Monday, June 23, 2014

A Visit to Tinkertown

The outside was fascinating in and of itself
I've talked before about Artist's Dates, and this past week I had the chance to go to a new and quirky place with my son on what amounted to a combined Artist Date and nice afternoon with him.

We visited Tinkertown in Sandia Crest, which is located on the eastern side of the Sandia Mountains, about 20 minutes outside Albuquerque. It's a museum filled with carvings by Ross Ward, collectibles from all over the world, and even a boat that's travelled around the world. The museum is surrounded by pine trees, and when we got out of the car, I could smell horses along with the forest's scent. Sure enough, there was a small paddock nearby where a couple of horses watched over us.
A wee little burial

There is a lot to see in every single bit of space in the museum. It's made of a couple dozen rooms linked by some crazy wooden walkways that were pretty steep in some areas, with old license plates and horseshoes embedded here and there and glass bottles in the walls.

There was an Old West village in miniature, and an entire circus in miniature. In the glass case called Boot Hill, you could watch God and the devil battle it out over one man's soul while skeletons danced at the top of a hill overlooking a tiny cemetery.
The art car

One of the things that touched me most, though, was when we stumbled across an art car. Ross Ward was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and eventually he got to the point where he figured he shouldn't drive his car anymore, but he didn't know what to do with it. A friend suggested he turn it into a piece of art. And so he did. He wasn't tempted to drive it anymore since it was a piece of art and no longer just his car. I found it an interesting and insightful solution into the problem of giving up one's car when the time as appropriate.

I find it remarkable that one person's passion grew so much and became popular enough to draw in thousands of visitors every year.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Remembering Art Class

I came across something the other day that gave me quite a shock. I found an old pencil drawing I had done sometime around the age of twenty. I'd bought a sketchpad and a book on drawing and had spent some time doodling and playing, much of it at the table in the back of our house (given some of the subject matter in the sketchpad, like an aluminum Jon boat and a duck) where I could look out the window and draw whatever I spotted.
One of my many masterpieces

It's no Michelangelo, and yet the first thing I thought when I saw it for the first time after many years was, "Hunh, that's not bad." But it did bring back memories, mostly of the elective art class I took in high school, and the teacher, Ms. Tarrant.

The high school I graduated from required two art classes. I'd already taken one at my old school, and the one I took at my new school was rather bland. But, the elective was exciting. We were the kids who really dug art, and Ms. Tarrant was about the nicest teacher you could ever imagine. I still remember how she always wore her red hair in the same bouffant every day. And one time she called in a substitute teacher because she lived near the zoo, and one of the lions had escaped and was somewhere in her neighborhood and she didn't want to leave the house. I couldn't really blame her for that one.

Anyway, she let us listen to whatever music we wanted, which usually ended up being The Ramones or heavy metal. She would tolerate a rather generous portion of time listening to it before she let us know she couldn't take it any more, and then she'd put on her own tape. She always put on Neil Diamond. When I hear Neil Diamond, I always go back to that room and the smell of paint and charcoal.

We worked with all sorts of media in that class. One time I made about ten or a dozen airbrushed prints using the same star-like shape over and over, just experimenting with colors and how I laid out the pattern. I entered the best piece and a couple of other pieces in an art show and, just for the heck of it, assigned prices to them in case anybody wanted to buy one. To my surprise, I sold that airbrush piece. Apparently a little girl saw it and loved it and wanted to put it up in her bedroom because she loved stars. I imagined my piece framed and hanging up in a room somewhere, maybe surrounded by teddy bears or unicorns, or lots of books. That was the best feeling, that I had made something I liked and that somebody else liked, too.