Category Archives: street art

Well, the wait is over; healing and salvation offered here

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The town of Berkeley Springs is considered by some to be a sacred place, where good spirits converge.  There’s that magical hot water just bubbling out of the earth, right? Thus, it’s the annual gathering spot of all kinds of alternative healers at the Festival of Light.

For a five-dollar entry fee, you can find massage therapists for whatever hurts, palm readers, crystal handlers, future-tellers and past-life revealers.  You may commune, spiritually, with a lost loved one, human or another species.  You may purchase a stone or stick that was blessed under a full moon.  (I’m sorry I did not buy the special socks showing acupressure points but attractive enough for daily wear.)

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All of that harmless activity drew out this proud cross-bearing citizen, with his deep background of holy texts and protected by the First Amendment, who just needed all who enter here to know that this was contrary to the Christian Bible, and akin to devilry and witchcraft. (I heard that the local gendarmerie made a sweep of the building but found nothing technically illegal.)

I did not see his socks, but I think the burlap robe could be cited for a fashion crime.

What would Andy Goldsworthy do?

I get asked how I like “retirement.”*  It’s hard to explain beyond “I love it.” Several times a day I find myself doing an activity that I could not do while having a regular 9-to-5 type job.

I can take advantage of activities that happen to take place during normal working hours — like the national Sierra Club board meeting, usually in San Francisco, but this time in DC, where I sat in for a few agenda items. (I am a life member and want to make sure the club is doing as I wish. Sort of.) Some are things that fall roughly outside those hours, but if following on a work day would seem more like a nuisance, or a tacky, unsatisfying way to end the day.  I have gone to serve food or perform other menial tasks at meal center for homeless women. I don’t know how that will work out, but as of now, I head to the church basement with a spring in my step.

I’ll tell about some of these and other worthy activities another time.

But some make no sense and have little ultimate purpose but are a creative expression.  Sunday, I made a fairy circle, or a needle ring, or pine circle.  I struggle with that name, but this is what I did.

I pass the little triangle park bounded by Quincy Street, 5th Street and Rock Creek Church Road just about every time I leave the yard.  It is no one’s private property, so no one keeps it up, but the pine needles and enormous pine cones from the huge tree there have been especially untidy looking lately.  Prevailing winds toss the fallen material southward, toward the sidewalk and the street.

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Detritus in disarray in Rock Creek Church triangle park. 23 February 2014

As you know from an earlier post, I love the work of Andy Goldsworthy and others who artfully rearrange Planet Earth’s componentry, even on temporary basis.  So I set out, with a rake over my shoulder and a snack and a little flask of a refreshing adult beverage in a sack, to rearrange the materials on my little public plot.

I started to rake with a little circle in mind, a halo, an aura a ring-around-the-rosy — find me the word.  A circle is a fairly primitive design idea that I cannot claim as my own.

I thought about marking the four compass points with mounds of downed pine seeds, but after bending over what must have been a hundred times to pick them up and then tote them several feet north, south, east or west, the four loci became 12; because of a counting error, the 12 became 13.

ImageAct in progress; edge of ring, one pine cone mound.

ImageLong shadows after a raking needles and rearranging pine cones, about 3 pm.

The bending, stretching and pulling were exhausting, maybe in the way that a yoga class is just sooooo tiring, but carrying the rake was way cooler than toting that incriminating silly little rubber mat. (Right?)

Later that evening I passed the park after dark.  My creative product was still in situ.

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*Retirement, that is, not working at a regular job but with a pension so tiny that I need to find some income soon.

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Back in Washington, DC

Back in Washington, DC

Finding my way

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Donde yo estoy (where I am)

Donde yo estoy (where I am)

On the bat-strewn tile floor in the restroom of San Pablo, 1 noviembre 2013.

San Pablo is a sacred space to me.

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You first, then me

You first, then me

This lovely sign at an urban intersection says let’s go one at a time; you go first, then I’ll go.

Native dress takes a road trip

There’s a lot of eye-popping stuff here, lots in the textile category.

A few days ago the zocalo was jammed with activity, including a demonstration by indigenous people at the state capitol, many in traditional dress.  The colors are vibrant and may be from natural sources (the red below may be from cochineal, an insect*); they can be hand-spun fibers, hand-woven cloth, hand-stitched panels, and then hand-embroidered with age-old symbols of rivers, eagles, cactus flowers.** Besides the color and style telegraphing where these women are from (the state, but not the city, of Oaxaca), the colors of the ribbons on these garments indicate whether the wearer is married or single, and I’m sure there is much more meaning to the learned eye.  The menfolk are wearing a uniform as well, of jeans, collared shirts, boots and natural-fiber hats; but with a muted palette, and showing off no handiwork.

ImageZocalo, at a demonstration at the state government building

Later, the same day, I spotted this, and found myself equally fascinated about what this native dress could mean. In this case, the male character is all gussied up while the female is a little plainer, as is the case with so many birds in the wild. (They moved about together, like a mated pair.)

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Tribal origin and subtle meaning of this combination are unknown to me. My apologies if you know these people, or if you are these people, since I didn’t ask permission.

Though I have augmented by earlier two-skirt, two-blouse wardrobe with some Mexican shirts that do little to disguise me, I have to realize that I cannot for an instant think that my dress is neutral and doesn’t peg me as the age, sex, nationality, and economic groups of which I am a member.

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* A great book on this valuable commodity is The Perfect Red, by Amy Butler Greenfield.

** Maybe I could think of these as ‘logos.’

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Café Royal

Cafe Royal

A beautiful exception to the painted-on signage, at the corner of calles Garcia Vigil and M. Bravo. Drinks and snacks here with friend Jeremy.