Archive for November, 2011

Alpine Art Adventure

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30, 2011 by Queenie

Well now. I do so dislike starting off my missives with such negatories as those lame sounding apologies for being MIA for such an extended length of time. As I posted this I saw that my last monthly pearl of wisdom was way back in September. Some punctual pontificator I claim to be. You’d think I could at least come up with a pithy monthly Queenie Quote. Looks like October and November were shut outs in that department.

At any rate, it’s nigh on to December, and I have to put tales of the RRT on hold for a while, and get back to what has been happening of late, lest all of it get away. It’s been a hectic couple of months, zooming back and forth to New Mexico in October, (again to New Mexico!), and now I’m just back from West Texas for yet another art expedition of the Making a Living variety, although both were attempts to be such. New Mexico was a head banging experience, with much ado given and taken, and what a relief to be back home from that one. There I was just one Western Hat adrift in a sea of them, and the attendees were much more interested in said hats and saddles and boots and tack and jewelry and clothing and live music than fine art photography, but I did manage to make at least a niggling of a profit when all was said and done. New Mexico was a rough ride this year for art shows, for all sorts of reasons. Arty (my trusty steed of a van) had a couple of collapses on the road in July, and the October show just wasn’t my venue. Other than that……..

But Alpine, in West Texas….. Ah, that felt better. And it was better. So before the Christmas season and big show is upon me, here’s a little rundown of adventures in West Texas, and a swell time had by all.

I headed off in the Westerly direction the week before Thanksgiving with my artist pal Kathleen, who had volunteered to be my roadie this time – I suppose since she’s been wanting to see that part of the country for a while, and the fact that she “owed me one,” seeing that I served as her mule a few years ago when she did a show in the far reaches of the panhandle, almost in Oklahoma. Too bad I wasn’t blogging back then – that was a story! But again to now – two artist buddies, off on an art adventure… a sure recipe for fun – even the work part.

I’ve been showing the past two years at the historic Holland Hotel in Alpine during the biggest weekend of the year, ArtWalk, in which the entire town goes ape for art, and the whole of Holland Avenue becomes one long art gallery and walkable party. For the longest time I didn’t know which end was up for this year’s event, at least as far as the hotel was concerned, since my emails, letters and phone calls to the owner went unanswered. Imagine my surprise when I found out he was long gone and history himself, and the hotel had been sold to new interests – from Connecticut! Who knew? The gal who ramrods the whole affair was kind enough to go to bat for me with the new owners, and for another year, I was in! I love the Holland with its old hotel feel, and room enough for me to present a good show. Game on.

Wednesday was travel day, Thursday was set up day, and Friday we opened for business. Most of the day was spent with friends and getting to know the hotel staff since the tourist types and art lovers don’t generally show up until Saturday. I’m glad we had so many people to talk to who were on the friends list, for at the end of a 12 hour day, my sum total of sales was $60. Well, there’s a cold dose of reality for you, but I was glad to see my many friends from the area who were up from the park, and Terlingua, and many points in between. Bless those friends!

Here we are commanding the room, all dressed Western and sporting our best jewels, ready for the rush. Thanks to my friend Ara for the picture, who has the most adventuresome life I know. Check out his website at www.theoasisofmysoul.com. You’ll be amazed.

 

And, of course, there was art. At one side are a few of my new rust images from that wonderful lot full of old cars in Colorado this summer. Nice to know that running away from home pays off photographically. More on that later…..

 

 

View from the lobby into the Art Room. That horse still draws them in, and speaks to many.

 

And some of my abstracts from the Grand Canyon, and an arch from Eve’s Garden. More about that to come, too.

 

Saturday dawned another day, and when Kathleen and I showed up early to do some tweaking and take advantage of breakfast offered to us by the hotel, we found people wandering around in the room long before we were to open. And happy to say, we sold more before we officially “opened” at 10 o’clock than all the day before, and then some. It was the start of a fantastic day that just kept getting better.

One of the highlights of ArtWalk is the Art Car Parade, a gathering of both locals and traveling misfits who come together to spread joy and just plain fun with their various creations and concoctions of whimsey and wonder. There’s not so much to be described as just enjoyed, and here are a few of the participants.

 

These fantastical bikes are from the Austin Bike Zoo. Looks like fun to me.

 

Girl power!

 

Mouse power!

 

Dragon power, with fire!

