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.