Winding River – A Mystery

 

While going through a pile of old artwork I found this large format photo. It is about 16 x 18 inches and printed on heavy paper. It was printed in the 19th – early 20th Century. I don’t know who the photographer was, or who printed the photo. It is an original photograph.

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About a month ago I saw a photo of a painting of the exact same scene. The photo was from the late 19th Century. The scene is in the Rocky Mountains, maybe in Colorado. I don’t remember the what/where/who of that painting.

I’m putting the following questions out to my readers, and art/photo/Western historians. I don’t know the answers to these questions so any help would be WONDERFUL and I’d be grateful to you forever:

Who was the photographer?

Was this the Winding River and are the mountains in the background the Rockies?

Who painted this scene?

What is the painting and where is it located? Is it in a museum?

If you know any of the answers let me know. Yes, this is a mystery. Let’s solve it together.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

96 Colors

96 Colors

Yesterday my new set of 96 Firm Pastel Color Sticks (Prismacolor Nupastel) landed on my front porch along with pastel paper to draw on.

I am so excited.

NINETY SIX COLORS! AND PAPER 18 x 24 INCH PAPER!

It has been years since I’ve created any serious fine artwork. Sure I doodle and still occasionally do graphic design shit but I’m ready to start working on a grander scale again.

So what are YOUR goals for today?

  • Do something creative (even if it is fixing something without instructions.)
  • Seek out color.
  • Keep away from bad blood (for both Vampires and non-Vampires.)
  • Laugh.
  • Look at the moon (Werewolves – that is up to your discretion.)
  • Talk to your kids. Hug them. Listen to them. Encourage them.
  • Go to a museum (I will be there.)
  • Banish Demons (especially the ones with the big leathery wings and yellow eyes.)
  • Have fun.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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At the Crocker Art Museum

My heart is in this place. The Crocker Art Museum, in Sacramento California, is such an amazing, beautiful, wonderful museum. Put it on your MUST SEE list.

I’m just posting images today. No words necessary. If you have any questions just ask and I will answer. Or go to crockerart.org for more information.

I can’t always explain the wonder and awe and feeling of being so complete and one with the universe when I’m in the presence of art. It is time travel for the soul. It is the essence of being. It was something that transports.  It is like a high that no drug can match. It is magic. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Enjoy. Oh, one more thing. I’ll post a story inspired (sort of) by the museum. It is also about dogs and full moons and maybe a little romance…maybe.

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California.

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Night Dogs (A Short Story)

Constantine Jones sat on the bottom of the museum steps wondering what just happened.

Earlier that evening he’d put on his best Armani suit, a Hermes silk tie, and was feeling good about the outcome of the evening. It was to be a charity event. Beautiful people would be there dressed up. Everyone would be relaxed, and happy, and it would be delightfully fun.

After discussing art and drinking champagne he’d lured a few well-heeled patrons to remote galleries to see some unusual modern art. There he took a few pints of blood from wrists and left his donors with no memories, except those of a delightful conversation with a well dressed, nice looking young art expert. Well, a 165 year old art expert, but that was besides the point.

Then in the main gallery, the California Room, he saw her standing in front of the Thomas Hill grand painting of Yosemite Valley. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room but she was attractive in a cute sort of California girl way, and had that delightful look of both shyness and playfulness. Her olive green dress shimmered along the neckline with iridescent beads. As she turned her head towards him it was like a lightning bolt had hit his heart. First sight.

Second sight as well. A smallish dog of unknown breed stood next to her with a service dog vest on. A service dog. Why did she need a service dog?

With his usual ease, Constantine approached the woman. He asked if he could pet the dog. She said yes. She told him she’d had a head injury when she was in Afghanistan. She’d been in the Army. He would never guessed. The dog could detect seizures.

They talked for an hour about art, and life, and it seemed as if he’d met his soul mate. It was the best hour he’d ever spent. Then she was gone. He hadn’t even asked her name.

So like Prince Charming, he sat at the bottom of the stairs wondering where Cinderella had gone. All he had of her was one of her earrings he’d found on the steps. It was a gold strand with a single diamond on the end. The diamond was real.

I might as well walk home he thought. It was just a couple of miles. He’d clear out his mind. The full moon, and lights from late night downtown bars and restaurants lit the way.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large dog wearing a back pack. A service dog? A smaller dog in a vest followed. Around the next corner, in an alley, he saw three more large dogs in the dark, all wearing packs.

Maybe it was a training exercise. The dogs could have been German Shepards looking for drugs or a missing person, or even bodies. It was weird, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He was a Vampire so weird and unusual was over rated anyway.

Constantine thought about the woman he’d met. She’d been a nurse in a convoy, and there was a bomb. She didn’t say anything else except that her dog was named Tess. She liked Jazz music, indie films, and indie books. Of course she liked art too. She was a high school art teacher now, having moved on from nursing. But sometimes she helped out the school nurse. Weird how he got those details. He’d told her… what had he told her about himself? Not much. He was a Vampire so he never told much, at least not at first. He’d told her that he ran a philanthropic foundation that supported the arts, and other causes. He told her he had two cats and liked astronomy. She also was a watcher of the moon and stars. Then she kissed his cheek, excused herself, and a few minutes later he saw her walking out the front door of the museum.

As a Vampire he usually had a good feel for people but he couldn’t get a final read on her. Again, he thought about the fact that he didn’t even get her name. But the dog was named Tess. Tess the service dog.

Constantine thought about war. He could imagine the horrors she’d been through. He was a child during the Civil War or the War Between the States, whatever they wanted to call it. Those weren’t memories he cared to relive. He’d come out to California as soon as he was old enough to be on his own, as soon as he’d become a Vampire, and stayed there.

As he walked along the dogs with packs stayed in the alleys and shadows. Looking at the local news feeds and police scans from his iPhone he found nothing. One of his neighbors was a K-9 cop. Constantine would ask him about it tomorrow.

Arriving home at his craftsman style bungalow he noticed a few dogs in packs at the end of the street. This was getting weird. Odder, and a nice surprise, was that a woman in a slightly wrinkled olive green dress, and a single diamond and gold earring was standing on his front porch.

Tess the service dog stood beside her. Hanging off of her shoulder was a back pack.

No. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t Cinderella. She was a Werewolf.

They introduced themselves, again, but this time with names. Her name was Diana. Like the goddess of the moon.

“You have my earring,” she said smiling and holding out a hand.

“You have my heart,” he heard himself saying, much to his surprise.

Then he kissed her under the full moon, as Tess sat at attention and wagged her tail.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Allegory of Art and Life and Whatever (and College Students and Vampires)

I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about art.

Yesterday I stopped by my brother Val’s office/house downtown. I’ve always loved this large stick style home. He purchased it around 1910 and has done a remarkable job of keeping it up over the years when so many Victorian and Craftsman style homes went into disrepair.

Val’s office is on the bottom floor. The second floor is a comfortable space where Val keeps his official home address. On the third floor is an apartment occupied by a couple of college students.

Neither one of the young men, now in their third year of college, would have been able to go to school away from home without the horrible nightmare of college loans had it not been for Val’s Home Away From Home (so they call it.)

I’m not completely sure where he found Colton and Luke. I think Val met Colton studying in the old cemetery or something along those lines and the other kid came along. Colton was worried he’d have to move home and transfer schools and majors, or maybe just drop out. In exchange for rent they watch the place when Val is gone, do yard work and house cleaning, and keep their grades up.

The boys aren’t Vampires either, and they have no idea about Val. All they know is that Val is exceptionally cool and a little different.

Anyway, I was at Val’s thinking about art. Luke showed me some sketches he’d done of some friends of his on his way out to classes at UC Davis (a short trip across the causeway.) The kid is good. I’m ready to beat the crap out of anyone who discourages him.

Val was at his big desk with his computer checking all kinds of financial stuff I know nothing about. I looked up on the wall at his Maynard Dixon painting. It was of a woman wrapped in a shawl looking in profile towards a gold and orange landscape.

“You should donate that to the museum,” I said. “It is a hidden uncatalogued gem.

“Maybe. I haven’t had it that long.”

“You bought it from the artist. How old can it be?”

