In 2006 I took a Road Trip from San Francisco to New Mexico and back over the course of a month, writing and taking photos all the way. Two years later I had a show of paintings based on those photographs. This is one of a series of twenty-nine posts of those paintings accompanied by the relevant diary entries.
19.May 12th, 2006.
Went to Taos for breakfast. Took a while to find my bearings. Taos is…cute. Didn’t bother going into any galleries. Got a gigantic sausage and egg burrito-was told I had finished the most anyone had that day…
There’s that Irish ‘finish everything on your plate, what about the black babies, and sure aren’t you lucky you don’t remember the famine syndrome..’
..and I didn’t finish all of it either, rebel that I am.
Mabel Dodge Luhans’ House is now a hotel-quite lovely but in the lobby there was classical music playing and it was all a bit swish. I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay there. Nice to see the outside but the artists retreat like Indian culture is long dead and viewing the carcass isn’t the same thing.
Went to the pueblo. Cranky again. Hot. Shops in every house nearly. All the questions arose again. Undeniably it depressed me.
Taos Pueblo is a famous settlement, home to the Pueblo Indians, and is one of a few to have been continuously inhabited since they were founded. Taos Pueblo is said to have been built between 1000 and 1400. It consists of adobe houses, built close together and rising five or six stories.
The shops I did go into were swish-pots for $4000!
Anasazi pottery is distinctive, made from white or grey clay, and is quite beautiful. It appeared as early as 200 A.D. The pots for sale would have been modern versions.
One young man was drawing a design on a drum with a permanent marker which made me wonder what exactly are we supposed to be paying for.
..and how much that tiny drum coloured in with marker was going to be priced. $2000?
Is this Indian culture?A modern facsimile of the same?The appreciation of the culture kills it-creates a demand, changes the things people are buying or want. The shops reminded of me of those Irish gift shops I would not shop in, in a million years. I want the real thing. Which is unobtainable. So I left.
Later I dozed in the outside sitting room with my new detective book and woke to the sounds of the strange, large, girl and an English guy talking. So I got into my first conversation in weeks. Patty is an artist and she’s quite a good one too. Another lady-in her 50s joined us, on a road trip from Alaska to Mexico including a seven night stay in a silent catholic order somewhere in California or Mexico.
Patty, who has auditory dyslexia-‘greek version of sickle cell anaemia’ and various other ailments-told me there is a Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. Might try and see it.
There are cats here which is nice. Patty did a painting of one this afternoon. That’s two paintings today!
This was the first time I had heard of a hearing ailment which it turns out I probably have. Patty called it Audio Dyslexia and linked it to her Greek heritage (she was from Indiana though) but there is something called Central Audio Processing Disorder (CAPD) where the brain finds it hard to interpret speech. I have inner ear damage. Hearing aids should have helped but they served to confuse me a lot. Eventually, a few years after my trip, a consultant suggested I had CAPD but it cannot be officially diagnosed once there is ear damage too.
Eventually went and got something to eat in Taos, Orlandos, blue corn, beef, enchilada with beans and guacamole. Yes!
There are some really ‘cool’ people here, dreadlocks (shudder) etc. who are far too cool to say hello. Said hi to one girl who has been ignoring me, and everyone else I assume, just to annoy her.
Cool people are not for me. Maybe that’s why they annoy me. Maybe I want to be cool too but these are not my kind of people. I am drawn to the others, the flotsam, the jetsam, the damaged, they are more real to me.
Later in my shed…I feel a migraine coming on. There is a lurid painting of an Indian warrior on his knees beside his horse lit by a blinding light in the sky. A romanticism of a culture long dead. This is the age of ideas, the age of romance. Culture packaged and sold, true love, fame, communion with the gods, success-all these are answers to our questions, our hungriness. But there is not answer and all we are searching for is our own death, which is the answer to everything.