acequia and clouds
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\r\n","cleanDescription":" ","publish_start_moment":"2013-12-26T14:00:00.000Z","publish_end_moment":"2017-12-18T22:21:01.759Z"},{"_id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f939","author_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f184","title":"Over the Wall","slug":"over-the-wall-84478","image_id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f48c","publish_start":"2013-12-26T14:00:00.000Z","enable_comments":true,"categories_ids":["58c839601f16f9392cf09a98","58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3","58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8"],"tags_ids":["59090c80e1efff4c9916fa05","59090cb1e1efff4c9916fa25","59090d03e1efff4c9916fa58"],"cms_tags_ids":["58b061ec6a2b0936c34a23ea"],"enabled":true,"custom_tagline":"Native art thrives in New Mexico for a reason.","created":"2013-12-26T14:39:34.000Z","legacy_id":"84478","blog":"magazine","_title_sort":"over the wall","updated":"2017-10-31T21:31:31.060Z","active":true,"description_raw":"

When I was young, my family lived on the Bacone College campus in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Every Sunday after church, we visited the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, and I used my modest allowance to buy small prints and cards of work by local Native artists—my entrée to art collecting. That curiosity eventually led me to the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), in Santa Fe, which I attended in 1995 after working for many years as a bike messenger in San Francisco. There I studied two-dimensional art for just two semesters, when it was still located in the “Barracks” on the old College of Santa Fe campus. From 1996 onward, until I moved back to New Mexico, I split my time between San Francisco and Oklahoma. I craved extremely broad experience in my field, and moving around was a necessity, in order to be exposed to the widest possible range of viewpoints and perspectives on mainstream and Native art. And yet, what I experienced along the way ultimately drew me back to Santa Fe.

\r\n\r\n

You see, in grad school at the San Francisco Art Institute, students and some instructors kept exhibiting what I call The Wall—an absolute unwillingness to engage with Indigenous subject matter. The Bay Area has no shortage of romantic notions about Native Americans, but the persistent stereotypes in the local art scene were: Indians are tragic. Indians are dead. Indians are completely irrelevant to the contemporary world.

\r\n\r\n

A perfect example of these misperceptions is the initial reaction to my painting Bambi Makes Some Extra Bucks Modeling at the Studio, which I painted and first exhibited in San Francisco. The work centers on art teacher Dorothy Dunn (1903–1992), who taught in the Studio at the Santa Fe Indian School. Dunn, whose students included giants like Allan Houser, Harrison Begay, Pop Chalee, Quincy Tahoma, and Pablita Velarde, was a controversial figure who moved Indian education away from assimilation, while forcing on her Native students one particular style of painting. There is a blue deer in the painting—a reference to “Bambi Art,” the derogatory term for the Flatstyle Native American painting that Dunn taught to her students.

\r\n\r\n

Taos Pueblo artist Pop Chalee sold several of her paintings of stylized blue deer to Walt Disney prior to his studio’s release of the popular animated movie Bambi, hence the style’s nickname. Mid–20th-century non-Native “Indian art experts” heralded Flatstyle painting as the only authentic form of Native American painting, and rejected more experimental Native art from exhibitions. Thankfully, the 1962 founding of IAIA in Santa Fe signaled an end to the constraints of Bambi Art.

\r\n\r\n

My Bambi painting was not just another piece of Bambi Art, but rather a comment on Dunn’s influence and the art world’s (critics’, mostly) ignorance about the deer’s important cultural and symbolic meaning. In Huichol cosmology, the blue deer, named Tamatsi Maxayuawi, is the elder brother of humans. Huichol religion influenced that of northern tribes through peyote religion and the Native American Church, to which many of these Flatstyle artists belonged. Non-Native art writers belittled the blue deer and so-called Bambi Art in the late 20th century, oblivious that the blue deer was very significant to Native peoples. Dismissing Bambi Art as a mere stylistic choice was like dismissing a culture’s belief system.

\r\n\r\n

My Bambi painting garnered negative criticism from well-meaning yet naïve critics in San Francisco. But when Bambi showed at the IAIA Museum, in Santa Fe (now the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts), everyone got it. Former IAIA Museum director and faculty emeritus Chuck Dailey pointed out that the stick in Dorothy Dunn’s hand was real—and that she used it to hit students who didn’t paint the way she wanted them to. Still, Dunn encouraged many Native artists who ultimately found their own styles. And then it dawned on me: Santa Fe was the place where challenging, nuanced work could be respected. The city’s location and ancient Puebloan history meant that many people there already had a deep connection to Native art and culture.

\r\n\r\n

This became almost painfully clear to me the first time I participated as an artist in the Santa Fe Indian Market. I remember feeling a little cocky about how complex my work was. I had a gouache painting of a Maidu dancer covered in pelican feathers, wearing a coyote headdress. (I’m much more careful and deliberate about cross-cultural appropriation now.) Several times I launched into a rehearsed explanation of a historical figure in a painting—only to discover that a visitor to my booth was related to the subject!

\r\n\r\n

My Bambi painting was also part of Native Pop, a 2006 exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts (now the New Mexico Museum of Art). Native Pop was shown in conjunction with Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s work inspired by Pueblo pottery. As an art movement, Native Pop doesn’t just randomly incorporate any mainstream imagery; artists strategically use instantly recognizable icons as allegories and entry points to their work. Here again, Santa Fe got it. The amazing exhibit demonstrated once again that my work, and the work of other Native American artists, was taken more seriously in Santa Fe than in other U.S. art cities.

\r\n\r\n

Now, New Mexico is my home. It’s the crossroads of Native American art in this country. It has been for centuries. And Santa Fe is the Native artist’s New York City. People understand the work, there’s a demand for the work—and there is no Wall. ✜

\r\n\r\n
Santa Fe–based artist and curator America Meredith is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. She is also the editor and publisher of the new First American Art Magazine, which is devoted to exploring the art of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas from a Native perspective.
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When I was young, my family lived on the Bacone College campus in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Every Sunday after church, we visited the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, and I used my modest allowance to buy

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When I was young, my family lived on the Bacone College campus in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Every Sunday after church, we visited the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, and I used my modest allowance to buy

","description":"When I was young, my family lived on the Bacone College campus in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Every Sunday after church, we visited the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, and I used my modest allowance to buy small prints and cards of work by local Native artists—my entrée to art collecting. That curiosity eventually led me to the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), in Santa Fe, which I attended in 1995 after working for many years as a bike messenger in San Francisco. There I studied two-dimensional art for just two semesters, when it was still located in the “Barracks” on the old College of Santa Fe campus. From 1996 onward, until I moved back to New Mexico, I split my time between San Francisco and Oklahoma. I craved extremely broad experience in my field, and moving around was a necessity, in order to be exposed to the widest possible range of viewpoints and perspectives on mainstream and Native art. And yet, what I experienced along the way ultimately drew me back to Santa Fe. You see, in grad school at the San Francisco Art Institute, students and some instructors kept exhibiting what I call The Wall—an absolute unwillingness to engage with Indigenous subject matter. The Bay Area has no shortage of romantic notions about Native Americans, but the persistent stereotypes in the local art scene were: Indians are tragic. Indians are dead. Indians are completely irrelevant to the contemporary world. A perfect example of these misperceptions is the initial reaction to my painting Bambi Makes Some Extra Bucks Modeling at the Studio , which I painted and first exhibited in San Francisco. The work centers on art teacher Dorothy Dunn (1903–1992), who taught in the Studio at the Santa Fe Indian School. Dunn, whose students included giants like Allan Houser, Harrison Begay, Pop Chalee, Quincy Tahoma, and Pablita Velarde, was a controversial figure who moved Indian education away from assimilation, while forcing on her Native students one particular style of painting. There is a blue deer in the painting—a reference to “Bambi Art,” the derogatory term for the Flatstyle Native American painting that Dunn taught to her students. Taos Pueblo artist Pop Chalee sold several of her paintings of stylized blue deer to Walt Disney prior to his studio’s release of the popular animated movie Bambi , hence the style’s nickname. Mid–20th-century non-Native “Indian art experts” heralded Flatstyle painting as the only authentic form of Native American painting, and rejected more experimental Native art from exhibitions. Thankfully, the 1962 founding of IAIA in Santa Fe signaled an end to the constraints of Bambi Art. My Bambi painting was not just another piece of Bambi Art, but rather a comment on Dunn’s influence and the art world’s (critics’, mostly) ignorance about the deer’s important cultural and symbolic meaning. In Huichol cosmology, the blue deer, named Tamatsi Maxayuawi, is the elder brother of humans. Huichol religion influenced that of northern tribes through peyote religion and the Native American Church, to which many of these Flatstyle artists belonged. Non-Native art writers belittled the blue deer and so-called Bambi Art in the late 20th century, oblivious that the blue deer was very significant to Native peoples. Dismissing Bambi Art as a mere stylistic choice was like dismissing a culture’s belief system. My Bambi painting garnered negative criticism from well-meaning yet naïve critics in San Francisco. But when Bambi showed at the IAIA Museum, in Santa Fe (now the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts), everyone got it. Former IAIA Museum director and faculty emeritus Chuck Dailey pointed out that the stick in Dorothy Dunn’s hand was real—and that she used it to hit students who didn’t paint the way she wanted them to. Still, Dunn encouraged many Native artists who ultimately found their own styles. And then it dawned on me: Santa Fe was the place where challenging, nuanced work could be respected. The city’s location and ancient Puebloan history meant that many people there already had a deep connection to Native art and culture. This became almost painfully clear to me the first time I participated as an artist in the Santa Fe Indian Market. I remember feeling a little cocky about how complex my work was. I had a gouache painting of a Maidu dancer covered in pelican feathers, wearing a coyote headdress. (I’m much more careful and deliberate about cross-cultural appropriation now.) Several times I launched into a rehearsed explanation of a historical figure in a painting—only to discover that a visitor to my booth was related to the subject! My Bambi painting was also part of Native Pop, a 2006 exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts (now the New Mexico Museum of Art). Native Pop was shown in conjunction with Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s work inspired by Pueblo pottery. As an art movement, Native Pop doesn’t just randomly incorporate any mainstream imagery; artists strategically use instantly recognizable icons as allegories and entry points to their work. Here again, Santa Fe got it. The amazing exhibit demonstrated once again that my work, and the work of other Native American artists, was taken more seriously in Santa Fe than in other U.S. art cities. Now, New Mexico is my home. It’s the crossroads of Native American art in this country. It has been for centuries. And Santa Fe is the Native artist’s New York City. People understand the work, there’s a demand for the work—and there is no Wall. ✜ Santa Fe–based artist and curator America Meredith is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. She is also the editor and publisher of the new First American Art Magazine, which is devoted to exploring the art of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas from a Native perspective.","id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f939","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/over-the-wall-84478/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/over-the-wall-84478/#comments","absoluteUrl":"https://www.newmexico.org/nmmagazine/articles/post/over-the-wall-84478/","metaTitle":"Over the Wall","metaDescription":"

When I was young, my family lived on the Bacone College campus in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Every Sunday after church, we visited the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, and I used my modest allowance to buy

","cleanDescription":"When I was young, my family lived on the Bacone College campus in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Every Sunday after church, we visited the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, and I used my modest allowance to buy small prints and cards of work by local Native artists—my entrée to art collecting. That curiosity eventually led me to the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), in Santa Fe, which I attended in 1995 after working for many years as a bike messenger in San Francisco. There I studied two-dimensional art for just two semesters, when it was still located in the “Barracks” on the old College of Santa Fe campus. From 1996 onward, until I moved back to New Mexico, I split my time between San Francisco and Oklahoma. I craved extremely broad experience in my field, and moving around was a necessity, in order to be exposed to the widest possible range of viewpoints and perspectives on mainstream and Native art. And yet, what I experienced along the way ultimately drew me back to Santa Fe. You see, in grad school at the San Francisco Art Institute, students and some instructors kept exhibiting what I call The Wall—an absolute unwillingness to engage with Indigenous subject matter. The Bay Area has no shortage of romantic notions about Native Americans, but the persistent stereotypes in the local art scene were: Indians are tragic. Indians are dead. Indians are completely irrelevant to the contemporary world. A perfect example of these misperceptions is the initial reaction to my painting Bambi Makes Some Extra Bucks Modeling at the Studio , which I painted and first exhibited in San Francisco. The work centers on art teacher Dorothy Dunn (1903–1992), who taught in the Studio at the Santa Fe Indian School. Dunn, whose students included giants like Allan Houser, Harrison Begay, Pop Chalee, Quincy Tahoma, and Pablita Velarde, was a controversial figure who moved Indian education away from assimilation, while forcing on her Native students one particular style of painting. There is a blue deer in the painting—a reference to “Bambi Art,” the derogatory term for the Flatstyle Native American painting that Dunn taught to her students. Taos Pueblo artist Pop Chalee sold several of her paintings of stylized blue deer to Walt Disney prior to his studio’s release of the popular animated movie Bambi , hence the style’s nickname. Mid–20th-century non-Native “Indian art experts” heralded Flatstyle painting as the only authentic form of Native American painting, and rejected more experimental Native art from exhibitions. Thankfully, the 1962 founding of IAIA in Santa Fe signaled an end to the constraints of Bambi Art. My Bambi painting was not just another piece of Bambi Art, but rather a comment on Dunn’s influence and the art world’s (critics’, mostly) ignorance about the deer’s important cultural and symbolic meaning. In Huichol cosmology, the blue deer, named Tamatsi Maxayuawi, is the elder brother of humans. Huichol religion influenced that of northern tribes through peyote religion and the Native American Church, to which many of these Flatstyle artists belonged. Non-Native art writers belittled the blue deer and so-called Bambi Art in the late 20th century, oblivious that the blue deer was very significant to Native peoples. Dismissing Bambi Art as a mere stylistic choice was like dismissing a culture’s belief system. My Bambi painting garnered negative criticism from well-meaning yet naïve critics in San Francisco. But when Bambi showed at the IAIA Museum, in Santa Fe (now the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts), everyone got it. Former IAIA Museum director and faculty emeritus Chuck Dailey pointed out that the stick in Dorothy Dunn’s hand was real—and that she used it to hit students who didn’t paint the way she wanted them to. Still, Dunn encouraged many Native artists who ultimately found their own styles. And then it dawned on me: Santa Fe was the place where challenging, nuanced work could be respected. The city’s location and ancient Puebloan history meant that many people there already had a deep connection to Native art and culture. This became almost painfully clear to me the first time I participated as an artist in the Santa Fe Indian Market. I remember feeling a little cocky about how complex my work was. I had a gouache painting of a Maidu dancer covered in pelican feathers, wearing a coyote headdress. (I’m much more careful and deliberate about cross-cultural appropriation now.) Several times I launched into a rehearsed explanation of a historical figure in a painting—only to discover that a visitor to my booth was related to the subject! My Bambi painting was also part of Native Pop, a 2006 exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts (now the New Mexico Museum of Art). Native Pop was shown in conjunction with Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s work inspired by Pueblo pottery. As an art movement, Native Pop doesn’t just randomly incorporate any mainstream imagery; artists strategically use instantly recognizable icons as allegories and entry points to their work. Here again, Santa Fe got it. The amazing exhibit demonstrated once again that my work, and the work of other Native American artists, was taken more seriously in Santa Fe than in other U.S. art cities. Now, New Mexico is my home. It’s the crossroads of Native American art in this country. It has been for centuries. And Santa Fe is the Native artist’s New York City. People understand the work, there’s a demand for the work—and there is no Wall. ✜ Santa Fe–based artist and curator America Meredith is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. She is also the editor and publisher of the new First American Art Magazine, which is devoted to exploring the art of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas from a Native perspective.","publish_start_moment":"2013-12-26T14:00:00.000Z","publish_end_moment":"2017-12-18T22:21:01.759Z"},{"_id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f938","author_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f190","title":"The Rift","slug":"the-rift-84477","image_id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f4b8","publish_start":"2013-12-26T14:00:00.000Z","enable_comments":true,"categories_ids":["58c834b11f16f9392cf0992a","58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3","58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8"],"tags_ids":["59090e46e1efff4c9916fb37","59090cb1e1efff4c9916fa25","59090d03e1efff4c9916fa58"],"cms_tags_ids":["58b061ec6a2b0936c34a23ea"],"enabled":true,"custom_photo_credit":"Lenny Foster","custom_tagline":"Sometimes, playing it safe is the scariest thing of all.","created":"2013-12-26T14:39:17.000Z","legacy_id":"84477","blog":"magazine","_title_sort":"the rift","updated":"2017-10-31T21:31:31.014Z","active":true,"description_raw":"

I felt quintessentially Western, riding my motorcycle down a sizzling black highway, half-shadowed mesas rising up behind a rippling heat wave in the distance. The white clouds that swelled to black and almost kissed the earth finally split to rain just before the Fort Garland turnoff. I hit the gravel shoulder, steadied the bike, pulled a poncho over my head, and clicked the engine back into gear. From then on, it was just the rumble and hum of thunder and road that carried me across the New Mexico border for the first time in my life.

\r\n\r\n

Questa.
\r\nTaos.

\r\n\r\n

And then something I could barely fathom. I was in my 20s and, like a fool, I’d been running that motorcycle open-throttle all the way—until the paved road suddenly turned to dirt. I skidded to a dust-cloud stop. If I’d delayed a second more, I’d have married gravity that day. A few hundred feet in front of me, the earth looked as if it had cracked open into two jagged puzzle pieces, their perfectly matched edges longing to embrace again.

\r\n\r\n

The ground leading up to the rift was not a terrace of sunset colors, like the Grand Canyon. There was no telltale warning of a huge gap in the earth about to appear. Just the desert ground; then a sharp lip of rock; then a free fall all the way down to the blue Río Grande, snaking its way through the painted canyon that is the Taos Gorge—or, more aptly, the Taos Rift.

\r\n\r\n

Taos feels like a rare place, and it is. Most canyons are formed by water tracing the same ground over eons, eventually carving a deep crevice or valley. But the earth that forms the Taos Gorge literally split open into a deep chasm millions of years ago, in a gradual but powerful tectonic shift. Over time, water found the gorge, which guided the shape of the river. Those massive cliffs are like two open palms collecting rain.

