Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Academic Nude: 19th Century Science, Photography, and the Nude Male Human Form

As part of the series of Journal entries about contemporary alternative gay male art versus traditional gay male art I explore the history and relationship of photography in general to gay male photography in particular.

Photography did not escape the Nineteenth Century fascination with classification and categorization. Production was also often based on scientific exploration of the medium itself and/or applied study of the encountered object/subject. I explore two such (heterosexual) 19th century photographers briefly.
Eadweard Muybridge’s ‘zoopraxiscopic’ studies of human and animal motion photography led to the development of motion picture photography precisely because they stirred interest in the seeming conquest of time and space through captured motion. Muybridge also influenced the work of Thomas Eakins and indirectly Marcel Duchamp.1 Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase" in particular is an abstracted quote of Muybridge. Additionally, the human subjects of Muybridge’s studies were beautifully formed physical specimens because of Muybridge's need to show human anatomy performing in motion. Never the less, I’m certain that the perusal of these works would have fascinated homosexual men at the time of their production, and they fascinate and titillate to this day precisely because of the persuasive presence of the flickering but vigorous figures in motion.2

Additionally, Gaudenzio Marconi (1841-1885)is known for his recreation of photographic tableau based in Renaissance and classical art, and because he prepared photographic studies of works for August Rodin. I must emphasize that Marconi was not making photographs for a gay male audience, though I surmise that men of the time with the inclination and sufficient means must have perused Marconi’s work as erotica.

Despite the original intent of Marconi and Muybridge, I feel it necessary to include them at the beginning of my examination of gay male photography precisely because they provide early examples of the photographer as he beheld the nude male form.


Google Search, “Eadweard Muybridge,” Monday, December 17, 2007, 10:01 AM EST.

Muybridge, Eadweard, The Human Figure in Motion. Mineola, NY. Dover, 1989

1 Muybridge, Eadweard, “Eadweard Muybridge,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Modified December 14, 2007, viewed Monday, December 17, 2007, 11:07 AM EST.

2 Muybridge, Eadweard, “Man Ascending Stairs,” Wikimedia Commons, last modified November 22, 2007, viewed Monday, December, 17, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Charles Demuth: Gay Male 20th Century Artist of Lancaster Pennsylvania

Warning! If you find images that express gay male sexuality disturbing, do not look below.

There, I’ve said it. “Gay,” and “male” are the primary focus of my discussion of Charles Demuth. I am intent on doing so because, as a former resident of Lancaster, Pennsylvania of 38 years, I almost always encountered an aversion to the fact of Charles Demuth’s gay identity. It was similar to the Clinton solution to gays in the military. For instance, Today I went to the Website of the Demuth Foundation, and explored it carefully. There is one overt reference to Chares Demuth’s homosexuality. And in opposition to that, there is an entire section of carefully worded references to his friendships with women. Of course, I know that most people in our culture would express the opinion that his sexuality had nothing whatsoever to do with those beautiful floral watercolors and fundamental precisionist paintings that earned him his place as an important American artist of the Twentieth Century.

Never the less, the view from one of my studio windows in Lancaster included Charles Demuth’s back yard just a half block away, and I always felt as though I was his neighbor, at least in place if not time. I always found Charles' (“Deme" as his friends called him) early paintings, so many of which were centered on his marginalized homosexual lifestyle fascinatingly subversive. These works - among them, the two I’ve used here, “Turkish Bath with Self Portrait,” and “Three Sailors,” give an indication of how strongly Charles felt his gay male sexuality at a time when such a sexuality was one of the most taboo characteristics of any gay individual’s life.* The images were the vehicle Charles used to express his homosexual identity with such conviction in the Art World sub culture. I often wonder if he hoped and/or knew that these images would escape their subversive location.

I placed these two images in my first category, art about the male body. However, they reach beyond the confines of my easy categorization because they demonstrate Charles' happy exploration of his sexual identity. The images show no guilt, no remorse, no pain. Charles Demuth reveled in his gay male sexual identity at a time when he was living and studying in Philadelphia, New York City, and Paris, in personal contact with some of the greatest artistic minds of his era, and discovering his place in that world. Thus, they conquer the time between his life and mine, and they straddle and conquer the limitations and secret space, hidden, but expressed by the extremes of the two categories I’ve created.


