Café & Market. I enjoyed them both immensely. One in the company of a dear friend and one in my own good company.

Beauty Betty & Bingo

Beauty Betty & Bingo

New territory and exactly what was needed, apparently, to jump start my “mother” project for upcoming exhibit in Alaska.

Happy Mother’s Day too!!  Love you Mom.

A change of scenery. A gathering with friends. Good food. A little shopping. A lot of art. Big skies and blustery weather with swirling clouds that only caused to invigorate the spirit. Especially after a “happen upon” #34 at the Placitas Studio Tour. Roger Evans. The imagination of a visionary with wild abandon, and Barnum too, right out of the (animal) cracker box. That experience filled me with such heart and possibility I thought I might fly away. . . with the pig. Or the aliens.  He offers the option of both. And a snapdragon for the ladies. Thank you. If you haven’t been you can visit by appointment. I wouldn’t wait. Go NOW.  A few images to tease you. I might add there was a moment of snow falling (though no accummulation).  It only heightened the joy.


the vision of Roger Evans:  art, life, living, sculpture, imagination


If you haven’t been to Metallo Gallery in Madrid please do that too. The fifth annual miniature exhibit is up through May. Fun stuff and much of it under $100. All work is 6”x6” or under and represents emerging to well-known New Mexican artists. Here’s a glimpse. . .

Metallo Gallery Miniature Exhibit20150510_135709Brenda Roper Primitive Seamstress20150510_135443-1

And of course a trip to Madrid is always a treat.


See you later. . .

Brenda is an artist and occasional poet who lives on a one-way alley in a historic neighborhood in downtown Santa Fe.  She continues work on her Primitive Seamstress Series in between walking dogs, wine tasting, and travel.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

Also posted in Studio Art Tagged , , , |

Primitive Seamstress: Last week of the Artist Retreat


Firstly I want to thank those of you that recognize and honor this month away from my day job: Personal Assistant (that has me schlepping from housesit to dog walk, from Point A to Point B,  to the P.O or shoe repair to consignment shop or up the down staircase and no guarantee of income except the consistent 12 hours M/W/F afternoons) that this is an Artist Retreat. It is not a vacation.

Vacation conjures up dinners on foreign sidewalks, frolic in the ocean and the chance for intimate encounter, hmmm maybe an Italian chef who sings and plays guitar.  Paid time off (gasp)! –That is not this.  In the corporate world this might be a business trip with reimbursement and expense account.  Not that either.

This is beautiful.  Perfect.  Present.  — except these brief distractions of explanation–forgive me.  So now I’ve said it.


Granted there are vacation similarities and the possibility of most of the above. Maybe just semantics but still. The Artist Retreat comes with intention and a whole lot of solitude (which is the point).

A time to focus on the pursuit of the Primitive Seamstress, long walks on a long beach, and to thrive in the salt air that is too cold for swimming, in its perfect off-season bursts of fog and red flag days to amazing emerald calm and too early for tourists. This is gifted time away from the demands of daily life. Time to indulge in the creative process uninterrupted by obligation to others, though not completely cut off of course. There is wifi and I partook in the recent Facebook Artist Challenge. Thank you Katherine Coons for the nomination.

True it is of my own making. Thank you Brenda. Best gift I’ve ever given myself.  No Creative Capital or Lannan Foundation funding though I am grateful for the generosity of a few who bought into the art exchange/donation that helped with gas money for the 4 day road trip from Santa Fe to Santa Rosa Beach (1400 miles +).


And it has been fruitful.  The Primitive Seamstress Series well underway.

An honest beginning.

And the blog and the Thursday poem.


BrecopperriverI think back to other times I’ve taken leaps of faith for adventure.  A 28 day backpacking trip through the Escalante canyons of Utah. In June. Bare bones. A blanket and a cup.  At 22.  I lost 13 pounds. Ten months later I quit school early to raft the Grand Canyon for 21 days.  1983. Again 8 years later. These were in a life long before I realized I was an artist. Since then there have been trips to Mexico for painting and poetry and Spanish lessons.  A bicycle tour in Tuscany. A month at the Vermont Studio Center and four years at El Zaguan on Canyon Road.

A friend posted a quote on FB recently (below).  Some might find it corny but it resonated with me in my forever search for purpose, identity, a safe place to reside, a creative balance — how to proceed toward ‘the dream’ if you don’t know what it is –and how does a person not know their dream?  Wow! that is the question.


If you can’t figure out your purpose
figure out your passion.
For your passion will lead you
right into your purpose.
                   —Bishop T.D. Jakes

I know that travel is a passion.  Process my vehicle.  That the first step is to value yourself.  To create your own happiness.  To write your own dream. To let go of judgment (self and others) and to take a deep breath and open the door.  Who knows where it might lead you.



Sometimes I dream of flying over the Chugach

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who lives in Santa Fe, NM.  She is currently at an Artist Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  Her work can be seen at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage in February 2015 or visit Art Happenings.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

Also posted in Artist retreat, Santa Rosa Beach, Travel Tagged , , , , |

The occasional poet and the cypress

Artist Retreat updates from the occasional poet and the primitive seamstress (we are one and the same in case you are wondering. . .).  On the stitching front I finished number 13 and moving forward.  Lots of threads.  Loose and delicious.  I love it all.  Sea salt & vinegar and fog on the beach –who knew I liked IPA–?  NPR by morning and a daily walk through the cypress where I recently met an Australian labradoodle named Murphy. The turtle evades me though I’ve received this tip to look where the bridge bends to the right.  That place where I spotted two red-bellied woodpeckers.  Common to this part of Florida.


Primitive Seamstress series #13


A few months ago my friend Mike Burwell (the Cartography of Water) and I decided to get back to a writing group.  Small.  Just the two of us.  By doing a poem a week.  We’ve dubbed it the Thursday poem.

It all began the summer of 2005 in Anchorage, or maybe it began in Homer when we all met at the Kachemak Bay Writer’s Conference.  At Land’s End.  In the bar no doubt.  After listening to Billy Collins.  It included myself, Mike, and James P. Sweeney (A Thousand Prayers) who is also on the current season of Ultimate Survival Alaska.  Jim is too busy pissing people off and getting his book published to participate but Mike and I have been sharing a Thursday poem.  It is great motivation, and like everything in 2015, I’ve come to consider them beginnings.  Enough.  A start. Let go of judgement. Write. Share. The editing comes later.  A different approach than in Alaska where we tried to bring our most polished work to the table.  Both are acceptable formats.

Full disclosure:  I have no book.  Not even a worthy manuscript.  (not yet) –In fact this particular day of the Thursday poem I was so inspired (and defeated) by another poet that I nearly didn’t write a poem at all.  I felt unworthy.  How she flitted, like a hummingbird from right to left and tab far to the right and back again and it all worked so well. . . the alliteration, and I so safe (wearing the big panties) with my line breaks and hugging the left margin to the point of boredom.  Blah blah blah.  So imagine my surprise when my Thursday poet partner responds that he loves it all from top to bottom on the first draft.  Wow.  And so today I bring you said poem.

On the 8th day

I am cypress in a residential swamp
not uncommon not   not great my hips
swell wide at the border
in the company of lily pads  waft
across the shadow                            stir
waxy green upon the water                                               
            the turtle        promenade
does not care to win the race
who’s on first does not matter        discipline
            or disciple we are all god gifted
spreading wider        the Great Blue           heron              flies
            not without a scene
            screaming at interruption is redemption
for the unobservant.
Pray attention
or perhaps I am the bead of water
carefully cupped at the breast of stillness
all gathered wetness
            an offering     back    to sky
shadows long and dark go both ways
            across reflection                                . . .ripple. . .     
I am accumulation of whisper and dew drop
a pause upon the cusp         of Grace
The knees knobby (like) amputated stumps
protrude up and out            in sameness
not matched or exact           
            not not twin or triplet          
            not self-conscious or flattered         only raw
not cruel or kind the alligator rests
Brenda Roper (2015)

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who lives in Santa Fe, NM.  She is currently at an Artist Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  Her work can be seen at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage in February 2015 or visit Art Happenings.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

Also posted in Artist retreat, Poetry, Santa Rosa Beach Tagged , , , , , , |

Primitive Seamstress: in the beginning


Beginning:  the point in time or space at which something starts. To Begin.   Such as a New Year, rife with opportunity for growth and change.  For personal improvements:

  • err on the side of kindness
  • open yourself to connection
  • let go of judgment
  • practice tolerance
  • give in to adventure
  • nourish your curiosity
  • honor your gifts
  • be true to your nature/direction
  • art and dance and yoga too.

Some call these resolutions though too often they are toasted to at the midnight hour, at the tipping of the champagne into the glass and too soon forgotten.  But the celebration and awareness of said intention is always good.  Right?  Every beginning begins with a kernel of thought or action.  One step forward.  A sentence.  A phone call. An email.  Or simply opening the door and walking outside into a new day, or a new life or loading your trusty Subaru and driving 4 days across the country to a new place.

