Category Archives: Dreams

Passing through the visible. . .

Passing through the visible.  In art and images.  A series of self-portrait as experiment. I am not an apparition.  Question. Not a ghost in the mirror.  Question.  The photos prove it. Right?  I am not invisible.  Question.  In and out of the void.  Potential title for painting.  Passing through the visible. Potential title for painting.  No value.  A pun.  Just checking.


It began with the dream.  The one at the beginning of the week where I reached in my pocket for my phone and when I pulled it out found it broken in half and watched it crumble.  Disintegrate like glass.  Itty bitty flecks.  No repair.  Sharp and sudden and final.  No communication.  Disconnected.

We all circle the earth in our armor.


A job that suddenly ends like a car crashing into a tree.  And then, like a cartoon, no one is really hurt and we start again.  Never happened.  Repeat. Though on some level it feels that violent.  Okay.  Hmmm.


And there is death.  Out of our control and so far away.  There is devastation and love and gathering.  Observation.  There is peace and anger.  There are questions without answers.  There is preparedness and shock.  There is wonderment and bafflement.  There is no communication.  Or is there.  That’s a question too.  The dream tells the story.


The painting in flux.  Composition no. 9 or no. 10 or all the compositions and all the possibilities and nothing.  It is one moment in time and then another.  It is ever present and changing and I could throw it away without regret.  It is the process.  One day at a time.  Monday morning after the rain.

The alligator is belly up on the rock outside my door.  It is yellow.  A yellow belly.  Another oddity.  Was it the water or the wind or something else?  Someone was in my house.  Not a friend.  Not invited.  The bathroom tells the story but it is only conspiracy theory.  Intuition.  There is no fear.  But wonder.

All the rugs are gone.  That is the first clue.  Another ending.  A shift in what was commonplace every other Sunday.  Reliable.  All my jobs are ending.  Shifting.  Nothing is guaranteed.  A moment of powerlessness.  Days.  Digest.  Regroup.  Go forward.  These are the lessons of life.  Of doing the work.  Of awareness.  Of taking the risk to connect and the loss that follows.  Of letting go of expectation and entitlement and negative self-defeating patterns.  I am passing through the visible.  Child of the moon.  Invisible is still a place.

The face in the mirror is mine.  The eyes of my father.  I am the bastard daughter.



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From Cerrillos to South Capitol

Poet applause in my heart

I wake into a Sunday of NPR discussion of Evangelical adoptions and Irish music and texting about a new odd job —to add to the five I already have in that slow flexible climb to enough a month for living.   I wake from a dream that spews forth like the Pavlof volcano erupting in Alaska.  Percolating notions and stand-ins for something important all mixed together and exploding from my unconscious.  The most vivid: the boa constrictor emerging from the side of the yard that is really a bedroom who turns into an alligator at the curb and flies across the street to climb a concrete porch where it is now a psychedelic lion with pink and purple flowers all beautiful and strong on the stoop.  Whoa.  From fear to glory.  And I fly too.  On my back, levitating in a long hall while two men look on.  As if I have to prove myself.  To rise up from “the help” wiping the salad dressing off the floor.  Okay.  Enough.  But I find dreaming fascinating.  And at the end of it all 34A appears.  A long ago number on a hospital bracelet that belonged to my mother.  Her room.  I made art out of it 10 years ago.  What are these messages?  These stories unfolding?


On Thursday I take my car in for brakes and walk from Cerrillos to South Capitol.  It is morning and I walk in the shadow of the buildings on the East side of the street as if I am in a foreign country.  Alive and elated and joyful.  Where does that come from:  a walk outside the perimeter of our own lives?  A change of direction?  Graffiti and signage and the dishevelment of an old street.  Gritty.  I like gritty.  I take out my new smartphone to snap photos as I go.  It so thin and heavy and I fear I may drop it.  I feel a bit conspicuous but that doesn’t matter.  Really.  At Baca Street I push the button to cross and take myself to Counter Culture where I’ve not been and eat the best lemon poppyseed cake ever with an equally delicious latte at a table by the wall beneath the art of photographs for pets.  The phone rings.

