The Return of
Carbs Artisan bread and pasta on the rise
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July2019 COVER STORY
The Return of Carbs
The use of ancient grains and artisan
techniques for house-made bread and
pasta in restaurants is trending. While these recipes carry on traditions that
date back thousands of years, they may also have the ability to reduce gluten sensitivities.
DEPARTMENTS MATTERS OF TASTE 16 For many, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Visit these three Flagstaff hotspots to get your day started right.
MIND & BODY 26 Happiness and health can be found right out the front door when you take advantage of outdoor exercise opportunities like hiking and biking.
BY THE BOTTLE OUTDOOR LIFE 20 A varied selection of old vine wines 28 Some of the great American authors perfectly complement summer grilling found inspiration in the solitude of fire season for any budget. lookouts. THE ARTS DISTINCTIVE SPACES 32 Located not far from the Hopi and 21 Nine Southwest artists contribute cutting-edge contemporary pieces for Navajo Indian Reservations, Flagstaff the Museum of Northern Arizona’s Nine is a hub of Native artwork, including 4 Ninety: Artists for a New Era. textiles. Learn how to utilize Navajo weavings in the home.
6 7 34 35 4
EDITOR’S NOTES ABOUT TOWN PLAYING FAVORITES SPOTLIGHT Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
ON THE COVER Flagstaff ’s Shift Kitchen & Bar makes its own pasta and bread from scratch. Photo by Hannah Rose Gray.
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cent is thought to be the sense most closely related to memory. Everything we smell gets processed through the olfactory bulb in our brains, which is closely connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, areas which deal with memories and emotions. It’s difficult for me to think of a universal scent more welcoming than that of fresh baked bread, and studies have even shown that most people associate positive
memories with the scent. At the same time, more and more people have been cutting gluten out of their diets due to sensitivities and other health concerns. However, many bakeries are following trends that lean toward a simpler time when bread was made with whole, ancient grains and a slow fermentation process. This month’s cover story explores the use of these artisan techniques and ancient traditions in bread and pasta. (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t craving fresh sourdough the entire time I was putting this issue together.) The tradition of Navajo (Diné) weavings is explored in this issue as well. I attended the 23rd annual Wool and Fiber Festival over Memorial Day weekend and enjoyed seeing weavers process freshly shorn wool from sheep and other fiber animals. One of the vendors even gave me
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the names of the alpacas whose fleece was used by his daughter to make a selection of fashionable purses. I was able to delve further into this ancient craft when I visited the Museum of Northern Arizona to learn more about how the textiles are tied into Native culture and how they can be used in home décor. Jennifer McLerran also educates us on different cultures with her write-up of MNA’s new exhibit, Nine 4 Ninety: Artists for a New Era, in which several of the artists have blended their Native heritage with contemporary art styles to create something wholly unique. Here’s to carrying on ancient traditions as well as making new ones. As Mountain Living’s new editor, I hope to build upon the traditions set by my predecessors to create a magazine that encompasses our readers’ varied interests. Although I’ve had the great pleasure of calling Flagstaff my home for the past eight years, I know there will always be more to learn about the different facets of northern Arizona communities. Please feel free to reach out with feedback and questions at any time so I can continue to produce a publication that accurately represents our little corner of the world. Thanks for reading,
ABOUT TOWN Favorites of the month from the area’s abundant offerings in art and entertainment
Museum of Northern Arizona, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. An annual tradition since the 1930s, the Hopi Festival celebrates one of the Colorado Plateau’s most revered native cultures. The two-day event features 100 artists and presenters from the Hopi villages of northern Arizona. Admission: $8-$18. Photo credit: Museum of Northern Arizona
Kitt Recital Hall at NAU, 4 p.m. This distinguished classical ensemble from Toronto comes to the Kitt stage for the NAU Horizons Concert Series. Creative innovators with an appetite for discovery and new ideas, the Gryphon Trio frequently pushes the boundaries of chamber music. Tickets: $22.50 for adults, $15 for seniors and NAU employees, free for youths and students with ID. (928) 523-5661.
Heritage Square, 4-9 p.m. A summer tradition continues with Movies on the Square, a free Saturday evening event of fun and entertainment for all. “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” shows this Saturday. Visit “Movies on the Square” on Facebook for details and showings through Aug. 31.
Viola’s Flower Garden, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Coconino Master Gardener Association presents the annual self-guided Tour of Artful Gardens. This year, six creative gardens will open to the public. Walk among the flowers and find inspiration for your own yard. Admission: $12, cash or check only. Map and tickets available at Viola’s Flower Garden the day of. www.violasflowergarden.com
Fort Tuthill County Park, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Two full days of games, entertainment and festivities mark the annual Arizona Highland Celtic Festival. Music by the Knockabouts, Wicked Tinkers and the Ploughboys. Bagpipe, highland dance, Scottish athletics and tug-o-war contests. Ticket and additional information at www.nachs.info.
Cline Library Assembly Hall at NAU, 7-9:30 p.m. Spend an evening with 33-year National Park Service veteran and renowned artist Bruce Aiken. Part of the Grand Canyon National Park Centennial Perspectives series, Aiken will discuss living and painting in the Grand Canyon. Free.
LOCAL : COLOR
Coconino Center for the Arts; Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. This eclectic show highlights the work of four local artists—Joe Cornett Sr., Jason Hess, Sydney Smith and Peter Wilson—as well as some of the area artists they regard. The exhibition features a diverse range of styles and media, including ceramics, paintings, sculpture, photography and more. Artwork credit: “Family Gathering at a Mexican Restaurant” by Miranda Delgai July19 namlm.com
Loaves of fresh bread sit in the store cabinet of Shift Kitchen & Bar. Photo by Hannah Rose Gray
Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
THE RETURN OF
Carbs Artisan bread and pasta on the rise by Svea Conrad
Sourdough is made through the process of lactofermentation in which wild yeasts gather in a starter of flour and water. Courtesy photo
or me, ancient
grains are so much about the flavor,”
said Adam Neis-
en, co-owner of Flagstaff’s A Dog’s Walk
Bakery, between methodically folding a large clump of dough over itself with a practiced
hand. “I grew up with white bread and I associate it with memory always, but nowadays I get to eat so much good bread.” Neisen stands at a
long table he and wife/co-owner Amy have set
up in the Jim Cullen Memorial Park. They’ve brought samples of different ancient grains Neisen incorporates into his sourdoughs and
inside the small containers are assorted colors and shapes of spelt and quinoa at various stages
of being processed: whole, ground, roasted.
They’ll each get kneaded into the dough, later to become crispy brown bread.
