Saturday, April 5, 2014

ghosts in the wheel

Karina Allrich Self Portrait ©2014 All rights reserved.
Self portrait, art school. Washington DC.

The turn of the year's wheel inevitably stirs up ghosts. Last night we walked after dinner. Curled paper leaves scuttling the uneven side walk. Something in the air reminded me of New Mexico. And I remembered a day we drove to Taos, just to get out of our heads and escape the particular tunneling isolation of the artist's life.

The autumn afternoon was golden and soft, almost balmy. The kind of day that lulls you into believing winter is still far off. The trickster wind spun burnished leaves and pinon smoke around us with fingers warm and cool and so dreamy we almost floated along the crooked streets of Taos center, bumping elbows with straggling tourists in beaded earrings and adobe hued scarves, and locals in scuffed cowboy boots barking Spanish into cell phones.

We wandered through empty galleries and a well-stocked kitchen store. I spied a set of engraved silver measuring spoons but put them back on the shelf (too expensive to justify). Steve ordered a cappuccino to go, and we drove home along the Rio Grande listening to Steve Earle and watching the late afternoon sun dart down the canyon walls, back-lighting the almost bare cottonwoods, grayish brown and silver.

That night I dreamed of Russell Crowe. He was in town that month, filming 3:10 To Yuma up in Abiquiu. In dreamland we spoke about our fathers. He listened with his eyes, I wrote in my journal, grasping the loss of never knowing my father with a depth and muscle that held my pain. Fiercely.

This morning I woke feeling less heavy, and relieved of my usual east coast bruxism. For the first time in a long time I felt the urge to pick up a paintbrush. To smooth a raw canvas with palms, flat and expectant.


But in the meantime, I wait.

To wait, to surrender to this thing, this process, this road home to myself- it's not an easy thing. But if you offered me a pill to swallow, some cure, some promise, some magic bullet, I doubt I would be tempted. Because there is a part of me- some stubborn, rusty, ancient part of me- that understands I must go through it, not around it.

I must go down.

Not up in a flight of fancy.

I must get muddy and singed and hollow and exhausted.

I must tunnel through and scrape away with the tiniest of tools- my will- toward some small, shy truth. Excavating, digging past the illusions, the Resistance, the denial, the desire to please, to be light, to be pretty, to be approved of.


It is my Holiest Grail. And why it is so hard to find it, I don't know.

For some of us, it just is.

Friday, April 4, 2014


Looking toward Abiquiu by Karina Allrich #sky #photogrpahy #newmexico
Looking toward Abiquiu- New Mexico sky

I used to paint skies like this. Moody spits of land against an oceanic space. Luminous horizons. Blue almost violet against a startling spill of pink (almost orange). Or thick deep grays infused with glass greens and flannel soft lavenders. I loved it at the time. It felt liberating. As if I was breaking new ground. I was breaking new ground. Not in the world of art. Or painting. But new ground for me. I was breaking open my vision. My idea of what was possible. Painting in joyous strokes, letting go of detail and storytelling. Flirting with abstraction and simplicity and essence. Fooling around with the juice of paint. Its silky slide across the canvas. Its buttery invitation to let go.

My heart couldn't get enough of it. I was drenched in the idea of it, the wide open endless offering of it. Painting skies and clouds and thunderstorms. So of course I did it to death. Then the magic faltered. I lost it. The urge to paint, that is. To conjure skies. Rain. Trees in twilight.

I am stiff fingered now and unmoved to pick up a brush. The one closest to me softens his voice in reassurance, dovetailing words and images into my silence. Waiting, he explains to me, is part of my process. He's seen it all before (my paralysis).

He looks away without sighing and touches my clenched left hand. He brews me peppermint tea. He washes the dinner dishes and stacks plates and bowls in a bamboo rack, whistling a Neil Finn tune. He does not judge. I am astounded by this kindness.

I draw a bath and swim in tub water. Clear aqua liquid, almost blue. My body looks pale and girlish floating in the fading light. The window glass above me loses the sky. The world outside turns piney and dark. Two coyotes yelp in the distance. I find great comfort in their wildness.

My husband knocks on the bathroom door and opens it a foot. Want me to read to you? he asks. I see he grips a copy of a Kathleen Norris book. I smile and unclench my hands beneath the water.

Sure, I tell him. I love it when a man reads to me.

~New Mexico 2008

past season

Past Season (peaches) lomo iphoneography by Karina Allrich ©2014  #iphoneography #peaches #stilllife
Still life- peaches. Lomo style iphoneography by Karina Allrich

crooked light

crooked light photograph by karina allrich ©2014 #iphoneography
Black and white iphoneography, California

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

skaket beach, cape cod

Black and white photograph of Skaket Beach, Orleans, Cape Cod by Karina Allrich. Taken with an iPhone 5.
Sunset in black and white, Orleans, Cape Cod by Karina Allrich

The Winter on Cape Cod was cold and raw. And long. These old bones are aching for some California sun.

waiting for bloom

Abstract painting by Karina Allrich, titled Waiting for Bloom. Acrylic on canvas, 48x48 inches.
Abstract painting, acrylic on canvas, 48x48 inches

Waiting for Bloom began as a darker piece, with deep greens and blues, violet and blacks. Layer upon layer I began to find the light. It felt like I was unearthing the dream of spring, the waiting, the restless urge to move more freely into a kinder season.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


iphoneography abstract art by Karina Allrich ©2014
iPhoneography abstract by Karina Allrich

In the shelter of emptiness small things wiggle their way to the surface. The sensation is prickly and slightly swollen, like an old splinter. Sore, but too insignificant to complain about. So you keep silent. You tuck your head down. You wash bone china cups stained with tea.

In private you rub your shoulders and almost feel the hardness where your wings were clipped. There is a moment where you can almost feel them whole again, like phantom limbs pushing through the veil of air behind you, lifting your heels from the mud, willing themselves back into existence by the sheer force of cellular memory and longing.

The longing is the tough part, not easily erased. So you wait. And all you think about is touch. Trust, and touch. Holding your sons' rosy sleeping weight. Standing on tiptoe to reach a bristled cheek. The dry warmth of that first handshake, the one where you knew your life was about to change. And split wide open.

And you dream your Jungian animus dreams. And He is palpable. Resonant. Seeing into your regret and grief with sustained six-foot-two observation. And you try with all your childish might to believe it’s never too late. And you do not meet your eyes in the blue morning mirror, for fear of seeing it, scrawled for all to read. All the reasons not to excavate.

But when you finally look. And meet your own gaze. No ghosts look back. The voices are mute. It is only you. And you bravely whisper.

I am enough.