Pieces fall into place

saca mural 2The pieces finally fall into place. Today I congregated with Gustavo McGrew of Mountain Heath and Wellness (and fellow SACA board member) with Jeff Danford, Gail McFarland and Liz to puzzle out the final murals.

Fifty some-odd pieces by various artists of all ages lay in a pile, begging cohesion. The earth spirit was with us, providing perfect weather for the occasion.

saca mural 3Fifty-six diverse visions, artists from a youthful six-years old to a youthful 70+ years old all had their brushes involved. Political dalliances fell to the wayside as all joined in on a project to benefit the community. Gustavo was more than generous as his wallet became thinner with each phase of this project.  Apache Junction Ace Hardware gave willingly, providing much needed supplies.

In the end, seemingly incongruous pieces of art melded into a whole. Actually, into two wholes. Two 3-dimensional murals will soon be on permanent display at EarthHeart Park in Apache Junction. Gustavo will be overseeing the installation of 4X4 posts in the park, and next Saturday we will be on hand to erect the murals – to be publicly unveiled the following Saturday during the Salsa/Pinata festival. Gustavo is already talking about next year when we will install two more, creating a public art gallery on the grounds of the park.

SACA Mural Project – Day Three

SACA crew

Carl B. Johnson, Liz Nicklus, Jeff Danford, Gail McFarland

Saturday, April 12 marked the 3rd and final EarthHeart Park Farmer’s Market for the season. The event, sponsored by Mountain Health and Wellness featured family friendly events, live music, arts and crafts and of course, a lot of fresh local produce.

The Superstition Art and Cultural Alliance (SACA) has had a presence at all three events in the form of a community art project. We invited the public to paint fanciful designs on abstract shapes of wood. On Saturday’s event, we stuck with a monochromatic theme, black and white! The project was an overwhelming success; we opened the tent to the public at 9AM, and by 10AM all of our shapes were completed.  (The inset in the photo shows a completed mural.) Read more

Five tons

5 tons of stoneFive tons of stone…

It doesn’t look like much. I expected a much larger pile when the truck left, and was worried that there would not be enough to cover the yard. Read more


new stone 2Five tons of stone. Five hours of manual labor. But it is almost done, at least this phase.

The truck came at 9AM this morning, just as I was falling asleep after working the night shift. Well, I couldn’t leave five tons of gravel in the driveway, so I began shoveling into the wheelbarrow and covering the yard.

I had planned on working on it for a few hours today, then catching some sleep before work tonight. As I was about to call it a day, Bob, my neighbor from across the street ambles over with a shovel and begins to lend a hand. Well, then we had a mission, complete the yard.

All is for the better, as tomorrow I need to put a finish coat of white paint on the abstract pieces for the mural project, and also work on displays for the exhibition at the Farmer’s Market this Saturday. I need a sturdy but lightweight wall to hang my wall clocks and paintings.

Hopefully next week I will have some free time to just relax…


The Real Beverly Hughes

Beverly Hughes website Beverly Hughes is an an amazing friend from Millville, NJ. A botanical illustrator, her work has been featured on a postage stamp.

Beverly was a fixture at the Burcham Farm, the last working dike farm on the now Wild and Scenic Maurice River.

The Burcham Farm, when it was still operational, provided fresh produce to the local grocery stores. They had a heard of sheep, and the annual shearing was an event. Beverly uses this wool to make yarn the traditional way.

She has recently illustrated and written children’s coloring books. Her website is a microcosm of her talents and projects.  It is still undergoing some minor tweaks, but the major facelift is complete.

A relaxing Saturday

amazing glass and ceramic sculpture  Like the Kinks song, I’m living on a low budget… There are trade-offs – you can live for the corporate master or you can live for yourself.  Years ago Liz and I decided to make that trade-off. Instead of a mansion on the hillside that we would never see because we are working to pay off mortgages and debts – well, I am still living to pay off debts… we opted for a simpler lifestyle, a small raqncher style house in the East Valley of the Sonoran Desert.

That'll teach 'em...The Apache Junction Library is a great source of freebies – such as free passes (first-come, first serve) to the Heard Museum of the American Indian in Phoenix. Liz picked up the last pass.  I used my $15 discount to Sun Up Brewery to help pay for lunch afterward.

