About Holycowgirl

Painter, writer in glorious hills and canyons of sweet, raw, dangerous, thrilling Big Sur and environs. Decades in Brooklyn, left for my wilderness experience in the Blue Ridge, then west to coast. Reverence for animals, all growing things, flowers, and humans who've let themselves be touched by the above. CONTACT: THE HAWKS PERCH BARBARA SPARHAWK PO BOX 1695 CARMEL VALLEY, CALIFORNIA 93924 emails: thehawksperch@outlook.com bdsparhawk@gmail.com

FREDERICK L. GREGORY, Granite Sculptor, R.I.P.


JULY 19,1938  ~  JULY 23, 2017

FREDERICK  (Rick) L.  GREGORY,  Gone too soon.

We (I mean the country, the world, the mortal universe) just lost Rick Gregory who held on through a rough year and made it by 5 days past his 79th birthday.  This was some singular, remarkable guy.

I did this oil portrait of Rick around 1999.  I wanted to give him a kind of Apollo look, unlimited skyward eyes, and blueprints clutched in his powerful, workman’s hands.  The only thing I left out was one of his famous bandannas, never without one.

One of his early jobs was in a huge laundry, hauling wet washes through and around machines in Fresno,…..same thing Jack London did half a century earlier in roughly the same neighborhood (Valley of the Moon describes it, Oakland).  Rick called himself a “hod-carrier, the sonofabitch who takes huge wood trowels of cement up ladders”  to the construction crews.  What he loved most was picturing what a landscape needed then making its dreams come true…..water and stone and water and stone and plant life.

Rick was an American granite sculptor, from up Fresno way, who found himself racing sailboats and being on the winning Americas Cup team to  Brazil, some years back, staying awhile in Rio to learn from the famed sculptor Noguchi, falling in love with a gorgeous Rio beauty and marrying her, fathering a spectacular daughter (Alexandra) who came to California to be with him, and in his long fabulous lifetime Rick was building gardens and water works all over the world, represented by Big Sur, Rio, Carmel galleries and in fabulous homes, estates, industries.  His religion, he said, was Landscape.

Rick Gregory in front of his Sculpture Garden in Carmel Valley, Central Coast, California                           Pen & Ink by BD Sparhawk

 

Rick’s  daughter  hosted a spectacular and touching memorial for all his friends this last Sunday, and I gave her the portrait of Rick, which she’d seen and loves, bless her heart. So many friends wanted a picture or poster or card, I’ve put it on my Redbubble Sparhawk Site so you can order things with the image, for those of you who’d like to do so.  I hope I’m not embarrassing you good buddy.  Rick.  You always had a very healthy ego but you were never vain.  Wonder if you know how much you were loved.

 

footnote:

THE PORTRAIT IS POSTED ON REDBUBBLE!!!

NOW AVAILABLE IN CARDS AND POSTERS, STICKERS AND T SHIRTS, MINISKIRTS, JOURNALS, SCARVES, AND IPAD COVERS AND CLOCKS!!  INCREDIBLE.  Now I’m sure Rick’s embarassed.

You can email me at  bdsparhawk@gmail.com

Thanks,

BD Sparhawk

 

 

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RUMER GODDEN, the one and only


 

The Golden Cat on Silk

 

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Definitely one of my favorites, the endearing Brit authored children’s books, novels, fiction and non, and gave us movies her writing inspired. The images she creates!  I am swept into a rare ship at sea by her, only to be kept in sight of shore, not to be released from her spell of lulling waves or violent shipwreck passages when I might close her books and tear free –until I collapse in reluctant hallucinatory exhaustion.

Rumer (also a professional dancer, and dance teacher; named after a beloved relation) and her sisters were raised in India and this rich banquet she kept exploring (not leaving for England til 12 years old then back and forth, raising her infant daughters in Kashmir before and during WWII) is the setting of her many stories, including, most especially, the miraculous “BLACK NARCISSUS”.  Indescribable. An order of Nuns are gifted a former Indian General’s brothel perched 10,000 feet up on a cliff in the Himalayas, where they intend to heal the sick and tutor the unschooled; the view and ceaseless winds of this oddly beautiful castle prove a stunning unsettlement to all who dare take it on.  The movie, (made by the Archer’s team Powell and Pressburger”  is extraordinary, worth seeing a dozen times, potent in color and form and acting, very rare in every way with a superb cast, delightful; frightening; brilliant.