Weinberg, Jonathan, Speaking for Vice: Homosexuality in the Art of Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and the First American Avant-Garde. (1995) Boston: Yale University Press.

Kellner, Bruce, Letters of Charles Demuth, American Artist, 1883-1935: With Assessments of His Work by His Contemporaries. (2000) Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Fahlman, Betsy, Pennsylvania Modern: Charles Demuth of Lancaster. (1983) Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art.

*“Turkish Baths with Self Portrait,” Charles Demuth (1918), Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia,, a not copyrighted image. Last modified November 27, 2007, viewed Sunday, December 9, 2007, 9:08 AM EST.

*“Three Sailors,” Charles Demuth (1917), glbtg: an encyclodedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer culture,,zoom.html . © 2002 glbtg Inc., viewed Sunday, December 9, 2007, 9:21 AM. EST.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Back in South Florida…

And the Christmas lights are up. I took this photograph the other evening right after we returned. Somehow the oxymoronic image of icicle lights and coconut palms makes me feel great. I plan on taking the camera on a “Tropical Christmas Light” shooting expedition this week before we leave for Joe’s sister in the Panhandle for the Christmas holiday.

It was 82 degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon. Quite a wonder after the 18degree reading and snow the other morning when we left Delaware.

Now, I just have to get the studio up on the porch and get back to work.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Foggy Drawing

Why do I do this? I know that I have difficulty working loosely. So, why do I try? The most recent example is this drawing of World War Observation Tower #1 on Cape Henlopen.* The idea is to create a blurred and subdued image with the same pastel technique I have been using in my drawings this century. I use the pastels themselves as mark making tools. I use triads, analogous colors, and complements plus tints of these, the marks (squiggles, dots, dashes, parallel lines, and other types of scribbles) overlapping together to create new colors. NO BLENDING ALLOWED – except as the marks themselves overlap and mix - Only now, I want these marks to create color so subdued and vague that the image can only be characterized as loose. It isn’t working because I keep getting sucked back in to creating more definition than necessary. I add contrasting colors at the edges of form, and more brilliant color where none is necessary. A blurred or soft form seems to frighten me.

OK, so this is only a first try. I’ll get better at making vaporous seascapes and saltwater marshscapes - right?

*The designation “#1” is entirely my own. There are 5 or 6 of these towers on Cape Henlopen, and all are slightly different. I have photographed and drawn the two towers located on North Shore Beach repeatedly. In order to clarify which tower is in a particular image, I chose to label the towers # 1, #2.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Caravaggio: Historical anecdotes concerning his possible homosexual disposition

We do not know that Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was homosexual. There are arguments pro and con , and the traditional view of Caravaggio includes speculation that Caravaggio’s paintings of androgynous youths are due to the tastes of his patron, Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, and not Caravaggio himself.1,2 I might add that these youths are also indicative of the tastes of the time and place in which Caravaggio lived and worked, and that he continued to use such images as saints, angels and cupids in later works as well. Thus, with a backwards glance Caravaggio’s paintings do contain androgynous images that can be forced into the 20th and 21st Century oeuvre, "homoerotica."3 This and very few hard facts have brought about speculation concerning Caravaggio’s sexuality. Donald Posner speculated about Caravaggio’s possible homosexuality as early as1971 in Art Quarterly.4 Supposition has continued ad infinitum to the present.

I refuse to enter into the extremely esoteric and confusing metaphysical argumentation concerning Caravaggio’s sexuality and it’s relationship to psychology, culture, and art as somehow traumatic in nature. At the least, I know Michelangelo Merisi to have been a genius, a confused and violent individual whose brilliance is evident in his masterful paintings. At most, the homoerotic images we see in Caravaggio’s early work are projected upon it based on our own location in time and place - Twenty-first Century America - and our over-blown concern with sex, sexuality in general, and specifically a late 20th and early 21st Century preoccupation with pederasty.

