Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oak Creek Canyon

There is a little gem of a drive between Flagstaff and Sedona. It is Oak Creek Canyon. I just like the shady trees, the filtered light, the flat red rocks at the bottom with water running gently over them, the little tucked away chalets. Lovely! We went on a hike called "West Fork Trail". It follows a branch of the stream with rocks falling right into it. What you call a riparian walk (situated or taking place along or near the bank of a river)... Very easy mostly flat walk crisscrossing the river. Wonderful. The light enters this area like a spot light in this narrow canyon so the contrasts are pretty strong between shadows and light. Such a photographers delight. The sky and the red rocks reflecting in the pools ...The new growth on the trees. So bucolic, you would think that Thoreau and Emerson were walking along with you as you remember their writings and philosophy on nature. Those moments make you feel so alive and so much part of the whole picture. My daughter informed me that I am too much.... She might have a point, then again...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lava Tube and Phoenix Art Museum

Yikes! I went in a Lava Tube two days ago. It was spooky! The entrance of the tube is in the middle of the Coconino Forest above Flagstaff. It is at elevation 8000 feet so pretty cold still this time of year. The mouth is encapsulated with shear ice over the rocks which make the descent into the tube a bit challenging. It is dark. You need a head lamp or a good flash light. You need good shoes and be fully clothes. It's about 40 degrees F. down in the warmer spot. I had enough space to stand up most of the time. I am 5 feet.... Most people would have to scoot down in parts. The ground is covered with fallen rocks from the roof of the cave. And so you are wondering.... How often are those falling? is it about to crush my skull any minute? the breathing is a bit uncomfortable because the dust generated by the dust. They have bats, porcupines, squirrels.... I was glad not to see any of them. When you turn of your light there it is darker than dark. You are wondering if you eyes are opened or closed? You would be incapable to go back in the dark to the opening. Are you scared yet? So we were in there for more than I would have liked but I didn't panic. I was glad I experienced it, I am glad I won't have to ever do that again....

Yesterday Emily and I headed to Phoenix early in the day. Curt was arriving around 9pm so we decided to do some "Exploring in the big city". It was about 95 degrees. Hot and Dry! We decided to have lunch in an Ethiopian Restaurant (Cafe Lalibela). Very nice food. The plate came covered with a crepe like bread that is called Enjera. The stews that they put on top (Vegetarian or meat lover ones) were called "Wat". You said what? Wat, that's what!...hahahahah Never mind... Emily had a herb iced tea. (Tasted like thyme herb tea and looked like lemon verbena) mine was a regular iced tea. You eat with your right hand using the Enjera to gather your food, folding it as you go. Very nice. I would do that again. The restaurant is in the ASU district in Tempe. Fun area full of students. We did some cruising around by foot at some point in the day.
Another thing we did for about two hours was to visit the Phoenix Art Museum. They had a special exhibit called: "Monet, Matisse and More". It was an interesting way of presenting well known pieces. They had selected twelve artists and showed repeated images of sketches of the same painting showing how the artist ended up with the final image. You had an audio system to lead you and lecturing you through. It was informative but not thorough and really superficial at times leaving some real key information out. There was two things that made the visit to the museum worth it. One was a Fashion Exhibit of Chado Ralph Ruci. A contemporary American Designer. His garments were exquisite. The quality of the design, materials, details, stitching. Waou! Because it was a traveling exhibit you were not allowed to photograph any of it... I didn't know! I was "told" by the guard that I had done a bad thing and should delete the images immediately and in front of him. Which I did of course and I apologized.
The other really incredible experience for me was: a Faith Ringgold's Quilt. I have been an admirer of Ms Ringgold forever. I own every book ever made on her or by her. I have studied her narrative quilts. I had never had seen one in person. That was such a thrill. I was not disappointed.
The rest of the Museum is alright. Great space, poor lighting of the artwork. They have a Frida Kahlo painting, a Diego Rivera, one Chagall. They were showing a special exhibit called "Passport to Europe: Six Century of treasures from Museo del Arte de Ponce" (Puerto Rico). Which had a serie of noteworthy Sleeping beauty paintings by Edward Coley Burne-Jones . Also a painting by British painter Rossetti and French Painter Gustave Moreau. Also I had been told that I was then allowed to photograph the artwork that belongs to the museum but not the on loan ones. Well when I was in the Philip Curtis Gallery that is a "permanent Collection Gallery" a guard appeared and "told" me that I had been watched and I had to make sure (which I was at that point, one humiliation is enough for me....) to photograph only the Museum's artwork.... I was not happy at all. Why are they not banning photography all together so there are no confusion whatsoever? That would make it simple for the visitor. I couldn't believe it. On top of it I was being careful about it. Anyway I won't go back to this Museum again. Things are becoming weirder and weirder with the copyright laws... etc. Also the Museum closes at 5pm... on a Saturday!!!