\r\n\r\n

A few nights later, afterimages of the rift bloomed in my dreams. I woke near midnight, hiked down the canyon, and spent the night there. I didn’t sleep. I lay awake, mesmerized by the stars brimming the valley walls.

\r\n\r\n

Last summer, I was invited to New Mexico to give readings at bookstores and teach writing classes. And so, a few decades after that first visit, I crossed into New Mexico again, this time driving a Subaru. Back in my 20s, I’d visited the place on a whim and ended up staying for three years. This time, my trip was planned: I had work in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos; friends had offered me home-cooked meals along the way; and I hoped to spot a roadrunner. Yeah, I’d become that person: a middle-aged birder driving a sensible vehicle. I didn’t expect anything as stunning as my first visit.

\r\n\r\n

But something pinched my gut when I took an unplanned turn toward the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, outside Las Vegas, New Mexico. It was July 4, 100 degrees, and on the shoulder of the road sat a buxom, vintage-yellow, shovelhead Harley. Shading my eyes from the chrome glare coming off that machine, I looked out across the desert: no one in sight. I parked my car and held my hands low over the bike’s engine. It was cool; no one had driven it for hours.

\r\n\r\n

I can’t explain it, but big as that Harley was, it slipped under my skin. The New Mexican desert has always had a way of clearing my heart and mind. When I was younger, that clarity opened me up to the possibilities ahead. This time, the fears and inhibitions I’d collected with age started tumbling out of my brain.

\r\n\r\n

How long had it been since I’d walked an unknown trail and spent the night alone under shivering stars? I wanted some massive geologic shift to crack open my chest. I wanted my rib cage to split and wild rivers to snake through my solar plexus. I wanted something to make me feel on edge again, to pose some kind of palpable danger. The craving gnawed at me. My life had become so safe.

\r\n\r\n

I finished my gigs in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, then arrived at Fort Bergwin, seven miles south of Taos, for my next job. When I checked into my room, I was warned that a cougar had been visiting campus regularly, and that the “Officer’s Quarters” (my room) was haunted. Fort Bergwin was first inhabited (ca. AD 1000) by the Pot Creek Pueblo Nation, then by Spanish colonizers, and then used as a cantonment by the U.S. Cavalry. Though I don’t believe in ghosts, if any land was haunted, I figured this was it. But I slept soundly through the night, and a gentle light angling through my window woke me. At dawn—prime time for wild cats—I hiked up the peak behind Fort Bergwin. If a lion was nearby, it never showed itself.

\r\n\r\n

It’s not that I wanted to be reckless. But some sort of vividness that came with youthful risk had dulled in me. I wanted it back.

\r\n\r\n

When I moved from Fort Bergwin to the Adobe and Pines Inn, any chance I had at roughing it was completely doused. This place was sheer luxury. I started my day with an exquisite three-course meal, and returned “home” every evening to a private hot tub under stars so content they never shivered. They just twinkled and gleamed in a sky that blanketed night as if the whole world were a sleeping baby.

\r\n\r\n

This is the part of the story where I’d like to tell you I’d had enough. That I tore out of that hot tub, ran wild up to the highway in my spa robe and slippers, and hitched a ride on a shovelhead Harley headed west, toward my carefree youth. I want to tell you that my legs were still damp when I straddled the leather seat, that I hugged the belly of the driver (a complete stranger), tilted my head back, and felt the night air whip through my hot-tub–soaked hair.

\r\n\r\n

Instead, what happened was this: The one I love (and have loved for a quarter century) drove down from Colorado, and we had a sweet little vacation together. We shared dinners at Graham’s, the Dragonfly, and the Love Apple. We lingered over appetizers, wine, and dessert. All this food took me back to one of my most daring nights on this trip. Just before I arrived in Taos, friends in Santa Fe had prepared an exquisite Catalonian dinner for me. We drank traditional Spanish wine from a porrón—a handheld pitcher with a long, skinny spout—and the act required a poncho for my safety.

\r\n\r\n

Maybe it was something about the poncho that brought me back to my first visit to Taos, in the rain, or maybe it was just the sheer glory of that dinner; but that’s when I first noticed the incipient crack in my chest, the beginnings of that huge tectonic shift I’d longed for—and it looked a lot different than I’d anticipated.

\r\n\r\n

I have a life-long partner I love now, friends who make dinner for me and offer me rooms with private hot tubs; other friends who shoot iPhone footage of roadrunners and send them my way, because I never did spot one. We, my friends and I, break bread and share wine and stories till all hours of the night, when the stars come out and soak up the light of our youth and reflect it back to us in ways we’d never imagined our lives would look. All this damned love. It’s the culprit. It’s what made me retreat from the easy risks—rock climbing, white-water kayaking, riding a motorcycle open-throttle in the rain—in exchange for something scarier: growing attached, loving fiercely, and accepting the eventual loss that is tangled with that love.

\r\n\r\n

My last night in Taos, I walked out to the gorge at dusk. Twisted piñon pine (swirls of age engraving its trunk); junipers with bark peeling off like burnt skin (needles softened at the tip); sage with its almost-velvety leaves (sweet scent tinged with sting). The whole landscape wore the distinct marks of a place ghosted with age. There is nothing about New Mexico that does not understand the passage of time. Ask the Taos Rift, next time you come upon it without knowing it’s there. Ask it: What does it feel like to split open, to catch what falls into you—to hold, in your core, an old and raging river? ✜

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I felt quintessentially Western, riding my motorcycle down a sizzling black highway, half-shadowed mesas rising up behind a rippling heat wave in the distance. The white clouds that swelled to black

","version_id":"59f8ebb2648901d6cd725d5e","author":{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f190","blog":"magazine","name":"BK Loren","_name_sort":"bk loren","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.218Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.227Z","_totalPosts":2,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f190","title":"BK Loren","slug":"bk-loren","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/author/bk-loren/58b4b2404c2774661570f190/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/author/bk-loren/58b4b2404c2774661570f190/#comments","totalPosts":2},"categories":[{"_id":"58c834b11f16f9392cf0992a","title":"Travel","blog":"magazine","_title_sort":"travel","updated":"2017-03-14T18:21:37.155Z","created":"2017-03-14T18:21:37.156Z","_totalPosts":188,"id":"58c834b11f16f9392cf0992a","slug":"travel","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/travel/58c834b11f16f9392cf0992a/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/travel/58c834b11f16f9392cf0992a/#comments","totalPosts":188},{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3","blog":"magazine","title":"Features","_title_sort":"features","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.492Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.504Z","_totalPosts":208,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3","slug":"features","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/features/58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/features/58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3/#comments","totalPosts":208},{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8","blog":"magazine","title":"January 2014","_title_sort":"january 2014","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.555Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.560Z","_totalPosts":14,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8","slug":"january-2014","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/january-2014/58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/january-2014/58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8/#comments","totalPosts":14}],"image":{"_id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f4b8","legacy_id":"84497","title":"Main -the -rift","created":"2013-12-26T16:29:53.000Z","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:07.325Z","credits":"Henry Lopez","content_owner":"magazine","tags_ids":["58b061ec6a2b0936c34a23ea"],"title_sort":"main -the -rift","resource_raw":{"public_id":"clients/newmexico/main_the_rift_88724930-76a7-4ef4-a526-950c9ec26603","version":1488237127,"signature":"baf40c9a6c81212d5708f1e6312834934dc79c48","width":488,"height":499,"format":"jpg","resource_type":"image","created_at":"2017-02-27T23:12:07.000Z","bytes":69440,"type":"upload","etag":"e9568dad59b87da020d0ee4676cc8a6d","url":"http://res.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1488237127/clients/newmexico/main_the_rift_88724930-76a7-4ef4-a526-950c9ec26603.jpg","secure_url":"https://res.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1488237127/clients/newmexico/main_the_rift_88724930-76a7-4ef4-a526-950c9ec26603.jpg","original_filename":"main-the-rift"},"deleted":false,"id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f4b8","type":"image","resource":{"raw":{"resource_type":"image","format":"jpg","public_id":"clients/newmexico/main_the_rift_88724930-76a7-4ef4-a526-950c9ec26603"}},"inAssetRequest":false,"alt_text":"Main -the -rift"},"teaser":"

I felt quintessentially Western, riding my motorcycle down a sizzling black highway, half-shadowed mesas rising up behind a rippling heat wave in the distance. The white clouds that swelled to black

","description":"I felt quintessentially Western, riding my motorcycle down a sizzling black highway, half-shadowed mesas rising up behind a rippling heat wave in the distance. The white clouds that swelled to black and almost kissed the earth finally split to rain just before the Fort Garland turnoff. I hit the gravel shoulder, steadied the bike, pulled a poncho over my head, and clicked the engine back into gear. From then on, it was just the rumble and hum of thunder and road that carried me across the New Mexico border for the first time in my life. Questa. Taos. And then something I could barely fathom. I was in my 20s and, like a fool, I’d been running that motorcycle open-throttle all the way—until the paved road suddenly turned to dirt. I skidded to a dust-cloud stop. If I’d delayed a second more, I’d have married gravity that day. A few hundred feet in front of me, the earth looked as if it had cracked open into two jagged puzzle pieces, their perfectly matched edges longing to embrace again. The ground leading up to the rift was not a terrace of sunset colors, like the Grand Canyon. There was no telltale warning of a huge gap in the earth about to appear. Just the desert ground; then a sharp lip of rock; then a free fall all the way down to the blue Río Grande, snaking its way through the painted canyon that is the Taos Gorge—or, more aptly, the Taos Rift. Taos feels like a rare place, and it is. Most canyons are formed by water tracing the same ground over eons, eventually carving a deep crevice or valley. But the earth that forms the Taos Gorge literally split open into a deep chasm millions of years ago, in a gradual but powerful tectonic shift. Over time, water found the gorge, which guided the shape of the river. Those massive cliffs are like two open palms collecting rain. A few nights later, afterimages of the rift bloomed in my dreams. I woke near midnight, hiked down the canyon, and spent the night there. I didn’t sleep. I lay awake, mesmerized by the stars brimming the valley walls. Last summer, I was invited to New Mexico to give readings at bookstores and teach writing classes. And so, a few decades after that first visit, I crossed into New Mexico again, this time driving a Subaru. Back in my 20s, I’d visited the place on a whim and ended up staying for three years. This time, my trip was planned: I had work in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos; friends had offered me home-cooked meals along the way; and I hoped to spot a roadrunner. Yeah, I’d become that person: a middle-aged birder driving a sensible vehicle. I didn’t expect anything as stunning as my first visit. But something pinched my gut when I took an unplanned turn toward the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, outside Las Vegas, New Mexico. It was July 4, 100 degrees, and on the shoulder of the road sat a buxom, vintage-yellow, shovelhead Harley. Shading my eyes from the chrome glare coming off that machine, I looked out across the desert: no one in sight. I parked my car and held my hands low over the bike’s engine. It was cool; no one had driven it for hours. I can’t explain it, but big as that Harley was, it slipped under my skin. The New Mexican desert has always had a way of clearing my heart and mind. When I was younger, that clarity opened me up to the possibilities ahead. This time, the fears and inhibitions I’d collected with age started tumbling out of my brain. How long had it been since I’d walked an unknown trail and spent the night alone under shivering stars? I wanted some massive geologic shift to crack open my chest. I wanted my rib cage to split and wild rivers to snake through my solar plexus. I wanted something to make me feel on edge again, to pose some kind of palpable danger. The craving gnawed at me. My life had become so safe. I finished my gigs in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, then arrived at Fort Bergwin, seven miles south of Taos, for my next job. When I checked into my room, I was warned that a cougar had been visiting campus regularly, and that the “Officer’s Quarters” (my room) was haunted. Fort Bergwin was first inhabited (ca. AD 1000) by the Pot Creek Pueblo Nation, then by Spanish colonizers, and then used as a cantonment by the U.S. Cavalry. Though I don’t believe in ghosts, if any land was haunted, I figured this was it. But I slept soundly through the night, and a gentle light angling through my window woke me. At dawn—prime time for wild cats—I hiked up the peak behind Fort Bergwin. If a lion was nearby, it never showed itself. It’s not that I wanted to be reckless. But some sort of vividness that came with youthful risk had dulled in me. I wanted it back. When I moved from Fort Bergwin to the Adobe and Pines Inn, any chance I had at roughing it was completely doused. This place was sheer luxury. I started my day with an exquisite three-course meal, and returned “home” every evening to a private hot tub under stars so content they never shivered. They just twinkled and gleamed in a sky that blanketed night as if the whole world were a sleeping baby. This is the part of the story where I’d like to tell you I’d had enough. That I tore out of that hot tub, ran wild up to the highway in my spa robe and slippers, and hitched a ride on a shovelhead Harley headed west, toward my carefree youth. I want to tell you that my legs were still damp when I straddled the leather seat, that I hugged the belly of the driver (a complete stranger), tilted my head back, and felt the night air whip through my hot-tub–soaked hair. Instead, what happened was this: The one I love (and have loved for a quarter century) drove down from Colorado, and we had a sweet little vacation together. We shared dinners at Graham’s, the Dragonfly, and the Love Apple. We lingered over appetizers, wine, and dessert. All this food took me back to one of my most daring nights on this trip. Just before I arrived in Taos, friends in Santa Fe had prepared an exquisite Catalonian dinner for me. We drank traditional Spanish wine from a porrón—a handheld pitcher with a long, skinny spout—and the act required a poncho for my safety. Maybe it was something about the poncho that brought me back to my first visit to Taos, in the rain, or maybe it was just the sheer glory of that dinner; but that’s when I first noticed the incipient crack in my chest, the beginnings of that huge tectonic shift I’d longed for—and it looked a lot different than I’d anticipated. I have a life-long partner I love now, friends who make dinner for me and offer me rooms with private hot tubs; other friends who shoot iPhone footage of roadrunners and send them my way, because I never did spot one. We, my friends and I, break bread and share wine and stories till all hours of the night, when the stars come out and soak up the light of our youth and reflect it back to us in ways we’d never imagined our lives would look. All this damned love . It’s the culprit. It’s what made me retreat from the easy risks—rock climbing, white-water kayaking, riding a motorcycle open-throttle in the rain—in exchange for something scarier: growing attached, loving fiercely, and accepting the eventual loss that is tangled with that love. My last night in Taos, I walked out to the gorge at dusk. Twisted piñon pine (swirls of age engraving its trunk); junipers with bark peeling off like burnt skin (needles softened at the tip); sage with its almost-velvety leaves (sweet scent tinged with sting). The whole landscape wore the distinct marks of a place ghosted with age. There is nothing about New Mexico that does not understand the passage of time. Ask the Taos Rift, next time you come upon it without knowing it’s there. Ask it: What does it feel like to split open, to catch what falls into you—to hold, in your core, an old and raging river? ✜","id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f938","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/the-rift-84477/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/the-rift-84477/#comments","absoluteUrl":"https://www.newmexico.org/nmmagazine/articles/post/the-rift-84477/","metaTitle":"The Rift","metaDescription":"

I felt quintessentially Western, riding my motorcycle down a sizzling black highway, half-shadowed mesas rising up behind a rippling heat wave in the distance. The white clouds that swelled to black

