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Tuesday, July 2, 2019


                                                              Old Cow Town 1920

It's been a very long time since I've checked in here. I've been involved in many exciting projects, which I will share in a later post. For now, let me tell you that the Maynard Dixon documentary continues to sell well on Amazon. I could use some current reviews, so if you are reading this and haven't left a comment, I would be very grateful to hear what you have to say!

I've also had several recent invitations to screen the film and speak about the years that I spent researching and meeting so many incredible people who respect, collect and are passionate about the life and work of Maynard Dixon. I am particularly pleased when I hear from people who have recently discovered Dixon's art. Yesterday, I met a young art student who had just seen her first Dixon paintings and was inspired to head to the desert and find those clouds. She said she would wait until the cooler months and I had to tell her that Maynard painted those clouds in the heat of Summer. He knew when the monsoon clouds rose high in the skies in the West, and on horseback or by train, he ventured out to desert and slept under the stars to find his inspiration.

Maynard Dixon didn't drive, you might remember. He tried it once, crashed and never drove again. He was happy taking the train and would often venture on foot into the canyons. Sometimes he visited friends, other times he accepted the hospitality offered by his Native American subjects. Dixon was a personable man with a talent that opened doors for him. He often relied on bartering, trading his sketches for a meal, some dentistry or to borrow a horse.

I'm working on improving my film website this week. Hopefully, I'll find the time to add more content here from time to time. Please keep checking in and do leave a review on Amazon or IMDB if you are so inspired.

Happy trails!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Maynard Dixon and the Golden Gate Bridge

I was looking through some notes today, wonderful stories that weren't included in the documentary that I produced about Maynard Dixon. I came across this image from 1930, it's a design study of the Golden Gate Bridge with a walled tollbooth. The design of the bridge needed an architect, and the chief engineer, Joseph Strauss, asked his public relations counsel Charles Duncan for some suggestions. Duncan was the brother-in-law of Maynard Dixon and remembered the wonderful aerial view canvas that Dixon created for promotion of the bridge bond issue. Maynard recommended Irving Foster Morrow, who began the job despite endless controversy about the design.

Maynard Dixon held a meeting at his studio at 728 Montgomery Street to discuss the design elements with his artist friends, Strauss and Morrow. A design was agreed upon and they proceeded. Daniel Dixon told me that the color of the bridge was also decided in that meeting. Maynard painted a wide, rust-orange colored circle around the light bulb on the ceiling of his studio. He believed that it brought warmth to the cold room, with San Francisco's gray days outside the windows.

All agreed that it worked. The bridge became that rust-orange.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hello? Hello? We are making progress!

  Jayne McKay, Jonathan Spaulding, Neal Brown, filming a Tramp re-enactment- Mojave Desert, 2014
 I'm so grateful for the support and encouragement I get from the film making community. Especially the documentary club, we wacky ones who passionately pursue our topics, knowing that we have months, maybe years of research and fundraising and clearances ahead of us. But we persevere, because we get crazy. We get devoted. It's like a calling, and it's really, really hard to walk away from a calling. Especially, I find, when that calling is coming from Charles Lummis.

If you know anything about Lummis, you know that he was a zealot. He worked round the clock, slept little, wrote copious letters, manuscripts and editorials. He hosted exciting parties and made countless introductions, mentoring talented friends and building their confidence and their fame. He had a tenacity that I envy. I wish I had his stamina most days!

I've had plenty of distractions, including the need for actual income over the past year. But ole Charlie Lummis just won't go away! My co-conspirators, Jonathan Spaulding and Kim Walters, are patiently at the ready for the green light that's entirely up to me at this point. I'm the Director, and all of the planning and writing and gathering of information and images has been progressing well. The hold up is the fund-raising. It turns out that launching an Indiegogo campaign isn't as simple as it sounds. At least, not if you want a very good chance of reaching your goal.

We have a wonderful fiscal sponsor, From The Heart Productions. Founder, Carole Dean, is the most knowledgeable person I've ever met when it comes to creating a campaign that can exceed it's goal. She gave me many assignments, which I am developing carefully. I've learned my lesson about posting target dates none today.

Just rest assured that we haven't abandoned the project, we are quietly completing the behind the scenes work and will let you know when we launch the campaign.

I hope that some of you will be attending the 10th Annual Lummis Day Celebrations. It's great fun, an opportunity to tour El Alisal and see all of the treasures within- and so much more. There's incredible poetry, local musicians take to the stages over at Heritage Square. It's a fun family day, and a chance to catch up with me if you'd like. Please come say hello!

Jayne McKay
A Tramp Across The Continent:
Charles Lummis Discovers America

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Announcing a new documentary in production!

