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Thursday, September 14, 2017

...AND HERE IT IS for those who cannot reach the link above:




It is paradoxical to think of ships and boats in this desert.  I have only built a little skiff, some years ago, with a friend and he gave it to me when he took off for larger waters.  I have not actually manned it on water and it waits to be rejuvenated.  I am pretty much a land lubber, having only once maneuvered an ocean-going kayak ‘bout 5 miles across to Sea Wolf Island, near Inverness, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada; one-manned my large canoe down the Rio Grande (with a 5 gallon tub of water in front to keep it pointed downhill), worked the long oars of rafts in the San Juan and the Chama; learning to steer them and tricks such as: head straight for the obstacle or rock you intend to avoid and just before you crash into it, you backpedal the oars and it magically catches the current around the object, often causing the craft to make one revolution and then you are ‘back in business’.  Nonetheless, the images that I conjure up recently and that I have appreciated relate to a  Winslow Homer painting of a bearded fisherman in a sturdy little boat, filled with a coupla large soft bellied fish and back rowing in the sea which is dangerously close to being deadly in the sense that the waves are getting larger, the swells more turgid, the waves rough and choppy and the prospects of safety are unclear.  I row with all my might this sturdy craft and glance off into the distant horizon and see….. half the sky is golden and clear, like the fish’s bellies and the other half is dark and threatening worse weather.  I wonder, as I row, which condition I most certainly will encounter; the lady or the tiger?  I see, also, a sailing schooner, with large masts off a league or so from me, towards the storm.  This is my predicament.

The last thing I remember was the name of the ship on the side as I struggled to not drown and clutched at the ship cladding: Flying Castle of the Broken Hearts, and then yanked out of the drink (like my ancestor, John Howland, a young servant, fell off the Mayflower, grabbed a ‘trailing rope’  and was pulled back on board, ensuring that I would be born some 400 years later!).  It is by strong fingers grasping for a short rope on the high seas; that….he….and I….exist. There were strangely dressed Pirates, it seems; people hovering over my outstretched body as they searched for veins to remove, after being carried deep into the icy hold of the ship, to a room that was large and had only the  rectangular colors of deep blue and stark white.  I was strangely unafraid and they, oddly, un-oppressive, yet intent on their task at hand. Then there was sleep; deep sleep that fell upon me……

I awoke in a cabin room filled with strange devices, a tube in my throat that was deeply disturbing, tubes from my nostrils and tubes and wires all over my body, all of which had to be constantly attended to, like the ropes and rigging of the ship; to prevent tangling to spaghetti.  I was alive, but not independent; something big had happened and I was still alive.  Now I remembered that the pirates had warned of me what they would do to me: cut my breastplate clean through, then spread my ribs apart, take blood vessels from my leg and body, stop my heart for upwards of 2 hours, sew the new vessels onto the cut end of my original arteries, and then start my heart again and sew me up.  And they painted me blue from the ends of my beard to the tips of my toes!

I fell asleep again and in the night I felt creatures, like silky roots with fingers that were gently but intently grasping my legs and trying to coax them down to their fairly homes underground.  Then I saw horrible bands of dreadful creatures, clustered together in groups that had only one goal, it was clear, which was to relentlessly tear into me and kill me, over and over again, each swarm/group chopping, biting, tearing at me from limb to limb, then allowing the next cluster of ghouls; disgusting, dreadful with unbelievably horrid expressions, but tall and thin, glowing murky neon tones in their auras; to do the same….kill me dreadfully with no other goal but that…..I awoke incredibly relieved to realize it was a dream and the fairy fingers were the pulsing and randomly reappearing from pillows they had put on my calves to prevent bedsores and the like.  My consciousness was chasing my unconscious for clues and a way to come to grips with what had happened.  Somewhere deep inside me, I could revisit the fact that groups of people had stood over me and butchered me in unthinkable ways and with immoveable resolve and determined to, as it turns out…..fix me by breaking me in half and stopping and restarting my heart; a lovely person dedicated to assuaging my stilled heart with cool saline liquid, like a village might do for a beached whale or a stranded dolphin, recognizing the primal salten sea we all rely on and come from.  This layering of images and emotions then began to engage my imagination.
As I watched shifts of nurses come and go; evening and daylight, each one I feared would take advantage of my helplessness and do something untoward and, with each new care-giver, I found only different kinds of care and love….despite my apprehension that strangers had my life in their grasp and that they would be tough and overbearing.  They sometimes appeared potentially, only to surprise with kindness and concern and wanted to hear what I was feeling.  This situation led to a narrative that is well dramatized by the movie, *Stardust......where the ugly old witch sought to yank out the pulsing heart of the heroine, an incarnated star; recombined from star dust, just like we really, really are... and, in particular, the sections that described the flying pirate ship and the burly, harsh toned and murderous pirates and their heartless captain, only to slowly discover that they were actually pussycats who were intent on protecting the crusty reputation of their pirate ship and their captain, who was the epitome of gentle sensibilities!  Paradoxical, enigmatic….and humorous, to boot.  Gentle swashbucklers; very sharp swords and daggers, implements of torture as the skilled healer/surgeon’s necessary tools.
This was (and is) getting to be sorta fun!
My Captain 'Mainmast' is obviously adored by his staff, burley as they appear and they play along with his humorous rhetoric about 'not tolerating errant nursing' and the like and he, like Captain DeNiro, is the most approachable person there, it turns out; with far reaching interests in many things, including alternate lifestyles (such as my own).  The male nurses are bearded and fast moving, soldiers and homesteaders; you feel like you are tossed around, only to discover that it never hurts and is always completely competent and we had long conversations at 3 in the morning, about beauty and saving the world, while new intravenous tubes were being inserted.  Then, the narrative blossoms with my new shop helper driving down just to see me and she is now the cabin boy who is really a lovely young woman. My daughters are like princess/pirates from far-away exotic lands; competent, strong and intent only on protecting the treasure (which, I discover, My wife is the matron of the ship, modeling for the beautifully chiseled figurehead. My son is the ship’s carpenter.  There is a host of cooks in the galley, concocting all sorts of culinary delights; fit for any civilized pirate or rescued fisherman.  
I am **‘Blue Beard’ now , a simple strong, capable fisherman who barely escaped death on the high seas, was on the verge of a heart attack and was rescued by the serendipitous ship of pirate/surgeons, like doctors without borders or Greenpeace Robin-Hood type pirates or burly bikers with Teddy Bears for the poor children during holidays.  
I have enjoyed this method for processing my open-heart surgery at the wonderful Heart Hospital in Albuquerque, which also lies atop the dry seabed of the great inland sea of 100 million years ago, whose length was from the gulf of Mexico to the Arctic circle and 600 miles across, a  narrowest point, like the site of a restricted artery in huge scale, was between right here at the ‘End of the Rockies’ and the Oklahoma Panhandle.  
I have recovered well and quickly so far and my basic guide, emotion and sensibility is….gratitude and fascination about this ‘troubled voyage…. in calm….weather’.  
Happy High Desert Swashbuckling, Mateys!

*This just goes to show that there 'is nothing new under the sun' and most thoughts are borrowed, except for the fact that there are no two snowflakes that are alike, each one intricately 'crafted' to be totally unique....I guess that principle is 'nothing new........'.

**(not the one of pirate fame; actually he was, if anything, never a pirate but a no-account wife/baby killer...not much of anything to talk about, just an archetypal, bizarre man who should...just recede into forgotten history).

