Tag Archives: street photography

Beauty Betty Bingo: Still Developing


Several months ago I was invited to create a piece about my relationship with my mother for an exhibit curated by Esther Hong that opens Friday 9.4.15 at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage.  My old stomping grounds. How could I refuse. Grateful for the invitation. Grateful for the inspiration and creative direction.  Now what –?

Beauty Betty Bingo –that much I knew. Maybe a hand of euchre or two. Are those special cards or regular? I really didn’t know. Later my family laughed when I told them I went on Amazon trying to buy a Euchre deck. I checked Walgreens and CVS too.

It’s a Michigan thing.

Since January I have been working with natural linen, pieces of canvas, old and new photographs, negatives and discarded silk in the vein of a Primitive Seamstress.  I decided to continue with this materiality. Initially cutting and stitching all these disparate materials together as some kind of scroll. Attach them to an old wooden rolling pin. What about that vintage potato masher?  That might be cool. We ate a lot of potatoes growing up –I’ve been wanting to do scrolls with rolling pins for years. . .but alas it was not to be. A friend made a suggestion and the idea developed. Bingo! As it does. Literally. Art morphs.


 Somewhere in all this stitching my stepfather died. The family gathered.

There were decisions to make in the execution and later in the installation.  The negatives made it too stiff for rolling but not for hanging and so hang they will but by line or by chain or some cool miniature hardware that would make it look –well finished? I tend more toward the conceptual. Lots of undone and nothing exact so I let that go. Clips and clothespins.  Keep it simple. Keep it real.  The theme of a photograph still developing. Our relationship still developing.  Love you mom and so happy you’re still here and alive in the world.  The clothesline works to represent both the rural America of my childhood and the line where photographs are hung to dry in a darkroom.  So many metaphors.  Memories. The tangle of threads. A button. A live birth.  A game of cards. A gamble. Stitching a life together. Love. The beauty. All that laundry.


I hope you can make the opening –and if you do–Thank you!!

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 IGCA this week in Anchorage, Alaska.

Posted in Brenda Roper, Studio Art Also tagged , , , , , |

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.



Posted in Dreams, Poetry, South Capitol, Travel Also 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

Posted in Blog, Free Writings Also 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!!

Posted in Blog, Poetry, Travel Also tagged , , |

Thanksgiving meander in the land of enchantment

Over the river and to the Bosque (del Apache) we go. . .and what a treat. . .

42,000 snow geese and a field of cranes –pause for reflection–

to T or C for a picnic Thanksgiving with Roy Rogers & our version of Black Friday after a stay at Blackstone Hot Springs

Our next destination Mountainair

where moon glow gathers good friends together:  wine at the table laden with cheese and olives, soup and sausage fat with lamb –pesto on the penne. . .truffles, pie be gone and coffee.  Cheers and thank you!

We stayed at Two Ponyz Casita and recommend a vist to Cibola Arts

enroute to the Salinas Pueblo Missions:


Gran Quivira


Such a nice break (gratitude) from the routine of day to day petty annoyance attitude adjustment and pure delight to wander through the vast desert big sky landscape of New Mexico into the trail of ancients and Valley of Fires and the 12th Street Arts District of Carrizozo, over Forest Service roads to White Oak and Jicarilla and Ancho. . .to picnic in late November, outside, on leftover chicken and Vintage Ale and salt & vinegar chips.. . . and our only obligation — to the now moment.

Family Tree (detail) 48″x 24″ oil & linen on canvas by Brenda Roper

Brenda is currently one of six artists and writers in residence at El Zaguan on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, NM.  Please join them for their annual Holiday Exhibition this Saturday from noon to 4 o’clock.  A special reading by the writers in residence begins at 7pm Friday November 30th.  Events are free and open to the public.  

Posted in Studio Art Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Election Day: a walk to the polls

Election night after one of the most beautiful fall days in Santa Fe.  The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  2012.  Only one week ago Superstorm Sandy pummels the east coast and today New York votes Obama.  A million people still without power.  Is that possible?  The results are rolling in.  From East to West.  Florida and Ohio too close to call.  People still standing in line as the count rolls across the Mississippi.  NBC is calling Obama.  NPR too soon to tell.  The polls still open in Alaska though we all know where that will go.  . .Texas, Wyoming, North & South Dakota.  And how any woman can cast a vote for the Republican candidate is beyond me but still some do.

I am amazed at how close and opposing this country can be.  Do not insert here my opinion on how the 2nd time Bush was elected (excuse me as I clear my throat –I mean “stole” the election) . . .  Too much too easy too little choice.   Take the money out of the campaign.  Still the process is processing.  Hope is the new revival.  The votes are being tallied.  The good volunteers at election central earnest and friendly and helpful as they direct me to the 47 Precinct table where I give my name and it is found and I sign at the number indicated.  The ballot is given with easy to understand instructions as I’m directed to the booth in the corner.  No curtain.  No TSA asking for my photo ID.  I keep my shoes on.  Bottle water is permitted.  No x-ray when I pick up the pen and shade in the oval –all the ovals — regressing to kindergarten I try (really hard) to stay within the lines.  No one rushes.  No line out the door.  Only a sunflower at the fence and a man handing me  I voted  sticker when I slide my ballot into the machine.

It is a lovely walk.  Everything is yellow.  Brass like a trumpet blasting hope up the scales and back.  In tune.  I buy a donut in celebration.  Thrilled to walk home just around the block.  I love my neighborhood.  No interference.  Sunshine and silence.  Not even 8am. A man walks his dog.  Yesterday I had a red head moment all juicy and bold but really I’m a blonde.  Not the dumb kind.  But the midwest good girl believe in the possible.  I set aside my own cynicism and the visible violent bully militant mentality too prevalent in this America to ride a wave of hopefulness on this election day.



Brenda is a socialist at heart and an artist currently living at El Zaguan, the oldest artist colony on Canyon Road.  Today she cast her vote for Obama.  This weekend her art was one of 32 works featured in the Juried Exhibit at Recycle Santa Fe where she met some very nice people and helped sell the #1 juried piece (very cool) to a very excited patron.  It was all very sweet.  The focus on reduce/reuse/recycle a lesson to carry inside and outside the home and studio.

 Go ART.  Go Obama.  Go well into this good election night.




Posted in Studio Art Also tagged , , , |

Truthiness, Separation and a Trip down Hwy 14

Pondering honesty and consequence, and truthiness –(coined on the Colbert report according to Wikipedia) and defined as the quality of seeming to be true according to one’s intuition, opinion, or perception without regard to logic, factual evidence, or like: the growing trend of truthiness as opposed to truth.  Hmmm.  Also currently an exhibit at SITE Santa Fe –More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness.


Much to consider.  Despite the definition being coined as recently as 2005, truthiness has always existed as a perception.  Facts and history often skewed to support a specific cause or perspective or taken out of context when repeated –to make or prove a point. To justify an action.  A moment.  Fear and reconciliation. The very definition seems to call out intuition has “not” –an impostor and unreliable but again in what context?  Good fodder for art and politics and in my mind at least much more time to digest practical implications.  Too much before breakfast.  But I like it.


My thought began two paragraphs above –the one not written.  How I watched “A Separation” last night.  An Iranian movie.  About cause and effect and the consequence of truthiness.  It was a wonderful drama though difficult at times.  How we draw our own lines around honestly like hopscotch.  When to push our toes across.  What gets washed out in the rain?  What remains?  Secrets like a tumor to justify and protect and at what cost to ourselves?  To our children? — Be wise.

A woman recently inquired on the price of a bronze heart.  Mine.  A Poet Heart:  Reflections on Compassion.  On display at Douglas Mehren’s 9.11 Memorial (and sculpture garden) at the Encaustic Art Institute off Hwy 14.  Art alert.  The possibility of income and validation.  No sale yet but the “nibble” got me excited.  Enough to drive out, to say hello and to check out the current juried encaustic exhibition –which is really quite wonderful. A few artists pushed the creative envelope in most intriguing ways.  Exhibit runs through the end of the month.  Gallery open on weekends or by appointment.


Eventually I made my way to a cemetery at the top of a mesa in Madrid, after a few stops along the Cerrillos/Madrid Studio tour.  A friend who lived here back in the hippie hey day of the 70’s and the talented artist in Studio #11, whose abstract paintings I happen to love, kindly pointed the way.  Despite the harsh afternoon light I took a few photos. . .


Brenda is one of 6 visual artists & writers currently living in the creative artist compound El Zaguan on Canyon Road.  Studio visits welcome.

Posted in Studio Art Also tagged , |


We meet ourselves more in cool weather.

Transition (12″x12″ oil on canvas)

Fall weather and insecurity do they go together?  The political process?  I am back in knee-socks and pleated skirts — rah rah football games walking to High School.  Transition of seasons brings emotional and physical changes.  I contemplate rearranging my apartment.  Mopping the floor. Bringing in the wood.  And though I love the cool damp feeling of this day I fear the coming of winter like suffocation.  It will pass. . .into embrace and cooking and cozy.

Zozobra was meant to take it all way. . .


Road trip friendship took me up Hwy 84 to Chama, NM and into a cabin on the river over Labor Day.  View.  Onto forest service county roads around Heron and El Vado Lakes and such.  Very fun.  A woman at the Rio Chama trailhead directs traffic inside the parking lot.  On the hike I think of “otherness” and that society does not much allow, but when she catches us at the overlook I am put to the test of how to be polite and back peacefully away with all my boundaries intact.  How uncomfortable annoyance can make us.  Me.  Her needy loneliness unbearable.  Her articulation so vocal. Non-stop. Her questions follow me down the trail about her SW flight to see her 96 year old mother back East and new luggage and her brother really shouldn’t be given power of attorney and it is only one way because who knows how long these things can take and as her voice trailed off and my feet put distance into that beautiful afternoon I think I hear her ask about parking or if. . .I do not offer (though I want to answer).  Later I write haiku that does not do justice to the feelings:

 Co-exist bumper
 does not ignite enough to
 combat loneliness.
Her luggage too big
 23 inches pulls her
 beneath the bell curve.
Co-exist bumper
not guarantee enough to
combat loneliness


And afterwards we continue over the dam to our picnic at the primitive campground muddy access swimming hole Heron Lake.  We laugh and fall back on the blanket — beer in hand.  Enjoy the view of the Brazo Cliffs.  Sailboats on the water.  Swimming comes later, along the sandstone ledges of Abiquiu Lake where we penetrate a path between barbecues and tarps and children — to find a place.  I slide off the slippery rock straight into bliss.

Travel is always good for perspective.  Mine anyway.  450 miles will do.  Or less.

Posted in Studio Art Also tagged , |