 

These folks were here in support of the Wild Burro Protection League. If you haven’t heard, they’re shooting the wild burros in the Big Bend. Supposedly they are impacting the habitat of the Bighorn Sheep in the area. Well, can’t have that, if it should happen to impact the hunters who are going out to kill the Bighorns. (Sarcasm intended.) Can you imagine putting one of these adorable creatures in your sights and pulling the trigger? Wish I could take all of them and put them in the Back 40…. where I suppose they would impact the habitat of the developers therein. Sometimes you just can’t win. A banner on one of the burros said “Peace on Earth.” Sigh…. I wish.

 

Of course there has to be a dog…

 

And speaking of dogs, there were several visitors in the Art Room. One of the most photogenic was a Borzoi. Since I am a Collie lover, I am quite partial to long noses. It’s always nice to have a fur fix when you’ve left your babies at home. Look at those eyes.

 

As the day progressed, sales continued, and then when evening rolled around the serious partying commenced. Now of course I had to stay on point and tend to customers, but things were afoot in the courtyard as the new owners and staff were unwinding with wine and munchies. Kathleen was invited to sit in when she went out for a break, and then things began to get interesting.

Before the evening was over, we found out that we’d been very well received at the hotel – they were more than pleased with what we’d presented, and both of us would be invited back next year. (Kathleen had smartly brought her portfolio with her, hoping to make some inroads into the art scene in West Texas), and even more would be revealed the next morning when we came back to break down the show.

By the way, here is Kathleen’s website, and a sample of her work, which is Pyrography: www.kathleenmariestudio.com

 

Meantime, fun was still breaking out here and there in the hotel. Uncle Sam paid us a visit…

 

And so did Sassy the Clown, sans makeup and outfit, awarding me a special gift. I’m thinking this is what I must’ve looked like after all that Patron at MaloCon. I know, I haven’t said much or anything about MaloCon yet, and those stories may have to remain classified.

 

We got back to our home base late, and couldn’t stop talking about the tremendous turn the day had taken. Before it was over I’d had the best sales ever at ArtWalk, and there would be more to come in the morning.

On Sunday we went back to the Holland to take it all down, but we had more to discuss with the owners and management. Turns out  the Holland will likely use some of my images on their website, and hang several of the photographs in their rooms, and handle sales as a gallery of sorts for me. I left several of my pieces with them, (they loved my rust images!), to display. (Wow.) They had also bought the upscale sister motel down at the other end of town, and it seems both Kathleen’s and my Western themed art will fit in there, too. There’s talk of a gallery type opening for the both of us sometime around Spring Break, though that’s still in the talking stage. Maybe, just maybe, images might end up in their Connecticut hotels, too. We’ll see how it all shakes out, but it feels mighty good, and something I’ve been working and hoping for in these last two years. Perhaps it’s all coming together. Have I said how much I love West Texas?

We said all our goodbyes, then I took Kathleen on a quick tour of town, and then we loaded up our personal belongings and headed out to the next part of our adventure. But before we got out of Alpine we stopped in at the Maverick Inn, the other motel now owned by the Connecticut Mafia, (their terminology, not mine!), to see the lay of the land, so to speak. There we met Bonnie and Clyde, the mascots of the place. And here was our first glance at Clyde, who clearly rules, as seen from the parking lot.

 

The icing on the cake for the trip, and a reward of sorts for my roadie, was a visit to Eve’s Garden, just about my favorite destination in the high desert country out there. Only 30 miles east of Alpine, it’s a quick motor trip to get there on one of those lonesome West Texas roads. This day it was highlighted by a wonderful moving vista of the Westbound freight trains making shadow pictures in the blowing grasses by the side of the road in the glorious moments of the Golden Hour of Light. Beautiful and transfixing. There was a mandatory stop at one of my favorite road cuts for rock gathering – just the most interesting fracture lines – all in squares and angles. And the sky was glorious cobalt blue – that blue usually seen in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah – that kind of sky.

 

In short time we pulled up at Eve’s Garden, and were greeted by a collared dove in the branches above us. Never a bad time at this magical place.

 

Nothing to do, (besides chatting with the incredible hosts of the place), except take pictures pictures pictures. There is always something new to explore, and we weren’t disappointed. It was Kathy’s first trip, so she was agog, and I’m always so when I’m there.

 

Fresh flowers from the garden were awaiting me by my bedside. Who could ask for anything more?

