Truth and Coincidence

 

Summer 2016 brought me to Truth or Consequences New Mexico, a remote small town in the middle of nowhere. I participated in the Starry Night residency on Van Patten Street in the Hot Springs district and was given a large room with a shared studio.

 

The heat hits you from the first step in this bizarre town. Usually I'm running away from the heat in my home country, Israel, but this time it was hotter and drier. I had no idea what I was going to paint or do there, it was my first time in New Mexico, so I meditated hoping for a hint, direction or clue about what is my assignment, nothing happened.

 

I had canvases and paints that were sent prior to my arrival, everything was ready but nothing came out.

 

The New Mexico summer light is extremely strong the colors of the skies at sunset are a rare combination of orange and violet so I thought about having a series of skies and sunsets. I had my camera ready and uploaded a few images on my screen, but still I didn't connect to this theme and the canvas remained white.

 

At this point I thought about leaving Truth or Consequences. I took the bike (the main source of transportation here) and headed to the car rental company. On my way I stopped near the Rio Grande that crosses the city. I stood on the bank watching the waters when I felt that I'm not alone there; turning my head I saw an old man, who had the appearance of being homeless, with long hair and a smile.

 

People here are very friendly, the old man and I had the usual small chat about the weather. He asked from where I came and I answered Israel. When I asked from where he came he said that he is here forever, he belongs to the Lipan tribe, part of the Apache tribes that lived in the areas of New Mexico and Arizona. I was very interested in hearing more and asked about their rituals and beliefs, he answered and I felt a shiver in my body, it was like my feet were trembling. The old man told me about the ancient Native American masks and their part in their rituals. All their rituals were to retrieve and remove energies, in their belief energy swirls around all living and still objects and can be attracted and transferred by specific rituals. There are dances for the trees, animals, mountains, snow, lakes and enemies. Each ritual has its own mask.

 

Masks in their religion are the bridge between the inner and outer worlds, the hiding of self in order to acquire a new energetic stage and thus transform into a new being.

 

At this stage I shivered as if I had a fever. I invited him to Van Patten Street to see my studio but he disappeared. It took me some time to relax. The shiver was gone and then I realized he didn't mention his name.

 

I turned back to my studio and since this meeting I painted only Ancient Native American masks, a very different theme than what I used to paint and using a different technique. In my studio I use layers of tar, oil and acrylic colors while here I painted only with oil on canvas and only masks, nothing else.

 

There were days that I painted nine and ten hours a day. I came to Starry Night for three weeks and once starting with the masks I was worried I wouldn't have enough time to complete them.

 

On my last day I finished painting my last canvas and sent them all to my friends in Palm Beach, Florida, Heather and Ari Rinkus to be kept till my next arrival in December.

 

For me this city's name is Truth and Coincidence.

 

Have magic

Ted Barr