Friday, September 29, 2006

Palette Contemporary - ABQ

This week, I was picked-up for representation at a great contemporary art gallery in Albuquerque. For those of you that don’t know what this means – “Palette Contemporary Art & Craft” is contracted as the exclusive dealer for my work in New Mexico. This is a good thing - as well as continuously having a selection of my work on display in a professional New Mexico contemporary art gallery, they also officially relieve me of the hassle of all in-state public relations, ads, etc… so now I’ll just concentrate my portion of the PR work on venues outside the state. This is the link:

As far as my own website, look for more image updates later in the week. - DN

Thursday, September 28, 2006

More Conservator Doings...

More info on the recent cleaning and research done to the Mona Lisa.

From "Mona Lisa: Inside the Painting," by Jean-Pierre Mohen, Michel Menu and Bruno Mottin

An Infared photograph suggests that Leonardo originally painted the Mona Lisa with a gauzy overdress for nursing (visible, at right), and a tiny bonnet (vague outline visible about the sitter's head).

Much was revealed in a new scan of Leonardo's Mona Lisa. "More generally, the researchers said they realized that centuries of grime had obscured some elements of the painting. 'You’re seeing a lot more fine detail, showing that this remarkable painting is actually more remarkable than we believed'."
The New York Times 09/28/06
Click here for the link to read the whole story. - DN

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What would conservators find under your painting?

  • Scanning Mona Lisa In 3D: "Canada's National Research Council (NRC) will use the 3D scan to reveal features invisible to the naked eye, giving scientists and art historians a new perspective on the painting and helping to uncover some of the mysteries surrounding Leonardo da Vinci's 'sfumato' painting technique." The Guardian (UK) 09/27/06
  • Deducing not only fakes, but also the process: “In 1613, Rembrandt painted a self-portrait in oriental costume. One of his rather talented pupils made a copy of this painting. The difference between the two paintings was that one had a poodle and one didn't. When the paintings were viewed using X-rays, it became evident that Rembrandt had added in the poodle later. That made artists deduce that the painting without the poodle was the copy. "The Syndics", another painting by Rembrandt also yields up its secrets to X-rays. At first sight: it shows men in black hats and capes around a table. Rembrandt had a tendency to paint over his mistakes or changes, so that his paintings had many layers. The men in the painting are: Jacob van Loon, Folcket Jansz, Willem van Doyenburg, Frans Bel (a servant), Arnout van der Meye and Jochem de Nev. Jansz was first painted standing up, but he didn't like it. So Rembrandt changed the painting, making him look as though he was about to sit down. You can see both the standing and sitting versions of Jansz in an X-ray, the mistake fainter, of course. The governor, who is in the middle, was someone that Rembrandt evidently gave a lot of thought to. He changed the position of his head and hands thrice.” The Hindu (India’s National Newspaper) 04/15/05

A few years ago a low-budget B-movie called “Incognito” followed the path of an art forger in his quest to create and market a “lost” Rembrandt. Although it didn’t have the best production quality in regards to location shoots; it was entertaining in the manner in which the “method” of forgery was “revealed” (hollywood-style, but still interesting). Worthwhile rental.

So what is under your paintings? With my canvas and wood pieces (for obvious reasons, not so much on paper) I typically mix my colors on the work itself, so they include a lot of major color shifts under their numerous coats. Just yesterday, I went back into an oil painting that I started a year ago and repainted the bottom half of the canvas with new tones. I have a number of acrylic paintings floating around the Midwest that I went back into after they were dry and touched-up the surface with oil paint in order to make it “pop” – for a time I even considered that a major marker of my style. Today, even a handful of scrolls would have multiple horizon lines or additional mountain ranges, if viewed via x-ray. – DN

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Places we find when we least expect to be impressed

Hanging Scroll - “Indian Stairs, the Rims”, Sumi & Acrylic Inks on Rice Paper, Tamrisk

Located outside of Billings, Montana. I personally have a great disdain for the Billings region, maybe it is the large population or more likely the heavy industrial presence. The fact that I found something as amazing as the Rims in such a place, felt substantial enough to interpret on a scroll (I don’t have much faith in the populace of Billings to maintain the beauty of the region). - DN

Monday, September 25, 2006

A place to call home does not always constitute an actual home

Diptych - "Boxed-In: Under the Sandia", Sumi & Acrylic Inks on Paper mounted on Canvas, 30"x44"

Santa Fe has an official census of 66k residents, add the 30k or so undocumented immigrants and our fair city is busting the seams near the 100k mark. Anytime your population hits this level while maintaining a ridiculously expensive cost-of-living – there are going to be large instances of homelessness.

