Tuesday, August 7, 2007

End of Deadwood Adventure Blog

Who is Maestro Gaxiola: http://www.artist-link.blogspot.com/
I am ending my Deadwood Adventure blog with post 21. I started this blog not as a travelogue but as an adventure in Deadwood and the Black hills. For that reason I didn’t post any of my experiences while coming and going to Deadwood, even though a lot of things happened, like a six and a half hour wait outside of Elko, Nevada by the side of the road, in 100 plus degree heat, because a fire up ahead kept jumping back and forth across the highway….and there were many computer malfunctions and at least one bad motel where you could hear snoring coming through the thin walls. However, there were a lot of good things too like the beauty around Bolder, Colorado and Glacier National park that I could talk about for days. And the Harley Davidson motorcycle crowd, must be a million of‘m out on the road….but that’s another story… I need to thank Alice for all her untiring work making motel reservations, finding good restaurants, finding points of interests and museums and generally just doing all the record keeping and navigating. I would also like to thank Alice’s cousin from Detroit, professional wild life photographer Doug Locke, he joined us in Deadwood for a few days. He was on his way to photograph wild horses and buffalo down around Custer State park. He and I went to the rodeo in Deadwood and we had a great time. He got some wonderful photos of all the rodeo action. Besides being good company, he was a help by telling me of a better position or angle when I was taking my photos. All in all it was an enjoyable and productive trip. I had intended to extend my trip to Melody Ranch, an old western movie town built by Gene Autry in Santa Clarita, California, where the HBO series Deadwood was actually filmed. But so far I have failed to gain access.
All the artwork I am doing on my Deadwood Project will be posted next year around April on my web site, MaestroGaxiola.com, under MaestroSite III. I have artwork in several media and hope to also add a video.
I want to thank all of you who have e-mailed me and posted comments on my Deadwood blog. Next year, 2008, the MaestroAdventures Bolgspot will saddle up for another Maestro Adventure. I hope you will join me for the ride.

Monday, August 6, 2007

21. When Violence Subsides, The Artist May Enter

When Wild Bill was removed from the Black Hills, by a pistol shot, he was flat broke. All he left behind was a small hole in a poker table made by the bullet that passed through his head. When hard-rock miner George Hearst left the Black Hills he was fabulously rich. What he left behind was a deep, landscape changing, spirit destroying hole in the earth.

This monument to man’s avarice can be found just outside of Deadwood in Lead, (Leed) at George Hearst’s Homestake mine. It was the largest gold producing gold mine in the world. It ran continually since founded by George Hearst back in 1879 up until 2001 when it finally stopped it’s mining operations. The damage his mining machines have been inflicting on these hills has now stopped. The violence is finally over. I climbed up on one of its large slag hills overlooking the open pit and with color and brush attempted to lift an image from the wounded spirit of these hills and transfer it to paper. What I take I take for art’s sake. I do not seek money, wealth or power as George Hearst did. I do not intend violence against the spirit that dwells here. I will leave the Black Hills as I found them. Let the spirit of the Black Hills judge who is more worthy to speak of its riches: the businessman or the artist.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

20. Painting in Deadwood

When I got the idea to come and paint here in Deadwood I decided to make myself some special painting gear that I thought would help put me in a "Deadwood mood." (see first posting, July 16) I made myself a Buckskin jacket because that was the type and style of jacket that was preferred here in 1876. I also made a pair of matching silver ceramic six-guns with white handles just like the pair Wild Bill carried. I added paint brushes so I could actually do my painting with them. My rough wood easel was something I thought might look like what a painter living in Deadwood in 1876 would have fashioned. I made all this and more, but I overlooked one thing; I hadn’t counted on the town being full of tourists.
Back in my California studio I had envisioned myself standing across from the No. 10 Saloon in full gear quietly painting, with maybe just a curious local stopping by for a moment to see what I was up to and maybe talking a bit about the old days. But that wasn’t going to happen. For me to be standing in the middle of a bunch of tourists on a corner in 100 degree heat with my buckskin jacket on and waving a couple of six-guns around would be to invite being arrested for public lunacy. What I ended up doing was getting up very early and driving downtown so I could find a parking place across the street from No. 10 where I could paint from inside the cab of my truck.
I did paint in full gear on top of a Homestake mine slag hill where I could be far enough away from people so they couldn’t tell what I was doing, or what I was doing it with. Even so, the mine’s visitor center was at the bottom of the hill and they had some of those coin operated telescopes. I was careful not to wave those pistol brushes around too much. A man on top of a hill in a buckskin jacket waving two guns in the air might be cause for alarm these days and could have very well brought in a couple of Homeland Security helicopters to look me over. Fortunately, as I entered the Black Hills I started painting on my way up to Deadwood so I did manage to get some painting done.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