“Sometime in the 30’s. A mere matter of days for the typical Vampire.” He smiled and gave me that amused look that makes the girls all melt. Well except me because I’m his sister and I know his tricks.

“Why don’t you donate some of your art Juliette? God knows you’ve got it coming out of your ears.”

“I can’t. Not yet. I’m too attached. And I need more. I always need more art.”

Val laughed. I continued. “I bid on something for the art auction, you know the one for public television. I’m spending at least one day a week at the museum. Clara is taking an art history class so we’re talking about a lot of art. That isn’t a bad thing mind you. I’m also working on my art again. I’m also reading a book about art. My house is full of art. I’m going to go into an art coma.”

“Is that a bad thing?” My brother looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.

“No Val, it isn’t a bad thing. It is a good thing. I’m just kind of overwhelmed. And I don’t have a Burning Question for Saturday.”

He told me to make it about art. We thought about it and threw around a lot of really stupid ideas, which is par for my Burning Questions feature.

I’ll think of something, or use one of our ideas.

Around that time Luke came rambling downstairs to say hello to Val. He was a typical twenty year old male with that sort of cute and, always together, always smart, and always on the verge of some sort of disaster look. It was charming.

“The outside lightbulbs are out, on the front and back porches.” said Luke. “Do you have any extras?”

“Sure. In the second story hall closet, next to the laundry room.”

“Thanks. Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Go ahead,” said my brother.

“You kind of like the dark don’t you. I know you aren’t cheap so it isn’t the electricity bill you’re worried about,” said Luke.

“Good observation,” said Val. “Glad you asked. My eyes are sensitive to the light and I just need to rest them.”

“Makes sense. OK I’ll change those bulbs, then I have to study.”

“On a Friday?” I asked.

“For a bit. I’m going out later. There’s a movie at the Tower, Sisters Brothers or something like that. I’m going with Madeline.” Then he gave a shy smile.

Val slipped him a couple of twenties. We talked for a little bit longer.

Val and I are very old. It is always good to be around the very young.

But now my old brain must think up a Burning Question for October 6. It will be something about art – that thing which has twisted up my heart and soul for as long as I can remember.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Allegory of Painting

Allegory of Painting, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Art

Art (an extremely short Vampire story)

He never tried of looking at the Thomas Hill painting of Yosemite. Behind him he could hear the museum docent talking about the Guilded Age and the massive woodwork behind him.

As a child he’d come here for musical events, and even roller skating. Not exactly here, the new wing of the museum opened in 2010. He’d been in the original building and even in the private residence next door.

When you’re born in 1957 and still around in 2018 sometimes time seems to stand still.

A woman came up next to him and put her hand on his shoulder. He kissed her cheek.

“You look like a woman in a portrait I just saw,” he said.

“I am the woman in the portrait you saw,” she said. It was a long running joke with them.

“Glad you could make it Mom.”

“So am I. We need to do this more often.”

“October is almost here.”

“Indeed. Four of my children have birthday’s this month.”

“And Halloween.”

She gave a little snort. “It was easier to be a Vampire before Halloween was such a big deal.”

“Maybe.”

They roamed the galleries looking at both familiar and new art pieces.

She took her son’s arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. “I loved those times, when everything here was new. It was a new city. You were all children. So much was happening. I miss people, but I look forward. I don’t dwell on the past. That keeps us young. If you keep looking towards the future and live in the present it will keep you from being a Halloween Vampire. I shutter to think that any of my kids will be musty old beings who don’t have enough sense to keep their fangs in and blood off of their chins.”

“You’ll never have to worry about that,” said her son. “But I know what you mean.”

As they walked along they could see other in contemplation looking at the art, which like them, was timeless.

~ end

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Quotes about Life, Love, Art and Vampires

Quotes about Life, Love, Art and Vampires from Vampire Maman (things I’ve said)

Our old friends

 

The only thing a man should wax is his car.

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I was so angry I could have killed him… then I remembered he was a Vampire.

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The closest I get to a true religious experience is when I’m in the presence of art

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I can explain the wonder and awe and feeling of being so complete and one with the universe when I’m in the presence of art. It is time travel for the soul. It is the essence of being. It was something that transports.  It is like a high that no drug can match. It is magic.

