Sunday, June 16, 2024

Monhegan. It's about the light

Monhegan Light at dusk

Barnacles and granite

Monhegan School and Peggy's easel

About now fifteen years ago, we spent three nights on Monhegan Island, a lobstering community and luminous art colony just ten miles by ferry off the Maine Coast at Point Clyde. A more memorable visual feast you will not find. The state of Maine, more broadly, is the place we consider the other best place. Taos is the reigning champion. So far.

Lawn chairs in falling light

Lobsterman's shack at the magic hour

Side Light. Monhegan Light House

Island House at dusk

At the 2024 La Luz de Taos Biennial Gala and Art Sale at the El Monte Sagrado Hotel Saturday night we fell into a conversation with one of the featured artists John Lintott and his wife Emily whose daughter had just graduated from art school in Portland, Maine. We gushed over Portland proclaiming it our favorite small city in the country. John extolled the seafood, and I responded that the compact city of 75,000 is one the great food towns in the county, maybe top ten. The other Portland makes the list as well. What’s in a name?

Peggy commented that Maine’s light rivaled that of our little art mecca, Taos.

The light is particularly pure and crystalline on Monhegan Island, an art magnet which like Taos dates back to the end of the nineteenth century. Famed artists Robert Henri, George Bellows, and Rockwell Kent worked together on Monhegan . They were followed by Louise Nevelson and three generations of Wyeths.

I can tell you this. We need a Maine fix stat. Salty air, lobster rolls and surf crashing on granite headlands are calling my name.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Toby of TP

As I’ve expressed many times one of my great joys is a chance encounter with a stranger, a random meeting in which I forge a connection. The most memorable are when I learn a life story in few short minutes I have a new friend. My life has been enriched. Pursuing those miraculous moments could be my life’s work, especially if I became more bold and better prepared.

Saturday morning, I went to the Taos Farmers Market for a bit of street photography. The street photography part was middling. But ten minutes into my wanting effort a leathery dude walking his mountain bike stopped next to me. He looked down at my pocket sized mirrorless camera. He commented, “That’s a nifty piece of kit. What is it?”

I answered that, “It’s a super camera for street photography. It’s little, stealthy and has tremendous range for such a small unit. It’s a 24-200 mm f2.8 so I can go from wide angle to a moderate telephoto with a camera that fits in my front pocket.”

He bent over to see the make and model. As he studied the camera, I told him that it was a Sony RX100 model 7.

I asked his name. He said, “I’m Toby” and we shook hands. “I’m Steve.”

I  asked where he lived. He said,” I live in Tres Piedras.”

“It was either TP or Three Peaks” I thought to myself. Tres Piedras and Three Peaks are scruffy bastions of hippy homesteads known for affordability and loose attention to the law. If they flew flags they would feature a certain leafy green plant.

Toby was the poster boy for an off-the-grid community. Lean almost gaunt with a long greying beard. He could have been 48 or 70. He was also a sweetheart with an expansive knowledge of photography. He said that he was from Pennsylvania and had studied photography at the infamous Art Institute of Pittsburg, part of a shady for-profit chain of art schools that went bankrupt a few years back. Toby wondered if any of the beleaguered schools had survived and I told him that I didn’t think so.

Toby expressed appreciation for a handful of photographers that I didn’t know. And somehow the work of famed street photographers who have left our midst came up. I asked, “Do you know Vivian Maier?

He replied “Of yeah. She had some story didn’t she? Working as the nanny for a bunch of rich people in New York and wasn't recognized for her street photography till she was dead. Didn’t they find her negatives in cardboard boxes in the garage of her last employer?”

I replied that was the case and that the discovery of her bounty was made by two of her charges in Chicago after they were adults. They had been close to Maier who had raised them and assumed stewardship of her archives.

I told him, “We were  in Bologna in October and while we were strolling down the city’s retail corridor we saw a sign for a Vivian Maier exhibition nearby. It was 7:45pm on a Sunday and the gallery was closing at 8. We literally ran the six blocks to get there in time. They let us in and told us to “Take your time.” We spent a forty- five minutes alone with 100 of her images. So we had to travel to Italy to see a Vivian Maier show." 