IMG_9020If only temporarily.  You are forever changed.  The moon jellies on the beach unlike anything ever seen before are amazing.  Thick and translucent and other worldly. A great blue heron takes flight startled by your passing. The cypress is a muse.  The sand is flat and pure like the skin of babies, goes on for miles uninterrupted except for the clearing of thoughts.  Three dolphin dip and roll shimmering through the reflection of late afternoon. And so my beginning (January 2015) brings me to a place of retreat.  A journey and a place. A little cottage near a cypress swamp and a 15 minute walk to the beach.  It is perfect.  I am perfect.  The sewing is primitive.  I am the perfect primitive seamstress.

The threads hang haphazard (I kind of like that) and I hope they hold.  The thread falls out of the needle repeatedly until I pull out the instructions for threading the machine and realize I skipped step number 4 –oh!  Good to know.  Occasionally the bobbin jams.  I waste a lot of thread in trial by error.  But it is freeing too.  To begin.  I sew standing up at the small kitchen counter.  It seems to work well for my start, stop, grab, cut –design, knot, pause.  This is not a scientific approach. Here are a few samples:

IMG_9029panelpocket beginningsgrandma pocket

I come with intention.  To create 100 6”x8” (or so) linen pockets to hold secrets or photos or ideas or forgiveness –sew and knot or wrap with barbed wire or ribbon.  A little gesso. A line.  Graphite.  A cork.  It is a loose plan. In my experience art projects begin with imagination.  A vision that morphs into something long and far and seldom exact.  The logic to the abstract.  Or the abstract to the logic.  It goes both ways.  Eventually.


When I wake on Saturday in this delicious space –into time and a trip to the Farmer’s Market I wonder at the purpose of “pocket”.  What was the point again?  Is pocket important?  My dreaming opens me to other options.  To stitch a narrative before I sew it closed.  To leave access to experiment instead of backtrack or undo or after-the-fact.  Thank goodness for the subconscious.  It really directs my life.  And so I have both.  Pockets filled or not and flat stitched pieces that I call panels though they are not attached to a hard surface.  Or any surface.  Yet.  The exercise on this Artist Retreat is to simply begin. To create without judgment.  And so I do.


Brenda Roper is a Personal Assistant & Contemporary Artist in Santa Fe, NM.  She is taking the month of January for an Artist Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach.  To explore new work in fiber, continue her Thursday poem and other writings, walk the beach and draw inspiration from her newest muse the cypress swamp.  Your support and donations are appreciated.  A little help for the time not working (the day job).  For the just in case.  For the gas (despite the drop in prices). For the inspiration and leap of faith.  For the belief that art matters.  Think of it as an exchange.  A gift that goes both ways.

  • For any donation of $25 or more you will receive a hand-made artist card
  • For any donation of $100 or more you will receive an original print in 11″x14″ mat ready for framing
  • For any donation of $200 or more (if you have deep pockets of generosity) you will receive one of my 12″x12″ painterly photographs

bisbeepeacesnow and crossIMG_8852

Paypal is preferred.  Please include your correct mailing address.  Click here to  If you prefer to mail a check please send it to Brenda Roper 991 1/2 Don Manuel Street #B, Santa Fe, NM 87505.  Gifts will be sent as received.  Donations by check will be fulfilled upon my return to Santa Fe in February.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Thank you forever and in advance.  Especially to those who have already donated and you know who you are.

Happy New Year!!


Also posted in Artist retreat, Santa Rosa Beach, Studio Art, Travel Tagged , , , |

Rent is due: seeking funding from friends (just kidding. . .well maybe)

Rent is actually paid but a tight squeeze this month –that loss of income for one week vacation– coupled with the airplane ticket to visit family (priceless) oh and that other trip. . .in April.  For friendship (priceless).  I tried to sublet and it almost worked perfectly until it didn’t.   Life is an adventure.    Still I live as if I have enough.  Okay more than enough, well because on so many levels I suppose I do.   I have to admit on the financial scale I’ve been moving backwards since moving to Santa Fe from Alaska nearly 5 years ago, and really one month away from moving into my car.  Still the balance sheet dries in my favor as I contemplate the share apartment ads or moving to Mexico or how to seek funding from a friend in a way that sounds like a real grant proposal request.  Value added.  But there are too many others in need that my cheerleading for self-serving interests seems morally corrupt.  But hey it’s America.  Go for it. Land of plenty and equal opportunity for all and democracy prevails and I pledge allegiance and all that jazz. . .afterall art does matter.


