Tag: Desert Southwest.

Protecting our Cultural and Natural Heritage

A group of artists and activists in southern Arizona are concerned about protecting the Santa Rita Mountains from the proposed Rosemont Mine. Below is a weathered outdoor map of the Empire and Cienega Resource Conservation Area, provided by the Forest Service (are the pock marks bullet holes? You see a lot of bullet holes on signs in Arizona).

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A Canadian company, Augusta Resource, is going through the process of acquiring mining rights to this area, and plans to mine for copper for the next 20 years. While mining is an Arizona industry, grand-fathered mining rights from the early 1900’s don’t necessarily reflect current needs to protect bio-diversity and cultural heritage. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/arizona-mining-project-wins-a-key-permit/

It is also questionable whether Augusta Resource plans to “flip” the property to another institution once the permissions have been made.http://www.ajelp.com/articles/not-your-fathers-mine-the-rosemont-copper-mine-and-dry-stack-tailings/

A view in the late afternoon on a crest just below the old Rosemont Ranch:

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I am documenting the area through oil painting studies done plein air:

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The study completed, in the 1 hour left before the sun sinks below the hills to the West:

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At risk in the area are: Recreation and Tourism (hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, ATV riding, taking a scenic drive); Biodiversity/Charismatic Species: Jaguar, Ocelot, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Gila Chub, Gila Topminnow, Desert Tortoise, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Lesser Long-Nosed Bat. Plants: Huachuca Water Umbel, Pima Pineapple Cactus, Coleman’s Coral-Root, Beardless Chinch Weed, Wildlfe connectivity and corridors; Water/Watersheds: Diminished riparian areas of Davidson Canyon and Cienega Creek watersheds will affect ranching, vineyards, wildlife and vegetation; Cultural Resources: More than 4 Native American tribal farming and historic burial grounds; Business: Vineyards in the Davidson Canyon area; Pecan Industry in Green Valley; Ranching (Cattle).

Please visit: http://www.scenicsantaritas.org, www.LensOnTheLand.com; and www.skyislandalliance.org.

The Land is the Space.

Landscape painting reminds me of what keeps me grounded and centered – connecting to the land and the wisdom and peace it offers.

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This beautiful image  above was taken by a friend who lives at Rancho Linda Vista in Oracle, Arizona, a magical place indeed. The Sonoran Desert is unique, dramatic, inspires inward journeys and (im)practical escapes. My dog Frida feels empowered too.

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I had a show of landscape paintings last month at the Ranch gallery, in the old barn dating from the early years of the last century.

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Some good people up from Tucson town listened to me talk about my process, the land, painting.

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Below, “Aspen Grove”, 5 x 4 feet, oil on canvas, somewhere between reality and abstraction, states of consciousness, the spirit of the wood.

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Terrifying Beauty

A new series of paintings includes one of an experience of an enormous wildfire here in southern Arizona in 2003: the Aspen Fire. My friend Chuck took this photo during the fire, looking towards the Santa Catalina’s, with Rancho Linda Vista in the foreground. Normally I never paint from photographs, but this one was incredible in it’s terrifying beauty, and took me 10 years to consider.

The Aspen Fire, 2003, Oracle, Arizona.

The reality of the experience was in the not knowing when the fire would end, what would be destroyed, when the monsoons would start. Black slurry planes flew over our houses en route to the core of the fire.

Recently when I sketched the experience in preparation for a large scale painting, I borrowed heavily from the composition of Chuck’s photo, but drew from the experience.

Colored pencil sketch.

Many months have gone by since beginning the final painting. Layers and layers of glazes and impasto, and finally I think it might be done.

“Seasons Series: Summer at Dusk”, oil on canvas, 4 x 5 feet, 2012.

The smoke becomes an abstraction as it pushes towards the Ranch. The sky looks clear against the black, grey and green of the smoke. The Ranch sits and waits.

Pena Blanca Lake

Spending the day at this remote location near the Mexican border offered the opportunity to record morning and afternoon light in an oil sketch and a pastel drawing.

 

View of Pena Blanca Lake, a lake stocked with fish and popular with local picnickers.
Beginning of oil sketch.
Finished oil sketch.

In the afternoon there were some lovely high vistas which made for a dramatic view of boulders and water.

 

High view of Pena Blanca Lake.
Resulting pastel drawing on clayboard, 12 x 10".

Another beautiful day in southern Arizona!