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Some CREATIVE EXPRESSIONSOUT OF SANTA FE If the images do not upload onto

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by Paul Henrickson, Ph.D. ©2008

©2008

I think that one of the more unusual communities in the world is, or, at least, has been, Santa Fe, New Mexico. A
half century ago it was still a small mountain village of only about 20,000, but among them there may have been a
half of one percent who wereactively creative. Now I understand there may be about three times the 20,000 that
may bethere at this time and, as I think there may be, as proportionately as many creative artists as well, then
Santa Fe is, as communities usually go, one of the most heavily populated with creative types as any place on earth
with perhaps as many as 300 functionally creative people.

A little salt goes a long way for one half of one percent sure does bring out differences between one community and
another. Santa Fe is not a dull community. It is the intention of this writing to check out three of the theoretical 300
to see what it might be that identifies and, perhaps, explains, what this characteristic called “creativity” really is….
or might be.

Those involved in this commentary are: Chuzo Tamotzu, Rolf Koppel, Vincent Younis and Storm Townsend.

Chuzo Tamotzu

Sumie drawing of a bird and bamboo,A work horse


The Umbrella Cats

Golden Gorilla Chuzo with two young listeners


Chuzo Tamotzuwas one of the most benign personalities I have ever known. Even my mother was not that gentle.
This gentleness seemed to characterize his entire approach to life and all living expressions of it. His rejection of
everything lacking in gentleness seemed to be just as firmly part of his character as his advocacy of patience and
caring. I never heard him speak of these things. In fact, I rarely heard him speak at all….about anything, but,
somehow, he managed to get his message across without intrusion.

It was through Glynn Gomez, a creative personality in his own right, that I first came into contact with Chuzoand his
wife Louise. Glynn too, showed a wider embrace of kindness than most people, but in comparison to Chuzo he had
none at all. Now, it has been my growing belief, that and interest in, the phenomenon of creativity that is leading
me into the conviction that everything one does, says, attempts, rejects, etc., are forces which act upon our
essential persons as effectively as the hands of the potter shapes the character of the vessel.

The more conscious we become of that process and our own power to effect our own development within ourselves
the more completely creative we become in everything we do. We are in the process of constructing who we are.
This also demonstrates the tragedy of an early death, one where the individual had been suddenly cut off from this
sort of spiritual development. This observation may help us to understand the total misery which Judas Iscariot
must have felt when he realized what he had done.

Where there is good, there seems also to be evil and what is good seems to attract that which wants to destroy it.
Fairly early on Louis Tamotzu, the Jewish wife of Tamotzu asked if I would write a monograph on Chuzo. I welcomed
the opportunity for I learned that whenever I did try to put into literary form concepts which were not literary at all I
forced into a learning situation where the careful choices of elements from one medium (the written word) to give
meaning to the elements from a very different medium (drawn illustrative images) became of vital importance.
While that process is akin to the development of ideograms I find it more detailed, involved and complicated,
requiring the thinker to pass the thought across the mind more than once.

The evil that was attracted to Louise appeared after she had her lawyer prepare a contract for me to write the
monograph was, I fear, in the form of one or two of her Jewish female friends, quite possibly Geraldine Price, who,
consistent with the program of ethnic advancement, and dis-advancement depending upon the ethnicity involved,
told Louise that I was a member of the Libertarian Party, a party, which was probably described as being anti-
communist. Well, that claim, certainly was not untrue, but in the context it seemed to suggest that anyone who was
anti-communist would be automatically, anti the art of a communist.

While Louise, from time to time, showed evidences of thinking along the lines of a proper communist, Chuzo never
did. His overriding concern for the fragility and beauty of life was too deep and too consistent for him to have been
a communist, or a capitalist for that matter. I think Chuzo preferred to leave both organizational and political
expressions alone as being inferior expressions of social concern, but he was deeply concerned about the suffering
of people undergoing warfare.

Not so, however, with the individual who advised Louise to drop the matter of a monograph with me as its author. I
believe I might have fought this development in court with some success but I had no desire to even try. I knew that
our relationship had already been severely damaged by the unkind and troublesome interference.

Years later, after I had moved from Santa Fe to Pojoaque, Louise wrote a long, handwritten letter expressing her
sorrow at having treated me so badly…her expression, not mine. She also expressed the desire that I tell no one
about the matter as she still had, at ninety years of age, friends and admirers whom she did not want to have
influenced in any way to change their minds. I tried to tell her that it was quite likely that an apology of the kind
she gave would have raised even higher a thoughtful person’s estimate of her character, not lowered it. After all, as
one looks over the period of human history where the populous has placed its trust in leadership and been sorely
disappointed it is merely our being naive that allows us to trust in the untrustworthy, not the intentions of our
character.

