"Sheltering the Creative Spirit"
Taos, New Mexico USA
Photo by Robert Kostka
click image for enlargement
One of these portraits showed Frank posed against
a fence post, the thin line of smoke was back-lit, and out-of-focus red willows
were behind him to his right. The Taos Indians call themselves
"People of the Red Willows." Shortly afterwards a black and
white version was printed in the Taos paper. About then I met Joan
Hightower, known in Santa Fe as "the poet laureate of Canyon Road."
Now living in Taos, she was anxious to meet me as I had taken "a spirit
photograph" of Frank.
Her mood changed dramatically when she realized I
didn't quite understand what she was talking about. Handing me the
newspaper she snapped, "Don't you see it?" I hesitated, so she
pointed to the space above and to the left of Frank's head. "I guess
you don't have to be very bright to take one . . . see the lion's head?"
There it was . . . a male lion's head among the willows. Once you see it,
you'll always see it. She didn't have to point out that Frank's
astrological sign is Leo, the lion.
This same photo session revealed yet another
hidden aspect of Frank. Several times the camera caught a look in his
eyes, and the eyebrows took on a sharp broken line. It was the louche
look of the coyote . . . the Trickster! Frank's only comment said through
a smile was, "You've learned my secret."
That look of the Trickster surfaced again several years later. John Manchester had a mural painted on his adobe wall by Trinidad Archuleta of Taos Pueblo. It had all the elements and themes of Frank's The Man Who Killed The Deer, showing deer being hunted, their hunters, all under the large image of the Deer Mother. This beautiful mural has since been destroyed. The forms were delicate yet strong, with an ethereal quality that spoke of the Great Mysteries. I posed him against the mural. Only later, after making the first prints from those negatives, was I aware of the return of that coyote Trickster look. Perhaps that was the missing element from the mural itself.
Our shoulders soaked in sunshine,