","cleanDescription":"I felt quintessentially Western, riding my motorcycle down a sizzling black highway, half-shadowed mesas rising up behind a rippling heat wave in the distance. The white clouds that swelled to black and almost kissed the earth finally split to rain just before the Fort Garland turnoff. I hit the gravel shoulder, steadied the bike, pulled a poncho over my head, and clicked the engine back into gear. From then on, it was just the rumble and hum of thunder and road that carried me across the New Mexico border for the first time in my life. Questa. Taos. And then something I could barely fathom. I was in my 20s and, like a fool, I’d been running that motorcycle open-throttle all the way—until the paved road suddenly turned to dirt. I skidded to a dust-cloud stop. If I’d delayed a second more, I’d have married gravity that day. A few hundred feet in front of me, the earth looked as if it had cracked open into two jagged puzzle pieces, their perfectly matched edges longing to embrace again. The ground leading up to the rift was not a terrace of sunset colors, like the Grand Canyon. There was no telltale warning of a huge gap in the earth about to appear. Just the desert ground; then a sharp lip of rock; then a free fall all the way down to the blue Río Grande, snaking its way through the painted canyon that is the Taos Gorge—or, more aptly, the Taos Rift. Taos feels like a rare place, and it is. Most canyons are formed by water tracing the same ground over eons, eventually carving a deep crevice or valley. But the earth that forms the Taos Gorge literally split open into a deep chasm millions of years ago, in a gradual but powerful tectonic shift. Over time, water found the gorge, which guided the shape of the river. Those massive cliffs are like two open palms collecting rain. A few nights later, afterimages of the rift bloomed in my dreams. I woke near midnight, hiked down the canyon, and spent the night there. I didn’t sleep. I lay awake, mesmerized by the stars brimming the valley walls. Last summer, I was invited to New Mexico to give readings at bookstores and teach writing classes. And so, a few decades after that first visit, I crossed into New Mexico again, this time driving a Subaru. Back in my 20s, I’d visited the place on a whim and ended up staying for three years. This time, my trip was planned: I had work in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos; friends had offered me home-cooked meals along the way; and I hoped to spot a roadrunner. Yeah, I’d become that person: a middle-aged birder driving a sensible vehicle. I didn’t expect anything as stunning as my first visit. But something pinched my gut when I took an unplanned turn toward the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, outside Las Vegas, New Mexico. It was July 4, 100 degrees, and on the shoulder of the road sat a buxom, vintage-yellow, shovelhead Harley. Shading my eyes from the chrome glare coming off that machine, I looked out across the desert: no one in sight. I parked my car and held my hands low over the bike’s engine. It was cool; no one had driven it for hours. I can’t explain it, but big as that Harley was, it slipped under my skin. The New Mexican desert has always had a way of clearing my heart and mind. When I was younger, that clarity opened me up to the possibilities ahead. This time, the fears and inhibitions I’d collected with age started tumbling out of my brain. How long had it been since I’d walked an unknown trail and spent the night alone under shivering stars? I wanted some massive geologic shift to crack open my chest. I wanted my rib cage to split and wild rivers to snake through my solar plexus. I wanted something to make me feel on edge again, to pose some kind of palpable danger. The craving gnawed at me. My life had become so safe. I finished my gigs in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, then arrived at Fort Bergwin, seven miles south of Taos, for my next job. When I checked into my room, I was warned that a cougar had been visiting campus regularly, and that the “Officer’s Quarters” (my room) was haunted. Fort Bergwin was first inhabited (ca. AD 1000) by the Pot Creek Pueblo Nation, then by Spanish colonizers, and then used as a cantonment by the U.S. Cavalry. Though I don’t believe in ghosts, if any land was haunted, I figured this was it. But I slept soundly through the night, and a gentle light angling through my window woke me. At dawn—prime time for wild cats—I hiked up the peak behind Fort Bergwin. If a lion was nearby, it never showed itself. It’s not that I wanted to be reckless. But some sort of vividness that came with youthful risk had dulled in me. I wanted it back. When I moved from Fort Bergwin to the Adobe and Pines Inn, any chance I had at roughing it was completely doused. This place was sheer luxury. I started my day with an exquisite three-course meal, and returned “home” every evening to a private hot tub under stars so content they never shivered. They just twinkled and gleamed in a sky that blanketed night as if the whole world were a sleeping baby. This is the part of the story where I’d like to tell you I’d had enough. That I tore out of that hot tub, ran wild up to the highway in my spa robe and slippers, and hitched a ride on a shovelhead Harley headed west, toward my carefree youth. I want to tell you that my legs were still damp when I straddled the leather seat, that I hugged the belly of the driver (a complete stranger), tilted my head back, and felt the night air whip through my hot-tub–soaked hair. Instead, what happened was this: The one I love (and have loved for a quarter century) drove down from Colorado, and we had a sweet little vacation together. We shared dinners at Graham’s, the Dragonfly, and the Love Apple. We lingered over appetizers, wine, and dessert. All this food took me back to one of my most daring nights on this trip. Just before I arrived in Taos, friends in Santa Fe had prepared an exquisite Catalonian dinner for me. We drank traditional Spanish wine from a porrón—a handheld pitcher with a long, skinny spout—and the act required a poncho for my safety. Maybe it was something about the poncho that brought me back to my first visit to Taos, in the rain, or maybe it was just the sheer glory of that dinner; but that’s when I first noticed the incipient crack in my chest, the beginnings of that huge tectonic shift I’d longed for—and it looked a lot different than I’d anticipated. I have a life-long partner I love now, friends who make dinner for me and offer me rooms with private hot tubs; other friends who shoot iPhone footage of roadrunners and send them my way, because I never did spot one. We, my friends and I, break bread and share wine and stories till all hours of the night, when the stars come out and soak up the light of our youth and reflect it back to us in ways we’d never imagined our lives would look. All this damned love . It’s the culprit. It’s what made me retreat from the easy risks—rock climbing, white-water kayaking, riding a motorcycle open-throttle in the rain—in exchange for something scarier: growing attached, loving fiercely, and accepting the eventual loss that is tangled with that love. My last night in Taos, I walked out to the gorge at dusk. Twisted piñon pine (swirls of age engraving its trunk); junipers with bark peeling off like burnt skin (needles softened at the tip); sage with its almost-velvety leaves (sweet scent tinged with sting). The whole landscape wore the distinct marks of a place ghosted with age. There is nothing about New Mexico that does not understand the passage of time. Ask the Taos Rift, next time you come upon it without knowing it’s there. Ask it: What does it feel like to split open, to catch what falls into you—to hold, in your core, an old and raging river? ✜","publish_start_moment":"2013-12-26T14:00:00.000Z","publish_end_moment":"2017-12-18T22:21:01.760Z"},{"_id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f937","author_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f22d","title":"Off the Lost Highway","slug":"off-the-lost-highway-84476","image_id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f489","publish_start":"2013-12-26T14:00:00.000Z","enable_comments":true,"categories_ids":["58c834b11f16f9392cf0992a","58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3","58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8"],"tags_ids":["59090e46e1efff4c9916fb37","59090cb1e1efff4c9916fa25","59090d03e1efff4c9916fa58"],"cms_tags_ids":["58b061ec6a2b0936c34a23ea"],"enabled":true,"custom_photo_credit":"Silas Fallstich","custom_tagline":"The cosmic GPS kicks in, and just in time.","created":"2013-12-26T14:38:59.000Z","legacy_id":"84476","blog":"magazine","_title_sort":"off the lost highway","updated":"2017-10-31T21:31:30.928Z","active":true,"description_raw":"

Initially, I could locate my pull to New Mexico solely in its terrain. Each August, escaping the stifling heat of Texas in an old Volvo station wagon, my family and I would make our annual trek to southern California to visit my folks. My parents, retired military, lived near the beach in North County, San Diego. We looked forward to getting out there. Invariably, though, near the Texas–New Mexico border, as we climbed the Caprock, something would happen. The temperature would plummet, refreshing us. The vibrant colors stretching ahead would sweep into the car. My teenage boys would find themselves captivated by the drama of a distant thunderstorm.

\r\n\r\n

“Dad, where are we?” they would ask. “This place is amazing. It’s electric here.”

\r\n\r\n

How electric I didn’t begin to understand until one evening in March 1989, when I was driving back to Dallas after spending a difficult six weeks in Los Angeles, trying to penetrate Hollywood with a spec film script. During a 10-year NFL career, I had written two books. After retiring, I had assisted an A-list Hollywood writer on important film projects. A good story had come to me. I had hoped to make writing my future. However, my experience in L.A. was a disaster. Although my script ended up being optioned several times, producers were generally more interested in having me write their material than funding my project. They told me that if I wanted to see my story on film, I would have to raise the money myself. I wasn’t interested in raising money. That could take years.

\r\n\r\n

Strung out, wondering what I was going to do with my life, I started driving home. That’s when things got strange. First, I was in one place, then I was in another—except the two places were hundreds of miles apart. After stopping for early-morning coffee in Victorville, California, the next thing I knew I was pulling into Needles for lunch. In an instant, I had traveled 174 miles. In the next instant, I was coming into Flagstaff, a leap of 213 miles. In the next, I was approaching Gallup as a full moon popped up in the east.

\r\n\r\n

Having been concussed in football, I knew that my body could function quite well with only minimal conscious awareness. I had watched myself on game film play entire halves of flawless football with no conscious memory of even a millisecond of it. But this was something else. Yes, it was a great way to travel. Yes, the tedium of desert driving had been eclipsed. But who was driving the car?

\r\n\r\n

Hungry again, I stopped at a Gallup McDonald’s. It was about 8 p.m. No other customers were present; it was just me and the Diné kids who worked there. As I finished eating, the manager came out and sat down to eat his own food. He was also Navajo, perhaps 17 years old. As I discarded my trash, I asked him if there were any sacred sites nearby. I didn’t know what I was saying. The words just tumbled out of my mouth.

\r\n\r\n

“Yes,” he said, “they’re everywhere around here. Chaco Canyon is the most famous one. Just head east on the freeway. The exit’s clearly marked. It’s kind of a Navajo church.”

\r\n\r\n

“Thanks,” I said. But when I got back on the road, I went out again, coming around only as the Chaco sign flickered by on my right. Geez, I thought. Continuing on, I pulled off at a lonely exit 10 miles farther up the road. The gas station was off the ramp, next to a KOA campground. As well as being a place to buy fuel, it seemed to serve as a camp store. It was strictly a local business.

\r\n\r\n

I got out of my car, filled up. Now it was 9 p.m., clear, cold. My breath was condensing to mist. Above, the moon was blazing as bright as a tiny sun.

\r\n\r\n

Inside the store, as I paid my bill, I asked the young cashier where Chaco Canyon was. Also Navajo, she told me it was back west, to the exit I’d missed, then north 65 miles. Damn, I thought. That’s too far to go. “Do you have any pamphlets on Chaco?” She said, “No, not here, but Mrs. Baker, up at the camp office, has some. It’s closing time, but she’ll wait for you if you want to run up.”

\r\n\r\n

I drove up the short hill. The camp office had video games in it, racks of postcards, and an old sheepdog asleep on the rug in front of the door. Mrs. Baker was waiting for me behind a glass-topped counter. Plump, with bright eyes, she handed me her Chaco pamphlets. As I looked them over, she said, “The ruins there are nearly a thousand years old and stunningly beautiful.” I told her I wanted to go there. She said that shouldn’t be any problem, there was a campground where I could spend the night. “You could walk through the ruins in the morning.”

\r\n\r\n

“No,” I said. “I don’t want to go in there in the morning.

\r\n\r\n

I want to go in there tonight.”

\r\n\r\n

“Tonight?”

\r\n\r\n

I nodded. “The moon is full,” I said. Again, I had no idea what I was saying.

\r\n\r\n

“But I don’t think you can go in there at night,” she said.

\r\n\r\n

“Oh.”

\r\n\r\n

We stood there for a moment in silence. She was staring at me. Then she said, “But there are some other ruins as old as Chaco nearby—you could go in there tonight.” And suddenly she was pulling out a stack of her own photographs, spreading them out on the counter.

\r\n\r\n

As I looked at them, I asked if there was a kiva among the ruins. She said yes, although it hadn’t been excavated. “But it’s very close, no more than four miles away.” Then she drew me a map, explained how to get there. “The ruins are just beyond the turnoff for the power plant. You should pull over as soon as the road turns to dirt.”

\r\n\r\n

“There’s a power plant up there?”

\r\n\r\n

She nodded. “It’s the generating plant for, you know, the entire region. What you’ll see then, to your left, is this sandstone cliff. It has three elliptical hollows carved into it by erosion. At the foot of those hollows is the site.”

\r\n\r\n

I thanked her for her help. As I was about to walk out, she said, “It’s interesting to us that the local Indians won’t visit the site because they’re afraid the ancestors will bring sickness.”

\r\n\r\n

I thought for a long time. Again, words came unbidden. “Or health,” I said.

\r\n\r\n

Back in my car, I crossed railroad tracks, then followed a narrow strip of asphalt into the countryside. The night was brilliant, and my heart was beginning to pound in my chest. I was having difficulty getting my breath. There were no houses anywhere, and no other cars on the road. Then, cresting a ridge, I saw the towering stack of the power plant. It was off to the west, and a flashing strobe light on it pierced the darkness as the stack disgorged billowing plumes of steam. As I passed the turnoff for the plant, the pavement abruptly ended. I slowed, looked off to my left for the sandstone escarpment. Then, 200 yards away, I saw it rising out of the scrub. I pulled over, got out of my car. As I scaled a barbed-wire fence, my heart felt as if it was going to explode.

\r\n\r\n

It was a gentle ascent to the foot of the hollows. As I started up, I was fixed on the formation. Then I turned around and looked back at the moon. Huge, brilliant, it was ever ascending. Shaking my head, I looked back at the hollows, into whose face the moon was beaming. And suddenly I felt I understood why the site had been located here: The hollows were moonbeam catchers, natural dishes focused on the heavens, to capture and hold them—to create a confluence— so that their essence could be imbibed by whoever the long-ago people were who had lived here.

\r\n\r\n

I clambered over a second barbed-wire fence. As I crested the top of a knoll, I came upon the ruins—a sprawling rectangle of crumbling walls. Instinctively, I took off my shoes, tiptoed down what appeared to be a corridor. Then I was flat on my back in the circle of the kiva.

\r\n\r\n

It took a while, but finally my breathing stabilized. Then the moon popped into view. The top of the crumbling east wall had concealed it. Watching it climb, I realized that soon it would hover over me— that if I stayed here, it would pass directly over my head. I wondered if this alignment was fortuitous, or if it was another reason these structures had been built here. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes. As I did so, a series of images bubbled up in my mind. Images of my wife, my kids. My friends. Then me, as I was situated at that moment: sprawled on my back in the middle of these ruins.

\r\n\r\n

As the final image dissolved, my body went slack. A sense of deep tranquility settled over me. I listened to the rustling of a gentle breeze. Then my body started tingling. A little later, as I walked down the slope to my car, my body was still tingling. And the tingling made me want to sing. I slipped Van Morrison’s Irish Heartbeat album into my car’s tape player and cranked it. I was still singing hours later as I crossed the Texas line.

\r\n\r\n

I knew then that I would be back.

\r\n\r\n

Probably, someday, for good. ✜

\r\n\r\n
\r\n

Pat Toomay played 10 years in the National Football League, for such teams as the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders. He is the author of numerous articles about pro football, and two books: 'The Crunch' and the novel 'On Any Given Sunday.' Toomay lives in Albuquerque, where he enjoys the friendship of Acoma Pueblo spiritual elders Gilbert Concho and Becky Chino, and his relationship with Tibetan Lama Karma Rinchen. Wandering New Mexico’s charged terrain is an important pastime. He has two sons, Seth and John.

\r\n\r\n

About the photo by Silas Fallstich: Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon The Silver City–born photographer has spent countless seasons backpacking and exploring in southern New Mexico. He took this image on his first trip into the north.

\r\n
","teaser_raw":"

Initially, I could locate my pull to New Mexico solely in its terrain. Each August, escaping the stifling heat of Texas in an old Volvo station wagon, my family and I would make our annual trek to

","version_id":"59f8ebb2648901d6cd725d3e","author":{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f22d","blog":"magazine","name":"Pat Toomay","_name_sort":"pat toomay","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.381Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.392Z","_totalPosts":2,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f22d","title":"Pat Toomay","slug":"pat-toomay","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/author/pat-toomay/58b4b2404c2774661570f22d/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/author/pat-toomay/58b4b2404c2774661570f22d/#comments","totalPosts":2},"categories":[{"_id":"58c834b11f16f9392cf0992a","title":"Travel","blog":"magazine","_title_sort":"travel","updated":"2017-03-14T18:21:37.155Z","created":"2017-03-14T18:21:37.156Z","_totalPosts":188,"id":"58c834b11f16f9392cf0992a","slug":"travel","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/travel/58c834b11f16f9392cf0992a/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/travel/58c834b11f16f9392cf0992a/#comments","totalPosts":188},{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3","blog":"magazine","title":"Features","_title_sort":"features","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.492Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.504Z","_totalPosts":208,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3","slug":"features","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/features/58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/features/58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3/#comments","totalPosts":208},{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8","blog":"magazine","title":"January 2014","_title_sort":"january 2014","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.555Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.560Z","_totalPosts":14,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8","slug":"january-2014","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/january-2014/58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/january-2014/58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8/#comments","totalPosts":14}],"image":{"_id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f489","legacy_id":"84495","title":"Main -lost -highway","created":"2013-12-26T16:09:42.000Z","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:07.322Z","credits":"Henry Lopez","content_owner":"magazine","tags_ids":["58b061ec6a2b0936c34a23ea"],"title_sort":"main -lost -highway","resource_raw":{"public_id":"clients/newmexico/main_lost_highway_a0117996-6f15-4091-81e7-5d8f4daeca25","version":1488237127,"signature":"3f551390d0097ebd4355e1955824026517f07955","width":488,"height":326,"format":"jpg","resource_type":"image","created_at":"2017-02-27T23:12:07.000Z","bytes":49585,"type":"upload","etag":"046ad78320734a1c49f0d36b92a11f6a","url":"http://res.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1488237127/clients/newmexico/main_lost_highway_a0117996-6f15-4091-81e7-5d8f4daeca25.jpg","secure_url":"https://res.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1488237127/clients/newmexico/main_lost_highway_a0117996-6f15-4091-81e7-5d8f4daeca25.jpg","exif":{"Copyright":"Silas Fallstich all rights reserved"},"original_filename":"main-lost-highway"},"deleted":false,"id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f489","type":"image","resource":{"raw":{"resource_type":"image","format":"jpg","public_id":"clients/newmexico/main_lost_highway_a0117996-6f15-4091-81e7-5d8f4daeca25"}},"inAssetRequest":false,"alt_text":"Main -lost -highway"},"teaser":"

Initially, I could locate my pull to New Mexico solely in its terrain. Each August, escaping the stifling heat of Texas in an old Volvo station wagon, my family and I would make our annual trek to