* Caravaggio, “Self Portrait as Sick Bacchus,” Olga’s Gallery,, revised September 24, 2007, viewed Wednesday, November 28, 2007 AM. EST.


1 Tovar, Brian, “Sins Against Nature: Homoeroticism and the Epistemology of Caravaggio.” Metaphysical Warmth,, © 2003, Brian Tovar, Viewed Wednesday, November 28, 2007, 9:59 AM. EST.

2Maurizio Calvesi, Caravaggio, Art Dossier 1986, Giunti Editori (1986) (ISBN not available)

3 Saslow, James M. Ganymede in the Renaissance: Homosexuality in Art and Society. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986.

4 Posner, Donald "Caravaggio's Early Homo-erotic Works.” Art Quarterly 24 (1971), 301-326.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Development of the Concept, "Homosexuality" creats our Understanding of Michelangelo's and Leonardo's Sexuality

Traditional 19th and 20th century gay male art is often about the magnificent male physique. The appearance of a contemporary alternative to that art in New York and other major art centers is about gay vision and its relationship to gay male sexuality. However, I wonder if the alternative is actually new as claimed by some contemporary critics?1 A look at the art produced by gay male artists makes it clear that there have been alternatives to art about the perfect male body, even as early as the Renaissance. I base my argument in part on a partial list of gay male artists, and in part on looking at the images of painting and sculpture produced by these artists during the past 500 years. I’ve placed each artist in one of two categories; 1) artists who make art about the ideal male body, and 2) artists who make art about a personal vision and its relationship to their sexuality.* I have applied my categorization to all gay male artists on the list even though I know that the conceptualization of and the word, “homosexual” did not exist earlier than 1869, the year in which Karl Maria Kertbeny created his system of human sexuality classification.2 In Kertbeny’s system, men attracted to women are heterosexual, masturbators are monosexualists, and others who engage in anal intercourse are designated as pygists. Kertbeny used his system to classify any/all kinds of human sexuality imaginable, and he did not intend to create the dichotomy, heterosexual versus homosexual that is so prevalent in the contemporary conceptualization of human sexuality.3

Thus, as I look back through time, I know and accept that both Michelangelo, and Leonardo Da Vince fit the contemporary conceptualization of homosexuality, though at the time neither of them knew and understood the possible categorization of human sexuality. Thus, I place both men on my list, Michelangelo in category one, Leonardo Da Vinci in Category two. That placement will be apodictic through the use of examples of both men’s work. First, a look at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling, specifically “The Creation of Adam,” in which God himself is depicted with a magnificently muscular male human form, despite the fact that he (God) is shown as an old man with a full head of white hair and a white beard. Of course the naked Adam is magnificent if under endowed, a sign of male beauty at the time.4 We are all familiar with Michelangelo’s “David,” for centuries considered to be the epitome of perfected male physique.5 Michelangelo’s women are muscular and rather masculine, seemingly created from a well-muscled male form with a female's head and breasts attached. Look at the muscular arms on the “Delphic Sybil.” 6 It is as though the beautifully constructed arms of an idealized male have been attached to the cloaked female form. Or consider the “Cumaean Sybil,” whose face is certainly not attractive according to contemporary norms, or Renaissance norms, and whose arms are idealized muscular and male in appearance in either case.7 Second, a look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s “St. Jerome” and other works supports the argument that these works offer a more intellectual alternative to Michelangelo’s hugely muscled male forms. In the case of “St. Jerome,” the arms are thin and twisted with age. Jerome’s face is skeletal, sinews stretched ropes to the protruding clavicles with gullies behind.8 “Vetruvius Man,” though Da Vinci was stating his ideal human proportions, is none the less without Michelangelo’s bulging musculature. Instead we find diminutive biceps, slight torso, and old slightly wrinkled face. The much later portrait of “John the Baptist,” is beyond androgynous, with pudgy arms and smooth skin. St. John’s face is also smooth and feminine with the same enigmatic smile possessed by the “Mona Lisa.”10 11 St. John is similar in style and form to Leonardo’s idealized women. Thus, it would seem that both Michelangelo and Leonardo were playing with transgressive images of human gender and sexuality 500 years ago, though neither was in possession of a Twenty-first Century knowledge of human sexuality. Additionally Leonardo's work offers us an alternative to Michelangelo's images of puffed up male musculature.