Though Neisen has been baking for just three years, he has already made a name for himself in town with a seemingly never-ending variety of bakes. Almost everything he makes is sourdough-based and naturally leavened. Each loaf is baked in-house and then sold out of a small cabinet 10 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
Shift makes its pasta and bread from scratch to ensure care is taken from the start, according to co-owner Dara Rodger. Photo by Hannah Rose Gray
on his street or as part of a pop-up at another local business. Last December, trend watchers at San Francisco-based hospitality consultants af&co. released food predictions in its 2019 trends report. Among those mentioned was a rise in utilizing ancient baking techniques. “Bring on the carbs!” the report said. “Pasta and bread are back, alongside an appreciation for heritage grains and artisanal bread preparation.… Our bread basket runneth over.” It’s safe to say Flagstaff is embracing the trend, and did so before it could even be called such. Several restaurants and bakeries in the mountain city have long employed artisan bread-making styles, following techniques and ingredients dating back hundreds of years. The
result is a product that is not only rich in flavor, but decidedly healthier than your average grocery store bread made with quick-rise yeast. Let’s talk Pizzicletta. The wood-fired pizza restaurant is housed south of the train tracks in an old warehouse, where it opened in 2011. Since then, it has perfected its bread and pizza dough recipes with a long ferment time. The dough gives its pies a tang that isn’t found in your average crust. The Cottage, which sits just a stone’s throw away, features artisan bread as well, baked in-house and served with a dollop of herbed garlic butter. Root Public House in the Southside neighborhood bakes a lavash that makes an appearance on its menu periodically. The Armenian flatbread is nothing short of a staple in the small country in the Caucasus and July19 namlm.com
Above: Fresh-baked bread at Shift. Photo by Hannah Rose Gray Top Right: Co-owner Adam Neisen started A Dog’s Walk Bakery by selling bread from a filing cabinet outside of his home. Photo by Ben Shanahan Bottome Right: Shift owners, head chefs and husband and wife duo Dara and Joe Rodger, working in their open kitchen. Photo by Hannah Rose Gray
12 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
is presented to house guests as well as at birthdays and weddings; according to the Smithsonian, family members of a new bride place a piece of the bread on her shoulders to bring luck and wealth into her new life. Baking lavash means referencing centuries of tradition. Moving north of the tracks, at Shift Kitchen & Bar, co-owner and pastry chef Dara Rodger makes a point to serve homemade sourdough to accompany different menu items, but her bread and butter is also a stand-alone dish. Tucked away in the store cabinet, a narrow space coated in old brick, sits a rack filled with flour-dusted loaves, browned crust peeking out like small hills over the tin tray. Rodger and her team make fresh bread twice weekly, producing anywhere from 18 to 60 loaves at a time. The bread she serves on Wednesday will begin its rising process on Monday so as to allow sufficient time to feed the sourdough starter and let it grow fat and plush come the moment it’s placed in the oven. “We wanted to make everything in-house, to fit with the rest of our philosophy,” Rodger said. “Our pastas are made in-house, too. We
know that a lot of people weren’t doing that in town and we knew that could shift us into a different direction. I think it’s hard to find good sourdough sometimes. When I created Shift, I really wanted to make sure that every component was there and every component was taken into consideration, and we wanted to begin that with fresh bread so that the care is taken from the start.” Sourdough is a complex and scientific beast, and worlds of interactions occur under the proverbial surface, noticeable to the untrained palate only by way of the end result and taste. Sourdough begins with a starter, a mass created by mixing flour and water then leaving it to sit in the open air, allowing the microorganisms—including wild yeasts and bacteria which float in the air, are found on the surface of fruit and in pollen—from the surrounding environment to multiply. The longer the starter sits, the more it grows as this stable grouping of microorganisms forms. In turn, they create fermentation reactions, effectively making the dough rise while also giving it flavor.
“It’s a slow process,” Neisen said, “especially compared to the just 40 minutes the loaves spend in the oven, but it changes everything.” Throughout most of history, bread was made using a sourdough process based on this so-called lacto-fermentation. The process was slow and results uneven, so when modern yeast became available, sourdough breads became less common. For mass-produced bread, it also proved inefficient; it was easier for bread companies to use domesticated commercial yeast than to wait for it to gather on its own. In taking the time to gather these wild yeasts, Flagstaff bakers reference a technique of bread making so ancient that most of its origins come from pure speculation, according to Michael Gaenzle in the Encyclopedia of Food Microbiology. “One of the oldest sourdough breads dates from 3700 BCE and was excavated in Switzerland, but the origin of sourdough fermentation likely relates to the origin of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent several thousand years earlier,” he wrote. “Bread production relied on the use of sourdough as a leavening agent for most of human history….the use of baker’s yeast as a leavening agent dates back less than 150 years.” “With sourdough you have way more vari-
Above: A Dog’s Walk Bakery utilizes a variety of ancient grains in its recipes including a spelt and black quinoa sourdough. Photo by Svea Conrad Right: Shift’s fresh-baked bread is a staple of the menu. Photo by Hannah Rose Gray
14 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
ables of course, too,” Neisen said. “It has characteristics of its own whereas commercial yeast is more predictable.” The making of sourdough requires stable room, flour and water temperatures in the range of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Bakers must take special care not to touch it too often and disturb the process the starter is undergoing, but the natural lacto-fermentation is also what can lend worlds of flavor. Despite having to carefully curate the environment in which the bread is forming, for Neisen and other local bakers, it’s well worth it. According to Beth Heenan, owner of Village Baker, which just celebrated its 23rd year in Flagstaff, monsoon season (June-September) provides the ideal set of circumstances for naturally leavened bread. “Here, it’s the best time because of all the moisture in the air; it makes it that much better,” Heenan said. “That’s one reason San Francisco sourdough is so good—it ferments better if moisture is added in the mix, it thrives in moist environments.” Village Baker, like A Dog’s Walk Bakery, uses several ancient grains in addition to its close to 200-year-old levain method (a French term for a sourdough starter). Rye plays a big role among the bakery’s current creations. In the past, Village Baker has also made breads with millet and spelt. Neisen’s list of ancient grain ingredients is vast. Spelt, buckwheat, sorghum, quinoa, einkorn—considered to be the oldest of all ancient
grains, according to the Oldways Whole Grains Council—kamut—which originated in modernday Iran—and bulgur have each made appearances in his breads. “The thing about [ancient grains] is they often change the taste of the bread so much. They make it more nutty, more mellow and subtle; they can also make it fruity or floral. I think so much of my job as a baker is to inform the public about these different grains that have fallen out of the public conscience,” Neisen said. According to The Journal of the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, gluten sensitivity, which has increased exponentially in the last 125 years or so, is often attributed to the use of commercial yeast. These older baking methods can on occasion mitigate some of the issues people with gluten sensitivities face. A study published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology states that this type of lacto-fermentation of wheat has the potential to drastically reduce gluten levels. A 2007 study conducted by the American Society for Microbiology showed that sourdough bread produced a certain strain of lacto-bacilli with gluten levels of 12 parts per million—anything under 20 ppm is considered gluten-free. Bread made with the same wheat but without lacto-fermentation typically contains gluten levels of 75,000 ppm. Additionally, diﬀerent types of wheat have diﬀerent numbers of chromosomes, and some studies show that the older varieties of wheat—
ancient grains with fewer chromosomes—tend to have lower levels of gliadins, the type of gluten proteins that cause many sensitivities. For example, einkorn has just 14 chromosomes whereas durum wheat (often used in pasta) has 28 and common wheat, 42. “I’ve been a pastry chef for about 10 years and started doing bread right away and there’s definitely a trend now to utilize products like spent grain or to go back to whole grains and using oats and things like buckwheat flour,” Rodger said. “I think it’s partly because of the movement of gluten free and people are starting to realize that allergies are being created based on the more processed stuff. They’re utilizing those nice ancient grains so that allergies are not super prevalent with everything.” Each morning before the sun rises, there are a handful of local bakers arriving at their stations, keeping a close eye on how their dough is doing. Village Baker, in addition to its other breads, makes more than 100 loaves of sourdough every day. “It’s healthy and it’s just the traditional process that was started a long, long time ago,” Heenan said. “Hand forming it and the original process makes it taste better, too, in my opinion.”