Like everything else in Santa Fe, even the homeless population is somewhat unique when compared to other regions that I have lived. Being homeless in Santa Fe doesn’t necessarily mean one is without a place to sleep or even without employment. Instead it tends to allude more to daily survival.

About six months ago, I had my first lengthy interaction with members of our city’s illegal immigrant population. I’ve heard that in northern city’s such as Seattle, one needs to only look so far as the local Home Depot to find the brown men standing near the exits waiting for work. In Santa Fe, you travel downtown to the parking lot of the State offices for the Department of Labor. Sitting along the street curb pretending to wait for the bus are scores of men, both young and old waiting to repair or build anything one might need. One gentleman told me he had been in the country for over twenty years, making what money he could, when he could and sending the surplus to his family in Mexico. He looked for multi-day jobs, so he could get a higher average wage. He was especially talented when working with traditional adobe materials, so he relished the moments when he was able to get restoration jobs on the multi-million dollar homes overlooking the plaza. They paid the best, as well, often nearing $13/day if he kept his work crews down to a minimum number of men. I noticed his overstuffed backpack, brimming with library books and a change of clothes. He told me he lived with fifteen others in a one-room apartment near Alameda Middle School. It was lunch-time when we spoke and he and three others had just begun to divide the meal they shared. They offered to split their lunch with me, but I declined. I couldn’t imagine them making one more portion from their dollar bag of ten small Albertson’s tortillas and a single dull tomato.

Competition is fierce between the two local newspapers. Every intersection in town has a salesperson for one or the other paper. At one major intersection, a deeply tanned gentleman with an obviously low intelligence makes a habit of walking into fast-moving traffic in order to hock his papers. I don’t know if the guy is homeless, but if he continues his current method of playing human Frogger in traffic, he’ll end-up a paraplegic.

Halfway across town, near my son’s Montessori school; an elderly fellow sells his papers 10-12 hours each day. On the ground next to his stack of news are always the same gas station travel mug, bedroll and single cigarette.

Last Wednesday, at the Office Depot, an absolutely beautiful young woman with long unkempt blond hair stepped out of the shadows with a cardboard sign, each time a car passed. Her camouflage clothes were ragged and besides her sign, she only carried a single backpack that bulged at the zipper. I don’t recall ever noticing a beggar quite as stunning as this woman. I felt shallow for actually taking the time to stop and wonder about where her life fell apart. I immediately made a baseless judgment regarding her condition – meth. I only remember her, now because her beauty seemed out-of-place. Maybe I was correct in my assessment, or possibly it’s easier for society to make sordid assumptions rather than face the realities of human nature. We’re so used to thinking that an attractive person has the advantage of living without suffering.

That same afternoon, while leaving town I stopped at a light while waiting to exit the city for the interstate towards home. Out my passenger-side window stood the traditional image of the intersection vagrant - long dirty beard, ravaged layers of clothing covering a thin frame and a cardboard sign. He walked back and forth across the intersection with a bone-thin dog following close behind. The coffee-colored dog’s fur was matted and he wore a collar and leash which drug underneath as he walked. I noticed that no one actually lowered their windows to offer money; there are almost always one or two cars that hold-up traffic to give a handout – but not today. So the next time he passed, I took a moment to read his sign:

Why is it illegal for me to beg in your city, but alright for my son to die in your illegal war?

This is America, the land of opportunity. Where the hell did we go wrong? – DN

Friday, September 22, 2006

Days of Awe

Hanging Scroll - "Sangre de Cristo: Entering Rosh Hashanah Morning", Sumi Ink and Acrylic Ink on Rice Paper, Tamrisk Sticks

We’re entering into the Yamin Noraim or Days of Awe – that time from the start of Rosh Chodesh Elul which includes Rosh Hashanah and the Ten Days of Repentance, ending with Yom Kippur. Traditionally the period from Rosh Hodesh Elul to Yom Kippur is understood to represent the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai before coming down with the Tablets of Law.

The above painting refers to this moment of the year, when the majority of Jews return to worship. The row of green bushes indicates the worshipping Jews during Rosh Hashanah. The two blue bushes in their midst are my wife and I, the three green sprouting pods from under the row of bushes (at varying lengths down the scroll) are my children in various stages of understanding. – DN

Thursday, September 21, 2006

For Vin...

"Swan Range, November", Gouache and Watercolor on Paper, 8"x24"

The above painting is of the Swan Range of western Montana as it overlooks the now commercialized Flathead Lake region during the onset of another brutal winter. The valley below was once a beautiful refuge for the likes of Norman Maclean (A River Runs Through It) as well as other less notable Montana natives along the banks of Seeley and Swan Lakes. Now the landscape is flooded with the onslaught of celebrity wealth and the sprawl it too often advances. As in this painting - I often choose to paint the peaks, the site that one has to work a little harder to get to; a place that’s less likely to be bought and abused by advancing construction. These spaces of emptiness above the chaos are what I search out in my travels and work. – DN

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

We are who we say we are...

"Cervantes: Every Man is the Son of His Own Works", Sumi and Acrylic Inks on Paper mounted on Canvas, 22"x30


Years ago we talked about what would make us happy in life and we seemed to agree that we both just wanted what our fathers had. I believe that we have equally outgrown that fantasy; but where does that leave us now?

Where did we come from… philosophically? We’ve discussed before that our parents had little influence over our career choices, as well as our adult lives. You still speak of returning home, like a lost child of the Diaspora. I miss the southern cuisine, the slower lifestyle and the “sense” of home. Yet, I doubt I can return. I am forever in love with the American west and any long-term homes will be established here.

I started thinking about this, after you mentioned retiring near where we grew-up in southern Missouri. We are a rare breed because neither of our fathers had much impact (if any) on our career choices. Fine Art was never a source of inspiration at my home and the only museums I visited were on school field trips. I dare say physics was not dinner table conversation at your home, either.

So here we are - you and I, a physicist that wants to work in a book store and an artist that wishes he didn’t need to paint. - DN

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Artists as Amateur-Anthropologists

One of the driving forces in Lila: An Inquiry into Values by Robert Pirsig; is the theory that the majority of the world’s anthropologists have short-changed their sociological findings by refusing to interact with their subjects. The traditional anthropology desire to remain completely objective has interfered with the adherents’ ability to understand alternative cultures from a first-person perspective. Those who refuse to follow the “rules of anthropology” by not remaining detached from their focus group are therefore considered amateurs of the field. It’s rather like academic discipline for the non-conformists.

Where do artists fit within that great chasm? Are we content to remain within the barriers of our stereo-typical anti-social placement? Certainly, the stereo-type is often true. I speak more in this blog than I ever do publicly about such ideals. Hence, the very source of my artistic vision is the concept of overcoming my own reductive tendencies regarding social interaction.

The Immersion Travel Art Movement has merit two-fold:

1. Documentation of societies that reflects their philosophical need to continue

2. Social interaction that forces the artist into the forefront of collective importance

For over a century we have remained a closed society. Prior to that time, artists were much more active in royal courts and general social engagements. Without doubt, there were still numerous minor figures that had difficulty finding success – but absolute failure was not the badge of artistic honor, that seems to have infected our modern culture. Half the reason there are so many “starving artists”, in contemporary society, is our field’s lack of initiative in perpetuating the truth of our importance.

One of the worst moments in the modern art world occurred when Van Gogh died without selling a single work. His complete success in the years to come only made his lack of merit while living all the more glorious to collectors. Before his demise, I wonder how common it was to hear the statement – “an artist has to die to become famous”? - DN

Monday, September 18, 2006

We only get one life to do with as we please...