On that thought I go back through a few grant/residency applications for review, and Google sample donation seeking letters for individual artists — but it is likely my own lack of a sense of value  is the roadblock.  And so I spend the morning on CaFE applying ($36) for a free art residency in Mexico and wonder if it is offered how will I afford the airfare and loss of wages (to pay the bills that remain –that pesky student loan –oh and rent too) which leads me back to the seeking funding from friends idea.  Not YOU of course.  Someone else.  Just one person really, who isn’t reading this blog, but is it a good idea? Does it open the door for obligation or sexual favors –you know THAT kind of thing?  Hence the filtering through old proposals trying to make it as professional as possible but suddenly it sounds so much like whining –asking people to choose you. Can you hear it?  Listen. CHOOSE ME.  And while I do believe I am deserving how to express that in a way that actually sounds as if I am the most deserving — (add context here).  My project is basically ordinary and lifelong and nothing life changing for the community at large:  The occasional poet paints or conversations from Lake Chapala (on canvas).  An experiment of language.  No murals under bridges.  Not because I don’t believe in “community” but I generally support from an inner landscape.  A seat at the back of the room.  BECAUSE it becomes the cause for another cause.  And with that, for me, the stress of failing, the exposure out loud in front of an audience, a black hole of expectation, an obligation  (oh my!)  –back to that part about criticism –(ouch).   Of course the point is that it is actually directed and focused and rewarding.  Okay.  I’m trembling here.  My dream is supported solitude and the adventure of meandering in a time out of place.  Specifically near a large body of water. To allow the freedom of creativity to prevail because it will.  Then maybe yes I can do the mural on the subway walls like the one I designed that got an A+ gold star for a day in a class where I never could get the body in proportion on one sheet of paper.  But I have other talents.  We all do.   I know I’m capable. It’s the judgment I fear. I need a dose of courage.  ROAR. I’m sure the pharmaceutical evangelists can set me up.  For a small fee.

And so I decide to share my last attempt for a grant below (whine and all). Cheers.  One awarded to painters 45 or older.  I was not one of the lucky recipients.  The essay question: Why do you consider yourself under-recognized as an artist? (and) How would funding help you in your practice?  This is out of context and edited to add some humor for the purpose of this blog.  I’d ask for your thoughts but I probably can’t bear the humiliation.  So you can keep them to yourself –thank you very much.


Why do you consider yourself under-recognized as an artist? How would funding help you in your practice?

Why do I consider myself under-recognized?  I suppose the obvious reason is lack of visibility, and the other is partially our culture’s stunted perception of art-making as a viable career.  The need to meet basic expenses such as rent and groceries leads me to cobble together several day jobs as a resource for daily living.  To survive.  And of course my introverted nature, while blessing me with the gift for creative problem solving and insight, keeps me a bit outside our new world order of social media and marketing or selling guns on the black market  –but I do reach out: to Facebook, a blog, my own website.   I venture forth on these platforms carefully.  A toe in the water, mostly from the fear of exposure, retaliation and ridicule (deep water here –all those childhood wounds of criticism and make fun of: bookworm, lazy, clumsy, houseplant “stupid” the phone -–well you get the picture). Art has the potential to raise questions.  To push into emotional joy and trauma and beauty and insight.  To stir things up and to comfort.  All things intangible yet essentially vital to promote a sustainable society.  As an artist, I believe I am exploring the fundamental question of what it means to be human.  Aren’t we all? Afterall, my heart is out there in full color and –at the end of the day I am willing to accept the responsibility of greater visibility.  My small works have been accepted into a new contemporary fine art gallery in Santa Fe (sale pending in fact).  I am hanging with some very reputable artists.   On display for company or candlelight. . .SMA artview

Note:  being represented by a fine art gallery does not necessarily guarantee a sustainable income.  Still I am grateful.

I recently wrote on my blog, in reference to new work in progress, “what do you think?”  Work I felt proud of, excited by, a breakthrough.  Hopeful.  But an emotional risk asking such things of others.  While it might draw love, praise, a financial ping, support, etc., it also carries the possibility of ridicule or shame. The joy of recognition is thrilling. Everyone loves to win, loves being accepted as a serious artist and being rewarded for what is deemed an “untraditional” career choice.

What would it be like if I were paid to get up everyday and go to the studio instead of relying on sales from my work or running errands for other people as Girl Friday/Personal Assistant? (though these often incredulous and interesting interludes do provide fodder for potential writings and sketches).  The financial rewards of receiving a grant as a great relief from stress cannot be separated from the fantastic joy of being validated as an artist.  To have people buy your work is certainly rewarding yet I cannot rely solely on the impression of others for my well-being as a creative person.  I create because it is a calling.  The process of making art is who I am.  A work in progress for sure but fully intentional or possibly happenstance, still I hope I am giving the best parts of myself to the world.  To be anything less is the failing.

