Taking a break from painting for the next week, so y’all are going to have to hang tuff to see the next step of the big argali painting. Tomorrow I’m off to the opening weekend festivities surrounding “Art and the Animal”, the annual majored juried show held by the Society of Animal Artists, of which I’m proud to have been a member since 2002. As those of you who follow this blog know, earlier in the year I learned that I had finally gotten into the show after coming up short for five or six years. I’ll try to blog a little of it while I’m there.
In other (great) news, along with some more pictures of the felt work:
Yesterday I had an eagerly anticipated phone conversation with Gana Wingard, the Mongolian scientist (she’s married to an American attorney who specializes in natural resource law) who was my translator and liaison for my meetings with the herder women who live in and around the Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve. I came home on the 30th and she stayed to run the Earthwatch team, so I was out of touch for almost a month with anyone who could tell me what happened next.
The women went home the same day we left for Ulaanbaatar, but most of them plus more local men and women, came back on August 5 to clean out the spring that serves both the herders and the research camp. They also created some spots for the argali to drink.
Two physicians came and provided information and advice on infectious diseases like swine flu.
The Bag Governor and his wife (a “bag” is the smallest administrative unit in Mongolia) were there, too. Amgalaanbaatar, or Amgaa, who leads the argali research from the Mongolian side, gave them and the other local people who had not been at original meetings a briefing about the new association “Ikh Nart Is Our Future”. He also brought, by request, 3 meters of good thin felt from Ulaanbaatar that the ladies, according to Gana, very carefully divided up square foot by square foot.
The director of the association, Boloroo, was very happy to receive a laptop computer, which she badly needed for the association’s recordkeeping. The computer was given to her by the research project on the condition that I find a replacement, which is something I’ll be working on. If anyone reading this can donate or knows where I could buy reasonably, a good quality fairly new laptop, please let me know.
There has been no time for Amgaa to research prices for the felt press, so that has had to be put off until October.
Ikh Nart formalized a sister park relationship with Anza-Borrego State Park last fall. I haven’t really met any of the park people yet, but they have donated a fair amount of equipment and help with things like signs. Amgaa visited them in California in January, his first trip to the USA. Six people from the park were at Ikh Nart while Gana was there with the Earthwatch team. Boloroo came to the camp on a motorbike with a selection of craft items. The Anza-Borrego people bought over 100,000 tugrik (about $100) worth for themselves and as gifts. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to hear about this. Two of the American Earthwatch staff members also purchased over $150 of crafts. This means that at least a small income is already flowing to the women who showed up and worked so hard while I was there.
There are two more Earthwatch teams this year and Boloroo plans to visit each one. She has also contacted my guide who was interested in commissioning traditional felt rugs and it looks like something will happen there, too. All in all, a terrific beginning. It was hard not to have been there for what came next, but I’m looking forward to seeing everyone next year!