Toby said he’d better catch up with his girlfriend. “We always go back to TP with bags full of fresh produce, Buy local, bro.”

Sunday, June 02, 2024

The real Lindsey Enderby

On several occasions I’ve told the story of how we came to know Lindsey Enderby. Like so many we met him in his cowboy emporium Horse Feathers. It was
 in late December and the next day found ourselves at Casa Enderby celebrating Christmas. Lindsey takes in strays. 

This post is prompted by his departure from these parts just four days ago. I began to look back for photographs to depict the arc of our twenty year friendship and to provide a nuanced look at the effects of Lindsey’s maladies. Then I thought better of it and decided to show him as he was in 2004 when we first met him, a strapping six feet and 200 pounds. That's the way he should be remembered, a charismatic people magnet like no other. This portrait was made in front of his much missed Horse Feathers

I am, much like I did with The Vatican of Saloons a few week’s back, reposting 1.3 degrees of Separation from Lindsey Enderby from April 1, 2018.

1.3 degrees of separation from Lindsey Enderby

Last week I said I’d post a photograph of my dear friend Lindsey Enderby. Turns out I had lunch with the boy yesterday along with his friend and mine, Lucky Bill Parrish, the renowned cowboy baritone and all ‘round good guy from Richmond, Virginia. In a wide-ranging conversation over bountiful burgers at the Taos Ale House, Bill and I circled around to the fact that we had both met Lindsey at his legendary cowboy emporium, Horse Feathers, Bill in 1994 and I around 2004. Lindsey takes in strays, so we immediately joined his band of merry men and have grown into late middle age while in his thrall.

I posited that if there are six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon there are precisely 1.3 degrees from Lindsey Enderby meaning that if you ask Jim Bob in Harlan County, Kentucky if he knows Lindsey, he will, he will have met him at Horse Feathers even though Jim Bob has never left the holler. It’s a miracle of science and a mystery of the universe I’m telling you.

In the image above Lindsey is doing his best Will Rogers impression, an aw shucks persona behind which lurks a steely eyed ex-lawyer, student body president at SMU and all post football champeen in his Army Reserve days. It was taken in the late, much missed Horse Feathers store in late April 2008.

Ten years. How they fly.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Lindsey with Love

Bill Manns and Lindsey Enderby by Bob Dempsey

Bill Manns and Lindsey Enderby by Bob Dempsey

Goodbye Lindsey by Peggy Immel

Big Al Johnson holds court by Steve Immel

Friday evening at 6pm I first heard that Lindsey Enderby would be heading home to Dallas the following Tuesday. By that I mean leaving Taos forever. The move was in the works, we all knew it, but a four-day notice was as shocking as a five-alarm fire. That night I told four of Lindsey’s friends who in turn told their nearest and dearest and the Taos telegraph went into overdrive.

Kim Treiber and Chipper Thompson by Steve Immel

Dick Kimberly, Lindsey Enderby, Greg Moon and Kimberly Casara by Steve Immel

Saturday morning Peggy and I met the same friends for coffee at The Espresso Bar in the Taos Valley Lodge. I picked up Lindsey thinking it could be the last time we’d see him. By then the Tuesday departure had become Wednesday, or did it? Even Lindsey didn’t know when he was leaving.

Dick Kimberly, Lindsey Enderby and Others by Bob Dempsey

Dick Kimberly, Lindsey Enderby, Kimberly Casara and Greg Moon by Steve Immel

Roger Eiteljorg, Alden Cockburn and Mindy Eiteljorg by Peggy Immel 

Mindy Eiteljorg, Kimberly Casara and Pete Wells by Peggy Immel

I’d already decided I’d check in on him at the Taos Enchanted Village every day since there was so much uncertainty about his departure. So, on Sunday at 2pm I went to his room in the assisted living facility and learned that he was at his house. That was no surprise. He’d been at his little rancho three of the last four times I tried to visit. So, I decided to drive to the Enderby spread. I was walking to my car when it dawned on me that I should leave a note. I scribbled a few lines and went back to his room. When I got there I saw Kim Treiber and Chipper Thompson entering and told them, “I don’t think he’s there. He’s probably at his house.”

