Life is so fragile, so fleetingly temporary, yet I live it as though it would never end. If I woke up one morning knowing that it would be my last, all of the complexities of life would be boiled down, reduced to two simple choices. Would I choose to spend the time that I have left filled with Fear or with Love? Would I choose to spend my final moments on Earth remorseful about the mistakes that I’ve made and angry that I don’t have more time to make amends or would I choose to celebrate the fact that I am alive and present in this moment, thankful for the fullness of Life? It is so easy to predict that I would choose the latter, yet in truth the gravity of habit would likely make the choice for me.
Posts Tagged ‘art’
Posted by Michael Scott on June 22, 2015
Posted by Michael Scott on June 18, 2015
As made apparent in my latest posts, the theme so far for the month of June has been “chasing clouds”. The last stop on our recent mini-adventure in Kansas was found at the intersection of an oncoming storm cluster and Dodge City Kansas. As it goes in cloud chasing, we simply went where the fair wind blew. The towering cloud formations were impressive all day and as we raced toward the setting sun they transformed into pillowy curtains of warm pastels. We arrived in Dodge City as darkness fell and we hunkered down in a hotel for a long night of rain and lightning.
After breakfast the following foggy and blustery morning, we set off into town, not to trace the footsteps of gunslingers on Boot Hill, but those of my own Kin. On June 2, 1931 my Grandfather (Hollis) was likely granted a day off from setting copy for the Dodge City Daily Globe where he operated the Tele-Type machine. On that day, he and my Grandmother (Dorothy) would proudly welcome their first child into this world and give him the name of Stanley Richard, a son who would grow up to become my own Father. Where did Hollis work? Where did they live and where did my Dad spend his first three or four years? I wanted to see for myself and the wind had laid the opportunity right at my feet. Time to pound the pavement.
Our first stop was the Dodge City Daily Globe building near the corner of Second and Spruce. A helpful staff confirmed that indeed the paper had used this same location since the late 1800’s and they even pointed out where the old Tele-Type had been located until the 1970’s. For archives of old editions, they directed me to the Dodge City Heritage Center which was located a few blocks away on the second floor of the old high school. In no time at all, two helpful researchers had us scouring the microfiche of the Daily Globe. We printed the entire June 2nd edition as well as Dad’s birth announcement which was published the following Saturday. Hollis’ home address of 310 W. Spruce was located in the town directory. Now we were getting somewhere.
310 W. Spruce is now a vacant lot located two doors away from the Globe Building and directly adjacent to the old library building that was built by the publisher of the newspaper, J.C. Denious. Denious had ambitions that would lead him into the state Senate and on to become the 29th Lt. Governor of Kansas but in 1931, he was simply my Grandfather’s employer. 310 W. Spruce was located only a couple of blocks behind the fabled Front Street of the old west and the railroad tracks just beyond. The picture was becoming quite clear now that this was the spot where my Dad would watch the trains go by while having his haircut, some of his earliest memories.
The June 2nd edition of the Dodge City Daily Globe was not only created by the hands of my very own Grandfather, it brings so many trivial facts of my Father’s Birthday to light. Temperatures were in the high 80’s and the skies were partly cloudy. A front page feature story informed readers that railroads of the future would have 100 mile per hour trains that would rival airplanes. Lucky Strike Cigarettes, Conoco Motor Oil and JC Penney’s bought up ad space and local gossip and trivia was plentiful.
You’ve heard the saying that “It’s time to get out of Dodge”. I suppose I owe my very existence to the fact that Hollis and Dorothy did just that and took their family west to Denver where my Dad’s stars would eventually align with my Mother’s. For me on that blustery morning last week it was mission accomplished. It was my time to get out of Dodge and follow the fair wind home.
Posted in art, Father's Day, kansas, Photography, Travel | Tagged: adventure, arkansas, art, colorado, Denver, dodge city, Father's Day, history, photography, storm chasing, travel | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Michael Scott on June 9, 2015
Last Friday was a normal day for all intents and purposes. I was working on updating a Ranch Video for a client in Southern Colorado. It felt good to be working with beautiful landscape images, especially the ones with the pretty summer clouds. This particular ranch sits on the gentle slopes of one of the most scenic mountain valleys you can imagine. The Cuchara River Valley is flanked by the massive Sangre De Cristo range to the West, and to the East, the two Spanish Peaks stand alone and literally tower over the Great Plains. As I worked on the final edits of the video I daydreamed about getting out and shooting landscapes. I had no idea that by the end of the following day my Wife and I would be far out on those great plains shooting landscapes and following clouds. I had no idea that we would soon become STORM CHASERS.
