A block greater than the Rock of Gibraltar wedged itself between my creativity and photographic skills. Try as I might, the eye and the camera were not cooperating. One saw one thing, and the other recorded something different. Yes, I was officially a blocked artist. A blocked photographer to be exact.
Dejection stepped in to offer help toward building a bigger block with every attempt I made to shake the cycloptic blues. My shutter finger grew restless. It fidgeted with every dial, button, and switch it found, and when there wasn’t any around, it toyed with pens and pencils.
It scribbled a couple of lines on a scrap of paper, and a then a few more. I had no idea what it was up to, but my shutter finger was pleased. I allowed both pencil and finger to merge into one, and dance across the page, until designs evolved into subconscious symbols of something I didn’t understand. Ah, yes, an absentminded creation. A full- fledged doodle.
a first, and very crude doodle
a second attempt
a friend saw a turkey, and I saw a cornucopia, so I titled this “Thanksgiving”
an attempt to fill the whole page
I bought a box of colored pencils at the dollar store to add another dimension.
The sun was fast approaching golden hour, but instead of fidgeting with F-stops and shutter speeds, I allowed myself the privilege of spectating on the play of light as the sun inched across the sky, and slide behind the distant skyline. How many of these splendid moments had I missed over the years, because of my cycloptic view? I could not begin to count, but I’m grateful I stepped aside that evening, and watched the sun clothe Mother Earth in a golden robe of light.
My observation lasted until Venus poked her shining eye into the twilight sky. Then, I packed my gear and headed home. Little did I realize this was the turning point in my struggle to generate extra money, as a means to subsidize a fixed, retirement income.
I grew weary over the years, holding out on prices, careful not to undercut others in the industry, and defending the value of my work. I found myself in nonnegotiable deals with non-profits, nickel-and-diming me until I couldn’t afford travel expenses. I received a myriad of requests to donate my work to silent auctions, and offers of nonpayment to “get your name out there.” Total sales from art shows and farmer’s markets didn’t cover the space I occupied. Friends became mere acquaintances after promising to buy a print or two, but never did. My strength of purpose weakened. My body of work suffered malnutrition, and I lost confidence in my ability.
The hunger in my belly growled so loud one night, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned, until I remembered the evening of the golden sunset. The golden hour of revelation, when I realized the art I grew to love, was now an abusive affair. It no longer served the purpose of my dream, and the time had come to let it go. So, I capped my lenses, sat the camera down, and decided to step away.
Petroglyphs, a cryptic language of an ancient people, or clandestine religious symbols known only to the local shaman? Or, perhaps just a mark etched on a rock for posterity, similar to writing a note or a letter to a loved one.
There are many sites in Arizona where petroglyphs pepper the local terrain. Deer ValleyRock Art Center, in north Phoenix, preserves an array of iconic rock etchings not far from the civilized life of modern man. Petroglyphs abound as well in South Mountain Park. Further north, just west of Sedona, is the Palatki and Honanki Heritage Site where you’ll find an assemblage of pictographs. But the V-Bar-V Heritage Site in the Verde Valley hosts the largest collection of local petroglyphs.
A strikingly mysterious form of communication, petroglyphs will always fascinate those of us unable to translate their meanings. But one thing we know for sure, this symbolic writing expressed the ideas, feelings and perhaps the fears of people, and remained for thousands of years for future generations.
Why not make your mark for posterity? Write a note to your children, or grandchildren as a lasting keepsake, treasured for a lifetime and passed down to future generations and beyond.
To celebrate Arizona’s Archaeology and Heritage Month, attend some of the statewide events, sponsored by the Arizona State Parks. Or, if you’re out-of-state, just send a note to a loved one. Petroglyph note cards are available in the gift shop at Deer Valley Rock Art Center, or can be purchased by clicking on the “buy now” button below.
Petroglyph boxed note cards: 2 each of 3 images (envelopes included)
Posted in archaeology, Arizona, history, museums, petroglyphs, Phoenix Arizona, photography, prehistoric cultures of America, rock art, travel, Uncategorized
Tagged history, Hohokam, Phoenix Arizona, Sinagua
Ok, Ok, Ok. I know my mind isn’t right sometimes, but what the heck, everybody has a few rocks in their head.
My FB friends already saw the geologic event I spotted in a cornmeal muffin. I often see geology in my food. But, today, rummaging through a collection of rocks I haven’t seen in a while, I started finding rocks that looked like food. Well . . . sort of. . .
This one I call the steak rock. Tell me you cannot see a slab of raw meat in this eroded piece of agatized (petrified) wood?
Or, how about this one:
This bears a remote resemblance to a peanut. Don’t you think? Just stand it on end, imagine a top hat, some skinny arms and legs, a cane in one hand . . . ta da, you have a monocled Mr. Peanut.
Unless you eat acorns, you probably will not see The Acorn Twins in these nodules.
Ok, Ok, Ok, I know, I have rocks in my head!
Posted in Arizona, geology, Phoenix Arizona, photography, rock art, travel, Uncategorized
Tagged geology, meat, Mr Peanut, peanuts, rocks, steak
Phoenicians woke up this morning, relieved that their Ark-building days are over. Yes, the big smiling orb returned to the azure skies over the Sonoran desert, bringing relief to all two and four-legged creatures.
Posted in Arizona, Phoenix Arizona, photography, travel, Uncategorized
Tagged Arizona, desert, Phoenix, Phoenix Arizona, sun, sunshine, weather
Yes, Phoenicians, the end is here. Three consecutive days of aqueous stuff falling from a gray, cotton-like sky, and now the air feels soggy with what some guy on TV calls humidity. This could be the end of time as we know it. But hark, no more drippy noises outside! And look, is that a gimpy patch of blue peeking through that cottony sky, or could it be a figment of our imagination? Maybe, just maybe, it’s a glimpse of the sky we once knew.
Water falling from a gray, overcast sky is a rarity in Phoenix, but when it happens, it is a celebrated event. Early on this Saturday morning, when people accustomed to gloomy weather chose to sleep-in with the covers bunched under their chin, Phoenicians gathered in coffeehouses around the Valley to chat over a hot steamy cup of coffee, watch the rain spill in rivulets down the windows, and wonder how long they should wait before building an Ark.