I was going to quote passages from the novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop but for one, I found it too laborious, and secondly, why mimic aged writing about the New Mexico landscape? Been done.
What sticks, and it was trip a few years back, building on a Las Vegas discovery, the artwork of Georgia O’Keefe. Saw it first, along with the requisite promotional material, in Las Vegas at the Bellagio’s art gallery. Modern Masters. From there to the O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, and then, walking out the door, overhearing in distinctly Midwestern twang, “Those flowers are just evil.”
There’s a subsidiary memory that’s tagged between two others, in part the 15 Books theme and in part, a piece out of a novel that’s carried onward all these years. The book itself is Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead, a sprawling Southwestern epic in its own right, the image, happens late in that novel, it’s a grandmother-type killing the bad guy, kills him dead and leave herself deaf, from a single 44. Might have it wrong, but close enough.
The American Southwest is a captivating place, and I’ve lived, off and on, all over. Two years, Southeastern New Mexico, another year in Albuquerque, three-four in Phoenix, two-three more in Tempe, add my second home of El Paso, and it’s all a natural fit. I’d like to think, at one time, I was an old desert rat. The red dirt, the yellow and ochre sun, the canyon lands, the arroyos, the blue and purple mountains? Not really “home,” but a place where I feel at home.
The plainly erotic, to me, O’Keefe flowers? What makes that even funnier is the Midwestern twang, short vowels, clipped speech pattern. Hardy pioneer stock, in a way, but no, I don’t find the flowers evil. Not even.
However, great art, its purpose? To evoke something within the viewer’s viscera. Makes me think about sex – in – I’d a hope – a good way. Apparently doesn’t effect everyone that way.
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