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing on July 20th with special Lunar Legacy events. discoverflagstaff.com
Flagstaff’s Lunar Landmarks Trail Map & Passport Available for FREE at the Flagstaff Visitor Center | One E. Route 66 July19 namlm.com
MATTERSOFTASTE Nor thern Pines' take on a California Benedict has double - smoked applewood bacon and avocado. Opposite: The sticky cinnamon roll at Nor thern Pines, Photos by Nancy Wiechec
16 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
s' a as d n o. y at s, y c
Flagstaff Does Breakfast
RIGHT By Gail G. Collins
Whether you consider breakfast the most important meal of the day or a meal to be eaten whenever, here are tips on the best sweet or savory choices and when to go.
Northern Pines Northern Pines is at the crossroads of Butler Avenue and Interstate 40, and with its connection to Days Inn, some might wrongly guess that tourists sum up its all-day dining business. Like other successes, locals are the restaurant's bread and butter. “We can satisfy anyone’s needs from sweets to steak and eggs or Mexican fare,” said Steve Alvin, co-owner with Karan Patel, of the extensive breakfast menu. “People can call ahead and reserve a table for 30 minutes, and we have weekly standing reservations on Sundays for regulars.” The Flag-centric eatery serves hearty and hot breakfasts, like carnitas, berry crepes with vanilla sauce and eggy French toast. Signature dishes include enchiladas with scratch-made green chile sauce and chicken-fried steak. All steaks are hand-cut and tenderized for a quality experience.
“We use top ingredients with no fillers or steroids, center-cut applewood-smoked bacon and Creekstone Farms beef,” Alvin said. Steadiness in the kitchen for more than a dozen years by Chef Israel “Diego” Calderon undergirds the strong service team. Eggs Benedict offerings range from salmon to bacon burger to a California version with avocado. Baked goods include fresh muffins, cookies, cinnamon rolls and more. But don’t stop there; order a grab-and-go lunch in an earth-friendly box for a picnic wherever the road leads. The newest great idea is the Pines’ reverse happy hour from 6-10 a.m. Breakfast items, served in smaller forms, like French toast dippers or quesadillas, appeal to hospital staff, police and fire personnel or anyone who appreciates a solid start to their day. Location: 2200 E. Butler Ave. Hours: 5:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Brandy’s Restaurant & Bakery
Brandy's version of California Benedict includes smoked turkey and avocado. Their giant pancakes can come filled with apples, bananas, blueberries or chocolate chips. Above: Jamie and Kelsey Dray ton with a tray of house - made pastries. Photos by Nancy Wiechec
18 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
After 25 years in business and a transfer of ownership to Kelsey and Jamie Drayton in 2014, Brandy’s has not merely remained strong, but grown its landmark breakfast business. Voted triple crown winners for Flagstaff ’s Best Brunch, Lunch and Waitstaff, customers have become supportive friends. Kelsey, who had worked for original owners Ed and Brandy Wojciak since age 15, constantly seeks feedback to keep things fresh, yet consistent, like their biscuits and gravy. “It was a collaboration of four or five recipes with customer input,” she said. “We took the best of each.” The best-seller combines sausage and bacon grease in the roux for velvety gravy. A dash of Rising Hy hot sauce and crumbled sausage over airy buttermilk biscuits finish the dish. The most popular offerings are the eggs Benedict choices, especially the Eggs Brandy with two poached eggs on a handcrafted bagel
topped with house-made hollandaise sauce, and a buttermilk pancake plus their signature country potatoes. The brioche French toast also ranks high, boasting thicker, farmhouse slices for impact and flavor. “We bake all of our own bread,” said Drayton. “It’s a big deal.” For brunch, a mimosa is a must. Brandy’s carries four variations with tropical juices, cranberry or Bellini. Can’t decide? Order a flight with a sweet toast of each, served on a drinks board. Other breakfast cocktails include Brandy's Bloody Mary, Breakfast ‘Rita or Morning Mule. Though Brandy’s is open for lunch, it gained longstanding status with breakfast. On weekends, breakfast is served all day, and weekdays until noon. Stop in before 9 a.m. when business starts cranking. Location: 1500 E. Cedar Ave., Suite 40. Hours: 6 a.m.-3 p.m.
MartAnne’s Burrito Palace It’s the House that Chilaquiles Built. What are chilaquiles? The idea is based on every mama’s ingenuity in utilizing leftovers. The word chilaquiles means “broken-down old hat,” referring to the mounding incorporation of last night’s dinner. Traditionally, corn tortilla chips are piled with meat and beans, and then slathered with any sauce on hand, which softens the mass, before it is topped with an egg. It’s that simple and variable a breakfast dish. So pull out a carved chair painted with birds in rainbow hues and start ordering. Menu items are named after guests, like the Fratelli—a green chile pork and egg option—requested by the pizza guys. After MartAnne’s passed from Anne Martinez to her daughter, Tina, and husband, Gonzalo Duarte, the café moved to its larger Route 66 location and picked up steam. “Six years on, we continue to fill the place up,” said Erin McDonald, director of operations. “Weekends are crazy, so come early or after 11 a.m., but come—it’s a great way to start an active day!” Seating is easier on weekdays. MartAnne’s recently added an espresso machine and breakfast cocktails. Besides fresh OJ mimosas, consider a Moscow Mule, bloody mary or an adult coffee. Moreover, McDonald said, “It’s important to us—whether our customers are local or from out-of-town—to provide friendly service and fresh f lavor, just as Anne provided personally from her kitchen.” Going from good to great, MartAnne’s is now serving dinner as well. Location: 112 E. Route 66. Hours: 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Above: Mar tAnne's famous Chilaquiles plate is a hear t y star t to any day. Lef t: Breakfast at Mar tAnne's is welcoming, color ful and delicious. Photos by Monica Saat y
Old Vine Wines
for Summer Grilling By John Vankat
ver notice “Old Vine” on a wine label? The term is most commonly used for Zinfandels but sometimes for other grapes. “Old Vine” is intended to suggest a wine with character and thereby more interesting and often more complex than others. However, there are no regulations on its use, so vines can be anywhere from a few decades to more than a century old. I’ve occasionally had the opportunity to compare old vine and regular Zinfandels from the same vintage and winery, and I’ve usually found the old vine bottling had more exceptional character. Below are old vine wines I’ve enjoyed recently, including several crafted from centuryold vines. Each is a fine choice, especially during the summer grilling season. Bogle 2016 Zinfandel “Old Vine, California” ($12) This pleasing buy has attractively strong fruit and complexity on both nose and palate, as well as extended length on the finish. Oak Ridge 2016 red blend “OZV, Old Vine, California” ($13) A blend of Zinfandel and three other grapes delivers impressive strength and complexity, along with jammy fruit, good quality and a long finish. Old Soul 2016 Zinfandel “Old Vine, Lodi” ($16) This excellent bargain pleases the nose and palate with its strong fruit, personality and lingering length. Plus it is surprisingly refined for the price. Cline 2017 Zinfandel “Ancient Vines, Costa Contra County” ($20) A personal favorite for around $20. It features forward, well-balanced fruit paired with pleasant tannins, very good complexity and an attractive, prolonged finish. Cosentino 2017 Zinfandel “Cigar, Old Vine, Lodi” ($20) An appealing bargain all
around with robust but balanced fruit. Tannins provide texture, complexity and personality, all expressed for pleasing length. Tait 2015 red blend “Ball Buster, Old Vines, Barossa Valley, Australia” ($23) Aussie old vine Shiraz with a touch of Merlot and Cabernet makes for strong personality, especially in terms of fruit and complexity. A bit of alcoholic warmth takes a back seat when enjoying its full body and extended finish. Another Shirazbased trip is the Tait 2015 “Wild Ride” ($23). Rodney Strong 2016 Zinfandel “Old Vines, Northern Sonoma, Sonoma County” ($25) Especially pleasing on the nose, but also broadly attractive on the palate with forward fruit, notable strength, fine balance, appealing complexity and expressive length. Dry Creek Vineyard 2016 Zinfandel “Old Vine, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County” ($35) Purple hue foretells fruit and complexity on nose and palate. I especially enjoyed
20 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
its medium-soft tannins and strong personality, both of which carry throughout a prolonged finish. Benessere 2015 Zinfandel “Collins Holystone Vineyard, St. Helena Vineyard, Napa Valley” ($38) A bit light in color, but with strength on nose and even more so on palate. Finely honed balance, along with impressive complexity, integration and personality, all of which prolong for great length. Available online from benesserevineyards.com. Seghesio 2015 Zinfandel “Old Vine, Sonoma County” ($40) Highly attractive all around with rich, forward, well-balanced fruit, pleasing tannins, excellent complexity and expressive personality. Very well crafted and with a memorable extended finish. Recommended wines can be ordered from your favorite Arizona wine store unless indicated otherwise. Write to John Vankat at azpinewine@ yahoo.com.