However, from my point of view the factors in the work of Tamotzu that demonstrate his creative response to his
message through his medium can be identified quite simply by the ideas with which he infuses the marks he
makes. They are not characterized by having a great deal of artistic sophistication. The academic discipline of
making a controlled mark that conforms to a preconceived standard as one might find among the neo-classicists
can rarely be detected in Tamotzu’s work. The abrupt changes in mark character as one sees in the sumi ink
drawing with the large smudge which ends some inches below in the image of a vocalizing bird stands in sharp
contrast with the traditional sumihandling of bamboo. The juxtaposition of the disciplined treatment of the bamboo
with the threatening smudge above the anxious bird might be compared to the sound of a scream of rape during
the singing of the Ave Maria.

The absence of technical consistency only dramatizes the event of animated excitement from among the security of
a bamboo grove. The sound of the bird is louder for having been treated differently technically. Imagine, if you can,
then the aesthetic result of a lyrical decresendo by Monserat Caballeejoined by the sound of a Liza Minnelli…and I
enjoy Liza as well. The startling differences in the aesthetic of sound would clarify the character of both.. In this
sense, This work by Tamotzu is not unlike the voices of the ventreloquist and his dummy

ROLF KOPPEL

Rolf Koppel told me in 1969 that he had been born in 1934 and his mother told me he was
three when in1937 they were on their way from Germany to “Amerika” and the toddler
couldn’t resist his excitement to the dismay, I am sure, of all the other passengers on the
train out of Germany into Denmark to refrain from making a little song
out0------------------------------------------------------------------------p of the phrase. “We are going to
1111111111111Amerika” we are going to Amerika. We are go….
Koppel: Torso Ingre Torso

Koppel: double image unkown Etienne Maurice


Falconet

3. Kopel
Koppel:Selfportrait Odd Nerdrum: Self portrait A masked man from New Guinea

Koppel: Self Portrait Caravaggio: Self portrait as Baccus?

Rolf Koppel “apotheosis” A Rococo “apotheosis”


I have paired Rolf’s work with the work of others with whom he may have been familiar as a means of
demonstrating the level of Rolf’s visual sophistication. More than either Tamotzu or Younis, Koppel is a
“cultivated man”. Now, that expression probably needs some explanation. In this instance to be
“cultivated” means to imply a high degree of awareness of what a wide spectrum of the population is
doing and thinking and it probably also implies a significant degree of conformity to the standards that
those people have set. In this sense neither Tamotsu nor Younis can be considered cultivated. Tamotzu,
it seems, while aware of the then contemporary thought in New York, chose to abandon that milieu and
to come to Santa Fe where conforming or not conforming was less an issue. Younis, as witness to his
having spent, at one point, nearly half his adult life in prison was a non-conformist. Younisis also the
only one who lacks a formal art education. And Koppel has had an extensive, highly intellectualized
and cosmopolitan exposure to a variety of cultural “trends”. It might be exactly that which seems to
have made it difficult for him not to make references to what he knows and thereby, avoiding dealing
with some more personal and original graphic concerns, or from another point of view that may be
exactly what he is doing.

It is this aspect of Koppel’s work that may account for my ability to pair his images with those of other
artists and from different period and different parts of the world. It may also be this aspect of his
cultural exposure that makes it more difficult for him to achieve a personal creative level and, perhaps,
to be permanently absorbed by the maelstrom of creative currents. Certainly, Younis was not
burdened by this and was through the highly restrictive boundaries imposed by plastic sheets of
stenciling patterns. But, and this may be the measure of Younis’s creativity, these preconceived
stencils, which psychoanalytically could be compared to the strict regime of prison life and social contact, did not
restrict Younis’s expression. Rather, he exploited those characteristics to build a large vocabulary of
graphic statements, and, additionally, to do so with considerable humor.

Koppel’s statements, in some cases, are more subtle , as in the pair of “apotheosi” . His willingness to
compare himself to both Caravaggio and Nerdrum raises other questions as well. Nerdrum, himself,
may be an object of some nefarious amusement in that the name “Nerdrum” whose word part “nerd”
in American English refers to a personality type in Norwegian that word cell , as a word, is street talk
for “prick” which, in turn, raises the question as to whether the name “Nerdrum” is a coincidental
nomen omen or an adapted AKA.

Vincent Younis

Vincent Younis was about 30 years old when I first met him, newly returned to prison and awaiting a
hearing with the judge, later Attorney General of New Mexico, Petra Maez It was his mother, Angelina
Delgado, a member of the five generations tinsmith family and a tinsmith herself who had introduced
us at the local jail house, she to see her son and I to see an employee who had got into trouble.

Vincent was now in the state prison awaiting a hearing with the judge as a result of his having abused
the privilege granted him by the court when he applied for a leave to attend a family affair in Santa Fe
but took advantage of the opportunity to skip to Florida to see his wife and child. This accomplished,
he returned to Santa Fe and turned himself in. By the time I met him he had already organized the
other prisoners into a small staff of contributors to a prison publication entitled “The Revolving Door”
in which appeared the drawings, essays, and other documents created by the fellow prisoners there.
He had, as well, arranged for my coming to talk to the prisoners about what a creative attitude meant.
I did, of course, as a favor to him. The experience was not without its instructional value, however. All
the other prisoners were, I imagine, New Mexico Hispanic. Vincent’s father was Lebanese. Out of
deference to Vincent they paid dutiful attention to what I talked about, but other than that paid
absolutely no attention to me , not unlike the reception Anglos get when invited to an Hispanic house
for a family party. Teenagers will let the Anglo know, without any doubt whatever, how despised they
are and how much they do not belong.

In the prison when a tattooed inmate approached Vincent, and ignored me when I spoke to him,
carried on his chest a portrait of the head of the Christ with a crown of thorns and on his back there
was a full figure of the Virgin Mary, which, I was told, was there to put off potential rapists. The logic of
these behaviors is beyond me but through it all I could not help but admire Vincent’s ability to attract
respect and attention in this rather specialized environment.

When the time for the court hearing came about some months later the prosecutors had not been
informed by the defense attornies that I was to appear and so registered their objections to the Judge
and, in the process, managed, to treat me rudely until I, automatically, let it be known I would not
tolerate the abuse. The prosecutor’s repeated concern was for the reputation Vincent had for being
able to manipulate people. I took the opportunity to introduce the idea that not all manipulation was
bad, but it did little good, if any at all. Judge Petra Maes gave Vincent another 13 years in prison and it
is my assessment that this sentence, greater than some sentences for rape and murder, was, in fact,
punishment for Vincent’s mother for having married outside the clan. The judge, not so by the way has
lost an alcoholic husband through a driving accident and claimed not to notice that a plaintiff’s
attorney was not functioning normally and ruled against the plaintiff and awarded a parcel of land to
the defendants, also named Maes, who had been charged with criminal trespass.. The creative mind is
as J.E.Drevdahl hasdescribed like a criminal evading the social control police as best he can and
Vincent may simply have chosen to hide himself in a crowd of prisoners where, it seemed, his society
seemed to want him in any event.

The vast majority of heirs to the Land Grants in New Mexico were conversos, that is, Jews nominally
converted to Christianity who had managed to arrange an escape to the New World some two days
after the passage of the edict legally introducing the Inquisition.

Vincent’s mother never indicated to me that she was an heir to a land grant and I never asked. Her
greatest pride was in the fact that she was a member of five generations of tin smiths.

I showed the work of Vincent’s explorations into image making to a Santa Fe gallery director who had,
at one time, hosted a large show of prison work , but her response was inadequate, incorrectly
grouping Vincent’s work together with all the other prison art production to which it does not belong. I
also used his work to test the then current concern for standardizing graphic products as a means of
establishing levels of creativeness, that is, “official” levels of creativeness, something like an I.Q.
score for the C.Q. Their assessments of Vincent’s level of creativity failed mainly because their
parameters were too narrow and the analytical approach too procrustean. Creativity can be assessed
in only a very primitive way if restricted to the counting of incidences of response, i.e., the number
times something happens, or, in the case of something creative, the number of times its doesn’t
happen. In short, it takes more than a statistical approach to understand the event.

So, what is it that one concludefrom these observations? Probably nothing more than that the creative
artist in working out his own solutions to problems may touch upon societal concerns as well and in so
doing hint at solutions.

While it has been said that cubism presaged the break up of 19thcentury society there were,
after all, a number of other things going on as well and about a hundred years ago after a
terrific earthquake which very much disturbed certain Indian cultures in the Northwest who
experienced an increase in mental problems did motsettle down until after someone of them
came up with the image of a squirrel cracking a nut and placed it on the Totem as a symbol
of their communal experience such a one to one correlation between our experiences and
our art is not so easily come by. It may possibly be helpful to talk about it and this may be
the art critic’s major purpose these days…a surrogate psychoanalyst.

I think it was Picasso who said that all art was a lie in which case there may be a high
correlation between the work of the artist and that of the politician. This

is only a question, that’s all.

I do have an alternative to offer, however, and that is that in the research conducted at the
University of Northern Iowa in 1968-70 it was determined that those subjects who were the
most perceptive as well as creative received consistently on the average one grade point
below those whose grade point average was at or above the cut off point for admission into
the Teacher Education Program and that those who were allowed to become students in the
program were also found to tell more lies about themselves to governing authority
suggesting that the teacher education program at The University of Northern Iowa was
successful in bringing into the teacher force uncreative liars to influence the youth.
Two sculptures by Henry Moore

Photograph by Edward Weston

Three sculpture by Storm Townsend


I have brought works by these three people together to help me make a point, that being,
that beyond the representation of visual data the artist detects qualities in the subject upon
which he extrapolates and explores, or, as in the case of Edward Weston, reveals to the
observer by means of his concentrated focus. Weston has not changed the object. He has
simply intensified our inspection of it so that, somehow, the observ
eris the agent by which its meaning is changed. Either way, the observer’s experience is
enriched by these shifts in emphasis. One of the main differences between Townsend and
Moore, as I understand their work, is that where as Townsend calls out attention to how our
bodies feel in space, Moore tells us how our bodies partition space. One is subjectively
affective in the approach, the other is objectively analytical.

The aesthetic development of New Mexico will be an interesting event to observe as all
these varied influenced work their way into some amalgam.