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Friday Feature: Born of a Low and Shorter Light

The smoke haze returned overnight. I could see the plume beginning to grow and spread again at sunset, and now, after dawn, the yellow-gray pall has settled in around the peaks and over the land.

The air is cold this morning, still at the upper end of the forties well after sunrise. By midday, when the sun is high and hot, it will be hard to believe that we ever needed a fire this morning, yet right now the flames in the woodstove are burning high. And it will be cold again overnight; the nature of this place is to see the mercury swing as much as forty or fifty degrees within the same day at most times of the year.

Now, with a drought-induced early fall and the clear, arid air accompanying it, the temperature swings seem somehow more intense. It’s mostly climatic sleight of hand, of course, aided by who short our memories tend to be; despite the oddnesses of the summer and autumn’s early arrival, we’ve mostly forgotten what the cold really feels like.

We shall be reminded soon. Long shadows, and a longer dark, are born of a low and shorter light.

Today’s featured work embodies the last and best of summer, of the longer light of day and fast-running sky blue waters . . . and of the encroaching shadows of night, warmed by a small bright fire. It’s a work by one of Wings’s oldest friends and fellow artists. Frank is known for his use of brilliant, intense color, his attention to the smallest traditional details, and his ability to illustrate cultural elements with subtle and specificity, and this work is emblematic of all of that. From its description in the Other Artists:  Wall Art gallery here on the site:

Frank Rain Leaf (Taos Pueblo) evokes both ancient and modern representation of person and place in this acrylic painting of a traditionally-dressed Pueblo flute player. This is one of Frank’s most iconic and popular images, one he has used as a model for smaller art media such as greeting cards. It’s an image of the warm season, as awash in color as the bed of the Rio Pueblo it depicts. A young man in traditional moccasins, leggings, wrap, and braids sits beneath an old-style arbor, built by hand, blanket off to the side and a fire at his feet, while he plays a Native flute, an accompaniment to the song of the river.

Acrylic on canvas; wood frame
$425 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Fragility requires special handling; extra shipping charges apply

I’ve always tended to associate this work with the height of summer. Technically, of course, at least by the calendar of the outer world’s reckoning, we are still in summer now. But it occurs to me that this image fits well with this current season, one in which the warmer winds contend and conspire with the sharper edge of fall, one in which the obligations of ceremony will soon cede space to a celebration to mark the seasons’ change.

Here, that change will eventually be drastic indeed. For now, though, it’s still possible to sit comfortably in the shade of the arbor, to enjoy the cooling air. Indoors, the fire will keep us warm through the increasingly long cold night — a night, like the shadows that scribe the land so starkly now, born of a low and shorter light.

~ Aji

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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