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Mar 23, 2018
This Blog is a little different for me. I want to share a poem written for this photo by my greatly talented friend, Ryan Archer. First, a little background behind the poem and photo. I came to the panhandle of Texas in 2013. I had spent nine months homeless, driving around the United States, taking photos.
Much of that time I spent with friends, but I had no home of my own, and often slept in my car. The circumstances leading to my being without a job or home are worthy of a novel, or at least another blog, but later. Those 9 months were very hard on me for many reasons. I spent a lot of time questioning my past and worrying about the future. Before these nine months I had been in several different fields, namely the mental health field of social work and the legal field. I was even a minister for a while. Most of my adult life was spent in helping fields. In the nine months on the road, I turned to art and photography to work out some deep emotional issues. In the end, I choose to jump careers from helping people to simply create art. I moved to Amarillo to attend Amarillo College. Despite having several degrees, I decided to start over in pursuit of a certificate in Photography. Of all the secondary education I have had, I love my time at Amarillo College the best.
I thought things would get easier after I signed a lease and started classes. They did not. Health issues and the resulting financial crisis, a horrible relationship, being scammed out of most of my possessions, being run over while I was storm chasing, it seemed monthly the universe tested my resolve to be an artist.
Daily, regardless of how I felt, I made the decision to do something, even if it was small, to further my skill or career as an artist. The road since 2013 has been hard. In some ways, I have poured that pain into my art. I choose my viewfinder to focus my view away from the pain and ugly to look for the beautiful and compelling. In March, five years to the day from moving from Amarillo, I gave a talk about those five years and did an art show of some of the images which had a lot of emotional content for me.
This was my 20th solo art show, no small feat for a novice artist of 5 years. All the while, putting together a fundraiser and booklet for the fundraiser and putting the images together. I continued to struggle with a very painful neurological condition, and in the middle of it all, my brother passed away. The Hard Road art exhibit was very meaningful for me in ways most never knew. It ended up being a three-part event. The first event was a lecture about the things living on the Hard Road with my camera has taught me. The second was an art show of twelve images on canvas and a slide show of some 200 images that mean something to me if not to anyone else. The final event was a collaborative performance and fundraiser. Ironically, my health kept me from attending the final event where several close friends honored me by writing poetry about specific images. Every single poem was a show stopper, and honestly, to me, showed far more talent than my humble art. I will share more over the course of my blogs, but I want to start with this one by Ryan Archer:
Surrounded by Ghosts
After he left,
The ground ate him up:
Over time and piecemeal.
And he knew that
When he left,
The memories would go too.
Slow and methodical
Some fat-cat would
Buy it up,
Tear it down,
Smooth it out.
Cut up into little tiny pieces
He. Would. Be. Lost.
Paved roads with fenced yards and automatic sprinklers.
The Manhattan Project at sunset.
Twenty, thirty, one hundred years
A child like him,
Playing alone in the yard
At supper time,
Will find a doll’s head,
The clay handle to his old sippy cup,
And wonder where it had come from.
The parent’s won’t know,
About the land or the child
Sliced in half,
Pushed down the stairs
Again and again
When they say:
“From a boy,
Just like you,
Who once lived in the past.”
And the child will take the head
And place it on his desktop
And gaze in young wonder
At the home
And the land he now shared
With the lonely boy
Just. Like. Him.
How could he know
Buried in the same dirt
He now pulled the memories from,
A tombstone once read:
If you ever feel lost,
Know that I have been here too.
North of the Caprock
On the Llano
Alone in my dreams.
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