But it is this RUMER GODDEN  passage I want to bring to you, and it is from her memoir, A TIME TO DANCE, NO TIME TO WEEP”, which is bloody marvelous and full of fearless originality, independence; courage and joy.  She speaks so honestly and directly, describing the sheltered child’s ritual expectance of palatial indulgence —and then wrenching poverty, surviving in strange and dangerous, hostile worlds. She has an endless curiosity for life, people, and how to survive. She knows early she will be a writer, comes late to success.

What I loved about this small Rumer Godden inserted mid-book is the kind of thinking we, the reader, are invited to take on as our own.  It’s all full of  knowing that any and all things are, after all, possible.  There is here a life to lead, apush out of complacency,  start and do things we never dreamt before.

This, page 164 from Godden’s “A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep”, is it:

Pfeiffer Beach, Crashing Boulders

THUS FAR AND NO FURTHER

“Once upon a time, perhaps when Noah lived and perhaps this flood was Noah’s flood too, in another time when the earth was filled with violence, the waters of Teesta river in North Bengal, India, began to rise int he valleys of the Himalayas, whose ranges are higher and more terrible than the Andes.  The water rose higher and higher, past the foothills and the lower hills, past the villages of Riyang and Teesta and the people began to be seriously afraid that their retreat would be cut off by the sky.  Only the spines of the ridges showed in the water, spines of monsters and dragons petrified, with their colours hidden in the Teesta that today, after the rains, is that same milky blue.  The prayer flags were snatched and carried to the to the ridge, horns blew and the drums sounded, while behind and inaccessible, the line of snows that not even a flood could reach, reared themselves into the sky.

Down below them the consternation continued and the water spread and rose and spread.

In a temple at the top of one of these ridges, a Lama was saying his prayers.  The people went in and disturbed him, but they disturbed him quietly; the horns stopped blowing, the drums were not beaten, and the people stood still as their headman went to him.

‘Well, what is it?’ said the Lama.

‘The water — the water is coming up.’  It was.  The people were standing in it; it was lapping the temple steps.,

‘Tell it to go down,’ said the Lama.

‘Tell it?’ 

‘Yes.  Give it a positive order.’

‘But it won’t pay attention.’

‘Won’t it?’ said the Lama. ‘Then I must tell it myself.’   And he came out from his prayers and put out his hand.

I think of him as looking Chinese in a stiff robe, with a Chinese absorbed and peaceful face. He looked at the spines of the hills and the water swirling round them and the jumbled colours of the people and their frightened faces and silent horns and agitated flags; he looked up at the sky and the unmoving snows and back at the water, and he put out his hand and said, ‘Rungli-Rungliot. Thus far and no further.’

The flood immediately stopped; the water went down and the Lama went back to his prayers.

The words that he said stayed there in the place, as its name.”                                            (End of passage)

 Rumer  Godden adds:   (“Rungli-Rungliot is a real place on the spur of Himalays, facing south above the plains and the gorge of the little Runglee river that they say was left behind by accident when the Teesta water fell.”)

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Original oil painting above is by Sparhawk. “Pfeiffer Beach, Crashing Boulders’, it was sold to a family visiting my Big Sur gallery from Japan;  the photograph of author Rumer Godden is from the internet unattributed;the golden tabby cat on top is the marvelously beautiful Tommy Jefferson.

 

CHARLOTTE, or: Girl With Apple


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Charlotte:  Girl With Apple  (oil on canvas, c. 12X12 inches. Portrait by B Sparhawk)

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And whom, you may well ask is this heavenly Charlotte?

She is the love of the sister of a friend of me the portrait painter.

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And you may well wonder too what is the apple doing next to the beautiful dog.

There is an explanation of sorts for that.

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It arises from a painting of a boy, (not (so you know) by Czech master Johannes Van Hoytl the Younger ~~who does not exist~~ but by the lovely English painter, Michael Taylor, who is alive.  With an apple) known and feverishly described all over the internet as “Boy With Apple”.

DSCF8497Portrait of Charlotte, in the Studio

Has any painting we may wonder had such an effect on the public since the spark of life between Adam and God, or that interesting Dutch fellow’s sunflowers.

I was amazed, when I looked at some point, that it was definitely not just me taking note but a chunk of the universe.  Do you know this work?

OR IS IT POSSIBLE  that some one or 2 among you may not have seen the marvelous “GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL”  movie.

A Wes Anderson film with a fabulous cast (listed below in tags) and thrillingly delish story acted out in a kind of Chaplin-marionette brilliance of unreal people borrowing randomly from history and human behavior, an emphasis equally on: purity, rough fellows, innocence, crippled shoe-shine boy, attentive clever lobby boy and servants, a funicula, politics, soldiers, and wicked gangsterism.

