Kathy has just come to visit from Great Barrington, Massachusetts. I met her with her husband, Mike, in Anna and my gallery this past season when they bought one of my favorite paintings, Blue 2. We felt this amazing connection—all three of us. They stayed and talked for a couple of hours. I love that aspect of sitting the gallery—meeting interesting people from all over the world.
Anyway, Kathy teaches writing at the college level (and Mike creates ways for people to teach online—I think he and I will be talking about THAT). But Kathy hasn’t found time for her own art, not concentrated, focused time, since she took the teaching job. Meeting me reminded her how important, on a soul level, that is.
As it turns out, Kathy and I share some almost mind-bending similarities. Our life stories seem to have run parallel and even crisscrossed from time to time. She’d actually conceived of a character for a novel she’s wanted to write—an older woman who’s left her life behind to go live her truth, to follow her passion, who meets a younger woman who’s on the verge of doing the same thing. Sound familiar?
So we’ve been emailing and Kathy decided she wanted to come out here for a few days to see if we could figure out what all these threads and connections mean. What do they mean? We don’t know yet. It’s all just beginning to unfold.
But I am deeply inspired by this young woman who is bristling with talent and intelligence. She feels like an old friend who has come to call many times over the years. She seems to be bringing me to my art in a more pointed way. And it is my hope I will nudge her more actively toward hers.
We walked out to visit the horses on the Llano yesterday. Blue 2 is one of my horse paintings and, when they bought it, I gave them directions out there to see the inspiration for the work. But, yesterday, she got to meet them with me, which meant she got to MEET them—to pet them and feed them carrots. It was sort of like seeing her step into her own painting. Very cool for me to witness.
Last night we were talking about her writing and she admitted to struggling with the notion that, in order for her fiction to be viable, it had to be recognized. For whatever reason she doesn’t feel the same way about her poetry. This is something we all cope with, but I think we are supposed to make art to please ourselves, not another. In this way our work remains true. But there is such a sense, in this culture particularly, that in order to be “good” art needs to sell. It needs to be reviewed. It must be acknowledged. This isn’t true, but it FEELS true all too often.
We talked about Van Gogh, how he wasn’t recognized when he was alive, how cutting edge art often isn’t understood right away. I told her about the show I painted in Utah that took two years of my life and not one piece sold. But it allowed me to express what I felt about the patriarchal culture there and it gave local women and their daughters something to think about and to possibly embrace—something considerable about being women. There’s nothing wrong with selling. It’s how I earn my living. But if we make art with the focus on that, I think we’re making product, not art.
So I don’t know, yet, why Kathy is here—why Spirit brought us together, but I know it’s important and meaningful—momentous even. I know it in my bones. Something is being born here. For now we’re going to continue to talk over hot mugs of tea, visit the horses, drink margaritas and enjoy this interesting miracle Spirit has created. I’ll keep you posted on what we discover as it unfolds.
I wanted to share a poem Kathy wrote after visiting the horses and learning something about their story during that first trip to Truchas:
The horses of the llano stand quietly,
As if an island, only a neck’s length
From one another, the high desert breeze
Fragrant of tender greens and of flowers
Brought by early monsoons.
Do they remember, long before the spring,
The bitter wind that nearly took their youngest
Stealing up clouds of silvered breath,
And the cruel borderless sky
Filling the land, burying old bones
Long-bleached beneath an ancient sun,
Softening the twisted fingers
Of juniper fence posts,
And enshrouding a smooth grey-amnioned face
In a perfect death mask,
The mares, watchful, marking direction,
Broad bodies shielding the tiny dark streak
Against biting arcs of white?
Do they remember the stranger’s soft steps,
The stallion’s wary trust, a bed of hay,
A human lullaby and a hushed place amidst the storm,
The mother, then, standing over her firstborn,
At last to rise from frozen earth on gangly legs,
Blinking in the sharp yellow light,
The two casting one long morning shadow
In the returning sun?
The rains have come. This brief time
Of waters brimming cool at pasture’s edge
Will pass. Not long before the snows arrive,
Elk will journey down from the pines
Treading cracked ground, stirring red earth into sky,
Leaving, perhaps, a few bones behind.
Now, standing close, forgetful of dust for a time,
Six horses linger in a single season’s stillness,
In their silence a song of old knowing.
Beneath them the plain seems from afar
Spread with pale blue shards of heaven.
Love to you all,