Sunday, November 20, 2011

Celebrating the Silver

Yesterday the Chiricahua Gallery in Rodeo, New Mexico, opened its holiday show. We've come to the 25th year––the silver anniversary––of our art guild's founding. We've been around for a quarter of the time that Arizona has been a state!

The gallery is a not-for-profit cooperative of local artists and our supporters within the community.

We interpret "art" broadly, as is fitting. The guild includes painters, sculptors, woodworkers, masters of needlecraft, workers in glass and ceramics, writers, poets, metalcrafters, jelly-makers, crafters of soaps and lotions and candles, photographers, jewelers, weavers, printmakers, a calligrapher.... The gallery nurtures the creative ferment of our Borderlands community, offers workshops, encourages art for kids, gives scholarships to aspiring artists who graduate from our two local (and tiny!) high schools.

The Chiricahua Gallery in Rodeo, New Mexico: Looking through into the craft room, beyond a wall showcasing Jean Bohlender's paintings, mosaic tables by Dan Reheurek, and a vase by Mike Garino. 
(Photos by Narca)

Yesterday's festivities were enhanced by good conversation over cake and punch. We heard a few tales of the early days, when a local lawyer insisted that a bunch of women opening a gallery in Rodeo wouldn't last the year. (Ah, the value of a challenge!)

One gorgeous cake!

The gallery building itself is a registered historic landmark, an old adobe with walls two feet thick and hardwood floors. It has enjoyed a long, colorful life as general store, bar-and-brothel, and church.

The historic Chiricahua Gallery in Rodeo

I've often thought of our local group of painters as the Borderlands School. We are constellated around the Chiricahua Gallery, this small outpost at the edge of the art galaxy, and I like to think that we are doing good work.

Once a very close friend remarked that she wanted to live in the Big City, "where all the important decisions are made." I disagreed. I believe that the important decisions are made in the quietest of places, in our hearts. Artists probe those quiet places.

It's an artist's job to explore the texture of our psyche, to grope for fresh symbols that can revitalize our lives and our culture. Art calls us back to ourselves. It can expose what is rotten and celebrate what is wondrous. Artists who dig deeply, tapping the core of human experience, can produce work that burns with potency, that inspires us all.

Our renewal is at stake.

A serene nicho, highlighting Dan's crosses and art bowl, Susan Hill's wonderful scarf (let's see––how many of these have I bought?!), and Doug Julian's exquisite calligraphy.

Next time you are roaming through Cave Creek Canyon to look for Elegant Trogons or Montezuma Quail, stop in at our little art outpost in Rodeo. See what the locals are up to!

Those silvery 25 years have clearly enriched our Borderlands heritage!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Steamin' Along

Ordinarily, if Alan and I chase something it has feathers. This morning we rose early and headed up to the Interstate to watch the Union Pacific's historic steam locomotive No. 844 chug from New Mexico into Arizona. At least "chug" was what I expected, but this train was moving out!

The 844 steam locomotive rolls into Arizona, with mighty billows of steam.
(Photo by Narca)

We chased it for a few miles, as far as San Simon. Drivers along I-10 were mightily impressed, judging by the swerving cars and people pulling over for a better look. We leap-frogged the train at various exits, and recorded the event in this video.

This venerable train is here in celebration of New Mexico's and Arizona's statehood centennials. Today it is headed for Tucson. You can check out its full route at this website. The 844 was the Union Pacific's last steam locomotive. It was designed for pulling passenger trains and today is considered the UP's goodwill ambassador, its 67-year-old "Living Legend."

And, just for Milo (whose interest in trains spurred us to get up before dawn for something without feathers): the UP 844 weighs 907,980 pounds and its engine and tender are 114 feet long. That's a grand old train!

My favorite attribute of a train has always been its whistle... heard at night, under a sky ablaze with stars, in a lonely, desolate sweep of land.