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There is something romantic about most art as well, or at least the art I’m attracted to, be if figural, landscape, modern or ancient.

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When I pass him he always puts a hand on my waist or back. He takes my hand when we walk or sit anywhere. We don’t even have to talk, but we do talk. We talk a lot – all the time. We never run out of things to talk about. We’ve been together for a long time and have our banter down to an art. It delights most and some find it extremely annoying, but it is what we do. And a lot of that conversation/banter is about art.

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Val always says “love isn’t a physical thing. It is a meeting of souls. Be it friendship or romantic lovers, it is something we can write about and dream about, but we can never truly explain or define it.”

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Just shut up and give it a rest.

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“What are you?” I asked him that question surprising myself that I didn’t ask whobut what.

He laughed and I caught something different in his smile. His teeth. He looked like he had fangs. “I am a genetic wonder and mystery. I am the Velociraptor of the human subspecies.” Then he looked serious. “Shawna, don’t be afraid of what I tell you for I would never harm you. I am a Vampire.”

“Like in the movies?” I stupidly asked.

“No, like the guy standing next to you. Like the guy who came down to the ends of the earth to heal a broken heart and soul, to give up, to write songs and wallow in my misery only to find you.”

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I will be with you even when we fall apart and our body parts trail behind us…and there is nothing left except our love. ~ From a Zombie Love Letter

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You’re the warm summer breeze against my skin. You’re a warm embrace on a cold winter night. You’re the hot in my chocolate. You’re the key to my lock. You’re the one who knows the punch line.

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Eleora quietly got out a few plates. “I was 300 years old before I tasted cheese.”

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As a Vampire you are a born liar (like a cat.) That isn’t a good thing or a bad thing. It is just a thing. Just like being a writer – you tell a certain truth, even if it might be the truth, say in an alternate universe. You’re only a liar if you tag your work “non-fiction” or if you’re an asshole, but that is another story. Ask Oprah about it.

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Everybody loves to hate on people who write about Vampires.

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Most Vampire Hunters will be heard in hushed whispers or desperate cries “Don’t look into their eyes or they’ll have you.”

Most Vampire Hunters are idiots but it is true about the eyes. The mirror to the soul and the entrance to all of your wildest dreams and most dreaded nightmares.

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But I stayed. I held him close, because sometimes just something warm is nice. He turned me around to face a mirror. His image was clear. My own Vampire image was a shadow or like a ghost. It was like the image in a daguerreotype that vanishes when turned or shown in the sunlight.

“Look at my eyes, in the mirror and I’ll become clear.”

We stood there looking at each other in the glass, so different, yet connected in our weird way. My image became as crisp as his, as so did my nerves.

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People won’t admit they read poetry and are moved by it…but late at night they go on the internet and search it out. It is like pornography. I’m dead serious (no pun intended). It is a need that most people will not dare admit to.

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“I’m a realist. You aren’t a Vampire. You have no idea what we can do to people.”

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In big and little ways the ability to change directions and go from one extreme to another without missing a beat is what life is all about. Old and young and all of us in the middle – it is what we do. It is who we are.

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You never know who will be there to help. You never know but sometimes it might seem like a miracle or something you won’t be able to describe. But there are those who will help – more than you think.

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I don’t really believe in fate, not much. None the less, when good things happen or bad things are avoided treasure that. Most of all you should treasure those precious folks that make up your life.

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So what happens when she breaks up with you and you get all butt hurt and can’t stand to see her face but you know you’re going to keep running into her for the next 200 years?

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Lucy,
I’m tired of being pursued by sluts like you who cheat on their boyfriends. You took me to your bed when you knew another man was in love with you. Shame on you. Tell the same to that little trollop Mina.  And tell Jonathan that Mina isn’t as innocent as she acts.
Drop dead,
Dracula

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Three Vampires and the ghost driving into the night on our way to kill Rogue Vampires singing along with the soundtrack of Across the Universe.

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“Souls are cheap and keeping them is expensive,” he hissed in my ear with nasty wake-the-dead breath.

We all need our dogs.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman