I think the white spaces were as far as I have ever been from the struggles, foibles and quarrels of human beings, from their greed and ambition and money and cruelty. Far, also from the good people hoping for better days.
Out there, I felt I was in a celestial space, a universe of its own, free and spiritually pure. There was magic in those cliffs, and I felt humbled and inadequate and embarrassed from the cruelty and destruction that people cause.
There wasn’t a trace of that there, there was purity and sanctity all around me, it was a kind of cathedral, a place of worship, it called out to Maria and to me to find our better selves and angels and to live meaningfully and with purpose.
I don’t think I could bear to live so purely, I am not so pure as the spirits that made the white spaces, but I drank deeply of its power and meaning. That night, I could not bear to look at the news on my Iphone, I will just put it off as long as I can.
Sunday turned out to be a holy day for Maria and I. We got up before sunrise and drove an hour north to Abiquiu and the White Place that Georgia O’Keefe loved so much and painted so beautifully. It was the most beautiful setting I have ever been in and we walked across some hills to the white sandstone cliffs she often painted.
We spent hours sitting and walking among the cliffs. It was so still, and so beautiful. There were some worn trails but no litter of any kind – it is not simple to get to and people treat it with reverence.
I cannot adequately describe the power and feeling of this space, it is truly sacred in every sense of the word. Maria felt it as or more deeply than I did, I think, she walked around the cliffs, touched them, we were both awed by this space.
The setting was astonishing, I could feel the power of it, and so well understand what drew O’Keefe to paint these amazing scenes, they stand out for miles against the darker mountains and hills. I was drawn to kneel in front of them, they were so beautiful, instead I sat down and prayed and meditated and listen to the silence.
This, undoubtedly, is why we came, and why we feel this particular geography and landscape so powerfully. I saw a video of O’Keefe speaking at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, and she said she came her because there was nothing else like it – the air is different, the wind is different, the sky and light is different.
We felt a deep connection to this place, and I think it will take some time and distance to fully understand it. It was a special and holy day for us. I know we will be coming back here, one way or the other, and I know we will bring some of this power and feeling home with us, and into our lives and our work.
The cliffs were speaking to me, and to Maria too, I could hear them and feel them.
There are amazing old churches and Pueblos and adobe homes dotting many of the highways in New Mexico, and we have stopped to look at a number of them. On the way to Abuiquiu we found this old church, the Curch of La Rosa Santadelimina, built in the 1700’s and still lovingly tended by the faith.
The church is fenced off and sits right off the road.
There are fresh flowers and candles all around the church, inside and out. It is a holy and sacred space.
We stopped and walked through it and stood quietly there for a wall, the walls definitely speak.
Almost everywhere we went in Chimayo, the shopkeepers and artists asked me if I had seen the Jewish Art Angels painted by the popular artist Diana Bryer.
I believe in angels, I am always looking for angels – Maria bought me a painted angel at Teresa and Richard’s gallery. I am Jewish, but not observant, but still, the idea fascinated me and I was curious to see one.
Sunday, we made an appointment to meet Diana Breyer, a gifted and successful local artist who paints many things but who noticed that all of the angels sold around Chimayo were meant for Christians, and since she is Jewish she thought she should paint some angels with Jewish symbols like Moses or the Star of David embedded somewhere in the painting.
I thought it best to photograph an artist with my art lens.
We saw several of the “Jewish Art Angels” in her gallery, and they were beautiful and inventive – and quite unique. Of anyone wants to contact her about one, they can call her at 505 753-5701 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is well worth knowing and her Jewish angels almost made me religious.
We fell in love with Diana, an especially warm and generous person, she gave Maria some yarn stacked in a trailer in her back yard and invited us into her home for tea.
We also got a great tour of her gallery, and I bought a small print of a regular angel – I don’t think she’s a Jewish one – and I got Maria a beautiful necklace on sale for $20.
Diana is 75, the age my grandmother was when she died in a home for the aged, and Diana told us happily that she is about to get married for the second time, and is looking at some adobe houses to fix up and move to.
She was born in Los Angeles and met some strange man at an arts festival and followed him to New Mexico and then ditched him.
That was years ago and she’s been here ever since. She was sad on Sunday, her gallery owner in Santa Fe passed away this weekend and she is wondering what to do if she has to move or decides to move. I imagine it is a difficult thing for an established artist to lose her gallery owner.
But Diana is tough and talented.
She paints all kinds of wonderful images which is realistic but has a wonderful and mystical quality to it.
The colors are vivid and rich, and I wish I could afford one of her original paintings, but we’ve already blown our budget (and they are not very expensive). She is not a “Jewish” artist, but a wonderful artist, and actually has only a few Jewish Art Angels, but I think it is good of her to think of angels for Jews, even non-religious ones.
Diana is another of the unique and wonderful and talented people we have met out here in New Mexico, the land of the free spirits, and she is certainly not like the Jewish women I grew up around in Providence.
We are much drawn to New Mexico, we love where we live in Cambridge, but this certainly feels like a kind of home to us. We come back on Wednesday. We did some fantasizing about moving here with the dogs and the donkeys, but I don’t think much will come of it.
We are very happy in our lives back home. The dogs and animals are fine. Gus lost his collar and Red keeps jumping into bed with Shelby.
Shelby and Kirby know what they are doing. And I have a couple of angels to put up in my study. I think they will be friends as well as pet sitters, they are special people.