                               -Thor Sigstedt, Spirit Valley, New Mexico, Sept. 2017

High Desert Swashbuckling: An Imaginative Narrative of Thor's Heart

Friday, July 21, 2017


CONTACT INFO:   PHONE 466-4403 or 660-5835
We struggled over dates for our party and were trying hard for the 5th of Aug, but it just was not working out and I decided I really wanted Bill Hearne Trio and with family coming in and Bill’s schedule, I had to make a decision.  As I mentioned before, we have been in this tough position before with Dan and the Rifters and Cleveland Roller Mill.  I wanted to make a statement that makes sure everyone knows we do not want to compete or conflict or dilute Dan’s fund raiser; let you all know that we encourage the dancers to honor their commitment to this time-honored event.  That being said, I know there are some dancers who choose not to make the trip up to Mora for various reasons (including us for the most part over the last few years due to rain, cold and Belle’s health) and so we are hoping to attract those that have decided not to make that trek and still would like to have a place to dance that weekend.  Here is my statement to Dan, the ‘dancers’ and for the record:

“We wish the very best for the Cleveland Roller Mill Benefit Dance; Dan, The Rifters and all of our dancer friends who plan to be up there at that wonderful, time-honored function.  We will welcome those who cannot make it up there; the stragglers and the like….to dance under the stars here on our ‘ranch’…with the  Bill Hearne Trio”.       – Thor and Belle

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Nate has been making murals on the walls of Chez Sin Busse on the shelf-part of Adventure Trails Ranch in Spirit Valley, as a labor-of-love sort of adventure with painting/mural work and Judith has a 'natural' interest in rocks, artifact/tools, and she does fun and very interesting things with many different elements in an original artistic style.  Thor has been making things of all sorts for the bulk of his life; making cast iron sculptures, often using natural materials like buffalo gourds and cholla cactus spines for reactive molds which end up as grand molten experiments in that the final look is not fully known until the mold is removed.  Belle makes wonderful art, too, so one can see her pieces here and there and she is irreverent, too.  The Art Crawl should be a great adventure in appreciated what people make.  We are encouraging visitors to bring something they found/made/want to show off to place on the 40 acre ranch somewhere (not sure of the guidelines for placement yet.....).  This event is open to friends, friends-of-friends, neighbors who want to see this property or walk through it and people who have some connection to this effort.  It is technically not a public event where random people can feel free to walk around; we must recognize them in some way; this creates safety for us all, but glad to meet new people, of course!  We encourage bringing food to share in potluck style for snacks and actual meals.  We have a few barbeques, gas and charcoal, so it would be great to grill veggies and meat on them for yourself or to share.  Thor, after having had a wonderful personal experience with this technique for looking at artwork and other objects, is going to lead a guided low-level flashlight tour that will encourage silence and will have a few rules for how to conduct one's self for this experiment in art viewing; should be really fun and we planned this event to be around full moon time, so this should add to the drama!  Nate will guide people to his house, which is a pretty cool house, in and of itself, that I built some years ago and he has lived there for over 5 years.  We are encouraging people to bring instruments and desire to get together and jamb; this part may be big and I love to play and sing, but can get fully absorbed in this, so I need to find a way to balance my involvement...we are and know lots of musician friends who, if they come, will be wonderful addition to the festivities. We are also letting people know they are welcome to camp out overnight on the property and make themselves at home.  We have two 'public' bathrooms; one in the 'rec' room where people can go to talk, play music, get under a roof, etc. and one over at the 'teahouse', which is a good camping, food prep area and a great place to gather and experience Nate's and my "Nichos" project, which is in the teahouse and one could spend over an hour just exploring that alone.  The Galisteo Creek is running nicely right now and hope it will be still in good flow in early June and there are trails and open hiking all over the place, so one does not have to hang around hob nobbing, but can just take off in any direction and tromps around alone or with friends.  We have 40 acres and are surrounded by open land.  We look forward to seeing new and old friends.  Oh yeah, we also have two horseshoe pits that can be used and a few fridges to put drinks in. ya!  Oh Yeah...bring your own drinks of choice (we will have basic lemonade and I bought a bunch of sodas, will have fixings for tea and coffee and we have plenty of bottled water).

