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Posts Tagged ‘Harwood Museum of Art’

Diebenkorn Leaves Taos, Taos, New Mexico, July 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Diebenkorn In New Mexico, Taos Mountain in the background, Taos, New Mexico, July 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


When I was in Taos in July, we carpooled over to the Harwood Museum of Art to see Diebenkorn In New Mexico. When I was looking through my Taos photos last night, I realized I had wanted to do a post on Richard Diebenkorn after I got back. Time has rolled on without me.

The exhibit is moving to the San Jose Museum of Art and will open there Sunday, October 14th, 2007. If you are in the area, it’s worth checking out this period of Diebenkorn’s life (1950 – 1952).

 Natalie's Favorite, Diebenkorn In New Mexico, July 2007, Taos, New Mexico, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved.       One Of My Faves, Diebenkorn in New Mexico, July 2007, Taos, New Mexico, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved.

Playing Favorites, Diebenkorn In New Mexico Exhibit, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, July 2007, photos by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved.


It was in 1950 that Diebenkorn enrolled in the Masters of Fine Arts program at the University of New Mexico, leaving behind a teaching position at the California School of Fine Arts (now known as the San Francisco Arts Institute). It had been at the California School of Fine Arts that Diebenkorn crossed paths with artist, David Park, who became his mentor and friend.

Natalie wrote about Diebenkorn in her book about painting, Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World. (It’s one of my favorites. Read Chapter 1, How I Paint at this link.) So she was thrilled to take the class of 50+ students to the Harwood to see his work. In preparation for the visit, she told stories about her chance meeting with Helen Park Bigelow and a series of strange twists and turns that led her to learn that Helen was David Park’s daughter.


Though I missed Helen’s August lecture at the Harwood last summer, her introduction explains:

After the Diebenkorns returned to the Bay Area from New Mexico, they and my parents became best friends. I was married and living nearby, and it was during those years, the fifties, that my three children were born. I was in and out of my parent’s house, where I saw Dick and Phyllis often, and got to know them and love them and also got to know and love Dick’s works. Through my father, Dick and the third player in that important friendship, the painter Elmer Bischof, those years gave us what became known as Bay Figurative Painting, and the emergence into national recognition of David, Dick and Elmer. As I observed the three young painters, Dick and Elmer in their thirties and David in his forties, their passion for work left deep impressions. For my Harwood Talk I will share stories and insights from those years, with a focus on the friendship, competition and recognition the three painters shared.

The last few times I have visited museums with Natalie’s classes, she has had each person slow walk around the exhibit and view the work (it was O’Keeffe last December in Santa Fe). When she rings the bell, we stop – and choose our favorite painting, the one we would love to take home, by standing directly in front of it. Then we describe what we like about the piece.

It’s another form of practice that Natalie teaches, to slow down and take in each piece of art in silence. I call it museum walking. Other people viewing the exhibit usually join in with the class. It’s a great exercise in seeing.

And, for me, I find that the painting I like the most is not necessarily the same painting I could stand to live with for the rest of my life! There are many things to consider when choosing art for one’s walls.


Harwood Museum Of Art, Taos, NM, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved.Diebenkorn In New Mexico was organized by the Harwood and highlights a little-known period of Diebenkorn’s work. But it was a time that had a lasting impact on his career.

The exhibition brings together 50 paintings, works on paper, and sculpture that have never been seen together before.



We’d love to know which piece you’d take home. But be prepared. Museum walking makes the guards quite nervous.


-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

-related to posts: Mabel’s Dining Room, A Reason To Be In Taos This Summer



Diebenkorn in NM, Taos, NM, July 2007, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights rewerved.

Continues Upstairs, Diebenkorn In New Mexico Exhibit, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, July 2007, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved.



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By Joanne Hunt


Agnes Martin Room, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, August 2007, photo © 2007 by Kevin Moul. All rights reserved.
Agnes Martin Room, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, August 2007, photo © 2007 by Kevin Moul. All rights reserved.


Dear Agnes,

I’m back in Taos. It’s February and as I slow-walked from Mabel Dodge this afternoon, I scuffed through snow still lying on the ground. I’ve paid my seven dollars to gain entry to the Harwood Museum but all I will visit today is you. I feel at home in this octagonal room. The four yellow wood benches clustered under the skylight in the center; simple in their symmetry. The horizontal golden hardwood planks that run across the floor soothe and ground your work. I am, as ever, stunned by the seven linen canvases that surround me.