It seems a good time to reveal more about what I've been working on, it's a feature-length documentary currently entitled, A Tramp Across the Continent- Charles Lummis Discovers America. This story is rich with adventure and the history of the developing American Southwest, and we're excited to bring it to life in our documentary!

In 1884, Charles Fletcher Lummis left his home in Ohio and walked to Los Angeles. His observations and  discoveries were published daily in the Los Angeles Times, which created great interest! Upon his arrival, Lummis was offered the job of the first City Editor.

Lummis was eccentric, opinionated and outspoken, but also he was benevolent and sensitive. Such a complex character is fascinating to me as a documentary filmmaker, and I look forward to sharing his story with you. Lummis is best known as a prolific author, editor, and activist on behalf of historic preservation. His photographs and collection of Southwestern art became the foundation for the Southwest Museum, located on a hilltop above his home, El Alisal, which is now the headquarters for the Historical Society of Southern California.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Unlikely Friends Airing on Investigative Discoveries, Monday 10/21

I'm pleased to announce that the ground-breaking documentary Unlikely Friends will have it's premiere broadcast on Investigation Discoveries channel on Monday, Oct. 21st at 10/9C, 7 pm PST.
I had the pleasure of working as an Associate Producer on this poignant and informative film with my dear friend, Producer/Director Leslie Neale. Leslie has built her career creating films that bring to the public our country's dire need for criminal justice reform. Her award-winning film, Juvies, dealt with children being tried as adults, and serving harsh sentences for their transgressions. That film screened before Congress, and was responsible for legislation that changed many lives.

Unlikely Friends, narrated by Mike Farrell (M*A*S*H), tells the stories of victims of brutal crimes who, through forgiveness, unexpectedly become friends with their perpetrators. Finding a criminal justice system that left them empty and unsupported, they reached out to those who hurt them. What they found is astonishing and unbelievable to most. Their stories open our thinking to new possibilities for healing in our criminal justice system.

Please join us and we welcome your comments.

“Moving, inspiring, revolutionary. Unlikely Friends shows we are capable of human miracles. The tough, patient compassion and inspiration of Restorative Justice can teach the world to hear the pain of one another, and help us end conflict everywhere.”
Jack Kornfield
Author, A Path With Heart

“It is a tour de force. It shows how restorative justice empowers victims to change their stories from anger, pain, hatred and revenge to renewal, restoration and, sometimes, forgiveness. You have documented the power of restorative justice and shown how facing the pain they caused helps offenders more than prison bars ever can.”
Rep. Pete Lee
Colorado State Representative

“Unlikely Friends” is an extraordinary film, charting unlikely friendships from those starting out at opposite ends of the criminal justice system. It is a powerful testimony to the power of repentance, showing regret and remorse as something that clearly rehabilitates the victim as well as the offender. The message is that face-to-face meetings (restorative justice) humanises crime and repairs broken relationships but also that close friendship, even love, can grow out of the tragedy of murder and extreme violence. Leslie Neale has found and filmed some astonishing stories charting how victims of crime are able to turn away from a lifetime of bitterness, hatred and arrested grief to trying to help, support, and offer friendship to the one person you’d expect them to despise – the person who killed or harmed their loved ones. Everyone should watch this film to understand more about how forgiveness transforms pain and how finding the gift in the wound mends broken hearts.”
Marina Catacuzino
Founder/Director – The Forgiveness Project

Monday, March 4, 2013

UCR Palm Desert Screening- April 18th, 6pm

                                                      Desert Journey 1935- Private Collection

Hi All!

I'm currently working on lots of different projects, writing some articles and also creating some art of my own and returning to my love of photography. I'll be heading up to Tehachapi next week to shoot stills and B-roll for an upcoming project, can't wait to experience one of Maynard Dixon's favorite places, and hopefully see some of the color and clouds that he loved and painted so beautifully.

Next month, my first documentary, Maynard Dixon Art and Spirit, will be screened as part of the Palm Desert Art Documentary series. The event takes place at the UCR Palm Desert Auditorium at 6pm on Thursday, April 18th. I'll be there for a Q&A after, and hope to meet some new Dixon fans and see my desert friends... especially Dixon's son, John and his wonderful wife, Lee. They have been such great supporters of this film, and we have enjoyed a wonderful friendship since we first met back in 2001!

The film is being shown in conjunction with Desertscapes 2013. For more information on events throughout the month of April based on historic and contemporary plein air artwork in the Coachella Valley visit:

Stay tuned! 

