Friday, January 11, 2013

A Muse to Dwell Upon

It was Friday, the 4th of January 2013, and golden beams of early evening sunlight pierced the picture windows at the front of the trading post. The glow bathed the interior of the store in a rich, cheerful light that spoke of a warm and comfortable day's end. Outside the Kokopelli doors it was a frigid 24 degrees and getting colder as the setting sun sought the western horizon. The scene caused me to flash back on Grandpa Woody. I could see him standing there in his well-oiled work clothes, grumbling about having to go out into the night to complete a chore. Grandpa was a master mechanic and a wizard with heavy machinery. At his point of departure he would whistle lightly and let fly his patented cold weather metaphor: "It is colder than a witch’s [bosom] in a brass bra." Then he would disappear into the cold's frosty embrace. Ain't it funny how those inappropriate phrases stick with you?
Navajo Spider Web Kingman Turquoise Pendant - Will Denetdale (#217)

There were two couples in the trading post, wandering around while oohing and aahing at the displays. The older pair was 60-something with naturally greying hair. They were both dressed in Levi 501 jeans, button down shirts, light jackets and loafers. They looked fit and trim, like they were exercising regularly and ingesting more health shakes than malted milk. The younger couple must have been in their early 30s, because their cheeks were still pink and their step light. They too were dressed similarly with khaki's, pressed shirts, Eddie Bauer jackets and low top hiking shoes. I don't believe the four of them were traveling together; they seemingly just wandered in the trading post at the same time. Everyone was getting along nicely; the mood was light and the conversation lively.

I had just finished explaining the construction of a Will Denetdale pendent to the younger couple when the older fellow walked up closely, spread his arms as if taking in everything in the store, and asked, "Where does all this come from?" "Oh no!” I thought to myself, "this guy is going to ask if our inventory was made in China or Taiwan and I am going to have to box his ears." In a slightly patronizing tone, I began to explain that everything in the store was handmade by local artists with high grade, natural materials, but the guy cut me off by shaking his head from side to side. "I recognize and understand that, " he said patiently, "but where does the inspiration come from, the creativity that allows these artists to produce such wonderful works of art?" "That," I said, "is an interesting question, and tough to answer."

"Do you mean, does it come from the heart, the head, the soul or is it gifted by deity?" I asked. "Yes, just that!" the man exclaimed excitedly. The older man's wife walked up with a smile on her face and explained that she had heard the ancient Greeks believed divine attendant spirits were responsible for advanced creativity. "I heard that too," I mentioned, "and the Romans believed supernatural geniuses helped them out with grand leaps of creativity." I told the group I was not certain what inspired the artists. I did know that many of them believe their creativity comes from a close association with the natural world. The Navajo people believe they emerged through several inner earthy realms and were eventually born into this world from within the Earth Mother. Because they are of the earth, they see it, touch it, embrace it and portray it in a manner unfamiliar to us. Variations of light and color are visualized and portrayed differently as well, and benevolent deities include such things as the Sun, Moon, Thunder, Lightning and the like.

The two couples and I had a pleasant and stimulating conversation which ended all too soon with the emergence of the moon. We said our goodbyes as I closed and barred the Kokopelli doors for the night. As I did so, I thought of Grandpa Woody again, and the thought occurred to me that Woodrow Wilson Simpson was a creative genius in his own right. When it came to tearing down and rebuilding a piece of heavy machinery to better than new status, there never was nor never will be anyone better than Woody; at least in my heart and mind. The conversation I had with those people made me wonder if the busty sorcerous with the metal breast plate he so often referred to just might have been his own personal mechanical muse . . . who'd have guessed?

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve, Priscilla and Danny; The Team

Great New Items! This week's selection of Native American art!

Our TnT's purchased new treasures! Check out Traders in Training!

Enjoy artwork from our many collector friends in Living with the Art!

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