Understanding the West

I have this strange pattern of only doing research about a place after we come back from it.  Whether it was Italy, Savannah, Mexico or Philadelphia, I got this thirst for information, particularly about the history of the place, at the end of the adventure.  Having had my feet on the ground in those places, I was drawn to books and shows that helped me better understand and appreciate them.  I've had a similar response to our recent trip to Arizona.

I've shared with a number of people that I had low expectations for Arizona.  While I knew that I would enjoy the holiday and time with family, I really didn't have the sense that I would enjoy the place as much as I did.  Part of that fascination was played out in the presence of indigenous cultures, in the stores, galleries, and the landscapes.  The drawings of the chiefs came out of that connection, as did my desire to learn more about that history.

My brother Greg suggested watched Ken Burns' documentary miniseries, The West, as a way of getting immersed.  Luckily, this is one of the offering on Netflix, and I sat down with pen and paper last night to begin the absorption process.

I slowly worked on another chief sketch as I sat there and mostly listened, sometimes watched.  It was perfect.

If you've never taken a bit of the work of Ken Burns, he has a very particular style of using a mix of images, historical video, commentary and narrative to fill the canvas.  Baseball, American Civil War and Jazz are broad sweeping subjects that have been illuminated by his documentary prowess.

There is a grandeur to the history of the West that I had not fully appreciated before.  Being in the mountains, hills, valleys and canyons of Arizona has catalyzed a curiosity.


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