SERENITY, SPIRITUALITY AND SUN: Remembering Santa Fe & Taos

Brooding Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Santa Fe Indian Museum, New Mexico Skies

Sometimes, I am compelled to take NJWILDBEAUTY readers into my ‘memory bank’, especially on gloomy New Jersey days.  The entire sky this morning is filmed with grey, –somewhere between fog and soot.   It’s hard for me even to remember sun. But it was ever-present in Santa Fe and Taos in the spring.

StoryTeller Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

STORYTELLER, BY A. E. HOUSER, Santa Fe Indian Museum

Two of ‘my’ Intrepids and I, as you know, undertook a Georgia O’Keefe pilgrimage in Santa Fe and Taos.  Janet Black and Jeanette Hooban were part of this quest. Carolyn Yoder is the fourth — not present in O’Keeffe Country at that time.  Sometimes we call ourselves The Four Musketeers — Janet (of Manhattan) being d’Artagnan; as in not always near enough to partake of every challenge.  All for one and one for all, and always seeking — art, history, courage..

In Houser’s “Storyteller” above, a man’s image of a strong woman inspires us, “stiffens our spines” in the urgent causes on every side in thus 21st Century.

Motherhood Pearl Buck Estate July 2017

Motherhood statue at Pearl S. Buck Estate — Buck adopted six children of mixed race, spent her lifetime insisting  upon honoring what we now call ‘diversity’

Pearl Buck Grave July 2017

“Gone, but Not Forgotten” — Pearl S. Buck’s being and ideals

Here, she rests in her beloved Bucks County, PA,

surrounded by bamboo and lilies.

All four of us, as you well know, require regular doses of strong women, Eleanor (Roosevelt, of course) above all.  Abigail Adams.  Pearl S. Buck.  And Georgia, always Georgia, — modern in art and dress and life, before there was much ‘modern’ in the United States.  As this interweaving of strong women unfolds this morning, I sense that each, that all, would insistently approve of the motto of Al Gore’s splendid new film on climate change: “BE INCONVENIENT!”  (This has become my motto for my upcoming birthday year.”

All of these women lived by strong and high ideals.  Each engendered practical change, against all odds, from the 1700s through the 20th Century.  They stood against prejudice and insularity, for compassion and courage.  They took bold actions; wrote strong words; painted reverberant works to convey the truths by which they lived.  We honor them, especially by visiting their sites, for courage, for being the original Intrepids.

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Augustus St. Gauden’s Statue in Washington D.C., which comforted Eleanor in her travails.

Riverside Park Statue Eleanor Rroosevelt-

Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial, Riverside Park, NYC

Prayer Santa Fe Indian Museum

Prayer, by A. E. Houser: Santa Fe Indian Museum

When I began this blog, I thought it was going to be about wallowing in the wild, complex, ever-changing sunlight on the mountains and adobes of New Mexico.

Adobe Outbuilding Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

Sun on Simple Adobe, so very Georgia! (Indian Museum, Santa Fe)

The Universe had other ideas.  I need to enshroud myself with strength and courage.

fig. 78: Alfred Stieglitz

Iconic Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz from Internet

The world as we know it is being altered exponentially, by political forces seemingly beyond our control.  I’ve ‘been there’ before,   as Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese sought to rearrange the world.  I never understood how the Germans or the Italians could go along with those tyrants.

It never occurred to me that our own country could be usurped and taken in directions with which most of us do not agree.  Politically and climactically, we are poised to lose everything we hold dear.

Abigail and Eleanor and Pearl and Georgia stood firm against currents of their time.  For women, for freedoms, for children of other lands, for art, for feminine dress itself, in Georgia’s time, and against prejudice..

It’s up to us to do likewise.

Abigail Adams Portrait from Internet

“John, remember the women,” Abigail Adams 1770’s –As Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, were being composed…

In the lexicon of Alfred Stieglitz, publicizing all art, especially Georgia’s, ” The spiritual was opposed to material and modern art was materialism’s antidote,” insists the catalogue from “Georgia O’Keeffe, Living Modern”, [Brooklyn Museum exhibition].  Brilliantly authored by Wanda M. Corn, it goes on to assert that “Stieglitz described his artists, not as ordinary beings, but as gifted modern seers.” He found their avant-garde work “healing and therapeutic for those living in an age dominated by commerce and business.”  