We then proceeded to the Desert Botanical Garden for a nice visit at sunset.... Well that was closing at 4pm that day for a special auction. I did captured a couple of pictures of a nice cactus and some willow installation by a outdoor artist Patrick Dougherty: Childhood Dreams. I was introduced to his work in Tacoma at the Museum of Glass where he had giant jugs outside near the pool. It was magical. I have been in love with his stuff since. There is so much talent around. I love to have those visceral moments when something is new and refreshing and beautiful or moving at the same time.
So here we are having some down time this morning. Emily is making me a "flan patissier" (she loves me!) and Curt is checking out the anchorage daily news online. We had a nice coffee this morning with a young cute french guy "Aurelien" from Paris (Always nice to see a "compatriote") friend of Brittney.
This afternoon we are heading for Sedona. Yeahhhhh! more red rocks.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Collage Mania 2008

Virginia Spiegel is a talented Collage/ Fiber Artist. She is also very talented in the area of fundraising for a good cause. She has found a way to get money donated to the American Cancer Society by asking Fiber Artists to donate one or more of their collage/mini quilts and holding an auction selling the donated artworks. You can learn about all the specifics on her blog at this address:
Mending 1 (my little contribution). Stamped birch bark, organic and glass beads, wool, cotton and paper threads, silk ribbon and batik.

The auction is coming up soon on May 5th and May 6th. I hope that you will take a look on those days and maybe purchase one of the collages. It is for a very needed cause. I am sure that all of you have been touched one way or another by Cancer. There is need for more research and that means more money to collect.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Flagstaff once more

Back in Flagstaff I didn't spend any time and went hiking. Once very close in the forest of ponderosa pine. Nice light filtering through the giant trees. Their trunk so erect with a bark so black and rosy. Is it why it's nice is Ponderosa... rosa for the color? don't know. The hike went well until my little Gaia decided to go totally mental and act like a wild wolf everytime a biker with loose big dogs would come around.(every 5mns). We went on for about 2hrs altogether. Turn out that it was the day before full moon!!!!!!! So after she escaped from her collar and leash and that Emily had to tackle her down to get her we had enough of the nice meandering trail following a little peaceful babbling brook!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So when we decided to go hike in Sedona we left the pooch at the apartment. We selected a nice easy one that would be done rather quickly but in the red rocks. (Cathedral Rock) Emily said that it was a gradual ascent and I would be just fine. Well once there "she" remembered that it was straight up the mountain. It was pretty vertical with rock bouldering. (Took this pictures behind Emily's polarized sunglasses... different hey?) A bit scary but so much fun. I made it all the way to the top in about an hour. No sweat! I also took pictures along the way, didn't scratch one thing. Just great time to spend with my daughter. We were welcomed at the top by a guitar player who was enjoying the scenery. It was nice to just sit and listen to the music that he was making added to the strong sound of the wind channeling through the two high spires into the natural holes in the rock facades. It was a bit like being in a church, a religious or spiritual experience of a sort. Actually "they" claim that this one of the "Vortex" sites in Sedona. I could have stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. We were pretty silent for a while then it was time to go down... That was a bit concerning at first but then ended up easier than the climb. I just took it slow and scrambled down. There were already some wildflowers. The view of course was breathtaking. I have to brag about the fact that I am not a bit achy today. That is a good sign that I am getting in shape and I am going to continue once back at home to "attack" the trails.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

More Rocks

Going on a hike around Fruita was a wonderful thing. Devil's Canyon where the rock is very dark and progressively changes color as it ascends is so visually pleasing. The rocks above the deep canyon are smooth with holes of strange shapes. We did a big loop and ended up in a nice open area where some rocks were carved like an amphitheater so we could hear echos of our voices. Pretty neat! Few Indian Paintbrushes pocking through the arid soil makes you wonder about nature once more. In the meantime Warren had picked up a couple of chisels at the hardware store so the "artists" could work on making faces on medium size rocks. Of course Nancy had hers nearly done in no time. I on the other hand slaved up for a while. They will be living in the yard maybe shading some violets.
I ended up staying another day in Grand Junction so we went out to shop in downtown in the morning then a great hike in the afternoon. Dominguez Canyon is really a lot of fun. Hot though. I would say that early morning or late afternoon might be the way to go but I still had a blast. We took an entrance that is kept a bit secret and crossed the river. We walked for about 2 hours one way but could have gone on for weeks.... There were some amazing rocks. Granite, basalt, quartz, sandstone, rhyolite and some mica. It was hard to resist taking pictures of every inches of the scenery around. We saw petroglyphs not far from a great big waterfall.Just on the main trail. Gorgeous little figures. Of course some people have added their own mark to those spiritual markings. It makes you wonder why? But from the beginning of times it seems that men have wanted to change, add and mark their passage to this Earth. We can't help it!
On the way back, just before crossing the bridge was a magnificent specimen!

A Big Horn Sheep. If the Horn wasn't a clue already that it was a male, its back end showed proof of it for sure. Since Nancy was the one to spot it I thanked her for taking me to the "Ball Game"... Bad crude joke I know... Sorry about that. Anyway it was just a special place that I would not mind seeing again. So this conclude my broadcasting from Grand Junction. It was a really fast fun week. The Dobson have a gentil way about them that is wonderful added to a good sense of humour. Nancy is a perfect hostess and a such a good friend.