The night is very dark and quiet in the canyon making the sounds of cars and distant lights seem thunderous and bright. Luckily Kat is with me to help as we look for good vantage points to photograph the night sky. Planes insist on being part of the scene, so I succumb to most without photoshop to disappear them. After all, it is the world we inhabit and these intersecting lines seem to assert themselves in a place that is popular from land and sky.
It’s been a busy week for me at the canyon. Continuing my research about fire, I met with Windy Bunn the fire ecologist for the park and discussed the history of fire in the canyon and the need to keep the forest that interfaces with the village clean for safety and a healthy renewal of the land. I really was hoping to see a prescribed burn in action and it just so happened that the next day one was scheduled.
I am working towards a group show in the fall in Flagstaff called “Fires of Change“ and some of my research is being done here. We hiked to Pike Creek Trail to a fire that occurred in 2004 when a prescribed burn got out of hand and burned right up to the edge of the canyon. Ten years later there is some grasses and new growth and evidence shows that the wildlife visits often.
It is unseasonably warm here in the Canyon, reaching upwards of 60* everyday. There is no snow on either rim and although it is delightful, I find some disappointment in the lack or moisture. I chose Feb. to return to the Canyon in anticipation of snow, clouds and dramatic weather.
We left for the Grand Canyon on Jan. 31 after 10” of wet snow in Taos, getting stuck in the driveway twice before getting on the road. Once on the highway we only had to deal with slush and rain and the lower we went in altitude the less snow and drier it got.
By the time we reached Winslow, Az. It was near dusk and enough time for a walk around this depressed town. It was easy to see that it thrived at one time, but like most small towns that get bypassed by the interstate, they are slowly turning into ghost towns.
Of course we had to stop on the corner and stand a bit and that song is still playing in my head.
Once in the Canyon we quickly set up shop, settled in and did the tour of the Kolb Photo Studio and residence. Ellsworth and Emery Kolb were photographers and the first to document the canyon as well as set up shop for the tourists to take home a picture of their hike along Bright Angel Trail. Emery Kolb lived in the residence and operated the studio until his death at 95 in 1976.
The Kolbs were also the first to film the perilous journey down the Colorado River which was viewed all over the country. It was shown to the folks in Washington and it helped convince congress in establishing the National Parks in 1919.
The full moonrise and moonset was next on the list of things to do.
Desert View Watchtower in moonlight with stars.
In Oct. 2013 my residency at the south rim was cut short due to the government shutdown. I was invited to do it again and given the choice of a few months. I decided that Feb. was a good time to see the canyon in a different light and mood with winter weather. There probably won’t be many folks there either, so a quiet time lies ahead. My partner Kat is going as well and we are looking forward to exploring together. We will be on the south rim for the first 3 weeks of Feb. and will experience the full and new moon during our time, so I plan to do some night photography too. Stay tuned for some images as the weeks unfold!
The Art of the Documentary
I am happy to announce the opening of my exhibit at Harwood Museum of Art
I hope you will make time to see it and email me with your comments!
Saturday February 22 – Sunday May 4, 2014
Three monitors will display work of the last several years including:
Grand Canyon A video diary – As artist in residence (AiR) of the Grand Canyon in October 2013, I had the opportunity to make visual and audio recordings of life at the Canyon: the landscape itself, the rangers who protect it, and the tourists who admire it.
Maxwell, Ground Zero -The changing climate and landscape of the world at large – and the southwest in particular – have prompted a long-term undertaking of documenting the impact on the land and lifestyle of Northeastern New Mexico. Clips from interviews associated with this ongoing project will be screened.
The New Neighbor – a short film inspired by the fact that Dennis Hopper is buried in our neighborhood. Produced with fellow student John Hamilton, while learning filmmaking at UNM-Taos.
EXHIBITION OPENING EVENTS
Director’s Circles & VIP Preview Reception Thursday, February 20, 5-7 pm
Alliance Members’ Opening Reception Friday, February 21, 5-7 pm
Open to the public Saturday February 22 – Sunday May 4, 2014
If you wish to become a member of the Harwood Museum Alliance please join here.
Friday was the full moon and I went to Hopi Point, one of the most popular places on the rim, to squeeze in along the railings with visitors from all over the world.
I am continually amazed and delighted to hear the voices of people who have journeyed far and wide to experience this wonder of the Great Mother.
Here along this parade of railings and stone walls there are no barriers to each other in this commonality of witnessing and being together. Everyone is in a good mood and we become instant friends sharing conversation, trading places for a better look or photo op.
There is the cell phone, ipad, selfie pics and employing some person nearby to snap a pic of you and yours.
The moon comes up, we stamp our feet to stay warm and as the sun disappears, most everyone boards the shuttle bus, leaving the few who linger. I linger too and when everyone has gone and the sky is lit only by the moon, I take an image of that silver light on the canyon.
Oh! The great sanity of her poise, the calmness of her mood, the serenity of her visage splendid!
Was there ever a time in human history when a return to Nature was so much needed as just now? How shall the nations be rebuilded, the lost faith and hope renewed, the race live again save through the Great Mother whom we have forsaken? How shall we live without her?
…need I apologize for attenpting to point out this majestic beauty? It has lain here unheeded for so many centuries while the generations have gone to the shades worn out with their own vanities. Will they never turn again to the beauty of the world? Though we call in vain, still let us call.
Photographer and mixed-media artist Kathleen Brennan from Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, is Artist-in-Residence October 2013.
Kathleen’s diverse body of work explores the idea of the transformative process of our world, both culturally and environmentally. She’s interested in capturing the beauty of the subtle – in both her landscapes and portraits.
She has photographed the high plains deserts decimated by the dust storms of the 1930s, the surgical scars on a woman undergoing breast cancer treatment, and the changing appearance of a man dying of AIDS. Her work tenderly exposes the vulnerability and strength of these diverse subjects in order to evoke a protective response from her viewers – with empathy comes action and advocacy.
While in-residence, Kathleen intends to document the four elements – earth, water, fire and air – as they sculpt the environment of the Grand Canyon ecosystems. She’ll be working with soundscapes, video and time-lapse photography to create final work that expresses the transitory nature of the desert southwest, as well as the slow processes that literally and figuratively shape how people view this rarest of landscapes.
During her residency, Kathleen will work with the local high school art students on a hands-on photography project. Park Headquarters will host an exhibit of Kathleen’s photographic pigment prints from September 2nd – 30th; open daily from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Kathleen will also present an artist talk during an Evening Program on October 11th, 2013 – 7:30 p.m. at Shrine of the Ages.
Recently, I read about the Dust Bowl as written by Timothy Egan in “The Worst Hard Time.” You’ll find a NY Times Review here:
Although we aren’t facing what the folks of the 30’s were, it seems that we are facing the elements of dust, drought , stress on wildlife and the land, and extreme fire danger.
Everyday, it seems, brings news of fires in NM and throughout the west.
Reading Egan’s book spurred me on to Clayton, NM and into Texas and Oklahoma where the dust bowl began.
While in Clayton, I was told that Bess Isaacs who still works the family hardware store, had stories to tell about the dust bowl days and she agreed to an interview.