Being impulsive is often seen as a character flaw, but I see it as a good thing.
“More errors arise from inhibited indecision than from
-Morris L. Ernst
I just returned from an impulsive week-long trip to New Mexico with my college roommate.
Aside from booking flights, hotels and a rental car, we did no planning. When people questioned going to the desert southwest during the summer, I looked at the average temperatures for August and found that it wouldn’t be too hot. In fact, the weather turned out to be much better than it was in the Portland area. The area was also more Covid-safe than here at home. Their vaccination rate is quite high. Distancing and masking are also the norm there.
Our activity choices were varied between nature, cultural history, art, opera, shopping and a spa. We did what we both felt like doing, splitting up a time or two, but mostly sharing experiences and deciding on the fly.
Making Impulsive Choices
Even without extensive planning, we had a great trip – a trip that will continue to inspire me for a very long time. Travel helps me think about my work and my place in the art world in different ways. Looking at ancient petroglyphs helps me see how we have an intrinsic need to make marks, to leave a record of how we see the world in symbols.
Having seen similar markings in France, it was incredible to witness the multitudes of ancient art closer to home. I’m looking forward to studying the cave art in the Peche Merle caves again this fall. They hold a strange power.
We also visited the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos. Rogers was an early influencer and collector of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo arts from the Southwest. Her collections of silver and turquoise jewelry, ceramics, santos and weavings had a huge impact on the popularity of Southwest Art in the late 40’s and 50’s. She had the resources to collect and popularize these art forms.
But her interests went beyond collecting. As she grew to know the artists, she also began to appreciate the spirituality and deeper aspects of the culture. She became an advocate for the people of the region and was instrumental in securing Blue Lake for Taos Pueblo.
Having done absolutely no research, I relied on my own visual aesthetic and the recommendations of friends and folks we met along the way. The Millicent Rogers museum was suggested by the massage therapist at 10,000 Waves Spa.
The Artist’s Role in Society
Our visit to Millicent Rogers Museum and to the Fechin House, a home completely renovated by renowned Russian artist Nicolai Fechin, helped me to think about how an artist’s life is more than just their paintings. Relationships with patrons and the community at large can shape art movements and culture.
Our visit to Portland artist Karen Wippich also pointed out how an artist shapes their surroundings. Karen’s new-to-her home in Truchas was an impulsive purchase. She shared that she found herself lost in this small village with no cell service. She happened upon the owner of the home, who mentioned that it was for sale. She walked in, saw the view and said ‘I’ll take it!’ She’s renovated and curated the space to reflect her whimsical taste. We found delights and surprises at every turn, beginning with the parking area.
Contemporary Art in Santa Fe and Taos
Impulsively, we sought out contemporary art, both in Santa Fe and in Taos. A few of my favorites in Santa Fe were: Form & Concept Gallery, In the Railyard district, now showing Western Blue by Thais Mather, including this enormous Western Bluebird Sculpture
Globe Fine Art on Canyon Rd. featuring work by Portland artist Carolyn Cole,
New Concept Gallery on Canyon Rd, featuring work by Kathleen Doyle Cook, and GF Contemporary on Canyon Rd. , featuring work by Gigi Mills.
In Taos, we made a visit to 203 Fine Art: The show just ending was a stunning display of large works by Michio Takayama. I was so inspired to see these paintings and many others throughout the gallery. We also asked to see work by Tom Dixon – and I was able to bring a small one home for my own collection. I’m excited to see it all framed and hung!
An Impulsive Visit to Meow Wolf
Over and over, folks who heard that we were in the area suggested that we visit Meow Wolf. I hadn’t heard of it before the trip, but it sounded fascinating, so we impulsively booked tickets. Their website describes it as “an arts and entertainment group established in 2008 as an art collective.” Since I’ve been home I’ve been doing more reading on the story behind the installation. I’m obsessed! You can read more about Meow Wolf here.
Because of our decisions to simply explore what drew us on this trip, we experienced a rich and fascinating variety of art, history and culture. We didn’t confine our choices to commercial galleries, but followed recommendations of local residents and artists, fellow tourists, and our own impulses and energy levels.
Because my upcoming trip to France will be so small, I know that we’ll have the same adventurous sense of exploration. We’ll follow our noses to the inspiring sights, sounds, tastes and smells of harvest season, supported and guided by our hosts, William & Rosalie. There will be many opportunities to be impulsive. Those quick decisions, whether buying tickets or earrings, can be the highlights of a trip.
Following Your Impulsive Ideas
Impulses are also important in creating art. After all, what makes artwork unique? Often it’s the artist’s decision-making process, their unique expression of what they feel or see, that sets the work apart. As an instructor, my role is to reassure artists that their instincts are correct – that their ideas will work. I help them follow their own instincts, or show them how things might work. It’s a rewarding experience for both of us.
If you’re interested in a tour of Southern France on the spur of the moment, here’s your chance. This will be a tour for people who don’t do tours – for those who prefer to follow their own interests but want to deepen their experience by creating along the way. I’ll be there with suggestions and ideas for creativity, and our guide William will provide historical context, contemporary knowledge and comfortable transportation tailored to our intimate group.
I’m happy to answer any questions about the trip with a one-on-one call. Message me with your contact info and the best time to reach you! Be impulsive – join us!
“More errors arise from inhibited indecision than from impulsive behavior.”
-Morris L. Ernst
Dear Ruth, I really appreciated this liberating late-August blog post.. I suspect there is a happy medium yet I’m afraid I have regularly erred on the side of “inhibited indecision.”
But not so today, October 30, 2021!
Last night I read the description of your October 2022 workshop in Umbria and yelped!!. This morning I called my sister and asked, “Would you like to go to Italy next October to paint?” Her immediate response was “YES, sign me up!” Then came. a few pertinent questions, after which I signed us both up for Semplificare. THANKS for exactly the encouragement I needed. Bonnie Kittredge, Oregon City
Hello Bonnie, or should I say Ciao bella!?
I’m so glad you & your sister have decided to join in and resisted ambivalent indecision! Now we have something to look forward to next fall. If you have questions leading up to the workshop, don’t hesitate to ask – and please pass along the info to any other friends you think might be interested 🙂 I look forward to sharing Italy with you!