","description":"Initially, I could locate my pull to New Mexico solely in its terrain. Each August, escaping the stifling heat of Texas in an old Volvo station wagon, my family and I would make our annual trek to southern California to visit my folks. My parents, retired military, lived near the beach in North County, San Diego. We looked forward to getting out there. Invariably, though, near the Texas–New Mexico border, as we climbed the Caprock, something would happen. The temperature would plummet, refreshing us. The vibrant colors stretching ahead would sweep into the car. My teenage boys would find themselves captivated by the drama of a distant thunderstorm. “Dad, where are we?” they would ask. “This place is amazing. It’s electric here.” How electric I didn’t begin to understand until one evening in March 1989, when I was driving back to Dallas after spending a difficult six weeks in Los Angeles, trying to penetrate Hollywood with a spec film script. During a 10-year NFL career, I had written two books. After retiring, I had assisted an A-list Hollywood writer on important film projects. A good story had come to me. I had hoped to make writing my future. However, my experience in L.A. was a disaster. Although my script ended up being optioned several times, producers were generally more interested in having me write their material than funding my project. They told me that if I wanted to see my story on film, I would have to raise the money myself. I wasn’t interested in raising money. That could take years. Strung out, wondering what I was going to do with my life, I started driving home. That’s when things got strange. First, I was in one place, then I was in another—except the two places were hundreds of miles apart. After stopping for early-morning coffee in Victorville, California, the next thing I knew I was pulling into Needles for lunch. In an instant, I had traveled 174 miles. In the next instant, I was coming into Flagstaff, a leap of 213 miles. In the next, I was approaching Gallup as a full moon popped up in the east. Having been concussed in football, I knew that my body could function quite well with only minimal conscious awareness. I had watched myself on game film play entire halves of flawless football with no conscious memory of even a millisecond of it. But this was something else. Yes, it was a great way to travel. Yes, the tedium of desert driving had been eclipsed. But who was driving the car? Hungry again, I stopped at a Gallup McDonald’s. It was about 8 p.m. No other customers were present; it was just me and the Diné kids who worked there. As I finished eating, the manager came out and sat down to eat his own food. He was also Navajo, perhaps 17 years old. As I discarded my trash, I asked him if there were any sacred sites nearby. I didn’t know what I was saying. The words just tumbled out of my mouth. “Yes,” he said, “they’re everywhere around here. Chaco Canyon is the most famous one. Just head east on the freeway. The exit’s clearly marked. It’s kind of a Navajo church.” “Thanks,” I said. But when I got back on the road, I went out again, coming around only as the Chaco sign flickered by on my right. Geez, I thought. Continuing on, I pulled off at a lonely exit 10 miles farther up the road. The gas station was off the ramp, next to a KOA campground. As well as being a place to buy fuel, it seemed to serve as a camp store. It was strictly a local business. I got out of my car, filled up. Now it was 9 p.m., clear, cold. My breath was condensing to mist. Above, the moon was blazing as bright as a tiny sun. Inside the store, as I paid my bill, I asked the young cashier where Chaco Canyon was. Also Navajo, she told me it was back west, to the exit I’d missed, then north 65 miles. Damn, I thought. That’s too far to go. “Do you have any pamphlets on Chaco?” She said, “No, not here, but Mrs. Baker, up at the camp office, has some. It’s closing time, but she’ll wait for you if you want to run up.” I drove up the short hill. The camp office had video games in it, racks of postcards, and an old sheepdog asleep on the rug in front of the door. Mrs. Baker was waiting for me behind a glass-topped counter. Plump, with bright eyes, she handed me her Chaco pamphlets. As I looked them over, she said, “The ruins there are nearly a thousand years old and stunningly beautiful.” I told her I wanted to go there. She said that shouldn’t be any problem, there was a campground where I could spend the night. “You could walk through the ruins in the morning.” “No,” I said. “I don’t want to go in there in the morning. I want to go in there tonight.” “Tonight?” I nodded. “The moon is full,” I said. Again, I had no idea what I was saying. “But I don’t think you can go in there at night,” she said. “Oh.” We stood there for a moment in silence. She was staring at me. Then she said, “But there are some other ruins as old as Chaco nearby—you could go in there tonight.” And suddenly she was pulling out a stack of her own photographs, spreading them out on the counter. As I looked at them, I asked if there was a kiva among the ruins. She said yes, although it hadn’t been excavated. “But it’s very close, no more than four miles away.” Then she drew me a map, explained how to get there. “The ruins are just beyond the turnoff for the power plant. You should pull over as soon as the road turns to dirt.” “There’s a power plant up there?” She nodded. “It’s the generating plant for, you know, the entire region. What you’ll see then, to your left, is this sandstone cliff. It has three elliptical hollows carved into it by erosion. At the foot of those hollows is the site.” I thanked her for her help. As I was about to walk out, she said, “It’s interesting to us that the local Indians won’t visit the site because they’re afraid the ancestors will bring sickness.” I thought for a long time. Again, words came unbidden. “Or health,” I said. Back in my car, I crossed railroad tracks, then followed a narrow strip of asphalt into the countryside. The night was brilliant, and my heart was beginning to pound in my chest. I was having difficulty getting my breath. There were no houses anywhere, and no other cars on the road. Then, cresting a ridge, I saw the towering stack of the power plant. It was off to the west, and a flashing strobe light on it pierced the darkness as the stack disgorged billowing plumes of steam. As I passed the turnoff for the plant, the pavement abruptly ended. I slowed, looked off to my left for the sandstone escarpment. Then, 200 yards away, I saw it rising out of the scrub. I pulled over, got out of my car. As I scaled a barbed-wire fence, my heart felt as if it was going to explode. It was a gentle ascent to the foot of the hollows. As I started up, I was fixed on the formation. Then I turned around and looked back at the moon. Huge, brilliant, it was ever ascending. Shaking my head, I looked back at the hollows, into whose face the moon was beaming. And suddenly I felt I understood why the site had been located here: The hollows were moonbeam catchers, natural dishes focused on the heavens, to capture and hold them—to create a confluence— so that their essence could be imbibed by whoever the long-ago people were who had lived here. I clambered over a second barbed-wire fence. As I crested the top of a knoll, I came upon the ruins—a sprawling rectangle of crumbling walls. Instinctively, I took off my shoes, tiptoed down what appeared to be a corridor. Then I was flat on my back in the circle of the kiva. It took a while, but finally my breathing stabilized. Then the moon popped into view. The top of the crumbling east wall had concealed it. Watching it climb, I realized that soon it would hover over me— that if I stayed here, it would pass directly over my head. I wondered if this alignment was fortuitous, or if it was another reason these structures had been built here. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes. As I did so, a series of images bubbled up in my mind. Images of my wife, my kids. My friends. Then me, as I was situated at that moment: sprawled on my back in the middle of these ruins. As the final image dissolved, my body went slack. A sense of deep tranquility settled over me. I listened to the rustling of a gentle breeze. Then my body started tingling. A little later, as I walked down the slope to my car, my body was still tingling. And the tingling made me want to sing. I slipped Van Morrison’s Irish Heartbeat album into my car’s tape player and cranked it. I was still singing hours later as I crossed the Texas line. I knew then that I would be back. Probably, someday, for good. ✜ Pat Toomay played 10 years in the National Football League, for such teams as the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders. He is the author of numerous articles about pro football, and two books: 'The Crunch' and the novel 'On Any Given Sunday.' Toomay lives in Albuquerque, where he enjoys the friendship of Acoma Pueblo spiritual elders Gilbert Concho and Becky Chino, and his relationship with Tibetan Lama Karma Rinchen. Wandering New Mexico’s charged terrain is an important pastime. He has two sons, Seth and John. About the photo by Silas Fallstich: Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon The Silver City–born photographer has spent countless seasons backpacking and exploring in southern New Mexico. He took this image on his first trip into the north.","id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f937","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/off-the-lost-highway-84476/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/off-the-lost-highway-84476/#comments","absoluteUrl":"https://www.newmexico.org/nmmagazine/articles/post/off-the-lost-highway-84476/","metaTitle":"Off the Lost Highway","metaDescription":"

Initially, I could locate my pull to New Mexico solely in its terrain. Each August, escaping the stifling heat of Texas in an old Volvo station wagon, my family and I would make our annual trek to

","cleanDescription":"Initially, I could locate my pull to New Mexico solely in its terrain. Each August, escaping the stifling heat of Texas in an old Volvo station wagon, my family and I would make our annual trek to southern California to visit my folks. My parents, retired military, lived near the beach in North County, San Diego. We looked forward to getting out there. Invariably, though, near the Texas–New Mexico border, as we climbed the Caprock, something would happen. The temperature would plummet, refreshing us. The vibrant colors stretching ahead would sweep into the car. My teenage boys would find themselves captivated by the drama of a distant thunderstorm. “Dad, where are we?” they would ask. “This place is amazing. It’s electric here.” How electric I didn’t begin to understand until one evening in March 1989, when I was driving back to Dallas after spending a difficult six weeks in Los Angeles, trying to penetrate Hollywood with a spec film script. During a 10-year NFL career, I had written two books. After retiring, I had assisted an A-list Hollywood writer on important film projects. A good story had come to me. I had hoped to make writing my future. However, my experience in L.A. was a disaster. Although my script ended up being optioned several times, producers were generally more interested in having me write their material than funding my project. They told me that if I wanted to see my story on film, I would have to raise the money myself. I wasn’t interested in raising money. That could take years. Strung out, wondering what I was going to do with my life, I started driving home. That’s when things got strange. First, I was in one place, then I was in another—except the two places were hundreds of miles apart. After stopping for early-morning coffee in Victorville, California, the next thing I knew I was pulling into Needles for lunch. In an instant, I had traveled 174 miles. In the next instant, I was coming into Flagstaff, a leap of 213 miles. In the next, I was approaching Gallup as a full moon popped up in the east. Having been concussed in football, I knew that my body could function quite well with only minimal conscious awareness. I had watched myself on game film play entire halves of flawless football with no conscious memory of even a millisecond of it. But this was something else. Yes, it was a great way to travel. Yes, the tedium of desert driving had been eclipsed. But who was driving the car? Hungry again, I stopped at a Gallup McDonald’s. It was about 8 p.m. No other customers were present; it was just me and the Diné kids who worked there. As I finished eating, the manager came out and sat down to eat his own food. He was also Navajo, perhaps 17 years old. As I discarded my trash, I asked him if there were any sacred sites nearby. I didn’t know what I was saying. The words just tumbled out of my mouth. “Yes,” he said, “they’re everywhere around here. Chaco Canyon is the most famous one. Just head east on the freeway. The exit’s clearly marked. It’s kind of a Navajo church.” “Thanks,” I said. But when I got back on the road, I went out again, coming around only as the Chaco sign flickered by on my right. Geez, I thought. Continuing on, I pulled off at a lonely exit 10 miles farther up the road. The gas station was off the ramp, next to a KOA campground. As well as being a place to buy fuel, it seemed to serve as a camp store. It was strictly a local business. I got out of my car, filled up. Now it was 9 p.m., clear, cold. My breath was condensing to mist. Above, the moon was blazing as bright as a tiny sun. Inside the store, as I paid my bill, I asked the young cashier where Chaco Canyon was. Also Navajo, she told me it was back west, to the exit I’d missed, then north 65 miles. Damn, I thought. That’s too far to go. “Do you have any pamphlets on Chaco?” She said, “No, not here, but Mrs. Baker, up at the camp office, has some. It’s closing time, but she’ll wait for you if you want to run up.” I drove up the short hill. The camp office had video games in it, racks of postcards, and an old sheepdog asleep on the rug in front of the door. Mrs. Baker was waiting for me behind a glass-topped counter. Plump, with bright eyes, she handed me her Chaco pamphlets. As I looked them over, she said, “The ruins there are nearly a thousand years old and stunningly beautiful.” I told her I wanted to go there. She said that shouldn’t be any problem, there was a campground where I could spend the night. “You could walk through the ruins in the morning.” “No,” I said. “I don’t want to go in there in the morning. I want to go in there tonight.” “Tonight?” I nodded. “The moon is full,” I said. Again, I had no idea what I was saying. “But I don’t think you can go in there at night,” she said. “Oh.” We stood there for a moment in silence. She was staring at me. Then she said, “But there are some other ruins as old as Chaco nearby—you could go in there tonight.” And suddenly she was pulling out a stack of her own photographs, spreading them out on the counter. As I looked at them, I asked if there was a kiva among the ruins. She said yes, although it hadn’t been excavated. “But it’s very close, no more than four miles away.” Then she drew me a map, explained how to get there. “The ruins are just beyond the turnoff for the power plant. You should pull over as soon as the road turns to dirt.” “There’s a power plant up there?” She nodded. “It’s the generating plant for, you know, the entire region. What you’ll see then, to your left, is this sandstone cliff. It has three elliptical hollows carved into it by erosion. At the foot of those hollows is the site.” I thanked her for her help. As I was about to walk out, she said, “It’s interesting to us that the local Indians won’t visit the site because they’re afraid the ancestors will bring sickness.” I thought for a long time. Again, words came unbidden. “Or health,” I said. Back in my car, I crossed railroad tracks, then followed a narrow strip of asphalt into the countryside. The night was brilliant, and my heart was beginning to pound in my chest. I was having difficulty getting my breath. There were no houses anywhere, and no other cars on the road. Then, cresting a ridge, I saw the towering stack of the power plant. It was off to the west, and a flashing strobe light on it pierced the darkness as the stack disgorged billowing plumes of steam. As I passed the turnoff for the plant, the pavement abruptly ended. I slowed, looked off to my left for the sandstone escarpment. Then, 200 yards away, I saw it rising out of the scrub. I pulled over, got out of my car. As I scaled a barbed-wire fence, my heart felt as if it was going to explode. It was a gentle ascent to the foot of the hollows. As I started up, I was fixed on the formation. Then I turned around and looked back at the moon. Huge, brilliant, it was ever ascending. Shaking my head, I looked back at the hollows, into whose face the moon was beaming. And suddenly I felt I understood why the site had been located here: The hollows were moonbeam catchers, natural dishes focused on the heavens, to capture and hold them—to create a confluence— so that their essence could be imbibed by whoever the long-ago people were who had lived here. I clambered over a second barbed-wire fence. As I crested the top of a knoll, I came upon the ruins—a sprawling rectangle of crumbling walls. Instinctively, I took off my shoes, tiptoed down what appeared to be a corridor. Then I was flat on my back in the circle of the kiva. It took a while, but finally my breathing stabilized. Then the moon popped into view. The top of the crumbling east wall had concealed it. Watching it climb, I realized that soon it would hover over me— that if I stayed here, it would pass directly over my head. I wondered if this alignment was fortuitous, or if it was another reason these structures had been built here. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes. As I did so, a series of images bubbled up in my mind. Images of my wife, my kids. My friends. Then me, as I was situated at that moment: sprawled on my back in the middle of these ruins. As the final image dissolved, my body went slack. A sense of deep tranquility settled over me. I listened to the rustling of a gentle breeze. Then my body started tingling. A little later, as I walked down the slope to my car, my body was still tingling. And the tingling made me want to sing. I slipped Van Morrison’s Irish Heartbeat album into my car’s tape player and cranked it. I was still singing hours later as I crossed the Texas line. I knew then that I would be back. Probably, someday, for good. ✜ Pat Toomay played 10 years in the National Football League, for such teams as the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders. He is the author of numerous articles about pro football, and two books: 'The Crunch' and the novel 'On Any Given Sunday.' Toomay lives in Albuquerque, where he enjoys the friendship of Acoma Pueblo spiritual elders Gilbert Concho and Becky Chino, and his relationship with Tibetan Lama Karma Rinchen. Wandering New Mexico’s charged terrain is an important pastime. He has two sons, Seth and John. About the photo by Silas Fallstich: Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon The Silver City–born photographer has spent countless seasons backpacking and exploring in southern New Mexico. He took this image on his first trip into the north.","publish_start_moment":"2013-12-26T14:00:00.000Z","publish_end_moment":"2017-12-18T22:21:01.760Z"},{"_id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f936","author_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f1fb","title":"Where the Outsiders Belong","slug":"where-the-outsiders-belong-84440","image_id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f48b","publish_start":"2013-12-23T17:00:00.000Z","enable_comments":true,"categories_ids":["58c83bb81f16f9392cf09b52","58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3","58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8"],"tags_ids":["59090d4be1efff4c9916fa90","59090cb1e1efff4c9916fa25","59090d03e1efff4c9916fa58"],"cms_tags_ids":["58b061ec6a2b0936c34a23ea"],"enabled":true,"custom_photo_credit":"Michael Clark","custom_tagline":"Adiós, Chicago. ¡Hola, New Mexico! How America’s leading outdoors magazine landed here.","created":"2013-12-23T17:01:10.000Z","legacy_id":"84440","blog":"magazine","_title_sort":"where the outsiders belong","updated":"2017-10-31T21:31:31.076Z","active":true,"description_raw":"

Staring out my corner-office windows from the top floor of the Continental Bank building, on Chicago’s trendy near North Side, I could barely see the cold, gray waters of Lake Michigan through the apertures between buildings. A pervasive gloom hung like wet bedding over the Windy City. It had been more than 15 years since I’d started Outside magazine there. True, our offices were a lot nicer than they’d been back in February 1976, when we were hunkered down in a windowless warehouse on the city’s West Side—once proclaimed by New York’s Guardian Angels the most dangerous neighborhood in America. Bill Kurtis, Chicago’s CBS news anchor at the time, even taped a segment about the active-lifestyle magazine being launched out of an urban office so far from the axes of outdoor adventure.

\r\n\r\n

He had a point. When I sailed my 30-foot sloop back to the States in 1973, after five years of exploration in remote regions of Africa, South America, the Middle East, Russia, and too many other places to name, I didn’t envision starting a magazine that would cover the adventurous lifestyle that had come to define me. But there I was, far from clear skies, open oceans, and big mountains.

\r\n\r\n

As I stared out the window that day, Rex Ryan, our CFO, walked in and asked a question that would change the lives of our staff and propel Outside toward its geographical destiny.

\r\n\r\n

“We have to decide in the next few months whether we want to sign a 10- or 15-year lease on our space,” he said.

\r\n\r\n

“What . . . 10 or 15 years?!” I said. I love the Windy City. I think it is the best big city in America, crime rates aside. But 10 or 15 years? It felt like making a decision to get married. Whoa! “Maybe we ought to look at some options,” I said.

\r\n\r\n

At this time, Outside was only a hiccup or two away from publishing stories like “Into the Wild” and “Into Thin Air,” by Jon Krakauer, and “The Perfect Storm,” by Sebastian Junger, which would grow into best-selling books and major motion pictures. I wondered how moving to a new and potentially unfamiliar part of the country would affect the staff. After all, each month, from our Chicago offices, the editors were consistently serving up top-notch writing and useful advice on gear, travel, and fitness in a unique voice meant to inspire people to . . . well . . . get out of the city. Hmmm.

\r\n\r\n

The search began. Somehow, the Associated Press picked up on Outside’s hunt for a new home, one that embraced an active lifestyle more closely identified with the editorial mission of the magazine. Soon I was taking trips to various cities in the Northeast, Southeast, West Coast, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountain regions.

\r\n\r\n

Background: Every summer, from ages eight to 12, I had attended Camp Holy Cross, in Colorado Springs, a Catholic boys’ camp dedicated to teaching outdoor skills and crafts. I had also attended the University of Arizona, in Tucson, and then worked for IBM in Denver after college. So I was biased in favor of the Southwest and the Rocky Mountains. Nonetheless, I went on the road—from Burlington, Vermont, to Asheville, North Carolina; from Ashland, Oregon, to Flagstaff, Arizona; from Santa Barbara, California, to Boulder, Colorado; and on to other coastal and mountain towns.

\r\n\r\n

In Jackson, Wyoming, I was cruising around with the city’s promoters, politicians, economic-development execs, and a few entrepreneurs who’d made the move from New York and other East Coast locales. I loved the vibe in Jackson, along with its majestic Tetons, and the Jackson guys made a very tempting relocation offer that was hard to refuse—there are no state income taxes in Wyoming.

\r\n\r\n

But around this time, I received a call: “Mr. Burke, this is Sam Pick, I’m the mayor of Santa Fe—you know, in New Mexico—and I was just reading in the paper that Outside is looking for a new home. Would it be alright if I stopped on my way back from a trip east to visit with you?”

