Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cranes! (Again....)

We had to go into town (Albuquerque again) the other afternoon and there was some time to kill after taking care of our errands, so we stopped by Old Town for a bit. As we were headed back to the Red Van, we passed a gallery showing mostly local and regional plein air paintings. We decided to go in to take a look around and walked out with a rather nice painting of Sandhill cranes at the Bosque, painted by Placitas artist Linda Heath.

When we headed back to our place, there were an uncounted number of cranes on the ground at the ranch nearby where we'd seen them before, only this time, the cranes and the cattle had traded places and the cattle were closer to the road than the birds. As we passed by, a small part of the flock rose into the air and flew low to the east.

Some time later, not more than a few minutes, as we were feeding the feral cats at our place,  we could see formations of cranes in the air low to the north. It seemed they were coming not just from the ranch up the road but from farther north as well, wave after wave of them, not unlike the exhilarating sight of them coming in for the night at the Bosque. 

Cranes by the hundreds passed over our place. It was almost as if they were using it as a landmark. Some formations turned east as they flew by, others continued on south in a straight line. When we were at the Bosque del Apache (maybe 80 miles south as the crane flies) in the evening during the Festival, cranes were arriving from both the north and the east, and we were wondering where they were coming from. We know now that at least some of the flock routinely comes up as far north as our place and even farther north during the day, but where the cranes on the east go or come from, we aren't sure.

As the cranes were flying and honking and calling to one another overhead, we could hear -- but not see -- someone on the ground honking and calling along with them. Was he mocking? Hard to say. The sight of these huge birds by the hundreds gliding so apparently effortlessly in the air can take your breath away. It's hard -- no, it's impossible -- to ignore. It's no wonder some people want to call and honk in unison with them, even if they are mocking the sounds the birds make.

Linda Heath's painting of cranes at the Bosque now hangs in the bedroom on the opposite side of the dresser from the mysterious painting of a solitary man walking by a log house in the moonlight and the snow -- a painting by an artist whose name we don't even know. That one has been one of our favorites for years.

Collecting art that calls out to us is one of our indulgences. We have acquired a good deal of Native art -- mostly pottery and jewelry -- over the years, and yesterday we purchased a necklace of turquoise and garnet and crystal from a very chatty and quite delightful Native (Tewa) jeweler from the Santo Domingo Pueblo on the Old Town Plaza. We realize we're very lucky to be able to do this, to be able to make these kinds of purchases basically on impulse. But we've also long felt an obligation that -- if we are able to do so financially -- we should be supporting (mostly) local artists by purchasing their works.

And so we do...


  1. When I was working pretty much full time, well, full-time as far as it goes in my field of endeavor, which mostly meant the winters off--, I would save up per diem monies and then buy local art work. I figured, here, I have some extra fake income, spend it on something real and lasting and righteous while it's there. I have some very neat paintings and photographs because of that. Now that I no longer have the luxury of per diem monies, it's kind of harder to do, but occasionally I see something I just have to buy from a local artist. Win win for all!

  2. We don't have the income we once did either. Still, as long as there is something "extra", we'll buy art.

    Besides the enjoyment we derive from the numerous pieces we have, there's a sense of obligation. We worked in the arts field for so many years, and it involved a tremendous amount of mutual support. We can't do the kinds of things we did back then (we provided exhibit space and promotion and lots of other things for artists back in the day), so we buy things -- directly from the artists if we can, from galleries if they seem to be honest (the stories I could tell!)

    The idea that people shouldn't have to pay for art drives me nuts! Artists have to eat too!