“I had it all. Even the glass dishes with tiny bubbles and imperfections, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of... wherever. It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything.” – Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk

Lately, I seem to run across more and more people discussing the “honoring of their commitments”. It’s usually said with an ounce of dread. Commitments to whom? Instead of making me feel more responsible, it tends to remind me that each life is our own. It’s the only thing we really own without sharing it with another. No mortgage on your bones. No personal sense of despair after you lose your last breath.

What will be the one thing you wish you’d done before you die? Come on… just one. - DN

Friday, September 15, 2006

John Muir the Great Traveler

Hanging Scroll - “John Muir Dropped His Wallet”

Located in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The painting is in reference to the manner in which John Muir ‘dropped’ out of society to live in nature. Also pokes fun at the knowledge that although, John Muir most probably traveled through the area during his stint in what is now Glacier National Park (he is said to have had a great fondness for Avalanche Lake), it is likely that Bob Marshall never actually visited the region (Bob Marshall Wilderness) of Montana bearing his name (he was actually more famous for the time he spent in the Alaskan wilderness). - DN

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Immersion Travel Art Academy

I’ve long dreamed of a multi-campus, graduate-studies-only traveling art school. Imagine a three-year academy that only offers graduate studies in Studio Art, Literature and Philosophy in the environment of multiple international campuses.

Faculty and students both rotate in a fashion that allows maximum exposure to new environments and unsullied faculty-student interaction for everyone involved. Start with a base campus in a small yet influential art market; and have required rotations in foreign regions. The purpose of the school during the first two years is to maximize a meditative response to unfamiliar surroundings, occasionally the campuses are located in metropolitan areas, but mostly they are in small vistas. Students would work off-campus within the communities in order to better understand their subjects. The final year, would be stateside focusing on the completion of studies with an added emphasis in marketing, so that students graduate with the ability to actually make a living from their artwork – rather than finding themselves forced to fight for a tenure-track community college position with 500 other MFA graduates.

The non-base-campus schools would change every year, so that faculty, as well as students will never repeat a location. So for instance:

Year One: small Japanese village

Year Two: Italian hillside community

Year Three: Stateside main campus (ex. Taos)

Year Four: Oceanside community in Costa Rica

Year Five: village in Ireland

Year Six: Stateside main campus (ex. Taos)

It may take a decade or two, but I believe one day it will happen. – DN

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Working in the Travel Muse Industry

Italian Fashion, Chinese Labor "When the first Chinese, their suitcases filled with cash, arrived in the early 1990s and leased their factories, the Italians laughed at them. But now that their numbers have quadrupled and they own a quarter of the city's textile businesses, where they make 'Made in Italy' fashion at 'Made in China' prices - often illegally - the newspapers are full of op-ed pieces about the "yellow invasion," low-wage competition and the Chinese mafia." Der Spiegel 09/11/06

It is exactly this type of societal conflict between traditional cultures in exotic locales that spurred my concept of the immersion travel art movement. Just reading the full article, from the above link, makes me want to sell-off everything I own and hop a flight to Italy. The question though is how to best insert one’s self into the competing cultures of the populace. In Montana, I taught at the local high school and was able to both fund my innumerable trips around Montana, Canada and neighboring states; as well provide for a manner in which to drop myself into the lives of the life-long residents of a traditional small-town community on the High-line. While there, I was able to record nearly every meaningful interaction in a nearly-complete series of over 400 paintings.

New Mexico, and Santa Fe - in particular, has provided a unique opportunity to use studio-based-time to meditate on the growing regional fusion of immigrants (both from other states and countries) and the role they play in this 300-year-old high desert village.

Author, Brad Newsham, has written some amazing travel literature of places both state-side and abroad. My favorite book by him is called “Take Me with You”. Here is his own summary of the travelogue:

This book, published in 2002, is my account of a 100-day backpack trip around the world. Up front I tell the reader that I will be inviting one person from the trip to visit me in America for one month - my treat - my only criteria being that it be someone who would otherwise never have the opportunity to leave his or her own native country. I describe the cultures, sceneries, and adventures I encountered in the Philippines, India, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, and profile dozens of strangers I met along the way. Toward the end I tell the reader which stranger I finally did invite, and in the final section I describe our taxicab trip across America together during June and July of 2001.