Dry Creek Valley vineyard in Sonoma and a bottle of the Zinfandel made from the old vine grapes.
Innovation & heritage CELEBRATED IN
‘Nine 4 Ninety: Artists for a New Era’ by Jennifer McLerran Above: Jason Garcia, "Tewa Tales of Suspense: To Conquer a Colossus!," ed. 1/20, 2016, Serigraph on paper, 24" x 19", Cour tesy of the Museum of Indian Ar ts and Culture/Laborator y of Anthropology
Arlo Namingha, "Fif th World #2," 2012, Indiana Limestone Above: Melanie Yazzie, "Thinking Good," Monot ype on paper, 30"x42", Cour tesy of Glenn Green Galler y, Tesuque, New Mezico
22 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
reaking boundaries of art, culture and expectation, nine regional artists present nine fresh visions in the newest exhibition at the Museum of Northern Arizona. The exhibition, Nine 4 Ninety: Artists for a New Era, commemorates the museum’s 90-year history supporting local, regional and national artists. Following the museum’s founding by Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton and husband Harold S. Colton, Mary set the precedent during her 20 years as curator of the MNA fine arts collection. She was a tireless advocate for artists and craftspeople of the Colorado Plateau, encouraging experimentation and creativity. During her tenure, MNA hosted yearly exhibitions showcasing works of the area’s painters, sculptors and printmakers. She also organized regular
exhibitions of student artwork from area schools and actively promoted Native arts and crafts of the region. The nine artists featured in the new exhibition defy the boundaries of the past. Influenced by such diverse cultural forms as comic books, haute couture, Minimalist sculpture, Navajo weaving and Tewa/Pueblo ceremonial practice, these artists upset our expectations. They compel us to look closely, to abandon preconceptions and entertain complex understandings of contemporary life and culture in the American Southwest. Melissa Cody’s highly innovative weavings pay homage to Navajo textile traditions while also deviating from them. Cody was recently chosen for inclusion in the prestigious Crystal Bridges Museum exhibition “Art for New Understanding: Native Voices,
1950s to Now, joining the ranks of the most significant contemporary Native artists. In addition, her weaving “World Traveler” was featured on the cover of the February issue of Art in America. She was also the subject of a recent feature article in American Craft, and she was named one of “15 Los Angeles Artists to Watch” by Art News. Visitors to the MNA show can view several of Cody’s recent prints that reference Navajo textile designs. In “3 Chiefs,” Cody comments on the history of Navajo wearing blankets and the classificatory scheme for their identification that was developed by Anglo scholars, replicating the designs of First, Second and Third Phase Chief Blankets in the piece. The daughter of renowned weaver Lola Cody and granddaughter of Martha Gorman Schultz, Cody began weaving at the age of 5 and has remained steeped in the history and culture of Navajo weaving throughout her life. Navajo jeweler, beadworker and haute couture fashion designer Orlando Dugi has also gained international recognition. Dugi’s elaborate and elegant designs bridge the fine art and high fashion realms. Dugi’s works have been featured on the runway as well as in important museum exhibitions of contemporary American Indian fashion such as Native Fashion Now at the National Museum of the American Indian. Dugi cites both traditional Navajo women’s fashions and the work of European fashion designers Yves St. Laurent and Balenciaga as important influences on his work. His fashions are high-end, madeto-order, original works of art. University of Colorado-Boulder printmaking professor Melanie Yazzie’s (Navajo) prints seem whimsical and childlike at first glance. She seduces us with light-hearted and visually pleasing imagery, drawing us in, but as we look closer, we see fissures in the pleasant façade. In “Thinking Good,” a faceless girl confronts the viewer. Her Navajo identity is slowly revealed as we realize she is dressed in a traditional manta and moccasins and sports a squash blossom necklace, concha belt and traditional hair bun. A stand-in for Yazzie who appears in a number of the artist’s other works, she appears next to a plant form inscribed within a yellow circle. The plant vaguely resembles one of the four sacred plants that figure prominently in Navajo ceremonial sandpainting practice. Three-digit numbers are repeated across the print’s surface. Artist interviews have revealed that the three-digit numbers we see in “Thinking Good” and other prints by the artist reference diabetes, from which Yazzie and countless other Native people suffer. These are the numbers Yazzie must track every day to monitor her glucose levels. Yazzie has drawn us in and, once we perceive the theme of the work, we are compelled to ask other questions. Does “Thinking Good” address the interface between Western medical and traditional Navajo healing practices? If so, what is the artist trying to convey about the intersections of Western science with long-standing Native belief systems? Looking to similar works by Yazzie may yield answers and, luckily, Nine 4 Ninety includes other works that provide clues. Tewa/Santa Clara Pueblo artist Jason Garcia (also known as Okuu Pin) similarly seduces the viewer with seemingly innocuous imagery. Garcia paints comic book style scenes of Pueblo history and contemporary life on ceramic tiles. His clay is hand-gathered and fired outdoors in the customary Pueblo fashion, but his works are far from conventional. Garcia grew up steeped in popular culture. He was also raised with an
Melissa Cody, "Spider Woman," e.d. 2/4, 2014, Linoleum print on rice paper, 10" x 9.5" Collection of Jason Cohn
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Opposite: Jason Garcia, "Zuni Olla Maiden," Mineral pigments on traditional ceramic tile, 5.25" x 4.5" Cour tesy of The Museum of Indian Ar ts and Culture/ Laborator y of Anthropology
awareness of his Tewa/Pueblo history. During his childhood, sci-fi, video game and comic book characters joined real-life heroes of Pueblo culture such as Po’pay, the Tewa man who led the 1680 Pueblo Revolt against Spanish colonialists. In his series, Tewa Tales of Suspense, Garcia tells the history of the rebellion. Po’pay becomes a comic book superhero in Garcia’s telling. The violence and depredations of Spanish colonialism are represented in Garcia’s work, but the viewer is not repelled. Rather, the artist’s dramatic and engaging rendering of events compels the viewer to look more closely. Garcia has also created a series of ceramic tiles highlighting the seeming contradictions of contemporary Pueblo ceremonial life. In his Corn Maiden series, he presents young Pueblo women in traditional ceremonial dress engrossed in the latest technology. While his young maidens rest between dances that honor and seek the benevolence of spiritual forces, they engage in more mundane forms of interaction and communication, texting or otherwise conversing electronically with friends and family members. Garcia’s work has been included in several recent influential exhibitions, including Comic Art Indigène, which originated