1 Risemberg, Rafael, “Gay Male Artists Thrive, Evolve: Assessing the current boon of queer exhibits,” New York Blade Online, November 09, 2007. Viewed Sunday, November 18, 2007, 9:12 A.M. EST.
Trebay, Guy, “Gay Art: A Movement, or at Least a Moment,” New York Times on Line, May 06, 2007. Viewed, Sunday, November 18, 2007, 8:50 A.M. EST.

* For the actual list as it stands at this time see my entry for November 19, 2007.

2 Wikholm, Andrew, “1869, Kertbeny coins the term ‘Homosexual,’”, Timeline: Culture and Identity. Copyright 1999. Viewed at 3:21 P.M., EST.

3 Klomp, John, Isaac Stoltzfus: Images about sexuality and Culture. Doctoral Dissertation, NYU, page 5. (2000)

4 Harden, Mark, “The Creation of Adam,” The Artchive, Copyright? Viewed Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 10:15 A.M., EST.

5 Harden, Mark, “The Delphic Sybil,” The Artchive,, Copyright? Viewed Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 10:15 A.M., EST.

6Harden, Mark, “The Delphic Sybil,” The Artchive, Copyright? Viewed Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 10:15 A.M., EST.

7Harden, Mark, “The Cumaean Sybil,” The Artchive, Copyright? Viewed Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 10:20 A.M., EST.

8 Harden, Mark, “St Jerome,” The Artchive, Copyright? Viewed Monday, November 26, 2007, 9:41 A.M., EST.

9 Harden, Mark, “Vetruvius Man,” The Artchive, Copyright? Viewed Monday, November 26, 2007, 9:41 A.M., EST.

10 Harden, Mark, “John, The Baptist,” The Artchive, Copyright? Viewed Monday, November 26, 2007, 9:50 A.M., EST.

11 Harden, Mark, “Mona Lisa,” The Artchive, Copyright? Viewed Monday, November 26, 2007, 10:02 A.M., EST.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Contemporary Alternative Gay Male Art Versus Traditional Gay Male Art about Male Anatomy

I've spent hours researching this topic though I originally intended to put but a few hours into the entire project. Today I wrote my thesis sentences - two, not one - and began a list of gay male artists throughout history.

Thesis Statement

Traditional gay male art is all about the magnificent male physique. The appearance of a contemporary alternative to that art in New York and other major art centers is about gay vision and its relationship to gay male sexuality.

List of Artists – not yet categorized by type; 1) About the Ideal Male Body, 2) Alternative to Category One

1. Michelangelo
2. Leonardo Da Vinci
3. Beauford Delaney
4. Paul Cadmus
5. Andy Warhol
6. George Platt Lynes
7. David Hockney
8. Robert Mapplethorpe
9. Pierre et Gilles
10. Tom of Finland
11. Keith Haring
12. Don Bachardy
13. F. Holland Day
14. Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden
15. Henry Scott Tuke
16. Caravaggio
17. Charles Demuth
18. David Wajnarowicz
19. Marsden Hartley

Of course the list is totally inadequate, though I don't intend to include every gay male artist of the past 500 years - that is an entirely different task.

I will do more with this topic at a future date.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Global Warming, Architecture, Art and my Art

This will be an ongoing series of articles dispersed periodically within the regular contents of the journal.

The natural coastal areas I draw, the salt-water marshes, beaches, canals, and mangroves near Juno Beach, Florida, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware will probably be destroyed within the next fifty to one hundred years because of our refusal to face up to the crisis caused by the over use of hydrocarbon fuels.

