Seeking Color In The US


New Vrindaban Gopa

Maggie OwensComment

As we explored the grounds of the Hare Krishna golden palace, New Vrindiban, in West Virginia, we met Gopa gardening in the back. Here's what we learned about Gopa, Hare Krishna and New Vrindiban:

Name: Gopa

Favorite Color: “Blue,” Gopa says. “I’ve just always liked it. My eyes are blue. I like to wear blue. When I was a child, I got to choose the color to paint my room and I chose blue."

Originally from: The Detroit area 

How she came to New Vrindaban: “I came here when I was 20 — that was 40 years ago,” she says. “Some friends and I had been a part of the Hare Krishna temple in Ann Arbor but wanted to work on a farm, so we came here. It was a lot different than it is now. One car, one phone. There was none of this ‘palace’ stuff you see now. It was just a philosophy.” 

What she’s working on at New Vrindaban: Converting the whole garden to be completely organic.

Favorite flower at New Vrindaban: It’s a toss-up between the Love and Peace rose and the Europeanas. 

One of Gopa's two favorite flowers, the Europeana 

One of Gopa's two favorite flowers, the Europeana 

Turkish Food Ipek

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Name: Ipek

Hometown: Ashfield, Massachussetts

Originally from: A small town on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. When she was ten she moved to Istanbul. College brought her to Pioneer Valley at age 18 and she's been here, more or less, ever since.

Profession: She worked in corporate business for 20 years but now has a small farm in Ashfield. She raises animals for meat and brings Turkish fare to the people of the Berkshires. 

Favorite color: bright peacock blue.

Why: Because it's a very bright color without being a hot color. It's unexpected that way. 

Colors in New England versus in Turkey: You'll notice that the colors of New England are white (like the houses), but also taupes and creams and a silvery green from the plants. The Mediterranean is much more bright, much more yellow, from the direct sunlight. When I get too much of one, I miss the other. 

Unlazy Savannah

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Name: Savannah

Hometown: Tampa, Florida

Profession: Artist.  Savannah focuses on furry art, and admits that this can be controversial in the world of comics.  "There's a real tribal mentality in comics and anime.  Even within the furry community, there are divisions everywhere.  A big one is between those who do sex drawings and those who don't."  

Savannah says that, because these kinds of divisions and controversies, she kept her drawings a secret for a long time.  She doesn't do sexual drawings, but was worried her friends in the wider anime community would think she did if they knew she was involved in the furry community.

Savannah says that she has just always been interested in drawing animals, and just really connects to the style of art (Disney has been a big influence for her).  

She doesn't let the judgement affect her anymore, and has widely attended both anime and furry conventions to sell her art.  

How did you get interested in drawing?:  "My parents got me into art.  My mom used to draw me paper dolls.  My dad is an engineer and taught me to draw."

What influences your style?:  "I'm bi so I like both male and female forms.  You draw more of what you like, so I guess I like the female form more."

What's your favorite color?:  Yellow.  She likes yellow because of its vibrant, and reminds her of her hometown of Tampa.  Also, her room was painted yellow by her mother.  

On the role color plays in her art:  "I like to express a feeling through colors.  Some colors are cool, some are dreamy, some are warm and vibrant.  I think of colors in tones and feelings."   

On her experience in the anime/furry community:  Savannah has been featured as a panelist in a discussion about Hispanic women in comics.  "It can be kind of a boys club," she says of the comic art community.  "But in furry art it seems like there has always been women.  It's really even, which is cool to see in a typically male dominated art culture."  

On Hispanics in the furry community:  Savannah says she has been excited to see a growing hispanic presence at the many conventions she attends.  She explains that the furry community really supports being proud of who you are and your interests.  "I'm glad there are more hispanics showing up and being proud."  She specifically noted that there is no one hispanic look.  "Hispanics can be anything so theres probably many here you you don't know."  

Check out Savannah's art at 

Panda Fuzz Panda-Chan

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Name: Amanda

Anthrocon Alias: Panda Chon

Hometown: Pittsburgh 

What colors remind you of your hometown: Black and Gold, baby. COME ON STEELERS! Come on Roethlisberger, take it home for us this season!*

*we had to wikipedia every sports reference you seen in this interview

Favorite color: Anything pastel, but mint green is her favorite

Profession: Artist, jewelry and clothing maker.  Her art is an explosion of pastels. 

Panda Chon says that she gets a lot of the inspiration for her art from going to so many conventions.  She is a proud member of the furry community and is excited to have AnthroCon in her hometown. 

She is also inspired by anime and retro gaming (she still plays Ages Genesis).  