I am sitting in my usual place on the floor leaned against the white wall next to the absent eighth wall that forms the canopied entrance. I am wearing my faded black cotton pants and shirt. I don’t think you’ve seen me in anything but black. Few people have. I have been doing sitting practice in the zendo at Mabel’s for many hours today. I feel still and wide and ready for you.

As I look out at your paintings, these incredible 5’ X 5’ canvasses of pale blue and white, I am both deeply content and anguished. I won’t be back to visit for awhile – probably not until December. It is a difficult good bye because I have been coming here every three months for a year. I’ve gotten used to these trips to the Harwood. Like a trip to a favourite church or synagogue where you can sit forever in some form of prayer or communion. Silent. Unmoving. This room is as familiar to me as the zendo in my own home. This is my sixth visit and I am still awed to sit here.

It has been three years since that first November afternoon when I walked into this room, felt my lungs contract and my body hit the floor as my knees buckled. Gasping and wide eyed I looked around the room, overcome with emotion. I crawled over to this spot against the wall and carefully gazed out while steadying my shaking body. I have never had a painter’s work strike me so deeply. Each time I come here to sit and write, I can feel myself preparing to walk again into this room. Each time you hold a mirror up to me. Like an aunt who sees her niece once a year and registers how much she’s grown in a way that parents can’t. I see myself and where my writing is during each visit here. With each trip to Taos, this room is my Writer’s barometer.

I don’t want to leave Taos. I don’t want to head home. I have let my life get fuzzy. Cluttered up. Too much. Too full. When I get back to Ottawa, I am going to clear out some of the piles to make room. I am not sure what I am making room for but I will do it anyway. I want to live cleanly like you. Clear. Crisp. No distractions. I want to live directly. Single-pointed. Nothing extra.

Agnes, is there anything you want to tell me?


 Ordinary Happiness, Taos, New Mexico, crop of an Agnes Martin Painting, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Ordinary Happiness, crop of Agnes Martin painting, Ordinary Happiness, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, July 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Yes, Joanne
You can do it.

Don’t be so hard on yourself and be ruthless too. I threw out all my early paintings and I never regretted it. I hadn’t found my form. I needed to clear everything out. Some art is going to have to die in your book in order to bring clarity. Don’t be afraid to get rid of stuff.

Don’t be afraid to move to smaller canvases.
Don’t make excuses.
Don’t explain.
Don’t justify.
Do what you need to do.

Not everyone will love your art. Some people don’t like mine. They just see stripes. Oh, and by the way, they are just stripes. Don’t make them such a big deal.

They’re No Big Deal and they’re a Very Big Deal.
Both.

Just like how you wrote the two sides of your aspiration on the altar in the zendo this week. On one side of your folded piece of paper: No Big Deal. On the other side: Very Big Deal. You got it right. It is always both.

Joanne, blue is a happy colour. Now I know that makes you want to cry because you’re not very good at being happy yet. You’ll get better. All these things you already have:

Lovely Life
Love
Friendship
Perfect Day
Ordinary Happiness
Innocence
Playing

These are not just the names of the seven paintings. These things are present in your life. Right now. Blue is an ordinary, happy colour.

Ordinary Happiness is the kind of happiness I’m talking to you about. The wild kind of happiness comes and goes. It rolls in and out like a storm. Ordinary Happiness has staying power.

You have kept coming to visit me all these years in your travels to Taos; you have sat and written in this room of rounded edges and light in the middle. You can go now. I’m inside you. You don’t have to wonder about when you’ll be back to visit. You can visit anytime. Even in the middle of teaching. I am not separate from you.

Joanne, I want to speak directly to your search for something bigger. You have been troubled about what you call your “lack of faith.” I know that you want to rest in something bigger than you, trust something bigger than you and be held by something bigger than you. I think that’s good. It is good to be open and available to wider sources. But know this: You’re the one who has to get up and go to your desk each day. Trusting in something bigger than you does not bring you to your writing. You do. That bigger thing might meet you once you’re sitting there but it is does not provide the motivation or the propulsion. It meets you. You need to be ready. Like when you’re settled into the belly of your writing and Big Mind is flowing out of you so clearly, effortlessly, not seeking anything while your hand moves across the page for hours. You can trust that.

Did you hear me?
You can trust that.