Realize that Stieglitz and O’Keefe’s first command of the art stage took place in the 1920’s!

As the values of our Founding Fathers and Mothers, our powerful authors, out iconic artists are increasingly trampeled, “BE INCONVENIENT!?

The Harsh Southwestern Landscape seems a breeding ground for strength:

Late Afternoon Santa Fe Indian Museum

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ON SUNLESS MORN, SOUTHWEST MEMORIES

NjWILDBEAUTY readers know that three of the Intrepids — Jeanette Hooban, Janet Black and I — pursued a Georgia-O’Keeffe-Quest in Santa Fe and Taos.  On this grey day in this week of not only no sun, seemingly never sun, I journey back into the southwest’s sunlit scenes.  Come with us.  Help me realize that somewhere, surely, sun is gleaming.

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Early Morning, Millicent Rogers Museum

Frail early light in a southwest olive tree, weathered classic adobe and a cloudless sky greeted first visitors at the Millicent Rogers Museum on our last full Taos Day.  This ‘glamourwoman’ was one of a constellation of strong-minded females who turned this tiny New Mexico town into a 20th Century arts mecca. Georgia O’Keeffe and Mabel Dodge Luhan were key members of the major triumvirate.  Feisty, original, independent to the core, weaving in other luminaries of both genders, –such as D.H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda; the luminous Ansel Adams; Mark Strand — photographer whose extreme cropping heavily influenced Georgia O’Keeffe; her long-time friend and travel companion, connoisseur/collector David McAlpin; and, oh, yes, the entire Taos ‘School’ of artists — these worldly women linked Taos to the world.

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Millicent Rogers sitting in a chair wearing a sweater set and many pieces of turquoise jewelry        Millicent Rogers Museum Caption

Millicent Rogers became devoted to American Indian culture of the Southwest, of Taos in particular.  This is not just any turquoise jewelry, in the picture provided by her museum.  They are among the finest early 20th-Century Navajo pieces, of which Millicent was a renowned connoisseur and promoter.  Rogers earned world renown for her passion for the first truly American art form.  She was equally sought after for her own massive, dramatic, ‘unignorable’ jewelry designs.  A ‘cover girl’ in every sense of the word, she shared brilliance, originality, independence, and depths with her Taos ‘sisters’-in-creativity.

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The Dramatic Millicent Rogers as photographed for Manhattan-based magazine article

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Abstract Doorway — Millicent Rogers Museum

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Sun and Shadow — Courtyard, Millicent Rogers Museum

We spent ‘the shank of the day’ ‘with Millicent’, learning Taos through her fascinated, discriminating eyes.  Our entire journey was justified by the treasure trove of Navajo pieces, alight with resonant early turquoise, in gleaming cases on all sides.  We marveled at Millicent’s designs, and that this slender woman could carry off works of such massive majesty.

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Millicent’s Navajo Collection – one shelf of one case

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Millicent Design — Mostly Diamonds

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Looking Out from Within Millicent Rogers Museum

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Sangre de Christo Range, Taos, from Millicent Rogers Museum

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BEST OF TAOS! — Millicent Rogers Museum in Early Light

Remote as we found Taos, –set like fine turquoise in the bezel of the Sangre de Christo range –, last summer, this haven seems even more impossible back in New Jersey.  Tethered to my desk, creating art receptions at D&R Greenway as I did last night, sending releases to all our media partners every week as I do.  I can feel as though The Intrepids must have dreamed our journey.  But I wear my own perfect turquoise pendant, bought while kneeling in Santa Fe, literally rapt with respect, before Navajo Grandmother Verdie Mae Lie. It is very simple, chosen for color, gleam and lustre.  Her mark, incised behind the stone, strengthens me in times of challenge

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Ms. Rogers, Wearing one of her Own Designs

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Crafting this post, this drizzly morning, I see that my own passion for preserving New Jersey lands has been amplified and deepened by the wise women of the Southwest, especially, today, the glamorous Millicent Rogers.

 

 

Home Is the Wanderer, Home from the Hills

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View From Florence Griswold House

NJWILDBEAUTY Readers know that Betty Lies arranged an artquest for us to the Connecticut town of Old Lyme.  Here, as you learned some posts ago, significant American artists of the Tonalist School boarded with Florence Griswold, turning out misty, moody, dreamy scenes of the bucolic surroundings of that stately home and town.  Others came along, electrified by the French Barbizon School’s approach to landscape, which had been (scornfully, by an art critic) christened “Impressionism”, with a nasty nod to Monet’s “Impression: Sunrise.” 

Neither school was a School.  Each evolved naturally, inspired by nature, in the days before ‘development’, which to me has always been a euphemism for ‘destruction.’

Our plan had been to drive up on Friday; stay in a nearby B&B; on Saturday, find the Museum that the Griswold home has now become;to  spend ‘the shank of the day’ with the artwork in frames and on walls, doors and panels of Miss Florence’s guests.  An adjacent gallery holds artwork of other countries and eras, all of it either leading to or influenced by Tonalism.

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Betty Studies the “Ticket Booth” for Outdoor Events on Florence Griswold’s Lawn

Fate had other ideas.

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Sign, Lawn and Gardens of Florence Griswold House, Old Lyme, CT

Betty’s early-morning fall on the Friday of departure led to nearly five Saturday hours in the Emergency rooms of (ironically) Middlesex Hospital (name of one of the hospitals in which my late husband long served, in New Brunswick, NJ, in the years of our marriage.)  This Middlesex is in Middleton, CT, and we now know more about Middlesex than we ever intended.  Her arm had broken.  Yes, the driving arm.  It was FINALLY splinted and slinged.  It is now cast, courtesy of Princeton physicians.  And we barely made it to Griswoldiana.

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Barn, Griswold House Grounds

Betty’s heroic and staunch.  I am neither, especially after spending this summer caught up in the dire plight of my nephew’s son James.  This musically gifted 20-year-old was snared by cancer inside his spinal column, abruptly and seemingly irrevocably discovered August 1.  James has now undergone two surgeries and God KNOWS how much chemo.  His walking remains a major challenge.

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Healthy Dahlia, Griswold Gardens

Betty drove anyway, insisting it did not hurt, as her insurance covers only the owner/driver.  I realized, that Saturday’s challenge was my first-ever experience of an Emergency Room.  That name, too, is ironic.  For no one seemed to comprehend the urgency in emergency.

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Palette, Griswold Garden

The art was lovely, dark but not deep.  Miss Florence remains overwhelmingly impressive, –such an independent woman making her indelible mark on the work of art, despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in HER life.  Another mentor for us, like Eleanor (Roosevelt) and Georgia (O’Keeffe).

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Miss Florence’s Lamp, Griswold House

I only managed a handful of pictures for my readers.  Put Old Lyme into the search function to see the internet scenes of the mystical art which catalyzed and still evoke our experience.

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Miss Florence’s Roof

And I wonder if I’ll ever be able to figure out this trip.

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Miss Florence’s House, Home and Catalyst of Tonalism in American Art

 

OLD LYME ARTQUEST PLANNED: AMERICA’S TONALISTS

Tonalism Will Howe Foote Florence Griswold House Old Lyme CT

FLORENCE GRISWOLD HOUSE by Tonalist WILL HOWE FOOTE

Recently, a poet friend passed the Ole Lyme (CT) exit on her way to Provincetown for their legendary writers’ workshop.  “I want to see the Florence Griswold Museum,” she said to herself, “… maybe, on the way back.”  But her Self corrected her Self: “NO, I want to see it with Carolyn!”  How Betty knew that I have longed to see this center of the Old Lyme Art Colony, –this boarding house of Miss Griswold, which housed some of America’s major tonalist, and later impressionist, artists–, who painted the very walls and doors and panels with Old Lyme scenes, I have no idea.  But she made inquiries, has rented us lodging through AirBNB, and she will even drive!

Moonglow Tonalist Image from Internet no artist credit

Tonalist Image, Moonglow, From Internet, No Attribution

My role, a favorite, is  research.  Tonalism, an exceptional delicate school of art, evolved in and around Old Lyme in this country.  A town of white steeples and picket fences, tousled gardens, and far-stretching meadows toward the sea–, one could say, if Tonalism hadn’t existed, Old Lyme would have had to invent it.  As I combed the Internet, I found myself transported from “mists and mellow fruitfulness”, from morning fogs and clouds tip-tilted by sunsets, to wifty views of Miss Florence’s home by my relative, Will Howe Foote.

Brent Cotton Nightfall on the Pond from Internet

Brent Cotton’s “Nightfall”

At D&R Greenway Land Trust, I am Curator of the Olivia Rainbow Gallery, among many other roles.  I realize, for the first time, that I am also Curator of the N:JWILDBEAUTY Gallery.

Marina with Misty Mt. from Internet no artist

Marina with Mountain from Internet, No Attribution

Think back to Monet’s “Impression, Soleil Levant”, from which the movement was named to which some Tonalists would evolve.  “Impression, Sun Rising” could be the name of this tonal masterpiece:

Tonalist Matthew Cutter Rising Sun from Internet

Tonalist Matthew Cutter’s “Rising Sun”

Betty and I, in the museums of Old Lyme, will be surrounded by the peace, tranquility and luminosity  we so often seek in nature.

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“The Blue Cup” by Tonalist Joseph de Camp

Tonalists were very effective with portraits.  Perhaps no one did a better job of winter scenes, at least in this country.  Sisley and Pissarro are no slouches when it comes to snow, of course, especially in and around Auvers-sur-Oise, northwest of Paris.  Our Tonalists made the most of the very American New England landscape.

John Henry Twachtman Winter Landscape with-Barn

John Henry Twachtman’s Winter

It is not yet clear to me whether this is the British attitude, or pure reality, that Tonalism all began with Whistler, (the legendary expatriate James Abbot MacNeill Whistler).  This theory could be the confection of critics of later centuries.  This attribution may be the confection of critics of subsequent centuries…

Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea 1871 by James Abbott McNeill Whistler 1834-1903

Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea 1871 James Abbott McNeill Whistler 1834-1903

Evergreen Framed Tonalist Image Internet no artist credit

Evergreen-Framed Tonalist Landscape, no attribution

Tonalism example from Internet unattributed

Early Tonalism – Unattributed under Tonalist Images

Tonalism example unattributed from Internet

Tonalism in the Garden, Unattributed

Tonalist modern Judy Friday February Sunrise

Tonalist Modern, Judy Friday, February Sunrise

Tonalist Will Howe Foote Verdant-cape

Tonalist and Relative – Will Howe Foote: “Verdant Cape”

Tonalism Orchard in Bloom from Internet no artist no title

Tonalist Orchard in Bloom, No Attribution

A group of determined friends and relations managed to save Miss Florence’s home, during the Great Depression, when debts would have forced her to leave.  This image, by my relative Will Howe Foote, may be the most famous of her home, which is now the Museum which draws us to Old Lyme.

Will Howe Foote Summers Night probably Miss Florence Griswold on porch of her home Old Lyme Ct

Tonalist Will Howe Foote, “Summer’s Night”, reputed to be Miss Florence Griswold on the porch of her home which sheltered these legendary artists

 

 

HEMINGWAY DREAM ~ Paris, in the 20s

Paris cafe life in 20s from internet

Paris Cafe Scene in the Twenties

NJWILDBEAUTY Readers know that, for all my deep enthusiasm for natural New Jersey, my heart belongs to France.  Sometimes, most of the time, to Provence.  Other times, Normandy and Brittany, especially Mt. St. Michel.  Before I lived in Provence, however, Paris was my heart’s home.

Tour Eiffel by Night from Internet

La Tour Eiffel par la Nuit, from Internet

The tragedy of Nice, of Slaughter on the Beach, alongside my sacred Boulevard des Anglais, haunts me, day and night.  This insult to, revenge upon, beloved France, –who bore the brunt of battles to save the free world in the 1940s–, repeatedly astounds me.  But even beyond that, –along with the Marathon Massacre in Boston, there has been a travesty against a  major ritual of a country — the Bastille Day that honors its transformation into a place of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite.  What happened in Nice is the antithesis of everything for which Bastille Day and our Fourth of July have always stood.  This summer’s meaningless massacres stain beach and Bastille Day forever.

bastille-day-parisianist-Iconic Liberte Egalite Fraternite image from Internet

Iconic French Image Symbolizing their Historic Battle for Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite in the time of the Monarchy: Marianne Leading the Rebels

My inner response has been multiple — most recently a series of Hemingway dreams.  I am reading, [to relive the glory days of France and of American influence on Paris, on France and upon literature itself], “Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation.”  This tour-de-force is a moment-by-moment evocation of Princetonian, Sylvia Beach, and her remarkable Shakespeare & C0mpany lending library.

Shakespeare&Co Bookplate in 1920's from Internet

Boikplate, Shakespeare & Company, Paris in the Twenties

Within its few small rooms, not only poetry and prose, but also music, dance, theatre; little reviews and major publishing coups (think James Joyce, Ulysses) were catalyzed.  The beginnings of Hemingway; the expansion of Fitzgerald; the influence of doctor/poet William Carlos Williams; evenings involving T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Ford Madox Ford and the reclusive/demanding James Joyce.  (Whom Hem dared to call Jim!)  This level of cross-pollination took place under the dynamic, ceaseless leadership of the little dynamo, daughter of a Princeton minister: Sylvia Beach.

sylvia_beach_and_hemingway at Shakespeare & Co from Internet

Sylvia Beach and Ernest Hemingway outside Shakespeare & Co. in the 20s

Really important in these pages is the power of women to forward all the arts in that daring time, described by another memoir as “Everybody Was So Young.” 

Paris Was Yesterday Janet Flanner

Paris Was Yesterday“, Janet Flanner: The New Yorker’s ‘Genet’

Every time I read my favorite Hemingways, he improves, somehow.  Paris, A Moveable Feast preceded Professor Noel Riley Fitch’s tome in my series of pilgrimages to France.  Subtitled, “A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties,” I have been re-reading forever, and am only about in 1925.

Sylvia Beach & the Lost Generation Cover

Cover – Sylvia Beach & the Lost Generation by Noel Riley Fitch

Even so, this book is having a deep impact upon my dream life.  Here are notes on Hemingway as I never, of course, actually experienced him.  Stroll (no one walks fast in France) with me into the Paris cafe and celebrate the impact of this amazing city and inoubliable (unforgettable) country on the world as we know it today.  Honor her glory, which no evil can erase, not even Hitler’s!

letters-o-hemingway from INternet

Hemingway Letters Cover from Internet

HEMINGWAY DREAM  Notes:

1920’s.  Hem’s earliest days in Paris.  Knows no one.  Seated at small hard white round table. Could be marble.  Cardboard beer advertising coasters, –much used–, echo its circular shape.  Although new to town, Hem is in rare form.  [usual form in those years].  Cocky yet subtle.  Looking all around.  Taking it all in.

Cafe pretty empty, it’s that early.  The Dome?  Place of smoke-filtered pale winter sunlight.  His hair is dark, unruly.  Suit rumpled.  Elbows on the table.  Glancing around, grinning, though expecting to know people there.  Waiters quietly scrub and wipe other tables, preparatory to lunch  Pretty quiet.

Hemingway’s gaze veiled yet intense.  Although he strives to look as though he knows someone there, I (standing in shadowy corner) realize he is looking around to see who HE is.

Hem’s right shoe rests upside-down upon his left knee,– audacious pose that would not have gone over in Oak Park or River Forest.  He maintains the backwoods air — though not large, a Paul Bunyan in a Paris suit.

In the dream, I boldly sit across from Hemingway, [as I once did at an Outward-Bound-like event, with Roy Scheider of Jaws], because Hem is alone.  He nods without words, orders me a biere.  I sip reluctantly, because it is warm and tastes soapy.  He doesn’t care if I like beer or not.

Hem wants me to know who he is, to ask “How did the writing go this morning?

What I say is, “Tell me about Michigan!  Speak of trout, of birch-studded forests.  Of the Indians who were there when YOU were, but not for me.  Why did you have to rearrange the setting of the Big Two-Hearted River?”

The beer I do not like acts like a tonic, a potion, opening doors.