For several years I have wanted to work bigger –60”x60” or more.  Curious how changing scale will affect my painting.  Even the physicality of working larger.  Will the smaller works transfer and bloom?  I think they will.  In response to my 12”x12” abstracts people have said, “Oh, this would look great bigger.”   This size and the square format have worked well for exploring composition, color and texture – and though these works stand on their own, I sometimes view them as maquettes.  A practice for something greater. About a year ago I painted two 48”x24” works with some success.  One sold.  One is now weathering on the fence in my yard as I contemplate the composition. I tried throwing it into the trash after taking it down from a show but it was too big so it ended up on the fence.  I rather like it there where I see it everyday from my window.  And to some extent rebelling against creativity as economics, to value myself and my process and to surrender to art on the fence versus art in the gallery is very liberating.  Though truthfully the grant would be validating and relief from economic stress.  At least temporarily and this is enough.

I  moved into a smaller apartment to save $200/month and still I wake up each morning calculating my resources, trying to remember what odd jobs I have so I don’t forget or overbook, and wonder how can I market my work so art can help pay the rent? This grant would take away some of the financial burden of the day to day and allow more devoted studio time to explore ideas, to push, loosen up, and grow forward.  I feel ripe and deserving.  My new work represents a positive direction for me.  Cleaner palette, playful shapes, expression, experimentation.  I see myself as a painter with potential to make great work.   Any resources are gratefully appreciated (well this part is probably true).



Now available on ETSY 12″x12″ original photos/uniquely framed – $160 + shipping

Brenda Roper is an artist and occasional poet who currently lives in a small studio in a great neighborhood in Santa Fe, NM where she cobbles together a variety of jobs including walking dogs and falling flat on her face when they suddenly dash after a shape in the dark (true story).  She recently opened an ETSY shop to showcase her unique and colorful painterly photos and her small abstracts on canvas can be seen (and purchased) at Kristin Johnson Fine Art.

Also posted in Studio Art Tagged , , , , , |

Ramblings on time and Boston and what if and what have you and spring so slow in coming does not violence diminish and so forth

Time feels ultimately the most precious today.  Saturday and too soon it passes.  Maybe because of death and change and spring so slow in coming.  Maybe because I want it to slow down.  To reverse.  Vacation.  Announcement.  Dismemberment. A moment.  A step to the right or to the left.  So much depends on instinct. Survival or consequence. To treasure the moments of no obligation and pansies in clay pots in a yard where the wind blows and no rain falls.  Only tears.  I want to relax in a bath, to fade into the mystery of nothing and everything.  Lavender.  Gelato.  Of thought and feeling and sob.  I want Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to be innocent.  I want to trust our government.   Implications of suicide but a boat riddled with bullet holes where he lay bloodied.  An exchange of gunfire. . . ?  Maybe.  Everything.  He lifts his shirt in surrender.  We live in a violent time.  I want to believe in America.  Tic tac toe.  Hopscotch.  Chalk and circumstance.  Circumcision.  Tequila and ginger ale and fertilizer.  Viagra does not a man make.  Though he prevails beyond the expiration date of do over and do again and let it be.  Does not ask to put cream on a vagina. Good night.  Go well. Good-bye.

Another woman is raped in India.  A drone kills a family sitting down to dinner in Iraq.  Syria sends their regards.  Condolence.  Compassion.   Newlyweds and brothers and others have lost their limbs at the Boston Marathon bombing.  One minute they were whole and now they are broken. Healing. An earthquake, an explosion and words hurled across the internet like anomaly.  Shards that penetrate.  Bury and burn and stain.  In America we shut down a metropolitan area of millions to hunt for one man who lies bleeding in a boat, under a tarp, and I want to know more –tell me what did you see when you climbed that ladder?  Information comes slowly like spring. The possibility of the death penalty like the bud of a tulip red or yellow or withering in the sun. Some anticipate with longing and joy.  Others cannot comprehend.  Carefully (or not so) treading media hiccup remorse not so much but sometimes to what end? –many times already the FBI inquired and followed this man in the black hat.  Dead.  But what do I know? Why am I so upset? Consumed? Silenced?  We wait as instructed under the bed for the bogey man to go away.  To trust.   Peter Pan out the window.  Mary Poppins with her umbrella. . .fly away

. . .The sad assumption carried in these reports is that Americans lack the intellectual equipment and moral imagination to tell the difference between an individual and a group. It’s an assumption that has, in the past, occasionally proven valid. Twitter quote.