Is that outside of you?
Or inside of you?
Is that that bigger than you?
Or just you?

It doesn’t matter. That’s not your concern. What matters is that you write. What matters is that you show up and wait to see what shows up to meet you.

I once sat still every day for three months waiting for an inspiration to arrive. Three months. Every day I waited. Still. Silent. I didn’t know if it would come or not. I didn’t have faith that it would come or not. It was my job to sit and wait. It came and I painted again. But I might not have. And that’s not the point – whether I ended up painting again or not – the point is that I knew what my job was. So: I did it.

It doesn’t have to do with faith, Joanne. It has to do with knowing that you’re a Writer. That’s your job. To show up and write. You get inspired. You use words to express it. I got an inspiration. I painted. You write, as truly as possible, to capture that inspiration. I painted to do the same.

Not in a tight way. But in a true way.

There’s math involved. And calculations. And measurements. And elegance. And simplicity. In the form and in the math. It isn’t all soft and mushy. There’s discipline and rigour and study and figuring it out but it is held in a soft hand. Clear. Steady.

I led a disciplined life, some say, like a Zen monk. I don’t know about all of that. I didn’t need much. None of us do. My paintings sold for more than a half a million dollars each. You are surrounded by $3.5 million dollars worth of art. Isn’t that something? How can Lovely Life be worth that much? Yet, should it be worth $20 million or $150 million or $50 bucks for the canvas?

That was not my job so I don’t know anything about those things. I tried to capture inspiration. Life is filled with beauty. Can you see it? Can you touch the beauty in your own life?

You are living too full up right now. Don’t despair. You can change it. One step. Then another. Sometimes I had too much too. It’s okay. Just start changing it each day. It won’t take long.

Pull out Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind to remember why you chose this path.

I never stopped painting because I never stopped receiving inspiration. You will never stop writing and listening to music. You and music do have a special bond. It serves you well. And you hear well. Keep listening.

Spend more time in silence.
Walk more. While you can.

And don’t worry so much. It will all go fine because “fine” includes everything – all the stuff we call good or bad. It’s just stuff. It is being human. That’s all. You get to be a human so you get to have the stuff that human beings call good or bad. Don’t worry. You’ll get all the stuff that humans are supposed to get. That’s our true nature.

Let it come. Receive it. And let it pass. Don’t cling to it. The happiness or the sadness. Just notice the inspiration. Both inspire. That’s all.

There is just the living of a life and knowing that is what you are doing. A living of a life. So pay attention.

Top of mountain.
Middle of mountain.
Bottom of mountain.

Doesn’t matter. No need to decide.
The mountain will find you.

Take good care of yourself,
Agnes Martin



Agnes Martin, crop of Agnes Martin photo, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, July 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.About Agnes Martin, Joanne says: She was Canadian born in Maklin, Saskatchewan on March 22, 1912 and died in December 2004 at the age of 92 in Taos, New Mexico. She lived most of her last decades in Taos painting (or waiting for inspiration) until the end; she was dedicated to capturing the beauty in life.

Agnes said, ‘My paintings are about quiet happiness like the lightness of the morning…I look in my mind and I see composition.’ It is her simple clarity that left such an impression on me. I think that you have to have a really clean relationship with The Mind to paint the way she did. I want to write that way.


About this piece, Joanne says:  I was compelled to write a good-bye letter to Agnes that day in the Harwood at the end of a year long Writing Intensive. I asked her if she had anything to tell me. I thought that the response would be to sit in silence for awhile. I was surprised when I immediately drew a line on the page and my pen kept moving as the letter from Agnes emerged. It was calm and clear. I guess there were a few things she wanted me to know. I got out of the way and wrote until she was done. It came and went so easily. I slow-walked back to the zendo at Mabel’s that afternoon and read it aloud during our Reading Group. I was quite shocked. I still am.



Revisiting Agnes, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, August 2007, photo © 2007 by Kevin Moul. All rights reserved.About Joanne:  Joanne just returned from an August trip to Taos where she got to surprise Agnes with another visit. Kevin Moul stumbled upon Joanne sitting in her usual place on the floor writing and took the photos of her there.

Besides sitting for hours on the floor of an art gallery channelling Agnes, Joanne is the founder of an Integral Coaching® Training School in Ottawa, Canada with her partner and beloved wife, Laura. You can read some of her Perspectives and Articles in the Resources section of their web site at Integral Coaching Canada. She is ruthlessly working on her first book while trying to write more in coffee shops rather than pubs where her libation of choice is a Guinness. She is Irish after all.


