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A Story From Mexico

Palms Mexico smaller Mexican Time by Jerry Fenter

“Get in the damned car”, barked Richard from the passenger side in the front seat. “This is going to be an adventure!” Richard never just spoke, he barked.

Like a decorated general from the old English Raj he talked to Nancy and me like he was addressing his troops. Car fully loaded we shot out of the parking lot of the Costco in Puerto Vallarta into bumper on bumper traffic. Traffic on the main highway was particularly slow this morning. We passed small accidents. A crowd of people stood in a circle around a crushed ice cream freezer pulled by a bike. It seems the driver had been distracted by what he thought were three people carrying a kicking goat in the lane next to him. Watching the goat and not the road, he’d rear-ended an old rusty Chevy. The impact caused him to fly through the air into oncoming traffic. He bounced off the hood of a tricked out Ford with a decal of Guadalupe on the back window. His bike and its contents were destroyed in the crash. Traffic was stopped. People watched the ruckus from open windows, cigarettes dangling from their lips. Street dogs were having their fill of the sweet melty liquid spilling out of the tiny broken freezer. They lapped it up. They rolled in it.
“I swear I saw them crossing, the goat was kicking and I didn’t want to hit anyone,” the ice cream man explained.
The Chevy driver was pissed. He hadn’t “seen any fuckin’goats or nothing”. Richard didn’t stop. The accident disappeared from view. Richard pulled out his map.

“By map it’s only two hours to San Sebastian.” Richard shoved the tail end of a Costco kosher hot dog into his mouth. “Piece a cake!”
Nancy rolled her eyes. She knew that two hours Mexican time could mean anything. In Mexico time can be bent, go backwards, even stop. Time will always surprise you. We turned left onto an unmarked road just past the Botanical Gardens. The car stumbled up the vertical highway, over topes, past broken parts of huge boulders, some that blocked parts of the road. Each of us took turns moving obstructions.

“And this is the new road,” said Richard, relaxing into the passenger seat while hooking up the new hand held gadget for driving directions he’d just bought.
“Check this out Nancy. It’s called the Tom-Tom. It’s the latest thing in getting to wherever you want to go. No getting lost. Saw it on TV. Picked it up back at Costco.”

Nancy looked hard at the little screened device. Her attention was fully on the gadget in Richard’s hand. I held on tight as the car absently drifted to the left side of the road just missing a noisy large group of crossing chickens. As we rumbled over loose rocks The Tom-Tom guided us with its feminine voice and detailed map. The voice was confident with a strong English accent. You could trust this that voice to get you anywhere.

Trucks full of livestock, cars stuffed with oxygen tanks and old pickups sped downhill, swerving just in time to miss our car. Signs saying PELIGROSO marked hairpin turns. Yet somehow I felt safe. I had moved into a fearless Mexican mode. I was invincible. I had lost all doubt. We had the Tom-Tom and the English lady’s calm reassurance. Also, luck seemed to always stay close to Richard.

An iguana languidly crossed the road. The blazing sun was gone. We had entered the jungle. Unfamiliar plants entwined road signs. We crawled by dwarfed pineapple trees and overloaded banana plants. A mist rose up from the pavement and clouded our windows. I couldn’t get enough air. It was like breathing under water. I cleared my window. Gold light shined out of small openings in the trees like a promise.

The map on the Tom-Tom was harder to follow as we drove higher. Roads on the screen split, turned and even curled backwards where no roads could exist. The calm female voice repeated that we’d missed our turn over and over despite the fact that there was only one way to go and that was straight up.

We were surrounded by jungle. I imagined ancient animals peering through dark branches. Irrational geography confused the real with the unreal.

We drove around potholes as the pavement became cracked and broken. To our right the trees opened up leaving a half moon shaped clearing by the road. We slowed to a crawl. Too our right was an entire traveling carnival alive with dwarves, sideshow characters and workmen trying to push a dilapidated fallen trailer to an upright position out of a deep muddy rut. People appeared from nowhere just to watch. They talked and smoked as Siamese twins tried to wedge a plank under the trailer’s sunken back-end, every careful movement the exact copy of the other’s. The twins whispered to one another as they struggled with the weight.

