NMPBS ¡COLORES!: Painter Jim Vogel

NMPBS ¡COLORES!: Painter Jim Vogel

HIS PAINTINGS.>>Jim Vogel: People try to put a finger on
what I do or they sometimes will say, what you paint is nostalgic. You have this kind
of romanticized or nostalgic view of the old New Mexico. You know, the New Mexico of my
mom or even my grand dad and thats partly true or its a way for them to grasp what Im
doing, but what it really is, what Im doing, is saying that this may look like Im representing
a time past, but its still here. These things are still here. This kind of farming or working
the land that your father and your grandfather down the line did and its just that you have
to pay attention for those stories to still be alive. If you strip away the modern common
culture, and you get rid of the cellphone constantly bugging you, and the television
wanting your attention, or Facebook wanting your attention and you listen to it, you can
find that those stories are still there and that the practices are still happening the
way they were done in the past. Theyre just quieter. Theyre worth looking for though.
A lot of times those stories are just down there in the dirt and they want to rise up
and still be told. Its kind of like if a person walks by and the dust comes up and its like
oh thats them walking by, but theyre already gone, but its still there. When I can reach
out and grab that and put it on a board with paint and canvas and tell that story and somebody
that knows those stories sees it and they connect and say, You got it right, thats when
I know Ive accomplished what I want.>>Vogel: I love the idea of a story starting
with, It is said… and thats how this was presented to me. It is said that there was
a man on the train heading home from Colorado on the Chile Line which is really just right
behind us. Its an old narrow gauge railroad. And the story goes on to tell about how this
young man had taken the train north to Colorado to work on the industrial farms to make a
cash living and he had got word that his wife was ready to deliver their first baby so he
wanted to get back on the train and head south to be there for her. At the top of the mesa,
west of Taos, is Barranco Hill, the trains have to stop at a siding and lock down their
brakes because its a very steep grade. He is sitting there waiting for that to happen,
very impatient to get back down to the Espanola Valley and he sees a pregnant woman outside
kind of standing off of the siding and shes out in the sagebrush and the pinons. Hes concerned,
hes like well shes in the middle of nowhere and in her condition she shouldnt be here.
So he initially thinks well, theres got to be an explanation, but she makes eye contact
with him and then starts walking into the wilderness. Hes like Oh this isnt good. So
he gets off the train and he starts to follow her and hes calling to her to come back and
she just keeps leading him a little further away, a little further away and at the point
where he thought he was going to crest a hill and be able to find her and help her, he doesnt
see anything but a flock of bluebirds that kind of burst off and fly away. At that point
he hears the train whistle blowing, indicating that they are heading down the tracks. So
he misses his train because of this phantom. So hes cursing and hes like Im so stupid and
hes heading down after a few miles he sees at the bottom of the hill the train has rolled
over on a trestle and crashed. Several of the passengers were hurt and I think the engineer
and the brakeman were dead. At that point he realized he was saved from probably a fatal
accident by this folk saint that we now say is Our Lady of Barranco Hill.
>>Vogel: I had a lot of time to think about how I was going to make art before I could
actually make it for myself and one of the simple thoughts that came to me was that I
dont see in squares and rectangles, and therefore Im not going to paint in squares and rectangles.
So I would manipulate the shape of the painting to help enforce the composition rather than
to just contain the composition. And from that kind of creative approach to framing,
I started working with my wife Kristen who is a tin smith, and she brought this salvage
art, like taking old pieces of tin and old pieces furniture and combining them into more
almost alters.>>Vogel: My studio use to be in the old Catholic
school building in the middle of Dixon and right across the parking lot is the Senior
Citizen Center. So I had the privilege of being visited by a select group of some of
the seniors and theyd like to come in and check on Kristen and I. Thats what theyd call
it. Were checking on you to see how youre doing and theyd like to see what I was working
on. I end up going over to the dances and I would dance a couple of dances with some
of the ladies and watch and make mental notes. Then I realized just how beautiful they are
dancing in their seventies and eighties. They still just love to dance. I feel like what
Im doing is representing a feeling of the body moving, Im not representing an anatomical
chart for realities sake.>>Vogel: It was a fall, I dont know 5 or 6,
maybe 8 years ago and there was a lot of ravens hanging around our house in particular and
I felt like it was, like theyre kind of harbingers of ominous things. A friend of mine, he has
since past, he was one of the old timers at the senior citizen center that would come
over and check on me, make sure I was actually working in there. Just watching him walk around
and the way he had this kind of dark cloud over his head made me think of like maybe
the ravens and their blackness and their noise, the incessant noise was you know like oppressing
his personality and his spirit. And maybe it was an omen that he wasnt getting. So in
the composition there is an elderly gentleman strolling down this lane, but hes looking
over his shoulder like just what it thats bugging me and theres a raven up in the tree
just calling away. You know, the message is loud and clear if you want to listen, but
maybe you dont speak raven I dont know or maybe you just dont want to hear what hes
got to say.>>Vogel: To be creative you have to create.
So I dont wait around for inspiration. I come in and I roll out a piece of paper on the
wall and I start drawing and as I go through this exercise and a lot of the drawings never
see the light of day. It creates the energy that then makes the creativity come back.
>>Vogel: Its a double edged sword. Id love to be able to create without worrying about
supporting a family and myself, but at the same time its very gratifying to do work that
I love that supports myself and my family.

One thought on “NMPBS ¡COLORES!: Painter Jim Vogel

  1. One of my favorite artists beautifully portrayed.

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