Archive for March, 2011

Dervish Days

I’m spending a week in New Mexico! Last night, thanks to Vera’s friend Dave, I watched Baraka, an amazing movie without words, or at least without scripted words. Near the end is a beautiful scene of Sufi whirling dance, which particularly moved me.

By coincidence, we had already decided to spend this morning hiking at Tent Rocks National Monument. I had heard that Tent Rocks was a spectacular place, but I had no idea that the rocks would so resemble the Sufi dancers. Fabulous reality!

Here are some more pictures from Tent Rocks. The hike is not too demanding, less than two miles one way.

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Again and Again

I guess it’s really spring. I cannot resist taking pictures of crocuses, pretty much the same pictures every year. These were in Elkins. We found ramps on the hillside, too. Oh, joy.

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I love this picture, even though it’s an accident. I was trying to take a snapshot of a beautiful sunset from a moving car, and it just didn’t work. Or, rather, it worked better than I could have hoped. It’s not the same sunset-through-trees shot I imagined, but to me it absolutely evokes the experience of being there for the sunset: the fleeting nature of the event, the movement, the delicacy of the tree branches. The bank of backlit clouds becomes a band of color. The branches become waving fronds, bidding farewell to a beautiful day.

Sometimes accident is an artist’s best friend. Years ago, in a small publication now long perished, I read a wonderful essay by Maggie Anderson about the role of accident in art. I don’t think I can retrieve the printed essay, but I particularly remember (I’m paraphrasing, of course) one of Maggie’s observations about why artists should be open to the accidental in making their art. She said that every work of art was a palimpsest containing traces of the artist’s personal history as well as the time in which it was created, the medium, the subject of the piece, the form. I had to look up the word “palimpsest.” It’s still one of my favorite words. Palimpsest. Anomaly. Sfumato. I repeat them like a prayer.

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