Artist

Rainy-day epiphany

I haven’t posted my poetry here before until now.

Many people have told me that it’s not wise to post poetry publicly on websites because you may want to publish them someday. But I’m at a point in my life where I would just like to share when I can, in the forum I choose, because keeping words all to yourself defeats the purpose of expression. I won’t post all of my works on this blog, but here and there I become inspired.

Yesterday was one of those days.

There is a saying from Luther Standing Bear that states:

A man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; lack of respect for growing, living things soon leads to a lack of respect for humans too.

I think of this saying often when I fall into the routine of not taking in enough moments of nature that I appreciate when I am surrounded by it. Living in South Dakota was a treasure trove of beauty. The city and suburban life of Dallas/Fort Worth gives you pockets of green space but nothing like what you experience in places that are encompassed in scenery.

Yesterday I decided to walk outside to the backyard, sit and take in such a pocket.

 

Absorption

Taking my break

with the patter of rain. 

Each drop reaching
…my core. 
It’s more than sounds of
City blaring, churning. 
It’s the sound of each leaf
becoming wet with just
existing. 
But the rain not quite heavy…
Enough — yet– to snap 

the leaf…

To fall

© Jenice Johnson

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Categories: Artist, Day in the Life | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Local art support has no boundaries

Back home in Dallas, I always collected local art.

It was important to me to collect as well as sell my own work. It was also very important to me to support local artists. What I’ve enjoyed seeing here on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the dedicated effort to the arts. In many cases it is more than just an occasional activity — it is an artist’s only livelihood.

Many of these craftsmen and women stop at local businesses to see if any of the workers would be interested in their art. It is often beadwork or other jewelry-making. And it is often priced so well you can hardly believe it given the work that is put forth, especially if you are unaware of what it takes to make any given piece. I asked a beader recently why he kept his prices so low. He said it just comes so easily and so many people here do it that you have to keep your prices competitive. I honestly believe more likely than not, much of the work can sell easily in larger cities for three times the going rate on the reservation. I say that with a caveat, however. I get pretty sickened to see those kinds of sells happening online by people who come out here to buy at those rates and then make a larger profit off the work. 

There is a convenience store in Pine Ridge called Big Bat’s that local Lakota artists use as an outlet to sell their art. Even though I bought a couple of pieces from Kevin Poor Bear there, it wasn’t the first place I met him. He was across the street making small talk, cracking jokes with me and my co-worker with his dog in tow. Mr. Poor Bear is without his legs but gets around easily in his chair which matched his hands — covered in paint and pastels. I wanted to photograph him so badly…just his hands and the wheels of the chair but I was apprehensive to ask. I often fear cliché while being out here…like he hadn’t heard, “Hey! Can I take your picture?” before but for me it was the beauty of the colors. His hands soiled from the work. And his chair reflecting the same.

He teased me about my tobacco pipe I was smoking and asked jokingly, “What is in there? Bob Marley?” Then he laughed and said he was an artist. He didn’t have his work with him but I said next time I saw him I would buy  from him. Well, next time came and even though I was pretty short in the pockets, I’m still all about supporting local art.

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Art by Kevin Poor Bear

Art by Kevin Poor Bear

Art by Kevin Poor Bear

The top piece depicts the Nakota, Lakota and Dakota of the great Sioux Nation. The one above is an interpretation of the colors White Buffalo Calf Woman changed who brought the seven sacred rights to the Lakota. Mr. Poor Bear had these among four others rolled up at his side as he wheeled around in freezing temps. It was hard to choose and we were all pretty chilly as I was pumping gas while he chatted with my co-worker. We had just been out trying to track down a contact for a story but the weather hindered the effort. But my word is my word so when I saw Mr. Poor Bear, I purchased the art.

One thing that is often overlooked when people visit the reservation is the work that these artists are doing. I say that because most of the time media comes out to the land and reports back the “hopelessness.” But here is a guy who does his work in the midst of any hindrances and there are many others. And more likely than not, those are many of the kind of people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. There is bad anywhere and yes, the devastation can be overwhelming. But the talent isn’t missing. The heart and passion isn’t buried.

Categories: Artist | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

The uncanny irony of technology

If someone asks me what I do, I have a long list.  Writer, photographer, intuitive writing coach, assistant director of marketing. To me life is art and everything I do. So now I think I’ll just say I’m an artist to keep that list short!

I currently work full time for a Native American food company based on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. In fact, I temporarily live there now. I’m from Dallas, TX, where I was telecommuting for the company for over two years. At the end of 2012, I rented my house out with plans to move to California. I ended up in South Dakota instead. I wanted to work in person with the people behind the voices, Skype video chats and emails. And I wanted to experience where they live and cover stories happening around the reservation — in person.

It has now been three months in South Dakota and I haven’t blogged. That is until the irony of technology came into view. Mercury is in retrograde after all and, as is the prediction every time this happens, technology and communication seems to go all wonky. So in that vein, even though I knew that my old jenicejohnson.com website over at posterous.com was possibly in jeopardy, it will officially get sacked in the coming weeks. The host site has partnered with Twitter and closing up shop on April 30 leaving me to scramble to get another site in place before then. Having a URL leaves the door open to getting hired for side work but also blogging is an easy way, next to Facebook, to share your story.

The ironic part is I had planned to blog a little bit about my time in South Dakota, mostly referencing the event coverage I do here every week. When I started looking at my site on posterous, I felt I needed to start fresh because I was no longer in Dallas as well as the blog needed to reflect something else. Not sure what yet! Just a new direction. However I had finally got that site how I wanted and now my hand is forced to in fact, start over.

Worst things, of course. But I thought I would share before I continued in this new space. Enjoy the photo below I shot of a South Dakota sunset. On to a new day….

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Categories: Artist, Change | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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