(pic of her with dog hand puppet)

Her dog Nico loves conventions too. 

Cousin Kelly

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We parked our car across the street from Cousin Kelly's house in Buffalo, New York.  On the way to lunch, we avoided him at all costs.  Top be completely honest, he was wearing a wife beater and a fedora and that was enough reason at the time.  On the way back to the car we miraculously managed to see through the fedora and saw the 20 foot totem pole he was creating in his front yard.  

Just look at this Daddy-O.  He's as cool as saying "Daddy-O". 

Just look at this Daddy-O.  He's as cool as saying "Daddy-O". 

Profession: Artist/Totem Pole Carver

Race: Algonquin with "white man blood" (Just an FYI for our readers — we seriously, seriously didn't ask him about this).  

Favorite Color: Rainbow.  He rediscovered his love of the spectrum when he started working on his totems.  

Work With Totem Poles: He's been carving them for years.  In fact, he even wrote his Graduate thesis on proving that totems are memorials to Lemurian ancestors from the lost continent of Lemuria.  

For those who don't know, Lemuria is a fabled lost continent that disappeared from the Pacific Ocean, and is rumored to be the origin of all mankind.  Lemuria thrived about 14,000 years ago.  This was about the time that Atlantis thrived as well.  It is rumored that some Lemurians survived The Great Flood by moving underground.   They now take residence on Mount Shasta in California.  


According to Cousin Kelly, Lemurians were ancestors to Native American people and they were saved after The Great Flood by "Sasquatch".  Wanna know how he proved all of this?  Read his goddamn dissertation.  This is our blog, not his.  

This is Cousin Kelly describing to us the migration patterns of the survivors of Lemuria.  

This is Cousin Kelly describing to us the migration patterns of the survivors of Lemuria.  

More about Sasquatch: One time, Cousin Kelly set eyes on Big Foot/Sasquatch when he was camping with his Irish Setter in Canada on a trip hunting Lemurians.  Big Foot didn't harm his dog, or Cousin Kelly for that matter, because the Sasquatch and the Irish Setter were kindred spirits.  Cousin Kelly also couldn't tell whose eyes were whose in the darkness of the night.  

From where we're standing, wild things go to Buffalo to carve totem pole.  

From where we're standing, wild things go to Buffalo to carve totem pole.  

More about dogs:  One time, Hugh Laurie of "House, M.D." fame, tried to see Cousin Kelly's trick dog to Jodie Foster.  If you're confused by this story, sorry to say that we have no additional information to offer you because Cousin Kelly swiftly moved on to the next topic.  The next topic was Jodie Foster.  

More about Jodie Foster:  Jodie Foster and Cousin Kelly are best friends.  Jodie always says that he reminds her of Robert "Bobby" De Niro from her first movie, Taxi Driver.  If you don't know who Robert De Niro is, he was the guy driving the taxi in that Jodie Foster movie.  Cousin Kelly and Jodie Foster love to "roll doobies"  at Grace Slick's house on Fulton street in San Francisco.  They really are the best of friends.  

Cousin Kelly's current dog and second best friend after Jodie Foster.  Stay the fuck away from him High Laurie.  

Cousin Kelly's current dog and second best friend after Jodie Foster.  Stay the fuck away from him High Laurie.  

Cores Brilhantes Tiffany

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Chicago was a special stopping point for us because we got to meet up with the third member of our best friend trio (first and last time we're ever calling it that), the infamous Tiffany Ward. Seeing her was particularly special because in a few months time, Tiffany will be moving to Brazil to pursue her dream to curate Afro-Brazilian art.

She's just now launching her blog Cores Brilhantes ( which spotlights Afro-Brazilian artists and themes. We got to talk to her about her blog and future big move. 

You’re originally from San Francisco but haven’t lived there in almost ten years. What colors make you think of that city and why?

Blues and greens and oranges, when I think of the natural colors of the city (the pacific ocean, the greenery, and the orange accents). Black when I think of growing up in SF and the pro-black education I received through my first years of schooling.

What do you think about the city now that you haven’t lived there in such a long time? 

Now I feel like I’m half-Californian, half-New Yorker. Having lived in both places, I’ve seen a lot of how gentrification tears places apart — the damage it does to the culture. People escaped the south by going to places like SF and New York and DC and Philly and, with them, they built beautiful, colorful cultures. Now our spaces are being taken away so I do kind of feel like I’m in a no-man’s land.  The neighborhood (Bayview/Hunter’s Point) I’m from isn’t even gonna be there any more.  

