jonathan's painting:rainbows

painting by Jonathan Warm Day Coming

Yesterday I drove over to Taos for the first time in a long time. I was going to meet with

Jonathan interview copy

Taos Pueblo Artist, Jonathan Warm Day Coming

my friend, *Jonathan Warm Day Coming but first I went to a small Asian restaurant that has great food and no TVs [thankfully!]. People were having lunch and actually talking to each other–I think I might have only seen one cell phone come out the whole time I was there and in my fortune cookie [I believe in fortune cookies], was my fortune which said

fotune cookie

It was a blue sky day and I drove on to the Taos Inn to meet with Jonathan.

taos inn blue I had brought him some fresh eggs and we sat on the big leather couches in the lobby and talked and then we walked out to his car and he showed me 2 of his most recent paintings… ..he was getting ready for a show this coming weekend.

I loved both of the paintings he showed me but one has stayed with me. He calls it The Dream I Had and he told me that twice he had dreamed that it was night and he had walked out of his little house on the pueblo and climbed up a ladder and when he looked down, there was nothing but empty space.

Mystical, sacred and beautiful, far beyond this ugly world we’re living in, there’s another world out there that will always remain pure and untouched by humans……. that’s how I felt this image.

jonathan's dream

The Dream I Had   Jonathan Warm Day Coming

And I thought if I had this painting, I would hang it in the very center of everything so I could remember…..that other world.

After Jonathan left, I walked over to the gallery where his paintings are displayed along with a few other artists. Sometimes it’s hard for me to walk into new places….shyness left over from childhood and then these days, people aren’t especially welcoming or friendly.. Just the week before, I had a couple of unfriendly and unwelcoming experiences so I was feeling kind of fragile.

But Jonathan had told me how happy he was to be in this new gallery so I went on. jones walker galleryThe Jones Walker Gallery is in a 250 year old adobe house in Taos Plaza and.the door was open….. jones walkerAs I walked  through the door, I heard Willy Nelson’s song, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me when I Die and I laughed and felt filled with sunlight and happiness. Then out from another room, came Tony Walker, co-owner of Jones Walker. He and his partner, Max Jones had owned a very successful furniture design business in Dallas, but for years they had wanted to move to Taos. They had recently sold their design business and this gallery came up for sale at about the same time.

Tony was so welcoming and friendly …he filled the gallery with happiness and I thought to myself, people will come here not just for the art but to feel happy, to feel welcomed.

And I remembered a story I once read about the Iroquois medicine man, Mad Bear Anderson. Mad Bear’s special ‘medicine’ was his happiness and humor which he used to bring people together, remind them of their to another. On one occasion several Native people were selling their beautiful, turquoise jewelry at an open market…. the sun was shining and the jewelry was extraordinary but no one was buying anything and everyone was feeling sad and discouraged. Until Mad Bear walked in and in his special, life giving way, started talking with customers and the ones who were selling…and in a very short time, every piece of jewelry was sold….happiness had returned.

So this was my day in Taos: Jonathan’s painting showing me a glimpse of the world beyond and Tony’s welcoming presence bringing happiness to this world we live in. [Willy Nelson does this also on a larger scale…video clip below]

Maybe it seems I’m making too much of small kindness, happiness, listening, creativity etc but it is so much what the world needs now. cp


Jonathan Warm Day*Jonathan Warm Day Coming

Renowned Taos Pueblo artist, storyteller and writer, Jonathan Warm Day is known for his colorful acrylic paintings, which provide a visual narrative of the daily experiences and spiritual life drawn from his many childhood memories at the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. His earthy paintings illustrate the graceful and enduring lifestyle of the Taos Pueblo people and their respect for nature.

Jonathan is committed to preserving the memories of the now vanishing pastoral lifestyle and rich cultural heritage of the Taos Pueblo through his paintings. His work depicts scenes of daily life there throughout the four seasons and illustrates the traditions and customs that are part of the heritage of Taos Pueblo. His paintings also depict the surrounding landscape, animals and nature.

~ Mel Fenson Colorado Magazine Onlne


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Thank you and May the Force be with You



“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong….. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.”
~Tupac Shakur The Rose that Grew from Concrete

*I wasn’t really planning to make this story into a post but a friend of mine who is a chaplain in Little Rock, Arkansas asked me to write it for her. She is opening up a home for women who have experienced abuse, addictions and incarceration and she thought she might want to use this story in some way. And I realized just how much it has to do with the miraculous healing power of Art.