UCR Palm Desert Center
75080 Frank Sinatra Drive
Palm Desert, CA 92211

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Maynard Dixon - Art of the West By Johnny D. Boggs

Dixon's 1942 oil painting Shiprock Mesa captures the palette of the desert Southwest. (Image: Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson, Ariz., and Santa Fe, N.M.)
Dixon's 1942 oil painting Shiprock Mesa captures the palette of the desert Southwest.
 (Image: Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson, Ariz., and Santa Fe, N.M.)

Few artists managed to capture the desert Southwest better than Maynard Dixon. His mentor may have been journalist Charles Lummis, who encouraged the California-born artist to "travel east to see the real West," but Western artist Frederic Remington pushed Dixon in the right direction.

Born on a ranch near Fresno on January 24, 1875, Dixon was an asthmatic child who found only enough energy to draw. In 1891, at 16, he sent two sketchbooks to Remington, who wrote back: "You draw better at your age than I did at the same age. If you have the 'sand' to overcome difficulties, you could be an artist in time. No one's opinion of what you can do is of any consequence—time and your character will develop that."

Two years later Dixon was studying at the California School of Design in San Francisco but left after only three months, preferring to work in the open air rather than in a stuffy studio. By 1895 he was illustrating for The Morning Call. In 1900, following Lummis' advice, he made the first of many trips to see the West—traveling east. A decade earlier Lummis himself had walked from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Los Angeles to take a job at the Los Angeles Times, documenting his adventures in his book A Tramp Across the Continent.

Dixon spent long stretches taking in much of the West. But his heart and soul belonged to Arizona, and though he moved briefly to New York City, he eventually made Tucson home.
"Dixon took his reputation very seriously and strove to always be accurate in his details, his compositions and his color choices," says producer-director Jayne McKay, whose documentary Maynard Dixon: Art and Spirit won a 2008 Spur Award from Western Writers of America. "He chose to trek out to some pretty uncomfortable places in monsoon season to find the clouds and contrast he thought best represented the West as he understood it. He didn't fake it. He lived with the Indians and he slept under the stars. He really saw himself as a cowboy when he was in the West. Back in his San Francisco studio he liked to dress flamboyantly and was quite a popular figure. Maynard Dixon had close friendships with many artists—Carl Russell, Ed Borein, Xavier Martinez and Ansel Adams—close friends who loved his ribald humor and enjoyed his company on painting trips and other adventures."

Dixon was elected to the New York–based Society of Illustrators in 1911 and took a bronze medal at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. He painted colorful murals for the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.

"His compositions are so instantly recognizable and bold and original," McKay says. "There isn't another artist who comes close, though many have tried."

His last mural was of the Grand Canyon for the Los Angeles ticket office of the Santa Fe Railroad. The mural was installed on November 8, 1946. Days later Dixon died of a heart attack in Tucson.
"Maynard Dixon achieved something very significant in that he painted the deserts as arid and hot and realistically desolate as they really are," McKay says. "He saw the beauty in the cloud shadows and the relationships between the sagebrush, the cactus and the hills, and he painted those relationships. The other painters weren't doing that. They were embellishing and enriching their canvases to make the land look more appealing. Dixon's background as an accomplished illustrator gave him the ability to paint the people of the West with this same incredible eye for detail and accuracy. I truly believe that Dixon's work is a visual historical record of our beautiful country."

Perhaps Los Angeles art critic Arthur Millier best summed up Dixon's contributions: "Where many have looked, he is one of the few who have really seen. His vision of the West is so true, we have come to see the region through the forms and colors of his paintings. Thus, great artists teach us to see nature."

-Maynard Dixon - Art of the West. By Johnny D. Boggs. Originally published by Wild West magazine. Published Online: October 02, 2012

Hello Again!

Hard to believe that it's been a year since I've posted anything- but I have a good excuse. I had an opportunity to work on an important documentary for Chance Films, directed by my good friend, Leslie Neale. From the website, this is a synopsis of this remarkable documentary:

UNLIKELY FRIENDS documents victims of brutal crimes who, through forgiveness, unexpectedly become friends with their perpetrators.

Finding a criminal justice system that has left them empty and unsupported, these victims of unspeakable crimes forgive out of a deep need to heal themselves, which in turn motivates the perpetrator to fully account for their actions and thereby begin the process of true rehabilitation.
These relationships, so unfathomable for most of us, open our thinking to new possibilities of how to transform a system ensconced in punishment and retribution to one of restorative justice that is based in humanity.

Please visit the website to learn more about the film, or to donate to help Leslie get this film distributed to as wide an audience as possible. Thank you!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Greetings!

Dale Nichols- "Home for the Holidays"

Has it really been since August that I've posted anything? Hard to believe, but I have been working on a documentary for Chance Films. It's been quite an interesting education for me, since the film deals with forgiveness, not art. Ah, but forgiveness is such an important topic and I've learned a great deal working outside of my primary area of interest, which is the visual arts.