In New York, just being there 7 years, I saw so much change. I lived in Harlem and you’d see this brown place — a brown place where people were forced to live because they weren’t allowed to live in other places. And now they’re being forced out? Oakland, New Orleans — these were brown cities. Now we have nowhere to live. So, yah, when I think of San Francisco, I am heartbroken. 

You’re in Chicago now. What colors do you think of when you think of Chicago? 

Gray, misty gray. I tend to think of more somber colors here in Chicago. Chicago is a very loaded city for me. I came here to recover, to learn compassion for myself. I came here to get peace of mind. its really easy to get distracted, to get swallowed whole in cities like NY.  Because I’m not attached to Chicago, I have more time to be at peace with myself — to see my own color. 

But the somber gray comes from the income inequality, the history of housing discrimination here in this city and the poverty that ensued as a result of these policies.

And America as a whole?

The misty gray also represents to me the way in which America will ignore the gray in race relations. Everything is black and white. We’re always told and shown the end of the story, never the beginning (or even the middle). When a young, white kid makes a mistake, you "need to hear the whole story." We talk about shades of gray for some people but not for others. 

When you give people the human experience in all its different shades of gray, you’re learning compassion and that’s really important in race relations.  That’s important in a racially charged city, in a racially charged country, in a racially charged universe. 

There’s a serious lack of compassion here in this country and in this gray windy city.

So why is your focus on Afro-Brazilian art? 

As a kid, I didn’t think I was into art at all.  Everything I learned was eurocentric so I didn’t see myself in any of it.  Later, when I was studying abroad in Brazil, I realized I was into art when I saw a painting of an Afro-indigenous Brazilian man in the field working.  It was such a beautiful portrait of African and indigenous history. I wanted to see more.  

Renata Felinto  Renata Bardot

Renata Felinto Renata Bardot

So you’re moving to Brazil —

I’m moving next year. The move was all about putting myself into an artistic space and I realized, through social media, that there wasn’t really a space for Afro-Brazilian artists specifically. There are things dedicated to the African Diaspora or to Brazil in general but not just Afro-Brazilians.

There’s such a vibrant community of blacks in Brazil that I want to celebrate it and be part of it. It’s important that people have spaces to express creativity and to escape a solely eurocentric lens of art. 

Photograph by Guilherme Malaquias, an artist soon to be featured on Cores Brilhantes. More of his work can be found  here.

Photograph by Guilherme Malaquias, an artist soon to be featured on Cores Brilhantes. More of his work can be found here.

And that’s where your blog, Cores Brilhantes, comes in. 

It translates to “brilliant colors.” It highlights Afro-Brazilian artists and Afro-Brazilian themes as told through art. 

Can you give us an example of one of the artists you feature and how they use color? 

Renata Felinto! The magentas she uses! She uses patterns and mixed materials and even glitter (though you can’t even tell it’s glitter). It’s just all so vibrant. When I think about what I want to present to the world, it’s work like Renata’s that inspires me. She IS Cores Brilhantes. She IS brilliant colors. It’s so awesome to see Afro-Brazilian women represented.

Renata Felinto

Renata Felinto

Renata Felinto

Renata Felinto

What colors make you think of Brazil?

Blues and the greens because of the water.  When I think Brazil and the African diaspora, it’s impossible to not think about water. It's how we came to exist in this part of the world. 

But also, I think of Pelourinho. It’s the center of the city in Salvador — it’s a historic UNESCO site. It’s emblematic of how I feel about Brazil in general. It’s beautiful and people know it for its beauty but the history is much darker. It was a whipping post. It was the square where slaves were brought to be beaten. And now it’s a tourist site but no one talks about the slaves. It’s beautiful but there’s no question as to how or why. 

People also talk about “tan” when they talk about Brazil. But I think black and brown are cool and should be celebrated as well. 

Do you think color plays in to the exoticism of black women around the world? Maybe people assume that black women should only be portrayed in bright, vibrant colors?

Yeah! Because there’s this general idea of “wild women.” With the history of the slave trade, people came from colder, grayer areas and went to these warmer places where everything is so green and lush and the color of people’s skin is literally different. 

But there's a lot of contemporary art thats on my blog that not just bright paintings.  Like the art of Sonia Gomes.  Her style is completely different than what people might expect. She uses different materials and a lot more gray or white. 

Sonia Gomes

Sonia Gomes

With the diversity of techniques and styles, Cores Brilhantes isn’t the name just for the art itself. It's the name for the history and stories that people tell. There is no one right way to be represented. That’s the whole point. 

So what’s your favorite color? 

Deep Magenta. I’ve always been fascinated by ruby colors, both in my clothing as well as in home décor. Ruby tones look really great on my skin. 

