Sunday, June 26, 2011

931 1st Street, Thatcher, AZ March 23, 2011

Cacti represents to me Mother Nature’s organic art work in geometric forms. It’s such a treat for me to live in southern AZ where these contemporary, hardy living sculptures loom all over the arid, usually brown, landscape. In fact, I purposely drive by certain locations where magnificent, older cacti live.
My favorite is the Prickly Pear cactus. I do have a few of my contemporary paintings hanging on the wall of a restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI named specifically after this cactus. But that’s not why they’re my favorite. This cactus is made up of large, succulent oval pads which resemble a tail of a beaver’s with clusters of prickers. The pads of this cacti hold a great deal moisture. Great for person thirsty and lost in the desert. Relief from thirst with one juicy bite! The jackrabbits around my house unmercifully devour them down to the bare ground during periods of drought.
It produces a deep red fruit that is repudiated for its edible, medicinal qualities (not to mention a delicious, sweet jelly that is lovely on one’s morning toast!) The Prickly Pear cacti also blooms yearly with small peony sized, bright yellow blossoms. This is one artistic and practical plant.
Here in SE Arizona, we recently had a strange weather occurrence. The temperature went down to an uncommonly low of 9 degrees. It was only for a few days but long enough to freeze the moisture in the succulent pads of the Prickly Pear cactus. When the warm, balmy weather returned, the pads of these cacti "melted" inside. As a result of this, the majesty of the Prickly Pear cacti became unsightly bags of droopy, greenish-brown mushiness - an unknown and foreign sight on the local landscape.
The death and distorted appearance of my favorite cacti disturbed me.
The best way I knew how to deal with this loss was through art. I placed, photographed and documented #99 on fauna melt down, mound that once was a favorite towering cactus. I’ll always remember you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

433 Outer Loop, Clifton, AZ March 23, 2011

I was walking up a steep one lane road when I discovered it. The was no way that contraption could transport a horse. First of all, it wasn’t big enough. Shiny metal- like aluminum shaped in a capsule with minimum wooden sides to hold it all up. The floor of it was littered with dirt, smashed, rusty soda cans and brown, crispy foliage.
My patient and her family lived halfway to the top of this one car lane. There was no room for my car so I parked it at the bottom of the lane and hiked up. Not far from this hillside, I passed an enclave of Big Horn Sheep. I thought that they were a herd of goats that got out of their pen. When I got closer to them, I saw the horns and knew they weren’t goats! Even though they seemed a bit on the tame side, I didn’t walk up any closer to them. I took a quick photo with my camera and continued on to my final destination. The mild sun rays made the journey very pleasant.
Then I walked up upon the trailer. How I knew that it was originally made to transport an animal was due to the fact that it had an open rectangle cut out in the front. The style was a mini version of my horse trailer - only primitive and rugged. A goat, foal or a calf could comfortably fit into this mode of transport.
I placed, photographed and documented #98 on one the trailer’s bumpers. Both tires were flat. My cowboy and indian art had found a home on a vehicle with a journey to nowhere.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

15692 Park Lane, Ft. Thomas, AZ March 16, 2011

Ft. Thomas is an Latino/Anglo/Apache community east of the San Carlos/Bylas reservation big enough to have a school and police/fire department. There is no longer a fort here. In 1876, a military post was established here during the Indian wars. By 1874, General Crooks had brought hostile Apaches on to the local reservation. In 1886, Ft. Thomas military post had served its purpose when General Miles made a bold move and shipped all the Chiricahua Apaches to reservation in Florida.
My purpose today in Ft. Thomas was to a Latino, war vet, patient who was struggling with the unwelcomed side effects of his diabetes. He was facing the amputation of part of his leg. We talked about the possible amputation for a long time. The man shared with me having to cope with other adversities in his life such as serving in country in Vietnam and the violent death of his son a few years back. I asked him, "What helps you cope with your life’s tragedies?" Smiling, he told me it was the love and care from his Apache wife that keeps his life worth living - no matter what. His wife seemed able to maintain a positive attitude through tragedy and loss. She wasn’t at the house with us because she had a funeral to attend today on the San Carlos reservation. It saddened me that I didn’t have an opportunity to meet her.
After I left his house, while driving back to the hospital, I came across a charming dead end street, Park Lane. Across from the fire station and the small vets’ memorial, I discovered 15692. It was an abandoned charming, cement block house with a kitchen stove, covered by a huge fallen pine tree, on the front porch.
After making my way through pine branches, I placed, photographed and documented #93 on the stove. It was in tribute to the man I had just left. A tribute celebrating his wonderful relationship with his wife. A love that even massive fallen pine tree couldn’t put asunder.
They have the love of a lifetime. A love I envy and someday hope for myself.  A love that’s real - crossing even cultural backgrounds, dashed dreams and poor health.  With or without, the "death due us part."  Thank God for hope and possiblity.  Amen! 

Cluff Ranch Wildlife Refuge. Graham County. March 16, 2011

It’s not unusual to see road signs riddled with bullet holes along the caramel, sandy road that wraps itself around the wildlife refuge. Using road signs for target practice on county back roads is a way of life around here. Just the way it is and always will be.
I was on my way back to the hospital from a patient’s house. A very sad, elderly man who lives in a mansion - furnished with rare and beautiful objects from Europe. He has a few bullet holes around his house. No, not target practice. He shot a guns off in his house in a misguided attempt to kill the emotional pain that stalks him, room to room, in a house that will never echo the laughter of the woman he loved.
I stopped by the side of the road at an information billboard that listed the rules of the refuge and such. It was shaded by its own wooden roof. After stopping my car, I walked over to examine the information board closer. Kicked a few spent red gun shot shells out of my path. I placed, photographed and documented #92 on a wooden beam that supported the roof. This art piece had its own refuge now out in the wild, wild west. A refuge where it can witness the pulse of life out here without any haunting memories.