I have several art films in the cue, and if you've followed my blog you are aware of how long it takes to bring cinematic ideas and inspirations into reality. I'm working on my fundraising strategy and looking forward to the challenges ahead. I'm also looking forward to sharing my progress with my followers.

On the holiday topic- I recently produced a meditation CD with two of my favorite yoga teachers, Heather Hudson and Darby Orr. We will launch a blog and Facebook page to show everyone where the tracks can be downloaded.

Also, Maynard Dixon Art and Spirit DVD's are still selling briskly on the film website and Amazon. Makes a great Christmas gift for Dixon fans and those who might not be familiar with his remarkable body of work.

I wish you all the happiest of holidays~ may your days be filled with love, laughter and wonder.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Farewell to Summertime

As the days of summer come to an end, I look forward to the fall and all that I have planned. I have been working as a co-producer on a friend's film, and we will complete principal photography in the next couple of months.

I have had several ideas for my next film. I would love to complete the Director's Cut of Maynard Dixon Art and Spirit. I still have 100 hours on the shelf, and those tapes include some remarkable people who were so knowledgeable about Dixon, and shared such incredible comments about Dixon's personality, his skill and his soul. It haunts me that I wasn't able to include all of this impressive and important testimony in the film.

My filmmaker friend's all console me, "Walk Away!" and they seem familiar with that dream of going back, re-editing and reworking everything that you wished you'd known better when making your first film. Better to create an entirely new film and keep moving, keep learning, keep improving, they say.

I do have several great subjects that I'd love to produce films about. And lots of great supporters anxious to join me in fleshing out the stories, rounding up the photos and archival film...well, I will think about it all soon. It's still summer, and I am heading up to Tahoe...

So, I wanted to post something, it's been so long. I still think of Maynard Dixon often, whenever I look at those glorious clouds against a vibrant blue sky. I'm told that lots of other people do too, and the film continues to sell briskly. I am grateful. Grateful for the sales, the good reviews, and also very grateful that those whose interviews weren't included in the film understand. I'm still dreaming about sharing those interviews and maybe someday I will.

Enjoy these last lovely days of summer.

Friday, April 29, 2011

UKULELE::The World's Friendliest Instrument

This weekend, we'll be celebrating at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which will be held on the campus of USC for the first time. I will be signing copies of Daniel Dixon's book at 1:00, on Sunday, May 1st. Booth #911.

This book was a labor of love for Daniel, who was a wonderful writer and historian and also a very gifted player. If you follow my blogs, you know that Daniel was the son of artist, Maynard Dixon and photographer, Dorothea Lange. A gifted writer, Daniel co-wrote my film, "Maynard Dixon Art and Spirit", which won the Spur Award in 2008, voted Best Documentary by the Western Writers of America.

Fortunately for all of us, Daniel turned in his manuscript for this delightful book shortly before he passed away. His wife, Dixie Dixon, and I worked with the publisher (Gibbs-Smith), to complete the book by adding images and hunting down a few people. I think that you will agree that the book is beautifully composed, giving the reader a wealth of knowledge about the history of the Ukulele, and profiles of some of the greatest players and makers of this sweet instrument. There are even chord charts and lots of Dixie Dixon's great photos of colorful sheet music and lots of great instruments. If you're in the area, please stop by the festival and introduce yourself. It not, check out the book. I think you'll like it.

here's a video by elebega where you can hear Daniel speak a little about the ukulele.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

THE FINE ARTS FILM FESTIVAL The Art of Film; The Film of Art

Sunday, November 21, 10:30 am - 5 pm
and Friday, December 3, 1-3 pm

Bronfman Family Jewish Community Center
524 Chapala St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Cost: $25 at the door. $20 in advance with reservation and payment.
RSVP online or call 805-957-1115
Seating is limited.

I'm very happy that the film was chosen to be presented in the first year of this prestigious film festival in Santa Barbara. Maynard Dixon has a large following there, many collectors and also friends and students of Ray Strong have contacted me. The Fine Arts Film Festival was founded in 2010 by Lynn Holley, a Santa Barbara writer, independent curator and art consultant, and by Kathleen Fairweather, a Los Angeles writer and documentary filmmaker. "Films about art, artists, collectors and those inspired by art are rarely shown at regular film festivals," says Holley. "Art is not just for galleries and museums; the stories of art should have their own film festival. There are plenty of good films on art that are rarely seen. We wanted to offer some to the community."

Co-sponsored by the
Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara
and the Santa Barbara Art Association.