Marks and Mark Making

Pottery shards from a bygone era are everywhere along the upper mesa at Tsankawi

One of the best parts of visiting New Mexico is the rich mix of mark making. A sense of surfaces that have been touched is everywhere, some of it from human hands and some of it by other means. In a landscape that leans naturally into the minimalist and the contemplative, even the smallest gestures deserve attention.

So outdoors and in, alone and in company of friends, some great moments happened for me, extraordinary occasions for the eye to flood the interior landscape with a rare refulgence. That transformative experience—that “retinal flutter”—can and does happen everywhere that our engaged eyes travel. But there is something about the desert variety of those encounters that speaks personally and particularly to me. I have desert dirt in me, going back many generations, which is a handy explanation albeit an incomplete one.

A few highlights for those of you interested in the area of artmaking: Elmer Schooley (I have written about him previously here) has moments of brilliance that stand out from the rest of his work. The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art collection in Roswell has probably the most exquisite Schooley I have ever seen in person. Untitled, it alone justified the 3 hour drive from Santa Fe. Other worthy viewables in Roswell: Susana Jacobson (my old LES loft mate), Johnnie Winona Ross and Jean Promutico.

Between jaunts into the desert on my own, I visited the studios of several friends. Having time to sit with extraordinary work and to talk about this engagement that mutually fills our waking (and dreaming) consciousness was so memorable. These New Mexico-based artists are doing work that continues to inspire, engage and delight me:

Ciel Bergman
David Forlano
Diane McGregor

Special thanks to the inimitable Jill Fineberg who was an intrepid advocate and friend throughout my visit.

I am off again tomorrow, this time to DC to celebrate the wedding of my sweet niece Sarah Larsen (plus some time with my ever changing and ever engaging granddaughter Siena Wilcox), but I’ll be back to being Boston-based next week.

Untitled, by Elmer Schooley

Untitled (detail)

Untitled (even closer in)

Johnnie Winona Ross at Anderson

Jean Promutico at Anderson

Susan Jacobson at Anderson

spaceship clouds
The view of spaceship clouds from Tsankawi

Surface of the water at the hot springs at Ojo Caliente

The Earthship Biotecture near Taos

More Earthship

bitter lake
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

At Bitter Lake


Desert wall

Visiting Ciel Bergman’s studio (Photo: Jill Fineberg)

9 Comment

  1. The Elmer Schooley and the Jean Promutico at Anderson are sensational pieces! Oh, and the plant you photographed at Bitter Lake is called Apache Plume — one of the most delicate and lovely of desert flora and one of my favorites! Such a delight to see you again, and have you visit the studio. Your insights are invaluable!

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      So glad to hear your resonance with the Schooley and the Promutico pieces. And thank you for giving that delicate plant a beautiful name. So rich, our time together. xoxo

  2. Susana Jacobson says:

    Lovely piece on a lovely place! Thanks for you thoughts; makes me want to get myself back there.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      I have pictures of the other one of your gorgeous pieces on display as well. I’ll send it to you. It is quite a place.

  3. Deborah, We had such a great time having you visit. Your wise words and thoughtful insights are inspiring. Much fun! More in the future!

  4. ANN SCOTT says:

    Fabulous! AH I want to go back so badly and spend a serious chunk of time there. I hope you got to have some great solo time for you…only you. It’s so necessary!

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Ann, thanks. And I did get some serious time alone, which was so so satisfying. I know you know what that means!

  5. So … So …so GREAT to have been present for so many of these images, and to share Mark Making with you while here. It’s sweet to see the chards and clouds in your imagery. We miss you! Jill, Audrey Hepburn, Mister Studmuffin, and Bamboo

  6. Handsome images–both the human-made and the ‘natural’.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: