August 1, 2010
The Longest Post Yet: Santa Fe, New Mexico
(it reminds me of a keyhole... I really really like it)
This morning, I woke up on the very edge of our bed with Krista’s head basically on my shoulder. How she managed that in a king size bed I have no idea. She was probably going through withdrawal from being so close to me in the tent. Or she just is a serious bed-hog – you pick. Either way, that woman can SLEEP. It also made me realize that because I’ve been staying with friends all summer, I think I can count on one hand the number of nights I have slept alone. I guess I’m getting used to it So then I got up to take advantage of the gym to run a hard workout and she slept in – activities we both didn’t realize just how much we needed.
Later, we wandered into Santa Fe which was a super picturesque South Western city. All the stores (and many of the homes) are made to look like they are constructed from Adobe, nothing is more than two stories tall, and there are flowers everywhere! Our plan was to see a bunch of different Art in Santa Fe and oh boy did we! This is probably going to be a pretty long post, but everything we did just flooded me with thoughts and feelings, so long post it is!
First stop: The Chuck Jones Art Gallery
Chuck Jones was the artistic director for Warner Bros when they were developing all their cartoon characters (like the Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, etc). He is also an incredible classically trained artist so much of the gallery is his painting replicas of famous artists (think Van Gogh, Dali, Picasso, Cezanne) with Bugs Bunny or some other cartoon in it. My favorite was the Dali Painting, where carrots draped over the walls instead of clocks and Bugs’ shadow took up most of the forefront. The gallery director, Mike, was super friendly and gave us a ton of background on the gallery as well as recommendations of what to do and see in Santa Fe. The rest of the gallery was mostly Dr. Seuss paintings, some of which are part of his unpublished collection and are definitely worth checking out!
Second Stop: Georgia O’Keefe Gallery
I apologize for how long this is going to be, but I felt like our trip to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum was a bit of a pilgrimage for me. We walked in and the first thing we did was watch a short film about O’Keefe and two major things caught my attention:
1) She described the intentions of her art as capturing not necessarily the lines and forms of nature, but the emotional experience one has when one is confronted by it.
2) Because she was the subject of much of the photographic work of her husband, Alfred Setigliz, who described her (and her work) as incredibly sexual, her work was misinterpreted? Or maybe it’s better to say overly interpreted as sexual.
I have always loved O’Keefe’s paintings, but this particular exhibit was strictly her abstract work and was extraordinary, even for her. I’ve also always loved thinking of them as yonic (which is the female version of phallic and is the proper, artsy way to say that they look “vaginal”; little shout out to Chase here). But having heard in the video that her vision was more to take small pieces of nature and create them in such a large scale that people were forced to notice the little details, and even more, the emotional experience of noticing the little details, I found myself having a different interaction with the paintings. They captured the experiences of being in so many beautiful places these past few weeks like none of our photographs ever could! After standing in front of one painting for over ten minutes, I realized I had a knot in my throat and tears in my eyes, because it evoked all the feelings I had about Utah. Sometimes with art, I feel like you just have to stand in front of a piece for a little while and see what feelings rush over you. It doesn’t always happen to me, but this gallery hit me hard. Other paintings stirred up my thoughts and feelings of the Redwoods , the Oregon Coast, the Olympics, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming… it was incredible.
Throughout the museum, I wondered why we have to decide if her paintings are nature or vaginas – one thing I have definitely pulled from these past few weeks in some of the most outstanding nature in the country (and world) is that NATURE IS YONIC.
We also went a little wild in the museum gift shop, so a bunch of you should expect an O’Keefe card soon!
Third Stop: Lisa Kristine Gallery
Recommended by a friend of Krista’s as a not-to-miss Gallery, we found huge, striking portraits and scenes from the most colorful places around the world. Kristine’s philosophy is that if we push back the initial fear of differences, we reach of a place of deep connection and understanding. She aims for her viewers to really connect with her subjects – and with the richness of color and intimacy of angle of her photographs, it’s hard not to.
Strangely (or maybe not), I find myself noticing all sorts of medical problems with portraits of people – misaligned eyes (stigmatisms), jaundice in the sclera (anemia), a slightly drooping nasal fold and cheek (Bell’s Palsy), blue clear-ish eyes (glaucoma), darker patches of skin on the neck (insulin resistance), darker skin around the eyes (extra estrogen). It’s exciting to notice things that other people might not and surely I would not have before medical school, but it’s certainly a shift in how I used to view portraits of people.
Fourth Stop: Market Square Concert Series
So in the middle of Santa Fe, there is a park where each Saturday, there is a large Farmer’s Market. We were pretty sad to be there on a Thursday, missing the market, until we found out that Thursday is the CONCERT SERIES! Around 5pm string bands started to come on to the stage, people started selling fajitas and kettle corn around the edges of the square, and everyone came out in their cowboy boots, faded Levis, and ten gallon hats to dance! Krista and I tried to make eye contact with some old cowboys to lure them into dancing with us (just kidding, mom), but ended up dancing together and getting tips from the adorable older couples all around us. We couldn’t stop smiling and only stopped because we had to get to the flamenco show for which we had already bought tickets.
Fifth Stop: Juan Siddi Flamenco Theatre Company Performance
We took our seats at a table on the edge of the stage, ordered delicious drinks, and prepared ourselves for what they told us would be “an exploration of the essential nature of human being and spirit”. Flamenco is a type of dance developed by people who had migrated from Andulacia and settled in Southern Spain, and is a performance about exile, despair, but also hope. I have only really seen clips of flamenco in movies and had no idea how POWERFUL it is. The first number was called Nataraj, the name for the Hindu God, Shiva, when he becomes the Lord of the Dance. Almost immediately as the drum beat kicked in and the women started stomping their feet, flailing their ruffled dresses, and making intricate finger movements, I was hooked.
There’s this expression in Brazilian Portuguese, “fogo demais”, meaning too much fire or so much passion. It’s often used to describe people who dance samba or compete in capoeira who seem to explode passion out of their every pore. That’s how I feel about these flamenco dancers, especially Juan Siddi himself. Man, that man can dance. At the end, one of the performers sons, probably both about 7 years old with long curly hair and white suits, came out to dance. Krista and I sat back thinking this would be some cute kids jumping around a little – but NO WAY, those kids started stomping, gyrating, and clapping just like all the rest of the dancers, perhaps even more amazing because they were so small and young and maybe just shouldn’t be able to dance like 10 million times better than us.
Finally, we drove out to our campsite, arriving per our MO, around midnight. But now we’ve become pros at setting up camp, so we were in bed, fast asleep in about fifteen minutes, preparing for our drive across the state of Texas tomorrow. Austin, here we come!
“When one begins to wander around in one’s own thoughts and half-thoughts, what one sees is often surprising” – Georgia O’Keefe