“Tamales, tortillas, pan dulce,” a birdlike man called out to the crowd hopping from one foot to the other then setting his platter down to spin around and around. People surrounded him. The food was gone.

Nancy and Richard were arguing about directions. The road grew narrow. Moss dripped with moisture as bright pink leaves and dirty speckled lizards fell on the car. So many bugs smashed to death on the windshield made it hard to see. I turned and watched the circus vanish as we rolled up the steep hill.
The screen on the Tom-Tom went blank.
The English lady went silent.

“Shit, let’s get rid of this God damned thing.” Richard rolled down his window and tossed out the Tom-Tom. It vanished, sucked into the shadow of the jungle wall.

The mountain air was fresh and fragrant with mangoes. I could breathe. Above the mist of the jungle the sky was cobalt blue. Two hours turned into four as we crossed a one lane bridge. We looked down. A creek ran under us surrounded by white water. Standing birds lifted their wings and danced near the shore. We had entered a place where magic could happen. Church bells chimed the hour. The road now was cobblestone. The city of San Sebastian Del Oeste shined white with casas de adobe. We were inside living history full of old haciendas, gold and silver mines protecting ghosts from the past, acres of sharp blue agave plants and broken down tequila tasting stands. Bakeries displayed pan dulces fresh from the oven. We passed the Catholic Church in the square, drove another half mile and pulled to a stop. A statue of San Sebastian pierced with arrows shone in the afternoon light. We had arrived at La Galerita de San Sebastian, once a ruined hacienda and now our destination.

Richard’s voice quieted as he and Nancy settled into their private casita. I was alone with the jungle. Tiny birds moved from tree to tree, each telling their own story. Coffee beans brushed against my face. I carefully pulled one from a cluster carefully leaving the stem. Smoke rose. The roasting coffee smelled amazing. The statue of St. Anthony with his tortured eyes watched as I picked up my bag. I stopped at the door of my own casita. Two dark purple orchids shifted then turned toward me from their tree branch. Their spicy aroma teased me as I walked up the steps into my own private sanctuary.

Hi everyone. I thought you might enjoy a story an experience I had in Mexico. I’m hoping to get a few more people to sign up for my painting workshop. This years Mexico Class is in Melaque, Mexico at www.lapalomamexico.com/. The place is beautiful, and so much fun. Check the last post on this website for a sign up sheet. If you have any questions just give me a call at 509-365-5119 or fenter@gorge.net. Our dates are March 14-18, 2016.

Magical Mexico Adventure

Happy mid-July everyone. My post is back! Still having a few technical problems but I’m working on them. Since we still have dial-up here in Timber Valley I guess I’ll have to start writing from my favorite coffee shop down by the river.

Great news! From March 21st-28th 2015 I’ve scheduled another teaching event that will have your artistic minds spinning.  During this week I’ll be coaching and teaching a 5 day clinic in Melaque, Mexico. This clinic will explore “Color as a Central Expression of Mexican Life”.  The  small town of Melaque is alive with color, excitement, texture and magic. So we will come together at  one of my favorite places in the world the La Paloma Resort on the west coast of Mexico. To take a look go to www.lapalomamexico.com/. The resort has a beautiful studio and is right on the water.  It is a relaxing and inspiring destination.

It’s never too early to plan.  So I’m writing this .now because it will give you plenty of time to  set aside this week for yourself or for you and your friends to explore color and art with me, Jerry Fenter, as your coach, teacher and guide.  For those new to art…don’t fear.  We can work with watercolor or drawing at your level.  For those more experienced or who have a special area of expertise (all media…for example oils, acrylics, pastels, soft cloth work, drawing, ink, photography etc.)   I will be there to help bring that color into your work with my past experience in Melaque .  This will be a true magical art week to remember. Surprises are everywhere. These dates are before Easter so all local restaurants and sites should be open for us to explore.  Seeing and experiencing is so important in making art.  Also this will be a great adventure.