He draws both his means for travel and his subject from driving a cab. He’s educated, culturally well-rounded and inspired by his choice to associate with individuals from all walks of life on the basest of levels – he’s literally “the guy” who takes them where they need to go. That has to be one of the most seemingly perfect gigs for someone whom documents travel.

Charles Kerualt had another one of those great careers in travel. The majority of his life was spent driving around the nation, collecting stories. Where people had been, where they wished they had gone in their youth.

One evening while searching online for an old family acquaintance from my youth; I ran across his 40th high school reunion page. Of course he had written little about himself, from what I remember he was always pretty close-mouthed on that subject – probably due in fact to all the questions, he had to regularly field, regarding how he lost his right hand when he was only eighteen. His classmates, though, wrote some of the most amazing biographies of their lives. Despite the common argument, “I am not my job” – often, in the examples I read, these reunion biographers’ day jobs impacted all their other interactions, as well as how they socialized upon retirement. Whether they left for California, ten minutes after graduating from twelfth grade in Mountain Home, Arkansas; or raised children to sit in the same school desks as their parents - they all had one thing in common, a life worth recording. – DN

Monday, September 11, 2006

Is an art form hidden within our desire to remain popular mourners?

And This Makes Us Safer How, Exactly? One soloist who has been feeling the effects of the UK baggage restrictions is London-based violinist Viktoria Mullova, who went so far as to smuggle her unprotected Stradivarius onto a Helsinki-bound flight in a shopping bag last month. This week, she's due to play concerts in the US, and there's a very real possibility that she will have to make the trip without her instrument. Comparing Notes (Minnesota Public Radio) 09/08/06

If we properly protected our airports, around the world, than this would not be an issue. What idiot would blow-up their Stradivarius for Allah? Hire baggage screeners with professional training (FBI academy training) and pay them an equally professional wage and we won’t have to throw-out our toothpaste before we board. Funding is an issue you say… well I have an answer to how we pay for such a program. All profits made by anyone (particularly the media) from the 9/11 tragedy, should be seized and distributed to insure national security in an efficient manner (this is where our government will drop the ball, just look at the brief history of Homeland Security).

Last night, Americans were blanketed with 9/11 “tributes” on television. Out of respect to the dead and my own sanity… I boycotted watching any of the programs. I am beginning to believe that we should enact a law that states no one can profit from a national tragedy. How do the surviving victims cope with the constant barrage of imagery that has repeatedly televised the death of their loved ones for the past five years? News shows, such as “60 minutes”, regularly air programs that discuss how the victims’ families have a difficult time “getting past the tragedy” – of course they have a difficult time, not a day has gone by in five years, without media images of the twin towers destruction. Every minute on television is designed to maximize profit for a network – therefore, they are always getting the most “bang” for their buck when they show something related to 9/11. Take away their ability to make a profit from the tragedy and the nation can move forward.

Now prepare yourself for what I say next… how narcissistic are we, as Americans, to continuously mourn for ourselves over a terrorist attack that took place five years ago? How many other civilized countries have endured nonstop terrorism for the past few decades? How many can we list? England as well as other numerous countries in Europe has had their fair share – any of my reader’s from the other side of the Atlantic want to chime in on how their country has handled misfortune? Any citizens of any city of the world want to speak out? London. Tel Aviv. Bali. Madrid. Do your nations put together quite the same spectacle as the United States? Those that actually knew victims of the attacks have every right to mourn and an equal amount of freedom to be left alone on the subject. Those of us that continue to “play the mourner” after five years, without having actually known any of the victims – are shameful. We are no different now than when we were in high school and the popular kid died, so we all pretended as if it was our lives that had ended. Yes, we do have a duty to those that have passed on in tragedy – we have a duty to live life to the fullest as free Americans, so their deaths signal our national strength rather than our downfall.

