Once the Garrett Snuff Mills. Once the Marshall Brothers Paper Company, Once the National Vulcanized Fiber Plant… Now a ghost looking for its future. Taken with my iPhone on a foggy, foggy morning… it’s the only way I can still get digital panoramic photos… like I once did with film and a Widelux camera.
Old Rolls of Paper
Still on huge rolls sitting in the abandoned factory was heavy paper.
Polyethylene put up to keep the weather outside… almost works.
Black Vultures on the Roof
Black Vultures were not a usual site in the historical days of the Yorklyn factory. Climate change has brought them further north over time. Now they hover and land.
Old N V F letters from the demolition
The rooms at the auction start every Friday full of stuff. Abandoned, forsaken, retired, discarded, forgotten… things. So many stories every Friday… collected, pack ratted, heirlooms, and junk… stories we will never hear. Dolls who were a best friend or who were just collectable… and every Friday, at the end the night, the rooms are empty. Sold.
Briggs Auction was founded in 1932, and has since been in continuous operation in its current location. In the early years, we offered two auctions each week: livestock on Tuesdays and other merchandise on Fridays. At the Friday auctions, everything on hand was sold with nothing carried over. The livestock auctions were eventually abandoned, but the Friday auctions thrived.
In the 1960s Robert J. Briggs took over the business from his father. Together with his wife Gail, he expanded the auction facilities to their current size of over 10,000 square feet with ample customer parking. Today, each Friday auction features a wide range of items fresh the marketplace from local estates, homes, and collections with more than 1500 lots sold every week. John H. Turner, Janice Briggs Turner and William J. Briggs currently own and operate Briggs Auction.
The story of the Toadlena Trading Post is intricately woven within the story of Two Grey Hills rugs.
It begins around 1868 when the Southwest Territories became part of the United States and the Navajo began settling on the reservation. The first white traders were fur trappers, who traded red cloth to the Navajo for access to the reservation.
Where there was water, there was rug trading. Mobility was limited to horse and wagon in the 1860s, so the traders traveled throughout the arid reservation, parked by water and waited for the natives to arrive. Most posts were established at water sites for this very reason, and the names of many trading posts begin with the Navajo word for water, which is “to.” Just like Toadlena.
The wagon “posts” brought the outside world to the Navajo. They were loaded with desirable supplies, such as coffee, flour, tools and hardware. In exchange, the traders took silver jewelry, sheared wool and hand woven Navajo textiles back to the white settlers.
Demand for Navajo rugs increased and higher prices were paid. By 1900 the traders and weavers were working together to develop marketable designs that characterized different regions of the Navajo Nation. Each was named for the trading post in its area, such as Two Grey Hills, Ganado, Teec Nos Pos and Chinle.
This woman’s craft as a weaver was elevated and fostered and advocated for by Mark Winter at the Toadlena Trading Post in Two Grey Hills, New Mexico… giving her an income and enabling her daughter and her daughter’s daughter to be weavers, as well. Diné means “the people” in Navajo… it’s what they call themselves. She taught me to say, “Ahéhee’” which means, thank you.
Virginia Deal, 88, of Toadlena, a master weaver, passed from this life on Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Shiprock, New Mexico.
Back when Indian weaving first splashed earth tones on New York's gaudy art scene, a rug trader visited Virginia Deal's loom in a remote corner of the Navajo Nation and made her an offer.
"How much for this rug?" he asked her.
Virginia pondered. She had learned her craft from Daisy Taugelchee, the Picasso of Navajo weavers. Virginia's rugs were among the finest in the Two Grey Hills region, where the reservation's best textiles had been woven for centuries. Her threads were as fine as silk, her designs startlingly intricate.
But it wasn't difficult to put a price on her rug. "A truck," she told the trader.
A week later, a new pickup arrived at her hogan. Her rug went East.
The influence of Quakers, or Friends, a dynamic Christian group of religious movements grounded in the belief that “the light within” or “that of God in every one” has had, and has, a profound influence on the world in which we all live.
Refusal to participate in war, plain dress, refusal to swear oaths, and opposition to slavery are core manifestations reflecting emotional purity and the light of God.
Barclays, Bethlehem Steel, Lloyds Bank, C&J Clark, Cadbury are all Quaker companies, as well as being at the center of founding Amnesty International, American Friends Service Committee, Johns Hopkins University, Greenpeace, and Oxfam.
Colora, MD Meeting House
Colora Meeting House
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the heart of much of the art, music, and poetry that continue to flow through the veins of Cuba and around the world. Birthplace of the Son, Trova, Pepe Sánchez, Sindo Garay, Frank País, José Maria Heredia, the world famous Bacardi brand, Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, and Eliades Ochoa… Music, Art, Poetry, Humanity… Santiago.