I will have details in flyer form soon.  Please forward this to anyone you might think is interested.  To  talk to me write to fenter@gorge.net or call 509-365-5119.

Magical Mexico

Magical Mexico

Paint to Celebrate Spring

What a great weekend.  The Dalles Art Center was filled with flowers and food.  Talented students and hard work produced some beautiful outcomes.  The class “Eat, Drink and Paint” was a huge success.  We had a small but mighty group.  In fact we all got so deep into painting, eating and drinking we hardly took any breaks at all!

Nancy, Mary and Joyce brought the most beautiful selection of flowers I’ve ever seen and some of the tastiest food.  I took leftover flowers home so now the cabin finally smells and looks like spring.  Because of the cold weather only the tulips and magnolias are blooming.  I was so impressed by the quality of my students work.  They have all grown so much in the last year.  It  shows how much hard work and patience will pay off in the long run.

We talked about everything you can think of and came up with some great ideas for fundraising for the art center.  

 

The celebration of spring, food and drink will continue next month with a two day workshop at Maryhill Museum.  We’ll be working outdoors near the colorful flower and sculpture gardens on Saturday, June 18th and Sunday, June 19th.  We’ll meet at 11:00 am both days at the picnic tables on the north side of the site.  Please bring your watercolor supplies and sketchbooks, food  and drinks to share.  Painting and a picnic!  We’ll paint until 4:00 pm both days. The cost is $40 per day.  Please sign up and pay early at The Dalles Art Center, 220 East 4th Street, The Dalles, OR 97058.  You can also call to sign up at (541)-296-4759.  I hope you all will join us.  Dress in layers for painting outdoors. 

 I’ll be posting soon about my show at the Dalles Art Center titled “Iconography and Beyond”. 

South of the Border

We knew it was going to be a great week, when we quickly cleared customs, got ourselves a cab, were taken through banana and coconut fields, down dusty colorful streets, past watermelon stands, and palm trees to end up at beautiful La Paloma Resort.

     “South of the border, down Mexico way.  That’s where I fell in love where all the stars above come out to play.”

 When we walked in the doors of the gated gardens, saw the pool, the blue ocean, the hibiscus and lantana plants I felt as if I were returning to my second home. My students and I all could feel the magic of Mexico at that very moment.

  “Well come on let’s go and head off to Mexico. And build our dreams on siestas of the day.  I’ll take my guitar who knows it might get us far and we’ll call each other by our fake names.  You don’t know how lucky we are but it’s you and me in Mexico.”

 We had a wonderful class. We concentrated on the colors of Mexico and watercolor techniques during the day, in the evening we focused on the food, drink, fresh open air on the beach at Bigotes, the crowds at the town square in Melaque preparing for Samana Santa (Easter Week), the helado shop (ice cream) and the kindness of all the people we met.

“Oh Mexico.  It sounds so simple I just got to go. The sun’s so hot I forgot to go home. Oh Mexico. It sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low.”

 

 Excellent dinners were eaten, fish were caught and fried (thanks to John and the great chef at Bigotes).  Shopping was at its best on the long main street in the tiny tourist stores. We bought food for our kitchens at a great grocery called Hawaii. Patti, Marti and Teri made delicious salsa and guacamole often. We were treated to some both wonderful and awful music coming from the streets and the little bar next to La Paloma. Barking dogs, music, the sound of surfing, laughter, crying…it’s all Mexico.

 The surf was very strong at this time of the month. We even got to see the biggest moon of the year while we sat on the beach and watched it come up over the town of Barra.

 Favorite places were found.

 Altars for Mexico were made.

Friends were everywhere .

 A carnival hid itself near the square.

 I taught and painted and played.

  I couldn’t have had better students or better hosts.

What more could one ask for?

 Thanks to everyone.