\r\n\r\n

I liked Sam immediately. There was a genuine, upbeat, Western tone in his voice; a down-to-earth honesty came through the phone. And when he arrived in Chicago, he looked like his voice: Straight-backed, he was a big guy with wavy, gray-black hair and the slightly weathered, square-jawed face that you might expect on someone from a place called New Mexico.

\r\n\r\n

He asked if I’d let him bring a delegation to pitch the Outside staff on the benefits of moving to New Mexico. “Sure, why not?” I said—though I was fairly sure there would be pushback on moving 1,200 miles to a state most of them had never been to. And I had been to New Mexico only twice myself. Once, on my way to school in Tucson with a Chicago pal, we obligingly let two party girls pull us over on a hot, dry, dusty afternoon in Odessa, Texas, resulting in such a severe hangover the next day that all I saw of New Mexico was the black gravel slipping past my forehead as I hung out the car door losing my lunch. The second time was better—a road trip with college pals to ride horses in Ruidoso. The memory of galloping through forests and across grassy valleys stayed with me.

\r\n\r\n

So my wife, Gabrielle, and I approached the journey to Santa Fe warily. That quickly changed on the drive north from Albuquerque. The land slowly peeled open like dawn on a Mongolian plain. There was nothing to impede the visual senses in the vast landscape between the two cities. I could hardly keep my eyes on the road while studying the sturdy, stepped mesas with varied hues of color. Every now and then, a small herd of wild horses would be grazing at the edge of endless vistas. We imagined riding our horses from dawn till dusk without ever reaching the horizon.

\r\n\r\n

As we crested the hill and got our first glimpse of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the sun, as if on cue, burst through layered pillows of bleached-white clouds to allow a single beam of light to reveal a cluster of adobes, lit crimson-gold, nestled in the foothills. This was Santa Fe? Our mouths dropped open. We looked at each other as if to confirm that we were both seeing the same thing. I thought, if there truly is a God, He must be commanding our attention to this special place. My foot plunged down on the pedal.

\r\n\r\n

For the next 36 hours, Gabrielle and I went all in, and fell even harder for Santa Fe. As we sat under the enormous cottonwood tree in the 400-year-old La Casa Sena courtyard, nursing silver-coin margaritas, I looked at Gabrielle and said, “I don’t know about you, but this is where I want to be.” She replied, “I was hoping you’d feel that way.” And that was it. Barely two days, and my mind was made up.

\r\n\r\n

I’ll refrain from piling on about the well-documented charms—rich history, distinctive architecture, diverse cultures, world-class cuisine—that have been so endlessly extolled by promoters of the City Different, a tagline I’d like to see deleted. Let’s just say that I loved the feel of the place, the chiles, and the new tequilas (which always seem to show up in Santa Fe first).

\r\n\r\n

More important, the proximity of everything I hold dear in life was before me. I could imagine myself running along the ridge tops, skiing the basin, kayaking the Río Grande, taking my horses and dogs camping in the Sangre de Cristos and right on up the spine of the Rockies to Montana. I could breathe. I could be Western. Hell, I could be a cowboy.

\r\n\r\n

Santa Fe’s empty beauty and dramatic sky were in stark contrast to my hometown of concrete canyons and heavy, damp skies. Out among the tabletop mesas and jagged barrancas of New Mexico, it seemed as if I could almost get in touch with the primitive roots of our ancestral past, where early civilizations had scratched a living out of the earth. It would be easy to let the currents of New Mexico take me on a magiccarpet ride to distant and exotic lands. A tingle of excitement shot up the back of my neck, summoning up feelings I’d enjoyed as an ex-pat.

\r\n\r\n

From the time I announced to the Chicago staff that we were moving our headquarters to Santa Fe, three summers passed before we actually arrived in the Capital City. Sure, there were a few internal efforts to resist the move, but in the end, a caravan of trucks bearing the Outside logo left the Midwest, along with a team of 50.

\r\n\r\n

We’ve now been in Santa Fe for 19 years, and our building, in the historic Railyard, is full of young, energetic staffers who wake up for “dawn patrol”— getting up before light to run, hike, mountain bike, fish the Pecos, paddle the Río Grande Box, and skin up to the top of the ski basin for first tracks—all before coming into work and cranking out awardwinning stories. I think Sam Pick is still smiling. I know we are. ✜

\r\n\r\n
\r\n

Larry Burke is Chairman and Editor-in- Chief of Mariah Media Network, LLC, the parent company of Outside, which has grown into an international multimedia brand encompassing print, online, television, and digital platforms. Shortly after moving to Santa Fe, Outside won three consecutive National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, the only magazine in history ever to do so. Burke lives with his wife, Gabrielle, on a ranch in Santa Fe County with their eight horses and two dogs.

\r\n
","teaser_raw":"

Staring out my corner-office windows from the top floor of the Continental Bank building, on Chicago’s trendy near North Side, I could barely see the cold, gray waters of Lake Michigan through the

","version_id":"59f8ebb3648901d6cd725d6a","author":{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f1fb","blog":"magazine","name":"Larry Burke","_name_sort":"larry burke","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.336Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.342Z","_totalPosts":1,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f1fb","title":"Larry Burke","slug":"larry-burke","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/author/larry-burke/58b4b2404c2774661570f1fb/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/author/larry-burke/58b4b2404c2774661570f1fb/#comments","totalPosts":1},"categories":[{"_id":"58c83bb81f16f9392cf09b52","title":"Lifestyle","blog":"magazine","_title_sort":"lifestyle","updated":"2017-03-14T18:51:36.346Z","created":"2017-03-14T18:51:36.346Z","_totalPosts":72,"id":"58c83bb81f16f9392cf09b52","slug":"lifestyle","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/lifestyle/58c83bb81f16f9392cf09b52/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/lifestyle/58c83bb81f16f9392cf09b52/#comments","totalPosts":72},{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3","blog":"magazine","title":"Features","_title_sort":"features","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.492Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.504Z","_totalPosts":208,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3","slug":"features","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/features/58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/features/58b4b2404c2774661570f2a3/#comments","totalPosts":208},{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8","blog":"magazine","title":"January 2014","_title_sort":"january 2014","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.555Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.560Z","_totalPosts":14,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8","slug":"january-2014","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/january-2014/58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/january-2014/58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8/#comments","totalPosts":14}],"image":{"_id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f48b","legacy_id":"84493","title":"Main -outsiders","created":"2013-12-26T15:27:58.000Z","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:07.319Z","credits":"Henry Lopez","content_owner":"magazine","tags_ids":["58b061ec6a2b0936c34a23ea"],"title_sort":"main -outsiders","resource_raw":{"public_id":"clients/newmexico/main_outsiders_75375a68-88b1-41dc-904d-ff11c60226ef","version":1488237127,"signature":"1c52809d33851ec3fdc6241fe27725b4ee4da0f1","width":488,"height":324,"format":"jpg","resource_type":"image","created_at":"2017-02-27T23:12:07.000Z","bytes":50538,"type":"upload","etag":"41258f78b6ec7d28a7fc544fe41f308e","url":"http://res.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1488237127/clients/newmexico/main_outsiders_75375a68-88b1-41dc-904d-ff11c60226ef.jpg","secure_url":"https://res.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1488237127/clients/newmexico/main_outsiders_75375a68-88b1-41dc-904d-ff11c60226ef.jpg","exif":{"Copyright":"Image .. 2006 Michael Clark Photography. All rights reserved. Any use of this image without the prior consent of the photographer"},"original_filename":"main-outsiders"},"deleted":false,"id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f48b","type":"image","resource":{"raw":{"resource_type":"image","format":"jpg","public_id":"clients/newmexico/main_outsiders_75375a68-88b1-41dc-904d-ff11c60226ef"}},"inAssetRequest":false,"alt_text":"Main -outsiders"},"teaser":"

Staring out my corner-office windows from the top floor of the Continental Bank building, on Chicago’s trendy near North Side, I could barely see the cold, gray waters of Lake Michigan through the

","description":"Staring out my corner-office windows from the top floor of the Continental Bank building, on Chicago’s trendy near North Side, I could barely see the cold, gray waters of Lake Michigan through the apertures between buildings. A pervasive gloom hung like wet bedding over the Windy City. It had been more than 15 years since I’d started Outside magazine there. True, our offices were a lot nicer than they’d been back in February 1976, when we were hunkered down in a windowless warehouse on the city’s West Side—once proclaimed by New York’s Guardian Angels the most dangerous neighborhood in America. Bill Kurtis, Chicago’s CBS news anchor at the time, even taped a segment about the active-lifestyle magazine being launched out of an urban office so far from the axes of outdoor adventure. He had a point. When I sailed my 30-foot sloop back to the States in 1973, after five years of exploration in remote regions of Africa, South America, the Middle East, Russia, and too many other places to name, I didn’t envision starting a magazine that would cover the adventurous lifestyle that had come to define me. But there I was, far from clear skies, open oceans, and big mountains. As I stared out the window that day, Rex Ryan, our CFO, walked in and asked a question that would change the lives of our staff and propel Outside toward its geographical destiny. “We have to decide in the next few months whether we want to sign a 10- or 15-year lease on our space,” he said. “What . . . 10 or 15 years?!” I said. I love the Windy City. I think it is the best big city in America, crime rates aside. But 10 or 15 years? It felt like making a decision to get married. Whoa! “Maybe we ought to look at some options,” I said. At this time, Outside was only a hiccup or two away from publishing stories like “Into the Wild” and “Into Thin Air,” by Jon Krakauer, and “The Perfect Storm,” by Sebastian Junger, which would grow into best-selling books and major motion pictures. I wondered how moving to a new and potentially unfamiliar part of the country would affect the staff. After all, each month, from our Chicago offices, the editors were consistently serving up top-notch writing and useful advice on gear, travel, and fitness in a unique voice meant to inspire people to . . . well . . . get out of the city. Hmmm. The search began. Somehow, the Associated Press picked up on Outside’s hunt for a new home, one that embraced an active lifestyle more closely identified with the editorial mission of the magazine. Soon I was taking trips to various cities in the Northeast, Southeast, West Coast, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountain regions. Background: Every summer, from ages eight to 12, I had attended Camp Holy Cross, in Colorado Springs, a Catholic boys’ camp dedicated to teaching outdoor skills and crafts. I had also attended the University of Arizona, in Tucson, and then worked for IBM in Denver after college. So I was biased in favor of the Southwest and the Rocky Mountains. Nonetheless, I went on the road—from Burlington, Vermont, to Asheville, North Carolina; from Ashland, Oregon, to Flagstaff, Arizona; from Santa Barbara, California, to Boulder, Colorado; and on to other coastal and mountain towns. In Jackson, Wyoming, I was cruising around with the city’s promoters, politicians, economic-development execs, and a few entrepreneurs who’d made the move from New York and other East Coast locales. I loved the vibe in Jackson, along with its majestic Tetons, and the Jackson guys made a very tempting relocation offer that was hard to refuse—there are no state income taxes in Wyoming. But around this time, I received a call: “Mr. Burke, this is Sam Pick, I’m the mayor of Santa Fe—you know, in New Mexico—and I was just reading in the paper that Outside is looking for a new home. Would it be alright if I stopped on my way back from a trip east to visit with you?” I liked Sam immediately. There was a genuine, upbeat, Western tone in his voice; a down-to-earth honesty came through the phone. And when he arrived in Chicago, he looked like his voice: Straight-backed, he was a big guy with wavy, gray-black hair and the slightly weathered, square-jawed face that you might expect on someone from a place called New Mexico. He asked if I’d let him bring a delegation to pitch the Outside staff on the benefits of moving to New Mexico. “Sure, why not?” I said—though I was fairly sure there would be pushback on moving 1,200 miles to a state most of them had never been to. And I had been to New Mexico only twice myself. Once, on my way to school in Tucson with a Chicago pal, we obligingly let two party girls pull us over on a hot, dry, dusty afternoon in Odessa, Texas, resulting in such a severe hangover the next day that all I saw of New Mexico was the black gravel slipping past my forehead as I hung out the car door losing my lunch. The second time was better—a road trip with college pals to ride horses in Ruidoso. The memory of galloping through forests and across grassy valleys stayed with me. So my wife, Gabrielle, and I approached the journey to Santa Fe warily. That quickly changed on the drive north from Albuquerque. The land slowly peeled open like dawn on a Mongolian plain. There was nothing to impede the visual senses in the vast landscape between the two cities. I could hardly keep my eyes on the road while studying the sturdy, stepped mesas with varied hues of color. Every now and then, a small herd of wild horses would be grazing at the edge of endless vistas. We imagined riding our horses from dawn till dusk without ever reaching the horizon. As we crested the hill and got our first glimpse of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the sun, as if on cue, burst through layered pillows of bleached-white clouds to allow a single beam of light to reveal a cluster of adobes, lit crimson-gold, nestled in the foothills. This was Santa Fe? Our mouths dropped open. We looked at each other as if to confirm that we were both seeing the same thing. I thought, if there truly is a God, He must be commanding our attention to this special place. My foot plunged down on the pedal. For the next 36 hours, Gabrielle and I went all in, and fell even harder for Santa Fe. As we sat under the enormous cottonwood tree in the 400-year-old La Casa Sena courtyard, nursing silver-coin margaritas, I looked at Gabrielle and said, “I don’t know about you, but this is where I want to be.” She replied, “I was hoping you’d feel that way.” And that was it. Barely two days, and my mind was made up. I’ll refrain from piling on about the well-documented charms—rich history, distinctive architecture, diverse cultures, world-class cuisine—that have been so endlessly extolled by promoters of the City Different, a tagline I’d like to see deleted. Let’s just say that I loved the feel of the place, the chiles, and the new tequilas (which always seem to show up in Santa Fe first). More important, the proximity of everything I hold dear in life was before me. I could imagine myself running along the ridge tops, skiing the basin, kayaking the Río Grande, taking my horses and dogs camping in the Sangre de Cristos and right on up the spine of the Rockies to Montana. I could breathe. I could be Western. Hell, I could be a cowboy. Santa Fe’s empty beauty and dramatic sky were in stark contrast to my hometown of concrete canyons and heavy, damp skies. Out among the tabletop mesas and jagged barrancas of New Mexico, it seemed as if I could almost get in touch with the primitive roots of our ancestral past, where early civilizations had scratched a living out of the earth. It would be easy to let the currents of New Mexico take me on a magiccarpet ride to distant and exotic lands. A tingle of excitement shot up the back of my neck, summoning up feelings I’d enjoyed as an ex-pat. From the time I announced to the Chicago staff that we were moving our headquarters to Santa Fe, three summers passed before we actually arrived in the Capital City. Sure, there were a few internal efforts to resist the move, but in the end, a caravan of trucks bearing the Outside logo left the Midwest, along with a team of 50. We’ve now been in Santa Fe for 19 years, and our building, in the historic Railyard, is full of young, energetic staffers who wake up for “dawn patrol”— getting up before light to run, hike, mountain bike, fish the Pecos, paddle the Río Grande Box, and skin up to the top of the ski basin for first tracks—all before coming into work and cranking out awardwinning stories. I think Sam Pick is still smiling. I know we are. ✜ Larry Burke is Chairman and Editor-in- Chief of Mariah Media Network, LLC, the parent company of Outside, which has grown into an international multimedia brand encompassing print, online, television, and digital platforms. Shortly after moving to Santa Fe, Outside won three consecutive National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, the only magazine in history ever to do so. Burke lives with his wife, Gabrielle, on a ranch in Santa Fe County with their eight horses and two dogs.","id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f936","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/where-the-outsiders-belong-84440/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/where-the-outsiders-belong-84440/#comments","absoluteUrl":"https://www.newmexico.org/nmmagazine/articles/post/where-the-outsiders-belong-84440/","metaTitle":"Where the Outsiders Belong","metaDescription":"

Staring out my corner-office windows from the top floor of the Continental Bank building, on Chicago’s trendy near North Side, I could barely see the cold, gray waters of Lake Michigan through the

