Since April I have secretly been working on a photo-card boxed set as a surprise gift for J. Paul Taylor, probably the most celebrated and loved man in the region. I’d met Paul soon after arriving in Las Cruces, not knowing he was something more than a god to many here. I think he appreciates my friendship because I don’t treat him special. He is a first rate collector and lover of the arts, so I was especially honored that he so liked my Christmas gift of a photo-card set on his home and collection (now a State Monument), which I think I posted earlier. When he gave me the antique goat feeder from his boyhood home in Chamberino, NM, for my garden, I got the idea to do another set for his 95th birthday. I connived with family members to help arrange a special tour of the South Mesilla Valley, where he grew up, spending the better part of an afternoon in April wandering the back roads of his memory. I then returned on my own over several months, taking tons of shots of the most meaningful places when the light was best.
Tour day at a beloved historic adobe Catholic church in La Mesa, NM. He worked tirelessly to save the unique spiral staircase in the bell tower from demolition.
The result is a 95-card set of special memories from his life, in a two-box set. I decoupaged the boxes with stickers of the agricultural icons of the valley and other organizations that Paul has been associated with over the last century. I delivered yesterday at the big birthday bash held in his honor at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, here in Las Cruces. Hopefully he is pleasantly surprised when he opens it. Several of his children were looking forward to seeing the images, after loving what I did for the home/collection set. I’m not sure it will compete with the bust an artist did of him, or the personal letter of congratulations he got from President Obama, but hopefully it will bring a few smiles of remembrances of his youth.
Here is a sampler of some of the cards. Someday maybe I can share all the stories behind these.