"The Blessing Hoops, Coalmine Canyon, Navajo/Hopi Joint Use Area, Arizona" (c) 2012 Stu Jenks
3G has hit the Rez. I was actually texting and talking on the phone, at times, while shooting on Wednesday night. You might think that might be distracting but it was nice and then became deeply meaningful.
At one point, one of the friends I was texting, asked if I would ask the Spirit of Coalmine Canyon to bless her children. How touching. Of course, I texted back. (I won't say who she was, but it's not who my closest friends might think. Another mother.)
So I prayed to the Canyon, asking for Blessings and Love for her and for her children. And then I prayed for other children, and for other friends, and for people I don't call friend, and for people who are stangers to me. Blessings. Love. Blessings. Love. I cried. It was very nice.
After prayers, I danced with my Christmas hoop lights along a tall fin of white mud rock. This is the image that came from that dance and from those prayers.
"Hoop Dancing With Ghosts, Coalmine Canyon, Navajo/Hopi Joint Use Area, Arizona" (c) 2012 Stu Jenks
Here's what you are supposed to do, though nothing bad will happen to you if you don't. Thousands now haven't done this one thing and I'm assuming they are still alive. It's perhaps just a superstition. Or maybe not.
A good friend was studying with a Navajo medicine man years ago. His teacher told my friend that before you enter Coalmine Canyon you should always ask permission of the Spirits. My friend then told me. Over the last 25 years of coming here, I have asked. Sometime it says no. Most times it say yes. Night before last, I forgot to ask all together until after I had entered.
"Oh," I said to the Canyon, in the fading twilight, "Sorry. I forgot. Can I come in?
"Sure," said the Canyon, "but do not spend the night. Leave before 10 p.m."
"No kidding," I said. "Leave before 10?"
And the Canyon said nothing else.
I shot for four hours and was back on pavement by 10 p.m.
On full moon nights, Navajo and Hopi holy men alike say that ghosts dance on the walls of the Canyon. I believe they did Wednesday night.
(Geek note: I've had this happen before, shooting at night with black and white film, but never with a color digital negative.The above image is a perfect exposure, at least for my tastes. The length of time, the saturation of the color, the whites and blacks, lights and darks and midtones, and other colors are just, well, perfect. I fiddled with the image for about 15 minutes in CS5, but always came back to the original digital negative. So what you see here is precisely what is on the neg. All I did was cropped the neg a hair, rotate the image 2 degrees to the right and put a black line around the whole thing. Now, don't get me wrong. I did this hoop dance about 7 times to get the Christmas light circles right, but that was for the structure of the five hoops. I just educated-guessed on the density, on the exposure time, and lo and behold, I got it just right on the best dance of the night. It's never happened before with a digital negative. I consider that a very good sign, from a very good night of hoop dancing with ghosts at Coalmine Canyon.)
From top to bottom: "Dinosaur Tracks, We're Open, Navajo Reservation, Arizona", "C.J.'s Fault, Dripping Springs, Arizona", "White Prayer Point (with truck), Hopi Reservation, Arizona", "Dawn at White Prayer Point, Hopi Reservation, Arizona", and "Coal Mine Canyon at Mid Morning, Arizona". All images (c) 2012 Stu Jenks
I like to talk. Ask anyone. I'm not going to say much here. Here's a wikipedia excerpt about the place.
"Human artifacts have been found on or near Bear Butte that date back 10,000 years, indicating a long and continuous interest in the mountain.The Cheyenne and Lakota people have maintained a spiritual interest in Bear Butte from their earliest recorded history.
Notable visitors like Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull made pilgrimages to the site. In 1857, a council of many Indian nations gathered at Bear Butte to discuss the growing presence of white settlers in the Black Hills.
Violating a treaty of 1868, George Armstrong Custer led an expedition to the Black Hills region in 1874, and according to custom he camped near Bear Butte. Custer verified the rumors of gold in the Black Hills, and Bear Butte then served as an easily identifiable landmark for the rush of invading prospectors and settlers into the region. Indian reaction to the illegal movements of whites into the area was intense and hostile. Ultimately the government reneged on its treaty obligations regarding the Black Hills and instead embarked on a program to confine all northern Plains tribes to reservations.
Ezra Bovee homesteaded on the southern slopes of the mountain, and by the time of World War II, he and his family were the legal owners of the site. In the spring of 1945, the Northern Cheyenne received permission from Bovee to hold a ceremony at Bear Butte to pray for the end of World War II. The Cheyenne found that the Bovee family welcomed their interest in the mountain, and over the years the Bovees continued to encourage native religious ceremonies.
