A fun night…

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We had a grand opening here in Mt P on Saturday night, with almost 50 people attending which is a wonderful turnout and a good sign there’s not much else to do here on a Saturday night.

I’m still yet to take decent shots, but this is the sketching corner I set up to try to show all the preliminary work that goes into the pieces… and it seemed to really work. I think a lot of people really enjoyed this corner.

A few little red dots are scattered around the room which is always exciting, and this week is a week to catch up on a mountain of paperwork before the canvasses come out again next week to really get stuck into the Las Cruces work.

Ground Zero

Ground ZeroGround Zero

Here is my New Mexico map image complete (?) on the left. Early state on the right, posted again for reference. Never would have been w/o this project.

Sun-baked ambition succumbs to “mañana.” Decades old, abandoned motor court signs and brightly enameled vintage automobiles pepper our harsh but awesomely beautiful landscape. Still the ambitious come. Alternate title: Waiting for Sir Richard. CC

making a clam or two….

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making a clam or two....

Another desperate grab for some spending money, ha. Our attorney (property problems, now over) is a long distance runner and sponsors a half marathon up in Santa Fe and a pal and I are making the 2nd place medallions. I put the info on the backs of 66 of these cuties today. Next….buy red ribbon stuff so they can award them over the runner’s heads. THEN we get paid. A pittance, but is fun to do and since I race in bicycle races I figure it’s a half volunteer give back.

Latest Painting – Boulder Field, Aguirre Springs

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Today I finished my latest painting for the WBHD show, a watercolor on a full sheet of Arches 140 lb paper.  Dimensions are 19 x 23 inches / 48 x 58 cm.

It is a winter scene along the trails in the Aguirre Springs recreational area, on the east side of the Organ Mountains, roughly at 2000m altitude.  This area is less than a half hour drive from my home.  In the winter the meadow grasses turn various shades of yellow, ocher, and orange.  This can be quite vivid in the open areas where boulder slides and flooding off the mountains occur.  I chose to treat this painting looser with more abstraction than my usual realistic style.  Doing so reflects the raw wildness of the place at that time of year.  The snow and cloud line had ascended just above my position, darkening the trunks of the trees and bringing out the colors in the damp grass.

Here’s one of the reference photos I used, plus what this same area looks like earlier in the  year when things are still green.

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Las Cruces Tour – Odds & Ends

I’ll still post specifics on the arts and culture/food in town, but for now let me throw out a bunch of random images and observations (again, just my own perspective) to round out the sense of life in Las Cruces.  Warts and all.

I’ve been off the blog lately to have my gallbladder removed (successfully, I think, although the dunny has doubts as to how much I’m back to normal).  Why didn’t anyone warn me about growing old?

Overall, this High Desert region is relatively poor, so there are plenty of trailer parks scattered around.  If you have visions of upward mobility, one might even throw in a boat, after all it is only 1000 km to the ocean.  Such alternate options, on top of a recession economy, have made housing affordable for many on the lower end of the income curve (including some of us starving artists).  The median home price is under $100,000.  Catherine herself is buying a distressed fix-er-upper for less than $50,000, on my own street.  There goes the neighborhood, sigh…

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With the warm, dry weather, America’s desert cities become popular destinations for the modern-day swagman, and Las Cruces has its share.  We even have our own small tent city, and finely dressed art patrons sometimes have to pick their way around the grotty lads passed out on benches during the Art Ramble downtown.

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The desert….with all the recent flooding in Queensland, the Wide Bay mob might find it surprising to see water-dispensing kiosks where one can buy this precious commodity.  And the city Aquatic Center is a big deal!  The drought continues unabated.

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In the dry desert air, things, such as vehicles, tend not to rust out like the do in the Queensland tropics.  There are still a lot of old utes, sports cars, and just plain clunkers all around town.

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On the other hand, things don’t decay and disappear into the weeds.  Combine that with the rural Western mindset toward trash (drop it anywhere, never clean it up), and you find some pretty spectacular rubbish collections in people’s yards.  Often right next to nicely fixed up homes, due to lack of a city blight ordinance.

ImageImage (note the “swamp cooler” on the roof, a common fixture of homes here, taking advantage of desert evaporation of water as opposed to air conditioning technology.)

Speaking of the West, Las Cruces hosts the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum, complete with longhorn cattle.  Gotta have your boots, cowboy hats, and Texas sized pickup trucks.

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The Mexican border culture adds it’s own layer of sights, such as low-rider custom cars, religious shrines and murals, and colorful cemeteries.  ImageImageImageImageImage (Now, doesn’t that just take the fun out of a burial!)

Speaking of signs, here are a couple of preserved icons from the past…

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As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the car rules.  There are some great old legacies of the Motor Lodge touring days, most decrepit but some restored.

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God forbid you have to walk anywhere or leave the A/C comfort of your car to shop for essentials like cigarettes.

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In the older quarters downtown are still many walkable small schools, some being reconfigured, such as the Alma d’Arte charter school for the arts.  As the city has grown, the sprawling mega-school rules (again, you need your vehicle).

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Image Centennial High School.

Likewise, there are some nice, small neighborhood parks.  But some huge sports complexes, with blazing lighting systems to permit play in the cooler evening hours.  America does youth sports BIG.  I attended the local football rivalry game between high schools along with over 20,000 fans (from a city of only 100,000!) and RV tailgate parties all night.

ImageMesquite Neighborhood History Park.

ImageImage That’s just part of the skate park!

So there is Las Cruces….city of the crosses.

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Making a start on an artist’s book

Still thinking of making an artist book I’ve began playing with those photos of the smouldering fields,  blending them with the painting from an earlier post .. and putting together a string of words to go with the picture. Not fitting together neatly yet but working on it

maybe I can make a book cover from sugar cane leaves

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Along the barbed wire flight path  a shudder of birds  cold-shouldering  loss, swoop

straight by shattered eggshell, diving on roasted insects

in the ashes

Hot sap set like brittle toffee snaps underfoot

no sound of clapping leaves, no cover of bark no wood by the wayside

Ashen faced in the rising heat standing in your spun sugar nest egg

next year set by, sewn and signed over