Tag Archives: desert

Living in the Land of Enchantment: Salinas Pueblo Missions

Abo Mission ruins

Abo Mission ruins

One of my favorite places to visit in New Mexico is actually split into 3 separate sites. The Salinas Pueblo Missions has three missions, Quarai, Abo and Gran Quivira. They are all located around Mountainair, NM. The Abo ruins are 9 miles west, Quarai ruins are 8 miles north and the Gran Quivira ruins are 25 miles south of Mountainair. I love visiting these sites and imagining a time when they were bustling villages. I wonder how they lived and what they did everyday to survive in this desert environment.

Quarai Mission ruins

Quarai Mission ruins, the largest of the 3 missions

Because of their remote location, there is rarely more than a couple of people wandering the ruins of any location. The Abo Mission is most visited as it sits near the highway to Mountainair. The Abo and Quarai Missions were built using red sandstone and the Gran Quivira Mission and pueblo was built with white/grey limestone. The red sandstone is especially beautiful when covered in snow.

Gran Quivira Pueblo ruins

Gran Quivira Pueblo ruins

All three were built during the 17th century during Spanish occupation. Although all sites were built as Spanish Missions, they also included Kivas in their buildings which could have been a concession to the beliefs of the Native Americans who lived there alongside the Spanish settlers. Nobody knows why all three sites were abandoned by the 1670s. My personal guess is they may have been abandoned after the pueblo revolt in 1680, when the pueblo indians from all over New Mexico chased the Spanish settlers out of the area. They would not return for 12 years. I would imagine, like other abandoned sites, water could have had something to do with it as well.

Salinas_basin

If you are looking for a day trip from Albuquerque, the Salinas ruins are a great choice. Make sure you fill up your gas tank and maybe even take a picnic lunch, as there isn’t much in the way of gas stations and food in the area. Mountainair does have a cafe or two, but gas can get expensive in those remote, rural areas of New Mexico. Pets are welcome, but must be kept on leash and cleaned up after.

Ruins of the Gran Quivira Mission

Ruins of the Gran Quivira Mission

All three sites are partially handicapped accessible and have handicap restrooms. All sites also have visitors centers with Rangers on hand to answer questions. All sites are open daily, 9 to 5 in winter months and 9-6 in the summer months. Of all the ruins I’ve personally visited across New Mexico, these three are most interesting to me. I highly recommend a visit next time you are in the area!

 

Friday Funday: Artist Date!

 

Friday is Funday in my art studio. I like to put aside all the “business” stuff and have a day to play and enjoy being an artist. Julia Cameron, who wrote the book, “The Artist’s Way”, which I read for the first time almost 20 years ago, recommends taking yourself on an “Artist date”. This is something you do to feed your inner artist. Whether it be going to an art supply store and browsing supplies, or going to an art gallery or museum and looking at art for inspiration. You can do what I do and play in your studio or wherever you make your art.

I forget about this a lot of the time but it’s a great idea! Not just for artists either! EVERYONE should have self dates to feed their creativity or their spirit. You can go it alone or with a friend. Museums and galleries always fuel my inspiration. There is nothing quite like seeing what other artists are doing to light a fire deep inside me to create something new. I recently made a visit to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe with some out of town visitors. Georgia’s work has always had a way of making me want to go out into the desert and paint a landscape. Even though it’s been YEARS since I painted a landscape!

This week, I decided to stay in the studio and paint. This would seem like a normal day in the studio for me but for Friday Funday it’s all about being free and not trying to control what I’m painting. No judgements, no mistakes, just FUN!

8 x 10" oil painting on canvas is a work in progress, "Abstract flower".

Playing with paint today this 8 x 10″ oil painting on canvas is a work in progress, “Abstract flower”.

Today, as everyday, I started with a 20 minute meditation. I had another painting show itself to me today (see above). Before this week, it had been about a year since I had taken out the paints and brushes. I just wasn’t feeling it. I was looking for something new to do. My thinking was I needed to make art that was functional. Something that would be used and not just hung on a wall or stuck in a closet.

It started last summer with creating an adult coloring book. Interactive art! I hand drew 20 mandalas and published my own book. Now available in printed and pdf format in my Etsy shop.

After the coloring book I was reminded of how much I enjoy sewing and pulled my dusty old sewing machine out of the closet, and had it cleaned up and serviced so it would work again! I found Spoonflower.com and designed my own custom fabric using my art. I started making dolls and art pillows using my custom art fabric.

Now that I’ve totally taken a tangent from my original topic, I will come back around to say it’s all related! Art and creativity is all about play! It’s about going with the flow and creating whatever comes to mind. Why be pigeonholed by painting? Painters can create in other mediums too. The coloring book project forced me to pull out pencils and markers to make line drawings. The sewing project took me completely out of my normal creation zone and back to being a kid who made dolls for the State Fair. Not to mention creating custom fabric bringing out the graphic designer in me to create designs in photoshop.

What I’ve learned from the whole process is sometimes it’s important to do things differently. When we feel like we are in a rut, shake things up! Get out of your comfort zone. Instead of painting, try your hand at ceramics or sewing! I still have an urge to make pottery, but haven’t gotten that far just yet. Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

“Desert Textures”

It’s finally done! 🙂 I cannot even remember how long ago I first conceived of the idea of this series of photographs. It’s been months for sure. There are 14 images so far all together, with more on the way.

I created a poster that features twelve of the close up images. The Desert Textures series is just the first of several Textures series I have planned. The next grouping is “Sky Textures”.

heart flower painting in progress

Current “Words” series painting, still a work in progress

I’m still working on the “Words” painting series alongside this photography series. I have the next painting on my table now, progress photo above.

