Life has been a little crazy lately. My husband is dying of cancer, and I have launched an important book, Artists of Sedona, 1930—1999. He comes first, of course.
I’m sharing an outstanding review by James Bishop, Jr., an award-winning writer, about my most recent book.
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Once upon a time not so long ago Sedona was a dusty little community of folk encircled by awe-inspiring expanses of national and state lands and blessed with sunsets that often dissolve the hardest of hearts. No wonder that artists beginning in the 1930′s arrived from far and wide to create their dreams whether in paint, bronze, wood, music or dance. By 1980 it was widely regarded as a cultural mecca.
Today, the land still thrills and while it is no longer a little town, and tourist buses crowd the streets, many of those artists are here: Joella Jean Mahoney, Susan Kliewer and many others remain to dream dreams that enrich the culture. Gene K. Garrison’s Artists of Sedona 1930-1999, is a long-awaited comprehensive compendium of interesting artists, many still alive, others such as Bob and Mary Kittredge and Nassan Gobran, departed for good.
Says Garrison. “The moment I heard that no one had done a book like this a light went off in my brain.” All habitués of the arts have reason to applaud what that light in her brain created.
Being a veteran researcher myself, I find her research to be classy, packed with good details and anecdotes aplenty. Who put Sedona on the map as an arts village? Roam back to 1958 when Nassan Gobran, an Egyptian teacher was in Mr. Cecil Lockhart-Smith’s jewelry store in what is now uptown. Nearby heard some business men chatting, “we need something new in Sedona, something different.” Gobran broke in. “I have what Sedona needs, the most important industry for Sedona, and that’s art. We should start an art center here.” By 1961 they did, showing the works of legendary Max Ernst and his artist wife, Dorothy Tanning.” It stands today in uptown, a beacon of creativity.
If stories are the adhesive that keeps communities together, this book demonstrates that whatever has occurred as mayors and politicians and city managers have come and gone, artists’ work provides memories of days gone by, whether they have passed on like Joe Beeler, Zoe Mozert and the Kittredges, or loom like Muir and Soderberg and Rowe, and a dozen more. This book is for aspiring artists, as well as the cognoscenti. “If you want to be an artist, do it,” Ruth Waddell told author Garrison.
James Bishop, Jr.
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ARTISTS OF SEDONA by Gene K. Garrison arrived by UPS this week. It’s my fifth book. I have the honor of writing the first narrative art history book (1930—1999) about well-known artists who moved to Sedona, Arizona and surrounding communities because of the beauty of the area. Only one, bronze sculptor Joyce Killebrew, was born in nearby Jerome.
And surprise, surprise, the book is fun to read.
It’s first public appearance will be for an Alzheimer’s fundraiser at Sedona Winds, in the Village of Oak Creek near Sedona. After the dinner and fashion show there will be a raffle of donated items. That’s where my book will be, proudly propped up so the dressed up attendees may see the white background with a partial photo of world-famous John Waddell’s studio.
The book is online at amazon.com.
Our local award-winning bookstore,The Well Red Coyote, at Dry CreekRoad and 89A carries it.
I’m going to have a new book out soon. By soon, I mean maybe a month. It’s a first for Sedona, Arizona, a narrative art history book about artists who actually live, or lived, in this beautiful little burg starting in the 1930s and ending at the turn of the century. It IS a place that draws artists to it. What I hoped to accomplish was an introduction of each artist’s personality, accomplishments and adventures. You’ll see them as individuals who have varied talents. I knew some of them before I started writing the book——Joella Jean Mahoney, a Contemporary American Artist; Jan Sitts, a mixed-media artist who still conducts workshops everywhere from the Sedona Arts Center to Tuscany; and Nancy Dunst, Installation Artist. I had never met most of them —— internationally known bronze sculptors John Waddell, John Soderberg, PhD, and James Muir, all of whom do monumental works. Cowboy Artists Joe Beeler, Charlie Dye and Frank McCarthy were all members of the Cowboy Artists of America and changed the status of cowboy art to fine art. Ken Rowe, a very successful wildlife bronze sculptor, was a taxidermist before he became an artist. There was the very important artist from Egypt, Nassan Gobran, who in 1958 lit up the sky by founding the Sedona Arts Center. M.L.Coleman made the strange leap from being an accountant to becoming a landscape painter of note. I wrote about twenty-five of these interesting people in a manner that makes readers want to turn the pages. It’s very different from most history books.