 I feel like I’ll be on Mexican time until I return next year. The dates are set. March 31st (Saturday) to April 7th (the next Saturday) in 2012! Time to pack your suitcases!

 

 

Thanks to Laura Marling, James Taylor, and Jerrod Nieman for their songs.

Watercolor Painting from Photographs

 

Watercolor Painting from Photographs

Instructor

Jerry Fenter

 

On Saturday and Sunday February 19th and 20th from 11:00am to 4:00pm I will be giving a class on watercolor painting using subject matter from your own photographs.  All levels of students are invited.  We will work on drawing, composition, original approach, contrast, value, and creating a center of interest.  This is a fun way to spend a winter weekend.

 The class will cost $40.00 per day.  Pay and sign up early at The Dalles Art Center at 541-296-4759.  The art center will have a supply list if you don’t already have one.  Please in addition to your supplies bring a few of your favorite old or new pictures to work from.  Snapshots of figures or animals would be great.  You may get some great presents out of this for your friends and family.  Check out my work on this site or on the Attic Gallery site www.atticgallery.com

I hope lots of you will make the class. This week I’ve been working in my head, conjuring up ideas for new paintings.  I also just finished a commission that was lots of fun to do.  I do a lot of my work by commission.  I’ll be starting another one in the next couple of weeks.  If you’re interested in having me do a commission for you in watercolor or acrylic just let me know.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.  I have done most every kind of commission you could imagine and some that I’m pretty sure you couldn’t. Parents, families,and animals (from dogs to raccoons, cats to goldfish).  The piece shown at the top of this post was done for a group of good friends who live in Arizona.  The painting represents the strong friendship among the women and portrays something unique and important about each one.  The group hired me to paint them.  When the painting was done I did giclee prints (enough for all of them) and then they had a contest to see who got the original to hang on her wall.  It was lots of fun and lots of work meeting each woman and photographing them before actually doing the piece.  I’ve also done lots of family portraits, pet portraits, horse portraits and club portraits.  Of course commissions are done in my crazy style and are done with complete cooperation with the person who hires me.  For example…if you want a dog portrait, you could send me a picture of your dog and his/her toys, list favorite things they like to do and in general tell me about them.  I can also take photos myself if am close enough.  I use all of the gathered information and create a portrait.  SO a horse portrait won’t look exactly like the portraits you might see at the Kentucky Derby.  They all have my own style and twist to them.  In other words they don’t look like I took a picture.  I add all of my own little inspirations and thoughts about the subject and then go to town!

The piece above was commissioned by the Trout Lake Art’s Festival a few years ago and was used as their poster.  Never fear.  My mind can come up with lots of ideas and can help you to create great gifts for anyone you might have in mind.  Support the Timber Valley Artist….hire me to do a commission for you or your workplace! 

 I’ve been engrossed in a great book.  The title is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  She wrote the book Seabiscuit .  I have been totally engaged in the story of Lieutenant Louis Zamperini, his early years, his years fighting the Japanese in the Pacific,and his amazing survival of events like being adrift in the ocean after his B-24 was shot down. Sharks are involved and Hillenbrand gives one of the best descriptions of the Japanese POW camps that I have ever read.  I would recommend it for anyone who is interested in WWII.  It’s quite suspenseful and totally true.  If any of you would like to recommend books or movies I’d love to have you leave your choices in comments. 

So stay warm.  I hope all of my friends and family in the midwest are inside by their fireplaces like I am. 

