WUPATKI AND STELLA PESHLAKAI

After the Kachina Dance at Moenkopi, I drove south to Cameron for dinner, photographing the golden light of evening on the sandstone cliffs south of Tuba City on the way. The hotel at Cameron was full, so I camped again in Fordacho.

Back in the late 60s, my friend Dewain Maney took this photograph of Earl Carpenter and yours truly with Stella and Della Peshlakai. That’s Stella pretending to paint us.

I first met Stella when I was working as Preparator at the Museum of Northern Arizona and she was there demonstrating Navajo rug weaving. We became friends and I spent many happy days in her hogan, painting her and her father, Clyde Peshlakai and visiting with the family, her sister Della, brother Clark, daughter Helen, and others.


In 1969, I had my first one-man exhibition at the Stable Galleries in Scottsdale, Arizona. The gallery owner rented a flat bed wagon, team of horses and drivers. Stella came down and set her loom up on the back of the wagon. I set up my french easel and stood there, painting her, as a trophy winning entry in the world famous Scottsdale Parada del Sol Rodeo parade

Dewain called recently to say he had visited Stella at her home at Wupatki, that she is now ninety two, and that she sure would like to see me. So. That was the main reason for my trip to Flagstaff.



The next day, I went out to Dewain’s where he showed me his setup. Unlike many darkroom photographers, Dewain had taken to digital photography with a vengeance. He has mastered the software Corel Painter, and now creates beautifully rendered photographs like this one of Stella.

STELLA PESHLAKAI

By Dewain Maney

Click here to see more of Dewain’s work featuring people, wildlife and landscapes

After lunch in town, at La Fonda Cafe, my parents’ favorite for many years, and where I announced that I was returning to Greasewood Trading Post on the sponsorship that would launch my career, we drove out to visit Stella and Helen’s husband Anthony. We had hoped to join up with Earl and to recreate the old wagon photo, but neither of us had any luck finding Earl. Also, Stella no longer lives in the old family hogan, but in a lovely new house with running water and solar power, and wagons have been replaced by pickup trucks.

We had a great visit, though, sitting on the porch, talking over the old times and of the traditional native herbs that the government will no longer allow the medicine men to gather.


Clyde had lived at Wupatki and worked all his life for the Park. Untold generations before him had lived on that site. The National Park Service, though, in its bureaucratic wisdom, has decided that Stella will be the last of her family allowed to live there. Clyde once told me of the time he went with a delegation to “Washindon-di” and met “that man…what was his name? John, John Kennedy”.


I have to wonder what the Kennedy brothers, Jack and Bobby, would have to say about this National Monument no longer having room enough on its 35,000 plus acres for a single Navajo family that was there since before it was a National Monument.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/03/26/the-last-of-the-navajos-to-live-at-wupatki-national-monument/


http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/05/09/311119409/federal-goverment-jeopardizes-navajo-familys-ties-to-their-land


I camped at Dewain’s that night and we continued our catching up and plans for future endeavors.

Then I went to visit Rosa and John and on to Williams. Next, Gallup and the slow road back to Taos.

 

 

 

 

Flagstaff to Williams

FORDACHO

Meet Fordacho, 2000 Ford E-150 Conversion Van. My home away from home. My own personal guest house. Here, you see him parked in the driveway at my daughter Rosa's in Kachina Village, Flagstaff, Arizona, where I stayed for a couple of nights and a fun visit.

ROSA

ROSA'S JOHN

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Do you remember my last post? The one in which I said I woke up in Holbrook? Well, that was when I decided to get off the Interstate and head North to Hopi. And am I glad I made that decision.

I got word of a Kachina Dance in Moenkopi, over by Tuba City. I had seen one dance there a few years ago, in the lower plaza. That one was a fairly limited dance, so I wasn't expecting too much.

When I got there, around one o'clock, I saw a group of clowns entering the upper plaza and a large crowd with cars and pickups parked everywhere. I quickly squeezed Fordacho into a parking spot, and made my way around to the other end of the plaza where I found a bit of shade that left me peeking around the corner of a house the roof of which was covered with spectators.

Just then the Kachinas began filing in from the far end of the plaza. Along with a drummer, a priest, several clowns, covered in yellow clay and unmasked, something I had never before seen, and a couple of Mudheads, some sixty Long Hair Kachinas of all ages and sizes appeared, filling the plaza. They brought with them boxes of gifts to throw into the crowd. There were apples and oranges and peaches, candies and popcorn balls, bananas and carrots and loaves of bread. There were also small Kachina Dolls and beautifully painted gourd rattles for the children; these were not thrown, but handled gently.

