Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tony Reyna of Taos Pueblo at 100 years of age, Beautiful Old Age

Tony Reyna was born on February 1, 1916 (there is a conflicting date of January 31, 1916) for the past few years he would tell people he was holding out to reach 100. The son of Crucita and Helario Reyna of Taos Pueblo, he was given the name Cheto (translated to Hunters Talk).
 
A 1950's Portrait of Tony Reyna
I first met Mr. Reyna at his shop on the Taos Pueblo Road in 1991, where he has always had the best arts & crafts for sale from various Native American artists.
 
The sign on the Taos Pueblo Road to his Shop
In May 2014 I had the opportunity to conduct an interview between Mr. Reyna and National Geographic Travel writer Jeannette Kimmel.
 
Jeannette Kimmell & Tony Reyna
Tony told us his story, an amazing life story, which included joining the army in 1941, of being a POW during World War 2 in the Philippines, he was on the Bataan Death March. During his service he was assigned as a spotter, his nickname was Eagle Eyes.
 
Stacked Adobe Bricks at Taos Pueblo
When he returned from the war he decided to build his home and Shop on the road into the Pueblo. It took 10,000 hand made adobe bricks to build it. He was given credit by the local Randall’s Lumber Yard (a family member has told me it was Ilfields Hardware store, Mr. Reyna specifically said Randall's) to purchase doors and windows for the home and was able to repay them within 2 years.
 
Front of the Tony Reyna Indian Shop
Since 1950 Tony Reyna’s Indian Shop has been a fixture at Taos Pueblo. Today, there are many shops at the Pueblo, his was the first. Mr. Reyna told us that he sells strictly Indian, and that he always buys from any Native Americans offering to sell him their arts & crafts. He considers it his responsibility “It’s a good feeling to help people.” On one visit to the shop, now run by his son Phillip, I noticed stacks of crafts behind the counter. Whether they need more merchandise or not, they have been a terrific support system to encourage so many people to continue traditional native crafts.
 
Window of the Reyna Indian Shop
In 1982 and again in 1992 Mr. Reyna was elected Governor of Taos Pueblo, today he is a lifetime council member, “Being Governor is a tough job, 24 hours a day.”
 
Painting by Emil Bisttram of Pueblo Dancers
Tony has also served as a Police Commissioner, on Museum Boards and has been the recipient of many, many awards and honors. In 1992 he was instrumental in gaining UNESCO World Heritage Site status for Taos Pueblo.
 
1950's photo of Taos Pueblo
As I looked around the Reyna home there were objects of beauty everywhere. Years of purchases for the shop, at times many items made their way into his own personal collections. A much cherished framed photograph of the Taos Pueblo Blue Lake hangs within view of his couch. He can no longer make the annual tribal members pilgrimage to the lake, but through all his years he has walked that trail more than most.
 
Mr. Reyna's collection of personal Bolo Ties hanging from a Black Santa Clara pottery wall sconce
I found myself drawn to certain items around his home such as a painting of the back of the Ranchos Church which looked similar to or ‘in the style of’ Emil Bisttram. When I asked about it, Tony told me it was painted by his wife Annie Cota, (d.1993) who was one of Bisttram’s students, she was a talented artist. On the opposite wall hung a painting by the great Bisttram himself of ceremonial Koyemsi, a true treasure worthy of any Museum collection.
 
Painting of Koyemsi by Emil Bisttram hanging in the Reyna living room
I’m always fond of seeing the handmade furniture here in Taos with it’s rich history. In the Reyna kitchen I noticed the beautifully crafted table and chairs. I had to ask about them, which then revealed another layer and part of Mr. Reyna’s life story. He had crafted the furniture himself, telling me that before he joined the army he had taught cabinetry to people of the Navajo Nation. Usually I ask people if they have signed the undersides of the furniture they made to preserve the history of the piece, I just don't remember if he had or not, I'd need to ask his family.
 
Classic Taos style Furniture handcrafted by Mr. Reyna
I truly believe that Tony Reyna has lived such an incredible and long life because he has lived in beauty. In my notes I had written, this man is surrounded by the beauty of his life.
  
View of Taos Pueblo
“Beautiful Old Age”  D.H. Lawrence
It ought to be lovely to be old
to be full of the peace that comes of experience
and wrinkled ripe fulfillment.
The wrinkled smile of completeness that follows a life
lived undaunted and un-soured with accepted lies
they would ripen like apples, and be scented like pippins
in their old age.

Soothing, old people should be, like apples
when one is tired of love.
Fragrant like yellowing leaves, and dim with the soft
stillness and satisfaction of autumn.

And a girl should say:
It must be wonderful to live and grow old.
Look at my mother, how rich and still she is! -

And a young man should think: By Jove
my father has faced all weathers, but it's been a life! 
Large antler Elk rack at Taos Pueblo

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Child's Journal, A Christmas Story of 1892

A Child's Journal of 1892
Signed and dated by N.C. Bemis of Wiscasset, Maine
Christmas Scene at Nellie's Home
"The True Santa Claus"
written by Eva L. Carson
You bigger boys and larger girls,
Who smile in pitying way
When baby gravelly tells the tale
of Santa Claus's sleigh,
How Santa stops, with bags of toys,
On everybody's roof:
While his reindeer lightly prance and dance
Upon each tiny hoof.

You see the stockings being hung,
With but a scornful laugh;
Why- don't you know the story's true?
That is- the better half?
He's the Christ-Child in Germany,
Here- Santa Claus we say;
But through the world, at home, abroad,
The dear saint makes his way.

It has a meaning deep and true,
The lovely fairy tale,
Where would we be but for love
That watches without fail?
What makes our Holidays delight,
And never knowing pause,
Gives all we are and all we have?
LOVE is our Santa Claus!

"Be Not Simply Good, Be Good For Something" 
a quote from Nellie
A flower for a Happy Home
Greetings to the arrival of the Three Wisemen
The Bemis Family 'Tree'
The Tree of Life
Murray dons his Stocking Cap
Ada waits patiently for Christmas Supper to begin
The Owl and the Skunk (I'm certain the Owl and the Pussycat has a nicer ring to it)
As guests arrive for Christmas
Mother ponders if she's forgotten anything
Warming the henhouse
Ethel Arrives
Merry Christmas Greetings
Mother in her new dress
Arrival on the appaloosa
The Bemis Family
A Kangaroo Toy arrives and the Cat has had at it.
Nellie's school mates mustn't be forgotten
The Family Cats make a fine portrait
The arrival of Rainbow Chicken greeting the family goat
By Sea or by Pram
Tiny the Cat is always good company on a rainy day
Family portrait of Pinky
A dream of flying
Twins
Twins
Apple Picking in the Farmyard
Esther's Hand Age 5
A Stenciled Native American Indian, Noble and Proud
Early Simple drawing
Why do Uncles always have such scratchy beards?

The earliest drawings are of stencils and this tracing of her younger sister's hand, along with heads traced from jar lids and story clippings fro children of the day, as Nellie becomes more confident, her drawings progress nicely.
Here are a few of the 156 drawings, there are also 21 layed-in pages of story clippings.
Holly & I purchased this book many years ago, we'd put it aside and it lay forgotten, yet this Christmas it seemed important to share it with all of you.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Happy Hanukah, and may the sliver of the moon smile upon you for the Ramadan Season. Blessings to all, may we find mutual peace and understanding for all who inhabit this planet Earth.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pecha Kucha Taos Volume 18, 20 x 20 September 27, 2015


Robert Cafazzo  “Paintings in Motion”

“What am I doing Here?” a book,
by Bruce Chatwin
“How Did I get Here?”
a line from Once in a Lifetime, by David Byrne
In 1991, I needed to learn how to walk again.
My Thinking was,
I already knew HOW to walk,
After all I’d been studying movement,
‘Motion’ was a major component of my paintings.
The Edweard Muybridge Motion study photographs had been my study guides.
They are Individual phases of motion mapped out,
They tell a “How To” mechanics of animal locomotion.
Yet, it’s NOT that easy,
There are unknowing subtleties,
It’s Much more complicated than it looks.

I came to Taos to Heal, to Walk, to Wander, to Explore
and to spiral out.
To Learn not just HOW to walk again
but also how to Live again.
Pronounced dead, 30 days in a hospital bed, 3 months in a wheelchair.
Soon Afterwards,
I came to Taos. 

For ME, the paintings are a narrative,
a tail told over and over again.
They are everything I Love:
From Storytelling, to Color, to Texture, to Movement, the animals and the flexibility of Meanings.

Taos is my studio,
it is the nature around me,
the animals of the desert and forest,
the animals at the farm next door.
The horses and the buffalo running straight down the Paseo! 

Through Movement, Color, Texture, Light and the Grid,
I paint Animals in Motion.

My style is that of cave paintings and petroglyphs
with a twist.

The first major gallery in New York City I exhibited with was Jus de Pomme.
The gallery director began to laugh as I unwrapped a painting.
A PINK Cave painting!
She was hooked,
Who in the world would do such a thing!

I can’t help myself,
I like the color Pink! 

For ME,
Cave paintings and petroglyphs across the world have a commonality.
In Africa and Australia the animals may be quite different from the animals of Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Yet, They all tell stories.
Many depict so much more than what humans seem to remember.
I strive to tell those stories.
The interconnectedness of the Human Race.

We used to use the phrase a “GIMICK”
What some people would call a ‘hook’,
a recognizable ‘style’ unique to your own work.
Your Voice.

An artist chooses a vehicle in which to express themselves.
What makes up that vehicle is IMPORTANT.

Artists make decisions on so many levels,
it’s amazing that any of us keep doing what we do.

Choosing a color palette,
Subject matter,
and a Style. 

Color can be quite easy
Blue and Pink are the Most beautiful colors in my palette.
Or, “Color” can be challenging…

Paint the Night sky, an artist knows that color is Not Black! 

A friend of mine said to me a while back,
what color do you like to use the least…  
…find a way to make THAT color beautiful.
For ME that color is yellow,
Fall in Taos is ALL yellow,
and I find it breathtaking! 

Here in Taos we are blessed to have a
Blinding unyielding Light,
creating color,
or washing it out,
the bluest of blues,
the brightest reds.

The creation of an ‘art colony’ in any given place,
Depends on the quality of light,
in that place. 

Movement, we all notice something ‘move’ out of the corner of our eye.
Years ago I saw Baryshnikov
‘Walk’ across a room,
he made it look so effortless,
magnificent,
magical,
as though he were walking on water. 

Textural,
touch,
viscosity I want to pick up my paint with my hands,
to slather it onto the paintings’ surface.
Occasionally I see people
touch my paintings,
(who touches paintings?)
I have to chalk it up to that luscious textural surface. 

I also think of Agnes Martin and her GRID,
that meditative walk along the surface.
The involvement of the imperfection
of her hand as it runs up against the turmoil
of an imperfect canvas.

I THINK about making art and every artist that came before me. 

Fear.
When I taught for 21 years at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston,
Boston’s Museum School.
Occasionally,
there’d be that student who had great FEAR
of their ability to draw.
I’d tell them that if they could write,
then they already knew how to draw,
that They had a Unique ‘signature’
and
an ability to make a drawing that only they could create.

I’m told more and more schools will stop teaching cursive writing.

This could be the end of ART as we know it.

…and yes,
ART,
making art,
IS WORK and it’s FUN.

ART matters,
it has been with us throughout human history.

In my gallery I’m frequently asked if I teach any longer?
I always answer,
No, I do not.
Yet here I am tonight still teaching,
And still learning. 

This evening,
I am honored to have been invited
by Matt Thomas and his team here tonight.
Thanks to many of you who have encouraged me to be here tonight.

To stand here,
to learn something from the other speakers,
and hopefully,
to have taught you,
this audience here tonight,
something
and to have learned a bit about myself as well.
Thank You all.
Here's the link for the Video: https://vimeo.com/144753937 
Sidebar: To any of you who may be about to deliver a speech, it is true that PRACTICE makes perfect. My speech here was about 870 words total for a 6 Minute 40 Second presentation, about 130 words per minute. it was exhilarating, I was quite nervous. I'd do it again if asked, and if you are asked, do it. 20 seconds per slide image on the screen beside me, yet I was so busy saying the words I never quite saw the images. I did however highlight my script close to when each slide would change. Hopefully sometime soon, the video of this presentation will appear on Vimeo, when it does I will add the link here. Thank you to those who attended, thank you those of you who have read this post. To the many of you who were so encouraging Thank You so very very much.