As we already said, we are so, so proud of Tiffany. Normally, the three of us will take any chance to poke fun at each other but, today, Tiffany gets a free pass because she's doing something so beautiful and exciting. This blog post is a landmark moment in our friendship because we're all working together and no one said anything remotely snarky. 

lol jk. We're totally gonna make fun of Tiffany. Look at these pictures where she's treating us like we're her personal assistant and back-up dancer:

All the world is Tiffany's stage and we are merely players. Congrats, Tiff. 

Maggie OwensComment

"My favorite color is orange. I grew up in the 70's and everything was orange then. I dunno — it was a happy time. I took an online personality test once and I got orange then, too. So I guess I'm just orange."

-Cristi. She and her husband, James, live in Tulsa and have been together for 37 years. His favorite colors are green and blue. 

"He's the cool colors, I'm the warm colors. We're polar opposites and that's what makes it work. Plus, we're old hippies." 

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"I like blue but I hate the blue house that's just down the street from here."

-Jane, who gives tours and works at the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa. This "blue house down the street" disgusted Jane so much that she readily gave us directions to go and see it ourselves. She thought it was that much of an eyesore and insult to her favorite color.  Judge for yourselves:

Sculpture Artist Wayne Porter

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Name: Wayne Porter

Profession: Artist.  Wayne is a self-taught sculpture artist who works with mostly recycled materials.  He makes both small-scale and large-scale sculptures, some getting up to 60 feet tall.  

Hometown: Montrose, South Dakota

About His Studio: Wayne’s property in rural South Dakota is now a much visited sculpture park featuring all of his work. Pieces of his that range from a giant, red dragon to a demonic Jack-In-The-Box clown tower over highway 14.

It’s clear Wayne loves living in South Dakota. He was as enthusiastic and excited to show off some of the flora that grew on his property (like bluegrass and sage) as he was showing us a, say, 8 foot statue of a frog dissection. In fact, he gets some complaints from his neighbors about how he doesn’t cut the grass. “Really weird,” he explained. “I love the grass.”

Wayne also lives with his albino dog, Bambino.  

How did you get started with sculpture?:  “I grew up in a blacksmith shop,” he explains.  Wayne’s dad was a blacksmith in St. Lawrence, South Dakota.  His first experiment with sculpture design was a small bull, which he still has on the desk in his shop. It’s funny to think years later, he’d own his own studio / property with a 60 foot bull’s head he crafted himself. 


What is your process?:  Despite the fact that Wayne’s sculptures are often life size or larger, he works with no preconceived plans.  He says that he pretty much just flies by the seat of his pants.  “I can’t draw them first ‘cause I can’t draw.  Can’t even write the idea down ‘cause I can’t read my own handwriting. I just have to go for it.”  

On the topic of inspiration, Wayne added “It comes to me at two in the morning and I just let it talk.” This wouldn’t be the last time Wayne anthropomorphized his art by a long shot. Frankly, if you were creating gargantuan figures of flies and goldfish toting umbrellas, you probably would too. 

Porter says cartoons are a big inspiration for his art. 

Porter says cartoons are a big inspiration for his art. 

What kind of materials do you use?: Wayne uses everything he can find, including but not limited to old refrigerator parts, cement mixers, soft water tanks, diesel tanks, car rims, and old station wagon parts.  

Porter says he doesn't understand why people constantly compare his work to that of Tim Burton's or say it is macabre. He just doesn't find what he does all that creepy. 

Porter says he doesn't understand why people constantly compare his work to that of Tim Burton's or say it is macabre. He just doesn't find what he does all that creepy. 

“When I was younger I used a lot more recycled materials ‘cause I was working faster.  I would take anything I could find and just start making something with it.”  In recent years, Wayne has has taken a slower approach.  He spent three years working on the bull's head alone. 

Favorite Color:  Red.  “i don’t know anything about color or art,” he insists.  “But like anyone, if I like it I like it.  I’ll completely change the colors on a sculpture if I decide I don’t like it.”  Red shows up a lot in Wayne’s process. “Rust is the disease of iron,” he says. And if he likes it, he likes it. 

What colors remind you of Montrose?:  He says that the spectrum of natural colors in the area has changed a lot since he settled on his property 15 years ago.  “It’’s hard to find colors here now.  The county is disappearing.  It used to be 1000 people, now theres 3,900.” 

"Steinbeck said 'you'd be proud of anything if it's all you have," Wayne told us. 

"Steinbeck said 'you'd be proud of anything if it's all you have," Wayne told us. 

Hobo Nickel Archie

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Name: Archie 

Profession: President of the Official Hobo Nickel Society

Hometown: Somewhere in Florida though he travels around in his van, teaching the country about hobo nickels. 

