Art, Family, Latino culture, Latino Family Traditions, Writing

The Ortega Adobe – A House of Dreams

A couple of months ago I wrote about Ekphrasic Poetry. There is also such a thing as creating a story from a photograph, or Ekphrasic Prose.

This story is based on a painting housed in our county library. The Ortega Adobe is a California landmark that still stands 160 years after it was built.

Art Tales photo

                                                                     House of Dreams

 

María Conception awakened with a sharp intake of breath. Why did the man in her dream try to grasp her hand? He was a shadow, but his presence familiar.

The sun burned hot through the muslin curtains covering the window. She pulled her damp nightdress away from her chest and rose slowly, allowing her arthritic knees time to acclimate to movement. The clatter of pots, a knife chopping against a heavy board, and the kettle whistling sounded through the room.

Her legs moved slowly, shuffling towards the nightstand and the pitcher of water. After a rinse of cool water on her face, she stroked wet palms over her silver mane, twisted a rope of hair to the nape of her neck.

Buenas días, Doña María.” Her new daughter-in-law wiped her hands on a faded blue apron before she took an earthenware cup from the cupboard. “The coffee is ready.”

“Maybe today,” Maria Conception said noticing lines of worry across her daughter-in-law’s forehead. She sat heavily on the wood chair, its seat smoothed from years of use.

Both women cast glances towards the kitchen window, searching the sky for answers, wondering if bad weather approached or the bloated clouds were passing through. “I hope they return soon,” her daughter-in-law said.

Woven baskets filled with chiles sat next to the charcoal brazier, ready for roasting. “Canning day,” María Conception said. Soon, the familiar scent of burning coal and the sting of chile vapor rose, filling the home, before escaping through open windows.

María Conception instructed her daughter-in-law on the correct way to make chile sauce and the virtues of canning. She needed to know the Ortega family’s cooking secrets so she could provide for an unstable future when it arose. She began with the telling of the family history.

Their adobe, given to them in a land grant, stood on Chumash land spanning the years between Mexican territory and California statehood. Emigdio, María Conception’s husband, built the house.

She remembered the day he returned with his horse sweaty from pulling the carreta filled with redwood beams he found in an abandoned adobe in Rancho Sespe. Their river rock foundation would now have an equally sturdy roof. “A good home,” she said.

They raised thirteen children who worked their fields, tended the goats and provided for their needs.Their adobe withstood the flood of 1867 and the fire which burned their rafters of giant reed cane tied with rawhide. The odor lingered for months. The rugged beams survived, slightly scorched. “A miracle,” María Conception said.

Minutes passed to hours as the chile roasted, was peeled, and plucked clean of seeds. Unspoken anxiety stretched in the space between the two women. María Conception rocked in the oak chair her husband carved decades before. The rhythm, a comforting pulse, creaked to a stop.

A knock on the door boomed and paused, followed by rapid taps. María Conception looked through the window where Mr. Sanchez stood, his hat in his hand, and she knew what her dream meant.

#

This story is fictional however some of the characters are based on fact. Emilio Ortega, Emigdio and Maria Conception’s 11th child, established the Ortega Chile Packing Company using his mother’s recipes. The company has a variety of products on the market.

Art, Creativity, Inspiration, poetry, Poetry Month, Stories, Writing Inspiration

What the Heck is Ekphrastic #Poetry?

 

paper cutout of a couple on a book
Story. Photo by Rossyyme, flickr.com creative commons

 

In the spirit of poetry month, I thought I’d make a poem for this week’s post. Last year, I celebrated the month with the post Late To The Poetry Party, offering a poem and several links to other poets (who actually submit poems and win honors).

Have you ever heard a term that sounded so odd you wanted to blurt, “Say what?”

That’s how I felt when I first heard of Ekphrastic poetry but I didn’t ask the question out loud. First, my mind and tongue tried to wrap itself around the weird word. Second, maybe I didn’t want to hear the definition; sounded like a cutting word.

I heard the word from my writing mentor, Fred Arroyo, who participated in this interesting workshop:

“PINTURA : PALABRA, a project in ekphrasis” is a multi-year initiative that encourages new Latino writing inspired by art, above all a Smithsonian American Art Museum traveling exhibit titled Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. Aspects of this initiative include ekphrastic writing workshops; inviting writers to engage with the exhibit; and partnering with literary journals to publish portfolios of ekphrastic writing. The exhibit debuted in Washington, D.C. in 2013 and concludes its tour in Sioux City, Iowa in 2017.

You can read how he uses ekphrastic poetry here.

This is from the Poetry Foundation:

An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.

Now, whenever I go to a museum or see a lovely piece of photography, my creative juices begin squirting and sometimes land on something I like.

This is a photo which mesmerized me for a few minutes. A story followed.

