Saturday, July 5, 2014

Gallery Boot Camp

Jackson Brown is playing in the back room, in the distance the wooden wind chimes at a nearby store are making their sound and down the road I can hear a flute played by a guy in another store. At 10:30 the Mayor will sing the Star Spangled Banner on a balcony overlooking the street.

This is Bigfork, Montana, a block long village on Flathead Lake with quirky locals that are as authentic and charming as this town is.

My friend and fellow artist Nancy Seiler and I rolled into town in early May to talk to galleries about showing our work, but it was a rainy Monday off season and everything was closed. We were parked in front of a building with a for lease sign and on a whim decided to call to see if we could get a look at it. Five minutes later we were inside (Jack, the owner lives across the street), to find a beautiful gallery space that needed no work or investment, we went across the street to the "Pocketstone Cafe" to talk about it and both of us felt kind of sick because we knew this was going to be our other home for 4 months. On the way home we aptly named it "Lake Gallery". 3 weeks later we unloaded our u-haul truck into the "dorm room" that we were renting. 7 days a week, 6 hours a day each at the gallery and another 3 of painting. This is Gallery Boot Camp.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kweku Ananse and the Two Parties

Kweku Ananse and his family lived in a village called ‘Anyiber Mo’. One day the chief of his village decided to throw a grand party to thank God for enabling him to fulfill his promises. Ananse and his wife Aso were among the important people invited. This excited him because this was a good opportunity to drink the finest palmwine. 

The next day the chief of the neighboring village also sent Mr. & Mrs. Ananse an invitation to his wedding party. Ananse was happy to receive it but wasn't sure what to do because both of the parties were on the same day beginning at the same time with the same duration. Ananse sat down and thought very hard about what to do. Later he put on a tranquil smile as he went about his daily work after deciding what to do. 

Finally, when the much-awaited day arrived, Ananse asked his wife to wait for him at the wedding party. When she left, he went under his bed and brought out a new thick long rope he had bought for the sake of the two parties. After dressing up in his best Kente cloth and a pair of ‘ahenema’ sandal (native sandal), he called two of his sons (Ntikumah and Tikonokono). As soon as they saw the rope, they asked “Papa, what are you doing with that?”. Ananse replied, “ Keep quiet and listen. We shall go to the border between the two villages. I will then tie this rope around my waist. You’ll take one end of the rope each and go to where the parties are taking place”. Ananse exhaled deeply and concluded, “Now pay attention boys, the first person to see that the refreshment is being served should pull the rope very fast so that I can come there and enjoy myself OK?!!” The boys nodded and when they got to the border, they did exactly as planned. 

Unfortunately for Ananse, both parties began the refreshments at the same time so both sons started to pull the rope at the same time. People in both villages who saw the scene couldn’t help laughing and cheering. Due to the noise, the two sons could not hear Ananse’s wailing and pleas for them to stop so they pulled all day and he Ananse suffered all day for his greed. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lluvia de Peces (Rain of Fish) Honduras

Rain of Fish is a phenomenon that has allegedly been occurring for more than a century on a yearly basis in Yoro, Honduras.

Many people believe this phenomenon occurs because of Father José Manuel Subirana, a Spanish Catholic missionary and considered by many to be a saint. He visited Honduras from 1856-1864, and upon encountering so many poor people, prayed for 3 days and 3 nights asking God for a miracle to help the poor people by providing food. The Rain of Fish has occurred ever since.

The fish are all the same size—about 6 inches long—and are completely blind. But even stranger than the appearance of the fish is the fact that these particular fish are not found in any of the surrounding bodies of water.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chica de Blanco (Girl in White) A Mexican Ghost Story

He was sulking a little, standing at the sidelines while all the other men danced with their pretty partners. His girl had not come to the dance that night. Her mother was ill, and so his girl had remained at her side. A fine pious act, he thought sourly, but it left him at loose ends.

His friend, Ernesto, came up to him between sets with a cold drink and some words of encouragement. “After all, Anita is not the only girl in the world,” Ernesto said. “There are many pretty girls here tonight. Dance with one of them.”

Bolstered by his friend’s words, he started looking around the dance hall. His eye fell upon a beautiful young girl standing wistfully at the edge of the floor beside the door to the terrace. She was dressed in an old-fashioned white gown and her skin was pale as the moon. Her dark eyes watched the dance hungrily from her position behind a tall fern, and he felt his heart beat faster. Such a lovely woman should be dancing!

He made his way through the bustling crowd and bowed to the girl in white. She looked startled by his addresses, as if she had not expected anyone to notice her that night. But she readily assented to dance with him, and he proudly led her out onto the floor for the next set, all thoughts of Anita gone from his mind.

Ernesto and some of his other friends gave him odd looks as he danced with the girl in white. A few times, the man opposite them bumped right into them as if he had not seen his partner at all. He was furious and wanted to stop the dance and make the man apologize to the girl in white, but she just laughed and hushed him.

When the dance was over, he hurried to get his fair partner a drink. Ernesto approached him at the refreshment table. “When I told you to dance, I meant with a partner,” his friend teased him.

“I was dancing with a partner,” he replied, irritated by his friends remark. “The loveliest girl in all of Mexico!”

“You’ve had too much to drink, my friend,” Ernesto replied. “You were dancing by yourself out there!”

He glared at his friend and turned away without answering him. Making his way back to the girl in white, he handed her a glass and asked her to stroll with him along the terrace. The night was beautiful, the sky full of stars, and he stared at the girl in white with his heart in his eyes as they stood looking out over the beautiful scene.

The girl in white turned to him with a sigh and said: “Thank you for the dance, Senor. It has been a very long time since I had such pleasure.”

“Let us dance again, then,” he said infatuatedly. But she shook her head.

“I must leave now,” she said, catching up her skirts with one hand and drifting toward the stairs at the side of the terrace.

“Please don’t go,” he pleaded, following her.

“I must,” she said, turning to look at him. Her eyes softened when she saw the look on his face. “Come with me?” she invited, holding out a pale hand.

His heart pounded rapidly at the thought. More than anything in the world, he wanted to go with this lovely girl. And then his mind registered the fact that he could see the stone wall of the terrace through the girl’s hand. His desire melted away before the shock of that realization. He looked into her face again, and realized that she was fading away before his eyes.

At the look of horror on his face, the girl gave a sad laugh and dropped her hand, which was nearly transparent now.

“Goodbye,” she said, her body becoming thin and misty. “Goodbye.”

Then she was gone.

He gave a shout of terror when he realized he had been dancing with a ghost. He bolted from the premises, leaving his horse behind, and ran all the way home.

When Ernesto came the next day to bring him his horse, he told his friend the whole story. Ernesto whistled in awe. “You saw the spirit of Consuela, my friend,” he said. “She was the daughter of one of the local aristocracy who lived in this region more than a hundred years ago. She died of consumption the night before her first ball and they say her spirit sometimes attends the local dances, hoping to claim one of the dances that she missed.”
He shuddered at the thought of his dance with the ghost. “I will not be visiting that dance hall again,” he told Ernesto. “From now on, all my dances will be with Anita!”
And he kept his word.