 

Ron and Jerry’s Holiday Sale 2010

Ron and I are busy getting ready for our Holiday Sale in Portland on Saturday and Sunday November 6th and 7th.  The hours are 10:00am-4:00pm at 210 NE Fargo (if going north on MLK turn left on Fargo…when you see the Popeye’s Chicken).  We have lots of great items for gifts and for indulging yourself.  Plus we’ll have some sweets, wine and cider for your enjoyment.  I wish I could put on a show, but I know I’ll be much too busy writing up sales!  We (as artists) really need your support this year.  Times are tough…BUT we have been lucky enough to survive this “recession” because of our loyal customers and are confident that our callings as artists are the right and true path for us now and in the future. We are obsessed with our work and will always keep making art. The quality of our work reflects years of experience and growth. Our Holiday sale is a blast!  See you there. (503-282-4520 or 509-365-5119 or fenter@gorge.net)

Saturday and Sunday November 20th and 21st I’ll be doing another class in “Figure Drawing and Painting” at The Dalles Art Center.  We’ll be working on drawing the figure, painting the figure and developing your own style of expression.  The class is $40 per day. (509-365-5119 or fenter@gorge.net )

I have the Mexico class dates!  The dates are April 13th-19th 2011.  That is a Wednesday to Wednesday. (This will save us on airfare.)  I’m very excited about the class and will be sending out flyers soon.  Nancy Lennie and I have been cooking up all sorts of fun experiences.  I can’t wait for the sunshine, magic and creativity.  If you are interested please send me your names and addresses or e-mails to get specifics and have me send you a flyer.  (509-365-5119 or fenter@gorge.net)

Here’s a plug for The Attic Gallery.  I have lots of work there just waiting to be put under someone’s tree.  Go and check it out or click to www.atticgallery.com .  Thanks Diana,  Maria and Becky for being such great support to me.  Your gallery is the best in Portland!

 

Mondo should have won on Project Runway!  He is a genius. 

My birthday was and still is a huge success!  So many cards, so many presents and so many good wishes.  I’m so fortunate to have the friends that I do.  Maureen (my pen-pal of over 50 years) called me from Liverpool England!  What a treat. Also my family was great.  Ron, Hans and Amy never forget and I love them for that.  My friend Bill (even though just out of surgery) sent a special “variety” package that was Halloweenish and Birthdayish. Thank you, Bill.  I look forward to sharing gifts with Rick Harvey when we see each other at my sale.  He and I were born one day apart!  I still look at all my cards each day!  No, I don’t feel old, just energized. 

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch Boardwalk Empire on HBO.

The deer are playing tag in my front yard.  How lucky can one person get?

Figure Watercolor and Drawing Workshop

    What?  Figure Watercolor and Drawing Workshop

    When?  October 16th and 17th

I’m having my favorite kind of workshop at The Dalles Art Center on October 16th and 17th (Saturday and Sunday) from 11:00am to 4:00pm both days. Be there to learn to do what you’ve always wanted to do.  I’ll be there to teach no matter how many students sign up.  Sign up by calling The Dalles Art Center at 541-296-4759!  Do it early!  The cost is $40.00 per day.  You will learn to draw and paint the figure realistically and in a cartoonish way if you decide to attend.  You may bring food and drink if you want.  Why not have a party while we work! 

Happy October everyone!  It’s my birthday month and Halloween!

Show Business

No money?

End of an affair?

Tired of housework?

Want a new job?

Wait a minute.

Let’s turn that frown upside down.

Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland knew the answer all along.

“Let’s have a show!”

 

I’ve been watching “Words and Music” the story of Rogers and Hart on Turner Classic Movies.  Could you guess?  I love this stuff.  Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and all of the famous actors I know so well and admire so much always “put on a show”! A show will solve any problem that comes your way.  With a show you can make extra money, you can find love, and hope is always in the air.

I grew up loving  movies.  I can’t get enough of them.  The Hollywood, The Roseway and the Parkrose Theaters were where I felt at home.  Now I’m hooked on TV. Big screen, little screen, DVD, Netflix…I make sure a movie is available any time day or night.

I know that Mickey and Judy are right.   A show can make you happy.  A show can make you money.  A show can entertain you.  A show simply makes the world a better place.

 When I was in grade school my best friend forever, Kathryn, and I would always “put on a show”.  It was never our parent’s idea, it was always our idea and the first thing we’d think of doing when we were bored. 

First…I’d write the script.  I always tended toward overly dramatic science fiction dramas. I loved everything space.  Remember it was the time of the first satellites.  Sputnik was in orbit. Mr. Moon was on TV.

