Blog -- March/April 2009 -- Tim Keller Arts
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April 25, 2009 Levels of Commitment, Depth Markers on the Pool
You know how I can tell I'm getting deeper and deeper into being a daily writer and photographer for a newspaper? I bought myself a day planner. Never thought I would. It fits in my shirt pocket so I can carry it around.
I needed it to keep track of all the stories and photo shoots I'm lining up. I wrote and submitted five stories this weekend alone, all with my own photographs. This is crazy.
But I'm having a ball. And they pay me. What's a guy to do.
That's my homegirl Erika, a graduating senior (we hope!) who I've taught in high school English for three years. She's reading at Friday's 3rd Annual Poetry Marathon, held at my school all day on the last Friday of April to celebrate National Poetry Month.
Did you guess that I wrote a newspaper article about it?
April 19, 2009 Self-Publishing
It dawned on me today that my Harvey Shannon feature which Western Horseman rejected doesn't have to die an ignominious death in my computer files. I have a website! I can publish it myself! And so I have. Click on the picture of Harvey to read the article and learn why WH rejected it.
Come to think of it, I've already published on the website two other stories that haven't otherwise seen the light of day. One's a second cattle drive story intended for New Mexico Magazine, who turned out to already have a cattle drive story lined up (!). The other is a second feature on Archie West, also for New Mexico Magazine. I'm confident they'll publish that one, if Archie will just allow me to submit it!
You can read those two articles by clicking on the links then scrolling down to the bottom. They're not bad and they don't deserve to sit there unnoticed and alone. You'll be glad you visited them. Thanks.
P.S. - Sorry about all those exclamation marks. I just got back from a long hike up the mountain canyon with the pups. Life's feeling pretty good.
April 15, 2009 Shock Therapy
I covered the sentencing yesterday of three DWI offenders. Each was sent off to jail in shackles and chains. The proceeding were held in front of the student body of Raton High School. It was as real as tax day.
The Chronicle was excited about my story and pictures -- they ran five of them -- but unfortunately they were training someone new and the four photos on the 2nd page were distorted, stretched wide so each person appears to be 60 pounds heavier than they really are.
I've posted my two favorites above, sans distortion, and they tell a story in themselves (click to enlarge). You can read the article and see the photos in my Chronicle archive. I find it compelling reading.
April 11, 2009 All in a Day
Shortly after posting yesterday's blog I got an e-mail from Western Horseman's editor A.J. Mangum, then a phone conference with senior editor Ross Hecox. We're all looking ahead to my summer youth project with excitement, getting more and more specific in our plans.
Then I walked over to Studio C and discovered Western Horseman's May issue had arrived with my Archie West article, "Last Stockman on the Turquoise Trail." Please pardon my excitement: it just looks really great!
Finally, Paula Little called from the A.R. Mitchell Memorial Museum of Western Art in Trinidad, Colorado. It's a huge space and when my show opens May 1, my photos will be joined by those of Aguilar, Colorado photographer Rick Smith. Paula wanted to combine Rick's and my show titles, and we came up with "Distance -- The Passing of a Simpler Time."
Then I got called out on an EMS run and didn't get back until 2:00 this morning. What a life. School starts back up on Monday, but six weeks later summer vacation arrives. Something tells me this summer won't be fully devoted to camping and reading novels. I'll be fitting in singing and guitar, though: I'm booked for a July 25 concert at Studio C.
April 10, 2009 Some Kind of Vacation
This is my week off from school - Spring Break - and I think I've worked harder than ever.
I researched, wrote, and sent Western Horseman 11 photographs and a 1500-word feature on Brittany Rouse, the horse trainer seen here. Monday I drove 380 miles of bad road to spend six hours with Brittany and her family.
I published two articles and six photos in The Chronicle on Brittany and her husband Don. (See The Chronicle 4/9/09.) Since then I've reported, photographed, and written two more articles and started on a third, all of which will be in The Chronicle early next week. There's one more story I'm pursuing today, along with doing some woodwork for Christina at Studio C.
I'm about to invoice The Chronicle for the past four weeks: 16 articles and 31 photographs! The reason there are so many is that I'm loving it. I like the writing as much as the photography, and to be getting paid regularly for both is a revelation and blessing.
I also enjoy shining a light on wonderful deserving people and programs. They're always so appreciative of being noticed and excited to see themselves in print. That's Brittany's daughter Courtnie, age 7, a young horsewoman herself and very excited to see herself published. Now if we can just get them an Internet connection out there!
April 5, 2009 Miles and Miles of Dirt Road
I'm headed down three hours of two-lane and dirt roads at dawn tomorrow, past Trementina to the Conchas Ranch to spend the day with Brittany Rouse and her family. Brittany trains horses out there and I'm hoping to get a Western Horseman feature out of my visit. I'll also put a shorter piece in The Chronicle later this week.
Meantime, my Archie West feature in the May issue of Western Horseman should hit newstands in a week or two and subscribers shortly after that. It's always exciting to see what editors and graphic designers have done with my work, and the people at Western Horseman are as good as it gets. I'm in good hands.
March 29, 2009 When the Lilacs Are in Bloom
This is the time of year in northern New Mexico when one hook on my closet wall holds both hiking shorts and long underwear. The lilacs were blooming when a massive blizzard rolled in Thursday evening, quickly shutting down highways and schools. It lasted 24 hours. Because of the intense winds, there's no telling how much snow fell. Most of what I shoveled Saturday was knee-high, but walking across to the school I had to climb through waist-high drifts; streets running north-south were clear. The wind rearranged everything that fell.
