Friday, February 26, 2010

Terrasante, a desert lifestyle

Extreme change is how I would describe my coming to Terrasante. The desert, filled with stabbing, yet, beautiful and unusual plants and animals. Mountains, yet, huge flat expanses. Above is my naked Earth Mother lying in the desert about half a mile north of Route 86, the Ajo Way, between mile marker 155 and 154. She is approximately 50 feet long but now that I see her I realize she needs to be much, much bigger. Much bigger.

Ever since I saw the photos of Nazca, Peru where lines have been drawn into the land that could only be seen from the sky, I've wanted to create some giant drawing-scapes of my own. By the time I started this piece I had already found two other sites where I'd scratched out my drawings in the sand, but I was never able to find them again. This was my third try and this time I dragged my shovel behind me in the muddy sand to give myself a line to follow on my return. Evidence of tire tracks and many broken bottles littered the barren rise of land. I quickly sketched my Earth Mother design out. I could see that she was foreshortened because at my height I could see very little of the drawing. It took me several days to rework her and dig all around her to give her depth, then I raked all the loose soil out in a halo around her. Chris Vansprouts, the community's webperson, told me that if I positioned the Earth Mother east/west to "mess up" and redirect some of the many little arroyos (going north and south) carrying water away across the desert and create habitats. The experiment is to see if these creases I'm shoveling out of the sandy clay will hold water and become habitat for plant and animal life. I'm hoping to visit it next year and see how my Earth Mother survived the rains and winds. My first day there I hadn't even noticed the tires stacked in messy piles about 50 feet away. Duh. It wasn't until I was ready to leave that I took some photos of the neighboring area that I finally saw them. I decided then and there to make them part of my piece. I dragged 13 smaller tires over and used them as a barrier around the Earth Mother.

To get the shot below I had to hold my camera way over my head and shoot blind.

Now for the fun story. I was getting so frustrated trying to "see" my Earth Mother - the half a mile hike through cacti had kept me from dragging a ladder to the site, that I began visualizing myself flying above in a small aircraft. That's why when I had to run errands in town (bank, gas, water) I decided on the way back to stop at the Ryan Airfield. I went to the offices but they were closed so I went to the next room which was labeled for pilot's only. I knocked and a guy came out. I told him about my frustrations about being unable to see my naked Earth Mother, which was only about 5 miles up the road, so close. I asked him how many millions of dollars it would cost to get someone to take me over to see it. His interest awakened, he said that he'd take me up for free. Since I could afford the price I agreed and luckily had brought my camera with me. Above, you can see how the Earth Mother looked from the plane. This is when I learned that I have to make my pieces even bigger, much bigger. What I wasn't prepared for was getting very airsick, not enough to be sick, but enough to feel horrible and wish I was on land again. Below, Mike Noel, the pilot who kindly aided and abetted me is standing next to his aircraft. I appreciate his gallantry and adventurous spirit.

My work exchange was to create a video for Terrasante that can be used to educate people about what the community here is doing. In the end I created two small videos that I uploaded to Youtube. If you want to get a sense of the people I met here, watch these.

Last, but not least, I want to show a local phenomena, the nearby moon mirror which is explained at It was built by a local man who spent $2 million creating it to help a friend of his with cancer.

I especially want to thank Chris Vansprout for his kindness in showing me around when I first got to Terrasante, introducing me to everyone and being my friend. And I want to thank both Chris and Cliff for their computer advise and help. Thanks!!

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Los Angeles Interlude

Just as I was about to leave Fran's place in Santa Cruz a short rain produced this rainbow, which I took to be a good omen. I enjoyed the drive and arrived in Hermosa Beach late in the afternoon on Saturday. Janice wasted no time and Sunday afternoon she took me to see the Getty Museum where I photographed all my favorite paintings. I'm going to use them as teaching tools. This is the year I intend to get good at painting. Below are a couple of shots of the museum. Everywhere the eye falls is beauty.

Early in the mornings I'd walk along the tide line at the beach and was appalled at the amount of plastic garbage the tides brought in. Luckily they have big machines which scrape it all up before 8:00 in the morning, but I've read that there are thousands of miles of floating plastic crap like this in the ocean that the fish are eating and dying from. It's very scary. I'm thinking of visiting other beaches on this trip to see if this is found everywhere or just an L.A. thing.

Janice took the first Wednesday off of work and we met her friends Marianne and Lottie to go see Avatar at the IMAX theater in 3D - WOW! What a mind blowing picture, especially in 3D. Every night we've watched a movie and I've now seen more movies in two weeks than in the last five or ten years. That and going out to dinner with Janice's friends has been a lot of fun. Last Sunday I shot my first video for my documentary on work exchanges. I went to Bel Air where I lived for over three years doing a work exchange with Jeff, a real estate investor. It was a great day. Everywhere I went everyone seemed so happy to see me. After I left Bel Air I visited Jeremy, an ex-boyfriend, and when I went into one of the rooms in his house and saw the piece (below) I couldn't believe it. This was something I made about 30 years ago. It wasn't original, in fact, it was a cartoon I saw in the L.A. Weekly at that time and made into soft art. I then went on to the L.A Zen Center where I shot more video because I lived there for 4 months once when I carved a giant statue for them of Kanzeon (Quan Yin). It was so much fun seeing everybody as well as all my old art, which I seem to have left behind wherever I went.

I stayed an extra week because Janice wanted me to run with her in the annual Redondo Beach 5k/10k race on Super Bowl morning. Most people dressed in racing clothes but there was a costume contest too and below are a few of the contestants for best costume. My camera batteries died so I didn't get a picture of my favorite, which was a girl dressed totally in pink clothes, but with a shoe stuck to her pink hat. It was funny - she was gum stuck on a shoe. It was Janice's 7th race and my first. People also ran in the race in their costumes and I had women in high healed boots carrying giant martini glasses, as well as five bananas and two gorillas run past me. I just walked fast, but I finished the 5k, before we walked home. In the end we did over 7k. The bottom shot is one of Janice just before we started the race. Tomorrow morning I leave at dawn for Tucson for my first work exchange at the Terra Sante community. I'm now officially a homeless vagabond.

Just before I left Santa Cruz I went to Whole Foods to see Chef Loweta, a raw foods chef, speak and give a demonstration. I was so impressed with her food that I asked her if she'd like to do a short video un-cooking demo for Youtube. We got together a few days later. It was a big rush because she had to fly to Phoenix, Arizona a few hours after we shot this for a function she was catering. I finally finished editing it while Janice was at work one day and here it is. It was the most delicious chocolate pie I've ever eaten and she shows you how to do it here:

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