I rise to the occasion of the question and outside find a path I did not know that carries me all the way to the Railyard Park in a matter of minutes.  Past the community garden.  The Rail Runner runs and I pause to take its picture.  On my way to work but I have a moment to spare.  And now I vow to do that weekly.  A walk from this neighborhood to that neighborhood on a path that will carry to coffee.  To rambling thoughts of possibility and a person I use to be — on other paths.  In other places.

In this slow coming spring the days pass without focus.  A blur of interview and company and shuttle here and there.   The Etsy site undone.  The blog unwritten.  No poetry for Wednesday.  But there has been art.  In Microscale in Madrid at Metallo Gallery and An Affair with the Muse at Kristin Johnson Fine Art in Santa Fe where my work shares the walls with other artists, known and emerging and the joy of friendship and good times and wine and food and walking beneath the stars of the New Mexico sky.  A glimpse at  “behind-the-scenes” of movie making on porches and side streets and vans with kitchens on Armijo.  Those yellow signs with letters sideways and upside down that instruct those in the know on where to go.


And the trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida that blew open my closed perceptions has come and gone and my photos not posted or sent to friends, but still I keep the weather of St. Pete on my homepage.  Just in case.  I check rentals on craigslist and subscribe to a newsletter and the Warehouse Arts District but will the humidity be too big an obstacle? And my mom has gone into the hospital and is out again as I plan a trip back for the family reunion.  For my birthday.  To get together with sisters and brothers and cousins and those aunts and uncles that remains.  A hug to my dad and hopefully more than 30 minutes.  So hard to fit it all in.  A moment here and dashing off for a moment there.  Maybe a swim in a lake, a walk on the beach of Lake Michigan, wine tasting and a walk in the country but how to get from Detroit to Durand?  No public transportation that allows independence except a car I won’t really need and one might as well pay the difference to fly into the local airport.  For convenience but it is steep.  Pause.

Everything is changing.


Today a poetry reading in Eldorado.  200 NM poems.  I will sit in the audience to applaud the poets.  Important to applaud the poets.

Go well into the tomato starts, the basil outside the door, the pots of pansies that make you smile.  Through whatever gate you walk into whatever street you travel onto that path that carries us forward.  To life without fear.  To love.  To ourselves in all our imperfect beauty and authenticity.

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who lives too far from the ocean but loves her new digs in South Capitol.  Her work can be seen at Kristin Johnson Fine Art or hereIn Microscale is up through the end of May at Metallo Gallery in Madrid.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.



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Yes, really I’m fine: ramblings on an emotional universe

Another 90 degree Saturday though it doesn’t seem so inside this old adobe.  No beach or pool palm tree novel on the lounger.  No sweet breeze sand between my breasts bathing suit let’s take a dip.  Only a river without water and a weekend working round the crazies — studio midnight slowly making my way to calm, to bed, to that balance between the moon of June and my mimosa.  I contemplate the disappearance of joy.  So absolute it must be fear or grief or approval?  No jaywalking or driving.  That kind of week.  Hijacked by an emotional universe. Normal with variation.  Just another art project.  Not bipolar but I’m sure the mental illness doctor would happily medicate. . .did anyone see the movie “An Angel at my Table” –classic.

14 years ago I moved into a two room apartment at the Trail Head of Indian Creek, Alaska.  20 minutes south of Anchorage.  To begin again.  Walking distance to Turnagain Arm.  Running with wolves and my neighbor Chris who shot the squirrels to save the birds.  Martinis on Memorial Day.  with olives.  He handpicked wildflowers for my birthday bouquet (monkshood and fireweed and iris) and left them in a crystal vase at the top of the stair before my door. Vietnam Vet.  We’ve lost touch and I wonder sometimes.