The book: ARTISTS OF SEDONA by Gene K. Garrison.
While reading the morning paper today a smile turned up the corners of my mouth as I read that yesterday was Nudists Day. It reminded me of a chapter I wrote for the book, From Thunder to Breakfast. Hube Yates was the storyteller. The setting was Cave Creek, Arizona. The time: 1977. After Hube retired from the Phoenix Fire Department, he started a riding stable in Cave Creek, and he’d always been a part-time preacher.
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Hube was just hanging around the house when the phone rang. Someone wanted him to officiate at a wedding. He licked his thumb and shuffled the pages of his appointment book. He could fit it into his schedule, but there was one cause for concern: “I don’t have to travel too far, do I?” He had broken some ribs on a trail-ride and it hurt to turn the steering wheel on the pickup truck.
When the day of the wedding arrived, his caring wife, Patsy, said she’d go with him in order to save the wear and tear on his sore ribs. He said, “I wish you would.”
It was chilly when they drove up to a place that looked like a ranch with two or three houses, but this one also had an office. Patsy parked while Hube went inside. He found a fellow there wearing old Levis and a shirt. “I thought he was
dressed kind of casually for a weddin’, but we were early and maybe he hadn’t had time to get dressed yet.
“Patsy and I drove around for about twenty-five minutes until it was time for the ceremony. People had begin to gather, but they were dressed kind of haphazard. The man from the office came around to Patsy’s side of the truck to invite her into the house. The truck was kind of high and Patsy could see from the chest up that this guy didn’t have a shirt on. She thought that was kind of strange. He was the one who was goin’ to give the bride away.
“Patsy got out and walked right into him. She caught her breath. He was stark naked. There was no use to turn around and duck and go back. Oh, dear John, it’s hard to say just what her reaction was. Later she told him she thought, ‘Oh, my soul, we’re into this thing and the only thing to do is do the best you can.’”
Hube summed up his thoughts: “It’s hard to describe just exactly what goes through your mind when you discover you’re in a nudist colony. It’s like, ‘I don’t want to be here, but I’m here. Somebody’s got to marry these people.’”
The bride and groom wanted to be married out in the open. “What I should have done was carry the ceremony on and froze them to pieces, but I didn’t. They began to shiver a little bit so we went in the house.
When they got inside Hube noticed that Patsy looked at the ceiling and the fireplace. She found everything in there to look at but these people.
“They were not good-lookin’. The groom was all hollow-chested, and he was sick. The bride was a poor, thin, skinny little woman. I’ll tell you one thing, there was never a person who ever lived that looked half as good to me stark naked
as they do with clothes on.
“I’ve been a fireman for so long, and I’ve had to pick up hurt people and people committin’ suicide, and injured people in every kind of way. I’m not the kind who gets excited about everything. I have quieted down quite a bit over the years.
I pretended that the bridal party was fully dressed.
“The ceremony wasn’t any different from any other. It’s a man and a woman who are going to live together, and I think that any promise that they make to each other before their friends and loved ones is important.
“Before we left, the bride took her garter off and threw it. It landed at my feet and I reached down and picked it up.I handed it back to her, but she said to keep it. I stuck it in my pocket, and I still have the silly thing.
“I don’t know where he got it, but the best man handed me an envelope with money in it. He sure didn’t have any pockets.”
Hube was anxious to get Patsy out of there because he knew how embarrassed she was. He said that she shook her head all the way home.”
Several months later while he was loading groceries into his pickup outside the supermarket a couple walked up to him and Patsy and said, “Why, hello there.”
Of course Hube spoke to them. “So many people have ridden with me that I have to be around them a little bit before I remember their names. I was very cordial, but after they left, Patsy said, ‘You don’t remember them, do you?’”
Hube admitted, “No, I sure don’t.”
She reminded him. “That’s the couple you married at the nudist colony.”