What does all this have to do with art, you ask? Well, it harkens us back to the eternal question – “What is art?” Are the divisive tactics used by the media and Bush administration to hijack our national tragedy, in order to manipulate our emotions… art? – DN

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Societies We Find Through Immersion Travel

Hanging Scroll - "Sangre de Cristo: The Wandering Gentiles of the Southwest", Sumi Ink and Acrylic Inks and Balsa Wood on Rice Paper, Tamrisk Sticks

The multiple circles or orbs represent Crypto-Jews (Jews that hide their Jewishness - they still uphold some home ceremonies or continue the culinary traditions, but they rarely tell anyone and publicly practice Christianity). A very common occurrence in America, but for some reason there is an astronomical number of them in northern New Mexico.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Even Children Dream of Travel

“Holling – Paddle to the Sea”

An Indian boy carves a wooden canoe and writes an inscription that the canoe is trying to find the quickest route to the sea. He then sets the canoe into Lake Michigan and longingly watches it sail away. The canoe spends four years on the water, being picked up by loggers, fishermen, and families before finally making it to the s
ea. "Paddle to the Sea", a children's book by Holling Clancy Holling - DN

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Childhood Chum Charlie Chases His Dreams

At 31, fatherhood finally came for my boyhood friend, Charlie.

He started in southern Missouri, then a stint in the Navy took him around the world more than once. A few years later he taught at the Academy in Pensacola, now he's out and settled in Maine. He looks happy to me - as if he understands that the real adventure is just now beginning.

We all have our dreams that keep us childlike. I can't imagine waking-up each morning without my dreams to feed from - you see, while others have 401k-plans, my dreams ARE my security. As long as I have them, I have a purpose. My daughter wants to be a writer and the other day my son Samuel stated he would be an artist. He's pretty hard-headed, so I assume his mind may be made-up on that issue. Hard to argue with influence. I suppose the best I can do is try that much harder to establish myself in the artworld, so he doesn't have as hard a road when it comes his time.

My father was a teacher and my mother an office administrator. Although neither was really the right path for me, I definately found more appeal in his career than her's. I stated before that pension plans and group benefits don't ring my bell quite as loud as they seem to for typical Joe-American. This is a strange path I've chosen for my little family and I'm fortunate to have a daughter that regularly asks, "where do we get to move next?" Or a wife that equally loves traveling and really gets into this whole "travel artist" idea. As a family, we're not sure which place sounds like the most fun for the next "best place": Maine, Alaska, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy... Japan. They're all on the list and like the previous moves, we'll agree to hold hands when we jump. - DN

Feeling My Freedom

Battle For The Internet About To Enter Crucial Phase "Telecommunications firms salivate at the prospect of eliminating Net Neutrality requirements and setting up systems where websites that pay for the service will be more easily reached than sites that cannot afford the toll. And U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who has for many years been a dominant figure in communications debates on Capitol Hill, is determined to change the rules so that Internet gatekeepers such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner, can create an 'information superhighway' for those who pay and a dirt road for those who fail to do so." The Nation 09/05/06

Once again it seems as if corporate elitism and political philandering is at the heart of stealing knowledge from the masses. At what time will we look back and decry our modern society while longing for the “good ole days” of net-neutrality? Now is the moment when we have the ability to answer any question or the ability for our home-brew website to stand on equal footing with the best of the corporate masses. If you type in my name in Google or Yahoo or the like – my website will appear first. In fact, my portfolio website currently maintains the number one position on all the major search engines (this is oddly enough an accomplishment in the land of internet). In what order will I be listed if I refuse to pay the corporate pipers? Will I be on page fifty? Will I even be listed, anymore?

I loath visiting Sam’s Club, but occasionally it is a necessary evil. A while back I had to return a non-working Lexmark printer. The return process was uneventful. I dare say the customer service employees made the process painless. Then I tried to leave the store. Two “greeters” stepped forward to block my path to the door.

“You can’t go that way, sir.”

“Excuse me?”

“The exit is at the other end”, one of the employees pointed roughly 300 feet across the front of the big-box store.