at Santa Fe’s Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and traveled to the National Museum of the American Indian, and Native Pop!, organized by the New Mexico Museum of Art. Nine 4 Ninety also features the works of Tewa/Hopi brothers Arlo and Michael Namingha. Like their father, Dan Namingha, both work in a modernist idiom, creating abstract sculptures and mixed media pieces. Influenced by mid- to late-20th Century Minimalism, their works are spare, pared down to simple, fundamental shapes and flat colors. References to Native culture and belief are oblique, often only hinted at through a work’s title. Such is the case with Arlo’s “Fifth World #1” and “Fifth World #2,” sculptures composed of five stone blocks each. If not for the works’ titles, the viewer would be unaware of the artist’s reference to the five successive worlds of Pueblo cosmology. Michael Namingha’s “Black Place” series is similarly cryptic. The series was created for an exhibition at Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in which Michael’s works were shown alongside O’Keeffe’s. To complete the works, Michael visited an area in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness of northern New Mexico where O’Keeffe recorded the landscape in a series of
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paintings from 1936 to 1949. Recent oil and gas industry activity in the area has caused dramatic changes to the landscape. Michael photographed and videotaped the area with a drone camera and then downloaded the images to a computer. From there, he digitally manipulated the images, composing them into bold abstract shapes. While the resulting works appear to be simple minimalist abstractions, close inspection reveals significant details that alert the viewer to a more nuanced interpretation. Rounding out the nine artists are Hopi silversmith Delwyn Tawvaya and landscape artists Michelle Condrat and Josh Elliott. Together these nine artists present a contemporary Southwest, where cultures blend into a vibrant palette only dreamed of by museum founders Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton and Harold S. Colton. Nine 4 Ninety: Artists for a New Era is on display at the Museum of Northern Arizona, 3101 N. Fort Valley Road, through Oct. 13. Museum hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Admission is $12; $10 for seniors and military; $8 for youth, students with ID and American Indians; free for children 9 and under and NAU students. Visit www.musnaz. org for more information.
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& being outdoors
improves your health By Starla S. Collins & Sheena Tallis
ummer has arrived and the outdoors are beckoning us toward the warm sunshine, cool shade, tall pines and scenic trails. Spending time outdoors and in nature can be enjoyable and relaxing, but did you know spending time outside can also make you happier and healthier? Sheena Tallis is the Health Promotions Program manager at Native Americans for Community Action, Inc. The nonprofit organization offers primary care, behavioral health services, education and a low-cost fitness center at the same location. NACA’s programs and services are available to people of all cultures, not just Native Americans. NACA sponsors a Summer Hiking Series that is open to the community. The monthly hikes range from one and a half to seven miles in popular Flagstaff hiking locations. Scheduled hike dates are July 13, Aug. 3, Sept. 7 and Oct. 5. All hikes begin at 7:30 a.m.; some include free gifts for participants. Pre-registration is suggested, but not required. Tallis offered several reasons why taking to the trails can benefit your overall health and wellness:
Calmer mind and body
Being in nature provides a feeling of relaxation that can reduce anxiety and stress. Studies have shown just seeing pictures of na26 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
ture helps reduce stress and brings a sense of calm. Additionally, the scent of many plants, such as lavender, jasmine, lilacs and roses, are proven to calm and relax the
mind and body. The scent of fresh pine has even been shown to lower depression and anxiety.
Less depression; more happiness Doing activities in nature naturally lifts the mood, decreases depression and anxiety, and brings a sense of peace. A 2010 Harvard study links nature walks to better overall mental health and positivity, fewer feelings of depression and stress, and a reduction in reliance on antidepression and -anxiety medications. The study also showed that people who exercised outdoors had a lower risk of poor mental health than those who exercised indoors.
Restored brain function Walking and interacting with nature gives your brain a break from
everyday overstimulation, which translates into a restorative effect. Outside, the brain’s energy can recover and replenish, much like recharging a battery. The simple act of a casual stroll or hike up a mountain can yield amazing results without much thought required.
Increased focus, concentration, creativity A study published by Wilderness Society revealed that spending time outdoors increases attention spans and creative problem-solving skills by as much as 50 percent. The National Institute of Health reports people who take “outdoor breaks” throughout the day are more focused and have better concentration skills than those who remain indoors for long periods of time. Have a difficult task or decision or trouble
concentrating? Perhaps a hike will lift the fog and bring clarity.
Stronger muscles; better mobility Hiking increases endurance and bone density, as well as building stronger muscles. Core muscles are strengthened, which means relief from lower back pain and more stability that increases balance and decreases falls. Numerous studies suggest walking and gardening can help dementia and stroke patients live a higher quality of life by instilling confidence while increasing mobility and dexterity.
Exercise is productive Just one hour of semi-strenuous hiking can burn well over 500 calories. People who run or cycle outside exert more energy than those on treadmills or stationary bikes, with less strain on the body. And because most people say they enjoy outside exercise more than indoors exercise, they engage more regularly and for longer periods.
High altitude promotes weight loss A 2013 International Journal of Obesit y study found that Americans who live at sea level are four to five times more likely to be obese than those who live in the highest altitude communities, such as Flagstaff. Add in some hiking and walking and you have a great combination for weight loss.
Stronger immune system Getting enough vitamin D, which naturally comes from the sun, is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system. Breathing fresh air, especially when exerting oneself, helps stimulate the body to produce illness-fighting white blood cells and prevent sickness.
Lower blood pressure
Logging cardio workouts in the form of hiking can lower blood pressure by four to 10 points and reduce the danger of heart disease, diabetes and strokes
for those who are at high risk, accord ing to the A mer ican Heart Association.
Improved sleep Want to sleep when it is dark? Get outside when it is light. Sleep patterns, regulated by the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, are naturally tied to the sun’s schedule. Spending too much time inside away from natural light can alter our circadian rhythms, resulting in poor sleep patterns.
Spending time outdoors, whether you are hiking, walking, biking, gardening or golfing, is good for you. Living in northern Arizona makes enjoying nature easy – just step outside. Grab your hat, sunscreen and water bottle, and let’s hit the trails. For more information on the Summer Hiking Series or other health and wellness activities, call the NACA Family Health & Wellness Center at (928) 773-1245 or email NACAWellnessCenter@ NACAInc.org.