My Aunt Rody died this week.  They greeted the family from 2 – 4pm today EST.  I am the absentee family member.  Always.  Is it only money for airfare or something else?  I miss them all.  The dead and the living.  Birthday and kitchen conversation and new recipes.  And now there are only three (out of 12 siblings).  I trim the juniper outside my window with a scissors because it is all I have.  Butcher the root of cactus with an old rusty shovel.  Red scabs on the top of my palms like needle points. It is manic energy. After my eyes glaze over at my limited value added options at Go Wireless.  The energy of sales.  I am still conflicted about upgrading to a smartphone. Today anyway.  Turn down the offer of friends.

Struggle with independence. I am an alien. Not autistic yet not dissimilar the lack of articulation easily understood by others.  Cannot explain.  Still I am grateful for thinking deeply.  That all my limbs are attached.  For the capacity of quietude and patience.  The moon rising in the east.  A free yellow table at the side of the road.  Street furniture. An art opening.  Scallops with pasta and conversation.  A friend connects the bombings to poetry to hold onto hope and understanding. Eloquently. To gentle the human.  But cereal is $6/box and I don’t even have children.  No milk in the house.

I’ve been completely absorbed by the  marathon bombings/man hunt all week and now filled with questions because the character of suspect #2 (white hat) is of such a sweet intelligent well-liked young man, and isn’t that bizarre (white hat/black hat) –the fact that he became a natuarilized US citizen on September 11th one year ago.  Do people still believe in coincidence?  FBI.  Dogs sniff the finish line.  Only the bones blown to smithereens –and after the fact.

I call a friend but leave no message.  Will that be evidence later?  Used against me in the court of relationships?  Drown in my wine.  The wind a continuous companion in the high desert does nothing to dilute the dysfunction of day job.  No compatibility though I did two loads of laundry.  No one responds to hello. Blatant abandon.  The sweet dog growls.  This is life. Day to day.  Guns are the new normal.  On patio cafés.  There is no substitute for compassion.  For critical thinking.  CNN in the airport. Our choice is surrender.  How much do they pay for that privilege?  Bombard with opinion and jump to conclusion give the dog a bone who’s on first?  Guns and gratitude and enemy combatant.  Terrorist.  On line streaming asks my preference on commercials:  Walgreens, US Bank or US Army.  Really?  Houston we have a problem.  But I am silenced.  No one talking or listening. Don’t forget your helmet.  Falling.  Fear.  Fallen.  Fell.  Fetch.  Fuck.  Future.  Fodder.  Folly.  Feelings. Feet. Font. Fiddle. Fault.  Miranda.


Brenda is an occasional poet and visual artist currently living in Santa Fe, NM.  For information on upcoming exhibitions please visit her website

Also posted in Free Writings Tagged , , , , , |

Dogs and Connection

Spring is a blustery time.  A time of longing and too soon and still cold and then the phone rings and the cat steps out of the cupboard and well it is no ordinary Saturday.  I have been dog sitting the past few months.  Part of my new Girl Friday/Personal Assistant duties even though not on my original “task list” –who knew I had such capacity to love given my solitary track record and the great distances between my two legged relationships .  So thank you life for giving me other people’s pets to love.  And there have been a variety:  Labradoodle (very regal), Corgi (energetic) and now two Bulldogs I’m not quite sure how to describe.

Almost reptilian their weight low to the ground.  That under bite so hillbilly dental and pushed in (lovable) face that looks up with longing and rests easily on the top of my foot.  Their coat beautiful and buff.  I listen to them lick themselves clean like a cat.  And they snore and snort all through the night.  I contemplate changing rooms though imagine they would simply follow me so I stay put.  Adjust.  When I wake in the morning there they are.  Waiting (heaven only knows how long) for me to wake too.  Ruby does a little dance and so suddenly I am dancing too.  Around this borrowed bedroom in leaps and circles, and even Ace does a little thing with his front paw.  All so happy.  The other dogs on my watch have the same routine.  Wait patiently beside the bed. For my eyes to open.  For my voice to call their name.  To begin again.  Good thing I’m a morning person.  All this unconditional adoration before coffee.

And what’s not to love about them too when they ask so little of you, a walk in the arroyo, a belly rub, a few tender words, give the dog a bone.   Ruby Tuesday and Ace is the Place and the Rubicon and well there is no judgment in their eyes. Not even walking on dog slobber while I’m trying to cook dinner is too annoying.  Minor on some level – compared to sleeping in the wet spot–though I do go in search of slippers.

 And today a big wind blows.  The weather nemesis that is Santa Fe in spring.  Thirty-six degrees before wind chill.  I go on a walkabout to explore trails on the north side of Hyde Park Road.  Invigorating.  Love every minute.  The you are here trail number scratched out at every sign.  Who does these things? The Buddha on top of the ridge.  Dust billows in the valley.  A man who forgot his hat.  I lost in nostalgia from a phone call that crossed 30 years to ring that morning.  The voice a connection that lights you up like Christmas.  Puts you back together in a way you forgot you were broken.  I barely 19.  He saw me like an x-ray.  All of us:  from Ohio and Michigan and Minnesota.

All broken and brilliant, hopeful and strong.  Dancing our dreams at the 3.2 bar and hiking our way through the Rockies. He told me you haven’t lived long enough to look back on your life.  And now I have.  I could spend the rest of my life having that conversation.  So there it is –come full circle.  This voice from the past holding my letter in his hands.  A spring blizzard raging.  He 30 years sober and married.  Made a good life.  I so certain he had walked off the edge a long time ago cannot even describe the elation.  Thrilled he is alive and well.  Thriving.  Somehow this gives me permission for happiness too.  For success no matter the failures or judgments.  What joy to stand visible in the eyes of a beholder who saw you the first time your world cracked open.  And yes, I do normal well I tell him.  We laugh.


The wind whirling so strong now.  It whistles and bends low then flares up like fire.  All the ghosts are flung out of hiding.  I hear them skipping across the roof and against the windows and imagine my ristra has blown off the side of the house again.  Chile seeds scattered like pearls.  Like today.  Gifts come when we least expect them.  Pick them up and put them in your pocket.  For safekeeping.

We all sleep at the base of the volcano Sage.

When not dog sitting or running errands for other people Brenda works in her home studio painting abstract shapes on small canvas and writing the occasional poem.  Her work can be seen at the new Kristin Johnson Fine Art Gallery in Santa Fe or on her website.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.



Also posted in Brenda Roper, Hiking Tagged , , |

March madness (not a shopping expedition)

March came on Friday.  Rabbit rabbit. A madness that blows in with the longing for spring.  The return of  light and warmth and hope for our weary winter souls.  Though we carry on.  Make our plans.  I felt disoriented.   Last week my balance off kilter.  Unsure where to be when, double booking.  Then pause.  Who’s on first?  Full moon.  A gentle interlude.  Obsession and isolation and be patient.  I feed myself movies and rice.  And today the sun shines so brilliant on flowers inside my house.  All the joy floods through the door.

Random thoughts from a weekend where winter reigned — beneath a full moon:

  • they call them “designer dogs” –crossing a Labrador with a standard poodle.  Labradoodle.  Originated in Australia. Love the Besa dog
  • to MAC or not to mac –and cheese.  PC?  These questions and iPhone or Droid and options and do I really need a smart phone?
  • I could run away my winter fat on the Dale Ball trails.  Or run away.
  • panic at being poor though not homeless and the perspective that brings it all back to grateful am I and so rich despite the bank balance and lucky too and talk to sisters and friends and take a bath and take a hike and maybe a walk on the wilder side of my nature.
  • Homeland has caught my attention and I cringe when Carrie goes through shock therapy thinking she’s wrong when she is the only one who has it right.  Still the label of crazy too convenient for dismissal in a world that does not allow for other. (I know it’s only sitcom).

And today the hope of spring prevails.  Fresh chard from the Farmer’s Market.  The mailman’s radio tuned to a ball game.  Bring me some peanuts and cracker jacks. . . permeated my sense of accomplishment at using day-glo zip ties to repair my dryer rack.  My version of duct tape.  I sat it in the yard feeling happy with laundry.  Sat in the sun talking on the phone to my big sister.  Chicken in the oven.  A glass of French pinot.


And I am painting.  Oil.  Glazing.  Small works on canvas.  Are they equations or villages or walls — or simply abstract shapes without narration?  Do I scribble more or less?  Excavate.  Smooth over.  Draw.  Then wipe it all away.  I am intuitive but the paintings do not feel intuitively painted.  Expressive yes but still I hold back.  Uncertain.  How to proceed.  When to stop?  Outline or blend?  What tool works best with oil?  I experiment. I am a trial and error artist.  Some call it process.  Not to be confused with progress though I believe I am making some.  Progress.

A friend gifted me 6 inches of Art News.  I look through the pages.  Tear out an image.  The cat rolls on her back.  I tape up an abstract by Lillian Orlowsky (who studied with Hans Hoffman).  Her foundation PAAM offers a grant to painters over 45.  Check it out!


What do you think?

I’m hopeful the gallery might be interested.  For the May opening.  Small works.  And if not I am still having fun.  On my path.  Figuring it out — one painting at a time.


Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who works as a Personal Assistant/Girl Friday to a variety of interesting people in Santa Fe, NM.  Please visit her website for more images of her work.  Studio visits welcome by appointment.

