A chef and concert pianist who is also painter.
An image-maker, scholar, and sculptor who has translated an opera, to be performed in New Orleans, and also used to be known as The Iris Man.
A doll maker who has transformed the whole idea of dolls.
A writer with Parkinson’s disease using his experience to help others.
Arioso’s chef has turned his oasis and house north-west of Abiqui into a place where a few lucky souls can eat a four-course meal he designs and cooks himself. I had the feeling when I was enjoying one of these enormous and fabulous meals that this is a man who has truly found his calling. Pressed duck. Sockeye salmon in a delicate sauce. A big birthday cake light as air—and organic vegetables from his own garden. The big light-filled dining room is hung with his paintings, and a grand piano sits as testimony to his career as a concert pianist. Who can do all that and yet retain a certain hiddenness, a retreat from the world of relentless communicating?
I just went to my friend Richard Baltahzar‘s show, “Ye Gods!” at the El Museo Gallery here in Santa Fe. Richard is a hard worker, with a career that spans selling second-hand irises, teaching, working in the arts organization here, translating an opera, and the deep study needed to create the drawings of the Aztec gods and goddesses that hang on the gallery walls, all in black and white, since his aim is to produce what will surely be the most elaborate coloring book on the face of the earth. (And riding a bike all over town and mentoring his grandson). And I forgot to mention that he is also a sculptor.
I haven’t met the doll maker, Mary Jane Butler, although as soon as I saw a few of her dolls in a gallery in Taos, I knew I had to have one, and her prim, sardonic lady in a hat now sits in my dining room as though chuckling at the goings-on there. She’s in southern Colorado now but will come to a store in Santa Fe in the fall.
Most moving of all is Keepin’ On, the book my friend Robert Silver presented here today. An unsparing, heartfelt account of his twelve-plus years with Parkinson’s, he is giving all the proceeds from the book to foundations that are working to find a cure. The sufferers in his audience, listening intently to his encouragement and advice—he plays tennis, hikes, and dances, depending on a cocktail of powerful drugs to keep him mobile—surely went away with renewed hope. I, too, learned a useful lesson: not to make decisions in the dismal reaches of the night, when Bob lies paralyzed, waiting for five A.M. when he can take his first dose of medications.
Twelve years ago when he was diagnosed, Bob’s doctor told him he should expect his life to become “grim.” Instead, he has filled it with light and gratitude, especially for the strangers and friends who help him when he needs it.
I can’t end without adding the magnificent abundance of produce I saw this morning at the Farmers’ Market, for the earth even in these times of drought is extraordinary, too, producing a richness and variety to match the richness and variety of these four extraordinarily gifted people.