Founded on July 25, 1515, Santiago became more and more culturally diverse when the Haitian Slave Revolt of 1791 caused many French plantation owners to flee to Santiago, bringing slaves and coffee and adding to the already rich mix of Spanish and African culture.
On July 26, 1953, the Cuban Revolution began in Santiago when an ill-prepared armed attack on Moncada Barracks, led by Fidel Castro, failed. Ultimately, succeeding after many years, and with the merger of Frank País’ group and Castro’s July 26 Movement.
On January 1, 1959, Fidel Castro proclaimed victory from a balcony in Santiago de Cuba’s City Hall.
Santiago… Always arts… Always. Everything happens In the streets… because it is always hot.
Barbero de Santiago
On a street corner in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba… the true soul of Cuba, though the people of La Habana might not agree… a blind man gets a shave. Life is pretty close to ground level in Cuba, but closer in Santiago.
The spirit of Fidel lives on.
When Fidel was captured, the story goes, the commander had orders to execute him and his revolutionary followers after their failed attack on the Moncada Barracks on July 26, 1953. Captured in the Sierra Maestra Mountains outside Santiago, the commander stood the group in front of a large boulder to shoot them, but decided they would be a better example if they were put on trial.
When Fidel died, his brother Raúl sought a fitting memorial stone for his grave in Santiago. A sculptor made one that looked like the boulder. Raúl did not think it was right. He went to the place where they were captured and found the actual boulder. With considerable effort it was removed to the cemetery and now marks the resting place of Fidel.
So the story goes…
In a few hours you will be victorious or defeated, but regardless of the outcome – listen well, friends – this Movement will triumph. If you win tomorrow, the aspirations of Martí will be fulfilled sooner. If we fail, our action will nevertheless set an example for the Cuban people, and from the people will arise fresh new men willing to die for Cuba. They will pick up our banner and move forward... The people will back us in Oriente and in the whole island. As in '68 and '92, here in Oriente we will give the first cry of Liberty or Death!
– Fidel Castro's speech to the Movement just before the Moncada Attack, 1953
Hot in the Shade
So few cars… in Santiago.
Time is Gold.
Time is gold. Take advantage of it.
Casa de la Trova
Casa de la Trova is a little club, at the corner of Heredia and St. Felix, where the native treasures of this region, Pepe Sanchez, Sindo Garay, Compay Segundo have their roots. Considered the birthplace of Trova, the photos on the walls show who has been there, played there and whose spirits are still present.
Old New Mexico Sites
English: New Mexico
Spanish: Nuevo México
Navajo: Yootó Hahoodzo
We, Americans, have an origin mythology, a kind of cosmogonic myth that says America was first settled by the English Pilgrims (1620) at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Setting foot on a rock with vestal virgins in tow and the light of God warming them as they set upon the New World with a purpose and a manifest destiny. The facts are quite different.
The oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement is, in fact, St. Augustine, Florida (1565).
While New Mexico did not become a state until 1912, another fact is that the oldest state capital in the United States is Santa Fe, which started being colonized in 1598 and was subsequently founded by Spanish colonists in 1610.
But New Mexico’s history is much, much, much older and deeper than any European interlopers. Some 12,000 years ago, Clovis Man, nomadic hunters, arrived and stayed.
Later the Anasazi (Ancient Puebloans), Mogollon, and Hohokam, all agricultural societies cultivated corn, squash, and beans.
Around 500 C.E. the dense settlements became more complex, as is evidenced by the Red Willows Pueblo de Taos a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Taos, one of the longest continuously occupied communities in the United States. https://taospueblo.com/home/
Then, strangely, many ancient sites were abandoned. Many successful and large pueblos like Chaco Canyon were left empty. The people relocated along the Rio Grande as well as to the Zuni and Acoma regions.
Just before the Spanish arrived, several groups of Athapaskan or Na-Dené speaking people (British Columbia/NW Canada/Alaska) appeared. The Navajo and Apache are this migration.
Navajo contact with both the Pueblos and the Spanish shifted the hunter gatherer culture to crop-farming and then to sheep and goat herding.
There are such diverse cultures of Native Americans in the Four Corners and New Mexico that it is not possible to sum up the sense of place and time and spirit in words. The air, the smells of sage and cottonwood, the six of seven human living zones, the stars, the critters, the light, and the skies that go on forever…and the colors.
The history and the threads and fabrics of Tewa, Pecos, Apache, Zuni, Hopi, Navajo… and the many groups within each group are as varied as their stories of creation, of time, of evolving being, of conflicts… of life.
Ladder to the Sky
Each year some 30,000 people from all over the world make pilgrimages to the Santuario de Chimayó during Holy Week… bringing crosses, hopes, needs, and prayers for more than two hundred years.
Chain Link Prayers
Desperation more than celebration brings us to these places. Times of need and hopelessness… more than times of gratitude and humility. We stick notes and crosses and money as tributes or favors asked of an all mighty and all knowing God... in churches on stolen land.
