Tag Archives: Art

Taking a Mental Shower

A friend from a past life contacted me a few days ago. Catching up with old friends means honestly assessing yourself to report your standing in life. It forces us to confront head-on how the choices we make cast us in circumstances we never dreamed of.  I spend so much time agonizing over work, politics, world news, and Very Bad People that I often fail to see the beauty in the world. It didn’t take me long to realize that my self-appraisal revealed much more umbrage than peace, more plague than pleasure, more condemnation than concord.

As Darwin said: it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. So I looked for beauty, but no week would be complete without the sliding scale of angst. And where I land on that scale depends only on me.

We’re having some beautiful dark rainy days. This powerful sculpture was done by a local artist I have met and was impressed by. I don’t know if this metal female warrior is from mythology or the artist’s mind—but it’s absolutely stunning and even more so in the rain.

This is another part of the metal sculpture above. These figures perch high on a wall around a mountainside home. Spectacular.

These beautiful angel figures were made by Ben Dale who made the warrior figures above. The owner of this house commissioned this after 9/11. Note she flies the American flag, something we see little of here. It was raining when I took this picture.

Strange modified bus parked on Erie Street. I don’t know who owns it or what it’s for, but it’s pretty cool. I don’t know how they drive a bus so low to the ground though.

This hipster art is impressive only because it exists publicly. I don’t know what statement, if any, it’s trying to make.

I guess every town has to have its little Occupy movement. 

The beautiful Mule Mountains in the rain. So far nobody’s burned them down, though there have been a few attempts.

Some musicians playing in St. Elmo’s Bar parking lot a few days ago.

Desolation Row, what I think of every time I pass Coronado Nat’l Park, 30,000 acres burned over the summer. Roads are still closed up there from monsoon mudslide destruction.

I clean a house at the bottom of Carr Canyon, where the firefighters worked to save homes of people who live there. This customer has extensive bird feeders in her yard, and many animals come. This gorgeous little doe comes every day.

Goldfinches on feeder at house on Carr Canyon Road.

Saving the best for last—here’s Maxi, all ready to go for a ride. She truly is too cool for school.

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Death’s Mementos

Every day I am moved by roadside memorials to people who weren’t ready to die. People who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They’re a constant reminder of how fragile we are—bits of bone wrapped in a flimsy shroud of a ridiculously unsuitable hide. We’re anything but fierce when up against poison, bullet, disease, or 3,000 pounds of steel, glass and chrome.

These two women touch my life almost every day. I did not know them but their memories live on. We should respect that.

Rose Johnson was a Bisbee artist who was enchanted by the island of Bali and traveled there in 2009. She died in a hospital in Denpasar on May 31, 2009 at age 48 from acute alcohol poisoning after consuming arak, a local alcoholic drink, which had been laced with the industrial solvent methanol. Twenty other people died a slow, painful death along with her that week. She does not have a traditional roadside shrine, but as a noted painter and muralist she has become a legend in Bisbee.

Mural by Rose Johnson along the Jonquil Motel in Bisbee

Peace Wall by Rose Johnson, Tombstone Canyon, Bisbee

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Stacia Barrett was a young rodeo rider. She died on March 30, 2005, one day before her 16th birthday. I can’t find an obituary for her, which is odd, but homemade roadside shrines are usually for victims of automobile accidents. This shrine, on a rural road in Hereford, Arizona, is very emotional, and always makes me think about her family, her friends, and her horse, and how very much they must miss her.

Stacia's shrine, Hereford, AZ

Stacia's short life

Picture of Stacia riding her horse "Dollar" at a rodeo in Benson, AZ. Photo credit: http://iconwesternimages.com/

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In some states it’s illegal to construct roadside shrines, and other states want to abolish them. They say the shrines are a distraction to drivers, and the crosses which many of them display offend some people. Bullshit. Cellphones, texting, superloud music, fighting with your kids in the back seat, sleeping at the wheel, drunks and idiots are distractions. Building shrines to our dead is what humans do and have always done. The shrines become part of the scenery and should be honored.


Bragging Rights

Today is the official release day of the New Oxford American Dictionary 3rd edition.  I can’t describe it better than OUP’s website:

As Oxford’s flagship American dictionary, the New Oxford American Dictionary sets the standard of excellence for lexicography in this country. With more than 350,000 words, phrases, and senses, hundreds of explanatory notes, and more than a thousand illustrations, this dictionary provides the most comprehensive and accurate coverage of American English available.

I am proud to have worked on the first edition, and this one, the third. I was art editor and editorial assistant for the first edition and contracted out 1200 illustrations by several amazing artists back in Connecticut—and many of the illustrations, including some new ones,  are mine. There’s no room in dictionary illustration for cheating or sentiment. They must be absolutely accurate. To draw dictionary illustrations an artist must seek out excellent references on the subject, and that’s often not easy. The pictures don’t fall out of our heads.

No one who loves and uses dictionaries would believe how much work goes into creating one—every tiny revision has consequences. Thousands of new words are assessed, others deleted. There are hundreds of editorial tasks to be done including a huge proofreading effort by a stable of some of the most experienced dictionary proofreaders in the US, including yours truly! I have never written about working on dictionaries before so it’s tumbling out! I think the main point about dictionary work is this: anything included must be true. Think of the thousands of subjects a dictionary covers—making sure every definition is the truth requires an enormous amount of research but it’s an obligation taken very seriously. And deadline time is as crazy as in any job with late nights, too much coffee, and blurry eyes for all involved.

This dictionary is also available as an online subscription.

Hand-painted Furniture by Debra Argosy

I went through an obsession with painted furniture, boxes, candlesticks, trinkets, clay pieces—whatever struck me as being paintable. I love the entire process—from scavenging some sad old piece of furniture and shoring it up, then making it smooth and applying the paint in unusual ways. Each piece takes quite a bit of time and I never found the right market for them. Here are some samples. These pieces are for sale–prices on request but make an offer…it’s more important to me that my children go to good homes than it is to hold out for a higher price.

small table with faux marble finish
closeup view
end table with drawer, faux marble finish
closeup view
green and beige crackle-finish coffee table
crackle table closeup
small black and white marble faux finish table
custom-painted vanity by Debra
closeup of painted vanity