19. The Deadwood Series: What's Real And What's Not

If you watched the HBO series Deadwood you couldn’t help but wonder what was real and what was not so real. Well here’s the deal; Seth Bullock was real and he was actually sheriff of Deadwood. He really did come to Deadwood with his business partner Sol Star to open a hardware business. The Bullock Hotel now stands on the site. Seth Bullock went on to become a successful rancher in the area and became friends with President Theodore Roosevelt. He died in 1919 and is buried up on Moriah Hill. Sol Star was successful in a variety of businesses and distinguished himself as a public servant, serving as mayor, postmaster, and Clerk of the Courts. He died in 1917. E.B. Farnum was also real and was also elected mayor. He was a much better businessman and city official than the way he was portrayed in the series. But by 1880 he had moved on as he was not in the 1880 census. Al Swearengen’s first saloon was named the Cricket. He was in and out of business several times before he opened the Gem Variety Theater in 1877. It was very successful bringing in five to ten thousand dollars in gold every night. Dan Dority was his general manager and Johnny Burns was in charge of the girls. However, when Al Swearengen left Deadwood after the fire of 1899, he was flat broke. He was killed shortly after that in Denver while trying to hop a freight.

Of course Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Charlie Utter, George Hearst, and Jack McCall were real, as was Tom Nutall, owner of the No. 10 saloon, A.W. Merrick, editor of the Deadwood Pioneer, Rev. H.W. Smith, who was a preacher, and Trixie, who was a prostitute who actually did shoot a miner in the head. All the not so real characters were from the wonderfully creative mind of David Milch, creator and Executive Producer of Deadwood, the HBO series. The photo above is of me with an extra that played one of the grizzled miners in the series. Now that the series is over, he walks the streets of Deadwood and talks to tourists. Light from the overwhelming successful series puts a reflected glow in some of the smaller corners of Deadwood.

Friday, August 3, 2007

18. Starbucks?

…..yes, in case you were wondering, you can get Starbucks coffee in Deadwood. What would Wild Bill think of that? However, there isn’t a free-standing Starbucks here yet, the kind where you can get a half caf half de-caf mocha grande frappiccino with cream. No, it’s just one of those, “we proudly brew” places in a casino. But still, Deadwood has come a long way baby! The suits at corporate must have been watching the Deadwood series too. They figured they probably better send out some scouts to reconnoiter. Apparently they thought enough to plant a flag, even if they are holding back on building a full blown fort and sending in a company of baristas. You never know how the natives might react…you can already get an espresso down at Wild Bill’s Fudge joint and that means the natives might consider Wild Bill coffee their scared grounds.

Of course Peet’s coffee could come to town and send them both to boot hill

Thursday, August 2, 2007

17. Deadwood Today

You wouldn’t even know Deadwood was once a mining town if someone didn’t tell you. You would never guess that this is the same town you saw in the HBO Deadwood series. Deadwood doesn’t look like a dusty old mining town that you might see in Nevada, Arizona or New Mexico, with old rundown buildings, narrow streets, stray disheveled dogs, and rusty old pickups rotting away by some old gas station. Deadwood is a clean and orderly town with clean cut, well dressed, prosperous looking people all over the place. That’s because most of those people are tourists. Make no mistake, this is a tourist town and it is full of tourists. However, it doesn’t have a lot of those tee shirt and trinket shops that make most tourists towns look alike from street level. They do have a lot of gaming houses here but it is low key gambling. They have mostly slots and some Black Jack tables. The slots are mostly nickel and quarter slots, with even some penny slots, so you don’t have people losing a lot of money here. It’s mostly playing for the fun of playing. One can play all night and still have enough money left for one of their 79 cent breakfasts of two eggs, toast and hashbrowns

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

16. Wild Bill's Grave Site

Up on Mt. Moriah overlooking Deadwood you will find the cemetery where Deadwood’s famous people are buried. Buried here are, Seth Bullock, Calamity Jane, Preacher Smith, and of course, Wild Bill Hickok. There is a Boot Hill tour, complete with narration and antidotes, you can catch in town that takes you up here. But if you don’t want to be stuck on an open air bus with a bunch of tourists, you can drive up to the ticket booth, park your car, pay the one dollar entrance fee, get a map, and walk the quarter mile up to Wild Bills grave. It’s marked by a five foot bronze bust of his likeness inside an iron fence. And because Calamity Jane got her wish, you will find her buried next to him,…. but outside the fence and without a bronze bust marker. I think Wild Bill would have preferred it that way. After all, Calamity didn’t do anything to become famous, she just became famous; sort of like Paris Hilton, - she is just,.. famous…. for no particular reason.

Like at pretty much all celebrity grave sites you will find a small pile of trinkets and mementos that people have left as an offering of some kind, I’m not sure why, maybe to make some sort of connection with the famous,…. or just to say that they had been there. That’s what I like to do, I like to leave my little white ceramic crosses, the way the Lone Ranger left his silver bullets, at celebrity gravesite too, it says, The Maestro’s been here. I left one at Jim Morrison’s grave site in Paris, France, and one at Marilyn Monroe, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Tom Mix and now Wild Bill’s grave sites here in the US. .....oh yes, and I left one at Graceland... on Elvis' grave.