Storm Chasers in these parts are a crazy and diverse type who intentionally want to get close to the action as the clouds of Spring roll off the front range and build in intensity as they float East over the Plains. Out for a Saturday drive, we chose to drive in the opposite direction as the dark clouds and rain that were engulfing the foothills, we chose to drive east. By the time we reached the small town of Elizabeth we became somewhat mesmerized by the beauty of the day. At one point, we stopped to shoot some pictures of a group of horses with Foals taking naps in the cool grass. One particular cloud was passing by that I couldn’t take my eyes off of, it was a very “pretty” cloud. We followed.
As we drove “a little farther East”, a couple of Vans passed us. They had some kind of electronic contraptions mounted on their roofs and one had a cyclone bumper sticker, they were Storm Chasers! Under the spell of the exact same beautiful and growing cloud, we found ourselves driving through Kiowa, Agate and we stopped in Limon to get fuel. At Limon, more storm chasers were driving east quickly and with clear intent. They were following our cloud. We zoomed further east through Genoa, Bovina, Arriba and Flagler then exited I-70 at Seibert and turned north. Wonder of Wonders, I always carry a Colorado Gazetteer and Atlas in the car but rarely use it. That map became our guide through the maze of roads that followed, taking us quickly closer to that amazing cloud as it began to quietly rotate.
We weren’t alone out there, not at all. Chasers were zigging and zagging through those country roads, stopping to film and photograph the descending formation. Some of them were even driving way too fast on those dirt roads ;), probably had their wife in the car telling them to go FASTER! The process of watching that “pretty” cloud morph into a massive, powerful funnel was fascinating and exciting. For us, the end of the road came just across the Kansas State Line as we silently watched our cloud turn north and disintegrate into a simple summer rain storm, a climactic end to a very long day.
Posted by Michael Scott on May 19, 2015
Our trip to Colorful Guatemala is now a fading memory but it did supply me with blogging material to keep me busy for a month or so. Two planned hip surgeries for my wife in the past 5 weeks have made for a bit of a bumpy landing back home in Denver but we are getting through it. I think the toughest thing about spending a lot of time in the hospital for me is that it’s hard watching someone you Love going through so much and memories of other traumas come flooding back to me. It also is takes me away from my creative space and slows my productivity to a snails pace. I find myself trying to feed my painting addiction with an iPad and an App. I find myself walking the grounds of the hospital looking for photographic opportunities with my i phone and I find myself rambling about my plight on my Macbook Pro……Thank God for technology!
The Anschutz Campus of the University of Colorado Hospital is an amazing facility that rivals the best in the world. People often joke about losing money in Vegas, that they helped build the place and must go visit their money occasionally. I make the same jokes about Anschutz but also feel lucky that my family has such excellent care. You can’t go wrong with a place that hangs a Bierstadt in the Lobby.
Art fills the gardens, lobbies, hallways and waiting rooms at UCH. Thousands of patients with all sorts of serious afflictions spend days and nights in this place and the art has a powerful healing quality for them and for those who are supporting them. Have you personally experienced the healing power of art? I’d like to hear about it.
Posted by Michael Scott on May 10, 2015
Artists are somewhat akin to the cowboy. At times, neither is easy to love or to hold and almost without exception they’d both rather give you a song (or a painting) than diamonds or gold. It would have been so much easier had they grown up to be doctors and lawyers and such, Right? I think My Mom knows that I walked the straight and narrow for as long as I could before I jumped on my horse and rode away from that steady paycheck and the status quo. This Mother’s Day, I honor her and thank her for accepting me the way that I am.
An artist never takes a vacation from his(or her) work for traveling only fuels the fire that burns within. For me, my recent trip proves case and point. For a month now I’ve been doing more than just posting a travel log, I’ve been expressing the impressions of my travels made on me. I’ve come to understand that there really are no borders or language barriers in the world of art.