Chinese herbs in a cup of warm water give me back my chi.  Three scoops 2X/day.  Needles open a channel from cheek to heel.  S18.  Ask me what day it is? What year were you born?  Mother’s maiden name? The glass is empty but I really am a glass ½ full kind of girl.  Albeit one who lives too far from the ocean.  Fan comforts the computer.  And then it is gone.  That grip let go.  Wow.  Just like that. freed.  It happens like a pin prick take a bow amazing.  Happiness pulses.  Clarity.  Sigh the shadow taken leave.  Slinks away.  and though I don’t enjoy the crazies I accept them as my normal.  Scratch my head sit still dance cry in the fetal position stand up focus on my fingertip.  Anything.   Do not go to Amazon or Expedia.  No spending allowed –well exception:  Specialty groceries are okay.  Thoughts of suicide fleeting as wallpaper take me only to the corner market or maybe across the room.  turn off the light.   I am cognizant and too sane to go insane.  The body grieve, understand, complete the circle.  FEEL.  Inform — Alone is good.  Okay.  Lay on the bed.  Wait.  Drill the same hole a hundred times and that’s okay.  Do it again.  Success is slow and diligent.  Trust. Montana NPR and then silence.

Family Circle with Button

Kudos include having two pieces accepted into Rare Threads -fibersfantastic at the Jordan River Arts Council in Michigan.  Dresses and doilies.  September 23  through November 3, 2012.  And my poem “Cry Me a Bucket” in the forthcoming anthology My Body, My Health: Women’s Stories.  

For my show/series/on-going process I work with a beautiful old piece of ceiling tin.  Cut in half.  The goal to finish one and begin the other.   Two. Today.  Part vintage affair and “I Do” –game board like chess or sorry.  Remember Sorry?  To hang at my upcoming solo exhibition– part installation part mixed media paintings:

Family Secrets Redux

August 31, 2012/5 to 7pm

545 Canyon Road/Santa Fe


Out of an old steamer trunk I found at the side of the road (can you say FREE) in the meandering neighborhood of Bootlegger’s Cove I pull out the heavy cream vintage tablecloth to check for wear and yes it will need ironing (sigh).  I unveil the knitted scarf that falls to nowhere fashionable, across the long table to the floor still attached to wooden needles  and a dress I bought at a yard sale from Grace Hartigan my first week in Baltimore.  Bolton Hill.  2004. The therapy of yarn and ribbon and burlap.  Repetitive meditative so soothing.  Is that what our little girl grandmother’s all those women thought?  Endless tasking.  –well maybe you’ll come have a look.

The white helicopter flies up and beyond the cloud curtain too soon obscures that magical vista all the way from southwest mesa cascading to distant ocean. the dream where I pet a pink cow and his teeth on my hand a form of affection. No wings Max though pigs are known to fly.  And butterflies swim on the water.

I do not mind sharing truths and opinions but at times too exposed (am I).   It’s an introvert ‘thing’.  My chair out of sight of the door.  As if people are watching (judging, criticizing, wondering. . .oh my! cats and dogs living together).  Tinkle in the toilet and outside do they hear me? The flush?  The clanging of dishes for dinner drinking for dinner sweeping the floor reading without a bra thinly veiled –well yeah.  I suffocate from anticipation of self identity in a crowded environ or truth be known even when I’m all alone.  Someone might knock afterall.  It isn’t paranoia but a version of some pharmaceutical evangelistic disorder.  None that requires a lobotomy or even a helmet though maybe if it were pink.  Inner child bookworm.  Sometimes I do it anyway –door open no bra book in full view favorite chair.  Confidence I dare you –silly bold in an effort to be whole.

Only wine. and words. and imagination.

Neighborhoods are rife with those of us that slip over the occasional edge of reality.  Sometimes it is only 24 hours.  I feel the minute it overcomes and the minute it dissipates.  Amazing really that tonality.  It is quite musical.  Beat the drums and the tambourine interlude where one might dance as if happy and plummet into despair with the electric guitar out of control rock and roll menagerie pull the plug back to Patty on Pandora.  Restorative yoga.

The trumpet vine pulls me to tears but not this time. Only sprinkles. Sobbing is best I think– like monsoon.


I go about the day to day –a shadow of said self.  Parallel universe backdrop making decisions or indecisions.  (Not like Sybil of many selves but the gift of auntie unconscious picking up the pieces –tossing them along the trail).   I follow the crumbs.  I play it cool.  Benign enough.  Still.  I am tired.  Monday, Tuesday. everyday very tired.  No energy.  Hard to move my feet one in front of the other.  Effort.  No appetite  (this is a serious affliction) though likely due to another 90 degree day.  Still I eat.  Cheese (thanks Rose).  All that leftover havarti.  Pounds of it melted on a spinach tortilla with red onion and arugula.  I work extra and clean extra and pick up mail and water a yard and contemplate Thanksgiving? and all I want is a patio of my own though I love my neighbors, my bed, my address. . .everything is good.

Small success with fasteners and attachments and letting go and truth.  Medium such a mess on my fingers. Is this really an election year?  Burning the card.  Not apathetic though most will think so.  It is all the same.  Rerun.  Been there.  What’s the point?  Working on a paradigm shift.  Guns be gone.

 so where is that JOY?  Right smack in the middle of my name.  Joy (ce).  Hallelujah!   

Thank you Leonard.

Another rainbow tonight.  Art.  Redorangeyellowgreenblueindigoviolet (royg biv) –- but where is pink?  And isn’t indigo blue?  I’m confused.  But I’m an artist.  Part of the creative process.  Loving life after the crazies.




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Roots and community and everything in bloom

The company has come and gone.  The studio empty of bed and family.  Missing and stillness.  Projects placed and silent.  Time passing quickly and fully and not enough.  April is poetry month and this weekend I go to two readings.  Joan Kane, Inupiaq born in the modern world.  Raised in Anchorage.  Schooled at Harvard and Columbia.  Still a King Islander.  Her voice breathes forth the language of her tribe.  Her ancestors.  Her rootedness to a culture though she was not born among the cliffs, and King Island only rock.  Contemporary telling of myth and memoir and spirit passed on and down and recorded.  She is wife and mother.  Poet. Read at IAIA.  The night of the hard rain.  The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife in its 2nd edition.  Backstory enriched. Wonderful.

I never knew my grandparents on my father’s side having just met my father.  And only my maternal grandmother Grace.  I beg for photos and have them now.  All the grandparents and great grandparents.  Cake and celebration. Artful project and forever.  Thank you.  So much unknown.  No tribe to carry us forward.  No shared history that formed us on the wings of ravens.  No name given at the death of one to the birth of the next.  I am adrift  — thinking of rootedness and community.  At the 2nd reading this is the context.  Three (3) Santa Fe poet laureates read at the NM History Museum auditorium on Friday:  Arthur Sze, Valerie Martinez, and Joan Logghe.  Very different styles yet all uniquely exceptional.  Excellent presenters and poets.  Humor and myth and abstract well-crafted.  The Palace Press.   It was lovely and during that hour I felt a kinship with Santa Fe.  My community though I often phrase it  “a place of transition” –still it grows on me.  The balloon man on the Plaza, the fall of light across adobe.  Shadows.  The mix of culture and tourism and sunshine.  Turquoise and drought and sunset. 


But place for me is internal.  It comes with me.  I unpack it from apartment 5 to apartment 6.  From Alaska to Baltimore to Santa Fe.  From Michigan to Colorado to Montana, and maybe back.  To a month in Mexico.  To a weekend away.  I’ve written about this before, in the letter poems.  It resides in the imagination of dreams and the comfy white chair where I watch movies and read books and contemplate.  In the dance across the studio.  Tom Russell and Leonard Cohen.  Pause.  For lately I am cracking open. April.  That month of wind and weather unpredicted and blossoms.  Of sun and dust and wet and dry.  This is a good thing.  Joyful –though sometimes I am besieged by the day job.  The squelching of spirit.  Bad attitude and a loss of perspective. 

A friend speaks of being rooted 30 years or so, and I understand how those roots dig in deep and spread and stay and split and sprout and I am adrift.  A steady slow current to nowhere known.  I contemplate that friendship is a reason to take root.  To travel to and across the country and visit and make plans and imagine a dream.  To set priorities and take chances and believe because what else do we have if not the love of others?  It may be time to set my fears aside and plant my toes awhile.  To test the waters.  To dive in and swim.  Hmmm. 