 

inside of monastery, sunlight, photo by Helmut Tobies
Photo of Monastery by Helmut Tobies, unsplash.com/creative commons

 

In another time,

another place

sunlight danced on the shoulders

of forbidden lovers

pressed against columns

moist with passion

beneath arches,

                                                          a canopy to cover scandal,

the joyful

sighs of love.

Her velvet gown

crushed by nubby wool

of a friar’s frock,

surrounded by scents of jasmine

and aromatic oils.

More than one great romance

glowed in the shadows

of the setting sun

in another century, in another monastery.

The photo connected with me, perhaps because I love architecture, medieval times, and television shows like “Reign.”

I find that Ekphrastic poetry is a good way to stimulate creativity and can serve as a writing prompt. Many times I need something to propel me to start writing, especially if I’m revising (which is most of the time).

So tell me, what do you see?

Art, Artist Frida Kahlo, Latinas

Can You Name #5 Latina Artists?

 

self portrait of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Lola Alvarez Bravo photographer
Self Portrait of Diego Rivera with Frida Kahlo by Lola Alvarez Bravo 1930

For Women’s History Month, the National Museum of Women in the Arts thought of a great way to get people thinking about women artists.

Their Twitter campaign is Can You Name #5Women Artists. Check out their twitter feed.

What may be more difficult than naming five women artists is to name #5Latina Artists, #5AfricanAmerican Artists, #5Native American Women Artists or #5Asian Women Artists.

Here’s a look at five artists who are Latina (there are many more, but for the sake of this post, we’re looking at five):

Lola Álvarez Bravo is probably best known however for the photographs she took of her friend Frida Kahlo, (see above photo). She was the director of photography at the National Institute of Fine Arts and was the first person to exhibit the work of Frida Kahlo in Mexico City in the early 1950’s.

For 50 years, she photographed a wide variety of subjects, making documentary images of daily life in Mexico’s villages and city streets

 

Print of La Tierra Santa by Cecilia Alvarez.
La Tierra Santa by Cecilia Alvarez

Cecilia Alvarez was born in National City, California. Her mother is Mexicana and her father is Cubano. Cecilia was raised between San Diego, California, USA and Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. This cultural and political mix inspired much of her work.

I bought this print in Seattle, Washington in 1998 while on a trip with my three children and a nephew. The subject matter spoke to me.

Family Tree by Frida Kahlo, photograph by Libby Rosoff, flickr.com cc
Family Tree by Frida Kahlo, photograph by Libby Rosoff, flickr.com cc

Frida Kahlo’s work is by far the most visibly know among women artists. I picked an art piece not widely seen which is a painting of her family tree. It is on display at the Frida Kahlo Museum, Casa Azul in Mexico.

I don’t need to say much about her fantastic work since you’ve probably seen the various movies or books about this legendary artist.

mural in Los Angeles, Judy Baca
The Great Wall of L.A. by Judy Baca-flickr.com

This piece is by muralist and educator Judy Baca. This section is part of a greater mural in Los Angeles which spans centuries of events. The entire piece is 2,754 feet and began in 1976. Her murals and awards are too numerous to list but can be found here.

Soraida Martinez Verdadism Art Gallery
Soraida Martinez Verdadism Art Gallery

Soraida Martinez created the art form called Verdadism which combines the Spanish word for truth (Verdad) and the English suffix for theory (ism).

“My Verdadism paintings are about a deeper understanding of the human soul, tolerance and to promote respect for all human beings. All Verdadism paintings are juxtaposed with social commentaries,which are all based on my life experiences.”

Patssi Valdez was one of the founders of ASCO, an art collective from the 1970’s. Her work is housed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum as well as several other museums in the USA and has shown her work internationally.

This is one of my favorite acrylic pieces and if I could afford to buy the painting I would. Maybe it’ll come out in a print.

Painting on acrylic "What is she Writing?" by Patssi Valdez
What Is She Writing? by Patssi Valdez, offrampgallery.com

 

Explore the Twitter campaign and add to the list of women artists at #5womenartists. Share the info.

 

Art, Creative Writing, Creativity, Inspiration, Writers

34 Unique Ways to Brainstorm and Get Creative

beer in ice, Corona beer, lime slices
Ice Cold-flickr.com

 

What does a beer, a shower and playing Pictionary have in common?

And you can do all three alone or in a group? Well two of them at least and a third as a couple.

Okay, enough riddles.

The three subjects above are suggestions to help you generate creative ideas.

Really?

See if you agree.

 

creativity, brainstorming, writing
Brainstorming Creative Ideas – Ethos3.com via writerswrite.co.za post

 

What I like to do is read poetry and jot down whatever words or ideas arise. That’s suggestion #34.

Can you add any tips? How do you brainstorm creative ideas?

Maybe we can get to 40 ideas.