Traveling helps one realize that we humans are all pretty much the same yet we are at war with one another over the most trivial differences. Our scarcity mentality is choking out fields of Abundance like a noxious weed. Our appetite for material wealth is surpassing the appetite for the life giving elements of air, food and water. Our spirituality is being totally mistaken for culture and politics. We my friend are a bunch of freaking idiots. On this Mother’s Day I say, Mamas Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Artists!
Posted by Michael Scott on May 4, 2015
Ok, so my previous rant about the perfect blog post and the patience of the reader is about to be contradicted. My idea was to begin sharing contact sheets instead of large photos, yea right. It seems that I am so excited about sharing my recent trip that I just can’t help myself. If you don’t have the time or don’t care, give me a like and move on. Otherwise fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a little whirlwind tour of Lake Atitlan.
Lake Atitlan is like no place that I’ve visited before. I’ll describe it as I saw it, exotic, noteworthy and unexpected! The Crater lake is huge, it covers over 50 square miles, is over 1000 ft. deep and sits at the base of three prominent volcanos. It’s shoreline is dotted with villages and outposts that are interconnected with a highly efficient network of water taxis. We stayed at on the outskirts of the city of Panajachel at the Atitalan Nature Reserve. At 5200 feet, the same elevation as Denver, I was surprised to find a Sub Tropic rainforest complete with Waterfalls, wild Hibiscus and Bamboo. As guests of the ecolodge we had access to the hiking trails and suspension bridges that climbed and meandered along the mountainous shoreline. The Reserve was home to a healthy population of Spider Monkeys and an impressive Butterfly Pavilion/ Research Center, it was awesome.
The Water Taxis were basically floating chicken busses, nothing fancy. Embarking and disembarking required a level of agility that would disqualify the handicapped and the elderly. I cringed as I watched a healthy young anglo Woman miss the step and fall hard to the floor of the boat. She smiled off the embarrassment but it was obvious that she would be nursing her pains for a while. At 6’3” and on the heavy and out of shape side, I was at a complete disadvantage as I crawled my way through the crowded boat. Most of the locals avoided eye contact with me but I know they must have been scared to death that I would fall on them. I laugh now when I think about it.
The shoreline between villages appeared to be inaccessible by land in many places, yet elaborate private residences with there own boat docks are everywhere. The growing global disparity between the very poor and the very rich is on display on this lake that many would say is the most beautiful in the world.
The first Village we chose to visit was San Marcos La Laguna, a holistic mecca for enlightenment of the mind and body. A narrow pathway led us from the dock into a maze of retreats and facilities that catered to the interests of Yoga, Reiki and Massage among other things. It was on that narrow pathway that I finally gathered my nerve to take a close up photo of two local kids who sold us chocolates. Sure enough I was verbally flogged in English by a self righteous expat of some sort, “How would you feel if we came to your country and took pictures of your children” he lashed out. My luck to have a confrontation with the one guy in town who wasn’t quite succeeding in the arts that he likely came here to practice. I tried to shake it all off, but ended up waking up the next morning with him on my mind and felt compelled to sketch my impression of him.
The following day, we visited San Juan La Laguna and its picturesque artist colony. I loved the way it felt there and if I go back I’d like to spend a night or two there. We spent the afternoon looking at and buying local Mayan influenced oil paintings and fabrics. I’ll show off the paintings we bought in my next post. Anyway, we had a such a relaxing afternoon that we failed to take note of the time and we nearly missed the last boat of the day back to Panajachel.
Posted by Michael Scott on April 30, 2015
Okay, so I’m having a bit of a blogging identity crisis. For several years now, I’ve held fast to the notion that a reader friendly post should include a couple of images and about three paragraphs of good copy. I do enjoy post of all sorts and I read and follow a ton of them, but I have to admit my attention span and my patience does have its limits. Am I saying that I prefer single image posts with a short caption? Not at all, in fact I often wonder if some people have simply not heard of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Am I saying that I devour well written novelettes disguised as blog posts, or that I seek out Photo Essays that require page scrolls until my fingers cramp to fully appreciate, definitely not. In my view, the ideal blog post falls somewhere in the middle ground. Look at my last few posts and you will see that I’ve strayed. My recent trip to Guatemala has turned me into a Monster, a Mr. Sit Down On The Couch And Look at My Photo Albums Guy. I’m so ashamed and I’ve gotta get back on track.
