As a creative person I thrive on inspiring new stimulus. My trip this summer did exactly that. It also found me returning to my roots was grounding experience. I hadn’t been back to the States in over four years and a visit was long overdue. Six plane flights, seven states and 2,500 miles driven in two different vehicles within 30 days. The South West including Amarillo, Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, Sedona and a snippet of Phoenix began my adventure. This was followed by Seattle, Chicago and St Louis.
I saw the Mississippi twice from the air and drove over it twice. Just by luck I had a window seat and flew directly over the Grand Canyon on a clear day on the way from Phoenix to Seattle leaving me with a forever jaw-dropping memory of how really extraordinary this world really is.
I began my big adventure in the Southwest which is pure visual eye candy. This includes the landscape, paintings, sculpture, jewellery and extraordinary colour. Santa Fe has creativity crammed in every nook and cranny much of it rooted in native American and Hispanic culture. Canyon Road was incredible and took nearly eight hours to walk top to bottom visiting the art galleries, talking with gallery owners and artists. One afternoon found me perusing the Railyard District galleries. One in particular was the Evoke Gallery where I spoke a long time with Susan who gave me a sneak peek at the then upcoming Nicholas Herrera exhibition, an outsider artist. I was struck by one of his pieces that was a commentary on the Mexican/American border wall, a gentle reminder to how close I was to this hot current political topic.
Not only are there galleries everywhere, there are also many museums. One of my favourites was the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Georgia O’Keeffe was also from the Midwest and spent time in Chicago. She also spent time in Lake George, New York where I too spent much time as a child.
It was fortuitous that we were in Santa Fe during the 16th International Folk Market. We spent a good chunk of Sunday trawling the market stalls and going to the Folk Museum.
There were makers from all over the world. I have never seen such colour or pattern all in one place. Whilst at the Market we also visited the Folk Museum whereby I was struck by the work of Alfonso Sulca who is a famous contemporary weaver in Santa Ana, Ayachicho. He is known for is flat weavings that create optical illusions.
This had not been my first visit to the Southwest. I visited as ten-year old making my way from Chicago to Phoenix with my parents and brother in a 1972 Le Sabre pulling a 25-foot trailer/caravan. I suspect we had driven the old Rt 66 before the new highway was built although not entirely sure. During this current drive trip from Oklahoma City, I couldn’t help myself comparing what I was seeing to my ten-year old self memories. We stopped along the way at some of the old crumbling Rt 66 sites. The rich red and pink landscape, at times seemingly moonscape is unlike anywhere else and I found it incredible how much it was familiar and how much I did remember.
Between Santa Fe and the Grand Canyon, we detoured through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. When editing these photographs, I had a bit of a Photoshop play working with double images. Here is one of them, Painted Desert Reflected.
The heat was extraordinary and when visiting the Grand Canyon, it was well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (@ 38 degrees Celsius). Sedona and the Musical Instrument Museum (largest collection of musical instruments under one roof) in Phoenix were also on our menu.
I followed the Southwest adventure with a trip to Seattle where I visited friends and family and also had a lovely visit to the Chihuly Glass Museum for the first time. It is strategically placed beneath the Space Needle.
Chicago found me not in Chicago but on the outskirts visiting friends followed by a long drive to St Louis to visit family – all of which was good for the soul and very grounding indeed.
I look forward to the future and how this experience affects my creative making. Watch this space!