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Reflections on solitude at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim fire lookout 28 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
icture a workplace on stilts, a workplace the size of a garden tool shed. Could you find the raw stuff for literature in such a place? Some people do. In the 1950s and ‘60s, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Doug Peacock and Edward Abbey whiled away entire summers spotting wildfires for Uncle Sam. Suspended above treetops, ensconced in cubicles too hot or too cold, they surveyed the public domain for little pay and even less glory. What lured these writers into lofty seclusion far from home? The job came with unusual fringe benefits: stillness of mind, clean air to breathe, trees of feathery fragrance yet solid as bridge pylons, mountain lions and deer among the few neighbors. Sunsets and sunrises fueled their seasons, fleshing out time; like the omnivorous fires, they took a life’s measure. For once, men (and men they mostly were in those days) looked down on the world’s turmoil instead of competing in it. Their ability to travel light grew with each stint in the woods—simplicity seemed within reach. I’d always suspected, however, that something more prosaic, some drab relative of the muse, drove these hermits to put pen to paper. I was willing to find out for myself. I chose the Grand Canyon’s North Rim fire lookout as the site for my experiment in self-confinement. Less than two miles from the entrance station, Edward Abbey had manned it through four “bittersweet hilarious” seasons. The park’s highest point (at 9,165 feet) provided the setting for his romantic novel Black Sun as well as material for a puckish essay in Abbey’s Road. Kerouac processed his Northern Cascades lookout experience in Desolation Angels and Dharma Bums. Snyder penned mountain haiku and a beat sutra, casting Smokey Bear as Buddha reincarnated. I would be in good company. Abbey’s tower was but one link in a chain of surveillance crisscrossing Arizona’s highlands, one of 10 dozen lookouts in the state. Before 1910—the year North America’s largest blaze turned much of the Idaho panhandle and western Montana into cinders—little was done to suppress wildfires. Afterwards, watchtowers sprouted in quick succession throughout the West. On the Kaibab Plateau, the earliest perches consisted of platforms in the tops of tall trees accessed by ladder. Improved designs
The Nor th Rim fire lookout on which Abbey worked in the early '70s. Opposite: The ranger shack at the foot of the fire lookout. Photos by Scot t Thybony
soon offered the lookouts more comfort and protection. Originally built in 1928, the Civilian Conservation Corps moved this one to its current location in 1933. As icons of ranger life and frontier architecture—part oilrig, part fort—Abbey’s lookout, along with others like the nearby Jacob Lake lookout, are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. But the heydays of ground-based fire spotting, like those of sequestered poets on government payrolls, are over. Aircraft and satellites largely replaced binoculars because not even hawkeyed lookouts can equal a pilot’s or high-tech aperture’s vision. Also, the land managers’ policy shifted from rabid fire suppression to prescribed burns. My chosen retreat, officially “inactive,” therefore stays locked now. Forest Service lore holds Abbey himself responsible for the cutback: “ . . . fire bursts came and went with hardly a word from the North Rim tower,” the wildfire historian and former North Rim crew boss Stephen Pyne recalls. “[Abbey] was a writer, and the only smokes he reported were the ones in his novels.” Wayward as ever, the writer went AWOL from his coop—napping or cobbling together sentences in the tarpaper shack at the tower’s foot, entertaining visitors or romancing bookish groupies and “rangerettes”—proving this particular lookout to be expendable. After numerous rounds of telephone tag, I tracked down and borrowed the keys to Abbey’s roost, convincing a Forest Service official that I was not homeless, suicidal, wanted by the law or a souvenir hunter. Walking up the access road from the entrance station after a long canyon hike, I pass through aspen stands that buffer the lookout. Its steel skeleton rises 75 feet above me, crowned by a hutch more glass than tin. Wind whips through the cables and metal struts like a madman unleashed. Some girders are bent where they shouldn’t be. Did falling trees dent them? Did the construction crew raid a Kanab scrap yard? But the thing is older than Hoover Dam and, I figure, unlikely to collapse anytime soon. Up, up and up, I climb flights of stairs steep as ladders to the padlocked trapdoor through which one enters. My hands lobsterclaw onto the railings. Counting 97 steps, I feel short of breath and exposed. Inside, an July19 namlm.com
Osborne firefinder—the lookout’s most essential tool for gauging the distance and direction of a fire—takes center stage. A true antique, it sits atop a wooden cabinet like an object of worship. You can rotate the round base plate and map to align brass sights and wire crosshairs with any smoke plume to take its bearing. The other fixture in this forest-green shoebox is a rickety chair. Disappointment wells up at the absence of Abbey’s “electric chair,” the swivel seat with glass insulators that protected rangers from lightning strike, but the light-flooded interior and expansive view more than make up for it. That view. It causes sensory overload, charging from all sides as if hitched to sunrays. A sea of trees laps the tower, breached by the canyon’s limestone maw. About 60 miles away, the San Francisco Peaks pleat space, imperturbable against the deep blue. Ravens gambol like stunt pilots, dodging the grasp of aspens. Jet contrails slash the sky’s lining—scratch marks of humanity. Graffiti on a wall of the ramshackle cabin at the tower’s base not only includes Abbey inscriptions of dubious authenticity but also a quote by conservationist and forester Aldo Leopold: “Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?” Indeed. I expected silence to twin with solitude inside the shelter, but its tin roof and windowpanes are rattling. Metal joints groan. Clanging noises make my gut flinch. It sounds as if a tanker is breaking apart on a reef. The whole structure sways like a storm-battered crow’s nest. To distract and better acquaint myself with the fine women and men who once staffed these observation posts, I leaf through the lookout’s waterstained, bloated log. Seasonal rangers, trail crews and some Navajo scouts signed in. I scan the pages in vain for Abbey’s handwriting—the entries merely go back a few years. While most record wind velocity, fire direction and distance and the smoke’s color with the dry prose of accountants, the ledger also hints at quirkier personalities. “Watching the Vista Fire take off. Nice-looking column,” notes a fan of conflagrations. Prince, Piss Pump and Harebell commented on the lack of air conditioning: “It’s hot like a sauna in here.” The enthusiastic (“Viva Fire Use!”) mingle with the simply worn out (“8 more days!”), and some joker informs me that he cleaned the insides of the windows, suggesting I’d do their outsides. Unlike other lookouts, this one does not have an exterior catwalk. Mulling over oddballs, celibacy and desert solitaires brings to mind predecessors, ascetics who withdrew from the stink of cities to the tops of stone columns. Simeon Stylites, a fifth-century Coptic saint, started a fad in Syria when he retired on a pillar. Provisioned by his admirers, he counseled kings, inspired hordes of copycats, survived illness without help from a doctor and lived as close to his God as he could for 37 years, all without taking a bath. Perhaps more than antiquity’s busy retreats, fire lookouts balance detachment with immersion. Poised between heaven and earth, dwarfed by the abyss, the North Rim tower and others like it offer fresh sight lines. Animal visitors, rare two-legged guests, the procession of seasons, a storm’s frenzy or fire’s whims easily summon ideas, if not coherent philosophies, while keeping recluses bound to realities they seek to transcend. Settling in, I pull dinner, stove, sleeping bag, pad and a cooking pot from my backpack, hang my socks from the firefinder to dry, put odds and ends into the cabinet’s cubbyholes and doctor my blistered feet with some old duct tape courtesy of the Forest Service. Within minutes, a monk’s cell becomes a bachelor’s pad, cluttered but aglow with domesticity. 30 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