By the mid-1950s Ezra Bovee was attempting to stir up interest in making Bear Butte a national park. After his death, his family continued the effort. When federal interest in the project waned, the state government in Pierre took action, and Bear Butte became a state park in 1961 and was registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
Frank Fools Crow, the Lakota ceremonial chief (d. 1989), made pilgrimages to Bear Butte throughout his lifetime. Fools Crow taught racial harmony not just between whites and Indians, but among all the peoples of the world. He believed the Lakota should never sell the Black Hills. A bust and plaque in front of the education center at Bear Butte State Park honor Fools Crow’s efforts." - Wikipedia.
Image: "Queen Esther Baptist Church, Lancaster, Virginia" (c) 2011 Stu Jenks (Just down River Road from Victoria's house. Love that luscious red carpet. And for you nocturnals out there, it was handheld. Rare for me.)
In this time of making photos on iPhones and Macbook Pros and only looking on screens, I forget I'm a old-school guy. I make a 8 1/2 x 11 work print on archival paper of EVERY image I make. EVERY one. It's the only way, for me, to accurately check for color shift, density, composition, etc. I really like my iPad screen but it's no way to make a good print.
And I have hundreds, if not thousands, of work prints artist proofs at my studio.
If you see an image of mine on The StuBlog or on my old website or on the Fezziwig Press Store or in any of my books, there's a beautiful small print in a box somewhere, perhaps with your name on it. And since I'm organized, I can find it.
Many of you can't afford my larger prints. I understand. I don't have an extra 50 or 100 lying around either. But I do have an extra $20 for stuff I really like.
So if you see an image of mine on any of my sites or in any of my books and you want it, it's yours for $25, shipping, handling and tax included. (I believe in paying taxes, sales and otherwise.)
Just email me at my facebook page or through the StuBlog or at firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell me what print you would like or just pull the jpeg and send that to me.
I was just watching the Tarhells lose today in basketball, working on images at my computer when I thought, 'I bet people don't realize I have boxes of work prints here.'
You all do now.
Love and light,
p.s. Ignore the catagories belows. The computer went wacky. Another reason why I prefer a print in the hand as opposed to an image in The Cloud.
"When I first began to paint, I used to go to the ancient village and pick up pieces of pottery and copy the designs. That is how I learned to paint. But now, I just close my eyes and see designs and I paint them." - Nampeyo.
It's worth getting off the Interstate or taking a cab from the airport if you have a three hour layover or simply worth a special trip.
Denver Art Museum's American Indian Art Collection.
I made my third journey to DAM's Native collection just a couple weeks ago. It has a wonderful permanant collection and newer work by living Native artists they rotates in and out.
Included in this post is some work by Nampeyo, the famous Hopi potter and by Rhonda Holy Bear, the Cheyenne River Sioux artist, plus a detail image of Standing Bear's tipi and an Edward Curtis photograph of a Hopi potter.
At each visit, I see something old that I knew I loved and something new I didn't know existed. Isn't that what a great museum visit is all about?
So visit the Denver Art Museum when ever you have the chance.
Oh, and yea, they have some pretty good stuff by some white folk too.
All images (c) Stu Jenks 2012 except for the Curtis of course (but I did take the pic of his photo. And a friend just told me it is of Nampeyo herself. Great image. A great potter.)
The first draft of the novel is done!!! It came in at 149,000 words, 552 pages in my document. Yeaaaa! I can't tell you how good it feels. The ending made me cry, as I hope it does you. (Last word in the novel, which won't change in revision: Sighs.) I want to jump right back to the beginning and start revisions, but Mary Ann suggests I take more than just a couple days off. OK. I'll take off three or four days. LOL. But then it's fixing this and revising that, then off to the editors. And I have ideas for the next novel in this series, too. I have some pretty great characters, I think, and I want to see what they will do next. But first things first. Get this novel to print.
One serious note: It took about a year to write this novel, but it almost didn't get done. With Mary and Pamela dying and all, I didn't work on it for about six weeks and it was so hard to get my momentum back. But I did. But it was difficult. If you are working on a novel or a large work, I recommend you plow through, even if the field is frozen. I've been told I'm very lucky to have gotten back on track.
Speaking of track, good luck to Danica Patrick tomorrow in the Daytona 500 and in the rest of Sprint Cup and Nationwide races this season. I might just have to go up to PHX next Saturday to watch her race.
By the way, did I mention I finished the freaking first draft of the novel?