The studio is silent as I contemplate the distractions of poetry and family and a margarita at the Coyote Cantina sunset between the geraniums.  A friend to walk home with through the darkness along the river.  A Maypole neighborhood annual event.  I celebrate the birthday of a friend in our garden at El Zaguan.  Wine and flowers and conversation.  Nibbles and chocolate and reminisce. She brings me maps of places I will soon travel. Chiricahua National Monument where I will hike among the formations of rocks I only realized existed in southeast, Arizona.  To Bisbee where I can see into the mountains of Mexico from my bed on High Road and walk a thousand steps back and forth to the town below.  I am borrowing a tent and taking the stove.  Travel is good for the soul.  Mine.  Ripe with possibility and everything in bloom.  Candles flower showy in the yucca, Valerian, fragrance and birdsong.  Chirp.  Kiss. 


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Nibbles & Bits (of inspiration)


We become attached to our own words, of course, in the poetic sense of poetry as a poet –of what they mean to us.  What they say.  What we hear.  And to others something else.  Not enough or sometimes redundant.  I appreciate editors.  It makes me look more closely to “as” or repetition as a hammer to the head pounding meaning in and again.  Or perfectly –to make a point.  Poetic license and perspective may resonate with some.  A few or even many, but never everyone.  And perhaps not those we wish to notice.  Who we are.

I had a poem published this week.  the Night Heron.  Inspired by watching a heron all day stalking the high tide line at Sin Duda Villas outside Xcalak in the Yucatan and a thought while dusting a dresser, and other miscellaneous nibbles & bits that reside in the mysterious card catalog of the brain.  In Other Words:  Merida.  Great new on line zine.  Check it out   Other artful endeavors of note included delivering two pieces to local Santa Fe galleries in preparation of two openings next weekend.  Thank you universe.

Odes & Offerings

Spent 3 hours in the emergency room on Friday morning for a non-emergency pain no doctor can seem to diagnose.  Not my own.  I feel her frustration.  But mostly I am aghast at the lack of communication or compassion while waiting in limbo.  On a bed in a nice room where I could easily have stolen all the blue rubber gloves and created havoc with the machinery if so inclined.  No one would notice.  No one did (notice) though I didn’t.  Create havoc.  I am well practiced in the art of patience but now I question that perseverance.   No one bothered to pop in and give updates.  For the result of the x-ray,  to ask if she were comfortable  or would she like a glass of water (or a large dose of Maalox as it turns out) –no one stopped by for anything at all except the two characters rolling by with the cleaning cart like a circus.  Who brought me two empty cups when I asked for something to hold water and with a generous heart I thought to also offer two sizes and directions to the bano.  Likely they are paid the least of all those I encountered.  They pass again and again.   I had just watched “Like Water for Elephants” –the cruelty of desperation.  And the kindness of those with the least to lose. . .

 Aqua Fria lady of long agoAfter three hours a nurse popped in to “her room” –said she didn’t know anyone was in here.  Did she really say that?  Out loud.  “Did you just arrive?” she asked.  Really?  Very energetic and friendly.  In fairness she had just arrived but doesn’t anyone communicate?  Then not a peep.  Understaffed or something else?  The doctor when he came, at the end of it all, had a nice bedside manner but no panacea.  For this we pay the big bucks.  Going through the motions.  A script of rote because they must offer something.  We expect it but don’t they understand how far placebo goes?  A kind inquiry.  A thoughtful hello how are you.  A moment –At least once every 30 minutes would not pass unnoticed. 

The wind is wicked today though now the sun is back.  I ran outside the third time the shutter slammed against the window but too late.  It lay flat on the ground.  Torn from the hinge.  I felt bad but nothing broken that can’t be repaired.  Yesterday I find bits and pieces of inspiration not from the wind or spring cleaning of dust and spiders from a winter of corners but from a yard sale up the block.  Creative ponderings.  A bride and groom cake top and an oval frame with a faded portrait of a woman who lived in Aqua Fria.  More possibilities for the Vintage Affair.  Ideas for photographs and celebrations and dresses and such.

magic in Canyon Road treeLast night I flew in my dream.  At the end of the chaos with the travel agents, the car accident and waiting for a trolley.  I walk into restricted space.   To the head of the queue and out the door.  And I realize it is the moment that I recognize I can.  Fly.  that brings the most magic.  That moment of self awareness and testing.  One leap and another and the possibility of flight.  Of lift off and letting go.  Like magic.  Into this day at home when I was planning to drive to Taos for the opening of “the Art of the Dress” but did not.  Another time.  And next time perhaps a blog of more concrete ponderings:  the 40 hour/week paradigm and how that system is not my model though to more degree than I’d like to admit I’m on that track though the one without a pension or 401K.  Perhaps more  on the art of marketing –ecommerce, etsy, ebay, and others that comes so easily to some yet feels too exposed for me.  At the moment.  But if anyone is interested.  The art on this site is for sale.  I welcome email inquiries or a studio visit or a wink and a nod.  Wine and chocolate also accepted. 


