Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Rudi Klimpert

Husband, father, artist, friend—Rudi Klimpert 1926-2011

A letter to Rudi Klimpert

— L.A. Williams, Signpost
Rudi Klimpert (1926-2011)

My hands seem small.

As I watch my fingers type across the keyboard, and reflect on your friendship, your talent, and your generosity, my hands seem small. I can only imagine that there are countless people out there who share in my thoughts, and miss you dearly. You were a unique individual, Rudi, and a most talented artist.

Your boundless enthusiasm for art shown so very bright. Each month you reminded us just how deep from which your creativity and passion sprung with your drawings for the Signpost. Although your paintings of free-standing doors invited viewers to ponder their possible meanings, your door was always open. You did not live under the pretense of disguise or illusion. You lived, you loved, your aim was true, and for those still searching you gave them a threshold to pass through.

In the few short years that our paths crossed, you have made an indelible mark upon us. You exhibited great kindness to not only our family, but our business and our pursuits in life. You extolled your advise with not just deep knowledge and a rapier wit, but most importantly with a heartfelt smile. Rudi, you never shied from expressing your feelings... and for me and my family, you truly cared , and that my friend makes all the difference. My hands seem small as I write that you will be missed, dear friend.

Rudi H. Klimpert was born in New York City in 1926. He graduated from the Art Students League and began his career before moving through Canada and St. Louis and arriving in Chicago in 1959. Working on the staff of advertising agencies with national accounts, he earned a reputation as a talented storyboard artist able to illustrate proposed television commercials in a series of drawings.

Before moving to New Mexico, Klimpert worked as a commercial artist and consultant in Chicago and New York. Formal training in anatomy and figure drawing shaped his practice of looking at the world. His training also gave him the technical skills to make his architectural and landscape studies an intriguing blend of meticulous technique and wild imagination.

c. Rudi KlimpertSince moving to Placitas in 1990, Klimpert had been nothing if not quick and prolific, producing oil paintings, wood and stone carvings, and scores of Signpost cartoons. Rudi’s paintings continue to sell locally and internationally through Canyon Road Contemporary Gallery Art, in Santa Fe. His “doors” stand like totems on the open New Mexico landscape. Each door is executed in a different style, with symbols ranging from steer skulls and Native American dream catchers, drums and horns, to children’s toys. The door itself, its texture and color, seem to be as much a subject as the small symbols that adorn it.

A Rudi Klimpert painting is like a good dream, sunny and strange, with intimations of the past. Working meticulously in brilliant oils, Klimpert welds the classic genres of landscape and still life to create an arresting and evocative new form, in which wooden architectural artifacts of glowing natural or painted wood— usually a door, sometimes a gate, a window, a chair, or a bench— are juxtaposed on views of green and gold rolling prairies, red hills and mesas, and magnificent blue skies.

Toxic venting: When to stop listening

—Judith Acosta, Author, The Next Osama; Co-author, Verbal First Aid

Or whilst I can vent clamor from my throat, I’ll tell thee thou dost evil.  —The Great Bard (Shakespeare)

An Orthodox priest I know and respect a great deal recently wrote to me about a meeting he’d had with some parishioners. They were upset about some personal issues and were soliciting his help, at least on the surface. As the conversation stretched on, it turned out that they were thoroughly uninterested in anything he thought and even less in anything he had to say besides, “You poor thing.” “Perhaps,” he wrote with some bemusement, “sitting and venting your troubles is not as healthy as we think.”

He was curious about my clinical take on the matter. I wrote him, explaining that I have had more than a few patients (and friends and family members) who just want to “vent,” as we’ve come to call it. They want us to listen, but not to offer anything in the way of opinions, suggestions, advice, consolation, or insight.

From time to time, this sort of gentle, nonjudgmental listening is a good (even essential) part of friendship and therapy. We get hurt, we need a shoulder. We get scared, we need a hand. We get angry, we need an ear. We rant and rave for a few moments, and we move on. Either we’ve seen the problem in a new light by virtue of our own expression, or we get bored with ourselves, or the listening itself has alleviated a great burden. This is especially true when a grief or loss is involved, and people need to talk about their loved ones or express the pain they feel. Sometimes the venting continues for a while, and the moving forward is difficult. That’s all as it should be.

Women have complained about men not “just listening” for eons. “Why do you always have to fix it? Why can’t you just listen?” That question opens another can of worms. But for the moment, suffice it to say that one of the really good reasons is that it’s not just a man’s problem—it’s a human problem that exists in relationships of all kinds. Listening well is hard. We’re not born knowing how to do it.

