Scrapbook Two Hundred Twenty Nine…

scrapbook

November, 2019

Medicinal Mojo Necklace 

About 1973 or 4, when I was still young to Santa Fe, my thin wallet’s shadow could not shade my fat ideas. With my wife’s wisdom and energy at my side we worked to make opportunities happen.

That’s how I came into a few thousand strands of antique Venetian, Dutch, and French glass trade beads. Sosoko, a beautiful African man brought them to me strung on native grasses.  

The more I studied the beads the more I was drawn into them. Even large bits of information I received were not enough. I learned that some beads were simple, while others were compound, mandrel wound, drawn, glob wound, and rolled on a marver. I even hired some kids on the island of Murano, off of Venice, Italy, to dive down and bring up sweepings from a few hundred years of bead making. 

After a few years of study, I decided to write a book about ancient beadmaking and beadmakers. Finally, I learned enough to know that I couldn’t write the book. The subject was just too complex for me. And now, here I am with all of these beads. 

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Some of my mojo beads

So I started making necklaces, and here is one of them. 

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The Mojo necklace

I guess I’ve made 200 or more in 3 and 5 strands. I strung them at night while we watched Johnny Carson and they sold in our gallery so fast that we almost ran out of sales slips. 

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My bead making kit

The diagnostic medical descriptions below are Sosoko’s. He recited them to me one hot day when we both were high on cold Coca Colas. There are a few non-bead items strung on. I did that to give balance to the power of the necklace. Every item is old and authentic. The orange coral spacer beads are from the Mediterranean Ocean. As I describe each bead see if you can find it on the necklace.

  1. Red Peking bead. Helps reduce your blood pressure when the witch next door takes your parking spot.
  2. Argentinian German coin dated 1930. Can be used if you are in Argentina and need to take the bus home from a blind date.
  3. Green faceted Russian trade bead, dug up, ca 1810. Prevents dings, lesions, and scratches when you are attacked by a woman who is jealous of your good looks. 
  4. Ancient Venetian Millefiori (a thousand flowers) bead. Prevents sleep if you suffer from catalepsy.
  5. Three paternoster (chevron) beads. Gives you 3 times your normal protection while you’re drinking in saloons. Doesn’t work after 2am if Brad Pitt is present. 
  6. Ancient vaseline bead from Jakarta. This bead has such catch-all healing prowess that it can only be described in 3 mother languages.
  7. Ancient projectile point from Texas. Made from Edwards Plateau Chert. Protects you from those who would lessen your desirability. Doesn’t work when Playboy photographers are in the neighborhood. 
  8. Metal girl’s shoe buckle. Picked up on the Santa Fe Trail where it was lost about 1850. It adds nothing to this necklace but wonderment.
  9. Ancient eye bead from polynomia. Copied from 2,000-year-old Egyptian faience beads. It warns you when your mother-in-law approaches. Inoperative during Christmas and Thanksgiving. 
  10. Five-inch John Campbell bone hair pipe, ca 1860. Was originally a hair drop owned by a Blackfeet Indian maiden. Helps keep you awake during PTA meetings.
  11. Rattlesnake vertebra from the Galisteo Basin in New Mexico. If you walk through the forest it will prevent your knees from clanking together and scaring the rabbits.
  12. Copper hawk bell from a Cheyenne woman hide dress, ca 1850. Contains the original Klanker. Warns you when weird men approach you in a bar. Doesn’t work after you’ve had 4 beers. 
  13. Yellow/orange amber bead from Afghanistan, ca mid-1700s. It keeps your face from turning red when you embarrass yourself at Christmas parties. 
  14. Handmade mother of pearl blouse button, ca 1880. Keeps you from having a wardrobe malfunction when the wind over 40 knots. Especially useful at outside Justin Bieber concerts.  
  15. Copper gear from a pocket watch, ca 1880. Makes time tic faster when you’re at the opera or your mother-in-law’s house. 
  16. Generic female silver Milagro from a church in Oaxaca, ca 1825. Instills energy when you’re talking on the phone with an obnoxious woman. Tells you when to hang up in her face. 
  17. Brass US Army Cavalry button from an officer’s uniform, ca 1876. Slows food intake. Doesn’t work with tapioca and most flavors of ice cream. It automatically malfunctions if you are eating a hot dog with mustard, dill relish, sauerkraut, salt and pepper, and tabasco. 
  18. Green sentinel bead, ca mid-1700s. Jingles against your skin to alert you when you’re standing under mistletoe and an obnoxious jerk kind of guy is somewhere around your close area. 
  19. Malachite bead, ca 1740, from New Caledonia. Helps you retain mental blockages when a Politian asks you for a donation.   
  20. Experienced German silver cross, ca 1750. Will give you strength physically, mentally, spiritually, and morally, if your faith is strong enough, and if it isn’t, you’d better be very careful. f

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Twenty Eight…

scrapbook

November, 2019

Alexandra, and a lot more. 

 

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Nicolai Fechin painted this portrait of his wife Alexandra. 

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Click on image to enlarge

It’s a great painting and I wish we had a better photo with which to show it off. It was in my collection for many years, and it has an interesting history. 

Fechin painted it on plywood in 1933, the year his wife divorced him. It wasn’t yet finished. Eya, (Fechin’s 19-year-old daughter, who moved with her father to NYC after the divorce), thought the painting was left with Alexandra in Taos. Alexandra figured Nicolai took it with him to New York. 