","cleanDescription":"Staring out my corner-office windows from the top floor of the Continental Bank building, on Chicago’s trendy near North Side, I could barely see the cold, gray waters of Lake Michigan through the apertures between buildings. A pervasive gloom hung like wet bedding over the Windy City. It had been more than 15 years since I’d started Outside magazine there. True, our offices were a lot nicer than they’d been back in February 1976, when we were hunkered down in a windowless warehouse on the city’s West Side—once proclaimed by New York’s Guardian Angels the most dangerous neighborhood in America. Bill Kurtis, Chicago’s CBS news anchor at the time, even taped a segment about the active-lifestyle magazine being launched out of an urban office so far from the axes of outdoor adventure. He had a point. When I sailed my 30-foot sloop back to the States in 1973, after five years of exploration in remote regions of Africa, South America, the Middle East, Russia, and too many other places to name, I didn’t envision starting a magazine that would cover the adventurous lifestyle that had come to define me. But there I was, far from clear skies, open oceans, and big mountains. As I stared out the window that day, Rex Ryan, our CFO, walked in and asked a question that would change the lives of our staff and propel Outside toward its geographical destiny. “We have to decide in the next few months whether we want to sign a 10- or 15-year lease on our space,” he said. “What . . . 10 or 15 years?!” I said. I love the Windy City. I think it is the best big city in America, crime rates aside. But 10 or 15 years? It felt like making a decision to get married. Whoa! “Maybe we ought to look at some options,” I said. At this time, Outside was only a hiccup or two away from publishing stories like “Into the Wild” and “Into Thin Air,” by Jon Krakauer, and “The Perfect Storm,” by Sebastian Junger, which would grow into best-selling books and major motion pictures. I wondered how moving to a new and potentially unfamiliar part of the country would affect the staff. After all, each month, from our Chicago offices, the editors were consistently serving up top-notch writing and useful advice on gear, travel, and fitness in a unique voice meant to inspire people to . . . well . . . get out of the city. Hmmm. The search began. Somehow, the Associated Press picked up on Outside’s hunt for a new home, one that embraced an active lifestyle more closely identified with the editorial mission of the magazine. Soon I was taking trips to various cities in the Northeast, Southeast, West Coast, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountain regions. Background: Every summer, from ages eight to 12, I had attended Camp Holy Cross, in Colorado Springs, a Catholic boys’ camp dedicated to teaching outdoor skills and crafts. I had also attended the University of Arizona, in Tucson, and then worked for IBM in Denver after college. So I was biased in favor of the Southwest and the Rocky Mountains. Nonetheless, I went on the road—from Burlington, Vermont, to Asheville, North Carolina; from Ashland, Oregon, to Flagstaff, Arizona; from Santa Barbara, California, to Boulder, Colorado; and on to other coastal and mountain towns. In Jackson, Wyoming, I was cruising around with the city’s promoters, politicians, economic-development execs, and a few entrepreneurs who’d made the move from New York and other East Coast locales. I loved the vibe in Jackson, along with its majestic Tetons, and the Jackson guys made a very tempting relocation offer that was hard to refuse—there are no state income taxes in Wyoming. But around this time, I received a call: “Mr. Burke, this is Sam Pick, I’m the mayor of Santa Fe—you know, in New Mexico—and I was just reading in the paper that Outside is looking for a new home. Would it be alright if I stopped on my way back from a trip east to visit with you?” I liked Sam immediately. There was a genuine, upbeat, Western tone in his voice; a down-to-earth honesty came through the phone. And when he arrived in Chicago, he looked like his voice: Straight-backed, he was a big guy with wavy, gray-black hair and the slightly weathered, square-jawed face that you might expect on someone from a place called New Mexico. He asked if I’d let him bring a delegation to pitch the Outside staff on the benefits of moving to New Mexico. “Sure, why not?” I said—though I was fairly sure there would be pushback on moving 1,200 miles to a state most of them had never been to. And I had been to New Mexico only twice myself. Once, on my way to school in Tucson with a Chicago pal, we obligingly let two party girls pull us over on a hot, dry, dusty afternoon in Odessa, Texas, resulting in such a severe hangover the next day that all I saw of New Mexico was the black gravel slipping past my forehead as I hung out the car door losing my lunch. The second time was better—a road trip with college pals to ride horses in Ruidoso. The memory of galloping through forests and across grassy valleys stayed with me. So my wife, Gabrielle, and I approached the journey to Santa Fe warily. That quickly changed on the drive north from Albuquerque. The land slowly peeled open like dawn on a Mongolian plain. There was nothing to impede the visual senses in the vast landscape between the two cities. I could hardly keep my eyes on the road while studying the sturdy, stepped mesas with varied hues of color. Every now and then, a small herd of wild horses would be grazing at the edge of endless vistas. We imagined riding our horses from dawn till dusk without ever reaching the horizon. As we crested the hill and got our first glimpse of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the sun, as if on cue, burst through layered pillows of bleached-white clouds to allow a single beam of light to reveal a cluster of adobes, lit crimson-gold, nestled in the foothills. This was Santa Fe? Our mouths dropped open. We looked at each other as if to confirm that we were both seeing the same thing. I thought, if there truly is a God, He must be commanding our attention to this special place. My foot plunged down on the pedal. For the next 36 hours, Gabrielle and I went all in, and fell even harder for Santa Fe. As we sat under the enormous cottonwood tree in the 400-year-old La Casa Sena courtyard, nursing silver-coin margaritas, I looked at Gabrielle and said, “I don’t know about you, but this is where I want to be.” She replied, “I was hoping you’d feel that way.” And that was it. Barely two days, and my mind was made up. I’ll refrain from piling on about the well-documented charms—rich history, distinctive architecture, diverse cultures, world-class cuisine—that have been so endlessly extolled by promoters of the City Different, a tagline I’d like to see deleted. Let’s just say that I loved the feel of the place, the chiles, and the new tequilas (which always seem to show up in Santa Fe first). More important, the proximity of everything I hold dear in life was before me. I could imagine myself running along the ridge tops, skiing the basin, kayaking the Río Grande, taking my horses and dogs camping in the Sangre de Cristos and right on up the spine of the Rockies to Montana. I could breathe. I could be Western. Hell, I could be a cowboy. Santa Fe’s empty beauty and dramatic sky were in stark contrast to my hometown of concrete canyons and heavy, damp skies. Out among the tabletop mesas and jagged barrancas of New Mexico, it seemed as if I could almost get in touch with the primitive roots of our ancestral past, where early civilizations had scratched a living out of the earth. It would be easy to let the currents of New Mexico take me on a magiccarpet ride to distant and exotic lands. A tingle of excitement shot up the back of my neck, summoning up feelings I’d enjoyed as an ex-pat. From the time I announced to the Chicago staff that we were moving our headquarters to Santa Fe, three summers passed before we actually arrived in the Capital City. Sure, there were a few internal efforts to resist the move, but in the end, a caravan of trucks bearing the Outside logo left the Midwest, along with a team of 50. We’ve now been in Santa Fe for 19 years, and our building, in the historic Railyard, is full of young, energetic staffers who wake up for “dawn patrol”— getting up before light to run, hike, mountain bike, fish the Pecos, paddle the Río Grande Box, and skin up to the top of the ski basin for first tracks—all before coming into work and cranking out awardwinning stories. I think Sam Pick is still smiling. I know we are. ✜ Larry Burke is Chairman and Editor-in- Chief of Mariah Media Network, LLC, the parent company of Outside, which has grown into an international multimedia brand encompassing print, online, television, and digital platforms. Shortly after moving to Santa Fe, Outside won three consecutive National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, the only magazine in history ever to do so. Burke lives with his wife, Gabrielle, on a ranch in Santa Fe County with their eight horses and two dogs.","publish_start_moment":"2013-12-23T17:00:00.000Z","publish_end_moment":"2017-12-18T22:21:01.760Z"},{"_id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f935","author_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f243","title":"Nights of the Round Table","slug":"nights-of-the-round-table-84439","image_id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f48a","publish_start":"2013-12-23T16:00:00.000Z","enable_comments":true,"categories_ids":["58c83c8d1f16f9392cf09b83","58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8"],"tags_ids":["59090cede1efff4c9916fa4c","59090d03e1efff4c9916fa58"],"cms_tags_ids":["58b061ec6a2b0936c34a23ea"],"enabled":true,"custom_photo_credit":"KATE RUSSELL","custom_tagline":"A recovering basketball coach discovers a whole new ball game in Las Cruces.","created":"2013-12-23T16:59:56.000Z","legacy_id":"84439","blog":"magazine","_title_sort":"nights of the round table","updated":"2017-10-31T21:31:30.918Z","active":true,"description_raw":"

My first week living in Las Cruces, I attended an artgallery opening on the New Mexico State University campus. It had been a hectic few days, as I tried to hit the ground running as a new assistant basketball coach. The Aggies had been to a bunch of NCAA tournaments in a row, and going into the 1994–95 season, I could already feel the pressure to keep that string alive.

\r\n\r\n

One thing I’d learned as a basketball coach: If you want to disappear and find some peace and quiet, hang around the local art scene—basketball fans who were also interested in the arts seemed to be a small club. That first Friday, I figured that lolling around oil paintings and sculptures would settle me down and quiet my mind, which was racing through a long to-do list. There was no way to know this would be the evening my life changed forever.

\r\n\r\n

I was shaken out of my reverie when somebody said, “Are you the Aggies’ new basketball coach?” The bearded speaker turned out to be Robert Boswell. Already a successful writer—Hollywood had just made a movie of his novel Crooked Hearts—Boswell was interested in all the arts. And college basketball. Go figure.

\r\n\r\n

Soon, Boswell and I were friends, and his round kitchen table was the epicenter of our relationship. I was an avid reader, and over the next two years I devoured his novels, as well as the short stories of his wife, Antonya Nelson.

\r\n\r\n

Boz was intensely curious about the inner workings of a college basketball team. And I loved good books. Our conversation often ping-ponged from hoops to fiction and back.

\r\n\r\n

“Think we can we beat the Lobos this week?” he might ask. “You bet. I loved that book by Dagoberto Gilb you gave me. Great stuff.”

\r\n\r\n

“Cool. You think the Aggies will play a zone defense?” And so on, until his wife came in and we could double-team Boz, turning the talk back to novels and short stories.

\r\n\r\n

A year later, I began auditing their fiction classes. But I was not yet ready to make the big leap from coach to writer. By 1998, I wasn’t just auditing classes: I was enrolled, even though I continued to coach. A year later, I was admitted to the graduate program for creative writing , yet I still wasn’t ready to quit hoops: my salary was good, and Lou Henson had come to town as the Aggies’ head coach. He was upbeat and encouraging, and the job became fun again. Still, I knew that, as a hugely successful and happy man who’d been coaching basketball for a lifetime, Henson was a rarity.

\r\n\r\n

College coaching is a high-pressure scramble, but throughout this time, I’d briefly leave it behind and have lunch with the poet Joe Somoza and his wife, the artist Jill Somoza, at their modest home. With Boz’s ideas already swirling in my head, I started thinking seriously about living at the pace Joe and Jill did.

\r\n\r\n

I began working on my own fiction during little pockets of spare time. And I continued to read and reread Robert Boswell’s books (he had only six at that time), trying to figure out what he was up to on the page. Boswell’s novels and stories examined the bonds and strains of American families and friends; superbly crafted, they were simultaneously humane and heartbreaking.

\r\n\r\n

As a regular at Boz’s kitchen table, the writer’s life came to feel normal to me: He’d have another book accepted for publication. Or get another great review. Or another idea for a new novel. No big deal. And by then his wife, Antonya Nelson, was gaining national renown. Her work was included in Best American Short Stories, and her name appeared on the New Yorker’s “20 Writers for the 21st Century” list. Making it as a writer, getting published—well, it gradually felt like what one was supposed to do. You might label it a midlife crisis, but to me, the call of the writer’s life in Las Cruces felt organic, natural. No crisis. I quit coaching in 2000. (In the most modest buyout in the history of college sports, Coach Henson made sure that athletics covered my two years of already-affordable in-state tuition.)

\r\n\r\n

In 2001, NMSU hired the award-winning poet Connie Voisine, a lovely and talented lady, to teach poetry in its Creative Writing program. I finished graduate school and went to Ireland to coach professional basketball—a laughable idea, sure, but I figured it would be easy. I came back home with the worst record in the country, but also with the manuscript that became my first book, a memoir about my time in Ireland: Paddy on the Hardwood.

\r\n\r\n

Today, 10 years after returning from Ireland, I still work at NMSU, but now I coach in the English Department. And the biggest factor in my successful switch from basketball to books was not talent, or intelligence, or determination.

\r\n\r\n

I owe most of it to the Las Cruces literary community.

\r\n\r\n

Here’s why: While the town is very much off the beaten path, it is crawling with aspiring and published writers who have found a home here. New Mexico’s southernmost city boasts a vibrant writing scene—both at NMSU and around town.

\r\n\r\n

Why such a terrific literary scene in Las Cruces? It’s the configuration of small-town accessibility, gorgeous weather, the stunning and inspirational Organ Mountains, a diverse and open-minded population, a few lively reading series, and the state’s first Masters of Fine Arts program for fiction and poetry.

\r\n\r\n

But to really understand how Las Cruces became a destination for writers, you have to retrace its history.

\r\n\r\n

Keith Wilson was a Korean War vet who came to Las Cruces in 1967 to teach at NMSU, after studying with poets of the Black Mountain school. Graves Registry is his book about Korea, and, having published many volumes of poetry, Wilson has to be considered the founder of the local literary scene: He was named the city’s first (and last) Poet Laureate by the city council.

\r\n\r\n

In the 1970s, Wilson and his colleague, the poet Joe Somoza, got the notion that NMSU needed an authentic creative-writing program.

\r\n\r\n

Somoza, who was born in Spain, worked with Wilson to bring some of America’s best-known poets to Las Cruces for readings. For accommodations, they unrolled sleeping bags on couches in their own homes, and they were imaginative about how to pay visiting writers. At one point they convinced the physics department to chip in for honoraria. Wilson and Somoza did everything but hold car washes—though they did host a couple of bake sales.

\r\n\r\n

Fiction writer Kevin McIlvoy came to Las Cruces the 1980s. A fearless risk-taker on the page and a tireless worker for the community, he later spearheaded NMSU’s petition in Santa Fe to establish the state’s first MFA program in creative writing. He also founded the Desert Writers group at the local senior citizen center, a workshop in existence now for over 30 years. If Boswell and Nelson could be credited with teaching me the aspects of craft, McIlvoy might be called the inspiration: He’s a testament to the idea that a committed individual can truly transform a town. He juggled a half-dozen projects at once, all of them fueled by his generosity.

\r\n\r\n

For two decades, McIlvoy, Boswell, and Nelson had quite the reputation for their rigorous and hands-on approach to teaching fiction. Published writers, successful professionals, and even graduates of the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop flocked to southern New Mexico to study the craft of writing fiction. The NMSU graduate program produced a surprising number of published authors.

\r\n\r\n

Joe Somoza retired from NMSU, and he’s become a sort of literary antihero—he doesn’t care about being published, let alone being famous. But he still composes wise poems in his scruffy backyard. In New Mexico, any man’s land can become an Eden, and so it is with Somoza. Connie Voisine and I got married in the summer of 2003. There was no debate about which church or country club would host the ceremony. We asked Joe if we could hold the event in his back yard.

\r\n\r\n

Somoza’s Buddha-like presence seems timeless, but the Las Cruces literary scene evolves. Boswell and Nelson left NMSU to teach in Houston one semester a year—but their permanent home is still here, and they reside in Las Cruces each fall. Boswell has enjoyed a dramatic resurgence of late: His last short-story collection, The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, got gushy praise from Oprah. His new novel, Tumbledown, got a rave in the New York Times Book Review. And Nelson just had yet another piece selected for Best American Short Stories. They’ve written 20 books of fiction.

\r\n\r\n

A few years ago, Craig Holden, the acclaimed author of such novels as Four Corners of Night and The Jazz Bird, migrated to Las Cruces to teach at NMSU. He’s stayed long after his teaching appointment ended, raising his four children and plotting his next literary thriller. With Boswell and Nelson gone, Holden would provide a model for my next small steps: His exceptionally tight and efficient style is hypnotic and enticing. Holden’s novels are like a Taos ski run, but maybe one you’re not quite experienced enough for; he’s a paradox, a master of acceleration in this decidedly laid-back town.

\r\n\r\n

Next, one of my favorite nonfiction writers, the legendary Charles Bowden, decided to make his home in Las Cruces. Bowden’s latest book is Murder City, a bluntly honest take on the brutality just south of the border, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico— 40 miles and a world away.

\r\n\r\n

The matriarch of the entire Las Cruces scene is the multitalented, American Book Award–winning Denise Chávez. Another former NMSU professor, she’s a novelist, short-story writer, playwright, actress, and author of the enticing and soon-to-bereleased novel The King and Queen of Comezón.

\r\n\r\n

Nobody entertains visitors like Denise Chávez. In fact, the Border Book Festival (which she founded) attracts writers and readers from all over the country (borderbookfestival.org). This year’s fest will take place April 25–27; as of this writing the lineup was still being formulated, but maybe you’ll spot last year’s PEN/Faulkner Award winner—and Las Cruces native—Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who directs the creativewriting program at the University of Texas–El Paso, just south on I-10.

\r\n\r\n

Her festival’s headquarters can be found just east of downtown, at the Casa Camino Real, in the Mesquite Historic District. Don’t be in a hurry—Chávez has plenty to offer in her homey adobe, which overflows with artifacts from old and New Mexico, rare books, and, of course, pan dulces and cafecitos for anyone who steps through the door.

\r\n\r\n

Plainly, Las Cruces has accumulated quite a remarkable literary history. But what does the future hold? I sometimes wonder who might be the next great writer to emerge from literary Las Cruces. We don’t think about it too much, because we’re busy writing. I’m lost at work on a new novel. And, like any writer, I need somebody to discuss my new manuscript with, to think out loud to. But Boswell and Nelson reside in Las Cruces only in the fall months.

\r\n\r\n

Still, I know their house sitter, who, like me, became a writing student at NMSU in his 40s. So I find myself at that round kitchen table a couple of nights a week. This student and I talk about our favorite books and writers, just as Boz and I did for nearly two decades. I think it’s good karma to sit at that table, even when Boz isn’t around, because that’s where he did some of his best writing.

\r\n\r\n

Yesterday morning I went over to the Boswell-Nelson home and had a cup of tea with their house sitter.

\r\n\r\n

“Boswell will be moving back in five days,” he reminded me. “Antonya two days after that.”

\r\n\r\n

The round table was covered with stacks of books.

\r\n\r\n

“You need to tidy up?” I asked.