Beyond the windows, the wind still raves. Oblique light is strafing aspen crowns. Tree shadows have stretched like elastic bands and now striate the clearing below. An orange sun lingers above the Uinkaret Mountains, singeing the bellies of drawn-out clouds, harbingers of worse weather to come. I fire up my stove. Its sputter and roar is no match for the brawling outside, its corona of flames but a weak imitation of afterglow that infuses the western skyline. Pinesap bubbles from a floorboard where hot metal meets wood, spicing the air with the scent of freshly milled lumber. Worried by the contraption’s fickleness, I watch it closely—imagine torching a fire lookout. After mac and cheese and tea from a battered mug, I wash dishes by the light of my headlamp. The beam’s pale finger probes darkness. Ref lections scurry across inked windowpanes, and the silhouettes of chair, firefinder, cabinet and spread-eagled clothes jig crazily on the walls; from the woods below, it must look like Abbey’s ghost working overtime. As the last chore of housekeeping I dump dishwater through the trapdoor. The wind instantly whisks it away. Before bedtime I catch up with my journal—it is a writer’s retreat after all—then switch off the headlamp. Tilting on the wretched chair, I sit enveloped in night’s fluorescence, legs propped on the windowsill. Venus glints where the day has been snuffed out. Airplane lights wink red and green. On the South Rim, constellations f licker to life as residents of Grand Canyon Village flip light switches. At my back, the Big Dipper opens like a catcher’s mitt to receive Polaris, the celestial pole in line with the tower’s north wall—the building sits squarely on an imagined compass rose, oriented to true cardinal directions. Through the windows I watch framed tableaus, stars spattering rectangles of firmament. Their assemblage spins ever so slowly on the tower’s fulcrum, which grounds me despite its shaky height. While I stay put, the universe shifts like a planetarium. I listen to its creaky gears. Snatches from one of Snyder’s lookout poems float by: “A few friends, but they are in cities . . . looking down for miles, through high still air . . .” Eons pass, or perhaps only minutes. Snug on the floor of my kitchen-bedroom suite, I wait for the storm to rock me to sleep. Hope I won’t have to go to the bathroom tonight, I think before closing my eyes. Needless to say, I
do have to go. Rather than face the fire escape and decrepit two-seater outhouse at the foot of the stairs, I let loose with a carefully timed arc from the uppermost landing. While I’m trying to steady myself, I wish for a climbing harness to clip into the railing. Back in the loft, I toss and turn and sleep doesn’t come. The next time I look out the windows, I find the Milky Way gone; a new note has joined the crescendo as precipitation pelts the lookout like rice flung at a wedding limousine by an angry ex. Dawn. Clouds blank out my surroundings. The furies are still pressing against glass and tap claws impatiently onto tin, but the tower is standing. Perhaps its loose-jointedness helps keep it upright. I have not slept one whit. No dreams of Glen Canyon Dam cracking, or of scantily clad women visiting. Feeling hung over, I brew coffee from the dregs in my food bag. I already look like a dharma bum and cannot see spending another day—let alone four or five months—up here. Abbey’s weekly escapes to the bar at the North Rim lodge make sudden sense, as does Kerouac’s daydreaming of San Francisco. I now realize why so many lookouts preferred to bunk downstairs, why they had to recover from summer jobs the rest of the year. I’ve now sampled the force behind much literary output—ennui laced with moments of panic—and come to the conclusion that regardless of its perks, the immobile life, the Zen life, the life eye-to-eye with woodpeckers and squirrels is not for me. Despite boredom and atmospheric disturbances, some poets gained a measure of clarity on the peaks, though not always the kind they’d expected. In the lookout’s windowpanes, Kerouac beheld his mirror twin, “a rugged-faced man in a dirty ragged shirt,” who frowned and needed a shave. He had taken the job to discover “the meaning of all this existence and suffering and going to and fro in vain.” Prepared to confront the void, he ended up mostly facing himself.
Clock wise from bot tom lef t: Osborne firefinder at the Jacob Lake lookout, the type Edward Abbey used. Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, Southwestern Region, Kaibab National Forest. Edward Abbey’s ranger uniform. Courtesy of Ken Sanders Rare Books, Salt Lake City, Utah Graffito by an Edward Abbey fan. Photo by Scott Thybony View from inside the ranger shack. Photo by Scott Thybony July19 namlm.com
HOW TO INCORPORATE NATIVE WEAVINGS IN THE HOME By MacKenzie Chase 32 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
andmade rugs in vibrant colors fill a section of the Museum of Northern Arizona’s gift shop. While the vivid imagery in shades of red, white, black, brown and blue tells stories reflective of Native heritage, it can be appreciated by all. Cynthia De Angelis, retail operations manager at MNA, has been working with Navajo (Diné) textiles for 40 years and has picked up a few tips for identifying and displaying them along the way. Authentic Navajo weavings are made from wool fibers, and many weavers shear their own sheep as well as process and dye the wool by hand to create one-of-a-kind pieces that represent their heritage. Authenticity is protected under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, which decreed it illegal to sell “any art or craftwork created after 1935 as ‘Indian,’ ‘Native American,’ ‘Alaska Native,’ or as the product of a particular Indian tribe if it has not been made by a member of a federally or officially state recognized tribe, or by an individual who is certified by an Indian tribe of their direct lineal descent as a nonmember Indian artisan,” as described by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Indian Arts and Crafts Board. The pieces available at the museum are provided directly by the artists, on consignment from local vendors or brought in from Bob French Navajo Rugs in New Mexico. The majority are labeled with the name and tribal affiliation of the weaver, adding a personal touch many buyers appreciate. The textiles range greatly in size. Smaller pictorials depict scenes of everyday life on reservations while Yei weavings depict Navajo ceremonial figures. Large storm pattern rugs prominently feature zigzagging lines of lightning bolts as well as the hogan, four sacred mountains and a water bug design. The colors vary, too, with Burntwater designs using a soft pastel palette while Ganado rugs typically feature deep reds with a bold diamond or cross in the center. No matter the design, there’s a place in the home where these works of art can be displayed. “[Owners can] throw it on the floor, or they can put it on their dining room table, they can put it on their end table [or] put it on the back of their sofa or their chair,” De Angelis said. “It just depends on the size and what they want to do with it.” Those who affix rugs to their walls mostly do so with Velcro strips as the fibers of the rug naturally grip the hooked side. It’s not advised to enclose pieces in a glass case, as it makes the textiles difficult and time-consuming to rotate
regularly, or to hang them with nails, which rust and can warp the threads and designs over time. The vegetal dyes used in the textiles can fade quickly if proper care isn’t taken, and De Angelis recommends rotating hanging rugs to expose the opposite side once every 90 days—if not more often—to avoid fading from the sun. Keep pieces out of direct sunlight when possible. Regular rotation for rugs used on the floor is also important for even wear from foot traffic, and a thin pad can be placed beneath rugs to prevent slippage. Popular Navajo rug designs include Two Grey Hills, Teec Nos Pos, Crystal and Gallup throws, named for the trading posts and areas in which they originated. “In the ‘40s, when people from back east were coming across to New Mexico, Arizona, California, the main stop was Gallup,” De Angelis said of the origins of the Gallup throw. “The weavers could weave four or five, up to 10, for a couple days and then they’d go down to the train station when the tourists stopped with the train and sell them.” The textiles are sturdy and made to last; some rugs in MNA’s shop date back to the 1800s and are still in great shape. For those new to collecting or not quite sure what they’re looking for, De Angelis said the first thing she will ask is what color scheme a person already has in their home. “‘What colors do you like, where is it going to be?’ That’s a big one, where is it going to be,” she said. “‘Are you going to have it on the floor, do you have animals?’ That type of thing.” Seasoned collectors, on the other hand, generally know what they’re looking for, and the possibilities for displaying the rugs are nearly endless. “I have a couple from Nebraska that comes and shops all the time and they’ve collected so many that she has started putting them on her doors,” De Angelis said. “The doors to her bedroom, den, whatever.” Routine care is fairly simple. Owners should give the textiles regular vacuuming on each side with a smooth floor attachment to clear out dust and possible insects, as well as shake them out with each rotation. If a piece is in need of deep cleaning, however, De Angelis advises people against attempting it themselves. Instead, the pieces should only be trusted with an expert on Navajo rugs, or even Persian rugs, both of which require specific care techniques. De Angelis said she will bring donated rugs into Flagstaff’s
Arizona Rug Spa for cleaning before they are displayed in the museum’s shop. MNA hosts an annual Navajo Rug Auction in which prospective buyers can browse more than 300 vintage and contemporary Navajo weavings from artists, consigners and the R.B. Burnham & Co. Trading Post to add to their collection or get one started. This year, the auction will be held Saturday, July 20, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. at the museum, 3101 N. Fort Valley Road. Entry is free, and a portion of proceeds from rug sales will benefit MNA and the Flagstaff Arts Council.
