Tuesday, August 25, 2009

it always smelled of rain...

"Our mood was gone, a restless night, unfulfilled desires..

morning came clear and brilliant. I will do some heads
of you today Zinnia,. The mexican sun, l thought,
will reveal everything, something of the tragedy of our
present life may be captured. Nothing can be hidden
under this cloudless cruel sky. And so it was that she
leaned against a whitewashed wall, lips quivering nostrils
dilating, eyes heavy with gloom of unspent rainclouds.
I drew close. I whispered something and kissed her.
A tear rolled down her cheek and then l captured forever
the moment.
-edward weston photographing tina modotti 1926

Mexico City...history built on history. I was given a canada council
grant in the nineties, travel to mexico city for two months. They
(Fondo) gave me a home, some money and the rest was up to me.
It's hard to write of my trip there, so much, it's like a thousand souls
entered my body, like the Sahara, sands being whirled about, moving,
changing, coming together.

My home was in the district of Cayoacan and l walked the streets
every day. The green tent, this was my treasure. I discovered a
big green tent on the sidewalk outside of a paper factory, tarps,
couches, tables, a stove, a light. The tent ladies, they had been on
strike for a year, and l visited with them every day.

I brought them goods, baked goods, pop, and a deck of cards.
We played rummy, they would make me hot corn drinks, none of
them spoke english, maybe a few words, "hello, goodbye, love"
But it didn't matter, we communicated through laughter, gesture,
doodles on a note pad, and just plain knowing.
It's like the "dancer in the dirt", when you are honest, sincere,
natural, and just "being", then we hear, we see, we feel.

The tent ladies were always an enigma to me, l didn't understand
everything, like shadows that floated behind me, just catching a
glimpse of them but never able to grasp them.


Jose - l met Jose in an alley, he and his wife lived in a tiny cement
room, a bed, a dresser, and walls filled with photographs, crosses,
and symbols of "the virgin of guadalupe". Jose and l would just chat
in the alley, share smokes, grasped at words that sounded familier.

La pura verdad


I met her in an ice cream shop, and in her stumbling english
she asked if l would teach her english, she would teach me
spanish. Sandra was different than the tent ladies, where
as the tent held a darkness, a sadness, Sandra was light,
joyfull, "Oh ken ken ken" she would say with laughter.

She helped me navigate mexico city, took me places, even to
her home for dinner and to meet her parents. She was more
spanish then mexican. She was so lovely.


Rosa- it was Rosa that l attached myself to at the green tent.
She seemed to be in charge or perhaps just more respected, she
guided me as l guided her. We passed yellow notes back and
forth like kids in grade school. She was a dark chrystal.

...l digress, this is a painting of rosa, of mexico, of my loves back
home, memory, past and present, roaming around in my
body, my soul, painting is always so much more, so many lives
go into a painting, so much history.

"it always smelled of rain"

I would walk Rosa to the subway most nights, around
midnight and in that mile there were so many scents.
...close your eyes and smell what is around you.
It was assaulting, but in such a delicious way. It was like
the earth made love to you.


...silence is how l should sum up my stay in mexico city.
My beautiful friend Ron wrote the following for me and
next to silence it says it all...

"Aquaintance with a great white turkey sums up a wonder l feel.
The ugly beauty of this abused bird speaks to a dark light in me.
This unlikely creature confirms how utterly strange life is.
It is a strangeness which shocks, amuses and comforts.
The white turkey of Cayoacan heals our alienation.

Suddenly, we smile in recognition of a greater belonging.

It is this amused earthy wholeness l would have us remember."


...we are moving
from the shores of the west coast to the shores of the east coast,
close to bear river, nova scotia. I will be driving very soon, with
Cedar and a truck of belongings 6000k's.
I may not post for a couple three months, but l'll return.

I was going to leave you with edith piaf but have chosen this
wonderful video of Small Faces (itchycoo park) as it just seems
like better driving music.




layers said...

