Tag Archives: contemporary art

Leaves of Grass: Water, Field, Canyon, Cattail


One hour to madness and joy! O furious! O confine me not!
(What is this that frees me so in storms?
What do my shouts amid lightnings and raging winds mean?)


O the puzzle, the thrice-tied knot, the deep and dark pool, all
untied and illumin’d!
O to speed where there is space enough and air enough at last!
To be absolv’d from previous ties and conventions, I from mine and
you from yours!

To find a new unthought-of nonchalance with the best of Nature!
To have the gag remov’d from one’s mouth!
To have the feeling to-day or any day I am sufficient as I am.


O something unprov’d! something in a trance!
To escape utterly from others’ anchors and holds!
To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dangerous!
To court destruction with taunts, with invitations!
To ascend, to leap to the heavens of the love indicated to me!

To rise thither with my inebriate soul!
To be lost if it must be so!
To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness and freedom!
With one brief hour of madness and joy.

Walt Whitman (condensed version)


She stood in the arroyo and cried.

Sat on the long bench overlooking her childhood –so much memory in rural

in field

the early desert days 17 years ago + 15 before that and who she was then

in canyon

the map rolled open before her

the mountains

the men

the fork in the road


the hummingbird demands attention and why not . . .

such beauty in flutter

the hike the pond the bath

flow together weave and stitch and surrender

a dive into water  opens the heart

and when the head rests floating the body floating the sound of bullfrog croak

a duck a bird a wind through long grass and cattail


a life –and lichen

Cliff River Springs

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet currently living in Santa Fe, NM.  Her piece: Beauty Betty Bingo: Still Developing is part of an invitational group exhibition opening at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage, Alaska on September 4th.

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Happy Holidays!! — ART retreat & Adventure

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Happy Holidays!! to ART & Adventure

As the end of 2014 draws closer to Solstice and the days so dark I find my voice on this blog after a long hiatus.   A resolution to bring it alive in 2015.   A toast to new adventures in art and travel and living beyond my zone of comfort.  In all things.  Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!  And all that jazz.

I went camping in Big Bend National Park over Thanksgiving.  A solo 1,400 mile round trip road trip from Santa Fe in my trusty white subaru.  It was all good –from the colorful pink garden courtyards and pink patio of  Eve’s Garden Bed & Breakfast in Marathon (after a very uninspiring drive from Carlsbad, NM to Fort Stockton, TX) to the gathering of Javelinas around my tent on that first morning at Cottonwood campground.  Apparently they like to graze.  Docile animals. Thank you.  The park is long on vistas and fantastic hiking and Ocotillo.  A highlight was the natural hot springs beside the Rio Grande in the Hot Spring Historic District and that rowboat to Boquillas, Mexcio.  So glad I brought my passport.  I will long remember the color of green.  Lime.  And in the glory of the moment walked right past customs until reminded by a friendly voice “señora. . .”  Here are a few images to bring you closer to my experience, including the chairs in the church above:

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I am a visual artist.  I collect vintage linens and barbed wire and abstract domesticity in a variety of ways.  I am an explorer and adventurer of spirit and okay– an occasional poet.  I have journals under the bed from when I began writing them at 14 (years old) –a long time ago.  Trust me. All those words.  All those feelings pushing their way forward.  Not on the most direct route but on a path none-the-less.  Which brings me to present.  Time. Not in the way of Santa down the chimney put it in my Christmas stocking but maybe it’s the same.  Present time.  All wrapped up in ribbon.  I do love them.  Presents.  Such joy in the gift.  A gracious acceptance and childlike innocence in finding something at your grown up door or mailbox or a card from a friend of long ago.  Thank you.

And so it comes to this.  I am artist who works primarily as  Girl Friday/Personal Assistant.  Walk the dog, carry the books up three flights to storage, run an errand, pick up the mail, check the house, rack the leaves, document your estate, pick up a prescription and a bag of chocolates, etc.  Whatever it takes to earn the rent.  That’s me.  I don’t mind and I’m grateful. Truly.  But at some point I fall away.  The art undone.  The path disjointed.  Too much time passing.   I wake unsure of the day of the week or date or the obligation and remind myself it is Thursday, focus. Etc.  And so I create an artist retreat for this artist occasional poet person that is me and here I am putting it out for donation.  For support.  A request.

I am driving nearly 1400 miles (one-way) from Santa Fe to the Florida Panhandle to spend the month of January in a retreat to art.  Off-season exploration.  A new foray.  A structure of unobstructed creativity.  Goals with a bike on top of a car with 183,000 miles (go Subaru!!).  Bringing the title just in case.  Pack my new & basic Janome sewing machine.  I’m just learning.  My recycled linens and barbed wire, and photographs, and thread.  It is my intention to make 100 or 1000 6″x8″ linen pockets (stay tuned).  To stitch and stuff and blog about it here.  Dangling threads. Primitive.  Unexplored and sometimes the unknown is the only way.  Through. With scissors and bobbin and heart.  And sandy feet and eyes wide open from the emerald shores of winter.

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If you’ve stayed with me this far I have a final request.  An opportunity.  For all.  In the past month I have opened my studio for the holidays in the spirit of invitation and show and tell.  I am subletting my one room casita to help finance my retreat (it just fell through but I have faith) and I could still use a little gas money despite the drop in prices.  Thank you.  A little help for the time not working.  For the just in case.  For the return. For the inspiration and leap of faith.  For the belief that art matters.  And so I ask for your support and donation.   Think of it as an exchange.  A gift that goes both ways.

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

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Paypal is preferred.  Please include your correct mailing address.  I have included a link below but can be found here to dreamcafe943@yahoo.com.  If you prefer to mail a check you can send it to Brenda Roper 991 1/2 Don Manuel Street #B, Santa Fe, NM 87505.  Gifts will be sent as received.  If I am out of stock (due to travel) fulfillment will be made upon my return to Santa Fe in February.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.  Thank you forever and in advance.

Happy Holidays and best for a joyful 2015!!


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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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Out and about: the studio, the art and the neighborhood

Art and love and the luminosity of such things. . .

I enjoy snippets of my own apartment/studio as fodder for contemplation and inspiration –here a very cool wooden decoy duck yellow eye found object from the yard of a friend and on my chair often I find gifts, a vintage speedometer that I love (thank you. . .?), a paper bag filled with vintage doilies, a bucket of gesso, a copy of Blue Mesa and other literary magazines, and sometimes a note directing me to offerings of rusty wire and such, donuts and other treats. . .$20 in the handle of my door for the wifi we share.

Ahoy! there potential patrons and weary wanderers can we entice you in for cider and clementines. . .a nickel and we’ll tell your fortune or you can tell ours.  Happy Holidays!! Art for sell or for free (to look)  come in, have a seat, stay awhile tell your friends.  Pretty quiet on Canyon but a beautiful day.  We gather together in harmony. Patty Griffin making pies all day no one doing laundry.  Asti and chocolate and no snow falls. Still darkness comes early.

El Zaguan Holiday Exhibition 545 Canyon 12-4pm on Saturdays through December and most weekdays


Up  the block I’m feeding the cat of a friend, and the pigeons, and really it is a bit of a backyard menagerie with the extremely social Polish chickens in feathers of  gray and white and black –with showy tufts on top. . .dancing madly across the yard to greet me at the gate.  Every time like the first. Time. What joy in their unconditional adoration.  Who knew? I smile just to think of them.  Their curiosity open and delightful and free from fear.  Peck peck nibble. Squawk.

Already December.  Narcissism on my mind and really it sounds like a new age ailment/affliction and too noble or needy or (really?  how did I get here –again?) to discuss though it is alive and well and sadly I bang my head against self-doubt and responsibility and action as I take steps to extract myself from the clutches of what is no longer benign. And remind myself:  It is okay to have an opinion.  To (agree to) disagree.  To be separate from your lover, boss, friend. . .etc.   I am not an appendage.  Not your appendage.  Enlightenment comes knocking knocking library books and conversation and a few tears on the walk this afternoon.  I use to cry everyday –my (ab)normal and now so seldom.  From one extreme to the other we go at times to find our way back to center. To balance.  To nature and hiking and phone calls to sisters. When one door closes another opens —they say.  A whole lifetime ahead of me.  Grandma lived to 96 and my mother just celebrated her 80th birthday.  Love those chickens.

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Family Secrets Redux –studio preamble

Pandora radio and Monday morning studio too quickly the day job announces time for departure.  I drag myself out of my apron.  Wash off the medium.  Unplug.  Recap.  Shift into 2nd gear.  Grab the I’m here for you happy mask and the car keys.  Close the door.  But today I long to stay.  Here.  The music.  The breeze through the door.  Quiet on Canyon.  Ideas and tasks and lists ado.  and now –36 hours later  I am up long past my usual bedtime.  Studio.  Music.  Door open to the night.  Moon whispers nearly full.   Open a bottle of red.  All the family (portraits) ready for hanging, the dresses darned and adorned and shifting as Family Secrets Redux prepares to launch into Santa Fe. Six years after a solo exhibit at IGCA in Anchorage, Alaska, seven years after Bolton Hill/MICA where dresses and other objects of the feminine domesticity came knocking.

I left for Mexico the following day.  It was February (06).  And a review in the paper found me checking internet a block from the beach.  Bearing witness, searing emotion, and the like.  More overt than my awareness.  Amazing the power of creativity:  telling a story far beyond our conscious intention yet exactly right.  That was then.  I won’t bore you with the details.   It returns changed, recycled –some pieces retired, published, sold, tossed in the dumpster (shh –we do that sometimes) and others introduced.  Happier.  Redux.   Time passes,  secrets unravel, change hands, reveal, revel.  Life moves on and forward and opens.  Up.

Such a tingle putting oneself into public view.  On display for company or candlelight.  Play the game board one and two.  Titles to title and prices to note.  The value is priceless but still a few will hang with dollar signs.  Just in case.

Our hearts dangle from the ceiling.  A dress on the wall.  On canvas.  Tiptoe past the portraits and “may I please be excused” on our way to a bedroom shared with sisters.  Nose in a book fast forward.  Such joy in the making.  Barbed wire not too fussy.  The healing healing and the knitting grows to include women I’ve met along the way.  A row of orange and yellow green and red ribbon.  Rose and Portia join hands.  Others die into each other.  Grief.  A hand across your face.  An unkind word.  Or moments of celebration.  A special dinner, a special dress, an occasion.  Maybe he brought you a flower or a child was born or graduated or a new job or a compliment day to yourself bubble bath no one knocking at the door.  Let you be.  Took you dancing.  A new appliance or fish on Friday you did not cook.  A ride in a convertible top down singing to the county fair with friends.  A kiss.  Memories and more to come.

The feet on the ironing board walk forward “one step at a time” to somewhere new and unknown and possible.

Some secrets unravel into a better place.  Of peace and identity and calm and thank you.  Others still in the basement poking in the night.  Remain to be known or not. Known.  Intuit.  Too much to articulate so let art tell the story.  Tell the tale.  A bit of myth.  Of suppose and mystery and maybe.   Of family secrets not always my own but yours or theirs or hers that girl standing at the grocery checking out your organic goods. . .ours.

Brenda is one of 6 artist/writers in residence at El Zaguan/545 Canyon Road/ Santa Fe.

Her solo exhibit Family Secrets Redux opens Friday August 31, 2012 at 5pm in the El Zaguan Gallery – home of the Historic Santa Fe Foundation.  Free and open to the public



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Intermezzo II –Gustavus C-47 series

November 1957 – A C-47 transport plane went down on the southeastern tip of Glacier Bay National Park (then a National Monument) during a snowstorm.  Four Alaska Air National Guardsmen were killed.  Three others walked away.  50 years later I walk down an obscure trail through the rainforest and see the wreckage, reclaimed by the understory and orchids.  The brilliant colors, the graffiti, the story preserved. I found it fascinating.

SIZE:  13″x13″ with frame
MEDIA:  digital photo, acrylic and found object mounted on painted panel

The 7 photo assemblages in this series are original photographs by the artist (Brenda Roper) taken July 2008  on a trip to Gustavus & Glacier Bay National Park in celebration of her 50th birthday and bon voyage (after 20 years of living in the far north).  Brenda relocated to Santa Fe where she “assembled” these as an Artist in Residence at El Zaguan.  With the closing of Virtu Gallery (Anchorage) they recently traveled back down the Alaska Highway.  Full circle it seems.

Now showing as part of  Zaguanistas:  Intermezzo II   –a group exhibition with works by Billy McLane, Bethany Orbison, Max Carlos Martinez, Adam Eisman and Brenda Roper

Price:  $300/each or make offer for the series (7 pieces)

Please stop by 545 Canyon Road

Open most weekdays 10 to 4pm/Friday evenings 5 to 7pm/Saturday 11 to 4pm

Studio visits by appointment

Summer ART Sale –$200/special price on limited 12″x12″ paintings

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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.




Posted in Blog, Brenda Roper, Dreams, El Zaguan exhibition, Studio Art Also tagged , , , , , , , |

A Strange Place & Starbucks from time & the choices we make

Contemplating time and the choices we make.  How to work less and have more.  Studio time.  After dumpster diving for chicken wire –essential material for the Vintage Affair gifted wedding dress of old—hanging from the back of my easel.  The wire like a lady in waiting, quiet anticipation where I leave her long skirts undone to go hiking with a friend.  Saturday.  After the Farmer’s Market where I buy fresh salad greens from a Dixon farmer thick with texture, and a bundle of asparagus from Espanola.   I’ll call my sister tomorrow.  Wash the bedding in the morning.  The graduation cards undone on the table.

Details for our upcoming Summer ART kick-off sleep in separate apartments.  Bethany baking cakes and Max at a moving sale.  Adam on the far end comes and goes like a ghost.  Marilyn plein air poppies greet the passers by.  We are the Zaguanistas.  Art on the wall by Friday night no problem.  Flowers to adorn and music to enthrall.  Come one.  Come all. . .545 Canyon Road  Friday May 25th 5 to 7pm.  We welcome you. Bring your friends.


Contemplating time and only one day that truly belongs to me (though don’t they all despite my giving them to other people who give back to me to pay the rent, buy a margarita with friends on Friday afternoon, upgrade my cell phone plan, that airplane ticket, wine and greens and student loan, flowers for the table, and the weather is beautiful.  So off we go in a 1990 Toyota Land Cruiser to hike Frijoles Canyon.  Bandelier.  $12 takes you directly to parking beside tourist eating watermelon.  A round and pink experience.  The rangers assume you stupid, though pleasantly, and loan us a geologic trail guide.  We walk through the burn of last summer (and a history of burns apparently) past tuff and tent rock and prickly poppies (thistle) to the upper waterfall and beyond the barrier that warns of arrest or reprimand.  The trail stopped at #15 due to a flash flood that has rendered it gone and no path to take one all the way to the Rio Grande –a greenish brown mirage in the near distance.  Water. We climb over the barrier, through the shallow creek to the opposite side where I am somewhat paralyzed at the very spot the lower waterfall appears –a hand reaches across the fear.  I take a few more steps and then no further.  The trail disappears completely just ahead –washed out, disappeared, down into the canyon below, gone –and I somewhat relieved it so obvious.  Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses kind of day.  Small yellow sunflowers with red or yellow centers line the road.  Indian paintbrush and Hedgehog cactus with blossoms.  Heliotrope sticky with scent and Mormon Tea.

Contemplating time we forego Tsankawi for the Atomic City.  Hmmm.  The secret city reveals itself slowly after a lackadaisical wave at the check-point.  Creepy.  My expectations vague but surprised by the beautiful wide streets three lanes across that meander around canyon and mesa and canyon mesa like an archipelago.  Who knew?  I want to go to the thrift store of leftover lab parts and so we rewind through the roundabout and back again in search.  Where is the town exactly?  We find it on Canyon Road.  A cross between a college campus and a military barracks.  Throw in suburbia of another generation yet modern and oddly out of place.  Many strip mall storefronts empty.  Statefarm and Curves and Subway at your service.  Not even a Mexican café do we see but lovely parks and a huge fountain (with water) and sculpture.  A library and medical center.  Church (x) many.  We stop at the Visitor’s Center for directions.  It is called the Black Hole but when we arrive it is closed.  And Ed died in 2009.

No camera to take a photo of the OPI –Omega Peace Institute but you can see it in the video if interested.  Boarded up now and the Danger No Trespassing posted on the fence a nice touch.  A million miles away from the mud adobe of Santa Fe.  Unlikely poetry.  A strange place and Starbucks.  The juxtaposition of technology on top of South Mesa surrounded by a sea of canyons and alpine and charred trunks.  Residential neighbors encased in greenery. Acid Canyon, North Mesa, Barrancas Canyon, Deer Trap Mesa, Santa Fe National Forest, Bandelier National Monument, San Ildefonso Pueblo, White Rock and a river runs through it.  What would it be if it wasn’t?

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If I Had a Boat. . .

A week ago today I make camp at Bonita Creek in Chiricahua National Monument and hike the Echo Canyon trail among rocky crags and spires and oddly interesting formations.  Scrub oak and gray dust in dry river beds I meander through scorched black tree trunks where purple flowers find footing after the fires of last summer.  A strong wind keeps the temperature comfortably cool.  String on my hat pulled taunt.  My feet carry my imagination away from the scenery before me.  One trail meets another turn left or loop –lost in daydream and a million scenarios.  The solitude like milk.  Two deer.  A hawk soaring on uplifts. Down.  Meander.

Afterwards I sit in my crazy chair with a view, a glass of wine, a copy of the SUN.  A fly.  And then what?  I haven’t camped since my trip down from Alaska over 3 years ago.  I contemplate being unplugged.  Not yet a Smartphone girl.  Still lugging my 17” laptop around.  No Kindle.  The wilderness — urban or wilder –“nature” my go to “church” like the kitchen table.  A place of nourishment and suddenly I am restless though I have everything I need.  Disturbed by this discovery as failure.  I carry the laptop inside the tent to write a few words.  A wifi connection detected.  Campground.  Really?  I guess and type: c h i r i c a h u a.  Feeling brilliant. Nothing happens.  I let it go.  In the night I wake to the  moon out the back door.  The super moon shadows on the ground out the front.  It is cool and I snuggle deeper into the bag.   In the morning I heat water for coffee.  Only 5:30am and already light.  I watch the sun unlock shadows from the top of the rock.  Lower and lower down it falls.  Yellow warmth. The chatter of birds before they scatter to cooler canyons.  Drink it in.  Sip. Fly.


It is a long day driving through crazy beautiful high alpine north on Hwy 191 to where Hwy 60 intersects and I turn east into the land of enchantment.  To Pie Town, Datil, Magdalena, Socorro.  Mesmerized by the mining town of Clifton miles behind me.  Oddly beautiful and equally eerie.  Red copper cliffs rising on all sides.  The car navigates through, around, up and down and where am I (Mr. Wizard??) — tunnel and curve into Apache National Forest and 10/mph hairpin curves, up to 20 but never past 35 for miles and miles.  Many Thelma and Louise opportunities.  Horse country and trails beckon.  No traffic.  I am enthralled.  Completely.  One thousand (1000) miles to Pie Town and when I arrive it is closed.  Next time.

Back to work after the road trip reprieve –to clean for the annual Mother’s Day Open House.   A morning thunder storm.  Quiet on Canyon the rain a blessing and then the clearing.  Partial.  People at a steady pace through our apartments from 1-4pm. Sunday.  Umbrella and jackets in tow.  It is cool.  The studio in shadow of the art for the making has been put aside.  Pieces in progress attract a few, like a raven to the shiny, as people want to buy what isn’t for sale.  How funny.  I do sell three artist cards and two women interested in two differnt paintings.  I enjoy sharing the charm of my rented historic home with all the feet passing through.  The ooh & aah over the hot water bottle collection –and then it is over.

I am tired and unfocused and pull on a wool sweater.  Green chile stew.  A glass of wine.   I call my mother.  She is tired and I worry.  Too early for bed I linger in limbo.  Silence.  Broken later by the warmth of a friend watching a distant sunset.  Touching my shoulder.  Warm water rushing up to my chin.  A kiss calms me for sleeping.  If I had a boat. . .


Zaguanistas:  Summer ART kick-off at El Zaguan

Opening Reception 5-7pm/Friday May 25, 2012 @545 Canyon Road/Santa Fe

An eclectic exhibition of photography, painting, words and wood

Please stop by —





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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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