“I’m parked in the first row, right out this door; I’m not walking all the way over there, just to walk back again on the outside of the store.”

“We can’t let you leave this way, you might get hit by a car,” the other one spoke-up now.

“What are you saying? If I go that other way, you’ll CARRY me across the parking lot to my vehicle?” I asked as I stepped around them and out the door.

“People have to follow directions, sir! It’s not my fault if you get killed going that direction!” one of them yelled after me from the front entry.

Later in the week, I complained about the ridiculous confrontation during a phone conversation to a friend. The response was simply – “why didn’t you just comply?” It never occurred to me that others may not find the corporate employees’ behavior overtly harsh. I didn’t comply, because why should I make their ability to rule over me an easy task. Why should I hand over my freedom to make a choice (even a bad one - which I still believe it was not), to curtail to a corporate or governing body’s interpretation of an appropriate measure of safety?

What knowledge or freedoms must I sacrifice to continue my journey through life unscathed? At what point shall I bow to the ridiculous demands of power-hungry killers of the human condition? Hand-over our ability to choose and we may as well hand-over our decision to live. - DN

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Three Children in a Midsummer Night's Dream

“Three Children in a Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Montana has always lived in my mind as a fairytale. Upon moving to “the Big Sky”, I suddenly felt the full measure of what I thrust upon my children. Much like Shakespeare’s comedy, the setting is at once magical and dangerous abound with childlike dreams and very adult interactions. - DN

Monday, September 04, 2006

Travel Artist

Today, with a bit of effort, a Google search will list a handful of contemporary painters, sculptors and ceramicists backpacking across continents or attaining travel grants for residencies. Although to a certain degree these are all examples of a type of travel that is primarily considered temporary and it is this brevity that classifies most jaunts as “fun”. We have each experienced that rush at the end of a trip that signals the sadness of leaving combined with the excitement of returning to the comfort of our familiar home. What I propose is the next step beyond a holiday. I’m currently starting the fourth year of my eternal vacation. That’s not to say one cannot find gainful employment outside of their studio (I did so in Montana and was better for it); I simply believe that I can lead a richer, fuller life by reestablishing myself into a new and unfamiliar community every few years. It is certainly a fun life, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t put-up with the hassle of continuously moving (packing and unpacking is the biggest disadvantage of the immersion travel artist).

I’m hardly the first travel artist. There are innumerable historical examples of individuals that combined their passions for art and travel into one singular design. John Singer Sargent was the ultimate expatriate, bouncing from London, to Paris to Arabia. A Frenchman, named Gauguin, left the world with an indelible impression of Tahiti that shall outlive whatever changes modern society impresses upon the island’s inhabitants. Augustus Earle was a minor English artist of the early 19th century that made a living from the paintings and drawings of his numerous voyages to the New World. Then, as now, the travel artist is interchangeable with the photojournalist. It is the possibility of documenting the moment one reaches full-immersion within each travel experience, which I envision as the key to my long-term artistic success. – DN

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bordering the Old North Trail

“Bordering the Old North Trail”

"Imagine a mountain ridge that snakes like a knobbly spine all the way from the frozen Canadian Arctic down to the deserts of Mexico. 'The Backbone of the World,' the Blackfoot Indians called what we know as the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide. Now imagine a footpath that runs along the base of the mountains following the 'shoreline' between the mountains and the plains — twisting through stream gullies, unraveling over low ridges and around buttes running on for 2,000 to 3,000 miles." Outside Magazine

Fragmentary evidence indicates that such a footpath existed, and it is called the Old North Trail. - DN

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hutterite Monopoly

“Hutterite Monopoly”

The Hutterite colonies were one of the more treasured finds during my most recent adventures in Montana. In my many previous visits to the state, I had not noticed them. They are a people that you only recognize if you are truly a resident. More than once we toured their colonies, bought their vegetables and turned down an offer for a ‘fryer’. Many lifelong Montanans complain about their seemingly capitalistic manner. Although, I admit I was never a landowner in contention for property they attempted to ‘acquire’; I have always felt a bit of pride in their ingenuity and ability to out ‘capitalist’ the Capitalists (outsiders). - DN