I caught four apples, two oranges, two bags of dinner rolls and a bag of Cheez -Whiz! I was handed a very welcome slice of watermelon.

Soon, small groups and individual Mixed Kachinas came from behind me and joined in with the Long Hairs.

Then, between “sets”, more Mixed Kachinas, at times as many as sixty five Kachinas of all sorts, Ogres, Whippers, a Great Horned Owl, Mong, or Chief, Mudheads, Piptukas, Kachinas representing other tribes, Navajo, Comanche, Apache, Supai and others. Chaveyo and Planet, Soyoko and Soyok Mana, Kokopeli, Wuwuchim and Wildcat were there. Left Handed Kachina, Ewiro, the Warrior, and Hu were there, too.

There were skits, one involving two very large “Sumo wrestlers” and their attendants, judges, and supporters, and another a very raucous and suggestive take on the recent Trans Gender headlines.

I managed to move into a better shaded vantage point on the other side, after the first dance, with a view of the entire length of the plaza as well as the comings and goings of the Mixed Kachina groups, where I stayed unti the end.

The day was very hot, with almost no breeze. I mostly stood and occasionally, briefly sat until seven or seven thirty. It was exhausting for me. I can't imagine how the dancers could keep going all that time, and probably all morning, as well. They had no shade and many had their heads enclosed in heavy leather masks; some were wearing black, woolen mantas, others fox or bobcat skins around their necks and shoulders. Yet on they danced, seemingly tirelessly.

Grrr, my battery is getting low, gotta go

To be continued…

 

 

MAIDEN VOYAGE

I woke up Sunday morning on the edge of Holbrook, Arizona. I had left Taos the day before, done some errands and a very late lunch of Salvadoran Pupusas and Yuca Frita

in Santa Fe, and by saturday night, when I got to Holbrook, I decided it was time for a light snack, and some shut eye. I was on my way to Flagstaff, but in no hurry, and anxious to try out the bed in my “new” van.

Fordacho is the name that seems to have stuck to this 2000 Ford E-150 Conversion van, the, I hope, more dependable replacement for “Betsy“.

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do here, but that same bed is calling to me again

Next, i will bring you uo to date on Fordacho, maybe, even, with some images. Then, we will pick up where we left off. Awake in Holbrook, wondering which way to turn next, and the great times I enjoyed over the ollowing couple of days

Hint: Kachinas and old friends are involved. Stay tuned…

 

JOHN FARNSWORTH AT SORREL SKY

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

New Gallery Representation

I am both pleased and proud to announce that I have signed on with Sorrel Sky Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Durango, Colorado.

I will be in good company there, showing alongside my friends, Billy Schenck, Peggy Immel, Barbara Bowles, Stephen Day, Tom Palmore, Star Liana York, Kevin Red Star and others.

I look forward to working with the fine, friendly and knowledgeable staff at Sorrel Sky.

When in Santa Fe or Durango, be sure to drop by and say hello.

 

TIME AND INTERESTS

 EROSION / SAN JOSÉ DE GRACIA CHURCH / LAS TRAMPAS, NEW MEXICO
iPhone 6Plus / PhotoForge2 /Snapseed


I HAVE TOO MANY INTERESTS!

PAINTING

Of course! I am an Artist. A painter.

Watercolor, now that’s my first love.

And oils? They have recently, after forty plus years, become a joy in themselves; more than a means to an end. I’ve started to actually enjoy pushing the paint around. At the same time, I want to give more thought to what I’m painting. What direction, if any, I’m trying to take with my work.

Pastels and oil pastels? Love ’em. Haven’t done much in a while. Would like to get back into them.

Drawing and sketching, both preliminary and for their own sake. Sketching on the iPhone has become almost compulsive lately, and recent line and watercolor work has been very rewarding. See video demos here and here.

As a subset of all this, I have too many subject matter interests. That’s fine for the little dailies, but for larger works, I need more focus. But on what?

Too many interests!

PHOTOGRAPHY

I’ve been interested in photography for as long as I’ve been interested in painting. Until digital photography came along, however, I was more an observer than a practitioner. I occasionally took photos meant to be seen as photographs, but, for the most part, I used the camera as a research tool for my paintings. Some of the time it was used to record my work, or for the usual family snapshot.