Photography has always been a favorite side project of mine. I majored in Photojournalism my first year in college and learned how to develop my own film, black and white of course.

I have always said the only reason I didn’t become a professional photographer is because I never seem to have my camera with me when the perfect shot comes my way. I decided last year to change that and bought my first iPhone. I found the Instagram app and that inspired me to start my textures series.

My other current side project is “Sunlight”, a music group I sing in with my husband, Guitar Aaron and our friend, Ray. I guess it’s true what they say about creatives, our attention span is short! I like to think of it as multitasking! There are just so many creative projects to accomplish, and it’s all so much fun! 🙂

Sunlight is going on a short regional tour in March! We will play venues in Phoenix, Tucson, and Bisbee, AZ as well as Albuquerque and Las Cruces NM.

Singing has always been a dream of mine, since I was a wee one. It’s a project we started about 1 1/2 years ago and it has been nothing but a great time! I’m living proof that you are never too old to follow your heart and live your dreams! 🙂

Lessons Learned

photo of the stage at Fiddler's Dream coffee house

The stage at Fiddler’s Dream Coffee House

Last night we made it home from our second trip out in the RV. We went back to Arizona again. This time starting off in Phoenix where we had a Sunlight show at Fiddler’s Dream coffee house. Then heading to Tucson the next day where we had a gig at Delectables restaurant.

Aaron and I, Sunlight, before our show

Aaron and I (Sunlight), before hopping on stage for our show

Fiddler’s Dream is just that, a dream venue! The audience is actually listening and not just there to eat and visit with each other. We had a really wonderful response there, it was lovely. We will definitely go back on our next trip to Phoenix! Before we left Phoenix, we spent the late morning/early afternoon at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens. They had an exhibit of Chihuly glass sculptures all throughout the gardens.

Chihuly glass sculpture

Chihuly glass sculpture at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens

Though it was a bit chilly, it was a lovely sunny day to be there. We met a friend there and also had a nice lunch in the patio cafe where the quail were so tame they came right up to us and practically ate out of our hands. I have never seen so many quail in one place and NEVER so tame!

Chihuly glass sculpture in the gardens

Chihuly glass sculpture in the gardens

tame quail in the patio cafe at the botanical gardens

tame quail in the patio cafe at the botanical gardens

quail at the botanical gardens

quail at the botanical gardens

There was also a lone squirrel in the mix that did, in fact, come up to me and take a piece of bread from my hand. He even posed for several photos!

squirrel that ate out of my hands!

squirrel that ate out of my hands!

Delectables was another lovely venue. It was a restaurant/bar and though the audience wasn’t there just for the music (we played for an art opening), they were friendly and welcoming. The owner, Donna, was sweet and invited us to come back anytime we were in Tucson.

more Chihuly glass

more Chihuly glass

The third day, we were supposed to be on our way to Bisbee to play a show at the Grand Hotel Saloon, but our RV had other plans. It started the night before on our way back to the RV park from our gig at Delectables. The night had gone really well, the crowd enjoyed our music and we enjoyed the crowd. That is, until we pulled onto the freeway and the RV started shaking and rocking back and forth. Aaron immediately pulled over because we thought we had blown out a tire. He got out, walked around to look at all the tires and got back in saying they were all still fine. So, we fired the engine back up and got back on the road and everything seemed fine.

Huge Chihuly glass sculpture

Huge Chihuly glass sculpture

The next morning we headed back out on the road with the intention of making a couple of stops for a new air filter and dish soap before we hit the road towards Bisbee for our show at 4pm that afternoon. This time we were exiting the interstate when the shaking and rocking started. This was enough for us to stop in the parking lot in front of the auto parts store and check the tires and underside of the RV once again, this time in the light of day. There was evidence of something being off with the suspension, so we ended up calling the roadside assistance number for a tow truck. Incidentally, we had JUST purchased the roadside assistance before leaving on this trip. Thank goodness!

RV hooked up to the tow truck

Hooked up to the tow truck, finally, after a 3-4 hour wait!

Long story short, after a 3-4 hour wait (it was a Sunday after all), we got towed to the mechanic’s yard and ended up spending the night there while waiting for our new tires to be ordered and delivered Monday morning. By Monday afternoon, we were back on the road thinking we had taken care of all the RV issues. We had already planned on going home that day anyway. To our dismay, we found ourselves stopped on the side of the road again, this time because we were losing power and backfiring. After some consultation with friends and family on facebook we bought some fuel cleaner and that seemed to help enough to get us to Las Cruces (halfway point) for the night.

Aaron and I at the botanical gardens

Aaron and I at the botanical gardens

Needless to say, we have learned a thing or two on our first couple of RV trips! Due to monetary concerns, we have been forced to come home until at least the end of February. Here’s a short list of our lessons learned;

1. Roadside assistance membership is a MUST!

2. Three dogs is way too much for a small motor home! Any motor home really, they need a yard to run in and I HATE cleaning up dog poop in those little plastic bags! Gross!

3. Towing a car behind your motor home may be a pain, but having a car when you get to your destination is priceless. Bikes are fine, but when you get a flat tire in a small town, you’re stuck with a flat tire until you get to a place that has a bike shop. Also, driving a motor home to a gig can be difficult when it comes time to find a parking space!

4. Though it is nice to travel around in a motor home and have your home always with you, it’s also nice to have a home to go back to when the trip is over. Since we rented out all the rooms in our house with plans to live full time in our RV, we had to sleep on our mattress on the floor of our living room when we got home last night because it was WAY too cold to sleep out in the RV!