I don't know how to put into words how much your images, words, and work touches a chord deep-- deep into my own -- what would you call it--- soul, brain, whatever...
First of all, I love black and white photos--- Walker Evans is my favorite from the past. your writing is poetic. and your work is haunting and mysterious--- like your subject matter. Second, I have Edith Piaff on my I-pod and M.C. definitely deserved her oscar for best actress for her portrayal of Edith in the movie. But I am glad you chose Itchycoo Park instead. sorry to hear you will be away for a few months, but I have plenty of past posts I can check out.

kenflett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kenflett said...

Thank you Donna, nice to get your comment. Yes walker evans, have you read "Let us now praise famous men" that he photographed with sam agee, wonderful poetic book.
Thanks again.

layers said...

thanks for the tip on the book. Have you seen JAMES CASTLE WALKER EVANS
word-play, signs and symbols...
I think I ordered it from www.knoedlergallery.com. Are you familiar with James Castle?
Also, check out the Seattle band
The Cave Singers--- quirky, odd band I think you will like.

Caio Fernandes said...

to find this post today was a real tresure for me .
made me get back on track .
the pictures of the opened book , they are great !
i liked a lot the picture of the dogs on water too .
wow , you went deep on this little universe this time .
yeah Ken , thanks for this one , it was a favor for my eyes now .
oh yeah , the writing don't get behind .
it was nice to wait new post . this one payed the time .

Leks said...

Hi Ken,I am blown away by beauty of these photos and your preccious writings,Im going to make something on my blog with a link to your website.In between take good care of eachother,safe drive to your new home and good luck with everything.Peace,hugs and love,Sandra :O)
PS I posted Edith Piaff for you, :O)

kenflett said...

Caio, thank you. Your a treasure. :)

Sandra your so wonderful. Thanks so much for the link.


Jeane said...

your work is amazing :)

aleph said...

I´ve been following your posts and reading the older ones, always touched and moved by the humble tenderness and the extremely sensitive way of capturing in images so different and fragile worlds. This last has really impressed me a lot though I can´t find the appropiate words, all of them sound too clumsy and noisy to describe the silent journey I´ve been through your pictures and texts. Wundertag. Thanks.

Kyra said...

As usual, i'm moved and inspired.
thank you! it is the sincerity of your writing that always strikes me. your art spoke to me long before though. the combination of the two is where magic occurs.

have you ever heard of the singer Jacques Brel? there are translations of his songs, however, the french versions are more powerful. "amsterdam", "ne me quittes pas" - those are a couple of his classics. being french, i grew up to his music. interestingly, i only really got to know piaf's music in university.
just thought i'd share.

i wish you and your family a safe journey.

kenflett said...

Jeane, thank you so much. I am feeling the same about your work. Expecially like your shipwreck series, and like that your using beeswax. :)

Aleph, such a nice and generous comment you left, thank you. I am enjoying your lovely blog as well.

kyra, nice to hear from you and yes Jacque brel is in my top three, with nina and tom. and yes amsterdamn is probably my favorite. You should look at him on you tube, so incredible to watch him sing.

Pierre Raby said...

Reading your posts has always been sacred moment in time soulful Ken.
This one makes no exception. Thanks so much for sharing these parts of your past and present, you changed my life like... a true artist, a humble human being, can do. Take great care of yourself, kisses to your loved ones for a safe travel. I will miss you but as we are connected, be assured that I will daily send you lots of colors and peaceful vibes for your next step.
Thanks for being who you are,
godspeed Ken! (always loved that expression)

Manon Doyle said...

I came back to read this post again and i saw that my comment didn't take! Ugh.... must have done something wrong!
Anyway.... i always have to come back a few times to take it all in.

Your images and words are so powerful that they touch the deepest part of my soul. You seem to find beauty in everyone you encounter and then you're able to translate it into your work. Amazing really!

Hope your vacation with your family was great!

CathM said...

... We passed yellow notes back and forth like kids in grade school. She was a dark crystal... [Hmmmmm...]