When digital came along, my life changed. I had never had an affinity for the dark, smelly confines and chemicals of a darkroom. I had been in love with computers for years. At last, I could not only take pictures, I could make photographs!

Capture

As I see it, there are two ways to make a photograph. The first is to take it. To do it all through the viewfinder. To first see the image, then to compose it, time it, capture it in a single time stopping click of the shutter. Done. OK, maybe with a minimum of adjustment, but not manipulation, in either darkroom or computer. It’s all about capturing the subject, the moment, the feeling, the story. This is to seriously take a photograph, as opposed to a snapshot, a relatively careless, random recording of a place or an event.

Make

The second way is to take whatever has been captured, maybe deliberately, maybe carelessly, and make something more of it. To push it. Recompose, redesign, tease, enhance, yes, to manipulate it. Exaggerate, alter, or completely change its original meaning, story, emphasis. To add to it, or to take away from it. To create.

I find both ways fascinating. I am interested in both. And in following both paths. Combining them, too.

Technology

With an iPhone virtually always on my person, I am really hooked! And guess what? It does video! Who has ever seen a movie and not longed to do film? Pictures that move! High quality video with a device that fits in my shirt pocket?! Are you kidding?

Allow me to share a little perspective here. I grew up at a time when Dick Tracy’s wrist radio was a pipe dream. Something from an unattainable, unreal, damn near unimaginable future. And now?…

Terminology

Oh, I have a phone in my pocket. That’s pretty neat. But I’m a visual kinda guy. I have a camera / video camera in my pocket!!! And I can talk on it. Not a telephone that takes pictures. To me, it’s not really an iPhone, it’s an iCamera.

I have an iPad, as well. It’s my darkroom. Oh, sure, I can edit images on my iPhone, I mean iCamera, but most editing gets done on the iPad. Maybe I should say my iDarkroom? OK, this could get ridiculous in a hurry. The iPad is also my pen, my pencil, my typewriter. I’m typing this, right now, on my iPad. This little machine in a piece of glass is that and so much more. Don’t get me started. For now, let’s stick to the fact that it’s a writing device.

WRITING

Another interest. Ever since I leaned to read (before I started school, by the way. Thanks Mom, Aunt Inez, Aunt Bea.) I have wanted to be a writer. Well, now I write. Some. Nothing to brag about, but I enjoy it when I do it. That doesn’t make me a writer, really. That’s not the number one way I would describe myself. Writing is just another one of those interests that demands a lot of my time. Not in the doing so much as in the thinking about doing. Intending to do when time permits. I love to read books by writers on writing.

BOOKS

There are several self-publish books rattling around in my head. A book of Kachina paintings. One of horse paintings. Best of A Farnsworth a day. Best of When a Painter Snaps. Best landscape paintings. People. Still lifes. On and on. Oh, don’t forget e-books and zines.

LEARNING

Now there’s a big one. I hit school running. Ate it up. Skipped second grade after a week or two. Bogged down a bit in third grade, moved to a lumber camp with a small two-room, two-teacher country, first-through-eighth-grade school for my fourth year. A week or two later, I was promoted to fifth grade. Each grade got a fourth of the teacher’s time, which meant I could spend the rest of the day listening, if the lesson was interesting, stare out the window, daydreaming, or my favorite, go to the bookcase at the back of the room and read ever more interesting and challenging books. Learning. Loving it.

For the seventh grade, I moved into town, lived alone in a rooming house full of bus drivers. School began to be about regimentation, ringing Pavlovian bells, memorizing dates with no real, living context, rules that made little sense. Aside from Mrs. Walkup’s English class my sophomore year, I didn’t learn much in school beyond the first couple of years. I barely made it through high school. Had no interest in college. None. But after a while, I noticed how much I was enjoying reading again, learning. It was school that I detested, not learning. I loved learning. Still do. About anything. Everything. Hell, at the rate I’m going, I may actually know something, someday. But it’s the journey, not the destination that matters, right?

TIME

So, with painting, photography, videography, writing, learning and all the branches and varieties thereof, you can see how much I need to manage my time. Time management? Something else to learn? Plus I’ll need time to put it into practice.

Maybe I need to break it all down. Let’s see. What do I want to do most with my time, the most valuable thing I own?