A human with crossed legs. INRI (above his head). Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum. Jesus of Nazareth, King of Judeans. Nailed over Jesus as he lay dying on the cross by Pontius Pilate.
La Capilla de la Sangre de Cristo
Driving away from the legendary El Santuario de Chimayó, “the most important Catholic Pilgrimage Center in the United States” (kind of real/kind of touristy)… on the left, I noticed what I thought was probably one of the modern day Chimayós but… no mementos for sale, no chain link fence with crosses woven into by those in need of comfort, aid, salvation from haunted memories… just a church.
As I circled back to this little chapel, I was struck by the notion that Chimayó was, in fact, more of a museum or a pilgrimage site than a church at the heart of a community, but that what I just gone past was more likely where the village went on Sundays or for weddings or funerals or christenings… the real life blood spiritual center. I thought it was made of cinder block and was perhaps built in the 1950s out of affordable materials to emulate the cathedral form with a polygonal apse. It was quiet and serene as I walked around following the tires tracks in the sandy parking area. I thought that the building, this church, this little cathedral, this chapel was a humble place of worship built… to serve a purpose.
It was not until I did a little research as I was printing palladium prints of the church that I thought to see if I could find it in the annals of the internet. I was right about the heart of the village thought, but I was off by about 100 years or really… more like 400 years and by nearly a half millennium of legacy. The Spanish families that arrived in 1598 and were exiled by the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. After the area was “re-established”, several churches were built.
Now, it is La Capilla de la Sangre de Cristo in the village Cuarteles. It was built between 1850 and 1855 by the ancestors of the esclavos that still take care of it today. (Esclavos in English is slaves.)
San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Rancho de Taos
Georgia O’Keefe, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams… The form of the church is so different, so organic, so humble but certain of its purpose. The storm that approached as I walked around was energizing and enervating, at once. It seemed to come alive from it’s rather mundane location to say what I keep learning over and again… nothing is mundane and nothing is better… it is all beautiful when you see it… if you see it.
San Francisco de Asis Mission Church
Taos Rio Grande Bridge... nearby.
Bandelier Wilderness after the forest fires of 2009
Bandelier Wilderness after the forest fires of 2009
Kiva Pecos, New Mexico
Arrows in the Rain
Arrows in the Rain Left
Na-Dené (Navajo) word for Jimsonweed [Datura innoxia or Datura stramonium]
This plant has a long and complicated history in many world cultures and religions. From being burned routinely for the Oracle at Delphi to produce trance-inducing smoke to Buddhist and Hindu esotericism, or Tantra… it is a symbol of Shiva to whom it is offered, still, in rituals. From Aztecs, who called it toloatzin, giving it to human sacrifices before tearing out their hearts… to Navajo and Southwestern Native American use of it in shamanistic practices as both medicine and a gateway to other spirit worlds.
Edges: Forests and Meadows
In the words of Cristina Pato (Pianist. Galician Bagpipes. Silk Road.): The edge...”Is the point in which two ecosystems meet, like the forest and the savannah. And apparently, in ecology, this edge effect is where the most new life-forms are created.” *
This idea of edges, of intersections, of overlapping, overarching, underlying… edges in four dimensions x,y,z, and time… is fundamentally important to me.
When I read “Beak of the Finch”, I realized that there are many edges at once in most circumstances. It is not merely the Side to Side. There is Top to Bottom. Outside to Inside. Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Light and Dark.
And that evolution is possible at any moment because it is built into being itself. Not just evolution into something, but also back to something.
The idea that the beaks of the Galapagos Finches required to survive the weather induced failures and ensuing successes in plant and, therefore, ensuing seed production… could evolve in a few years. And then return when things reverted. Natural Selection is based on survival numbers. The ecosystems that are contiguous, coinciding, confluent and concurrent are dynamic and always in flux.
Prime forest is the natural pinnacle of the piedmont growth cycle.
I have always, always, always… been fascinated by images that were so wide that it was as if I was seeing the place with both eyes. Humans have a total field of view between 160 to 208 degrees, about 140 degrees or so for each eye and by regular field of 120 -- 180 degrees. A wide angle lens does not cover that without some kind of distortion.
For years I used a Widelux film camera. I could use any film. I created my own infrared filters using Kodak Wratten 87 material to fit the moving lens. To my knowledge there is no equivalent digital camera… but there is the iPhone. It’s not infrared, but it moves like the Widelux.
There are places and feelings that cannot be captured any other way. It’s not the same as a wide angle lens.
I will explore and explain process and show results here. Places. Portraits. Ideas. Things.
The Four Corners
Most of the Four Corners region belongs to semi-autonomous Native American nations, the largest of which is the Diné or Navajo Nation followed by Hopi, Ute, and Zuni tribal reserves and nations.