Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Truth. Beauty. All you need to know.

Truth. Beauty. All you need to know.
Michael Sedano

“¿Es del monte, o de la casa?”

I was acquiring language, English at home, Spanish at my grandmother’s house. Gramma divided the world into wild and domestic, a good way to understand the role and function of things that are safe and things to avoid for a 3-year old who was allowed to wander at will in the spacious back yard and garden.

Gramma had gallinas, chivas, a marrano, and a huge white Leghorn rooster who, one day, beat the heck out of me when I entered the jaula. Gramma came running when she heard my screams as the rooster leaped on me, beat my face with flapping wings, pecked furiously at my tiny chest. He probably knocked me to the dirt, I don’t remember that part. I remember we ate caldo de pollo that day.

My gosh, I loved that back yard with its nopal boundary, excusado, los animales de la casa. Even more, I loved the jardín with its coffee cans and pots holding canela-scented claveles, geraniums, and myriad flowers, where vegetables of all sorts sprouted from the earth to our plates. One plant particularly drew me, a brilliant red flower that covered the pencas of the hanging plant, whose tiny espinas were potent reasons not to touch but only look.

That was my first Epiphyllum.

Scion of my first Epiphyllum 

My grandmother migrated from Michoacan to Texas, to Kansas, Texas again, eventually to Colton and San Bernardino before setting down roots in Redlands, Califas. That plant made the journey with her. When my mom left home to start her own family, one of her few possessions was that red Epiphyllum. The red one is the first cutting I took after I got married then returned from overseas and set down roots in the LA area.

My mother became an Epiphyllum collector, expanding from the red to any color she could find. We’d go to the Presidio at San Diego where old plants snaked around the grounds. Snip. The zoo. Snip. The Fuschia gardens at Point Loma provided several specimens, often gifts after she struck up conversations with the nurseryman or a Mexicano gardener. Snip. She’d exchange cuttings with friends and her collection expanded. She attended Epiphyllum shows at the Orange Show, or the LA Arboretum, to see and buy precious cuttings.

She rented out the family home when my Dad was transferred to Utah and they moved. One inspection tour, Mom was upset to discover the Air Force wife had set up a table and had made cuttings of every plant. That wasn’t in the lease, but my Mom got over it. After all, Epiphyllums are supposed to be shared. A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

When Mom grew ill and lay in her hospital bed, I brought her dozens of fotos of her flowers, some from my own cuttings of her plants, others from her garden. She cheered up at the sight of her precious treasures, named them, told me their stories. She came alive! Truth and beauty heal.

When she came to live with me, I brought some of the smaller specimens with her so she could be near them. When Mom died, I moved the rest of the collection to my Pasadena home and loved them as I knew she wanted them loved. "Beauty is truth, truth beauty.”

Here is truth, a gallery of the 2017 blooms. Some of them--the season is still going. It's my mother's collection but I grow it every year from friends, and sales. In SoCal, visit the Pacific Epiphyllum Nursery in Baldwin Park CA for a heart-breakingly wondrous collection--totally affordable but you can't buy them all. Can you? I've bought only two from this place. link

Many of my Epiphyllums come to flower in the Spring months. Others will wait for summer’s heat to bud, swell, and open. The plant prefers to open at night. I track their progress daily, anticipating, hoping. Every morning, I rush out with first light to photograph the truth nature has given me overnight.

I've had blossoms in December, convincing me that Juan Diego didn't bring rosas to the Archbishopric, but epiphytes. Since the invaders didn't have names for the Epiphyllum, the closest word was "rosa." See "The Miracle at Tepeyac" where I recount the story. (link)

An Epiphyllum blossom lives a day, two, three at most. Their most glorious existence is that first morning. Only a few wear perfume, that a human nose can smell. When the flower has a scent its dizzying sweetness permeates the air around it.

This dinner-plate size Yellow and White Epiphyllum exudes a wondrous perfume.

The “epi” is easily nurtured. Keep it in a small pot to promote blossoming. Water and feed every few weeks, and when the earth dries. Epiphyllum fanciers have written books about the plants, knowing the names of the hybrids and coloration styles, and all manner of technical stuff. Me, I like to remember my gramma’s lesson on the universality of growing things: that red “orchid cactus” was del monte but it finds a welcome home en la casa. That’s why, above all, the most important element of raising Epiphyllums is generosity: share cuttings with friends.

“that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

White-fringed Purple Epiphyllum opening. In the morning there will be a glorious show.
White-fringed Purple Epiphyllum in early a.m. light
Scott. E. Haselton. Epiphyllum Handbook. Pasadena CA: Abbey Gardens Press, 1951.
Fading white giant, third day.

Photography note. I use a 100mm lens on my Canon T2i, a low ISO setting, a tripod, and remote control to allow for long exposures at f/32 to show depth of focus into the heart of the blossom. For wide framing, I use the 18-55mm lens racked out to provide the best view and focus. These print spectacularly and look powerfully alluring on a wall. I use dye-based ink on 13" x 19" archival paper to offer a one hundred year lifetime to each print.

In her glory she was white with yellow and wore a sweet perfume.
A couple days and a night of rain and
she's Cinderella's gown at 12:01 a.m.

Gentrification Threatens Here & Now

Crowd-sourcing can be a wonderful way for gente to share in good works and causes. Trouble is, there are so many people asking for gifts for anything from a funeral to a summer vacation. It's easy to disregard frivolous pleas, but vitally important to lend a hand when one's able.

El Sereno's Here & Now community center, has been forced to join the crowds of causes asking for help. In this case, it's the type of worthwhile goal that I hope will attract 180,000 people with one dollar each, or six people with $30,000 to offer, or anything in between. The magic number is $180K.

Here's what Iris de Anda, poet, musician, healer, community activist says about this cause:

For the last 15 years, The Eastside Café has been an autonomous collective that’s been working towards building self-determination and providing free self-empowerment services. For the last 3 years, we’ve been working towards creating a feasible deal to purchase our building due to gentrification.

This past week we were made aware that there was already a purchase deal in the works for the building.

On Thursday, May4th, at 10am, we confronted that buyer and negotiated a 10-day interruption of a sale. This sale would compromise our occupancy and the wellbeing of our community severely. We have 8 days, Sunday, May 13th, to fundraise $180,000 to get the buyer to back out and began the acquisition process with the donations we’ll be receiving

We the people from Eastside Café, community residents of El Sereno, Artists, Activists, Professors, students, parents, grandparents and so on are here today, to humbly ask you for your financial support to help us purchase the building that sits on the corner of Maycrest and Huntington Dr. in El Sereno, North East Los Angeles. Your contribution will go directly towards the acquisition of the building that will continue to be a thriving space and sanctuary for our rooted communities. The time is now to start buying land for ourselves. Thank you!

Click here to view the Facebook video Here & Now put together to move your heart from moral support to a credit card:


Santa Fe Springs, CA Art Fest This Weekend!

At The Clark Estate.
10211 Pioneer Blvd, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670

Where in the world is Santa Fe Springs? The one in California, that is.

That's where there's a major art festival and sale happening. Featured artist Pola Lopez has been feverishly creating work for this. Here's an opportunity not only to see Pola's masterpieces, but to take one home for that spot on the wall that's screaming for beauty, truth, and Pola Lopez!

1 comment:

Daniel Cano said...

Michael, your photography confirms something I've been thinking about since my jubilacion, the world around me as an art museum.