But in fact, Fechin stored the painting in an antique Spanish trustero, and left it in Mabel Dodge Lujan’s hay barn, where it languished, lost and forgotten, for almost 31 years. 

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Nicolai Fetchin, Self Portrait

Nicolai died in 1955, and when Mabel died in 1962, Eya went for the trustero, and found the painting. It had a serious 4” horizontal scratch across the lower right bottom. I called it battle damage because of what that poor thing had been through. Maybe the painting should have received a Purple Heart. 

It was the last painting the artist made in Taos, and the last ever portrait of Alexandra.

Eya sold the painting to me for $5,000 because she didn’t like the subject, its history, and certainly not it’s “terrible state of disrepair.” None of those things bothered me at all, and I never framed it.

I displayed the painting in my gallery on and off for years, as it was, and not for sale. 

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When my biography of Fechin hit the bookstores in 2001, the painting was illustrated in full page color on page 5. I even included a close-up inset of Alexandra’s left eye, so I could brag about how strangely beautiful it was painted. 

When my wife and I started de-acquisitioning our art collection, more than 10 years ago, I reluctantly sold Alexandra to a billionaire for exactly 100 times what I gave for her, and I sold her too cheap. I didn’t take intrinsic value into account. 

An off the subject side note. 

I used to have 2 birthday parties every year for Alexandra. Her nickname was Tinkabelle, but I called her Tinka for short. 

One day when we were in a pensive mood, she told me about her divorce. Fechin (she always referred to him as Feshin, with her heavy Russian brogue, and I hope you can discern the difference.) always needed absolute silence when he was painting, and that’s why he didn’t allow a phone in his studio. 

He spoke unacceptable English in the beginning, but Alexandra was semi fluent. That meant he could do the painting, but she had to do the selling. 

One day two ladies appeared at the studio door. They wanted each to buy a painting. Tinka put a finger to her lips and spoke to them in hushed tones. 

When Fechin yelled “Shut up” the ladies took a few steps back, but their voices soon elevated above the artist’s acceptable decibel level. He jerked the painting from his easel and flung it across the room, hitting Tinka in the mouth, knocking her down and breaking her lip. 

The ladies fled. 

Tinka said she could have forgiven Feshin if the 2 ladies had not been there and seen that, but since they were there, she had to divorced him. She was still very Russian. f

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Twenty Seven…

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November, 2019

 

Enter King Beowulf

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That’s Beowulf there on the left. He lived in the pond behind our gallery. His expression never changed so it was hard for me to tell exactly what he was thinking. He probably thought I was an Alligator Whisperer.

Sometimes when I went out to see Beowulf, he’d open his mouth really wide. I never knew whether he was thinking about eating me or just saying hello. But in the back of his mind he must have known that if he lunged at me, I’d make shoes out of him.

Every 4th day I’d go out to the pond with a big slab of beef liver in my hand. When he saw me coming, he’d ease off of his sunny rock and swish over to me. When I bent down and offered him food, he’d politely eat from my hand.

The pond was 12’ deep over by the waterfalls, and we also had ducks and several big fish. When the ducklets swam past Beowulf, I’d yell for him to be nice and I never knew him to disobey me. Sometimes when I wasn’t there, we’d miss a duck. Beowulf instantly became an alligator of interest. There were no eyewitnesses so we had to let it pass.

Then one afternoon about 4 o’clock, 6 baby ducks were swimming behind their mom when I heard a dull GULP, and then there were 5 baby ducks swimming behind their mom. The culprit was one of two 6-pound channel catfish, but still there were no eye witnesses.

Beowulf lived like a king. The first freeze in Santa Fe each year was supposed to occur on the 15th of October, so on the 14th Beowulf moved into his custom-built winter home. It was a 10’ x 10’ wooden enclosure with pond water circulating in and out. It had an electric heater and a transparent plastic roof to let the sun in. Beowulf was the envy of the neighborhood, and his hedonistic life promised to go on forever.

But then we sold the gallery. When the new owner was showing her insurance agent around the property Beowulf was seen chasing a small dog across the yard. It was his last day of acquaintance with the gallery, because, like Saddam Hussein, he journeyed way past the point of no return. f

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Twenty Six…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

Frankie and Johnny

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This is either Frankie or Johnny with my daughter Kelly. They were a pair-the parrots I mean. I couldn’t tell the difference between them. (I don’t like the way this story is going)

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They lived in a big pandoroma just outside of our bedroom door upstairs at the gallery. It was not unusual for one of them to lose their footing on the roost, in the middle of the night, and tumble crashing about 3’ to the floor. It made a terrible noise that caused me to think someone was breaking into our gallery. So of course, I had to go down stairs, half asleep and half naked, to check it out. I hated doing that and always questioned the logic of doing anything at all. 

What if there actually were a couple of huge convicted felons with big knives breaking in? What was I supposed to do, apologize for interrupting them and serve coffee to keep them from killing me? 

patch

On the other hand, If I called the police and just sat there waiting for them to arrive, it would be at least 20 minutes. By then half of our stuff would have been hauled away, and my wife would kill me. it was a no-win situation.

There was a story about a man who heard two burglars robbing his garage. He called 911 and the lady apologize and said she didn’t have anyone to respond, and hung up. So the man called 911 again and said, “forget my last call lady, I just shot the two guys and they are bleeding all over the floor.” 

About 2 minutes later the police came rushing in and arrested both burglars. The 911 lady said, “I thought you said you shot them,” and the man replied, “I thought you said no one was available to respond.”

I think that’s what I’m going to do next time. Either that, or get my parrots a padded floor. f