inspiration found

The Tuesday morning note from the universe:

The one thing all famous authors, world-class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things. Yet, they still began their journeys.

A graceful hawk swooped from the morning crystalline sky and perched upon a naked branch. That was my view this morning as I sat in the hot tub. My inner voice harshly harangued me about being a lazy slug and starting my morning chores late. (stick it where the sun never shines, inner voice!)

The proud hawk buoyed my heart to new heights. Made me want to share with you where I’m finding inspiration these days.

I’ve been involved in rehearsals for Amarillo Opera’s upcoming production of Les Misera….bluh. Don’t think I’m going to be able to continue with the grueling schedule, but allow me to describe my uber-talented cast mates. Like the regal hawk, they provide plenty of reasons to look up in wonderment.

The Principles.

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You may describe them as our stars. These are the dedicated professionals who have spent their lives honing their craft. They are exactly as you would expect….off-the-charts-talented. They can blow the roof off a building with the air rushing through their vocal cords. Their acting ability can spike the stock price of Kleenex on the Dow. They are wonderful to behold. The path they travel is never easy and it’s brimming with rejection. I would enthusiastically storm the Bastille with them.

The ensemble. The community members. The rest of us. This is the group I’m treasuring today.  Let’s consider:

The community children/youth. They could be home in front of their computer screens, they could be texting, they could be involved in any number of things. Instead, they schlep to long rehearsals with school books in hand. They study between scenes and their parents run a continual carpool rivaling the busiest taxi service. They want to be involved in something bigger than themselves. I glimpse the future in their eyes. Let’s blast a rousing strain of Do you Hear the People Sing? in their honor!

The college students/young adults. This group packs tons of talent. Many of them are vocal/music students trying to learn about life in the business. They could be studying, dating, dragging the bars….but they bless us by being enthusiastically present. One of my favorite students is a young man who is working toward his master’s degree in choral conducting. He’s the age of one of my kids. I notice him not only because of his heavenly voice, but because he comes to every scene, every note, with 100% dedication and passion. I believe every measure he sings. I swear, if I touched him while he was acting I would scald my hand. He’s that red-hot! Let’s toss our berets in the air in celebration of this hard-working group!

The olders.

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This group includes those who sport graying hair, slipped discs, sore feet and hemorrhoids. They stubbornly refuse to believe the best days are in the past. The olders juggle grandkids, aging parents, day jobs and diminishing stamina. Consider one of our treasured olders; a lovely lady who lives in an outlying community. She makes the almost-hour commute every day. I worry about her lonely late-night drives home. During a break in last Sunday’s long rehearsal schedule, she took a nap in her car. Consider the construction worker who makes 300 mile+ work trips during the day. He attends rehearsal like he just woke up from a refreshing nap. I’m awestuck in the presence of these castmates. Let’s hoist the banner high for them!!

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You’re sure of my bias now, aren’t you? I admire-the-hell out of those who make their living in the humdrum and sometimes grayscale real-world, yet contribute colorful and uniquely textured yarn to our community tapestry. This is the cumulative art we call Les Misera-bluh.

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Your efforts enrich my One Day More immeasurably. Don’t ever give up on your art.

Amarillo Opera is proud to provide a mechanism and framework in which these noble artistic efforts can occur. Bravo!

Beyond-the-barricade love to all.

tickets for Les Mis-panhandletickets.com

sacred

I know this thirst will not last long for it will soon drown in a song not sung in vain,

I feel the thunder in the sky, I see the sky about to rain, and I hear the prairies calling out Your name.

Rich Mullins, Calling Out Your Name

 

The view from my window took a decidedly interesting turn last week.

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One week I’m playing a brothel whore in The Threepenny Opera.

threepennyandhannah 011aThe next week I’m guiding Amarillo artist Andrew DeJesse through the petroglyph cave at the ranch. Go ahead, reward yourself. Take a minute to peek at his art.

Andrew provided the interesting art gracing the cover of Amarillo Opera’s program last season. Seems our executive director, David O’Dell, wants Andrew to provide his unique viewpoint to our cover again this year. David thought viewing some ranch scenery and crawling through the petroglyph cave could fuel Andrew’s imagination. I became the chief tour guide.

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Contemporary artist face-to-face with prehistoric artist.

Andrew was an excellent sport.

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On top of the art cave.

I enjoyed talking all things ‘art’ and ‘great plains’ with Andrew and his gracious wife, Elizabeth.

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In the midst of a three-year drought, browns are the predominant color in northern New Mexico. What could the artist possibly see in this stark environment?

Maybe I’ve enjoyed a day more.…but I simply can’t think of one right now.

We stopped at all my favorite places. Looking for inspiration on the Great Plains is not an activity for sissies.