Cape Henlopen After the Storm (2007)

Our attempts to green the United States of America have been a disaster these past seven years because of Mr. Bush's willful negligence in preventing mandatory regulation. However, as an individual I am doing everything I can to reduce my carbon footprint without spending a fortune on wind and solar power – which I will do once I’ve saved enough money to invest in renewable energy. Meanwhile, I have kept 60% of my property in its natural state, and planted six new trees within the domesticated portion. I use reusable cotton bags when I go for groceries. I’ve installed florescent light bulbs, and LED lights wherever possible, and I’ve joined It’s not much, but if just 40 percent of the population worldwide did these few things, we would have a significant start on cutting the emission of greenhouse gases.

Because of my concern about climate change, I’ve researched art created about this contemporary crisis that TIME magazine calls “the great story of the 21st century.* In particular, I’ve discovered two green architects, Michael Singer and German del Sol. Of course, there is also Paolo Soleri whose urban architectural designs have been around for more than 60 years. Soleri (87 years of age) demonstrates his dedication to green design through his ongoing massive 40-year desert project, the city of Arcosanti. In fact, Soleri is probably the guru of carbon footprint reduction in urban architecture and design, and it is frustrating in the extreme to see very little discussion of his work in relation to our belated current fashionable recognition of climate change. On the other hand, Michael Singer’s architecture is extremely visible, a primary example at Denver's new International Airport. His architecture is about the relationship of man to nature, and his building designs expose an awareness of nature’s supreme ability to reclaim man’s urban centers and structures. Architect del Sol creates structures that show the contrast between nature and man through use of the traditional principles and elements of design, while attempting to establish a balance between the two. In this, I believe del Sol to be related to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, le Corbusier, and other 20th century architects through his use of long horizontals, curving lines, color contrasts, and other devises to intervene and contrast man’s spaces and natural spaces, and at the same time to demonstrate that man and nature can coexist.

*Editors, “Global Warming,” TIME books, Time Inc, New York (2007).

Monday, November 5, 2007

Frida Kahlo at the Walker Art Center

Oh to be so rich that I could afford to be eccentric - loco enough to just jump on a plane to Minneapolis in order to see this latest Show of the supreme self absorbed, pansexual, feminist (sort of) Mexican artist’s self-portraits. In my teaching days students would often make disparaging remarks concerning Frida’s appearance, the mono-brow, vestigial mustache, jet-black hair, and so on. I would reply truthfully that I thought Frida was beautiful, and that her self-portraits spoke to so much more than the artifice of surface beauty. That would lead to a discussion of her cosmology, her difficult pain filled life, and her love for Diego Rivera. My young women students did not understand how Frida managed to love Diego, but the young men often made nasty remarks concerning Frida’s masculine appearance and pansexuality. Being a public school classroom teacher in the first decade of the 21st century, these remarks had to be glossed over with a statement like, “John, we can’t explore that aspect of her life here because it is inappropriate to an art classroom.” How sad that we Americans are incapable of looking at ourselves as sexual creatures with individual variations on an infinite God given theme.

Be that as it may, since I'm not disgustingly rich, I wish I could beam myself to Minneapolis today and visit Frida at the Walker Art Center.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Simon Museum Gets to Keep Adam and Eve

Never mind the fact that Marei von Saher, heir to the Jewish art dealer who had the works stolen by the Nazis in WWII had filed suit to have the paintings returned to her. A Los Angeles federal judge has dismissed her case and the five-hundred-year-old paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder will remain at the museum. The moral of the storey – well, if there is a moral, it’s that the individual can’t possibly win out against government and/or other brobdingnagian U. S. institutions, no matter what the circumstances are. The Dutch on the other hand did perform an act of restitution in February 2006 when they returned over 200 of the stolen artworks to the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker, the wealthy Dutch art dealer who fled Holland ahead of the advancing Nazi war machine in 1940.

As a working artist in the United States, I am appalled by our lack of concern for the individual. During the past century we have built into our institutions and government the ability to ignore the people and individuals in the name of public welfare. However, as Katrina proved, the government and institutions also have no obligation to fulfill the needs of people when disaster strikes. The conservative mantra, “they shouldn’t have lived there,” rings in my ears!

So, “let them eat cake,” or bread as the case may be.

Monday, October 15, 2007

New Work Goes Slowly

"Bad drawing! Bad drawing!"

Now that we are back in Delaware I’ve begun a new over sized (32” by 40”) drawing based on photographs I’ve been taking in the saltwater marshes in the area. It is progressing slowly because I’m not used to working with grass and foliage. I haven’t managed to reach that state of automatic flow while working that often happens for me with the seascapes. Instead I’m stressed while working. I know stress is good and can lead to growth, but not when it's constant.

Sometimes I think that drawing and painting is a bad habit.

Why do friends think that doing art is a constant vacation?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Back in Delaware

It rained hard in every desert we drove to, and it wasn’t the rainy season, or monsoon as they call it out West. And, we brought the rain back to "The First State with us - three inches of rain in two days.

Is the drought over? I doubt it, but my garden and lawn look a lot happier than they did when we arrived home.

We had an absolutely wonderful trip, but we are so happy to be back in Rehoboth Beach – and, we are both tired of driving, driving, driving. Joe and I talked about going back to New Mexico and/or Arizona again, but we agreed that we would take shorter trips - fly to Albuquerque, or Tucson, rent a car, and drive from there.

In order to take some of the tedium out of driving such long distances (6500 miles total), we kept a record of the bizarre names people have given to their communities, streets, and homes. A partial list follows.

1. Dismal Hollow Road, VA
2. Hungry Mother State Park, VA
3. Massanutten State Park, Harrisonburg, VA
4. Bucksnort, TN
5. Toad Suck Park, AR
6. Little Skin Bayou, OK
7. Big Skin Bayou, OK
8. Lotawatah Road, Lake Eufaulia, OK
9. Deaf Smith County, TX
10. Of course there is Truth or Consequences, NM
11. Budville, NM – was surrounded by Indian and Spanish named towns.

So, on that note, I’m signing off on the trip out West. The next entry will be about art, Art or my art.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

October 5 to 6, 2007 - Grand Canyon, Arizona to Albuquerque, New Mexico & Albuquerque to Clinton, Oklahoma

The drive yesterday was complicated by our need to see the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Our visit to those two national parks made the 400-mile drive seem much longer, but was worth the effort for two reasons. First, the Petrified forest looks as though some ancient prehistoric god who grew angry and restless decided to send algid sub zero hurricane force winds at that ancient forest thereby freezing the trees and crashing them to the ground to shatter in pieces instantaneously. Not satisfied with complete destruction, he/she made the wind cover the trees with sand and silica for millions of years, and changed the trees to stone. Today, they lay uncovered once again, entire massive tree trunks smashed across desert hills and valleys. I found several pieces that lay appropriately in a desert wash because the stone looked exactly as though the original wood of the trees had gotten wet repeatedly and suffered from dry rot before being turned to stone. Secondly, the bypass through the two parks was so worth the effort because the painted-desert itself is magnificent, much of it looking as though the same ancient god had crumbled the prehistoric hills upon which the stone forest had grown into gravel and sand mounds of various stripped colors. I wanted to walk into those fairyland hills, but was held back by signs that prohibit park visitors from doing so. Oh to sit on the desert floor surrounded by ice cream scoop-like mounds of multi flavored grains of pulverized stone. I ached to do so, but understand the necessity of preventing people by the thousands from marching into that place and destroying it.

Unfortunately, I also had my camera set for ISO 1600 after shooting a dark interior of one of Mary Jane Coulter’s buildings in the Grand Canyon. Thus many of my photographs of both petrified trees and desert are grainy. Moral of the story – always reset the camera for a standard shoot immediately after doing a variation setting. The only question at this point - will I always heed my own advice?

Today’s trip was day one of our reverse voyage home to Rehoboth Beach, and I took no photographs, not even of windmills, nether contemporary, old, nor tilted variety.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

October 2 through 4 – The Grand Canyon

I’ve got a heads-up for anyone visiting the Grand Canyon. Beware of the Yippee Yi Oh Steak House in Tusayan, the village just outside of the park. The steaks are greasy-grisly horrors, the baked potatoes are old and tough, the biscuit that is served with the meal is cold, and the service is terrible. You can get a better meal at Wendy’s down the street for one-third the price. In general, we found the area just outside the park to be an over priced tourist trap. If you can afford to stay at the pricy park lodges and cabins inside the park proper you are probably better off, though we had a just average meal at the Bright Angel Lodge last evening.

