Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Two Graces Christmas Carol or It's a Wonderful Life in Taos


On Christmas Eve the family tradition was to go to my Grandmother’s for dinner, (sometimes it was even just Chinese or pizza takeout). Then many years ago, (around when I was 11 or 12) we arrived at home after Christmas eve at Grandma’s to find the door of our house left wide open. Thieves had broken in and stolen Christmas, they stole the presents, they stole the kitchen appliances and the TV, (this was pre-VCR & DVD players). Yes, Cindy-Loo-Hoo, the Grinch who stole Christmas was very real and living in my hometown, and on this particular year ‘The Grinch’ chose my family to loot and scoot it all out the front door. Somehow my Mom & Dad rallied and pulled off Christmas with presents, food and festivities. How they did it and what they did, isn’t what I remember, it’s that they provided us with Christmas no matter what the circumstances. This may have even been the year we started going to the movies on Christmas day. Going off to the movie theater was not a great expense those days but a treat nonetheless. The horror of arriving home and finding everything stolen stays with you, even now.

So as this has been on my mind lately, maybe that’s what’s got me in a funk this year. I suppose what I mean to say is that I have yet to catch any of the “Holiday Spirit”. What in the world is that supposed to mean? I don’t have the energy to pull it off this year, no tree, no decorations, it’s all just a bit too much pressure. Then too, a lack of snow (and a lack of shoppers) makes it seem less than Christmas time. This is the slowest season I’ve ever seen in Taos for businesses! I ask people whether or not they have a Christmas Tree, and sadly many just don’t.

I don’t really need gifts at Christmas time, I have a tendency to buy what I want for myself. Sure I may not be able to afford a flat screen TV right now, but our busted 8 year old television still works more or less. I don’t really think about Christmas gifts all that much, if and when I buy something with someone else in mind I tend to give it to them when I see them, rather than hang on to it, hide it, and wrap it up for them as a “Christmas gift”. Yet some of my favorite Christmas presents have been Christmas tree ornaments, they remind me of who gave them to us, or where and when we bought them for ourselves.
Another aspect of this year’s Christmas was Holly had planned to visit her parents in Iowa, and when she was initially planning her trip, it seemed to me that it would be during Christmas, which really had me worried. I just couldn’t imagine having Christmas without her. Thankfully she arranged to visit them a couple weeks before and is home here with me. About 15 years ago, we began dating at Christmas-time. One mid December day I was telling her that I planned to go and get a tree the following day. She told me that she and her roommates were having a tree trimming party at her place and that she’d love it if I could make it. It was to be a dinner party and they would be making home-made ornaments. That evening she went home to tell her friends that they were now having a tree trimming party and that she had invited me over on this ruse. For my own deceit in this I designed and practiced making an ornament so that when I arrived it would be a matter of effortless ornament making on my part. Until very recently I had no idea about this whole plot. Yet, that was the Best Christmas and nothing else can match that.

I’m asked what was the best Christmas dinner I remember? My response is an array of fresh fish on Christmas eve at my Mom’s aunt Phyllis’ house, topped off with baked stuffed lobster, and all the cookies I could eat. A Sicilian/American tradition, lots of fresh fish for Christmas eve. In reality the best Christmas dinner is not what there was to eat, it’s who was there and the memories of family and friends. Floating around my head are some great memories.

Lately, friends have come by with a present for Holly & I, or mailed us a card, which has really meant a lot to me, so thank you one and all. Maybe Christmas cards and gift giving is a way of saying thank you, I’ve been thinking of you, you mean a lot to me, let’s stay connected and stay in touch. So, Merry Christmas, after all…
Photo Credits: All Photographs are by Robert Cafazzo taken within the last 8 years "Deer at Mabel Dodge Luhan House First Snow" this statue has been stolen and is missing to this day if you know of it in someone's yard please report it to Mabel Dodge House and the Taos Police, thank you
"Aspens in Snow"
"Holly in Upper Los Colonias After the Snow"
"Taos Pueblo Christmas Eve Bonfires" Please note, it is no longer acceptable to take photographs at Taos Pueblo during Christmas Eve, even if it's of you and your friends.
"Bent Street Christmas Tree, Taos, NM"

Monday, December 6, 2010

FACEBOOK

Two Graces is now on Facebook, although I have NO IDEA what I am doing!
Please 'LIKE' us on Facebook at Two Graces Plaza Gallery, you will see from our feed this is where we post new items and specials.
Stay up to date with TGPG and join us on Facebook, thank you, R

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Don't Worry Be Hopi"