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Totems" Project

This collaboration with Thor Sigstedt and Nate Metheny is a sort-of follow-up on the “Nichos” Project from the last show; in that we will be using the top of the same tree trunk that “Nichos” came from and using it, a very different and more dynamic and sculptural piece, which looks a little like a rustic musical conductor and has branch-arms and a natural top.  The concept is “Totem” and will be based on ‘totems’ of all sorts that will be dynamically projected back onto the trunk and will include, also, figures, such as a woodpecker that pops out in 3D.  There will be other affects that reinforce the dynamic of a totem pole, but will be more modern and include 3D mapping of the tree, digital projection of totemic elements back onto the surface of the actual trunk and also include solid sculptures of ‘totemic’ figures as well as abstract moving design and special lighting and sound effects. It might be nice to have an interactive aspect that allows the viewer to ‘select’ their personal totems and have them arranged on the ‘pole’.  Special care will be taken to not engage in cultural thuggery of any sort and not over-borrow from Native American cultural sensitivities. The piece will take care not to be cutesy and mundane, but meditative, transcendental and modern/abstract, engaging the emotions rather than avoiding them.  The idea comes from the artist’s life-long interest and desire to express their own totem images as serious personal explorations and giving others the permission and challenge to think about their stories and what they mean and this is all designed to have the viewers connect, once again, with the natural world.

"Totems" Project  (an example of the type of digital projecting/mapping proposed for the "Totems" Project).  ( the "Totems" 'tree' being explored by a cat, suggesting the dynamics we are going for)  (tree of Liberty in San Francisco)$g_5eef128e_78e9_4aa6_be14_5eb37a235157;4;6      Sentosa Resort 40th birthday video

curved bill thrasher by Thor on branch

example of projection mapping on a fig tree

Top of "Nichos" trunk from original aspen tree and proposed sculptural base for digital projecting and other features projected and associated with this object for the new 2017 "Totems" Project by Thor Sigstedt and Nate Metheny.
This is a recently written piece that becomes the mental model that leads to the "Totems" Project:

Totems and Why, Eventually, All Subjects In Our Family Lead to Talk of Okra and/or Rattlesnakes.
              -by Thor Sigstedt  2016
If I were to manifest…. a ‘totem’ pole for me and my family/clan (I have thought about creating since I was a boy, but not clearly incorporating, oddly, my own personal natural symbols), then I am thinking it would include some pretty interesting natural forces, many of which I have sculpted and photographed over the years and which would include…a toad, dancers, an elk, a golden eagle, an indian paintbrush, grapes, currants, meteorites, a raven (of course), a donkey (of course),  a sort-of Quetzalcoatl (which is a feathered serpent)  and/or rattlesnake, a tortoise and….an ent (not an ant, but an e-n-t).

Bull Elk

Golden Eagle by Thor

Thor’s cast glass turtle shell

Tortoise in San Miguel de Allende


Toad and Dancers by Thor

rattler and meteorite by Thor

"EAT" donkey by Thor

Raven by Thor

Thor and Rattlesnake

Donkey by Thor

Base of Nichos

 But first, let me backtrack and tell a little story:  I was on Sibley (road) a year or two ago, Sibley being the basically infamous confederate commander of the Texas Volunteers who lost the ‘Gettysburg of the West’ battle of Glorietta; Sibley himself drinking the time away in ‘Burque and Santa (Fe), then chased all the way back down the Rio Grande to Texas and disgraced; well, it is an unfortunate name for a beautiful road on the east side of a grand chain of red, then whitish rock outcrops forming a sort of ‘hogback’, as my grandmother described such a thing.  I was on Sibley Road building a stone wall for a long-time friend there, working hard and suddenly a small snake leapt out of the cracks of the stones or rubble where I was and I, taken off-guard emotionally, sort-of instinctively and out-of-character for me, really….summarily killed, by shovel, the poor little thing, vaguely suspicious that this was a rattler…. on the spot.  A newly acquired friend, an other neighbor, just happened to drive by, then stop, soon after this and I confessed to him my odd deed, despite my knowledge that this fellow, the man, was a conservationist/naturalist sort of guy and, sure enough, he was ‘not amused’ by what I did and said as much and then, later, with his grandson, ‘planted’ a few little rubber snakes in same-said wall, perhaps as a way of moderating and remembering his condemnation into a sort of prank.                                                                                                                                                                    