Paint

That’s the most important thing I do. Or, lately, don’t do. Gotta fix that.

Take photos

That’s spontaneous, fits in everywhere.

Take photos deliberately

That’s something I don’t do enough of, except, sometimes, when traveling.

Make photos

Random. Usually done when I’m trying to get something else done, but an image pops up and demands attention. Play time. But with a purpose.

Manage my images

In desperate need of attention. Currently eats up a lot of time with little in the way of results.

Study

Study. Not just jumping down every rabbit hole that presents itself, especially on the internet. Real, dedicated, productive study of subjects of real importance to me.

Rabbit holes

Can’t just ignore them. They’re too important to me. Too interesting. I just need to get control of them, keep them in perspective.

Blogging

I love it. I really miss doing my daily paintings. Would love to fire up my old When A Painter Snaps daily photo blog again. Want to occasionally go on a rant, like today. I would like to do an occasional interview, or introduce a painter or a photographer. Or discuss a style, or a movement. Whew! See what I mean? And yet, somehow, I manage to let days slip past me without a blog post of any kind.

Dialog

I would like to develop more of a dialog in the comments section. Not just an endless string of Thank You’s but some real give and take. What I would really like is to get some dialog going between commenters. Some discussion, some depth. How about it, gang?

Teaching

Oh, yeah, and I want to teach more, maybe workshops, maybe on the blog, definitely with more YouTube video demos.

More

Naturally, all this needs to be worked in around family, friends, travel, transportation (Betsy, my iVan, needs to be replaced with something more dependable), a website in desperate need of attention, business, and on and on it goes. There are movies to be watched, I haven’t been fishing in years, I definitely need to walk more

Oh, boy

I’ve got some fixin’ to do!

Right now, I’m going to go make myself some lunch, then I’m going to muck out the studio while I try and come up with some sort of effective schedule, or breakdown of my days. I need to focus, prioritize and schedule. You know… Time Management.

Wish me luck.

Life is, indeed, Grand!

Which version do you prefer, and why? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY,

Imagene / 1945

Thanks Mom, for having me. Love, Johnny.

And to all the great Moms out there, Happy Mother's Day.

 

 

THE LIFE OF A PHOTOGRAPH, CONTINUED

We did the fishmonger last time; now let's do some things with just the fish. We start by cropping the original image, removing the part that we no longer need.

This gives us a starting point, but let's try and make it more interesting. We could start by cropping down to the most interesting fish, eliminating even more of the unnecessary bits, and pumping up the color…

Hmmmm, not bad. What if we darken the image and add more contrast?

I kind of like the sinister look that it has now. Definitely more interesting than what we started with. We could stop here, but why not go back a step, and pump the color even more…

Now, let's play around with some distortion… Give it a little of the old fish eye look. Pun intended.

I think we've got something here. Let's go further with it and see what we get.

Yikes! Not sure I like this one. But wait. Notice that big, deep, black hole that has opened up in the center. What a great spot for an editor to place a title. And there's another negative space in the lower right that could hold some additional copy. A handy app for trying this idea on for size is Skitch…

That was fun! But I think I'll try and take it even further. I'm liking those guys on the right, so I think I'll crop down to them and rotate, like this…

Powerful, and might look good with text flowing in the dark space. But the fish on the left troubles me, the way it leads the eye out the bottom of the picture. Of course, that could be a good thing if it worked within the context of a page layout, for instance, taking the reader right into the beginning of the story. The red one in the bottom left also bothers me, as does the hard to see third fish on the right. I play around with several versions, changing values, contrast, sharpness, color saturation, etc, until I come up with this one that I like…

Much better! Some carefully applied vignette helped with the lower left, and I brought up the light on fish number three, while selectively applying more vignette to keep the values down on the rest of the image.

Want to take it further, yet? OK! Let's rotate this sucker and see how it feels…

Interesting. But, now that upside down fish is too distracting. And the big one on top is way too heavy. Time for another cropping…

And Bingo! How's this for a magazine layout, or a blog banner. Now all we need is a bunch of fish tales ;-)

We've come a long way from the original photo. There were several points along the way that we could have veered off from in even more directions. Another time I'll share some things to be done with a failed original to make it into something useable. On yet another, I'll show how I get from photo research to a finished painting. So stay tuned!

Hasta Luego

 

Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, Videos, Digital Art, and Words, by John Farnsworth

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