We’d met on one occasion many years ago, so I reintroduced myself and explained that Lindsey had been at his house my last few visits. Kim said to Chipper, “Let’s go over there right now.”

I replied, “I’ll do the same.”

We drove south on Camino del Medio to Lindsey’s place and sure enough he was there. After quick hellos he told us he wanted to get some things out of the barn. He was driven to find a violin of all things. The case was there but no fiddle. About that time a white haired cowboy found us in the barn. He looked familiar but I had to ask his name. It was Pete Wells.

After sorting through all manner of stuff, Lindsey is a hoarder, we fell into a conversation centered on the realization that Lindsey would be leaving town in two days. One of us, it may have been Kim, responded that we better arrange for a going away for Lindsey tomorrow. We chose 4pm. Yes, that was 24 hours to plan a proper shindig.

Through the miracle of modern technology, we began emailing and texting every person who would want to say goodbye to the most loved human in Taos if not in the western world. Conveniently, Lindsey had a list for us to use.

What happened is hard to fathom. At 4pm on Sunday something like forty of Lindsey’s closest appeared, most with food and beverage to share. That wouldn't have happened with anybody else I’m certain. I called Big Al Johnson, the cowboy’s cowboy, who replied, “Amy and I will be there at 4.” Pete called Bill Manns at his ranch in the Galisteo Basin south of Santa Fe, and he arrived a few minutes after 4. I called Sidney Bender who was in New Haven visiting his son and family. Sidney told me, “We arrive back in Albuquerque at noon. We should be there with no problem.” Sure enough Sidney and Marjorie arrived as the clock struck 4. No way folks were missing the grand adios.

From this outpouring of love for a Taos treasure will come a blurb book to memorialize the goodbye party that should have been impossible to pull off. Between Peggy’s, Bob Dempsey’s and mine I’m sorting through a couple hundred images that I hope will capture the tone and essence of Lindsey’s goodbye soiree. Peggy’s and Bob’s made with iphones are better than mine taken with a so-called real camera. I am duly chastened.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

A car called Otto

Forty years ago, I bought a 1980 Porsche 911SC off the showroom floor of the Porsche dealership in Framingham, Massachusetts. Otto is forty-four years old according to its model year though it was built in October of 1979.

The occasion of the indulgence was the sale of chain of Kentucky Fried Chicken stores in Boston. I was a ten percent owner of the franchises and as part of my deal to develop Pizzeria Uno as a national chain I received my share. Flush with a fistful of buckaroonies I did what any red-blooded American male would do. I purchased a snappy Super Carrera for $22,500 cash. The car had about that number of miles.

Today it has 77,000 miles give or take meaning that I’ve averaged something like 1,375 miles a year on the trim little machine. The miles suggest it’s a vanity item, little used but much loved. In the last 13 years it’s been 125 miles a year. That’s half a dozen round trips to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge from our house in Taos. You could ask, “What’s the point?”

That's the question I’m gnawing on. At issue is whether to drive it a helluva lot more or make sure it’s in primo shape and sell it for, well, a lot. Peggy told me Wednesday morning, “If you do sell it don’t use the money to live on. Do something with the money.” That generally points to the purchase of a Mercedes Sprinter camper van we’ve lusted after for ten years and counting. 

According to Porsche Panorama, the magazine of the Porsche Club of America, the legendary German motor cars are rated 1, 2 and 3. A one is in concours condition, a two is near perfect and a three is a typical specimen. In my view ours is a three yearning to be a two. Cosmetically I think it’s a new carpet and a right front quarter paint job away from being a two.

These images, bye the bye, are precisely 13 years old. The perky beauty is, if anything, better than it was in May of 2013.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

The Vatican of Saloons Revisited

I subscribe to the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. I’d subscribe to the Chicago Times and the San Francisco Times if there were such things.  Why the New York Times? Because it’s The City. Why the LA Times? Because we lived in LA in our earlier married years when our son was a tyke and because he’s lived there since he entered USC in 1984. Lots of connections and first experiences were had in the City of Angels. Oh, and my father lived in downtown LA from the end of WWll till his passing in 1988. 

Anyway, a product of reviewing the highlights from both Times every morning is noticing snippets about somebody trying to find affordable digs. No mean task. A recent entry in the NY Times was about a junior ad exec renting a closet in Manhattan and hoping to buy an apartment in Queens. Her budget was $500,000. One of the spots in Queens was Forest Hills where I lived for a few months in 1970. That was during a restaurant rescue project just down the road in Rego Park. Thinking about that NYC misadventure made me remember my neighborhood bar in Rego Park. In Irish barspeak Walsh’s Pub was my local and Vinny Walsh was my publican. So I Googled Walsh’s Pub and, sure as stout, the venerable establishment is still pouring more than fifty years later and probably decades before that.

But the wrinkle in this tale is while Googling Walsh’s Pub a raft of other Irish Public Houses in Queens appeared, there are many, followed by a blog post of mine from July 2018 entitled The Vatican of Saloons. As a writer of little note I was shocked and a wee bit proud to see my entry about PJ Clarke’s on my monitor. So, that story about my favorite bar in the land, the one read by a few dozen stalwarts six years ago, is out there for intrepid souls who search hard enough. It's one of my favorites. Maybe the favorite. How and why did this one survive among the 900 stories I’ve told since 2006? 

UNDAY, JULY 15, 2018

The Vatican of Saloons

PJ Clarke's at Happy Hour

In the New York years, I drank at P.J. Clarke’s every time I was in the city at the end of the business day. One evening after work Erv Hall and I went to the bar and I suggested, “Let’s just have one and go.” He replied with a grin, “Steve, there’s no such thing as one and go.” Those words proved prophetic.

It was at the old saloon on the northeast corner of 55th Street and Third Avenue that I first learned the 80-20 rule. That’s the adage that says 80% of a bar’s business comes from 20% of its customers. The regulars. In my beer o’clock visits I always saw the same half dozen guys at the front end of the bar by the window overlooking Third Avenue. I figured that if they were always there at 5:30pm and I was just an occasional customer, they must be there every single afternoon. Extrapolation is my middle name.

I first visited the joint in 1970 when I was banished to Rego Park, Queens to fix an underperforming restaurant that I'd opened the year before. I lived in a basement apartment in Forest Hills Estates where I could walk to work and take the subway to The City for recreational purposes. The floundering restaurant was just across from Lefrak City, a huge apartment complex, and 2-1/2 blocks from the long gone Alexander’s Department Store at Queens Boulevard and 63rd Road. The little café was the first place that a newly fired employee threatened me. “You won’t make it through the week,” he warned. That's 2,486 weeks ago. I'm feeling good about my chances.

How I stumbled on P.J. Clarke’s escapes me, but it became a haunt, the first step on a bar crawl up 1st Avenue to Yorktown and back down 2nd to 57th Street. My guess is that I learned about the bar in a bar, the way I learned everything else I know. My neighborhood bar in Rego Park was in Elmhurst or was it Corona? The hell if I know. Anyway, take a left out of my place, walk to Queens Boulevard, hang a right at Alexander’s, walk another couple of blocks and Walsh’s Pub was across the street.

Among the many things I learned at Vinny Walsh’s establishment was how to process 35mm negatives to get prints that looked like they were made with 4x5 sheet film. I was tipping Half and Halfs next to an older guy who, it turns out, was a local portrait photographer. We began to compare notes. I told him that I wanted to produce prints with as little grain as possible. He turned to me and said, “Go to 47th Street Photo in The City (that's what you call Manhattan if you're in the know). Ask for Seymour. Sy knows everything there is to know about the darkroom. He’ll tell you what to do.”

