The destination was La Posada, a hotel in Winslow, in the middle of the Arizona Nowhere. Most of you will be familiar with the name of the town from the lyrics of “Take it Easy” penned by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey. La Posada is wedged between historic Route 66 and the Santa Fe Railway, and I was looking forward to sitting by the tracks, cocktail in hand, and watching the trains go by.
It turns out, that La Posada has some pretty eclectic art scattered throughout the property, and an entire section is devoted to an artist who happens to be one of the owners. Very convenient indeed, but being the owner of a hotel gallery does not necessarily a good artist make, sneers the cynic in me. What can I say? I hate to admit that I am somewhat of a cultural snob. Give me the Louvre, give me the Tate. The Hermitage? Two whole days. When in New York, the Met today and Guggenheim tomorrow. But Winslow, dusty desert and cultural wasteland?
Looking down one’s nose has severe limitations, and it didn’t take long until the compulsive traveler on a feeding frenzy for serendipitous exploration kicked the snob in the ass and out of the way, and I immersed myself in the creative process and the work of an artist who had hitherto been unknown to me. I had driven to La Posada. Now I was embarking on a different kind of trip, into the psyche of another individual through the vehicle of art. And quite a trip it was.
Boarding now through the portal, here is “Piñata, self-portrait”.
The artist’s name is Tina Mion.
I wonder what moving into an abandoned mortuary at the age of four does to an impressionable mind, how it is going to affect a child’s sense of what is “normal” or “acceptable”, and what kind of messages it conveys in terms of belonging or alienation. Our knowledge of developmental psychology makes it not unreasonable to posit that this will play a role in setting the scene for Tina’s life, and that she is going to look at the world, depict that world and act within it in a rather unusual way. When you travel the globe by yourself and you are so bold as to be a stowaway on a boat from Sri Lanka to India, no need to brandish your bra to make your point that you are a free and independent woman. Add to her adventurous spirit political convictions that take her to Ukraine and the 1980’s American-Soviet Peace March, and you have a sense of her mettle.
As you can imagine from such a spunky woman, she would create some pretty spunky art. Definitely not pretty. But spunky all right. Her paintings are gritty, edgy and raw. At first glance, many appear whimsical and you could say almost trivial, but dive below the surface and you uncover a dimension of thought and heart and angst and wit, which makes the viewing experience simultaneously unsettling, amusing and intriguing.
So for I couple of hours, I forgot about train tracks, and lost myself down a tortuous artistic rabbit hole.
The Underwater World of Jacques Cousteau
Half Sisters – Martha Jefferson & Sally Hemings
Stop-Action Reaction – Jacqueline Kennedy, King of Hearts
Mary Todd Lincoln, The Ace of Clubs
Spectacular Death Spoons
Leaving the Emerald City
A New Year’s Party In Purgatory For Suicides in which Liberace makes a guest appearance down from heaven just for the hell of it
I emerged for Happy Hour as you wake from a dream. The images dissolved into memory and my photographs did not do them justice, but the imprint remains. As to La Posada and the Santa Fe Railway, that is a whole other story, so you’ll have to wait for the next post.
P.S. The spotlights made it difficult to take decent pictures, so I’ll refer you to her site: http://tinamion.com