The Heard Museum is located on beautiful grounds in downtown Phoenix, a few blocks past the Phoenix Art Museum.  The complex includes educational buildings, a restaurant, and several galleries of American Indian art both ancient and modern. Close to the main entrance is an amazing sculpture of glass and ceramic invoking desert plants such as cholla.

freeing artThere is an ongoing exhibition on the Indian Schools – one of which was located in Phoenix. The purpose of the schools was to educate the Indians, and “civilize” them. Their identity was stripped as they were inducted into the schools – but it was not long before they introduced their culture into the schools as they retained their dignity.

American Indian ledger artAn exhibition that was slated to come down, but given a reprieve is the Ledger Art show.  After the buffalo populations were decimated, and as tribes were relocated from the pueblos and mountains to reservations, the canvas for tribal art was lost. Most tribal art was a form of historical record of events – some events of import, and some more mundane.

Lacking the traditional canvas of hides and rock faces, a new generation used old ledgers as a canvas. Battles between tribes, and battles between Indians and US cavalry were recorded.  Fortunately these survived, and a current generation of American Indian artists have revived the media. This exhibition showcases ledger art, old and new.

Red IPA from Sun Up BreweryAfter the museum, we hit the Sun Up Brewing Company for lunch. Tucked in the heart of Phoenix, on Camelback Road, youhave to know where this gem is located, but it is worth the search.

Owing to my fairly recent sensitivity to factory farmed beef (I go into anaphylactic shock if I eat mass produced beef due to the crap that mega-agri-farms inject into the cattle throughout their life) I crave good hamburgers. Since by law, bison and buffalo cannot be injected with hormones and antibiotics and other garbage, I can eat it. I ordered a buffalo burger with cheddar cheese and mushrooms, and enjoyed their IPA.

The IPA was so good, I ordered a growler to go – next weekend I will crack that after we are home from the Earth Heart Park farmer’s and art market. I will have a tent this time, showcasing my Desert Detritus clocks and some paintings.



Pique Assiette Mosaic wall in progressAfter a hiatus, I began work again on the mosaic panel in our yard. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon – I cranked up the tunes, opened an ice cold bottle of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, and got to work.

I put in a good four hours on the wall before dinner – filled in some empty spaces. A few more weekends and I should have this baby completed and ready for grouting – as long as the supplies hold out – I am running low on stained glass and used the last of the ceramic tile yesterday.

This morning it is much cooler – there is a front moving over the desert from California.  I will get a little more work done before the afternoon sun pokes out.


Desert Spring Colors

Desert Globemallow It is spring time in the Sonoran Desert. It is a balmy 80° F (35°C) with a soft breeze.  Plants are beginning to bloom, with the hardy Desert Globemallow pushing its way up through the crusty arid soil. It is amazing that these delicate looking plants can survive a mostly waterless winter.

white Oleander

The Oleander is in full blossom – we have a white and a red in the back yard along the wall. And the Palo Verde tree is now bright yellow-green – a burst of color against a brown landscape.

The Cow-Tongue cacti are just beginning to show buds which will soon be flowers. Read more

Renaissance Fair

The Renaissance FairThe Arizona Renaissance Fair is winding down – it ends with the end of the month. We hit it last Saturday for Celtic Day.

The fair is less than a fifteen minute drive from home, which makes it a convenient way to waste money! But the $20 ticket is a fair price – no pun intended – as you get more than your money’s worth.

One day is not enough to see all of the events and sideshows. The fair is a permanent medieval city, many of the acts are local residents. Beside the local crafts such as handmade instruments, attire and sundries, there are informative and educational booths, lots of live music, and comedy troupes. Read more

Going to the Dogs

Lynne Lockhart websiteWhen it rains, it pours.  It could pour cats and dogs, in this case it simply deluged me with dogs!

In the past month, all of my loyal website clients made changes to their sites. I love when that happens.

Lynne Lockhart, hailing from Maryland’s eastern Shore, decided on a total makeover for her website. (Click on the image to visit the site.)

Beside the obvious cosmetic changes, she changed the focus of the site to feature her specialty, dog paintings. And she is amazing, especially when you consider that every painting featured on the main index page of the website is a mere 6″x6″. With a minimal number of brushstrokes she manages to capture the personality of her subjects.