Example Of A Modern Twist: Archie knew one young woman who carved the buffalo on the coin into a buffalo stripper, including its very own stripper pole and heels.

How Did You Get Involved With Hobo Nickels: "My dad started me in Hobos back in 1994 and it was a great 20 years and still will be a great future.

Your Greatest Moment With Hobo Nickels: He sold one hobo nickel for 24,000. 

What Is Your Favorite Color: We’re gonna have to do a direct quote on this one because otherwise you won’t believe us. "My favorite color is whatever croc i have on my right foot and whatever different  color i have on left. It makes people smile and talk.” We can’t make this shit up.

Bonus Fact: We won’t mention the specific carrier but Archie’s online handle is HoboChief69. Again, can’t make this shit up. 

Animal Stuffin', Good Lovin' Joe

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We were leaving Yellowstone when we drove through the town of Dubois, Wyoming.  We saw a roadside sign for a taxidermy shop.

What we thought would be a gruesome adventure into Wyoming mountain life turned out to be quite the opposite.  Instead of finding gross shit we found Joe.  Joe is hot.  And actually there was a lot of gross shit but joe was really hot so we kind of didn’t notice.  Maybe he was skinning a mountain goat before our eyes.  We didn’t really know what was going on.

Tessa was so smitten by him that she forgot that she hates guns.  In fact, she thinks their perfect for each other and they’d be able to, in her words, “work it out as opposites.”

While he rifled through the pages of his taxidermy catalog, showing us false deer and moose eyes he would order and later shove into the skull of so    me dead animal, our eyes were fixed on his. In fact, our eyes probably looked as googly as the fakes ones in the catalog did. 

Each of us stood in his sexy little murder den fantasizing about him being her boyfriend. Like, maybe he’d send me flowers or win me a big stuffed bear at a carnival. Except, I guess, in his fantasy, it would be a bear that he shot, dragged back to his workshop, skinned and stuffed himself. Swoon!

Long story short, our pictures of him are blurry. A girl can’t be expected to focus her lens or her mind with such a foxy fox-murderer around? Did we just take women back 50 years? Somebody shoot me. Joe? 

Name: Joe

Hometown: Dubois, Wy

Profession: Taxidermist.  Being an avid hunter, Joe originally got into taxidermy because he couldn’t afford a taxidermist.  He started as an amateur and then began going to taxidermy shows around the area.  After a series of white ribbon awards he decided he needed to improve.  Joe is now the owner of Windy Mountain Taxidermy in Dubois, and his shop is filled with expertly stuffed animals.  

What’s the craziest thing you’ve stuffed?: “I’ve done a monkey for a zoo.”  Joe has also stuffed pythons for zoos.  

Craziest thing in the shop:  Buffalo penis that he turned into a walking cane.  Probably not the biggest in the room, am I right, Joe?

Fave Color: Green, like a plant green.  The kind of green you hide in when you see a bear.  (Joe has, in fact, faced a bear.  Joe is incredibly nonchalant about this fact).  

Name of your hunting dog: La Dee Da(😍😍🔫🐕🔫😍😍). Must Love Dogs? Check! Must Kill Elk? Check! 

Bison Ranch Dan

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Name: Dan Thiel

Hometown: Cheyenne, Wyoming

Profession: Owner and Operator of Terry Bison Ranch

Mission: “We try to give people a little flavor of the whole west.”   Dan stresses wholesome family fun and entertainment.  He and his family, who all work together at the ranch, have set up a train tour, horseback riding excursions, and ATV’s all as different ways to get people excited about exploring what the West has to offer.  

About the Bison: There are 2500 bison at the ranch, roaming across 27.500 acres.  Dan loves getting to take people out to get up close and personal with the animal that played such an important role in the history of the region.  

What colors remind you of Wyoming: “Really you have your two colors.  Summer green and winter dormant brown.”  Dan is originally from North Dakota, and says that when he same out to Wyoming at 15, he noticed how green everything was.  “Every state has its magical parts,” he says.  “We like to think we’re a part of the magic here in Wyoming.”  

Favorite color: Red, particularly the color of his red pickup truck.  Dan’s father was in construction.  He built big steel electric lines that were used for the Hoover Dam.  The company color was red.  “All the trucks were red.  Uniformity was important for the corporate theme.”  Today at Terry Bison Ranch all the machinery is painted Red, White, and Blue. 

Snow Drawings Sonja

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Name: Sonja Hinrichson

Hometown: Oakland, CA (by way of Germany).