\r\n\r\n

“I think I need to keep writing,” he said, and we downed our tea. ✜

","teaser_raw":"

My first week living in Las Cruces, I attended an artgallery opening on the New Mexico State University campus. It had been a hectic few days, as I tried to hit the ground running as a new assistant

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My first week living in Las Cruces, I attended an artgallery opening on the New Mexico State University campus. It had been a hectic few days, as I tried to hit the ground running as a new assistant

","description":"My first week living in Las Cruces, I attended an artgallery opening on the New Mexico State University campus. It had been a hectic few days, as I tried to hit the ground running as a new assistant basketball coach. The Aggies had been to a bunch of NCAA tournaments in a row, and going into the 1994–95 season, I could already feel the pressure to keep that string alive. One thing I’d learned as a basketball coach: If you want to disappear and find some peace and quiet, hang around the local art scene—basketball fans who were also interested in the arts seemed to be a small club. That first Friday, I figured that lolling around oil paintings and sculptures would settle me down and quiet my mind, which was racing through a long to-do list. There was no way to know this would be the evening my life changed forever. I was shaken out of my reverie when somebody said, “Are you the Aggies’ new basketball coach?” The bearded speaker turned out to be Robert Boswell. Already a successful writer—Hollywood had just made a movie of his novel Crooked Hearts—Boswell was interested in all the arts. And college basketball. Go figure. Soon, Boswell and I were friends, and his round kitchen table was the epicenter of our relationship. I was an avid reader, and over the next two years I devoured his novels, as well as the short stories of his wife, Antonya Nelson. Boz was intensely curious about the inner workings of a college basketball team. And I loved good books. Our conversation often ping-ponged from hoops to fiction and back. “Think we can we beat the Lobos this week?” he might ask. “You bet. I loved that book by Dagoberto Gilb you gave me. Great stuff.” “Cool. You think the Aggies will play a zone defense?” And so on, until his wife came in and we could double-team Boz, turning the talk back to novels and short stories. A year later, I began auditing their fiction classes. But I was not yet ready to make the big leap from coach to writer. By 1998, I wasn’t just auditing classes: I was enrolled, even though I continued to coach. A year later, I was admitted to the graduate program for creative writing , yet I still wasn’t ready to quit hoops: my salary was good, and Lou Henson had come to town as the Aggies’ head coach. He was upbeat and encouraging, and the job became fun again. Still, I knew that, as a hugely successful and happy man who’d been coaching basketball for a lifetime, Henson was a rarity. College coaching is a high-pressure scramble, but throughout this time, I’d briefly leave it behind and have lunch with the poet Joe Somoza and his wife, the artist Jill Somoza, at their modest home. With Boz’s ideas already swirling in my head, I started thinking seriously about living at the pace Joe and Jill did. I began working on my own fiction during little pockets of spare time. And I continued to read and reread Robert Boswell’s books (he had only six at that time), trying to figure out what he was up to on the page. Boswell’s novels and stories examined the bonds and strains of American families and friends; superbly crafted, they were simultaneously humane and heartbreaking. As a regular at Boz’s kitchen table, the writer’s life came to feel normal to me: He’d have another book accepted for publication. Or get another great review. Or another idea for a new novel. No big deal. And by then his wife, Antonya Nelson, was gaining national renown. Her work was included in Best American Short Stories, and her name appeared on the New Yorker’s “20 Writers for the 21st Century” list. Making it as a writer, getting published—well, it gradually felt like what one was supposed to do. You might label it a midlife crisis, but to me, the call of the writer’s life in Las Cruces felt organic, natural. No crisis. I quit coaching in 2000. (In the most modest buyout in the history of college sports, Coach Henson made sure that athletics covered my two years of already-affordable in-state tuition.) In 2001, NMSU hired the award-winning poet Connie Voisine, a lovely and talented lady, to teach poetry in its Creative Writing program. I finished graduate school and went to Ireland to coach professional basketball—a laughable idea, sure, but I figured it would be easy. I came back home with the worst record in the country, but also with the manuscript that became my first book, a memoir about my time in Ireland: Paddy on the Hardwood. Today, 10 years after returning from Ireland, I still work at NMSU, but now I coach in the English Department. And the biggest factor in my successful switch from basketball to books was not talent, or intelligence, or determination. I owe most of it to the Las Cruces literary community. Here’s why: While the town is very much off the beaten path, it is crawling with aspiring and published writers who have found a home here. New Mexico’s southernmost city boasts a vibrant writing scene—both at NMSU and around town. Why such a terrific literary scene in Las Cruces? It’s the configuration of small-town accessibility, gorgeous weather, the stunning and inspirational Organ Mountains, a diverse and open-minded population, a few lively reading series, and the state’s first Masters of Fine Arts program for fiction and poetry. But to really understand how Las Cruces became a destination for writers, you have to retrace its history. Keith Wilson was a Korean War vet who came to Las Cruces in 1967 to teach at NMSU, after studying with poets of the Black Mountain school. Graves Registry is his book about Korea, and, having published many volumes of poetry, Wilson has to be considered the founder of the local literary scene: He was named the city’s first (and last) Poet Laureate by the city council. In the 1970s, Wilson and his colleague, the poet Joe Somoza, got the notion that NMSU needed an authentic creative-writing program. Somoza, who was born in Spain, worked with Wilson to bring some of America’s best-known poets to Las Cruces for readings. For accommodations, they unrolled sleeping bags on couches in their own homes, and they were imaginative about how to pay visiting writers. At one point they convinced the physics department to chip in for honoraria. Wilson and Somoza did everything but hold car washes—though they did host a couple of bake sales. Fiction writer Kevin McIlvoy came to Las Cruces the 1980s. A fearless risk-taker on the page and a tireless worker for the community, he later spearheaded NMSU’s petition in Santa Fe to establish the state’s first MFA program in creative writing. He also founded the Desert Writers group at the local senior citizen center, a workshop in existence now for over 30 years. If Boswell and Nelson could be credited with teaching me the aspects of craft, McIlvoy might be called the inspiration: He’s a testament to the idea that a committed individual can truly transform a town. He juggled a half-dozen projects at once, all of them fueled by his generosity. For two decades, McIlvoy, Boswell, and Nelson had quite the reputation for their rigorous and hands-on approach to teaching fiction. Published writers, successful professionals, and even graduates of the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop flocked to southern New Mexico to study the craft of writing fiction. The NMSU graduate program produced a surprising number of published authors. Joe Somoza retired from NMSU, and he’s become a sort of literary antihero—he doesn’t care about being published, let alone being famous. But he still composes wise poems in his scruffy backyard. In New Mexico, any man’s land can become an Eden, and so it is with Somoza. Connie Voisine and I got married in the summer of 2003. There was no debate about which church or country club would host the ceremony. We asked Joe if we could hold the event in his back yard. Somoza’s Buddha-like presence seems timeless, but the Las Cruces literary scene evolves. Boswell and Nelson left NMSU to teach in Houston one semester a year—but their permanent home is still here, and they reside in Las Cruces each fall. Boswell has enjoyed a dramatic resurgence of late: His last short-story collection, The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, got gushy praise from Oprah. His new novel, Tumbledown, got a rave in the New York Times Book Review. And Nelson just had yet another piece selected for Best American Short Stories. They’ve written 20 books of fiction. A few years ago, Craig Holden, the acclaimed author of such novels as Four Corners of Night and The Jazz Bird, migrated to Las Cruces to teach at NMSU. He’s stayed long after his teaching appointment ended, raising his four children and plotting his next literary thriller. With Boswell and Nelson gone, Holden would provide a model for my next small steps: His exceptionally tight and efficient style is hypnotic and enticing. Holden’s novels are like a Taos ski run, but maybe one you’re not quite experienced enough for; he’s a paradox, a master of acceleration in this decidedly laid-back town. Next, one of my favorite nonfiction writers, the legendary Charles Bowden, decided to make his home in Las Cruces. Bowden’s latest book is Murder City , a bluntly honest take on the brutality just south of the border, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico— 40 miles and a world away. The matriarch of the entire Las Cruces scene is the multitalented, American Book Award–winning Denise Chávez. Another former NMSU professor, she’s a novelist, short-story writer, playwright, actress, and author of the enticing and soon-to-bereleased novel The King and Queen of Comezón. Nobody entertains visitors like Denise Chávez. In fact, the Border Book Festival (which she founded) attracts writers and readers from all over the country ( borderbookfestival.org ). This year’s fest will take place April 25–27; as of this writing the lineup was still being formulated, but maybe you’ll spot last year’s PEN/Faulkner Award winner—and Las Cruces native—Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who directs the creativewriting program at the University of Texas–El Paso, just south on I-10. Her festival’s headquarters can be found just east of downtown, at the Casa Camino Real, in the Mesquite Historic District. Don’t be in a hurry—Chávez has plenty to offer in her homey adobe, which overflows with artifacts from old and New Mexico, rare books, and, of course, pan dulces and cafecitos for anyone who steps through the door. Plainly, Las Cruces has accumulated quite a remarkable literary history. But what does the future hold? I sometimes wonder who might be the next great writer to emerge from literary Las Cruces. We don’t think about it too much, because we’re busy writing. I’m lost at work on a new novel. And, like any writer, I need somebody to discuss my new manuscript with, to think out loud to. But Boswell and Nelson reside in Las Cruces only in the fall months. Still, I know their house sitter, who, like me, became a writing student at NMSU in his 40s. So I find myself at that round kitchen table a couple of nights a week. This student and I talk about our favorite books and writers, just as Boz and I did for nearly two decades. I think it’s good karma to sit at that table, even when Boz isn’t around, because that’s where he did some of his best writing. Yesterday morning I went over to the Boswell-Nelson home and had a cup of tea with their house sitter. “Boswell will be moving back in five days,” he reminded me. “Antonya two days after that.” The round table was covered with stacks of books. “You need to tidy up?” I asked. “I think I need to keep writing,” he said, and we downed our tea. ✜","id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f935","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/nights-of-the-round-table-84439/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/nights-of-the-round-table-84439/#comments","absoluteUrl":"https://www.newmexico.org/nmmagazine/articles/post/nights-of-the-round-table-84439/","metaTitle":"Nights of the Round Table","metaDescription":"

My first week living in Las Cruces, I attended an artgallery opening on the New Mexico State University campus. It had been a hectic few days, as I tried to hit the ground running as a new assistant

","cleanDescription":"My first week living in Las Cruces, I attended an artgallery opening on the New Mexico State University campus. It had been a hectic few days, as I tried to hit the ground running as a new assistant basketball coach. The Aggies had been to a bunch of NCAA tournaments in a row, and going into the 1994–95 season, I could already feel the pressure to keep that string alive. One thing I’d learned as a basketball coach: If you want to disappear and find some peace and quiet, hang around the local art scene—basketball fans who were also interested in the arts seemed to be a small club. That first Friday, I figured that lolling around oil paintings and sculptures would settle me down and quiet my mind, which was racing through a long to-do list. There was no way to know this would be the evening my life changed forever. I was shaken out of my reverie when somebody said, “Are you the Aggies’ new basketball coach?” The bearded speaker turned out to be Robert Boswell. Already a successful writer—Hollywood had just made a movie of his novel Crooked Hearts—Boswell was interested in all the arts. And college basketball. Go figure. Soon, Boswell and I were friends, and his round kitchen table was the epicenter of our relationship. I was an avid reader, and over the next two years I devoured his novels, as well as the short stories of his wife, Antonya Nelson. Boz was intensely curious about the inner workings of a college basketball team. And I loved good books. Our conversation often ping-ponged from hoops to fiction and back. “Think we can we beat the Lobos this week?” he might ask. “You bet. I loved that book by Dagoberto Gilb you gave me. Great stuff.” “Cool. You think the Aggies will play a zone defense?” And so on, until his wife came in and we could double-team Boz, turning the talk back to novels and short stories. A year later, I began auditing their fiction classes. But I was not yet ready to make the big leap from coach to writer. By 1998, I wasn’t just auditing classes: I was enrolled, even though I continued to coach. A year later, I was admitted to the graduate program for creative writing , yet I still wasn’t ready to quit hoops: my salary was good, and Lou Henson had come to town as the Aggies’ head coach. He was upbeat and encouraging, and the job became fun again. Still, I knew that, as a hugely successful and happy man who’d been coaching basketball for a lifetime, Henson was a rarity. College coaching is a high-pressure scramble, but throughout this time, I’d briefly leave it behind and have lunch with the poet Joe Somoza and his wife, the artist Jill Somoza, at their modest home. With Boz’s ideas already swirling in my head, I started thinking seriously about living at the pace Joe and Jill did. I began working on my own fiction during little pockets of spare time. And I continued to read and reread Robert Boswell’s books (he had only six at that time), trying to figure out what he was up to on the page. Boswell’s novels and stories examined the bonds and strains of American families and friends; superbly crafted, they were simultaneously humane and heartbreaking. As a regular at Boz’s kitchen table, the writer’s life came to feel normal to me: He’d have another book accepted for publication. Or get another great review. Or another idea for a new novel. No big deal. And by then his wife, Antonya Nelson, was gaining national renown. Her work was included in Best American Short Stories, and her name appeared on the New Yorker’s “20 Writers for the 21st Century” list. Making it as a writer, getting published—well, it gradually felt like what one was supposed to do. You might label it a midlife crisis, but to me, the call of the writer’s life in Las Cruces felt organic, natural. No crisis. I quit coaching in 2000. (In the most modest buyout in the history of college sports, Coach Henson made sure that athletics covered my two years of already-affordable in-state tuition.) In 2001, NMSU hired the award-winning poet Connie Voisine, a lovely and talented lady, to teach poetry in its Creative Writing program. I finished graduate school and went to Ireland to coach professional basketball—a laughable idea, sure, but I figured it would be easy. I came back home with the worst record in the country, but also with the manuscript that became my first book, a memoir about my time in Ireland: Paddy on the Hardwood. Today, 10 years after returning from Ireland, I still work at NMSU, but now I coach in the English Department. And the biggest factor in my successful switch from basketball to books was not talent, or intelligence, or determination. I owe most of it to the Las Cruces literary community. Here’s why: While the town is very much off the beaten path, it is crawling with aspiring and published writers who have found a home here. New Mexico’s southernmost city boasts a vibrant writing scene—both at NMSU and around town. Why such a terrific literary scene in Las Cruces? It’s the configuration of small-town accessibility, gorgeous weather, the stunning and inspirational Organ Mountains, a diverse and open-minded population, a few lively reading series, and the state’s first Masters of Fine Arts program for fiction and poetry. But to really understand how Las Cruces became a destination for writers, you have to retrace its history. Keith Wilson was a Korean War vet who came to Las Cruces in 1967 to teach at NMSU, after studying with poets of the Black Mountain school. Graves Registry is his book about Korea, and, having published many volumes of poetry, Wilson has to be considered the founder of the local literary scene: He was named the city’s first (and last) Poet Laureate by the city council. In the 1970s, Wilson and his colleague, the poet Joe Somoza, got the notion that NMSU needed an authentic creative-writing program. Somoza, who was born in Spain, worked with Wilson to bring some of America’s best-known poets to Las Cruces for readings. For accommodations, they unrolled sleeping bags on couches in their own homes, and they were imaginative about how to pay visiting writers. At one point they convinced the physics department to chip in for honoraria. Wilson and Somoza did everything but hold car washes—though they did host a couple of bake sales. Fiction writer Kevin McIlvoy came to Las Cruces the 1980s. A fearless risk-taker on the page and a tireless worker for the community, he later spearheaded NMSU’s petition in Santa Fe to establish the state’s first MFA program in creative writing. He also founded the Desert Writers group at the local senior citizen center, a workshop in existence now for over 30 years. If Boswell and Nelson could be credited with teaching me the aspects of craft, McIlvoy might be called the inspiration: He’s a testament to the idea that a committed individual can truly transform a town. He juggled a half-dozen projects at once, all of them fueled by his generosity. For two decades, McIlvoy, Boswell, and Nelson had quite the reputation for their rigorous and hands-on approach to teaching fiction. Published writers, successful professionals, and even graduates of the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop flocked to southern New Mexico to study the craft of writing fiction. The NMSU graduate program produced a surprising number of published authors. Joe Somoza retired from NMSU, and he’s become a sort of literary antihero—he doesn’t care about being published, let alone being famous. But he still composes wise poems in his scruffy backyard. In New Mexico, any man’s land can become an Eden, and so it is with Somoza. Connie Voisine and I got married in the summer of 2003. There was no debate about which church or country club would host the ceremony. We asked Joe if we could hold the event in his back yard. Somoza’s Buddha-like presence seems timeless, but the Las Cruces literary scene evolves. Boswell and Nelson left NMSU to teach in Houston one semester a year—but their permanent home is still here, and they reside in Las Cruces each fall. Boswell has enjoyed a dramatic resurgence of late: His last short-story collection, The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, got gushy praise from Oprah. His new novel, Tumbledown, got a rave in the New York Times Book Review. And Nelson just had yet another piece selected for Best American Short Stories. They’ve written 20 books of fiction. A few years ago, Craig Holden, the acclaimed author of such novels as Four Corners of Night and The Jazz Bird, migrated to Las Cruces to teach at NMSU. He’s stayed long after his teaching appointment ended, raising his four children and plotting his next literary thriller. With Boswell and Nelson gone, Holden would provide a model for my next small steps: His exceptionally tight and efficient style is hypnotic and enticing. Holden’s novels are like a Taos ski run, but maybe one you’re not quite experienced enough for; he’s a paradox, a master of acceleration in this decidedly laid-back town. Next, one of my favorite nonfiction writers, the legendary Charles Bowden, decided to make his home in Las Cruces. Bowden’s latest book is Murder City , a bluntly honest take on the brutality just south of the border, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico— 40 miles and a world away. The matriarch of the entire Las Cruces scene is the multitalented, American Book Award–winning Denise Chávez. Another former NMSU professor, she’s a novelist, short-story writer, playwright, actress, and author of the enticing and soon-to-bereleased novel The King and Queen of Comezón. Nobody entertains visitors like Denise Chávez. In fact, the Border Book Festival (which she founded) attracts writers and readers from all over the country ( borderbookfestival.org ). This year’s fest will take place April 25–27; as of this writing the lineup was still being formulated, but maybe you’ll spot last year’s PEN/Faulkner Award winner—and Las Cruces native—Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who directs the creativewriting program at the University of Texas–El Paso, just south on I-10. Her festival’s headquarters can be found just east of downtown, at the Casa Camino Real, in the Mesquite Historic District. Don’t be in a hurry—Chávez has plenty to offer in her homey adobe, which overflows with artifacts from old and New Mexico, rare books, and, of course, pan dulces and cafecitos for anyone who steps through the door. Plainly, Las Cruces has accumulated quite a remarkable literary history. But what does the future hold? I sometimes wonder who might be the next great writer to emerge from literary Las Cruces. We don’t think about it too much, because we’re busy writing. I’m lost at work on a new novel. And, like any writer, I need somebody to discuss my new manuscript with, to think out loud to. But Boswell and Nelson reside in Las Cruces only in the fall months. Still, I know their house sitter, who, like me, became a writing student at NMSU in his 40s. So I find myself at that round kitchen table a couple of nights a week. This student and I talk about our favorite books and writers, just as Boz and I did for nearly two decades. I think it’s good karma to sit at that table, even when Boz isn’t around, because that’s where he did some of his best writing. Yesterday morning I went over to the Boswell-Nelson home and had a cup of tea with their house sitter. “Boswell will be moving back in five days,” he reminded me. “Antonya two days after that.” The round table was covered with stacks of books. “You need to tidy up?” I asked. “I think I need to keep writing,” he said, and we downed our tea. ✜","publish_start_moment":"2013-12-23T16:00:00.000Z","publish_end_moment":"2017-12-18T22:21:01.761Z"},{"_id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f934","author_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f226","title":"Roots and Wings","slug":"roots-and-wings-84438","image_id":"58b4b2484c2774661570f494","publish_start":"2013-12-23T16:00:00.000Z","enable_comments":true,"categories_ids":["58c839601f16f9392cf09a98","58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8"],"tags_ids":["59090c80e1efff4c9916fa05","59090d03e1efff4c9916fa58"],"cms_tags_ids":["58b061ec6a2b0936c34a23ea"],"enabled":true,"custom_photo_credit":"Jennifer Esperanza","custom_tagline":"A home-grown fashion designer takes flight.","created":"2013-12-23T16:57:57.000Z","legacy_id":"84438","blog":"magazine","_title_sort":"roots and wings","updated":"2017-10-31T21:31:31.046Z","active":true,"description_raw":"

I remember the Fancy Shawl dances from my childhood: the beaded capes and intricately embroidered shawls that, to a young girl, were so beautiful but also intimidating.