Back in the old days, we used contact sheets to show off our slides and negatives. You would throw them down on a light table and let others pick and choose what they wanted to see in more detail, perhaps through a magnified viewer. If one or two of the images were exceptional, you would invest the time and money necessary to further process them to a more presentable format. Sounds pretty ideal doesn’t it? It wasn’t, for if it were I wouldn’t have boxes of contact sheets and prints collecting dust in the basement. Digital did change everything and mostly for the better. We now have the ability to invite the WORLD to sit at our light table but it’s still important to hand them the contact sheets and not the sixteen by twenties.
Do you periodically get confused about your blogging identity? What do you think about bringing back the Contact Sheet?
Before I go, I want to tell you about Photographer Rudy Giron in Antigua. First of all, he is an incredible Photographer with some of the best images of Guatemala that I’ve seen. Second of all, he has a popular Photo Walk Business where guides tourists/photographers through the streets of Antigua, giving history and cultural lessons and photo tips all at the same time. Thanks Rudy for re-kindling my desire to shoot people (with a camera of course). If you want to see a great example of an Artist who is thriving in his own originality, look him up.
Posted by Michael Scott on April 26, 2015
In my previous post I highlighted the ornate Alfombras (carpets) that are laid out in the streets of Antigua, only to be erased by the feet of the many who participate in the Semana Santa Processions. The Processions are impressive on all accounts and as a first time observer it took me a while to acknowledge the magnitude and complexity of the spectacle. Even now, a couple of weeks after returning home to Colorado, I am still trying to figure out exactly what I witnessed. I’m not Catholic but I know about the Stations of the Cross and the Passion Play which are traditional manifestations that commemorate the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ. Semana Santa was a whole new experience, a Passion Play on steroids if you will.
Good Friday, the day known for Jesus’ final march up Mt. Calvary to be nailed to the cross, is the busiest day of the week. Three massive processions, one for each of the three Churches in town, begin at their places of worship and wander through sixty some odd blocks of the ancient city. The first procession embarks at 4am and the other two in the heat of the afternoon. Keep in mind that these processions are very slow, taking up to 12 hours or more to make the rounds. Pace is set by the swaying feet of those carrying Andas (floats) which weigh upwards of eight thousand pounds. A changing of the guard takes place every block or two as a fresh group of Cucuruchos (Male Float Bearers) step in to keep the heavy Andas aloft. Throughout the day and night, the processions and participants and onlookers manage to steer clear of one another without a glitch, pure logistic genius.
The Cucuruchos pay an entry fee for the privilege of carrying the Andas and they are grouped with others of similar height so that the weight of the float will be evenly distributed. At 6’3” I stood out like the towering Gringo that I am and it made me very self conscious but it did give me an advantage as a spectator. I can only imagine that if I had the upbringing and ambition to sign on as a bearer, I might be politely re-directed to another assignment after they measured my shoulder height. In addition to the Cucuruchos, there are many roles to fill. Roman Soldiers on foot and in Chariots, sign bearers, and more Men and Boys cloaked in purple or white or black lead off the procession. Incense smoke fills the air surrounding the floats thanks to those in charge of swinging fiery pots back and forth as they march and at the heels of the floats marches a band playing dramatic and mournful music. The float of the Virgin Mary brings up the rear and is carried by Dolorosas (scarfed Women dressed in white or black). Throw in a city cleaning crew which immediately picks up the remains of the destroyed carpets and a generator and lighting crew after dark and it all adds up to one heck of a production.
Posted by Michael Scott on April 23, 2015
Consider the artistic pursuit of the ice sculptor, how he or she carves and etches the most elaborate details into their frozen medium only to have it melt a short while later. It makes me wonder how a person can find the inspiration and the motivation to create something so beautiful, to be seen and appreciated by so few in the fleetingly short period of time that it exists. Likewise, the sand castle builder, the live performer and the master Chef have come to accept that being present in the moment is as much a part of their craft as the art itself.