Jody Armijo came into my life about 7 years ago when I moved into a very small Hispanic community in northern New Mexico.

He came to my gate, wanting to visit and I didn’t let him in. I had heard that he had been in prison though I didn’t know for what and I was afraid of him. jody-don't come here copyHe was wearing a do-rag, had a lot of tattoos and was pretty rough looking. Very different from the men I had grown up around who were usually blond, light skinned and clean cut. I called my neighbor as soon as he left and told him I was scared.

A year later Jody came to work at my place as part of a small construction crew that my neighbor had put togetherdeck framed:jody:willy. willy:jody vigasI no longer felt afraid but I had a very difficult time communicating with him. He was extremely shy and when I tried to talk to him, he usually walked away. Later I realized that besides being very shy, there was a language barrier: his first language is Spanish, I don’t speak Spanish and he probably didn’t know what I was talking about a lot of the time.

But he started bringing me some art that he had done and that was how we first began to communicate. What he brought originally was the beautiful handkerchief art called Panos usually made by Hispanic inmates.handkerchief pen:ink:closer #6

I saw that he had talent but no money to buy art supplies so I started buying him some colored markers and paints. And in appreciation, he began making things for me: handkerchiefs,pooh hanky #8

tv tables painted with crosses and roses, and a large painted piece of the Virgin of Guadalupe to go over my close up

It was probably another year before he talked about prison-I think he felt ashamed and didn’t know how I would react. Maybe he thought I wouldn’t want anymore to do with him.

He had been in prison twice, once in Colorado-5 years for dealing drugs and once in New Mexico for 18 months.prison interior He’s never wanted to talk about why he was sent back the second time. I think it was for fighting-I think he beat someone up pretty badly but I never pushed him to share any more than he wanted to.

He told me that every time he got out of prison or jail, he went back to ‘the same playground’ and so the cycle continued. Then one night he got stabbed pretty badly and almost died and it was then that he made a decision to change his life. jody:eli springHe came back to the small rural community where he was born and he went back to living close to the land early morning brandas he had been taught by his grandparents.

His feeling was just to stay out of trouble, work as a carpenter but only within the community and to make enough money to buy beer and cigarettes. He didn’t hope for or ask for anything more.

But he became a caretaker for my place and I kept buying him art supplies and his art evolved in a way like I have never seen before. He went from the handkerchiefspiglet f hanky to woodcarving,run wild:wicker

TURTLE PLAQUE 1 copybuffalo carving

to making tables and doors and gatesjody's tree gate he did some beautiful stoneworknicho:gate 3:13 and eventually he started making handmade, hand painted altars for people.mother-of-roses-altarPURPLE:90+ ROSES ALTARSvalentine altar-candles

And as people began to praise his work and he began to sell things, his self-esteem grew and grew. He had once referred to himself as a gofer and now he was an artist.dove:robin cross:drum

GOLD CROSS-TREE copy He had some pieces in local art exhibits, shops and church gift shops and his pieces sold.jody treasures 2

He is not a saint. He still deals with anger that comes from a very abusive childhood but while he once seemed unable to control it, he is now able, most of the time to see it and stop it from over powering him. As he puts it “I watch myself a lot better now.”

He will probably always drink a fair amount of beer though it is much less than what it was when I met him, when alcohol was his only companion. He has extreme PTSD that started in childhood and then got much worse in prison. jody:his big plantHe takes natural medication for this and knows what his limitations are…mostly that he cannot go into the city and be around a lot of people because he becomes very nervous, fearful and then angry.

But I believe that he will continue to grow and change because he has found his path. He has gone from someone who was once kicked out of 2 New Mexico towns for fighting and who along with his cousins, was known as a monstruo [monster] JODY-close-pastto a kind and gentle man


Jody Armijo and Shiloh

who wants to give back and to help in whatever way he can. More and more I see him as the softhearted little boy that he was,child jody before his violent and abusive father demanded that he become a fighter.

When I asked him recently, to give me a statement for an art exhibit he was participating in, he wrote:


*Jody’s altars are now available at our new etsy store, LA CASA DE ROSAS

The Light In The Shadow – Preview from Andy Pickard on Vimeo.