I’m back from five days in New Mexico. Born in the desert and more at home in that landscape than anywhere else, I have been in a deep need for that stark horizontality, for the vistas that read both minimally and maximally, for the understated tonality that invites your eye to detect the slightest variations in color and light.
It was also my first visit to my new gallery, Zane Bennett. Located in a recently renovated two-storey adobe building near SITE Santa Fe, the gallery now fills a space that used to house a brothel (or so says one old timer who only grinned when I asked him how he knew that to be the case). Everyone on the staff is knowledgeable, professional and engaging. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this venture.
Lots of high points on this trip. Like returning to one of my favorite spots, the natural hot springs at Ojo Caliente. Twenty years ago it was a funky, rustic hideaway located off the road between Santa Fe and Taos, but it always succeeded in bringing me in touch with an earthy, inchoate energy. “Hot eye” is a good name since it suggests an earth opening that is moist, porous and wise. Sacred to the Native Americans long before any white folks were looking for a place to soak, the pools at Ojo have waters that are rich in iron, lithium, soda and arsenic.
It has been nine years since my last visit, and the sleepy roadside spa and strip motel is no more. After changing hands a number of times, Ojo is now owned by a Japanese family. New buildings and a definite Asian aesthetic have replaced the tents and tarps. And it works. We had a memorable day at the new Ojo with good friends and local residents Anne and Paxton Robey.
Another memorable leg of this journey: Reconnecting with friend of sculptor Paula Castillo. Sharing a gallery space with her husband Terry, Paula lives in Cordova, a small town on the High Road between Chimayo and Taos. Her sculpture is complex and yet utterly beautiful. It interweaves the heavy with the airy, the masculine with the feminine. Physically tiny, Paula builds massive metal pieces that never lose their sense of the hand. It is almost as if she is stitching and quilting in metal. She was commissioned recently to create pieces for the facade of the new History Museum in Santa Fe. To describe these as site-appropriate is selling them short. They are site-maximal, site-magical. In other words, just plain stunning.