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Rock pen.

Looking at the old rock pens, we spoke of wondering about the family who once lived here.
ranchesandrewdejesse 123aAt times I felt as if I should reimburse Andrew for the art lesson, as we discussed the many sources of inspiration for texture.

ranchesandrewdejesse 124aHe pointed out the inspiration for shape scattered around our feet.

ranchesandrewdejesse 129aHe helped me see how a jumble of rocks could be just as stunning as a beautiful bouquet of carefully arranged flowers.

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Nature’s bouquet.

I confided in Andrew and Elizabeth of how I like to have my camera slung around my neck as it forces me to see. To observe and not rush by.

Elizabeth and Andrew weren’t even the slightest bit irritated when I chirped,

Let’s go see the graveside. It’s just a five-minute walk!

ranchesandrewdejesse 178aAfter 30 minutes walking uphill in the wind and scaling a rock basket for a barbed wire fence, they remained unflappable. They possess the true wonderment of explorers.

Andrew explained he has a passion for this area of the country (he was born in New Jersey) and he wanted to move here. His muse is this land.

Come again, Andrew?? Were you out of town for the entire dust-bowl month of March?

Old rock storage shed on table-top pasture land. If you squint you can spot Rabbit Ear mountain.
Old rock storage shed on table-top pasture land. If you squint you can spot Rabbit Ear mountain.

Andrew’s knowledge of the history of this area is impressive. I prayed he wouldn’t ask me any ‘New Jersey’ questions. Garden state!!

I’m no art critic (a-men), but when I ponder Andrew’s art I see an artist with a profound talent for elevating the ordinary to the sacred. He never overtly sentimentalizes his subject matter. In fact, he says he tries to ‘stay out of it’. Much of his subject matter deals with the harsh realities of life on the Great Plains, but I think his art reveals his reverence for the area and the land’s hardy inhabitants.

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Swallow (mud dauber) nests along the creek bed.

To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Thanks Elizabeth and Andrew for the holy day. I’m grateful.

Hope you discover your muse this week, dear reader.

Sacred love to all.

pondering art

I’ve been holding out on you. I’ve failed to mention I’m set-dressing in another Amarillo Opera production.

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Even though the title contains the word opera, it feels like musical theater to me. There’s a storyline with spoken dialogue. Musical numbers are interspersed.

We had our first meeting of cast and ensemble last week.

indexAs usual, Amarillo Opera has brought in some fantastic pros who will sing the principle roles. It’s great fun to watch them apply their craft. They serve to inspire us locals. The talent will not disappoint those who come see the show.

I’ve been wrestling with how to describe this quirky work to you chicken-wingers. First things first. One of the most recognizable jazz standards of all time…..Mack the Knife.…is in Threepenny Opera. The song opens and closes the show.

Guess what? There really is a Suki Tawdry. And she’s in this show!

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THE Suki Tawdry.

And I KNOW her! There’s also Mack the Knife, Lucy Brown, Jenny Diver, Polly Peachum and all the cast of miscreants mentioned in the song.

Threepenny Opera’s plot involves the criminal underbelly of London around 1838…during the time of Queen Victoria’s coronation. Think Oliver! only lots seedier with gang members, crimes and prostitution.

Here’s my best way to describe this 20th century work to you.

Let’s look at two photos, shall we?

hwithglasssesPhoto number one is a yucca plant in bloom.

yucca1We quickly recognize the elements in the photo: the soft blooms, the barbed-wire background, the rough fence post, the grass and sky. These are pretty familiar images to the West Texas eye. Most of us would describe this photo as pretty, or maybe even beautiful.…depending upon one’s perspective. It feels comfortable and we don’t have to expend much effort to understand the picture or to interpret the elements contained within it.

Is the photo art?

What do you think of photo number two?

yucca2I hear you….it is the same photo. It might be a little harder to recognize the blooming plant as a yucca. Is that a fencepost? Is the barbed-wire still there? Why is the sky funky-colored with the crazy texture? Is that really the sky?? Hard to tell. Even though this photo has the same elements as the first one, it feels more ominous, shady, and perhaps even confusing to some of us. Confounding, perhaps?

Is the photo art?

Threepenny Opera feels like the second photo. I like it and I’m understanding it more every day, but it’s definitely the second photo for me.

My favorite line from the Opera is spoken by Mack after a particularly dramatic song by his love (one of MANY!), Polly. After her song, the uncouth gang members are offering comments on what they think of Polly’s song. Mack exclaims, “It’s ART, and art isn’t NICE!’

‘Bout sums it up for me.

I’ll show you some bits and pieces as we work toward opening night, April 5th.

‘Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear’-love to all.