Kathryn would gather props.  She would ransack our living rooms, toy chests and parent’s bed spreads to make a real stage. She’d set up chairs. We would tack spreads to our giant apple tree to make curtains…all fixed to open and close.

We’d practice our lines. 

Then we’d sell tickets to every loose kid in the neighborhood.  We made the majority of our money from my next door neighbors, a large fertile Catholic family with oodles of kids.  Ten cents would get you a show!

“How’s the show going?” my mother would say.

“Sold out!” I’d say with feeling (sounding a bit like Judy Garland).

“Well that’s just fine!” she’d answer and then go about her household duties without giving us another thought.

 

By the way, my ex-mother-in law went to school at Hollywood High in the forties with Mickey Rooney.  She was about 5’11” tall.  You know how short Mickey was!  He used to chase her around the roller rink hankering for a date. She is a funny lady with great stories to tell. 

So we did our show.

Mickey Rooney was spot on!

We kept ourselves happy.

It only took three people to have a show…two to do the show and one to watch the show.

We found the simple solution.

NOW GO HAVE A SHOW!

Events to put on your calendar!  Important dates!  Things to do!  Write them down. 

  1. October 16th and 17th watercolor class at The Dalles Art Center 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Call me for information at 509-365-5119.  We will be working on the figure.
  2. November 6th and 7th. We’re having a SHOW.  Ron and Jerry Fenter’s Holiday sale in Portland.  Lots of art. Good snacks.  More information 509-365-5119.  I will do a post and a mailing. 
  3. November 20th and 21st watercolor class at The Dalles Art Center 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Focus on painting the figure and the face.  Call for information 509-365-5119.
  4. April 13th-19.  Melaque, Mexico.  Making Magic in Mexico workshop taught by Jerry Fenter.  More to come.  Call or e-mail for questions. 

   My classes at The Dalles Art Center will be held on the third weekend every month through spring.  Please save this time on your calendars!!

 

Workshop…August

I’m back from vacation and back to work!  Inspired by Yellowstone National Park and the great state of Nebraska get ready for some great stories of wildlife up close and Beer Can Chicken at it’s best.  I’m going through vacation photos right now and will include some of the most excellent in my next post.

I’ll be giving another Making Monotypes with Pastels and Metallic Crayons Workshop on Saturday and Sunday August 28th and 29th, 2010, from 11:00AM until 4:00 PM at The Dalles Art Center. (The monotype shown above is from a piece I did for a special friend who will be having her first big art show in Florida next month!  I’m really proud for her.)  Over the workshop  weekend  you will learn to make wonderful one of a kind prints using crayons and pastels  at The Dalles Art Center. We had so much fun working with crayon and hot copper before, that we’re doing it again. The workshop will be limited to eight people and the cost is $80 for the workshop, with a one time $10 supply charge. Jerry will bring paper for printing, crayons and some pastels. (However, if you have any old pastel sets, crayons, etc. around your house please bring them to share with others.) Also any squares of fabric for flags…8” x 8” to 12” x12” would be appreciated. The fabric should be light colored to show off the bright colors of the crayons. We will be printing on a copper sheet, heated with an iron, so dress for mess. Bring some drawing paper to sketch ideas, pencils and a roll of paper towels. You must come both days. This is a crazy process! Fun too! SIGN UP AND PAY BEFORE WEDNESDAY, August 25th, AT THE ART CENTER OR USE A CREDIT CARD BY PHONE. THE TOTAL IS $90.00. THIS PROCESS IS TOTALLY FUN! YOU NEED NO EXPERIENCE TO PLAY AND CREATE BEAUTIFUL PIECES.  Sign up early!  To see some examples of our last creations go back in my blog posts and check out what we accomplished.

I’ll be sharing my pictures and highlights from Wyoming and Nebraska soon.  Have a great week. 

“Art does not reproduce what we see.  It makes us see.” 

                                                                            –Paul Klee 1879-1940