Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

How I Came to New Mexico and learned about Art and Life





WORD PAINTINGS #123 (How I Came to New Mexico and Learned about Art and Life) – UP IN SMOKE!

11 June 2022 (Llano Quemado, New Mexico) – The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire has consumed over 320,000 acres and is 67% contained. Yesterday a new fire broke out north of El Rito burning 500 acres. Today it has grown to 3,500 acres with no containment!  Woke up in the middle of the night having a hard time breathing due to the smoke.  Ashes on the windowsills this morning!  Many planes and helicopters flying over the house on Thursday.  Gratefully there isn’t much wind this afternoon. Update: 4:00 PM The wind is howling – view of Taos Mountain completely obscured by thick smoke!  Damn!

A story on FB this morning of an elderly gentleman, owner of 170 acres in one of the villages that was under fire – it is all gone.  He now resides in a living center in Santa Fe and it is entirely possible that it is there he will spend his last days.  Am living right in between two fires now.  Hearing and reading stories of loss and heartbreak – assessing the damage has only just begun.  

Watching “Gaslit” the story of John and Martha Mitchell during the Watergate hearings.  So small by comparison to the January 6th coup attempt.  Found an Errol Morris interview  with Steve Bannon on Amazon and rented it last week but can’t stand the sound of Bannon’s voice!.  Want to understand how he can commit treason (allegedly), be indicted and still be able to continue spouting his conspiracies via podcast.  Waiting for my copy of the Atlantic with an article calling him “The American Rasputin”.  Perhaps I am too cynical, but am having that old “Muller Report” skepticism – we might go through this information and all this drama and still no one will be held accountable.  When it was revealed that this committee has no authority to bring charges and in the end will turn all evidence of criminality to the Justice Department, it felt like deja vu all over again.

Not to be forgotten is the damned pandemic! Friend messaged me today that cases have spiked again in Santa Fe this week.  Read that Moderna is coming out with a booster shot that is quite effective against the Omicron variant.”

Am back at work – almost finished with my new 24″x30″ canvas “Late Winter Storm”.  Vividly remember the cold and windy February afternoon in Truchas.  Brings back all my wonderment of living in that magical place – “How did I get so lucky?”  It is so good to lose myself in this work – seven hours of working and painting yesterday.  Taking off today to water my plants and take a nap!

Monstrous clouds formed several afternoons earlier this week.  They promised a deluge, only to be dissipated by the afternoon winds.  So near and yet so far!

The war in Ukraine lit a spark.  Out of curiosity I signed up for Ancestry and in my spare time (?) am working on my family tree.  An intriguing mixture of German, Polish and Russian – with a little of the Vikings in there, too.  On the German side I have been able to trace back to my ninth great-grandfather born in 1530!  

Still working on the Polish side – great mystery due to World War II. As a little girl I remember sewing some money into the hem of a big black coat to send to our family in “the old country”.  Large group of women got together on my grandmother’s screened-in porch in Chicago.  By the time we were finished there was a huge stack of cartons to be shipped to Poland – possibly Gdansk the port Hitler invaded on September 1st 1939.  Months later many whispers….it was obvious we didn’t need to send anymore boxes.  Understand that I might not be able to go too far back on that side of the family – the records have been lost forever.

Although I bought the audiobook “Bloodlands” by Professor Timothy Snyder about  Hitler and Stalin invading Europe. Deciding to put it aside for a while – too relevant.  There is so much going on right now, it is difficult to keep one’s balance!    Need to lighten up – at least click my heels and pretend!  Instead a little book “Come, Tell Me How You Live” a first person account of Agatha Christie’s trip to the mid-East with her archaeologist husband Mr. Mallowan.   In times of stress, routine is my great friend! Paint, read and water my plants – trying to keep it simple.  Maybe one or two rain dances in the studio….DC