Profession: Artist.  Currently in her third residency at Anderson Art Center in Snowmass, Co.  Sonja creates large-scale, completely impermanent and completely beautiful design patterns over huge tracts of untouched snow all over the world, including Colorado, New York and France.  She invites volunteers to help her creates the stunning designs, captures them with aerial photographs, then allows them to be completely overturned by nature. 

Briancon, France

Briancon, France

How She Got Started With Her Snow Drawings: During her first residency at Anderson Art Center in the appropriately named Snowmass, she borrowed a pair of snow shoes and went walking around.  She started noticing patterns she created against the snow like on a blank canvas so she started goofing around making patterns with the shoe prints.  

Soon she began taking photographs of the patterns, and began noticing different light patterns such as shadows within the imprints, or the sun beaming straight in.  She then began playing with angles, light, and shadow through photography.  

Her inspiration came from the huge, untouched, pristine snow spaces found in Colorado.

Eychauda, France

Eychauda, France

How did you start taking photographs of these large-scale works in the snow? 

During a residency in Steamboat Springs, Co, a local pilot offered to fly her up to photograph her snow patterns.  So began the aerial photography and the help of volunteers. 

What unforeseen problems did you come across as you began to create more of these snow prints? The first few times were definitely a learning process.  “Sometimes I would do a whole piece and then realize that there was no place to photograph it,”  joked Sonja. Issues like this are the nature of her work. For example, there is always a chance that a project won’t work out because of weather, which happened in Finland.

Ooms Pond, New York

Ooms Pond, New York

On The Help From Community Members, Volunteers and Strangers: Being as large scale as they are, her works began to take on the nature of a community project.  She began having volunteers help her create the large scale patterns.  She started by having about 8 or 9 volunteers, but now has up to 70 people helping over the span of a project, often 30 to 50 people a day for a 2 or 3 day weekend.  

“Starting from the weather to the people, I don’t know who my participants are, so its truly a community project.”

Snowmass, Colorado

Snowmass, Colorado

She has works that allow her volunteers to roam through the snow freely, but she also organizes volunteers to work in patterns.  “It’s almost like a performance- knowing what steps to take, never crossing each other.  If you sped it up it would look like an organized performance.”  

She says that it’s about an environmental experience for the participants.  “It’s a long process, and you really tune into that one space.”

She says emphatically that her works is “really about the participants, in the moment.”

Snowmass, Colorado

Snowmass, Colorado

How do you feel about the inherent nature of impermanence in your work?

“I am immaterial in my life too, not a big collector of stuff.  I don’t think we need to add more stuff to the earth.”  

She says that European magazines that have done write ups on her always nearing up Land Art.  “They do not understand Land Art.  This is not Land Art.  I do not want to add any material.  In my work nature takes it back completely.  The only documentation is photos and the peoples’ experience.”   

She says the her snow designs are a “combination of appreciating art work and the nature that it is in.”

Hayden, Colorado

Hayden, Colorado

The Role Color Plays In Her Work:

She says that the pure whiteness of the landscapes she works in is an important element in her projects.  The white makes it possible to play with shadows and light.  Imprints either reflect the sunlight or cast a shadow.  She reiterates that she didn’t really think about it at first, and that it all sort of just started out of play.  With the scale and organization that she now works in, “it’s like painting with natural light.”  

She also mentions that much like so many other uncontrollable factors, colors often come into the pictures by accident.  It could be a lone standing tress, a person still walking their way through the pattern, a ski lift, or a park sign.    

While working on a commission in France, they took a shot of the snow pattern that had a bright orange restriction sign in it.  The arts commissioner hated it, and wanted the sign to be edited out. 

“For me, those little splotches of color are interesting.”  She explains that these “mistakes” can help express relation to scale.  She enjoys photos that are completely abstract without those kinds of modifiers, but those little spots of color have the ability to show human smallness.  “That’s where real color comes in- it’s fragile and small but important.”  

Catamount Lake, Colorado. The appearance of color is totally dependent on the time of day. This is when the sun beams directly into the grooves, creating a "white ink" effect.

Catamount Lake, Colorado. The appearance of color is totally dependent on the time of day. This is when the sun beams directly into the grooves, creating a "white ink" effect.

Catamount Lake, Colorado. This is when the sun hits the drawings at an angle and casts a shadow into the grooves, creating a black mark effect. Playing with light, time of day and angles of the sun is how Sonja interacts with color in these works.

Catamount Lake, Colorado. This is when the sun hits the drawings at an angle and casts a shadow into the grooves, creating a black mark effect. Playing with light, time of day and angles of the sun is how Sonja interacts with color in these works.

