Sunday, June 3, 2007

THE HAND OF THE SPIDERWOMAN IN WINSLOW

Pulling off the road in Winslow, Arizona I entered a gas station converted into an “Indian Arts” gallery, although quite a few of the items were from Mexico. My attention was immediately drawn to a beautiful scribed silver necklace in the case - it showed a Navajo woman, with her signature hair bun, weaving at a standup loom, and behind her was a great spider web - Spiderwoman. When the proprietor offered it to me at half the price marked, I had to buy it. Putting it on, I felt my Blessing Way had, perhaps, been renewed. I don’t have a means to show the necklace here without my camera, but the Navajo artist’s name is Keith Brown.

Many of the native American artists here are incredible, making mythic silver cut or turquoise jewelry, or incised and painted pots, or paintings of blue spirit horses running beneath vast skies with blessed thunderclouds forming beneath red, red cliffs. But those living in impoverished Winslow, or on the reservation, are rarely represented in affluent galleries like Scottsdale or Tubac.

The energy streaming out of this magical necklace not only inspired me to buy it, but inspired me to see if I could learn more about the hand that created it. The owner of the store was, however, not interested in native mythology. He was far more intent on, unfortunately, saving my soul (I wonder if saving souls is a little heavenly merit badges........do they keep count?) He suckered me into listening to a long story from the Bible (why do these people always memorize the page?) before I realized it was time to leave with my new Talisman. If he can wear a cross, by golly, I can wear Spiderwoman.


What a “religion”3.

I heard one thing in his ramble that was, if he only had the means to tolerate my notion of the Divine, important to me. He said that through faith, we can be healed. As we conceive, as we think, so it is. Thought Woman weaves, and my own place in the divine, in Gaia, of Spiderwoman, of the spirit that animates the dream and the art - is a stream, the “river beneath the river of the world” 1 My journey is about faith as well, faith in the journey itself.

Weaver, Weaver , weave a thread
Whole and strong into your Web
We are dark and we are light,

We are born of earth and light


Chant from the Spiral Dance

I remember I was crying when I drove through Sedona today, driving with a bone deep loneliness. Remembering the magical mind we had in the 80’s when I and artist friends came there on our visionary excursions, remembering the 80’s, remembering friends that are gone, so damn many, remembering what Sedona used to be like before it became so commercial and gentrified and formulated, before they built a tennis resort on a “vortex“, a sacred place of
ancient earth energy, Boynton Canyon, remembering when there were medicine wheels on the path into the canyon, instead of so many "keep out" signs. Wondering, as always, how we can have a culture with such technology, and yet such blind ignorance about the obvious.

The Goddess communicates in mysterious ways, and I left the Indian Arts Gallery to find a motel in Winslow, Arizona, with my talismen, my Blessing, around my neck, clanking down a dusty street with a glorious sunset before me.

Another thread……….


The proprietor of the Lodge Inn (whose door, I noticed, says proudly “For the REST of your life”) is a young, very blond woman with a very brown old dog keeping her company, and a cheery, California demeanor. When I showed her my new necklace, telling her how excited I was about this work, whatever story I can glean about the artist, and my own journey to create “THREADS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN “ she got right to work on my behalf.

I think Grandmother Spider woman is with her as well.

I drove down the street to the first liquor store I could find, and purchased a Budweiser. Whil
e getting into my car, another car pulled up, and a friendly woman about my age got out. I noticed she had a lovely silver Indian style necklace on, and a tiered skirt. I remember thinking, “if she can dress like that, so can I. The gym pants are getting old.”

She asked me if I knew where the La Posada motel was, she said she was supposed to meet someone there, and walked into the store with its grumpy proprietor to ask directions. I had a good feeling, that brief moment, of meeting a kindred spirit in an unlikely place. I might have asked her and her companion if they would like to share the Budweiser, if I wasn't so shy these days. Do we still live in a dimension where there is “world enough and time” for such
spontaneity?

I was barely moved into my room when the phone rang. "I have some news!" the blond proprietor said. "You must go visit the gallery in a famous hotel here. It's called "La Posada", and it was designed by a famous woman architect whose name was Mary Colter. There's an art gallery there now, and the woman who runs it has some work by the artist who made your necklace, Keith Brown."

"And” she added, “you have to see the hotel! This woman was way before her time."

And so she was. I wonder what "La Posada" means? I'll find out tomorrow.

Public Architecture and Design - Creating Community


An amazing architect, Mary Colter, died in 1958 at age of 88. A contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright……………Colter used Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and Mexican motifs. There's La Posada Hotel in Winslow, where rooms are named for old time movie stars, including the Clark Gable Sleeping Quarters and the Carole Lombard Room. .....

At the start of the 20thcentury, the Santa Fe Railroad began bringing tourists out West to enjoy the glories of the Grand Canyon. Once there, tourists needed places to stay, to eat, to rest, and shop. Mary Colter was a female architect at a time when women were unknown to the profession, and she had the audacity to try and build structures along the rim of one of nature's greatest spectacles. Using local stones,
and Native American themes and builders, Colter created buildings that stand today as the first examples of what would become known as "National Park Service Rustic." In the 1920s, as a rail head and a crossroad, Winslow was a major Arizona town. The Santa Fe Railroad and the Fred Harvey Company (which operated restaurants and hotels for the railroad) gave architect Mary Colter the assignment to build a hotel for tourists who came West to see the Grand Canyon and visit neighboring Indian reservations. La Posada, which opened in 1930, was Colter's masterpiece. 2











La Posada, Winslow, Arizona

Another Thread……….


I’m off to the Aldon Dow Creativity Center, Michigan’s former architect laureate. A student and colleague of Frank Lloyd Wright as well. I like it a lot that all of these people were, in essence, creators of sacred places.

1 Clarissa Pinkola Estes, WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES

2 I can’t help noting that the word Religion, as we’re on the subject of links in the great Web, comes from the Greek, Religios, and means “linking back”. The same root word, in fact, from which “link” is derived.

3 From the NPR website: http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/architecture/0011.colter.html

2 comments:

Robert said...

Lauren.

I believe that la posada means something like "the resting place" in english.

Thank you for reminding me (I'm an Arizona native) of the way Sedona used to be. My most frequent visits there took place in the 70s & 80s.

Also thanks for writing about Mary Colter and her great architecture.

Just found your blog via M. Macha's blog, and look forward to following the rest of your journey.

Robert
Tempe AZ

lauren raine said...

Thankyou Robert - Mary Colter is fabulous indeed.

Lauren