And luxurious settings but also a harsh prison.

And money coming and going.

Of course a nicely done painting.

And pastry to die for (plus the recipe).

The movie’s underlying roundabout goes dashing in and out of the inheriting in, thieving of, related murdering related to, loss and gain of loves and lives and property and most especially…focused on a portrait done in fine Renaissance style  by a modern artist, called:  “BOY WITH APPLE”.

At first blush I  fell in love with the movie and the painting.  I have checked it out of the local library DVD collection to keep watching it,  about 25 times so far.

That painting effected (subconsciously and quite out loud) any number of canvases I painted afterward for months, but none so especially or delightfully or movingly or filled with pleasure for me as this ~~suddenly (in real-time and real life) by surprise commissioned portrait of Charlotte.  Who is, as said earlier, the love of the life of the sister of a dear friend.

I was struck at once by Charlotte’s medieval cathedral palazzo civilized wavy elegant good looks.  I knew that there would appear stone walls and columns and breezed-up draperies and lace hankies and dragonflies in profusion and twilight glow and small romantic freshly plucked bouquets and an offering on a Merano hand blown glass thingy which turned (very nearly of its own accord) from a toy ball to an apple.

Here is a bit more on the portrait & principals.   Click here

And about the film.  Click here.

And about Michael Taylor, painter:  Click here

FURTHERMORE….

…If anyone is interested in a storytale portrait of their animals or offspring or loved ones or something fancied, do let me know.  

It’s what I do.

INQUIRIES:  PLEASE EMAIL     bdsparhawk@gmail.com

will do the trick nicely. As with Charlotte I work chiefly or entirely with photographs.

I promise to respond.

Tickled pink you’ve stopped by.

Toujours,

BARBARA SPARHAWK

 

VINCENT OF DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN


 

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Sparhawk oil portrait of Van Gogh, c. 1999

 

“ONE THING I KNOW:  WITHIN A FEW YEARS I MUST BRING A CERTAIN WORK TO COMPLETION….I AM CONCERNED WITH THE WORLD ONLY INSOFAR AS I HAVE, AS IT WERE, A CERTAIN DEBT AND DUTY, BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN ROAMING ABOUT IN IT FOR THIRTY YEARS, AND ALSO BECAUSE I WANT, OUT OF GRATITUDE, TO LEAVE BEHIND A SORT OF REMEMBRANCE IN THE FORM OF DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS–NOT MADE IN ORDER TO PROMOTE THIS OR THAT TREND, BUT ON ACCOUNT OF THEM HAVING IN THEM SOMETHING THAT EXPRESSES A SINCERE HUMAN SENTIMENT. THAT IS THE GOAL OF MY WORK…”

Vincent Van Gogh’s letter to Theo Van Gogh, 1883, from the Hague, on his third year of having begun to be an artist.

I’ve been years writing my autobiography. In it Vincent Van Gogh comes to visit me this one anguished young painter’s night in Brooklyn. I ‘m in my early 20’s, in the clutch of death by brush, not knowing enough to translate my visions to canvas and I have conjured him up. He stays and advises and the most marvelous grand adventures happen in the following year. During which my own story unfolds. My book begins when I am packing up and leaving Yosemite, remembering back decades to that midnight I first saw him.

Constant warfare my whole life.  Like an old soldier now done with war. What were the whirling years, to whom did they  belong.  Not a stranger, no not a stranger.     An earlier me.”

to be continued…………

 

 

DARK & STORMY


APRIL 6, 2017

I came very close to missing this muscular display.

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                                                                    There had been inexplicable crashing outbursts,  sounds of fury signifying who knew what….things carried off my deck by wild winds?   Hurtling through the air endangering aircraft? Planets?

How were the birds reacting?

 Could  my apple tree still be covered in blooms?

DSCF8145I wandered to the great valley windows, then into the larger outdoors…..to discover a sky like I’ve never seen before in my life. 

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It lasted through dark of night, releasing brief  shots of brilliant moon before going black again,DSCF8157 and by dawn had become mist and rain.

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Everything got a good blast of the elements, all of us better off for it, the senses pummeled and thrilled.Apple Tree, Hilltop, early April, 2017

“THE NEW HAT”~ Sparhawk painting


 

“THE NEW HAT”

I painted this years ago in one hot humid summer week.  I was exploring me, testing my mettle on 60 desolate acres in the log cabin I’d rented in Blue Ridge mountains alongside Harper’s Ferry, where I feverishly filled canvases with pictures for a gallery I found that said they’d take me, and filled notebooks with words for the bones of a novel, for which the publisher remains unfound.