Sy did. On my nightly, I mean next, sortie into Manhattan I walked into 47th Street Photo and asked for Seymour. I told him some barfly in Elmhurst told me to look him up and that I wanted to know how coax creamy acuity out of a 35mm negative. He told me, “Kid, you gotta use Edwal FG7 developer not that Kodak crap. Use it 15:1 with a 9% sodium sulfite solution. Prints like nothing else, I’m telling you. And here’s the kicker, you can push the film. Take Kodak Plus X film that’s a 125 ASA and push it a 400, 500 ASA. I did it and it did. So, when I got back to my darkroom in South Pasadena a couple of months later I started shooting Plus X at 500 and getting prints that looked they came from a Hasselblad at 100 ASA. That Edwal FG7-Sodium Sulfite hack is the process I used till my darkroom days ended in the 2002. Thanks Sy.

I also learned about the Irish bar circuit at Walsh’s which, New York being New York, was epic. My favorite barkeep at Walsh’s, one Jack Kearns, tutored me on the midweek ritual called “busting balls” which isn’t quite what it sounds. It’s drinking tour of Irish bars. On a barkeep’s night off, say Tuesday, he would hit all the bars on his circuit and “be taken care of.” Meaning he’d be treated like royalty by his brethren of the brew. He’d wouldn’t pay for a single drink. On Jack Kearns’s Irish bar circuit were, Peter’s Back Street in Bayside, Patrick’s Pub in Douglaston and the John Barleycorn in Manhattan. Only the John Barleycorn survives.

Back then it was protocol for your favorite mixologist to “buy” every third drink, and in a clearly understood quid pro quo, you’d tip him the full amount of that beverage. All of this was done with the full knowledge of the proprietor who understood the game. The IRS not so much. If Vinny Walsh didn’t tolerate the larceny his star bartender would move down the block dragging his regulars with him.

PJ Clarke’s has been called “the Vatican of Saloons.” PJ was Patrick J. Clarke, an Irish immigrant who tended bar at Duneen’s Saloon which opened its doors in 1887. Ten years later he bought Duneen's and changed the name. The venerable establishment is famous for its longevity, that it hasn’t been replaced by a skyscraper, its celebrity clientele, and for its pews, I mean urinals.

The urinals at PJ Clarke's

You could park your car in those things. They were chest height with an ice block covering the drain. They say you can tell how busy a shift is by the size of the melting block. Easier than counting the drawer I guess. "O'Shaugnessy, go measure the ice."

Wilt Chamberlain walking south on 2nd Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets in 1977 

On one occasion after half a dozen black and tans I stepped into the men’s room directly behind me. When I opened the door to go back to the bar I walked into Wilt Chamberlain’s ass. I do not exaggerate. The man was so big that at 5’-11” I was eyeballing the big center’s pockets. Unlike most “big men” of the day who were storks, Wilt’s 300 pounds was distributed perfectly on his 7’-2” frame. Imagine Lebron James but half a foot taller. Wilt employed a handler to fend off male patrons. I watched his body man collecting head shots from all the women queuing up to meet the man who scored 100 points against the Knicks in 1962 and, according to Chamberlain, 10,000 women. I’m afraid to do that math.

Sunday, May 05, 2024

Truchas means trout. Trampas means traps.

I hadn’t given it a lot of thought until now but nearly all my High Road rambles have been the south to north version. Maybe that’s because heading south to Santa Fe I’m on a mission and with a schedule. But on the return leg I’m free to meander for creative sustenance and boredom mitigation. So, after suffering the gauntlet of Pojoaque Pueblo’s commercial strip I turn right through Nambé Pueblo and onward to Chimayo where the High Road begins in earnest.

Shrine, Santa Cruz Valley

As I turn left toward Chimayo from the Nambé badlands the high desert dips and rises before me and white crosses crown hilltops along my route. The faith that permeates El Norte is unceasing and profound. Nearly every village no matter how small has its own Catholic Church. The Church is the cradle of rural Hispanic life. On every side road lies a rustic village united by faith and a hard life from the land.

Blowing Leaves, Santuario de Chimayo

Santuario de Chimayo in the village of Chimayo has been a place of worship since long before it was built in 1813. Pueblo Indians have inhabited Chimayo and the Santa Cruz Valley since the 12th century. The ancestral Puebloans believed that they shared their land with the spirit world and that the hot springs in Chimayo held remarkable healing powers. The faithful believe that those powers remain in the sacred dirt at the Santuario today. So, on Good Friday each year 300,000 pilgrims walk from all over the Southwest to partake in the healing powers.

