Friday, May 05, 2006

Further evidence of the demise of the Bush administration. Don't expect a resurrection.

Politics unfolding in the creative arts.


My mood as reflected in my posts today are tending away from ranting at the melodrama that dominates the daily national stage like so much atrociously bad acting. Really, bad-bullshit-acting! Such continuous materialization of absurdities coming out of our nation's capital only serve to confirm our great American experiment is dead.

Instead I'm leaning more on those places where, for me and many others obviously, hope still remains. I'm talking about the smaller stages across the nation, those of of localism. Maybe I'm feeling particularly depraved because I've been watching too much national news, absorbing increasing helpings of hopelessness. Or maybe it's because I haven't made my semi-annual pilgrimmage to Taos, NM in over a year and I'm in desperate need of the renewal Taos so unselfishly gives to anyone open to it.

With that in mind, I'd like to mention the art form of Santos. A Santos is the name given to Spanish Colonial hand carved and painted wooden images, usually of saints or other religious figures. It is believed they began somewhere around the 16th century among Jesuit priests.

Traveling in the northern New Mexican Southwest, it is not uncommon to encounter these little figures in galleries and exhibitions of folk art reflecting the Hispanic tradition of devotion.

But sometimes as artists are birthing their images in wood, they take a creative twist and, in so doing, make these curious manifestations even more enchanted. Take for example, contemporary Santa Fean santero Arthur Lopez who said of one of the dominant influences on his work, "The scandals are still going on and sometimes I can't help myself. I have to say something."


As Lopez says of his santo "Self Proclaimed Savior and His Weapons of Mass Deception," it's "'Distinctly dark and sarcastic.' The piece portrays a figure of President George W. Bush in cowboy boots and a loin cloth of the United States flag, crucified on a cross of bullets emblazoned with 'IRAQ' instead of 'INRI,' and oil instead of blood gushing out his wounded chest; Pinocchio-nosed Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld stand prayerfully on either side of the cross.

"I'm seeing the world and everything that's happening in it and how pious (Bush) tries to portray himself. That's where Rice and Rumsfeld are all coming from, just like a crucifixion with the mourning figures on the side. It's so much like a political cartoon," Lopez says of his 'Self Proclaimed Savior'."*

Attributes: *The Taos News; photo courtesy of Parks Gallery

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

so is it true as DH Lawrence wrote of Taos "Time is different there" ? That a visit to Taos evokes the deep, the resonant, the unanswerable ? I enjoyed seeing the Santos art crucifying our unholy trinity (W,R&R)! D.K.

dada said...

I honestly don't know if Lawrence said that or not. It wasn't inscribed anywhere on the walls of his mini-mausoleum in the hills above his San Cristobal ranch just north of Taos. It's on a mountain "with a magnificent view of the world" (as Eya Fechin described it), overlooking California, the Pacific, Hawaii and the Orient.

But "time is different there" sounds like something DH might have said. And even if he didn't, he probably experienced that as many who go there do.

A couple of years ago, we had the pleasure to be invited to the next to last birthday party to ever be given for Eya Fechin, daughter of a most prominent Russian artist who lived and worked in Taos during the 1920's and 30's, Eya's teen years. I believe it was her 88th birthday. It was celebrated outside on the large patio behind the home her father had built which is today the Fechin Institute.

It was a memorable celebration, including real Aztec dancers and it culminated with the formation of a tight circle around Eya wherein each guest, one by one, provided with a long plume from some exotic bird, tickled her with a feather while expressing a particular birthday wish or gratitude for our guest of honor. It was a memorable occasion if one had the fortune to be rapt within the "different time".

It was an honor for those present to fete a true icon of living anthropology because Eya was there in the days when creative giants like Lawrence, Cather, Marin, O'Keefe and Cather walked the land.

Anonymous said...

Dada, the more you describe it, the more compelling it becomes. A land of clean air, talented people & dirt roads. Sounds like you'll be going soon. What could keep you away? D.K.

dada said...

My apologies D.K. "Read it again, Dada, for the first time..."

Geesh, you weren't asking me if Lawrence said,"Time is different there," you were telling me. That's because you knew. Well, I got it this time. Sorry!

Oh, and among the artistic giants who roamed the 1920's and 30's Taos landscape, did I mention Cather in my last comment? (grin)

I don't know the source of Taos' power, but I get a keen sense of it. Maybe its the clash of contrasts between wealth and poverty. So many of the rich are extremely impoverished, so many of the very poor, so incredibly rich.

Or maybe it's the contrast of legal and illegal drugs. Or the wonderful people and the delicious subsurface tensions between their Native American, Spanish, Mestizo and Anglo heritages. Cultures which include a fine history of acts of murder and mayhem committed by each group against the others.

Maybe it's the climate, so pleasant in the summer, yet capable of bitter cold in winter. Or the Taos hum. (Oh, I think the government shut that off in the '90s.

Or maybe it's the huge gaping chasm just west of town, a scar still bleeding on the landscape below as slashed by the Rio Grande that symbolizes a great division.

Or perhaps its the little construct of man's in the form of a tenuous bridge that spans that abyss, enabling everyone to "get over it."

Whatever it is, there's a creative force that manifests with as much art per capita there as anywhere in the country. And I love to go swimming in that pool of creativity; to thrash around and flirt with drowning (which may have just been a metaphor for the excellent "10,000 Foot Stout" ale brewed only in Taos).

At an elevation of 7,000 feet, a couple of 10,000 Foot Stouts can launch one into thin air of the mesophere where is revealed a colony oozing pigments on a canvas stained with the colorful history its people's blood, sweat and tears. *Time* can truly be different there.

Yeh, am I getting gushily homesick enough for you here?

Anonymous said...

Y'know, just cuz I read DH said it, doesn't mean he did say it (as we find out everyday now how truth is distorted in print). And, um, I thought maybe there was another Cather (besides Willa) that was famous around Taos! Dada, it doesn't take much to create an alternate universe for me! A 10,000 Foot Stout sounds EXCELLENT about now! (think they're sold at the state liquor stores in Utah?) -- D.K.