December 2, 2010 we sponsored a lecture on Hopi Kachina Dolls and Hopi Baskets here at Two Graces. The turnout was great and I believe everyone came and learned something from it.
The premise was for Joseph & Janice Day of Tsakurshovi Trading Post on Second Mesa in Hopiland, Arizona to have an exhibit of Kachina Dolls and baskets at Orr's Trading Post along with a lecture. Since Del Orr's shop is a bit small for a seated presentation we had the lecture here, (thanks to Martina for the loan of the comfortable chairs). On arrival the Day's began hurriedly unpacking and organizing what they had brought. Helping to unpack and arrange is always a good idea it eventually leads to you getting first pick! Which is how I wound up purchasing this wonderful doll above.
Janice Day is a member of the Third Mesa Basket Society, and she is in charge of purchasing baskets at their shop. Above is a collection of 'sifter' baskets, which are incredibly durable and useful for anything you can think of, even as a strainer for your veggies.
Kachinas as they were unpacked are laid out on a table. All the kachinas dolls presented were traditional or 'Old Style', at times based on early depictions found in books.
Joe, Janice & Dell above checking over a particularly complicated doll making certain it was in tip top shape upon unpacking it.
A group of baskets and dolls.
At the lecture Joe & Janice explained the uniqueness of baskets and dolls and how they are used at the Hopi villages today.
In the audience Bill Baron thinking up some sort of editorial cartoon on Hopi Kachinas?
Two of the more talked about dolls, the Cow to the left was purchased before it was even delivered to the shop, (perhaps one of the ugliest dolls I've ever seen was the one everyone wanted!). To the far right is a depiction of the Dragonfly kachina, there was a whole lot of discussion as to whether this was true or not...
These 7 dolls are a depiction of the Zuni Shalako dance which began Saturday evening over at the Pueblo of Zuni. We banged heads a bit on whether or not to close up early Saturday and all drive over to Zuni for this dance.
Local Taosenos deciding which baskets and which Kachina dolls to purchase. The prices for all of the merchandise were closer to wholesale prices, there was no markup. Del & I were more the vehicle for an incredible presentation and sale of wonderful Hopi crafts, we did not make any profit on this exhibit. What we did get out of this was an education, and sometimes that's worth a whole lot more, (and yes, I probably ate 10 rolls of Hopi Blue Corn Piki, which I LOVE).
Janice also brought her corn of the 4 directions and hung the bundles from the ceiling vigas along with baskets.
A couple of sifter baskets filled with the flat Cradle Dolls. As Joe pointed out the bodies are all the same, with variations on the head. These are the first dolls given to babies both boys and girls.
A lovely arrangement on the mantle of the fireplace.
Joe teaching Taja of Treasures a thing or two about real kachina dolls.
Another wall arrangement. The exhibit was an incredible success, business was brisk and more than half the inventory that was on display was purchased by local Taosenos and a few visitors.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book List Part 2

Alright now it's been a year since my last book list and there's a lot to cover since then. Some of the books featured here are available at Two Graces 575-758-4639
or The Plaza Gallery 575-758-4101 This list is of books I believe are compatible and make for an interesting read together. You decide, and of course any of them will make a great gift for someone this Holiday season.

"Moving to a Small Town" Urbanska & Everling
This is one of those books that you might pick up once you've moved, but best read long before you even think about moving. Time and time again I loan this book out to people who have moved here. Taos is a small town and as such has all the quirkiness of EVERY small town across the world. Wether you are moving to Taos or some other small town, read it, everything this book discusses will come to pass.
"Birds of Sorrow" Tom Ireland
Here's a rather sad and tender book of someone who does choose to move to an even smaller outlier village of Taos and some of what happens, lovely.

"Mother of God, Similar to Fire" Miribai Starr & Father Bill McNichols
These next 2 books are from some very wonderful people, Father Bill is the iconographer and priest at the San Francisco de Asis Church here in Ranchos de Taos. It's a treat when Father Bill is the one holding Mass at this Church because he relates Mass to life and nature in a way that if John Muir were to sit you down and tell you his thoughts your mouth would be agape the entire time you were listening. Ms. Starr has her own specialness, I've not had the pleasure of speaking with her in a long conversation but if Father Bill says she's OK, then she's OK with me too. Signed copies of this book are available at The Plaza Gallery.
"The House on Mango Street" Sandra Cisneros
Last winter this woman walked into the shop, she spent a long time looking around, then we began to speak with one another. It turned out it was the author Sandra Cisneros, she appreciated that I have a Latino/Latina author section, and made some suggestions. We talked and talked. When she left I felt that one of the most wonderful people I'd ever met had just been here in my little shop.
"The Art of Buying Art" Paige West
You can purchase this through the NYC gallery Mixed Greens at mixedgreens.com, an insiders guide to collecting contemporary art.
"Leo & His Circle, the Life of Leo Castelli" A. Cohen-Solal
This is well researched delving into the early history as well as Castelli the superstar New York art dealer. When you walked into the Castellli Gallery on West Broadway in NYC there was always a hush, never active or lively, more like a library filled with the most incredible art you could see outside a museum.
"I Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon)" Richard Polsky
The follow up to "I Bought Andy Warhol" another GREAT read.
"LuLu Meets God and Doubts Him" Danielle Ganek
This book is really fun to read.
"Weekends with O'Keeffe" Carroll Merrill
"Miss O'Keeffe" Christine Taylor Patten & Alvaro Cardona-Hine
Two books by people who knew and actually spent time with Miss O'Keeffe, almost as good as from the horses mouth. New copies of Weekends are available through The Plaza Gallery.
These last 2 books are for the Hoarders out there, both are intriguing and will start more than a conversation with fellow readers of either or.
"Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder" Lawrence Weschler
"Finders Keepers" Craig Childs
The Santa Fe New Mexican Pasatiempo arts section devoted most of an issue a few weeks ago on this particular book by Childs. Possibly controversial in the great Southwest, and timely for collectors or hoarders.
Many of these authors have of course written more than the particular books I've listed here, you may want to check out the entire body of work by each of these authors.