Sunday, June 28, 2015

High Country

When I joined Cuba on his way to summer pasture he was camped in a field about 18 miles west of US 285 on FR 87. I had figured I’d find him around mile marker 16.  At 18 miles or so I encountered a ranger moving east on 87. I asked if he had seen a flock of sheep. He said he had seen them around 9 AM by the corral at the junction of FR 87 and FR 133 but not since. That seemed odd to me and I was concerned that they were hidden in the Aspens off the road.

I needn’t have worried because scarcely a mile up the road were Cuba, his campo and the borregos. It’s hard to miss 400 sheep grazing fifty yards away.

Cuba came out to meet me and told him I had a photo album for him. “Tengo un libro de fotos para usted.” He leafed through the book and was beaming from page one. Victor likes the camera and the camera feels the same.

I  chatted with him for an hour or so and knocked back one of his Pepsis. That’s my annual ration. I clarified some facts namely that he did come to the US in 1965 as I had understood and he had spent five years in Florida and three more in California picking apples. That was new history and I still need to account for the five years between 1973 and 1978.

I asked what he had done in Cuba he said he herded sheep and cattle. When I asked why he left he said simply, “Gobierno malo.” Not much of a revolutionary I guess.

I drove a mile or so up 87 to pitch camp and after settling in went back to spend more time with Victor. I shared some tangerines with him and he brought me three tamales in return. He tried to unload some fried chicken but I demurred claiming "lleno."

He's a sweet man.

It was the next morning that I learned from patron Andrew Abeyta that Cuba had given notice as I reported last time. Then he, Cuba and the dogs pointed the sheep toward Las Lagunitas and the next night’s camp.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Last Shepherd

Well it’s finally happened. Cuba has tendered his resignation and Los Abeytas are looking for a new herder from South America, Peru in all likelihood. The working title for the book I hope to write about Cuba, the sheep and the Abeyta clan is “The Last Shepherd” which is sounding most apt just now. 

The retirement of Victor “Cuba” Hernandez as El Pastor, the shepherd, of the Abeyta flock comes on the heels of his 76th birthday earlier this month. He's earned the right to while away his days surrounded by his own small herd of goats and his adoptive family in Mogote. According to my math, the gentle soul has spent 333 months in solitude since Amos Abeyta hired him in 1978, Cuba says 1975. That, for the bean counters among you, is 27.75 years by himself in the dusty reaches of the Taos Plateau and lush meadows in the high country beyond San Antonio Mountain.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The long and sweet of it

Panoramic photography is the stock and trade of my friend Terry Thompson.  The guy’s the master of the form. Still there’s the occasional subject that makes me want to taste the forbidden fruit. There’s a sunflower farm just west of Fort Garland, Colorado that prompted that particular urge one summer day.


For the real deal check out Terry's extraordinary images at 

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Up close again

Back at the start of this adventure or at least the digital part thereof I spent most of my time photographing things close up. At one time those subjects were called Studies and Abstractions, the name of my first show, and later a more focussed permutation called Found Art. When shopping for a subject for today’s post I scrolled through the archives and uncovered a couple that would be at home in either category.

35 rocks and a shell

Honey Bee Lookin'

Back in the early days of digital I thought tight shots were my bag and that landscapes were my weak suit. Was told that by an esteemed photographer and teacher as a matter of fact. But then things swung to bigger and broader and that's where I'm finding the most success. Just go with what grabs you I suppose because that's where the satisfaction lies. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Man of the Hour

Cuba at San Antonio

If Cuba was the star of the Monument show, and he certainly was, a headshot is fitting for this post.  That's all folks.

Click on the image to see every pore of his weathered visage.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Double Header

The Immel two for one sale Saturday night at Wilder Nightingale was quite the party. Big thanks to all that attended the Peggy and Steve duet aka "Monument." Thanks, too, for all the wonderful comments. We’re glad everyone enjoyed our inaugural two person exhibition.

While we had very different takes on the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument folks seemed to feel that Peggy’s paintings and my photographs coexisted quite effectively.

Thanks to my dear friend the photographer Daryl Black who was in attendance with her husband weaver Fred Black I have at least one photograph that shows a sliver of the festivities. This one is yours truly with the ever stylish Thea Swengel and her bon vivant painter spouse John Farnsworth. In the background looms the star of the evening, the immortal Victor “Cuba” Hernandez. Cuba was, as far as I could tell, “the most interesting man in the world” Saturday night.

Steve, Thea, John and Cuba just behind .

Cuba and Daddy

White Sage and Borregos

Winter Dance

Cuba and Perros
Thanks everybody.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Corral to Corral

It’s a good thing I called to check on the sheep. Andrew Abeyta told me he’d be moving the critters back to the Taos Plateau the very next day. That was April 30. So I rousted myself at dark o’clock and was nosing around Mogote by 8.

The first day of the walk back was one hell of a lot easier than January's slog through shin deep mud. Then of course I was driving this time. We got as far as a rickety corral in the village of San Antonio. I couldn’t be part of day two's  festivities due to pressing matters that shall go unexplained. That’s mostly because I don’t remember why I couldn’t continue. I do know Cuba is encamped on one of side or the other of US 285 near San Antonio Mountain as we speak. I just have to find the boy before June 16 when he heads for the high mountains.

The following show the gist of the day which began in a corral in Mogote and wound up in a corral in San Antonio. Write your own damn story.

You get the picture.