RIO GRANDE GORGE BRIDGE

I drove out to the Gorge today hoping some of the stormy skies over the mountain would offer a seldom view of the canyon, despite the fact they were playing out in the opposite direction.

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Walking up to the bridge a woman in a bright yellow windbreaker smiled at me and in passing remarked, "it's sort of freaky!" I thought she meant the power of millions of years of erosion until I stepped onto the structure itself and felt the steel tremble each time a large vehicle went by. Somehow I hadn't remembered this from an early morning visit years before, when I was with other people and it would have been more fun to be afraid.

Despite promising myself I would refrain from dipping onto upaved surfaces in a low clearance station wagon unless my life or livelihood depended on it, later in the day I traveled a dirt road surrounded by sage for no other reason than to be surrounded by it in slanted light. The terrain was much tamer than that on the mesa with Mary Beth weeks back, I’m relieved to report, because I had no one but myself to soothe me through the voyage. Early on I saw a middle aged guy walking along the side of the road in a cardigan and casual trousers, which I took as a sign that at least on the surface, the stretch would be well mannered.

BUMPY TRAILS

As I white knuckled the station wagon off road, Mary Beth took the pictures. It was the perfect collaboration, since I was doing my best just to stay on two narrow tracks of dried mud. What’s more awesome than this view? A friend like her.

Our mini roadtrip was all the more epic given the fact that this was the first time we’ve gotten to hang out since she moved from Houston to New Mexico early in the year. I’ve loved all of her photos of the countryside, from grandiose landscapes to close-ups of cacti and chamisa and was proud (after the cold sweat had dried) to have been the charioteer for this one.

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Also, I had no idea I was actually in need of a golden autumn until the first signs arrived! Of course my initial impulse was to collect every grounded yellow leaf I could find, which very quickly became unmanageable. This was a snapshot aimed for Elisabeth, erstwhile studio mate and friend, because after sharing a workspace, now whenever I see vivid tones of yellow and blue, I think of her canvases instantly. Of course, it got better when the leaves dried out and I had the seldom pleasure of crunching through great heaps of them. Years in the beloved swamps of Houston has conditioned me to associate them with thick wet clumps at best—and the incessant racket of motorized blowers on the other end.

UNOFFICIAL MESSAGES

With luck, I’ll find some more singular notices…

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It’s hard to see, but what inspired me to stop on the side of the road for this snapshot is the sign far in the background, one that feels like a mere stone’s throw away moving in a car, that announces FRUIT.

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His shades have come back in style.

NEW NEIGHBORHOOD

Suffice it to say, I’m not accustomed to so much dazzling organic movement and texture on a walk to the post office. The derelict Indian Hills Inn around the corner is a major point of fascination as is the ability to compose pastoral images in lots adjacent to dumped bags of trash and forgotten shopping carts along the side of the road.

SUNRISE OVER THE RIO GRANDE GORGE

While I’m not known for my ability to take initiative during pre-dawn hours, I saw fellow artist in residence Shawn yesterday and she invited me to join her on a sunrise excursion to the Gorge. I’d wanted to make an afternoon trip myself and jumped at the opportunity, setting an alarm for 5:15am.

We made a three and a half mile hike roundtrip in outstretched fields of sage brush, cholla, and pine trees as the sun rose. Being out in the cool morning desert air brought me back to living in camp at Arcosanti and working on the farm and many West Texas mornings in slanted light. Has it really been a decade since the combination of desert sun and mountain air were elements of a garden variety morning? 

THE PASEO PROJECT

The Paseo Project was a dense presentation of numerous public art projects over the first weekend I was in Taos. Had I not heard an offhand reference to it, I would have likely not even known it was happening from the central, yet secluded location of the residency. I’m pretty sure I experienced a fraction of the pieces on view, and photographed even fewer. Take my word for it—there was a lot going on in addition to the Telepoem Booth (instructions for how to use a rotary dial included!) and this interactive projection dance-a-thon.

Major thanks to fellow AIR, Rebecca, for capturing the moment just as the dialed poem got into stamens and the loudest motorcycles I’ve ever heard revved at the light at the corner.

An earlier, unexpected highlight of the evening was a stop at the Harwood Museum where there is an exhibition of Judy Chicago fiber art on view. The Birthing Project is a collection of pieces from the early 1980s whose subject matter takes on birth from the physical to the mystical and was made by scores of collaborating needleworkers.. I took these snapshots for myself, not intending to share them, but keep coming back to the color and extraordinary textural and imaginative detail for inspiration.