Having put the tourist trap part of the park down, it is necessary to move on to the magnificent canyon itself, and the marvelous park service that takes care of it. The canyon is indeed remarkable, and no matter how hard I tried to create an honest impression of the canyon’s grandeur, size, and beauty with the camera, I did not succeed. Standing physically in that space can not possibly be duplicated. Part of that is because one is standing in the presence of God.

It rained this morning with rolling thunder, and sheets of rain. We got soaking wet. The sun came out after noon, and I took 200 photographs of the canyon as the storms moved over and beyond. Sunlight shown through the clouds, and rain made hoary transparent layers between buttes, crags, and valleys. We took the free park shuttle south all the way to Hermits point, and we were dry by 2:00 P.M.. I’ve included some of those pictures below.

Tomorrow we start back on the return trip to Rehoboth Beach.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

October 1 – Sedona and the Vortex

I have no idea how the vortexes work. I can’t find a smidgeon of authentic research in any of the writing about them. However, as a spiritual being, I know that faith works, and I saw evidence of spirituality (and the commodification of it) at work in Sedona. Everywhere, scattered over the surface of Bell Rock were small balanced structures of stones created by believers, and everywhere in Sedona stores sell minerals and crystals that would help the purchaser to improve his/her well being.

I also found a beautiful corner of our planet that lifted my spirits, and I will return.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

September 30, 2007 – Arcosante

We drove the 60 miles to Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti through the unending urban sprawl of greater Phoenix, and then watched low desert flora change to high. The temperature droped from 93 to 83 degrees and we approached the concrete city on 2.5 miles of washboard dirt and gravel road at a necessary pace that made our vehicle seem useless.

Arcosanti is the evolving experiment in urban living created by Paolo Soleri in order to demonstrate how the automobile is spoiling our ecology, and leading to the decentralized and decadent urban city structure that prevents individual human growth instead of encouraging each of us to flourish. Dr. Soleri even coined the term arcology by joining the word architecture to ecology in order to encompass his notions concerning urban planning, ecology, philosophy, the arts, and social living.

That’s it in a nutshell, and, as usual, the nut shell is totally inadequate.

I’ve included photographs of the city below which today houses at most 100 inhabitants, but is projected to house 5,000 at some point in the future – maybe. The entire place has been built with volunteer participation during the past 40 years in a struggle that seems almost beyond human. It is Dr. Soleri’s wish to demonstrate possibilities for future urban structures that exist harmoniously with nature instead of in conflict with it. We talked briefly and by happenstance to one of the recent graduates of the building / philosophy / ecology seminars still conducted personally by Dr. Soleri at age 88. Jeffrey, was working in the bake shop and we bought chocolate chip cookies, mocha puffs, and rice crispy treats from him as we were leaving Arcosanti. When he spoke of his experience at Arcosante Jeffrey’s eyes sparkled and he was not totally present with us. Both Joe and I realized that his experience had been life altering.

Today, at the juncture of the second wave energy crisis and certain global warming it is more important than ever that we listen to Dr. Soleri and other’s who have anticipated and tried to demonstrate ways to correct our mistakes.

Monday, October 1, 2007

September 29 – Taliesin West

Fact - Frank Lloyd Wright did not have a degree in architecture. Fact – he created early designs using the names of other certified architects because he was not certified.

There’s much more dirt and so much tragedy, but I’m only interested in these two pieces of information because I know that if Frank were to try to begin his career today, it would not happen. In the first place, our contemporary society is entirely credential reliant. In the second, he would end up in a court of law because of unethical practices.

I wonder how many extraordinary contributions to science, math, the applied sciences, the arts and humanities, all fields of human endeavor are prevented because of our preoccupation with credentials.

What a shame!

More pictures of Taliesin West follow.