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, August 27th, 2007

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Silent in Taos
Silent in Taos, map of Taos, NM, doodle © 2007 by ybonesy. All
rights reserved.




Bent Street: The quaintest street of Tourist Taos.

  • Dwellings Revisited: A couple talking. One the proprietor, the other an old friend. I can tell this is their daily custom–sitting, talking, gesticulating as if building a castle in the air. I am grateful for their consumption of one another and not of me. I walk to every section of the store. To the table with carved wooden fruit painted brightly. The section where Day of the Dead objects convene. Skeletons prefer other skeletons. I come upon the tin ornaments, religious icons, bags with Frida images. Each thing I come to slowly and stand, “Let it come to you” reverberating in my heart. My hand reaches up as if guided by a force, picks the purse off its hanger and places it on my shoulder. A store without mirrors yet I can see myself, bright and odd. I feel so new, so Mexican with Frida at my side. I touch her cheek. She is inside the bag, a small Frida wanting to see some of Taos. Adios, mujer. The words hang and I’m not sure whether I uttered them to her or her to me.
  • The Parks Gallery: Mr. Park is like any gallery owner. Assured and handsome. He wears a crisp white-blue striped dress shirt and gray slacks, his wavy hair swept back as if he just stepped off a biplane. He asks, “How can I help you,” and I can tell by the way he looks me toe to head that he thinks me not to be serious material. I wear a faux leather skirt, which could have been accessorized in an ethnic voluptuous sort of way, except I am layered for warmth: black leggings, ankle boots with wide rubber soles, a loud ski sweater from the 1950s, and a light blue down jacket soiled at the wrists and neck. It gives me pleasure to tell Mr. Park that I want to buy the Georgia O’Keefe pull puppet in the corner.



Paseo de Pueblo Norte: The main artery of Taos.

  • Artisan’s: A thin, caved-in man waits on me. He is medium height, my age but older looking. He has dark hair sprinkled gray and bad breath. As he leads me to each product about which I inquire — a watercolor paint set, paint brushes, white and black gouache, a portable paper tablet, permanent ink pens — I make up a story about him. He lives alone in a detached converted garage. It is cold in the winter and his wages barely cover rent and gas heat. He worries, and even though he eats well and has good hygiene, the worrying turns his stomach and breath sour. I once had a dog with horrible breath, even as a puppy. He was a blue heeler named Rudy. We used to say Rudy was a worrier and that he had “Broody Breath,” like brooding. After a while we called him Broody instead of Rudy, and we always said it in a high voice. As I wait for the man at Artisan’s to ring up my purchases, I say to myself in that same high voice, “He has Broody Breath.”
  • Taos Gems and Minerals: I walk the entire store looking for individual specimens — clear quartz or amethyst — to take home as souvenirs but I can’t find any. A stout man with a potbelly approaches. “Can I help you find something?” “I’m looking for crystals in the six-dollar range for my daughters,” I tell him. He walks to the center of the store, kneels before what looks like a big table and starts opening thin, wide drawers. Each drawer houses boxes and boxes of minerals. He opens one drawer with nothing but clear quartz. A few feet over he pulls out three drawers in succession, one on top of the other. The items in the boxes start at $1 each and go up from there. I eventually pick six from the $2 drawer. Later, at the cash register, the man says, “You have six daughters?” He looks at me from behind the counter. His eyes are round now like the rest him. I know what he’s thinking. “No,” I say, “six dollars per daughter.” “Oh,” he says slowly, “you have two daughters…OK…I was going to say…that would have been monumental for you to have six daughters.”

Ledoux Street: Tucked away from it all, as it should be.

  • The Harwood Museum: Someone is playing the piano in the next room. It is heavenly, the sound music makes in this gallery. Like a church or a concert hall. It’s a classical piece. Small keys and big, deep ones… I wish I had words for music. I’m conscious of a desire to close my eyes and rock my head left and right. I don’t want it to stop. Not the music. Not this moment. Not the silence. I want to stay here. I want to come again and again. And now twinkling notes. They remind me of snow falling. Winter in Taos yet it’s still fall. Now it’s over, the music. Soon it will be over, the music of silence, of acute noise in my head.




-related to post WRITING TOPIC – TAOS.

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