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I needed a break. Too broke to shop for real (and DC was about 2 hours east), this was the substitute. Okay, imagine with me: speeding off in a fabulous little (Robin’s egg blue) Sunbeam Alpine convertible (my dilapidated old Ford on its last legs) to an unbelievably divine shop (somewhere) and buying a hat! matching the dress! Not a farm hat but one incapable of protecting from wind or rain or bees, simply THE superb bonnet made for late afternoon drinks in an incredibly gorgeous famous old Washington bar with a handsome poet who just phoned he’d be landing his seaplane on the Shenandoah especially to meet me ~~4:30 sharp  ~or thereabouts. Be there! He could only stay til Wednesday. Before which he’d be ripping off said new hat etc. and we would be lost to lust. So here in the picture, rushed home to try it on, all the bits around including the hatbox and tissue it came in, getting ready for my quick dip in the pond then roaring off on the long and dusty trail to my rendezvous. Oh what a life!

Well, I thought about it all week while I worked on this, and the marvelous fantasy embroidered itself in. Big canvas too, about 7 X 4 feet. It went to the gallery in Middleburg,  Virginia where it did not sell.

The following fall I moved west.  The New Hat  went from east coast storage to garage to covering a broken fireplace flue above the mantelpiece in some godforsaken cottage; then across America in moving vans to horse ranches and eventually slotted into the back of a 1974 Chevy & up the mountains of Yosemite.  There, 7  years later on the day before I moved back to the coast The New Hat sold to the Yosemite gallery owner who’d exhibited my work and fallen in love with it. Which happily covered gas and my first month at a fellow artist’s house in Pebble Beach, a room of my own en suite, the smell and sound of the sea, and the sight of the breakers  below. And some sweet romps with an interesting surfer who never read poetry or wrote it, preferred beer to Benedictine, couldn’t pilot a plane, didn’t like being indoors ever but knew how to handle serious waves and me, and did nice work with fish on a campfire, too.

There’s never any telling where a new hat will take you.

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FLYING SAUCERS OF YOSEMITE


 

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THE  FLYING  SAUCERS  of  YOSEMITE

 

2003 to 2004 I lived in two places and both, though separate, were the gateway mountains  of Yosemite — The High Sierras.  The first place up at 5200 feet is the subject here.  The second was a peculiar old gold miner’s shack at a slightly lower elevation, a place of equal  peculiarities and dangers    (detailed in my splendid story collection: The Gandy Dancer and Other Short Stories, (Amazon et al) which Robert Redford absolutely fell in love with and told me so but for some reason known only to God has not purchased–yet–for movie-making,  because he’d be marvelous in or directing any one of them & I could use the bread). (Also Mr Redford if you missed it read  Charles, The Man Who Lived Through Wars  here, it’s terrific!)

But I digress.  The FLYING SAUCERS OF YOSEMITE are not uncommon.  In fact they’re so common it turns out nobody much says much unless it’s about the one last night on my roof, or did you catch the three in a row doing flips and hurling pods.  There were especial frequencies of the huge triangle-shaped ones blotting out the stars of the spectacular night skies.  That’s how you knew.  You’d be looking up, pulled roadside spooning with a loved one, or solitary–spooning Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough from the carton–and say, “Hey, what happened to the stars over there?  It’s like a big black triangle thingy the size of a football field chewed up the stars, oh wait a minute, that’s one of those flying saucers everybody sees,  all the corners are blinking.  I’ll just leave before they see me…” 

On a lovely day, a day this very same week in March in fact but 14 years ago, I was meandering around the cabin I’d rented.  It was near sundown.  It had been warm and gorgeous. A night of spectacular clarity with a big full moon against fabulous clouds was on its way.  And I was on living top of the highest mountain around, facing west, Bass Lake down below, up higher than Ahwanee.  And this appeared in front of me. Silent.

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This phenomenon unfolded from the start of sundown into the dark of night, a rising moon in cloud cover, and a flying saucer drifting across the sky over a period of easily an hour.  Slow as can be. Stayed pure horizontal no up or down. No sound.  Enough time for me to call a friend from down the hill in town who took 15 maybe 20 minutes to close her shop and arrive.  I took pictures. Here they are. What is it if not a spacecraft from some marvelous place where Earthlings are adored, slowed down to say howdy, headed to (or from) the mother ship.

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I’d love to know what you think.  Or if it’s a message you got that night on your mountain, too.  I know, looks like a duck, flies like a duck. But it’s not a duck.

 

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