But offering an ear or a shoulder is just a small part of it. Good listening is an art form. It elicits not just release, but exploration. It is not passive, as some would imagine, calling to mind that banal and silent Freudian nod. Good listening seeks to understand. It asks questions. It ponders. It examines. It searches for both manifest and latent meanings. It requires openness and bonafide availability. It is fully present and interested. But it is not always silent, and it does not automatically dismiss accountability.
And, as a result, it is decidedly not what some people are looking for: a toxic dump site.

There are people who are simply venting. My mother calls once every few days since my brother died to talk about him with someone who also knew and loved him, to say she misses him, and still finds it hard to believe he’s gone. It doesn’t last long. She is relieved by some gentle reassurances, until the next time she wakes up to the shock of the loss. This is truly what love demands. It is as far from toxic as venting can get. It is the purest of human need. I never feel put upon by her need to talk, and I understand the wave of confusion that comes over her. For a few minutes, I stand still as her ground wire.

Then there are the people who are looking for something more. They are looking only to see themselves as they imagine themselves, to be perfectly reflected by our approval and sympathy. They are what that same priest called “coalition builders,” and if you’re not with them, you’re against them.

An example: I knew a man who talked about almost nothing besides how much he hated his boss and how he was going to leave his job. He said it over and over, bemoaning his mistreatment (which was not nearly as bad as he claimed—I knew the situation) and doing nothing either to change himself or his situation for the better. It had been going on for a year when one day he announced that his boss was a blankety-blank, and he walked out.

When he called, instead of saying, “Bully for you!” as he must have expected, I asked him how he planned to support himself (he is not married and had no other prospects). His answer: He was moving in with his mother, who only had Social Security and was not at all happy about his decision. In fact, she was scared. Even though I never blamed or chastised, when I asked questions about how she might handle it, or wondered how he would change the hate he was holding since his boss was out of his life and clearly wasn’t going to change, or the cavalier slide into dependency and how that might be hard to reverse, he became irate. He said, “I thought you were my friend! I thought you supported me!” Then he hung up and refused to take my calls or speak to me any further.

I was surprised, but I shouldn’t have been. I should have seen the pattern much earlier: the late night calls when he knew we woke up early, the interminable complaints, the total lack of interest in anything that was going on in our lives, and the petulant indignation about every relationship he had. No one understood him. No one really appreciated him. No one supported him quite enough.

He was a whiner. I knew that from day one. But I thought it was benign. New Yorkers are used to some whining—it’s part of the cultural milieu. Besides, he had other qualities that distracted me from the central issues. He was charming, funny, self-deprecating at just the right moments, creative, and bright. He was the star of almost every get-together.

In my mind, I was his friend. But when push came to shove and the whining became not only endless but destructive, I could support neither the decision he made nor the way he made it—self-righteously, thoughtlessly, and hatefully. Does that make me less a friend? I don’t think so. If anything, it might be the other way around. Perhaps he was less of a friend than I had imagined, and the relationship was based only on my unwavering approval of whatever he did—right or wrong, good or bad, wise or foolish. He wanted a mirror with a smiley face slapped on top of it, not a separate person with thoughts and ideas and principles of her own.

There are points at which we all have to take stock of what is happening in a relationship. These reviews occur all the time, like antivirus software running in the background, constantly assessing whether something is dangerous or not, whether it should be let in or not, whether something that has been let in should be escorted out. But occasionally, there are precipitants that make the examination more urgent, and we are red-flagged. Toxic venting is one of them.

The way we can tell we’re the object of a toxic vent is when we begin to get a sense that we are about as important in the relationship as the chair we’re sitting on, that there’s nothing personal about the conversation, and if our companion were not venting to us, she’d be venting to a stack of two-by-fours. We have been objectified. We can’t get a word in edgewise. We’re quickly dismissed if we do not become a part of the venter’s consensus. We might even find ourselves bored or subtly angered by the nature of the monologue. It’s usually not a pleasant sensation. Even if we’re not conscious it’s happening, we can feel something is wrong.

The people who are best at this sort of venting are narcissists. Not only are they good at it, but they use conversation very deftly to satisfy themselves, not to engage another mind, or to learn, or to understand, or even to actually converse. They are not much interested in the reception of their ideas, unless it is their own reception of applause or commiseration that fuels their distorted self-image. And they may not even be interested in hearing the confirmation, “You’re right” because, Lord knows, they’re not worried about that. Their venting is self-centered, even idolatrous.

In it, they become their own tin gods, and everything they do is righteous. It’s the rest of the world (us) that has the problem.

The priest who wrote to me mentioned what he called the “counterpoint” to this toxic venting: reflective silence. He explained that when couples come to him either before marriage or with marital issues, he encourages silent communion between the two individuals. And I thought, “Now, that’s a rare idea.”

How many times do we sit quietly after a fight, or a clash of wills, or a failure of performance, or an injustice? How easy is it for us to be silent with ourselves, wait for wisdom, and examine our consciences or our accountability for the way things sometimes turn out?