White cross at dusk, Truchas

Truchas perches on a rim above a deep valley and gazes back down the valley to Chimayo. The town’s draw is its inspiring site. It is breathtaking. It’s a somnolent and struggling place that yearns to be an art colony. Instead, it feels like it’s withering and not growing. But, its setting is so remarkable it lures me back again and again.

Layers of Meaning, San José de Gracia

Eight miles north on Highway 76 the dirt plaza of Las Trampas is blessed with the San José de Gracia Church which was built between 1760 to 1776. Although San Francisco de Asis at the terminus of the High Road in Ranchos de Taos, is the best-known Spanish Mission Church on El Camino Alto, San José impresses me even more. San José is considered the least altered and best example of a Spanish Colonial Pueblo Mission Church on El Camino Alto and perhaps all of New Mexico. 

Sagrado Corazon, Picuris Pueblo

While there isn’t a Mission Church in Peñasco just west of the town is a picture-perfect church on Picuris Pueblo, the smallest in New Mexico at 364 acres. The pocket size house of worship Sagrado Corazon is the first church that I photographed on the High Road twenty years ago. Sadly, the cross that makes the image is no longer there. I’m confounded by its absence but glad I photographed it while it graced the scene. It’s a lesson that bears relearning. Nothing is forever.

Last light, San Francisco de Asis

If the High Road, El Camino Alto, starts in Chimayo it ends at San Francisco de Asis in Ranchos de Taos. The church may be the most photographed edifice in the American West. Iconic is too weak an adjective to describe the famed Spanish Mission Church built from 1772 and 1816. Memorialized by Adams, Strand, and O’Keefe Saint Francisco says northern New Mexico like no other. I am privileged to live a stone’s throw from the holy site and never tire of San Francisco’s moods and seasons.

This post stems from my upcoming article Telling Stories: El Camino Alto in the May-June issue of Shadow and Light Magazine. It publishes May 15.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Galisteo on my mind


Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios


"April is the cruelist month." Title courtesy of Wynn Bullock.

Cemetery #2


Galisteo, NM lies about 20 miles southeast of Santa Fe in the very flat yet scenic Galisteo Basin. The impetus of a midday shooting was time wastage. Peggy was participating in a art equipment sale and swap at the Bluebird Studio in Santa Fe’s horsey Arroyo Hondo. Taos has its own version of Hondo. I had the wheels so I did what a man has to do. After breakfast at the bustling Harry’s Roadhouse, always a fave, I shot down US 285, speaking of favorites, and spent a couple hours nosing around the village of Galisteo. It’s quaint, has a Spanish Colonial history dating back to 1504 and has an artsy vibe. 

Seventeen years ago, we had about given up on Taos and Galisteo was a real consideration till we learned that had no home mail delivery, no internet and the nearest Post Office was in Santa Fe proper. Further, the nearest grocery store was a small market ten miles north in El Dorado. Adios, Galisteo. 

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Jimmy Stadler Rocks

My friend photographer and videographer Terry Thompson asked if I would man the second camera on a prospective video of Taos’s favorite musician Jimmy Stadler, the man of a thousand instruments, or at least seven. Last week we all met for lunch to discuss the endeavor. I had met Jimmy in 2018 when I assisted Terry on another music video of Jimmy’s students at Taos Academy but didn’t really have a conversation.

At lunch I asked Jimmy if he started playing music in high school like I did in the fifties and our son did starting about 1980. He answered that, “I ‘d done five albums before I got out of grade school. I knew what I wanted to do by third grade.” He was already touring when he was still in high school. So, when he graduated, he was already a full-time professional musician. Now a youthful 65 he’s Taos’s number one performer whose dance card is muy lleno as in very full. And he’s still as excited as a rookie after fifty years in the business.

He described  that “I grew up in a musical family. My mother was a concert pianist. All nine kids played music.”