What is your favorite color?  Green.  She is a nature fan, and an environmentalist.  “I barely have any green clothes,” she laughs.  “This is my first time here in summer and my green receptors are over stimulated.”

What color reminds you of Oakland?:  Blue, because of the blue sky there. 

All pictures of Sonja's snow drawings were collected from her website. Do yourself a favor and check it out at 

Garden of the Gods Cy

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Name: Cy

Also present: Harley, his Shih-Tzu

Not Present: His Harley. Baby's in the shop. 

Hometown: Colorado Springs

Favorite Color: Blue. However, he says he feels obligated to say that he likes black.  When we asked him the reason for his allegiance to the color black he said, “have you ever seen a biker wear anything but black?”  

What colors remind you of Colorado?:  Green. Colorado is full of vegetation and nature. Cy says he can see Garden of the Gods from his window so it’s kind of always his backdrop anyway. 

Uncle Carl

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Name: Carl (or Uncle Carl, if you’re a Coyne girl)

Hometown: San Juan Pueblo.  Carl is actually Danish, but moved to New Mexico to buy land a raise a family.  His land is a small, community oriented Native American Pueblo in between Santa Fe and Taos, right along the Rio Grand.  Carl is friendly with all of his neighbors, and unfriendly with all two billion mosquitos that live along the river.  

About His Home: He Built it himself. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to stay in the home that he built himself. It's  been featured in several architectural and interior design magazines because it's nothing short of perfect.  It also uses adobe, natural lighting, and solar panels to create an energy efficient dream home.  In recent years he’s added the plumbing, though the outhouse in back is still functional for the adventurous. 

His place is exactly what you would expect from a Nordic hippie.  It’s colorful and beautiful, made with many natural and recycled elements, yet structurally impeccable and precise down to every detail.  If your’e going to build a hippie dream home in rural New Mexico, you have to build it right.  

Most important feature of his home: The enormous dragon spine that provides the structural backbone for the entire house.  Yep, duh, there is literally a giant wooden dragon sculpture running across the ceiling with the majestic head jutting out the door outside.  Before even exchanging hello's and how-are-you's, Carl will make sure you've seen the dragon. He even calls his home "the Dragon House." 

The second most important feature of the house:  Carl’s “Everybody Loves A Dane” coffee mug.  

And he's a snappy dresser, too? Sorry, ladies, Carl is not single. Back the fuck off. 

And he's a snappy dresser, too? Sorry, ladies, Carl is not single. Back the fuck off. 

Favorite color: Burnt orange.  He pointed to several of his Pendleton blankets as an example (omg we get it, Carl, you’re chic and you live in the Southwest). He also pointed to the mountain range out his window (oh yah, Carl is also slumming it with a super-gorgeous view of the Sangre de Cristo mountains).

He said in the autumn, the sun sets behind the mountains and turns them to a fiery red-orange. That’s even how they got their name (Spanish for Blood of Christ). In fact, the way the sun illuminates mountains leads to a lot of mountain range’s names in this region, including Albuquerque’s Sandias, which means watermelon. 

Probably thinking about dragons. 

Probably thinking about dragons. 

Weasel & Fitz Crico

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Name: Christopher.  He had trouble pronouncing his name as a young child so he’s been going by Crico (pronounced Kreeko) his whole life.  

Hometown: Madrid, NM

Profession: Works at Weasel & Fitz art gallery in Madrid, which features work from local artists and specializes in recycled, found object, and Folk Art. 

Favorite Color:  It’s between lime green and orange.  Crico says he just likes the way these bright colors make him feel, and that he's always been drawn to them.  He especially likes the way they work together and bounce off of each other.  (The front of Weasel & Fitz is a very bright shade of lime green). 

What colors remind you of New Mexico?:  “Adobe colors,”  he says emphatically.  It’s everywhere.  “I also think of a specific shade of blue that people here call ‘door blue’.  It’’s called door blue because a lot of people paint their doors with it’”.  Go figure.  We had never heard of “door blue”, so he pointed just across the street to a classic New Mexico adobe home painted with blue accents around the door and windows. 

Like many other New Mexico residents, he also says that when he thinks of New Mexico he thinks of the color of the sky.  “It’s different here.  It’s so blue, almost like looking at the ocean when you see the horizon”. 

How do you use color?:  Crico says that he loves to use lots of bright colors, like his favorites, orange and lime green.  His house is so bright that other people wonder how he can stand it, which has made him wonder if he is not a little bit color blind.  Crico himself is a painter, and tends to use his love for bright colors in his work.  “I have toned down my painting style since my youth,” he says.  “I used to paint in only really crazy colors.” 

