Organized by the Palace of the Governors and the New Mexico History Museum, John Brandi: From a Distant Road features the work of noted northern New Mexico poet and painter John Brandi. This exhibition contains Brandi’s Haiga, or “Haiku Painting,” a spare, ink-brushed image combined with a calligraphic haiku, the world’s shortest poem of seventeen syllables or less. Brandi’s haiga are inspired by Japan’s 17th century wandering poetpainters, popularized by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), japan’s great haiku master. Like their haiga, Brandi’s are also influenced by journeys along distant roads.
Brandi’s haiga are mounted to specially marbled papers created by curator tom leech of the press of the palace of the governors. Leech used an 11th century Japanese technique called suminagashi, or “black ink floating.” Inherent in the art form, which is comprised of delicate, swirling patterns, is the implication of meandering water or wind-blown clouds. Coupled with the haiga and suminagashi are photographs from the palace of the governors photo archives that detail the much unchanged Japanese countryside and people two centuries after Matsuo Basho made his journeys.
John Brandi is no stranger to Roswell. He has been a resident poet with Sidney Gutierrez Middle School, New Mexico Military Institute, and the Roswell Museum and Art Center. With regard to the RMAC, he and museum staff developed a poetry anthology, Poems inside out, with students from Mesa Middle School, New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell High School, and University High School in 1999.
Brandi was introduced to Japanese poet-wanderer Nanao Sakaki by beat poet Gary Snyder. Since then, he has served as editor for the Unswept Path: Contemporary American haiku (with Dennis Maloney, 2005) and has published Seeding the Cosmos: new and selected haiku (2010) and Empty Moon: Belly Full, haiku from India and Nepal (2000), among numerous other publications. Novelist John Nichols, in his introduction to Brandi’s Book of Essays, Reflections in the Lizard’s Eye, wrote: “the way Brandi interprets the world is rich with the guts and gusto of oldfashioned magicians. His is a bittersweet, loving vision . . ..”
This program is sponsored by the RMAC Foundation.