Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Mexico Enchanting Me

Tres Piedras, New Mexico. Pink Schoolhouse Gallery.

When I was in high school, I read a book that made me laugh out loud many times. It's about a kid who moves from Alabama to this foreign, inter-cultural community in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico circa 1945.

The book was Red Sky at Morning.

Taos, New Mexico. Holy Trinity Park.

Author Richard Bradford's characters were vividly drawn, as was the geographical stage of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on which all of the events played out. The images of a fantastical New Mexico that Mr. Bradford planted in my mind took root.

It wasn't until many years later that I first set foot in New Mexico. Since then, in 1999, I've visited New Mexico two or three times more.

Montezuma, New Mexico. Scarecrows.
In some locations, I relished the sensation of having been there before, because they so strongly evoked Red Sky at Morning:

  • At the Chama Visitor Center, talking to a volunteer who explained that although she and her parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were New Mexico natives, English wasn't her first language.
  • In a wooded lot in Taos, the Holy Trinity Park, decorated with that New Mexican outsider art that fuses Roman Catholic iconography, naturalism, magic, and perhaps a dash of schizophrenia.
  • In Tres Piedras, the Old Pink Schoolhouse Gallery (sadly gone now), a cacophony of bright color and media in the middle of nowhere
  • Desperate hope, visible through cruciform prayer offerings left at the Santuario de Chimayo.
  • The mountain-hugger road between Las Vegas and Tucumcari.

Desperate prayers left at Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico.

New Mexico is American, but it's also a foreign land. There are layers of language, ethnicity, traditions, religion, art, climate, geography, and light that I haven't found anywhere else in the U.S., and I feel drawn to it.

And it's got the Spaceport, you know.

Road from Las Vegas to Tucumcari, New Mexico.

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