Tinkertown Lynn

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Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

Profession: Lynn operates the gift shop and ticket booth at the Tiinkertown Museum at the base of Sandia Mountain in Albuquerque.  She has been working with the museum for many years, though she spends half the year in Mexico.  Let me repeat — this woman spends six months of every year operating a museum dedicated to eccentric americana and the other six months of her year exploring what reviewed as “Central America’s Indiest Country” (2013).  Is Lynn the ultimate hipster?

Favorite Color: “Yellow.  I love all bright colors.  I love all the primary colors.”

What role does color play in Tinkertown?:  Lynn says that color plays a huge role in the attraction of the museum.  Though Tinkertown features all things american kitsch, it can sometimes feel likea tribute to the classic American circus and all of its puppets, props, and wacky details. “The circus has the best colors,” she says, and Tinkertown features the whole spectrum of the circus aesthetic.  

The museum also gives off its own color, mostly because of the salvaged glass bottles that line the walls.  Lynn personally loves the way the light catches all the greens of the bottle walls.  

What colors remind you of New Mexico?:  Brown.  “Comedians came and did shows in New Mexico and made fun of how Santa Fe is nothing but different shades of brown.  But I think our brown is a real asset.  Its a cultural aspect to make us different from people in the East”.  

She says that despite the overwhelming amount of brown shades spread throughout the state, “color is actually a huge thing here.  You won’t find many people who don’t have an opinion on color.”  She pointed out that the state gem of New Mexico is turquoise.  Lynn knows a lot about gems.  Gems are hip. Lynn is hip. Get with it. 

Color in Mexico:  “Color is a major part of my life,” she says, and explains that it’s a huge reason why she spends half her time in Mexico.  She loves the color splashed all over the country.   Especially the reds, blues, and turquoises.

Native Plants Juan Carlos

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Hometown: Lives in Albuquerque, NM.  Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico 

Profession: Works at Helen’s Native Plants on 4th St. in Albuquerque, a nursery specializing in desert plants native to the area.  Also, they have chickens and roosters.  There may be a duck (stay tuned). 

Favorite color: Blue.  

Why is blue Juan Carlos’ favorite color?  “I’m a guy,” he says (this is an answer we get a lot). He thinks it’s proof that God is a guy too.  “If God was a woman, the sky would be pink.”

Favorite Shade of Blue: Blue Jeans Blue.  Classic.  

Rooster Situation: Juan Carlos has a rooster that is so brawny and bad (I’m sure his favorite color is blue too) that it killed another one of the roosters that roam around Helen’s Native plants.  However, Juan Carlos’ prize winning rooster one met a duck, and having no idea how to fight a duck was forced to forfeit.  The duck’s favorite color is pink.  

Ornithologist Dr. Richard Prum

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If you've been following our trip, you'll know that a while back we visited an ostrich farm in Solvang, California. Because we're a blog focusing on color, we wondered what colors an ostrich could see and what an ostrich's favorite color could be. 

Well, when we reached out to a couple of bird experts, let's just say we were really cock-blocked by the ornithology community. (A cock is a bird). (I wasn't swearing). (Fine, fuck, I meant it in the penis way, whatever). No one responded. Damn you, bird scientists! Just because you study animals that can fly doesn't mean you get to look down on the rest of us! 

Well, our luck has finally changed. Yale's own Dr. Richard Prum graciously (and quite punctually, I must say) responded to our questions. Lesson learned: next time you have a question, ask the guy from Yale. His responses are below. 

Can ostriches see color: 

"Yes, ostrich and all other birds see in color, and they see much BETTER than we do. Birds see in the UV, which is not just beyond blue. This means they see a whole new dimension of colors we cannot imagine like UV-yellow and UV-green. And they have these in their plumages too."

Why do birds see so much better than us?

"Mammals spent >100 million years crawling around in the dark trying to keep from being eaten by dinosaurs. During that time, our ancestors lost the great, complex color visual system that had evolved in fishes. Then Old World monkeys reevolved a sort of retrofit version of color vision, which we have. So, our color vision is basically a secondary hardware patch instead of a well designed system.

Tough for us, but great for birds!"

What is your favorite color:

Oh easy! Blue! Blue in bird feathers and skin is a structural color. That is, it is not made by pigments (basically dyes) like most other colors. It is made by optical scattering of light from nanostructures in the feathers. The size of the structure determines the wavelength. We have spent a lot of work studying the physics, the development, and the evolution of blue colors in birds.”

So we'd like to extend a major thank you to Dr. Richard O. Prum for answering our questions so thoughtfully and proving that people who study birds are people too. And colorful people at that!