Wednesday, April 23, 2008

O'Keeffe Country

O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-RanchEarlier this month, I took a drive north with a friend up to Abiquiu and beyond. We lunched at the Abiquiu Inn, and then drove to Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted in the summer months for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1934. Ghost Ranch has a long and colorful history which is well and thoroughly covered by Lesley Poling-Kempes in her 2005 book Ghost Ranch. It was a dude ranch at the time O'Keeffe began her life there, and is now a Presbyterian retreat and conference center.

In the early 2000s an exhibit was developed for the O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, which displayed paintings of O'Keeffe's in conjunction with photographs taken from the same vantage point. In 2004, these paintings and corresponding photographs were juxtaposed in a book entitled Georgia O'Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense of Place.

O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-RanchAfter the exhibit and the publication of the book, the Ghost Ranch was besieged with questions on how to find the locations shown in the paintings and photographs. Many of the vantage points were in areas of the property not open to tourists. But it didn't take long for the Ranch to figure out that there was a great opportunity here, and they started a twice a week ($25 a head) van tour which drives down by O'Keeffe's house on the property and shows visitors her "front yard" and "back yard" views.

It was a middling kind of day--windy and a bit cloudy, so the quality of my photographs isn't quite up to exhibit work! But I've included a few photos and a few paintings to give you an idea of the day and its significance.

The photo above is of O'Keeffe's residence at the Ranch, El Rancho de Los Burros. Of the flat-topped mountain, Pedernal, which she painted many times, and which you can see in two paintings and a photo below, she said: "It's my private mountain. God told me if I painted it often enough, I could have it."

Here are a few of the Georgia O'Keeffe Ghost Ranch paintings completed between 1937-1945:

O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch

And my photos, April 2008:

O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Glasnost in Santa Fe

Mikhail Gorbachev, Green CrossPhoto courtesy of the Green Cross International web site

On Monday night, I had the opportunity to hear Mikhail Gorbachev speak to an enthusiastic crowd of 800 at The Lensic in Santa Fe. When I first heard he was coming to town, I felt I had to attend--he was just such an important figure of the 20th century for me.

The event was a benefit for the Santa Fe Institute, and was the first stop on a US lecture tour for the former Soviet president. Ticket prices ranged from $35 for the nosebleed seats, to a $500 opportunity to mingle with Gorbachev at a dinner and reception before the speech. All tickets for the event, with the exception of a handful of $100 seats, were sold.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was on hand to introduce Gorbachev, and to show a brief film on his life and work.

In 1993, Gorbachev founded Green Cross International, an organization whose mission is to to "help ensure a just, sustainable and secure future for all by fostering a value shift and cultivating a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility in humanity's relationship with nature".

Gorbachev stated that in the past few decades, "globalization" has largely benefitted the wealthy, and the gap between rich and poor has widened. Neither Russia nor the U.S. has fulfilled the commitments they made to poor countries, and a new generation of political leaders has "underestimated the need for cooperation". "Global glasnost" or "Planetary glasnost" was a phrase Gorbachev used several times in his speech. He decried the fact that only 1/3 of the world lived in "decent conditions", and stressed the linkage among poverty, environmental damage, and armed conflict.

For example, stresses on food and water supplies, exacerbated by environmental crisis, impact the poor the most, and have led to conflicts and riots which were then addressed by military force.

In Gorbachev's opinion, there are three keys to solve these problems: a change in priorities, global governance, and leadership through partnership. He wondered whether the world could actually turn things around because of vested interests, inertia, and a "deficit of leadership and political will." He feels that the United States has both the biggest capability to make action happen, and the biggest responsibility to do so. But as long as the US. continues its military expansion, the needed work gets neglected.

Gorbachev strongly supports the UN, and other existing world organizations such as the IMF and WTO. He also believes in the importance of regional agreements such as NAFTA and the EU. But he believes that NATO is becoming too powerful, and a UN rival, and that some of the issues NATO is charged with would be better handled by the UN Security Council. In the same vein, he denounced John McCain's proposed "League of Democracies", although he did not mention McCain by name. Democracies abhor dictatorships, yet such a league would propose that a number of "like-minded" countries would try to dictate to the rest of the world how it should behave.

Gorbachev concluded his speech (after noting that his daughter Irina's polite coughing in the front row signaled that he had been speaking too long!) with a famous quote from an address John F. Kennedy delivered at American University in June 1963:

What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children--not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.

The crowd in Santa Fe was clearly receptive to the message, giving Gorbachev a standing ovation both before and after he spoke. While the simultaneous translation sometimes made it hard to hear (you had to really focus in on the English and try to tune out the buzz of Russian just below it), the speech was quite moving, and I was really glad to have had the experience. I especially liked the holistic approach of looking at security/terrorism, poverty, and the environmental crisis through a single lens.

Monday, April 07, 2008

New Mexico Quarter

New Mexico State QuarterToday the U.S. Mint issued the New Mexico quarter with a ceremony in "The Roundhouse", the New Mexico State Capitol Building in Santa Fe. The ceremony was due to start at 11 a.m. and I sauntered in about quarter 'til, café mocha in hand--minimal visible security, no X-ray machines, no one telling me I had to dump my coffee. Wonderful!

The ceremony was short and sweet--the New Mexico Coin Commission was introduced, Mint Director Edmund Moy spoke and presented ceremonial coins to Governor Bill Richardson and his wife, Bill Richardson, Edmund MoyGovernor Richardson made brief remarks and applied a giant coin cutout to the New Mexico outline on the U.S. map (which you can see behind the Governor in the photo), and a short historical address was delivered by State Historian Estevan Rael-Gálvez. (Unfortunately, the many assembled schoolchildren had gotten pretty loud and restless at this point, and it was hard to hear most of what he had to say.)

It's worth noting that the Coin Commission included Santa Fe sculptor Glenna Goodacre, the creator of the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington DC as well as the Sacagawea dollar coin. Goodacre suffered a serious head injury last year and has endured a long, slow recovery. It was great to see her back in action!

The Santa Fe All-Stars (bluegrass/country/punk according to their MySpace site) provided the musical entertainment.

Santa Fe All-Stars
Then the Governor, First Lady, Mint Director, and Coin Commission assisted in passing out quarters to all the under-18ers.New Mexico State Quarter
New Mexico State QuarterUs over-18ers got to buy rolls of freshly minted quarters for $10.New Mexico State Quarter

Here's a few facts for you:

New Mexico State Quarter500 million New Mexico quarters were made in preparation for today's release--they will never be minted again.

The quarter was called "two bits" after the Spanish dollar (or piece of eight). The dollar was often cut into four quarters, or eight bits, making a quarter "two bits".

The state quarter program has been the most popular coin issue program in U.S. history. Mint Director Moy estimates that there are 47 million collectors of the U.S. state coins.

The New Mexico quarter is the 47th state quarter issued; and the first to contain a Native American symbol. (The Zia sun symbol is featured on the coin; see my post of March 29 for more details.)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Blossoming Boughs of April

The fruit trees in my yard have blossomed this week and the skies are a beautiful blue. Happy spring!

Santa Fe Peach Blossoms
Santa Fe Apple Blossoms