Though our highway closed early, there were people already out there who got stuck. Eleven of them ended up in our school cafeteria. I trudged across Friday at noon to get an article for The Chronicle. It was fun. Everyone was in remarkably good spirits. They were making a lunch of enchiladas. From there I hiked into the blizzard several hundred yards to get the picture above, a rented Saturn Aura that came to rest in a drift on the edge of town. If you look very closely, you can just make out the school's white Chevy Suburban which came to rescue the Texas family of four in the Saturn. The Suburban, too, ran aground where you see it, just right of the Saturn. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.) Principal Ray Churchman abandoned the Suburban and guided the family through the blizzard to the school on foot -- at 4 a.m.
It's that time of year in northern New Mexico. Next weekend I'll be on my spring break, probably out turning my garden soil.
March 22, 2009 FFA Aggies: Not for Sissies
For decades, I've taught in high schools with agriculture programs and chapters of the Future Farmers of America. It turns out that my very generalized idea of what they do was wholly inadequate and inaccurate.
I spent yesterday at the Clayton FFA Invitational amidst students from ten high schools and a younger 4-H group. More than a dozen competitions took more than two hours each, many consisting of pencil-and-paper tests of 200 questions or more. Few competitors had time for more than two contests in the full day.
Here are a couple examples. From the Wildlife competition: "What color is the mallard's speculum in eclipse plumage?" From the Farm Business Management competition: "Identify strategies to improve term debt and capital lease coverage ratio."
Tomorrow's Chronicle will carry my photos and article on the event -- check it out. That's Max Geary above, typically provoking laughter from young students learning the finer points of poultry production. The Ag building at Clayton High School is named for Max. I quickly understood why. It was a fun day.
March 15, 2009 Just the Facts, Ma'am, Just the Facts
When I started freelancing for The Chronicle-News, I told them I'd aim to submit 4-8 articles per month, or 1-2 per week. Instead, I've averaged three per week. I have three articles running tomorrow.
People ask me to report on their events, or they give me a tip on something worth my attention (or that of The Chronicle's readers). While I'm looking wider (Clayton, profiles of interesting people), I've developed a sort of "beat" for The Chronicle: Raton Schools, the Shuler Theater, and the Volcano Triangle communities of Folsom, Capulin, and Des Moines, including the Des Moines School. I keep my eyes open for stories from these beats -- and, it turns out, there are plenty of them.
Where I archive my Chronicle articles, I place an asterisk next to my favorites -- the stories that approach "creative nonfiction", as opposed to straight reportage. Some stories allow for creative writing better than others. (That's MTV's Diggity Dave above, posing with fans at Raton High School Friday. That I'd never heard of him shows my age and lack of cable. My article on his program was perhaps midway between straight reportage and creative nonfiction -- I try.)
The people I write about are often thrilled to be in the newspaper, to read their names and see their pictures. My stories benefit the organizations and events I cover, bringing them useful attention that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise. I've found a sense of service or calling in much of my writing for The Chronicle.
Finally, a big reason I'm writing so much is (along with the paycheck) the pure joy I'm finding in the writing. Gathering the information, getting the photograph, then... I went to bed Friday night excited that I would write three articles early Saturday morning. I awoke several times, already writing in my head. I came up with the lead for the Diggity Dave story. Coffee ready, I sat to the keyboard as the dawn began Saturday morning.
Oh yeah, one more reason this is such fun: I get to see all three stories in print Monday morning, tomorrow.
March 8, 2009 Gone to Clayton
The Herzstein Memorial Museum in Clayton hosts a series of author readings. Yesterday I joined in and found two dozen attentive listeners as I read my Western Horseman cattle drive story, a half dozen poems from My Confession, and last week's story on the Clayton auction.
It went very well and I share their enthusiasm for having me back in the future. It's a great museum. Christina had a one-woman show of her art there several years ago.
I printed some of my Clayton auction portraits and displayed them on a museum glass case. Most of the people knew my portrait subjects and offered up some great stories. It was fun to just stand there and listen.
That's Jimmy Hall of Clayton, above, processed using my new Silver Efex Pro software for black & white photos. I'm having more than a little fun at all this.
March 2, 2009 Can I Get a $2.50 Bid
A couple days ago Christina and I spent an entire Saturday at the auction at the Clayton Civic Center. She got an 8-foot all-glass display case for Studio C; I got a bunch of portraits and an article in today's Chronicle.
I filled so many pages of notes that I saw the story growing to magazine length. When the show was over, I interviewed the auctioneer, Walter C. Hall. His next Clayton auction is April 4 and we're planning to attend that one, too. Then, I'll write a magazine story synthesizing the two auctions into one. I have New Mexico Magazine in mind, though interesting them in such rural matters can be a tough sell.
I also found subjects for another Chronicle article and a Western Horseman article, all at the same auction. Both will require trips to distant ranches soon. But those are stories for a later blog. Meantime, that's Dee above, a 19-year-old working cowboy from Hayden, New Mexico. He's one of a dozen portrait subjects I rounded up at the Clayton Auction. It all goes to show the value of spontaneity: I didn't know I was going to the distant auction until 30 minutes before we left home.
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