As I sit at my desk writing this, the weather here in Texas is much colder, with lows in the 20’s. granted it is not as cold as elsewhere in the US but its cold for here in Texas. The sky is a heavy gray and the steam from the local power plant can be seen hanging in the sky. The school grounds are empty for the xmas break and it is nice to have the peace that both the cold and the lack of screaming children on the playground provide.
I started rereading Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey yesterday. I saw it sitting on the shelf and pulled it out for a short read. That is not what happens when I read his books. I opened it randomly to the chapter entitled “Down the River”. I was immediately reminded of so many things about why I like his writing and why I love the outdoors, particularly the desert area of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.
There has been a long stretch of creative dearth of late. Nothing has really piqued my interest for very long or with intensity. I have gotten tired of the still life’s I have attempted and while I can be inspired by the variety of subject matter I can and have photographed, nothing is appealing. I have been working on the experiment of posting on Instagram to see if it produces a following of merit to keep feeding it images, I have created. But nothing is really happening there. Of course, my main focus is not in getting a media mob following, just the exposure of my work to others. It seems a dead end still.
I had a brief flurry of images I made when I stopped at Twin Arrows in New Mexico. I was headed home from a trip to California after visiting my daughter who needed some help following a minor surgery. Twin Arrows has been a landmark on the highway that has been hard to miss with its Arrows stuck in the ground, point first. I can remember it as a going concern and watched as it deteriorated into the deserted, deteriorated, graffiti filled husk of what it once was. I have some good images and like what I found.
Looking to the north of the old rest stop, one can see the new Twin Arrows Casino. It is now the place to stop and rest and gamble, something the old place did not have. There is anger in some of the graffiti and posts on the walls of the dilapidated ruins. American Indians or are they to be considered Indigenous People, I can never keep up with the correct woke term for all the oppressed in the country, have used sections to voice their vitriol for the abuse they have endured. And it is justified as they have been taken advantage of by the government, the well intentioned and even by their own leaders. It is a bad situation and I do not have any ideas on how to remedy or create a better environment for them.
I only have my life experience of bias, prejudice, hatred and fear to compare it to and it is lacking by comparison. From these images I have created what has spoken to me, both the decaying and the beauty of the creations of the artists with cans of paint. Is this where we are to find solace and meaning, in the air brushed tags of the young philosopher and artist? Perhaps that is all the cave paintings and wall carvings were, the cries of the youth for something better or worth living for.
Reading Abbey started me thinking about my 22 plus year sojourn here in Texas. I have missed the alpine and desert canyons, dry stream beds of the desert, the solitary nature of the southwest landscape, the lush wet of the alpine forests and glades, the varied flora and fauna of both. Texas has been relatively bereft of the that for me with nothing like it within easy driving distance. While I have traveled to mountains on trips to Montana, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and California, there has been nothing relatively close to capture my mind and spirit quite like the aforementioned locales.
Certainly, I have found subject matter to photograph but at times I have to wonder has it been subjects that mattered? I have been to several workshops, but recently declined to go on one in Death Valley after signing up. Part of the reason was the continued insanity of the governmental powers to declare the need for vaccines unending and masks ridiculous. While I have and do enjoy interactions with other photographers, at times the overwhelming need to be concerned about the latest gadget or version of lightroom or photoshop becomes tedious. And of the similarity of images created as people are herded to the best locations to make images all while standing with arms reach of other photographers. Org!
I guess what I really miss is taking a walk in the solitude of the desert areas of southern Utah and New Mexico. The intrusions of man and the first world inanities that are built up to seem like colossal and insurmountable obstacles are really nothing more than inconveniences in the modern world.
And maybe it is me who needs to step back and see what there is around me that is interesting and available. Abbey gets me thinking and helps challenge my current state of inaction. And while I have completed most of my updating of prints and images into my database, it is still not the same as going out and photographing and creating an image. Database management is just business work and not creative work. However, it has let me see where I have been and how I can improve and many images since the prints were made years earlier.
Time of move out of the funk and attempt a kick start of creating meaningful images.