Today, we went to Taos. We traveled with another couple, new friends B and M, who are two amazing women. We have so much in common it’s rather frightening. M and I and B and G are like long-lost twins separated at birth. We did this jaunt as a test drive, if you will, to see if we travel well together because not all friends can do that, and we had a fabulous time.
So, why “awe and grief”? In our wandering today, we split up for a little bit and I was alone. I went into a gallery, drawn initially by a mixed media piece entitled, “The Girl Just Loves to Dance”. Right? That was totally for me. The space was long, reaching back and back and back into the depths of the building. The woman running the place at the moment was at a desk about mid-way back and let we wander without intruding. I appreciated that. I made it back to her area, drawn by a huge canvas of a wizened Native American grandmother in profile. Propped up at the base of that was another Native portrait, a warrior with a black band of paint across a pair of the most intense eyes I’ve ever seen on a canvas–or off. It was obvious the two were by the same artist. I walked back through a narrow pass-through, into another room, then turned right and saw another huge canvas, this one a Native man, bare except for leggings, torso turned, again, the most intense, alive, expressive eyes, muscles smooth but strong, showing the light and shadow in amazing ways. The same artist, again. I found myself drawn into a tiny alcove full of Native eyes and faces. I felt hot, I felt watched, I felt thrown back in time and space. I could give you links, try to paint word pictures, but I would fail miserably. All I can say is that it was one of the most intense few moments I’ve had in a long time.
Then I noticed an unfinished canvas on an easel, a pair of cowboy boots at the base and a set of dumbbells next to those. I looked around and saw a variety of brushes, some extremely tiny, set in holes drilled in wooden blocks.
“This is where he works!” I thought, looking at the two photographs that were also on the easel. I was standing where the magic happened. No wonder I felt such energy.
I don’t know how long I stood there, turning from one piece to the other to the other, but at some point I realized I needed to go find my companions. One by one I dragged them all back there to that tiny, spell-bound space and I know they felt what I did.
Tonight, I got online and did a search. The artist, Rory Wagner, died last year, at age 60. That canvas will never be finished. The eyes of the others will haunt me forever.
So, awe at discovering such an amazing talent and grief that the world lost it way too soon. You can G00gle him and find photos of some of the paintings, but you will have to go there yourself to really understand. Trust me, it would be worth it.