 

They’ve built an incredible greenhouse on the property, now growing all sorts of edibles, and it is purely a miraculous space.  Here’s one of the squash growing huge from the rafters above.  All this, in the desert.

 

Powerful woman Alaine, Kate’s daughter-in-law, (she and husband Noble are here for their stint at Eve’s Garden for the winter – they’ll return to Costa Rica in the spring), applies “mud” for the surface of the outer walls of their private apartment in progress. It will be 4 stories high! (They’re young.)

 

Kathy and I had adjoining rooms, both with courtyards, and we shot till the light faded and we had to make ourselves presentable for dinner.  Let me say you’ve not had a proper and mesmerizing shower till you’ve experienced one in the incredible rooms there. Hard to describe – only that they are sexy, organic, and fabulously artsy. (Have I said how much I love Eve’s Garden?)

The crown of my courtyard arch, with inlaid bottles, as the sun begins to set.

 

Up to the roof for sunset views.

 

Kathy bathed in West Texas sunlight.

 

Just another sunset in West Texas, from the roof above our rooms. I couldn’t begin to get it all in the lens. The clouds streamed so high overhead, and then the horizontal ones went all the way around to the eastern horizon. Magnificent.

 

 

 

And the last of the light through the courtyard gate.

 

And spacey shots of my bathroom from in front of the courtyard. I’m ready for that shower. But check out that star over the domes. Think there’s not magic here?

 

 

Next morning it was time for the inside shots – new doors and blooms and viewpoints. I might be aiming for 4 cardsets of Eve’s Garden – a tie with the Grand Canyon!

View from my room to the inside area courtyard, where most of the rooms open into.

 

Here are our side by side rooms, and the doors and colors chosen, along with the garden plantings, make a sublime study.

 

It’s just too picturesque not to, so obligatory posing was done by the both of us. Kathy looks relaxed, I am in zap position.

 

There was, of course, breakfast. Now we had an informal affair, since we were between “real guests.” Still, there were Alaine’s homemade currant scones with fabulous citrusy butter, and luscious scrambled eggs. You’ll have one of the best breakfasts on the planet if you stay at Eve’s Garden. Guaranteed.

 

We spent what was left of the morning poking around the place, looking into nooks and crannies, and photographing everything that wouldn’t move. How cute is this furry little seed pod?

 

And here the window into Kate’s studio, where she does her wonderful flower arrangements, having the source of such beauty at her fingertips, but not without a lot of work. Just a bit of the gardens are reflected in the window, along with the photographer.

 

And a new favorite abstract – simple, but it sure talks to me.

 

But finally time to go, late, as usual. Goodbye to beautiful Kate, the Queen of Eve’s Garden – an artist herself who doesn’t have time for her “art,” but then this whole place is her canvas, as it is with Clyde and Noble and Alaine. It is indeed a wonder, as are each of them. Indulge yourself and find out more about this most wonderful place and living in concert with Planet Earth at www.evesgarden.org.

 

So off we go, headed north and east, until…. What IS that swaying in the rear end of the van? We pulled over to check, and sure enough, a very low tire. Very very low. Can we make it eleven more miles to the next little town? Well, almost. We drove in on the rim, only to find there are three or four gas stations there, but all out of business! No way I can get my heavily loaded van up with that piddly little jack that comes with it. The kind lady at the Post Office directed us to a building down the street where a fellow named Arlen might help us out.

And he did! Heroes still exist. He opened up his place for us – one that contained a big time jack and an air compressor and all the right tools, and in short order Arty was healed from his thrown shoe. Thank you Arlen!

 

Restored to roadworthiness, off we went again, with a requisite stop at my favorite overlook on Highway 349 where you can see  a great length of the Government Road – used to be the main route from the forts of West Texas back into the central part. How they made it up that hill I’ll never fathom. But being there at late light makes for fun pictures and long legs.

 

 

We moved on and had dinner at famous Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant in Ozona, where it’s Christmas all the time. And then home. Late. And who would’ve believed it – it rained during the night as I lay blissfully in my own bed. Another blessing, and the perfect end to a wonderful adventure.

We’re still smiling from all the goodness and bounty of this trip: Friends old and new, Connections, Laughter and Hugs, Excellent Sales, and a new future with promise in one of my favorite towns.

Now Christmas is coming as I go full tilt boogie into preparation for my biggest show of the year. Check out the Dillo: www.armadillochristmasbazaar.com, and come see me if you can. I bet I’m still smiling.

Ain’t Life Grand, Y’all?