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Unavoidablechange Anxious Attachments an intimate reflection of a life in flux
he essays in Beth Alvarado’s Anxious Attachments are raw to the point of bleeding. Alvarado reflects on her shortcomings and grief with a level of skill and honesty that allows us to hear her heartbeat as she lies next to her dying husband, see her struggle to care for her elderly mother and feel the needle in her arm as heroin flows into her body. Most of the essays in this collection are set in the working class neighborhoods of Tucson. By portraying the dynamics of her husband’s crowded family home, the juvenile shelter where she worked as a house parent and the desperate life she and her husband lived while they were teenage heroin addicts, Alvarado brings this world she inhabited and the people she loves to life. She brings the reader into the heat and grit of the Sonoran desert from the very first page and doesn’t let up for nearly 200 more. The essays in Anxious Attachments were written over a 20-year period and span more than 40 years of the author’s life. All of the essays are rooted in the familial, relating back to her late husband’s large family, her mother, her adult children and their kids. However, Alvarado never separates her individual experiences from their cultural, environmental and historical contexts. This dual purpose allows Alvarado to keep her readers close to her emotional experience while also informing them. Her essay “Water in the Desert” discusses the toxic levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) in the groundwater on the south side of Tucson. TCE, an industrial solvent used by the Tucson airport, leached into the water supply and contributed to cancer diagnoses for thousands of residents. Alvarado expertly presents both the science and how this contamination affected her husband’s family, likely contributing to his early death. She blends the personal with the political in a style that is natural. Whether 34 Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine
we acknowledge it or not, the political affects all of our personal lives, and Alvarado continually highlights that fact. In the essay “Los Perdidos,” she tells the story of visiting the part of Mexico from which her father-in-law was violently exiled as a child. She also very effectively ties the Parkland shooting—both details of the massacre and quotes from the student activists—to her grandsons’ attraction to violent video games and her daughter’s teenage boyfriend-turned-violent stalker. Death and grief are always present. Many of the essays in this collection focus on the death of Alvarado’s mother and husband. Even when their primary focus lies elsewhere, Alvarado acknowledges in her work that when an author writes about the past, there is no way to ignore the present. When she writes
about her husband in his 20s, she inevitably includes details from his death. To avoid such details would be to ignore the way that memory works, as memories are always changing and affected by present realities. Many of her essays dwell on the intricacies of memory, primarily the ways in which grief and loss complicate the act of remembering. In “Days of the Dead,” Alvarado describes the “generic retrieval style” in which a person with depression recalls their past as generic photographs as opposed to vivid, specific memories. Alvarado writes about her inability to remember her husband beyond photographs, because those memories no longer have forward momentum. Their relationship is in the past and, therefore, static. In a later essay, she mourns the loss of those memories, the sensory details that were an everyday reality during her 40-year marriage. Out of all of these stellar essays, however, my favorite is the first, “In a Town Ringed by Missiles.” Alvarado intimately describes both the ecstasy and terror of her heroin addiction decades before. Her honesty towards the high—“I loved the liquid lightning...I loved the dreams...I loved the psychic numbness...”—makes the terror of addiction and helplessness that more effective. The essay is visceral to the point of terrifying, because she pulls readers past the point of judgment into the inner realm of desperation. Alvarado loves fiercely—it’s clearly her greatest strength—and when she loves, she brings the reader along. After savoring this collection, the reader comes away loving the runaways Alvarado sheltered, her toddlers, her aging mother, her husband’s sprawling family, her grandkids. It’s fitting, though, that her last essay, yet again, should focus on grief. Toddlers grow up, jobs change, decades pass, but once a loved one dies, there’s no going back.
Vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, lyricist, composer and producer Tell us a bit about yourself. I grew up in Juneau, Alaska, surrounded by some of the most beautiful and magnificent wilderness. Life circumstances brought me through Flagstaff a few times, so when it came time to pursue my music, it seemed like the perfect location for both its beautiful mountain landscapes and great location.
Snatam Kaur... I love great singers with sinYou use live looping when you perform. cerity and passion. What does it bring to your music? I love to loop. I have wanted to do it for many Do you have favorite songs? years so I’m having a good ole time with my Eva Cassidy’s versions of “Over the Rain- loop pedal. It is adding many things to my bow” and “Autumn Leaves” are a close tie. music. I can loop percussion sounds, vocal harmonies, guitar rhythms so that I can play What do you like in an audience? lead guitar, and pretty soon I’ll be bringGenuine connection. I want to bring healing ing my violin back on stage. When I do How long have you been singing, and when and joy to people when I sing, and I have been healing concerts I perform mantras, peace did you make this a full-time gig? blessed with the opportunities to deeply touch songs and songs of love, and having the loop According to my mother, I sang before I my listeners. I’m not singing to the guy yelling, pedal allows me to add so many layers. It started talking, so pretty much my whole “Free Bird,” I’m singing to the grandma and pretty much makes me a one-woman band. life. I knew from a very young age that it was grandchild sitting quietly, listening, smiling, my calling. I have been very blessed with the appreciating. Kids are my favorite audience What might you be doing when you don’t opportunities to make it a full-time job, but members. They are always sincere and honest have a guitar in hand? it has taken many years of building it up to and have no problem covering their ears if you First and foremost being a mom, but I am where I am now. I started playing profession- are too loud or they just don’t like your music. also a yoga instructor, qigong instructor and a ally as a solo artist in 2002. When I moved sound healing practitioner. In June I worked at to California in 2009, I started playing more The Peaks Senior Living Community in their regularly so I guess that is when it became Memory Care Unit playing live sound healing more of a full-time job. When I had my instruments and singing for their clients once daughter in 2014, I took two years off to be a a week. I know how much music has healed me full-time mom and have been rebuilding [my personally and I’ve seen firsthand the healing music career] back up to full-time since 2016. and love that it has brought others, both on stage and in private sound healing sessions, We just looked at your performance schedule. so I feel that my biggest calling in life is to You had 21 shows in May! What’s that like? share the love and healing of music. Amazing! Honestly, that just organically happened. My May schedule started Jacqui Foreman has performances scheduled July out pretty slow and then I started get4 at Flagstaff Festival in the Pines, July 5 at Nating some great book ing inquiries. ture Exposed Photography, July 12 at Altitudes Bar & Grill, July 21 at Tourist Home Café and Your repertoire seems to encompass a few more. Visit www.jacquiforemanmusic.com for genres. What are your favorite styles and why? more information. It changes from day to day, but if I have to choose one it would be the ballads. Eva Cassidy’s version of “Over the Rainbow,” Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah,” Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”... I just love the depth and soul of songs that have the potential of bringing someone to tears in a good way. I have found songs like that truly connect with people on a soul level and that is what I am all about. W hich singers are inspirations? Eva Cassidy, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Dolores O’Riordan, Tracy Chapman, Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Deva Premal, May19 namlm.com
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