I am aware of the fact that all art is temporary, yet so much of my own personal motivation comes from the desire to create something that will outlive me. I am driven by the notion that somehow, the legacy of my work will make me a little less mortal. I guess that is why I’m drawn to the mediums of writing, photography and painting. The extent to which these things will remain in existence is unknown, just as the architects of the ancient city of Ixemche in Guatemala had no way of knowing that their structures would still be standing some 600 years after their deaths.
Contemporary Guatemala is like a giant museum of fine art and Antigua is one of it’s most impressive exhibits. Art is everywhere in Antigua. Art is in the ornate Spanish and Mayan influenced architecture. Art is in the cobblestone streets and the clay rooftops. Art is in the quiet out of the way courtyards and the public gathering places. Art is in the gentle slopes of the surrounding Volcanos and in the fertile crops that grow on them. Art is in the colorful skin tones of the native people and the fabrics that they wear. I think you get the picture, Antigua is Art.
If there is one week of the year that one would most want to visit Antigua, it would be Holy Week. Semana Santa is the week prior to the celebration of Easter. Needless to say, religion in Guatemala is overwhelmingly Catholic and Semana Santa is revered as the most important week of the year. For us, we were lucky to secure reservations for Wednesday through Saturday. It was fascinating to witness the population expand from around 35000 to over a quarter of a million as people from the surrounding villages and from all over the world squeezed into Antigua to join in the celebration.
I’ll be sharing a bunch of my photos from Antigua during Semana Santa in the next couple of posts, but for the remainder of this post I want to re-visit the idea that Art should not be judged upon how long it lasts. Of all of the images that I left Antigua with, the Alfombras (Carpets) that are laid out on the cobblestone streets are the most indelible. Alfombras are made out of sand, sawdust and pine needles and are adorned with grains and seeds and plants to produce masterpieces that will be walked on and destroyed by the extensive processions that follow. Enjoy!
Posted by Michael Scott on April 18, 2015
Its been a solid month since my last post and I have a boat load of excuses. Income tax season always comes with it’s own complications. Throw in a Mac Book Pro crash, a few business woes and a trip abroad. Even super man would have a hard time lifting the blogging pen. As the dust settles I find that Spring is exploding all around me and I’m ready to get back in the groove. I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire artistically speaking. I have two canvases on the easel and many more on deck. Our video business is evolving as we await our television debut (One of Our Videos will appear on Arts District, a weekly show on Rocky Mt. PBS – 5/7/15) and our trip to Guatemala for Semana Santa (Holy Week) has filled my inspiration bucket with an abundance of inspiration. I can’t wait to share it all with you. Our Daughter has been living in Guatemala for almost four years and I’m ashamed to say that We’ve been too busy during that period of time to visit her, until now. Easter is a magic time in a land of Volcanos and Coffee. Experiencing it with Jessica, from the perspective of an Expat was really special. Tammy (my Wife) and I have been drawn to Mexico and Central America over the years and have always managed to find ourselves in places where English is used, at least enough for us to get by. I can say that we would have had a very difficult time on this trip, had it not been for Jessica’s understanding of the culture and native language of Guatemala. Note to Self: Learn Spanish.
As we approached, the lights of Central America’s most populous city were an impressive sight. Traffic lined Streets and Avenues weave their way through the hills and valleys, stitching a luminous quilt of light over the darkened land. Over 4.5 Million People live in the greater metropolitan area of Guatemala City, a melting pot of the Indigenous Mayan and Spanish Cultures. Once on the ground, we gathered our luggage, made our way through customs and looked for Jessica’s welcoming face in a crowd at the terminal exit. First impressions included brightly lit advertising signs everywhere, Motorcycles delivering fast food, stop signs (Alto) that mean go, razor wire everywhere and armed guards in front of businesses….Oh how I’ve missed the exhilaration of culture shock.
In all, we spent eight nights in Guatemala including two in the city, three at Lake Atitlan and three in Antigua. Our adventures would take us to Jessica’s home and workplace, to the crowded markets of Zone One and to the winding and hazard filled roads through the highlands. We would ride water taxis from village to village, hike among waterfall’s, spider-monkeys and bamboo at Lake Atitlan. We would witness and participate in the pomp and pageantry of Holy Week in one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen, Antigua. In all, I have way too much to share in one post. I’ll be breaking down my show and tell into a series of posts over the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy.