In three weeks we’ve traveled over prairies, plains, and plateaus in a big loop starting and ending at Denver. We stayed 24 hours ahead of the Arctic Vortex at every stop. Another title for this adventure might be “50 Shades of Brown on the Blue Highways” … this time of year, 90% of everything in America’s Heartland is either brown, or brown covered by snow. This is a trip we would probably have never thought of if a business project hadn’t made it possible – you’ll never see a glossy tourist brochure for, say, McAllen, Texas in early March… It reached a point where we almost looked forward to roadkill just to break the brown monotony. (There was actually very little roadkill – apparently only skunks venture out in winter…) But even so, It was fascinating, enlightening, I’m very glad we did it and I would do it again. Just not right away… my buns are tired of sitting.
It’s good to be back in our lush Willamette Valley. I wish everyone in Oregon could see all of that brown back there, up close and personal; I wish everyone could read all the notices about drought and crop failures, could drive past all the dried up little towns – we would never ever pave another square foot of this paradise if they had taken this trip. This is the best farmland and forest land in the world, bar none – we need to remind ourselves and our land use planners and legislators of this constantly.
Okay, I’ll come down off my soapbox now. My favorite state on this tour was New Mexico, favorite city was Santa Fe, aka Disneyland for Artists. Definitely on my list of places for a return trip, and hopefully to spend several days. There was no one around much, this being the “off season”, so I had 100+ art galleries and museums all to myself. That provided a great opportunity to talk with gallery owners, and to learn what kind of art and artists they are interested in representing. I made the above sketch of a group of sculpture galleries from across the street at an outdoor cafe – it was out of the wind, and that was as close to “plein air arting” as I got, munching on a panini and sipping a nice Chilean chardonnay.
One of the best art venues in Santa Fe was the New Mexico state capitol building, which was filled with art in every nook and cranny. Bonus: it was free! In the 90’s some visionary legislators put into place an art acquisition program for works by NM artists. Reading the well-written artists statements about each piece was an education about New Mexico history, culture, technology, economy and vision for the future. If you find yourself in Santa Fe, check it out!