... This is a painting of Rosa, of Mexico... [I love this painting, especially the cycle of life portrayed with the image of Rosa, the house, and the watchful three doves]...

... I was going to leave you with Edith Piaf... [My hubby introduced me to Edith and Marlene Dietrich, they are both faves of mine (smile)]...

Ken – your words, your images, your spirit remind me of this Helen Keller quote:
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."

Safe travels... you’ll be missed :)

kenflett said...

Ah Pierre, your comment is so wonderful, thank you .
Godspeed, sounds so good, like a old black and white movie.
take care

kenflett said...

Manon, thank you. :) i liked your family tree post and especially liked the journal page from it.

Cath, nice to hear from you, i hope you've recovered from your retreat:) Thanks for the lovely helen keller quote, l like it.

Renee said...

Dearest Ken:

How I adore you. When I read your comment I started crying for no other reason than that it was you that wrote it.

I feel like you are an angel that stopped for a moment and reminded me to be better. Reminded me that I could be better because you exist and you are better.

Three months is a long time Ken and I want you to know that you have made a difference to me. It is important to me that I have been blessed with you in my life.

Nova Scotia sounds very exciting and you have the most wonderful trip and life.

Love Renee xoxo

kenflett said...

Renee, your so kind to me. When l drive through winnipeg, l'll roll the windows down and cedar and l will whistle, howl and yell out your name.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Your bricolage work is incredibly archiTEXTural. There is a resonance here. -Jayne

Momo Luna said...

Dear Ken,
your posts always touch me deeply. It's the combination of your words, photographs and art that make this blog so magical for me. Your posts comfort me, makes me wonder about life and people. So deep. So amazing. So beautiful. But all these words i write here don't suffice the emotions i feel in my heart. Thank you.

Have a safe, wonderful trip. Take care! i can't wait for your next post, but i'm patient. ;-)

Sweet greetz!

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

I so like this work...both texture and spirit of this Cayoacan district...expressing the fragile images with the strong!
Yes,Tom Waits and Nina Simone...my favorites too!

kenflett said...

Thanks so much Jayne, l appreciate your comment. :)

Momo luna, always so nice when you come by and leave your lovely thoughtful comments, thank you.

Thank you blueskydreaming, when l get off library computers across canada, l'll be sure to look at your blog more indepth. :)

van Dyck said...

Your memories helped me recall mine, when in 1973, I think it was then, that I traveled to Ireland, backpacking through the countryside.

Like you, I have many wonderful memories, only wish I also had some photographs to go with them.

I am struck by your images and artwork. They have left an impression on my mind and I wish I could turn the clock back and relive my adventure.

Thank you for sharing.

kenflett said...

van dyck.. so nice to get your comment. thank you.
Your trip to ireland must have been wonderful.

Renee said...

Missing you dear friend.

Love Renee xoxo

kenflett said...

thank you sweetRenee :)
i am safely on the east coast and with a axe in one hand and a shovel in the other, l am getting ready for winter.

Momo Luna said...

Stopping by to say hello, hoping everything is fine with you and your lovely family.
Leaving some sweet greetz.....

kenflett said...

Momo Luna, thank you.
Thoughtful of you to come around.
Things are good, things are active.
I will visit your wonderful blog soon.

Momo Luna said...

Glad to hear things are good. :-)

I don't know if you appreciate this kind of stuff, but i pass you on a 'The gift of love' award. Hope you enjoy it.

Sweet greetz to you and your lovely family.....

ALeks said...

How is life treating you Kenny,big tent boy?:O)
Finished preparing you darlings for the cold?Roof ready? Loads of good love,good luck and hope you will find some time soon to come over here and tell us a story again with your magic eyes,take care.

Manon Doyle said...

We haven't seen you for awhile Ken!! Just checking that things are good with you and your family!!

kenflett said...

Manon and Sandra, so nice of your two to come by, kind of like the desert here, quiet, dry, :) i will be posting shortly.
Hope your two are good and well behaved.