Realization suddenly changed his expression to one of surprise. “Holy smoke! I didn’t recognize them with their clothes on.”
I live in Sedona, Arizona—right next to the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon.
Everyone within about a hundred miles has seen the haze and the smoke billowing, depending on which way the wind blows. I’ve smelled it in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning. One morning I got up at three a.m. and peeked out windows to check for flames. None, thank goodness. The fire is about ten miles from our home by vehicle, but I expect that, as the raven flies, it’s actually only six or seven miles away by flight.
There’s a site called sedonawebcam.com which automatically photographs areas of the city in full color, real time. Full color seemed a joke when all I saw was gray and black, and faint silhouettes of mountains. I checked back at night, thinking I would see only black, and there was that, and the lights along 89A with traffic moving sensibly, It looked like a littte toy town. The next morning the smoke had lifted a little and I saw mountain climbers milling around on top of Sugarloaf Mountain. I could see clothing colors—a
red shirt, yellow pants, blue and black.
Several hundred people had been evacuated from their homes, most of
them taken to Flagstaff, up the road from the devastation of an area that had once been declared as the most beautiful canyon in the country.
All the while, brave firefighters were applying their skills, cordoning off sections where they could do some back burns so that fire would meet fire and burn itself out. They knew their jobs, and executed them well. So well that as of this writing no houses or businesses have been destroyed, and no lives lost. They are so appreciated, so valued.
Banners fly bearing this message: THANK YOU, FIREFIGHTERS!
There’s something about rain that makes me want to bake cookies or write poetry.
Thank goodness it doesn’t happen often, but it is doing it today in Sedona, Arizona.
It’s April, supposedly spring, but the forecast for the high is fifty degrees. It’s startling news for us.
Here’s my poem:
TODAY’S HIGH — FIFTY IN SEDONA
At ten in the morning the pine and cedar trees
are doing their little dance, shaking here, shaking there.
Water, water everywhere, in drops, in streams.
The rained-on dog comes in for her rub-down.
There is no guilt in dogs, I read somewhere.
She does not look ashamed about getting drenched.
Her tail is wagging—
that plume-like tail that looks as though
she is conducting an orchestra and,
at the same time, brightening a dreary day.
She’s clever that way.
Gene K. Garrison
ARTISTS OF SEDONA , a narrative art-history book, is my latest. It’s not out yet, but I expect it in June or July, 2014. It’s about artists who were drawn to live and work in and around this beautiful little town in the red rocks of northern Arizona.
Gary Every, who wrote the Foreward, said, “There are enough sculptors currently living in Sedona to create their own bronze age.” A perfect example is world-reknown John Henry Waddell. “The Gathering,” a figurative group, is typical of his work.
Photo: copyright by Gene K. Garrison
In his nineties this remarkable man is still creating bronzes.
I will keep you posted on the progress of this book. I promise.
Gene K. Garrison
Last evening my husband and I watched the above documentary about thousands of new electric cars being collected, taken to remote locations and smashed to smithereens. It was scary. The film was made in 2006,and here it is 2014, and I had never heard of it before.
This is not fiction, folks. Some group doesn’t want to compete with a product that reduces air pollution, uses no gas, etc. Their tactics are worse than disgusting. To say that it’s unfair is an understatement. It’s an attack on the American economy and it’s people.
You can see this documentary on YouTube, and other articles about it through your search engine. Please watch.
This is a test. I am using Helvetica 14. I had it set for 12. I’m writing a book, and this word processing system is driving me crazy. I keep getting corruption messages. The spacing changes by itself. Line lengths change. Font changing simply happens. I have to keep glancing up at the controls to make sure it is still at the correct settings. I place photos in the chapters and they quite often disappear. Some of them have been put in place three times. Margins change as though they have minds of their own.
I’ve called my computer consultant a half-dozen times. He works on it and there’s an improvement for the current problem of the day, but then something else goes wrong. Yesterday he gave up and told me to call the company that manufacturers the software and get it reinstalled. Now there’s another problem. I can’t find their phone number, so I’m venting.
I wanted to ask readers to please purchase my books as gifts. You know my name, and you can certainly find amazon.com. That would make me feel a lot better. But what I want even more is to find that phone number.