I actually wrote this 1st part yesterday. It's now just before sunset and I'm on the roof of a hotel to survey the view. I went to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and a great new show had just opened, "Shared Intelligence: American Painting and the Photograph", and it clicked with some things I have been thinking about lately in connection to my work and the idea of painters working from photographs in general. This, right on the heels of a book I just finished, "The Ongoing Moment" by Geoff Dyer, which journeyed through the history of photography by way of connections over time between different photographers, from Evans to Stieglitz to Weston to Lange, and occasionally discussed paintings as they related to the subject (Hopper, for example). In my own practice, I often work from my photos, and lately I am starting to feel somewhat tense about it, and have begun to consider putting them aside and working from my imagination, impressions and memories (and sketches) only. Being out here has contributed to this turn of my thoughts, as I absorb what is around me and talk to other artists more than I have in a while. I love taking photos and will continue to, but I don't want to feel locked into them for my inspiration. I feel things so intensely, I have a vivid memory, I want to utilize these tools and trust those impressions. This exhibition reassured and encouraged me anew. One artist called his camera a "mechanical sketchbook", the photograph a "stepping-stone for where you want to go", making the painting process more accurate, a reflection of what you want to see. Another feels that "invention, innovation and variation lie within reality." On one hand, I'm vigorously nodding my head in agreement and recognition, feeling validated in my use of photos. On the other, I'm feeling the liberating satisfaction of returning to the studio after a day out and painting what I remember seeing. I suspect I could go on like this for some time, but this is a blog, not a dissertation. I also visited and enjoyed the New Mexico Museum of Art, and was impressed, as I knew I'd be, by Lee's paintings at the Evoke gallery, and daydreamed pleasantly about future prospects for my own work.
After the sun set, I found a bar called Cowgirl and downed a beer and excellent fish tacos while listening to live rockin' blues/country music. As for today: I've barely taken any photos in Santa Fe, but I am noting the particular colors of the city, or at least the downtown, which by now I've thoroughly walked. They may be the colors of the entire southwest: the turquoise, of course, in varying green-blue shades; warm beige, the color of adobe; burnt orange; with cream and black accents. Went to Loretto Chapel to see the miraculous wood spiral staircase, constructed without nails. I walked the length of Canyon Road, home of over 100 galleries and far more lovely than trudging through NYC's Chelsea, if not as diverse. Drifted into several and discovered some new artists.. nearly all here are new to me. I stop at a teahouse for lunch and do some watercolors, during which, initially unbeknown to me, a tourist takes my picture. Later, I end up at the Railyard in the middle of an outdoor reggae concert. Blue and orange are two of my favorite colors anyway; now I really want to slather them over large canvases, with the southwest's influence as my excuse.