Dax Martinez-Vargas: A Few Of My Favourite Things
Reform School director and 'King of Mock Epics' Dax Martinez-Vargas offers us a glimpse into his world, his critters, and his treasure trove of whimsical inspiration.
Despite being a Texan, I spent the last decade living in New York. During that time, I began having visions of living on a ranch, as it was the complete opposite of the big city.
I now split my time between living on that ranch and living in Austin.
Whilst I used to dream of having ten dogs, the universe has given me eight cats. Along with my partner, our 18-year-old poodle son, Alcide, and nature itself, they are my favourite living natural things.
The group of cats around me is a constant source of inspiration. They inspire me with their funny behavioural quirks, which inspire both comedic and dramatic ideas, and as models to help me continue honing my photography skills.
They reconnect me with nature, the primal, the present, and a new energy that I didn't get much of growing up with dogs and having many dog-owning friends.
This is Myrtle. She’s the mom of the six kittens.
She entered our lives around Christmas of 2021 when she was maybe nine months old.
By February 2022, she was pregnant because the local vet couldn’t spay her in time.
We should have sought another vet, but we were new and naive in cat country politics.
She’s very inspiring; she’ll disappear and live off the land for two months at a time.
She can be tough and fend for herself while being totally domesticated in the city and very sweet.
Like a tarot card set, this deck uses animals as archetypes to explain where you might be going in life.
These serve as a great whimsical and reflective tradition for my partner and me to engage in from time to time.
Sure, sometimes they are completely off, but they seem to capture a moment in time you’re going through or serve as a guide on how to consider something you’re currently dealing with.
I love this pair of zebra speakers my partner came up with.
Enjoying the art my partner makes is a real joy.
These were speakers her father gave her and then she ordered the fabric and went to work with the frame and a stapler gun.
I love the interplay of animalism with sound waves and fire
The Sweet Surprise
This is Lestat, one of the six kittens Myrtle had in a giant woodpile a mile away.
He was accidentally left behind having thought I had got them all.
Myrtle went at dusk to retrieve him and carry him back by his nape at night. What a mom!
He is arguably the most beautiful of the bunch, as well as the most sweet and expressive.
The lesson in that is threefold: 1) don’t stop investigating prematurely; 2) have a good partner or team to catch what you miss in case you do; 3) kids may turn out sweeter if they undergo a scary initiation.
Having food that is healthy and tasty is clearly a favourite thing.
This is one of my partner's creations using ceviche.
Another one she makes, which is simple and effective, is watermelon slices on tortilla chips with caviar on top.
That's a Kathryn Loeffler special, y'all!
This is Scumfy. He’s one of the fathers and is the perfect cat.
He embodies divine masculinity in his calm, strong disposition.
His meow is that of a small pterodactyl.
If Pixar made a cat, they would make this cat.
His face looks like Bobby from King of the Hill.
We really wonder what his story was before he came into our lives. But that’s the mystery of life that keeps things interesting.
Given to me by the manager at my first job at a car wash in high school, this deer’s hind has always served as a reminder to buck tradition and make people laugh while doing it.
This is in the bathroom above the toilet.
Next to it, higher up, is a rubber chicken, which in this case served as a nice way to prevent scorpions from falling out of the ceiling above the sink.
Now we've had pest control, Chicky isn’t totally needed, but it’s fitting where it is.
For me, bathrooms have always been a sort of deprivation chamber setting where ideas might come to me, so I consider an inviting funny bathroom as something crucial to a functional working habitat.
These are most of the rest of the kittens.
Two of their names come from my partner’s family history: Whymmes and Quida.
Consider those when naming your next kids.
I hope this mix of animals and things gets you at least one percentage point more inspired today.
Thanks for reading!