Brenda Roper is currently an artist in residence at El Zaguan in Santa Fe.  Her work can be seen in the Odes & Offerings Exhibitions at the Santa Fe Community Gallery on Marcy Street  and GVG Contemporary @ 202 Canyon Road.  Open receptions on March 23  & March 24 from 5-7pm respectively.  Stay tuned for details about the Zaguanistas summer art kick off at the Historic Santa Fe Foundation gallery Friday May 25, @545 Canyon Road. 



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The Complexity of Dreaming and Artful Details



bike garden

I’m not here this beautiful Saturday morning in Santa Fe to babble off the complexity of my own dreaming though it is vivid.  Always.  The way of the unconscious telling stories, striking a chord, a leaky ceiling revealing the past.  Ladders and tidal wave, a boat or bicycle.  Often I am not driving or lose my purse. . .a crocodile beside a canoe in flat water where a tripod sunk deep in this river takes photos, the camera placed just above the brown water.  On occasion I fly.  Those are the best.  But recently I have a brother at the periphery.  To the left of the dream frame.  Someone I have not dreamed of before.  We are not close.  Not estranged but grew up in other houses most of our lives.  He 7 years my elder.  And a man I loved once and those I call my friends all 7 years my elder.  Is there a connection?  Maybe not.  I look up the symbols: bricks falling, a toilet, a broom, old photos worn and faded but this morning I wake confused and sluggish.  What to blog about that is artful?


I bought a pair of sunglasses yesterday.  Prescription of course.  My old ones still working and intact after 10 years.  I love them but wanted something bigger. To have a back-up.  Blue eyes.  Even at 50% off I spend $235 and decline the warranty.  Now I fret about indulgence.  And when I walk in the arroyo after to test the vision I feel as if I am walking uphill.  The distance is good.  Clear.  But the depth perception to the ground is odd.  How come nothing is simple?  Though it is of course.  Not then or last night.  I cannot function.  This is not uncommon.  I handle it.  Last night by falling into bed too early.  I scratch my head.  I want an avalanche to crush my chest.  To quiet this unquiet.  I cannot function to read or write so I talk softly to myself.  It’s okay.  I cry.  Lullaby my voice.  Nurture.  Like to a child.  I crawl under the covers and do not return the phone call of a friend.  I question my job.  My choices.  The visa balance.  How to make a change.  How to sell my art.  Does it matter?

I contemplate why travel feeds me so –that rush of chocolate melt in your mouth with its warmth.  Color.  Anticipation.  A change of climate.  Water. Texture and possibility.  Perspective.  Is it only escapism?  Or something else?  Where to go from here.  Or simply stay.  Friends and family.  Or.  What do I have of value? To sell.  Do I return the glasses?   — not about the present. Red dust on the windowsill.  Desert winds blow. It is always about the past but triggered by the present.  Hmmm.

A good friend is moving.  Is here already.  Healing in the sunshine.  He finds organic wine for drinking.  Friendships renewed.  An apartment changes hands.  One friend (of a friend) to another.  Spring on the way.  Crocus poking up from the earth.  Sunset conversation over years that feel like yesterday.  Life can be like that.  As if no time has passed.  Yet we are so much wiser.  Despite confusion and emotional paralysis.  It is good to feel deeply.  To ponder.

 And so I share these images –a few details of my work.  Creative moments. I love details better than the whole I think.  Often.  I want to paint bigger because of this.  To see how scale will affect my composition.  My heart. Trust in elements of change.  A trigger to something more.  Of truth when it finds me. (For) better or worse.  Different.   A small piece of the puzzle magnified.  A crack in the wall.  A comfort in the world at large.  A safe place to mourn.



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