Sunday, September 03, 2023

After Thoughts

Blanket of Snow

As I stare down the rifle barrel of 82 years, I’m moved to take stock, to reevaluate and ponder my priorities in late middle age. It’s not that I’m dissatisfied. It’s that I’m not satisfied. That may be a distinction without a difference. But I know the difference. I plod ahead with the minor tasks which take so much time I don’t attempt the challenging difference makers like the book that’s become a punchline or the great adventures of my dreams. I told a friend recently that I live in my head instead of doing something of import or devoting the time to actually learn something.

This splash of blue is prompted by a handful of things not the least of which were my sales at Peggy’s and my Side by Side art opening Saturday night where I sold precisely one photograph. And it was a holdover from our two person show in 2021. I sold nary a one of my new images despite presenting what I thought was my strongest body of work so far. It was definitely a what’s the point? moment.

Steve and the proud owner of Blanket of Snow

 Steve, Jody and Peggy, the star of the show. 

A feel-good moment was a lovely woman who drove 12 hours from Dallas just to see the show and to buy Blanket of Snow which she’d seen earlier at the gallery. She agonized over the purchase and went to the bar around the corner to contemplate the purchase. She really struggled with the decision. Perhaps it was the price. She had a glass of wine and shared her quandary with the bartender who told her, “See this glass of wine? You won’t remember it tomorrow, but you’ll always have the photograph if you buy it.” She came back to the gallery as it was ready to close and bought the photograph. The image was wrapped, and Peggy and I drove Jody and the picture back to her hotel. To see that the photograph was so important to her and that she’d gone to the trouble and expense of the journey was touching.

Another gift was the friends that showed up to support us. I heard from several of them that it was the strongest body of work they’d ever seen from me. Some of them were excellent photographers so that was most rewarding. And among the supportive friends most own at least one of my images, and I there's.

Chief among those supportive friends were Nancy Silvia and Hiroshi Murata who asked if we’d like have dinner after the show. We agreed instantly. We love Nancy and Hiroshi. We picked the most expensive restaurant in Taos expecting to pick up the tab. But Hiroshi grabbed the check and would not be dissuaded despite my protestations. He said, “We’re paying because we're celebrating your excellent show.” And that was that. We insisted that when we visit Santa Fe next time we’re paying. At least we'll try.

Then there was the shock of the decline in friends I hadn’t seen in three years due to Covid. God, it was shocking. One had lost dozens of pounds and looked unwell. Another looked beautiful but was using a cane because of an injured hip. And the third with rheumatoid arthritis could no longer shake hands. His right hand was a claw. 

Sudden decline in your peers will get your attention fast. It tells you to take care of yourself and do what you want to do while you still can. You've heard that admonition from me about a thousand times, maybe more. My back’s a mess and I’m two inches shorter but I can still do almost everything I used to do. What’s a little discomfort?

Refer to “to take stock, to reevaluate, and ponder my priorities” up top. 


Blacks Crossing said...

What s story about Jody's drive from Dallas to purchase "Blanket of Snow", which definitely is one of your best! If there was only going to be one sale, that was definitely it. Certainly Jody is thrilled to finally have the image she had been pondering earlier at the gallery. Congratulations on that sale and what had to have been a fabulous show! You must have gained ample energy to stare down that rifle barrel of 82 years next week and shout to the world "Here I come, baby!" That book is in the wings! Abrazos, Amigo!

j. Madison Rink said...

I so appreciate your candor and inspiration, Steve. I open every newsletter. You are an amazing photographer and human being! Thank you! And what a story about the woman from Dallas. I love it and find it encouraging.