Art Walk in Saguache, Colorado
There was an art walk in Saguache today.
We're about 30 minutes away in Crestone so after we ate the zucchini + avocado sandwiches in the sun that I made us for brunch, and after we finished getting ready, we headed out. We pulled into town. Saguache is tiny. It reminds me of Woodstock, IL where Bill Murray's Groundhog Day was filmed but Saguache is much smaller. Much cuter honestly. I'm not unfamiliar with small towns but this one had a lot of artistic charm to it, and that's something I'm not greatly familiar with in the Midwest where it's mostly farmers and junk collectors. Not that that's a bad thing.
The older I get and the more I travel, the more I recognize that life is much different outside of the Midwest. My dad has exposed me to similar communities when I was younger, though mostly in Mexico. Those communities were the stepping stones that, in the future, would encourage me to fall in love with places that sustain themselves through creativity. My dad was smart - he always knew I was an artist. He always knew that my environment would be an important part of nurturing my soul.
The first place we went into was a bare white room that held one full bookcase and hung knick knacks from the ceiling.
Knick knacks possibly pulled from the trash, found rusty in the desert or in an old barn.
Plants that had dried long ago and rocks possibly gathered from wandering adventures.
It was obscure and odd, but it was refreshening and open. An entire experience. All the books were on conquering fear, Native American stories, ones written by Bukowski, poems in DIY stapled books made by local writers. I felt invited to sit on the old hardwood floor (most likely dated to the early 1900's) to open all these books - simply by the experience of this muted yet playful room the artist designed. We didn't meet the artist, but I feel like I did. If only I could explore the land they explore... find the knick knacks they found... read the books they've read.
I never knew about gourd art until today either. One local artisan of Smith Market Gallery creates beautiful gourd art. A gourd is a plant, similar to a squash, with a hard outside and an inside that can be hollowed out and dehydrated. The history of gourd art dates back to BC years. This artisan of Smith Market Gallery attaches deer antlers to them so they can be used as handles, creating a basket with the gourd. He paints on them with leather dye, presenting patterns and colors that resemble the soil and the mountains here in San Luis Valley. As much as I loved the gourds, I knew I couldn't bring one home on the Frontier airlines without dropping another $45 just to carry it on, so I dropped $20 on a "friendship feather" that I will cherish until I no longer have a need for it - then I will pass it on to a friend.
We stopped at a pottery gallery and studio in one after. One of the artists of that joint, the husband (his wife is the other artist), gave us a tour and showed us the amazing brick kiln they built themselves that sat in the backyard past a windowed door. They were playing classical music and clay seemed to cover everything in sight in the studio. I noticed that before the tour, when Michele was passing out her love notes to the artists and giving them hugs as if she'd known them for a lifetime. People here are really welcoming. The gallery was small but it stocked with their alluring handmade pottery. The glazes were beautiful and resembled the mountains, sunsets, and rocks that blanket Colorado. The artist tried to explain these glazes to me in technical terms but I couldn't say anything else other than, "wow, these colors... these textures..." I wouldn't mind playing with pottery one day. I also wouldn't mind creating a great, creative nurturing space for myself one day.
I was distracted by a neon red light soon after.
A bright neon red COFFEE SHOP exploded in my eyeballs.
I haven't been drinking coffee since I arrived in Colorado, simply because my friends don't drink coffee. I mean, I've only been here for 5 days but it's ridiculous how INSTANTLY I wanted to walk toward the neon light. In Chicago, I'm constantly distracted by coffee and dirty chai lattes. The city has made me into a mad consumerism of caffeine, a mad city person going from one place to another, to another, to another... as if every day is my last day on earth. I gotta quit that shit.
So Dome took lead and we walked into this restaurant. The employee seemed rush, which was also funny to my city brain (since I work part-time in a restaurant that sometimes has 100 parties waiting for a table for 3-4 hours). He had us sit down at a dirty table and expressed how he was busy so that we needed to order everything we wanted right away. We ordered one cup of black coffee for me, french fries to share, and two cups of water for my friends. He asked where we were from and said that I definitely didn't look like I was from here. He was young, opinionated and loud-spoked, and told us the town was on the verge of becoming endangered before the restaurant started business. We noticed a black and white photograph on the wall that resembled the inside of the building. When we asked if that was the building's history - we learned that the building had been there since the 1881 (or something crazy like that) and that it was originally a men's club. OOOOO-la-la!
We headed out, walked into a few other places, one being Magpie - a storefront that sells collectibles and imported beautiful artisan work from Ghana and Pakistan. We found ourselves attracted to the patterns and in the end, we convinced ourselves to purchase some jewelry. Only pieces that spoke to us though. I bought two brass bracelets that I'm going to gift to two women that are close to me back in Chicago, and one pair of Fulani brass earrings for me that come from Africa. My friends say these earrings really elongate my neck and the owner of Magpie said they added to my exotic look. SOLD. I'll take those words as wonderful compliments! Dome found the most perfect casted leaf earring that she'll wear by itself - solo earring style - Keith Richards style. If you knew Dome and knew how cool and detail-oriented she is, you'd be like... YES.
The last space we went to was the Hauck Pedersen Gallery.
I was blown away.
The artist, Kelsey Hauck, lives and creates her multi-media collage art out of this beautiful home her and her late husband purchased. They turned it into a studio, gallery, and their home. His art work is all over the walls, they fill the flat drawers, canvases laid in rows and rows under wooden tables, and door frames he built out of bark and fabricated metal that leads out to their garden space. The energy in this space was incredibly filled with love, art, history, stories and natural mediums.
Kelsey spoke about art shows they attended together in NYC, the knowledge from books they discovered that inspired their work, the fact that her husband was her mentor and inspiration, how after they'd sell their art they would collect beautiful pieces for their home. I felt emotional listening to her stories and looking at their history on the walls that stood in front of me and my friends. Now that I'm typing, reflecting on my experience there, I feel a sense of nostalgic desire... a childhood yearning that was to use art as my expression, as my way to say something. To tell a story. To fill my world with meaning.
On our drive home, we talked about how inspired we were.
My friends and I always have these conversations that leave me enthusiastic about life and my work. That's one of the main reasons why I came to visit them, to feel re-charged and re-inspired. One thing I mentioned on our ride back was that in high school, I remembered how much I loved to write. I remember I would journal about my surroundings and my feelings, straight up in the middle of my teacher's lessons. I remember being abstract in my writing and not feeling self-conscious about my words. I remember how my words would flow out onto the paper and somehow, I felt so much better. I was an emotional, somewhat self-destructive pre-teen... only because I was confused about a lot of things that happened in my childhood. Writing helped me overcome obstacles. Somewhere down the road, after hearing "you expose yourself too much" or "you're not friends with people here" only a few times, in terms of me simply wanting to document life around me... I stopped writing so much. I stopped trusting my words, my feelings, my story.
Today has shown me that I need to let go of those fears of sharing what I document.
So here I am. Bare. In words. On your screen, from mine, from my brain. I trust that what pleases me and what I do or where I go will connect me to who/what/where I need to be connected to. I trust myself.