I asked him where he was born. He said Columbus, Ohio. I told him that I was born in Urbana, Ohio and that my dad graduated from Ohio State. He told me. “I think my dad did, too.”

Jimmy lived in LA for five years with his wife, Bunny. That’s what he calls her and damned if I know if that’s her given name. They gave the City of Angels and the so-called big time a real shot before moving to Taos full-time in 1984 as I recall our conversation. I told him I gave LA six months before we didn’t get signed by Capitol Records and my singing partner bailed to return to college and to marry Becky whatshername.

Jimmy’s a whirlwind of energy. It seems like he plays very gig he’s offered. He plays solo, in two bands and is heading to South by Southwest in Texas to perform with fellow Taoseño Michael Hearne in a few days. If anyone rivals Jimmy’s renown in Taos, it’s Hearne and his Big Barn Dance that’s the highlight of the Taos music scene every year. Of course, Jimmy plays that event, too. How could he not?

Plus, he gives private lessons on every string instrument in the western world. It’s clear that he loves to teach almost as much as he loves to perform.

He makes me need a nap.

That candid up top doesn't do Jimmy Stadler justice. I was fighting ferocious back light. I've asked for a more formal portrait session in his spanking new studio.


Sunday, April 14, 2024

At home with the Muratas

Nancy and Hiroshi Murata pose in the entry hall of their amazing Santa Fe home. That's Wolfie the guard dog up front while behind is one of Hiroshi's artworks and the motorcycle Nancy rode when they were in grad school at Yale and could afford one car.

The Muratas.

A glowing black and white portrait of the college sweethearts.

Last Wednesday I had the privilege of photographing Nancy and Hiroshi Murata in their splendid Santa Fe home of twenty years. The occasion was a celebration of those art-filled years in the home that Peggy and I both consider the finest we’ve ever spent meaningful time in. How many square feet make a home a mansion anyway? However large the Murata abode is it’s still welcoming and intimate, no mean accomplishment in my view. The dwelling has a commercial kitchen, a screening room, two studios in a separate building, a guest apartment with a kitchen and bath, seven baths and about a thousand bedrooms. I lost count. Anyway, it’s spectacular and they sold it without our permission. We are highly miffed.

Nancy Murata with the earring that completes the ensemble.

Hiroshi in an unposed moment.

If my mission was to capture the magic of Casa Murata I did a pedestrian job. I was so focused on photographing Nancy and Hiroshi in their best light that the house got second shrift if that.

After the portrait session we met our dear friends Carol and David Farmer for lunch at the estimable Santacafé where Peggy and I first dined in 1993. Nancy and Hiroshi had never met the Farmers and we’d long thought that they should. Happily, they connected like bees to honey. We expect they will become fast friends as was our intent. Luckily, I brought my abacus so was able to compute that the average length of the marriages in our august gathering was a stunning 62 years. The  Farmer’s won the contest at a remarkable 64 years, followed by the Muratas at 62 and the Immels a paltry 57. 

That’s a story for another time.

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Less is more unless it isn't

When I started this journey 18 years ago my posts were a handful of photographs and little text. In that first year, 2006, I accomplished a resounding two posts. It wasn’t until 2010 that I posted at least every week. That has continued since with a whopping 74 posts in 2010 and 2011. Somewhere along the way storytelling became my mission and while the number of images remained relatively constant the written words grew to 500 to 800 words and more in a typical week. Then six years ago I was invited to become a regular contributor to Shadow and Light Magazine. My byline Telling Stories fills 10 of its 100 pages almost every issue, the exceptions being certain special issues like, for example, Color it Red which is self-explanatory.

It took me forty years to be confident enough to call myself a photographer as in “I’m a photographer.” Declaring myself ‘a writer’ came more quickly. I was driving to Albuquerque to shoot a wedding when out of the blue, I realized I was exactly that. Now when asked what I do I respond “I’m a writer and photographer.” The order may be telling.

This is a too long leadup to the occasional post that harkens back to the early days of this blogging adventure. I will occasionally post a few images with little but descriptive text. This entry would have been exactly that, but my verbosity apparently knows no bounds.