Frank's aluminium bathroom

Frank's desk

Friday, September 28, 2007

September 27, 2007 - Tucson to Phoenix

Upon arriving in Phoenix we went to Cosante, Paolo Soleri’s home and workshop. We bought bells for friends, and actually met Mr. Soleri. I was so awe struck that all I could say was, “Hi.” How pathetic! Joe told not to worry, that he was just as flabbergasted as I was, and the kind docent in the Soleri’s store, who may have also been a relative, told me that my greeting was adequate. I have photographs posted from the store, workshop, and grounds below.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Freedom of Expression is Still Alive in Tucson

Tucson Museum of Art on the University of Arizona campus

We were stunned into silence, and then we grinned from ear to ear. Both Joe and I had read about the proposal made by C. A. Tripp that the sixteenth president of the United States may have been gay or bisexual. However, this was the first time either of us had seen that notion visually expressed. * The painting by Alfred Quiroz, titled “Abe ’n’ Josh” is part of his Presidential Series, and though politically incorrect in the extreme, the paintings humorously portray our highest political leaders in order to remove them from the exalted position the title “President of the United States” gives them. In the painting, Lincoln’s over stated endowment is a symbol of his place in the constellation of past presidents. Though he is the submissive partner, he is in the dominant position physically. Lincoln turns his back to Josh as if to say that the man is not important to Lincoln and his pleasure.

However, my personal position is that any attempt to project a sexuality that was thoroughly conceptualized during the Twentieth Century on anyone that lived before that time only confuses the medical, biological, psychological, and political issues surrounding the contemporary conceptualization of sexuality itself. Thus, the painting seemed the more humorous to me. I have also elected to censor the painting in this travelogue precisely because it is so egregious in its transgression of PC thinking. Thus, the “CENSORED” label is my own attempt to add a bit more humor, and perhaps comment on our late Twentieth, and early Twenty-first century turn against freedom of expression.

Tomorrow we travel from Tucson to Phoenix, and I will not be adding another entry until we are settled there.

* Tripp, C.A. The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, (2005), Free Press

Day 10 to 11 – Tucson, Arizona

The Sonora Desert and San Xavier del Bac Mission

The Saguaro cactuses are literally trees sealed inside a water protective skin. How inventive is Mother Nature? And, the darned things can be 40 feet tall! I don’t know why I’m amazed at the variety of trees, cactuses, and flowering plants here. Logically the desert flora would proliferate into a myriad of varieties filling every available ecological niche.

As to the mission church – so much of it is covered with fresco and sculpture, a kind of baroque Spanish horror vacui. I felt guilty taking pictures because it felt as though I were intruding on an extremely spiritual space for countless people who use the church as a very personal vehicle to talk with their God.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day 8 to 9 – Sandia Crest, Albuquerque to Tucson

The tramway to the top of Sandia Peak is the longest in the world, 2.7 miles, and was manufactured by Bell Engineering of Switzerland. Sandia itself is 10,338 feet high, but we started from the lower platform already at altitude 6,000. That is because the drive to the Tramway is a long incline from the valley floor at about 5000 feet. I’ve included photographs from the nature trail at the base of Sandia Peak as well as photos of the tram itself, and views through the clouds at the crest. In the winter the Northeast side of the crest is a ski and winter sport complex with several chair lifts. We looked at the slopes and ski trails. Joe looked at me and said, “Na-a-a-h U-u-u-u-u-h!

The road to Tucson from Albuquerque is by way of I 25 south to Las Cruses in New Mexico, then I 10 from Las Cruces to Tucson, about 460 miles because you take the 2 short arms of the triangle instead of the single long arm. However, there’s no way I’m driving across this huge desert on secondary roads with few towns, and scant access to gas, oil, and water. At one point I got out of the car and took photographs in 4 directions in the attempt to demonstrate just how isolated we were as we drove to Tucson.

Tucson itself is called “The Green Desert” because of the pinion, varieties of mesquite, imported African tree varieties, palms, and of course the various cactuses including the giant saguaro. Yesterday we looked at houses in the foothills to the Catalina range to the North of the city. Joe was ready to move in to one modern completely renovated rancher with two private patios, living room, family/TV/rec. room, three bedrooms and staggering views of the desert. I will devote future entries to the Tucson area.