Also posted in Studio Art Tagged , , , , |

Art on the Fence

I have a new address and a massage scheduled for Valentine’s Day.  No gelato.  A raven hangs from the ceiling.  Faux leather couch and Victorian chic mingle beneath the skylight.  Art on the walls, under the bed, inside the closet and on the coyote fence “Family Tree”.  Outside and unprotected and I enjoy the view over my computer and out the window.  Today snow on the edge of the canvas.  It will weather.  I will weather too.  Too weather will I on the edge of the snow covered canvas.

Yesterday I went to the laundromat.  Hmmm.  Finished “Gone Girl” and watched the clothes go ‘round.  A crossing to another time.  In life.  Like prison or welfare but really only a place off the side of the road.  Not an A ticket but not lock down.  Quarters and baskets on wheels and people in sweat pants.  A family.  Not sure I’ll return but my clothes are clean.

At my new address the freezer is broken so I buy cake.  Chocolate divine.  Earl Grey tea with cream.  A gas stove cooks the coffee thick and black as I listen for the sound of perfection.  Stove top espresso.  Still working it out.  I get nervous when I have too much food in the refrigerator.  Called the GE repair man. Organized the studio and ready to mess it up with painting over paintings.  Gesso and begin again.  Me too.  Too again begin. Tabula rasa.

Bought a ticket to a beach today.  Florida.  Girlfriends.  April.  Not Key West but key enough sand and art museum Ringling and Dali and Contemporary Fine.  Not sure I can afford to go but I go anyway.  Cannot afford not to. Go. Better motto.   Odd jobs find me and thank you.  Dog sit cat sit see Spot run.  House tending people tending no groceries.  The Pope resigned.

The Year of the Snake.  Cancer Dog.

Travel is good.  Friendship and barefoot sunsets with wine.  Perspective and spring all at once.  I walked a new direction from my new address.  Today. South and west instead of north and east.  The fine art of geography and a view of the mountains. Stone wall.  Cold wind.  Sunshine.  Winter refreshing sit in the yard for a minute.  No more. New door.  My mailman is Pearl.  Netflix arrives.  A sad story.  A disturbing book.  Bestseller.  Hmmm.


What do you want to read in your Hallmark greeting on Valentine’s Day?


Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who works at a variety of  day jobs.   Her work is currently on display at the new Kristin Johnson Gallery in Santa Fe and has  been accepted into the Miniatures Show at Metallo Gallery in Madrid.  Opening reception May 4th.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

Also posted in Brenda Roper, Travel Tagged , |

High Road Haiku-ing and Happy New Year!

The weekend between the ending of one year and the beginning of another.  By calendar.  The light softly returns. Three clementines shrivel in their bowl and my brother hooks up to a sodium IV.  I buy a $10 ristra from a truck in Chimayo and later coconut/carrot cake interlude with coffee and friends on the High Road to Taos.

Today laundry and quietude and a Sunday drive to Madrid where all roads end at the Mine Shaft after a wee bit of shopping.  A friend visiting from New York via Alaska and Afghanistan finds boots for buying that are very custom cool –while I choose the Silver Margarita.  Cheers.  and thank you and sometimes life is all about food.  Tamales wrapped in corn husks with deep red chile and kobe beef burgers with green chile on top.

Salty hand-cut fries and conversation before the music. Oh! Christmas Eve habanero hot fudge with real vanilla ice cream.  Holiday soup drop in before or after the Farolito Canyon Road walkabout and champagne/eggnog cheer meeting the family of friends.  A cocoa log for sharing from a red plate, chicken mole and more red than white.  Wine.  Saturday Santa mission through the Jemez and a first trip to Mu Du noodles — certainly not a last. Fantastic flavors in generous white bowl warm sake in ceramic cups.  Then another.  Coconut lime sorbet so fully satiated. Laughter and talk of travel and Land Rovers and everyone moving to Santa Fe. Longing and lasting and listing and poetry on the horizon.  There is merriment and change and the full moon risen and waning.   And here’s to haiku-ing on the High Road, haiku-ing on paper napkins and happy New Year haiku-ing all those roads we may travel down in 2013.  To that place where dreams are discovered.  Friends and food and fools are we.  With a little blues on the side.  Harmonica happiness to all.


Ode to Sugar Nymph

 Cake on the High Road

Truchas? Trampas? Penasco!

Too much white frosting

–Mike Burwell (and friends)


Corona Mine Shaft Blues

Mandolin haiku

Sunday shot of Tequila

sings me yesterday

–Brenda Roper (and friends)

Brenda is currently one of six writers and artists living in the oldest artist colony on Canyon Road.  Studio visits welcome by appointment.  Happy New Year!!

Also posted in Poetry, Travel Tagged , , , |