It’s barely within most of our repertoires. It’s certainly not my first inclination, and I don’t think I’m that different from most people in the country. Most of the time, we react. We talk too much, think too much, pace too much, or drink too much. Sometimes, we fight. Sometimes, we do worse. And we do it all fast.

Narcissistic venting is the perfect opposite of reflective silence. It hides in its own verbose self-pity and anger. If we don’t join in the tirade, the claw of accusation gets turned against us. Our friendship, decency, attitude, and compassion all get called into question.

Allowing ourselves to be used as emotional dumping grounds doesn’t do our friends much good, even if they think it does, even if they feel ever so much better after they’ve drained the sludge out of themselves and spilled it onto us. Ultimately, it makes us both worse—spiritually, psychologically, and physically.

How to Stop Listening

At first I thought that would be the simplest part. After all, wouldn’t it be simple to say, “Can we talk about something else?” or, “Enough,” or a blunt, “Be quiet and let me speak”? I thought that even a tersely phrased opinion would suffice: “Instead of complaining, what are you going to do?” To not listen, all we’d have to do is stand up (figuratively or literally), right? Eventually, they’d say, “Oh, so sorry I got carried away like that.” And then we’d sit back down, and all would be well.

Not so with narcissists. People who have so much secondary gain invested in their problems are not easily weaned off of them—even when a relationship is at stake, even when their own happiness and health are hanging in the balance. Sometimes, standing up can require that we also be ready to walk out.

On introspection, I saw that it was not all that simple for the same reasons it’s hard to tell a narcissist “no.” In order to do so, we have to let them go, including their opinions of us. We have to see them and the situation for what it really is. Sometimes that means seeing that they weren’t really in the same relationship we were. Or that we were at cross-purposes the whole time. And that can be painful.

In a healthier relationship, it would be possible to say, “When you complain about things and aren’t willing to do anything about them, it frustrates me. I want to help you, but I only see you going around in circles.” Or, “I know he’s not the best boss (or husband or friend), but he doesn’t seem to be changing right now. So, is there something you can do differently?” The person may feel wounded or frustrated, but the relationship—being more flexible and adaptable—would survive, and some new limits would be drawn. Both people might even learn something. That’s never easy or comfortable, but it’s doable.

With narcissists and toxic venters, it’s different. When they are “wounded,” it’s always mortal, and we are always to blame. The only way out, unless you would rather make peace with the toxicity, is out.

Gregorio Aragon

Gregorio Aragon of Albuquerque

New Mexico’s most talented is crowned

Santa Ana Star Search, an event designed to discover and showcase New Mexico’s best amateur performers, has crowned Gregorio Aragon of Albuquerque as New Mexico’s most talented amateur performer.

Aragon has always dreamed of becoming a professional singer, but has never been provided the opportunity to do so until winning Santa Ana Star Search on Saturday, March 12. He performed the song “El Alusente & Aca Entre Nos,” accompanied by a band of eight mariachi players, and received the most votes from the live audience at the sold out event hosted by actress Belita Moreno.

“Santa Ana Star Search is thrilled to help Gregorio break into the world of show business, and we expect his career to go far. Gregorio had the Bosque Event Center rumbling as his fans cheered throughout his performance,” said Robert Buhl, organizer of Santa Ana Star Search. “While Gregorio received the most votes, it was a close competition, and any one of the nine finalists could have been named the Santa Ana Star Search winner, as it was a very talented group of performers and a great show on Saturday evening.”

As the star search winner, Aragon has been offered a one-year development contract with a national talent agent, awarded a $10,000 prize, and will receive a trip for two to the 2011 American Idol finale in Los Angeles as a member of its studio audience. He will also be invited back to conduct a solo performance at Santa Ana Star Casino. In addition, the eight other Santa Ana Star Search finalists received a $1,000 prize for being selected to participate in the final competition.

Belita Moreno, known best for her role as George Lopez’s mother on the George Lopez Show, served as the master of ceremonies for the show. The judges who helped crown Aragon as the winner included Alton Walpole, an eclectic filmmaker with more than 30-years experience as a cinematographer, editor, and producer, Tobias Rene, an award-winning Latin entertainer who has sold more than 100,000 records in the Southwest, Deborah Bibby, the founder of Bibbs Talent in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Michael Burdick, director of marketing for Santa Ana Star Casino.

Santa Ana Star Search received hundreds of audition videos, and 27 performers were selected to compete in three semi-final events. Three finalists were selected from each show, based on the amount of votes from the live audience, Internet voting, and feedback from the judges, to compete in the finale at Santa Ana Star Casino’s Bosque Event Center on Saturday, March 12. Aragon received the strongest combined scores from our judges and viewing audience of nearly 2,400 attendees at the final competition.




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