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Friday Feature: The Gift of All Directions

Rain Leaf Landscape

We are fortunate to live here — blessed, even. This is a place of exceptional beauty even at the most mundane of moments. WE spend our days at the foot of the peaks, an experience not unlike sitting at the feet of the ancestors, learning from their wisdom and long experience, and every day brings something new, a perspective never seen before.

Part of it is simply light and angles; part of it is the way the whole scape changes beneath the stormclouds. Part of it is the fact that we have mountains in all directions, sentinels who bear timeless witness, and who share their wisdom with us through light and shadow and an unending palette of changing color.

But when we ascend a little higher?

Then we truly become aware of what this land gives to us. For at higher elevations, we can perceive the gift of all directions.

There are many places on this larger land mass that show us a world only at eye level, a static horizon on all sides. In others, population centers in valleys, the peaks visible but inaccessible, and the view circumscribed accordingly. Here, the mountains are high, but traced with paths that permit human ingress. Some of them are situated squarely within tribal lands, access limited only to the people. But whether within or without Pueblo boundaries, to call the views panoramic seems an injustice; the word doesn’t begin to describe the universe laid out below.

It is the universe, or, more accurately, the experience of it, that Frank Rain Leaf captured from a traditional perspective in today’s featured work. From its description in the Other Artists:  Wall Art gallery here on the site:


Frank Rain Leaf (Taos Pueblo) evokes an entire culturescape in this painting of the the Pueblo’s people and lands. It’s a timeless image, one that summons spirits long past yet thoroughly alive today. Frank’s meticulousness shows in his attention to historical detail, as seen in the men’s old-style braids and their blankets in classic striped patterns. It’s also manifest in his portrayal of the land itself: the lifelike colors and shadows of the limestone rock outcroppings, the gradients of color in the stripped bark of the old pines. Full framed canvas shown at top.

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

The painting is classic Frank: He always pays particular attention not only to the details of his physical surroundings, but to the finer points of indigenous existence within them. And so the men’s traditional dress will be instantly recognizeable to anyone of this place, a very old style that carries through to the present. So, too, are the shadows and textures in the rocky outcropping, the listing angles of the old Ponderosa pines, the bone-like weathering of the tree bark. This place is less green now, although green yet remains, but the blue of sky and mountain and fir are ever-present — and in recent days, both hawk and eagle have flown overhead, each dancing in an unending spiral that carries them in all directions and back again.

Life here is a gift of the spirits, of the elemental powers of the cosmos, regardless of weather or season. Occasionally, we do well to climb a little higher and remind ourselves of the view.

~ Aji









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