The irony is that, having lived in these parts for nearly 40 years, since I was a young whelp of sorts; I had summarily executed quite a few rattlers, as we all did back in those days, what with a culture that dictated it and young children around, etc. (I do, though, remember chastising a young man in Yosemite who had just killed one on the trail…thinking, even back then, that the snakes were entitled to safe passage in wilderness areas).   Then, as the years crawled, perhaps slithered, by, I became aware, somewhere deep inside me, that I did not really want to do this anymore and, with the help of a gentle giant man who was in recovery from ‘Sibley’s disease’ and working for me and living here, I stopped killing them.  We encountered one under my dump truck and I asked if he knew a way to catch them (somehow he looked like he would) and he, on the spot, made a stick and small rope ‘noose’ (drill two holes in the end of the wood and laced the thick twine through them) which we caught it with and perhaps a dozen or two over the years (I did, though, lengthen the stick, as a further precaution!...being basically afraid of snakes, myself) and thus became known for catching them in the neighborhood and got calls to ‘help’ and I would release them when I found the time; to other locations which will remain anonymous, but I did, the first time; call the animal control people up in Espanola, I think, and they said some people let em go at Cochiti Pueblo.  That gave me ‘a good idea’ and I did let a few go near an un-named golf course in a fancy part of town.             

I had noticed that, in all the times that I caught them (prairie rattlers); I was never struck at by them even once.  I learned that they were not mean (but very scary) in any way that I could see and they were mostly anxious to be at peace, despite the rattling, which I took as a warning that this was not a situation to be toyed with; danger rang out!...a boundary was on the verge of being crossed.   I have since paid attention to who gets injured by them in this country and the statistics show that many of bite incidents are in the company of drunk men mussing around with them!  (approximately 40 percent of all snakebites occur in people who are handling or playing with snakes, and 40 percent of all people bitten had a blood alcohol level of greater than 0.1 percent).
Being loosely associated with a serpent is a way of saying, “Don’t Tread On Me”, ‘keep good boundaries’ and ‘do not belittle what I am or think you can get wasted and toy with me or pretend I am not powerful or think you can hurt or ‘kill’ me because you think I am lowly’; because I am a beautiful, impressive, valuable, sober, surviving, indigenous, sometimes frightened, important creature that is well suited to the area.  I can bite and look ferocious; I am nobody’s ‘pet coon’; maybe not the best friend to a casual observer, but pretty interesting to be around.  In a way, let’s say, my warning creates, paradoxically….safety for all of us. 
I want to add that I think we all can have our personal totems and thus we find a way to let others know who we are or how we want to be considered, lest others mistake them for something they are not. Please let me know yours….

As a footnote, I will add that I no longer make a point of catching and relocating rattlers, but will simply walk around them and enjoy them from a suitable distance and try to teach others to do the same………and more on Okra…..later..(don’t get her started)!

 Ent by Thor    
Thor's Grizzly in Yellowstone
Quetzalcoatl: means beautiful (feathered) serpent/snake

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Thor Sigstedt and Nate Metheny in Pasatiempo!

Great press!.... "Several pieces stood out. One, Nichos, is a knotted, branchless tree with small portals resembling holes poked out by woodpeckers that you can peer into. Inside are little scenes that seem like memories of things the tree has witnessed in its long life — a combination of miniature work, video, and holograms. A fiery red light illuminates the tree from within, as though it was burning inside. Nichos was created by Santa Fe-based artists Nate Metheny and Thor Sigstedt." -Michael Abatemarco (reviewer for Pasatiempo)     (spelling for Nate is Metheny, typo problem)