\r\n\r\n

And I remember dancing myself—noting how the body’s movements are fast but light—and thinking, “How can I make these garments fly?” The music would end, but I would still be dancing. My family would yell, “Stop, you have to win!” But at a young age, I never really stopped. I kept moving. I still do.

\r\n\r\n

The Fancy Shawl dance was and still is a common dance at Taos Pueblo, the place my family proudly calls home. However, I didn’t live on the Pueblo full-time to begin with. I grew up in the ’70s, in a rather atypical Native American household in Santa Fe, before moving to the Pueblo. The day after I was born, my mother brought me to her gallery in Santa Fe and placed me on some Navajo rugs. My father, Eddie Michaels, was an amazing beadworker. My mother, Juanita, and my stepfather, Frank Turley, were championship powwow dancers. Creative energy flowed through my family, and I was, from the very beginning, swaddled in Native art and design.

\r\n\r\n

My grandparents were a huge part of my upbringing, too. My grandfather, Ben Marcus, was a tribal leader who always reminded me to respect where I came from and who my people were. Up until the fifth grade, my mother and I would visit them often at Taos Pueblo. It was a far cry from my experiences in Santa Fe, where few other Native American kids attended classes at Cristo Rey Elementary School, right by Canyon Road. It was during this time that I watched many of my friends’ homes turned into Santa Fe souvenir or retail shops and other businesses. It was also when I struggled hard with dyslexia. Successfully completed school lessons were usually rewarded with a gold star taped by your name on the blackboard. Because of my inability to read or write well, I earned my stars by decorating the blackboard.

\r\n\r\n

As much difficulty as I had as a young student at Cristo Rey, that time period was pivotal to my creative development. It had less to do with reading and writing, however, and more to do with the adventurous walk to my mother’s gallery following the afternoon bell. I would pop in and out of galleries in the Canyon Road/Acequia Madre area, including collector Forrest Fenn’s gallery, where signs on the walls encouraged visitors to touch everything.

\r\n\r\n

At these galleries, I often found myself standing in front of works by members of the Taos Society of Artists, looking at their representations of Native regalia, and thinking, “I could sew beautiful garments like this—colorful, flowing, draping—and still make them my own!” It was the same entrepreneurial side of me that sewed powwow outfits: the little girl at Taos Pueblo who asked the photographers with the biggest lenses if they wanted to take a picture of me dancing— for money, of course.

\r\n\r\n

Visiting fabric stores on the Santa Fe Plaza became my routine. They didn’t carry much in the way of Native imagery, if they did at all, and finding contemporary Native designs was pretty much unheard of back then. It was my involvement with The Santa Fe Opera’s Pueblo Opera Program, founded in 1973 as a youth-outreach service, that made things click. I remember seeing amazing fabrics covered with Native imagery, but the motifs were all very literal. It was then that I knew I didn’t want to focus on stoiclooking Plains or Pueblo designs, which were the norm. I craved some sort of abstraction, thinking that if people saw me as contemporary, I would become contemporary. But I hadn’t quite figured out how to do that and still honor the strength and beauty of the Taos Pueblo people.

\r\n\r\n

I went on to Santa Fe High School, and then attended classes at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), before going to the Chicago Art Institute. IAIA was still finding its feet as a two-year college, but the inspiration its students and instructors gave me was invaluable. There was a certain amount of cultural liberty there that was hard to find elsewhere. I had so many worries about going away to art school and having to explain who I was, where I came from, and what exactly that all meant. But my uncle had some wise words for me before I went to Chicago. He said, “You don’t have to teach the world who you are as a Native American. It is not your responsibility. It’s your responsibility to get educated, and to let your respect for family, place, and tradition shine through your work.” That was the grand lightning bolt, the one thought that guided me as a designer with crystal-clear intention, and one that guides me fully to this very day: I gave myself permission to nurture what was truly mine while not selling out my culture—it wasn’t mine, or anyone else’s, to give away in the first place.

\r\n\r\n

In New Mexico, we embrace our varied cultures so completely that the act has the ability to heal old wounds. When you come from a place whose history is as rich as New Mexico’s is, you can’t deny it or hide from it. Who we are in relation to this place compels us to move forward, somewhat exposed, regardless of our personal circumstances. And that makes for some serious creative energy. It’s how you harness it that counts.

\r\n\r\n

Out of all the applications in the world, I thought, why did they pick mine? That was my reaction after winning a spot on season 11 of Project Runway. I was standing there, taking in a deep breath ahead of the season’s first challenge, the series’ first-ever “Teams Edition,” in which we had to use New York as our inspiration for creating our garments. Everyone was conversing as a team, but I decided I wasn’t going to listen. I was going to make a statement. It was time to take back my power, and I wanted powerful artists in my corner to help. I looked out at the New York skyline and asked myself, “Well, you’re here now; but where did you come from?” And the epiphany returned.

\r\n\r\n

I thought about Georgia O’Keeffe’s cityscapes and Agnes Martin’s linear charcoal drawings. I thought about the landscape of Taos Pueblo and my family, the powwow dances, the regalia, and D.H. Lawrence, who wrote of his Taos ranch in his collection of essays, Mornings in Mexico:

\r\n\r\n

And you’ll see the shadows of actual coyotes, going across the alfalfa field. And the pine trees make little noises, sudden and stealthy, as if they were walking about. And the place heaves with ghosts. But when one has got used to one’s own home-ghosts, be they never so many, they are like one’s own family, but nearer than the blood.

\r\n\r\n

I was almost eliminated from the show on more than one occasion, and I didn’t walk away from it with a glorious prize package. But I did come in second—and I left the show with my pride and my conviction as an artist, mother, Native American, and New Mexican intact. I didn’t back down, but I did take to heart the critiques the judges served up to me. To ignore them would have been to negate the perfect opportunity to grow from the experience, just as ignoring my roots as a Native American living in New Mexico might have negated my participation in the show.

\r\n\r\n

My given Pueblo name is Waterlily, and my first ready-to-wear collection is called PM (for Patricia Michaels) Waterlily. The collection is inspired by the importance of family, and by elements of the natural world.

\r\n\r\n

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you have to love yourself to be able to grow. Picture a seed in the ground, surrounded by life-giving nutrients, and imagine what that seed first sees and feels as part of the bigger world around it. So many things determine whether or not that seedling makes it, including how it accepts its new surroundings.

\r\n\r\n

The scenario reminds me of my teenage daughter. Vocally she was always a mighty baby, but every teen has this particular voice he or she needs to find. It’s so beautiful to see that transformation, from seed to voice. It’s scary as heck, yes, but that energy, that youthfulness, needs to be celebrated. You give that empowerment to a young soul, and it can grow into something beautiful and strong. It’s what designing has done for me—and what I hope to do for my family and my people. ✜

","teaser_raw":"

I remember the Fancy Shawl dances from my childhood: the beaded capes and intricately embroidered shawls that, to a young girl, were so beautiful but also intimidating.

And I remember dancing

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I remember the Fancy Shawl dances from my childhood: the beaded capes and intricately embroidered shawls that, to a young girl, were so beautiful but also intimidating.

And I remember dancing

","description":"I remember the Fancy Shawl dances from my childhood: the beaded capes and intricately embroidered shawls that, to a young girl, were so beautiful but also intimidating. And I remember dancing myself—noting how the body’s movements are fast but light—and thinking, “How can I make these garments fly?” The music would end, but I would still be dancing. My family would yell, “Stop, you have to win!” But at a young age, I never really stopped. I kept moving. I still do. The Fancy Shawl dance was and still is a common dance at Taos Pueblo, the place my family proudly calls home. However, I didn’t live on the Pueblo full-time to begin with. I grew up in the ’70s, in a rather atypical Native American household in Santa Fe, before moving to the Pueblo. The day after I was born, my mother brought me to her gallery in Santa Fe and placed me on some Navajo rugs. My father, Eddie Michaels, was an amazing beadworker. My mother, Juanita, and my stepfather, Frank Turley, were championship powwow dancers. Creative energy flowed through my family, and I was, from the very beginning, swaddled in Native art and design. My grandparents were a huge part of my upbringing, too. My grandfather, Ben Marcus, was a tribal leader who always reminded me to respect where I came from and who my people were. Up until the fifth grade, my mother and I would visit them often at Taos Pueblo. It was a far cry from my experiences in Santa Fe, where few other Native American kids attended classes at Cristo Rey Elementary School, right by Canyon Road. It was during this time that I watched many of my friends’ homes turned into Santa Fe souvenir or retail shops and other businesses. It was also when I struggled hard with dyslexia. Successfully completed school lessons were usually rewarded with a gold star taped by your name on the blackboard. Because of my inability to read or write well, I earned my stars by decorating the blackboard. As much difficulty as I had as a young student at Cristo Rey, that time period was pivotal to my creative development. It had less to do with reading and writing, however, and more to do with the adventurous walk to my mother’s gallery following the afternoon bell. I would pop in and out of galleries in the Canyon Road/Acequia Madre area, including collector Forrest Fenn’s gallery, where signs on the walls encouraged visitors to touch everything. At these galleries, I often found myself standing in front of works by members of the Taos Society of Artists, looking at their representations of Native regalia, and thinking, “I could sew beautiful garments like this—colorful, flowing, draping—and still make them my own!” It was the same entrepreneurial side of me that sewed powwow outfits: the little girl at Taos Pueblo who asked the photographers with the biggest lenses if they wanted to take a picture of me dancing— for money, of course. Visiting fabric stores on the Santa Fe Plaza became my routine. They didn’t carry much in the way of Native imagery, if they did at all, and finding contemporary Native designs was pretty much unheard of back then. It was my involvement with The Santa Fe Opera’s Pueblo Opera Program, founded in 1973 as a youth-outreach service, that made things click. I remember seeing amazing fabrics covered with Native imagery, but the motifs were all very literal. It was then that I knew I didn’t want to focus on stoiclooking Plains or Pueblo designs, which were the norm. I craved some sort of abstraction, thinking that if people saw me as contemporary, I would become contemporary. But I hadn’t quite figured out how to do that and still honor the strength and beauty of the Taos Pueblo people. I went on to Santa Fe High School, and then attended classes at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), before going to the Chicago Art Institute. IAIA was still finding its feet as a two-year college, but the inspiration its students and instructors gave me was invaluable. There was a certain amount of cultural liberty there that was hard to find elsewhere. I had so many worries about going away to art school and having to explain who I was, where I came from, and what exactly that all meant. But my uncle had some wise words for me before I went to Chicago. He said, “You don’t have to teach the world who you are as a Native American. It is not your responsibility. It’s your responsibility to get educated, and to let your respect for family, place, and tradition shine through your work.” That was the grand lightning bolt, the one thought that guided me as a designer with crystal-clear intention, and one that guides me fully to this very day: I gave myself permission to nurture what was truly mine while not selling out my culture—it wasn’t mine, or anyone else’s, to give away in the first place. In New Mexico, we embrace our varied cultures so completely that the act has the ability to heal old wounds. When you come from a place whose history is as rich as New Mexico’s is, you can’t deny it or hide from it. Who we are in relation to this place compels us to move forward, somewhat exposed, regardless of our personal circumstances. And that makes for some serious creative energy. It’s how you harness it that counts. Out of all the applications in the world, I thought, why did they pick mine? That was my reaction after winning a spot on season 11 of Project Runway. I was standing there, taking in a deep breath ahead of the season’s first challenge, the series’ first-ever “Teams Edition,” in which we had to use New York as our inspiration for creating our garments. Everyone was conversing as a team, but I decided I wasn’t going to listen. I was going to make a statement. It was time to take back my power, and I wanted powerful artists in my corner to help. I looked out at the New York skyline and asked myself, “Well, you’re here now; but where did you come from?” And the epiphany returned. I thought about Georgia O’Keeffe’s cityscapes and Agnes Martin’s linear charcoal drawings. I thought about the landscape of Taos Pueblo and my family, the powwow dances, the regalia, and D.H. Lawrence, who wrote of his Taos ranch in his collection of essays, Mornings in Mexico: And you’ll see the shadows of actual coyotes, going across the alfalfa field. And the pine trees make little noises, sudden and stealthy, as if they were walking about. And the place heaves with ghosts. But when one has got used to one’s own home-ghosts, be they never so many, they are like one’s own family, but nearer than the blood. I was almost eliminated from the show on more than one occasion, and I didn’t walk away from it with a glorious prize package. But I did come in second—and I left the show with my pride and my conviction as an artist, mother, Native American, and New Mexican intact. I didn’t back down, but I did take to heart the critiques the judges served up to me. To ignore them would have been to negate the perfect opportunity to grow from the experience, just as ignoring my roots as a Native American living in New Mexico might have negated my participation in the show. My given Pueblo name is Waterlily, and my first ready-to-wear collection is called PM (for Patricia Michaels) Waterlily. The collection is inspired by the importance of family, and by elements of the natural world. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you have to love yourself to be able to grow. Picture a seed in the ground, surrounded by life-giving nutrients, and imagine what that seed first sees and feels as part of the bigger world around it. So many things determine whether or not that seedling makes it, including how it accepts its new surroundings. The scenario reminds me of my teenage daughter. Vocally she was always a mighty baby, but every teen has this particular voice he or she needs to find. It’s so beautiful to see that transformation, from seed to voice. It’s scary as heck, yes, but that energy, that youthfulness, needs to be celebrated. You give that empowerment to a young soul, and it can grow into something beautiful and strong. It’s what designing has done for me—and what I hope to do for my family and my people. ✜","id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f934","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/roots-and-wings-84438/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/roots-and-wings-84438/#comments","absoluteUrl":"https://www.newmexico.org/nmmagazine/articles/post/roots-and-wings-84438/","metaTitle":"Roots and Wings","metaDescription":"

I remember the Fancy Shawl dances from my childhood: the beaded capes and intricately embroidered shawls that, to a young girl, were so beautiful but also intimidating.

And I remember dancing

","cleanDescription":"I remember the Fancy Shawl dances from my childhood: the beaded capes and intricately embroidered shawls that, to a young girl, were so beautiful but also intimidating. And I remember dancing myself—noting how the body’s movements are fast but light—and thinking, “How can I make these garments fly?” The music would end, but I would still be dancing. My family would yell, “Stop, you have to win!” But at a young age, I never really stopped. I kept moving. I still do. The Fancy Shawl dance was and still is a common dance at Taos Pueblo, the place my family proudly calls home. However, I didn’t live on the Pueblo full-time to begin with. I grew up in the ’70s, in a rather atypical Native American household in Santa Fe, before moving to the Pueblo. The day after I was born, my mother brought me to her gallery in Santa Fe and placed me on some Navajo rugs. My father, Eddie Michaels, was an amazing beadworker. My mother, Juanita, and my stepfather, Frank Turley, were championship powwow dancers. Creative energy flowed through my family, and I was, from the very beginning, swaddled in Native art and design. My grandparents were a huge part of my upbringing, too. My grandfather, Ben Marcus, was a tribal leader who always reminded me to respect where I came from and who my people were. Up until the fifth grade, my mother and I would visit them often at Taos Pueblo. It was a far cry from my experiences in Santa Fe, where few other Native American kids attended classes at Cristo Rey Elementary School, right by Canyon Road. It was during this time that I watched many of my friends’ homes turned into Santa Fe souvenir or retail shops and other businesses. It was also when I struggled hard with dyslexia. Successfully completed school lessons were usually rewarded with a gold star taped by your name on the blackboard. Because of my inability to read or write well, I earned my stars by decorating the blackboard. As much difficulty as I had as a young student at Cristo Rey, that time period was pivotal to my creative development. It had less to do with reading and writing, however, and more to do with the adventurous walk to my mother’s gallery following the afternoon bell. I would pop in and out of galleries in the Canyon Road/Acequia Madre area, including collector Forrest Fenn’s gallery, where signs on the walls encouraged visitors to touch everything. At these galleries, I often found myself standing in front of works by members of the Taos Society of Artists, looking at their representations of Native regalia, and thinking, “I could sew beautiful garments like this—colorful, flowing, draping—and still make them my own!” It was the same entrepreneurial side of me that sewed powwow outfits: the little girl at Taos Pueblo who asked the photographers with the biggest lenses if they wanted to take a picture of me dancing— for money, of course. Visiting fabric stores on the Santa Fe Plaza became my routine. They didn’t carry much in the way of Native imagery, if they did at all, and finding contemporary Native designs was pretty much unheard of back then. It was my involvement with The Santa Fe Opera’s Pueblo Opera Program, founded in 1973 as a youth-outreach service, that made things click. I remember seeing amazing fabrics covered with Native imagery, but the motifs were all very literal. It was then that I knew I didn’t want to focus on stoiclooking Plains or Pueblo designs, which were the norm. I craved some sort of abstraction, thinking that if people saw me as contemporary, I would become contemporary. But I hadn’t quite figured out how to do that and still honor the strength and beauty of the Taos Pueblo people. I went on to Santa Fe High School, and then attended classes at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), before going to the Chicago Art Institute. IAIA was still finding its feet as a two-year college, but the inspiration its students and instructors gave me was invaluable. There was a certain amount of cultural liberty there that was hard to find elsewhere. I had so many worries about going away to art school and having to explain who I was, where I came from, and what exactly that all meant. But my uncle had some wise words for me before I went to Chicago. He said, “You don’t have to teach the world who you are as a Native American. It is not your responsibility. It’s your responsibility to get educated, and to let your respect for family, place, and tradition shine through your work.” That was the grand lightning bolt, the one thought that guided me as a designer with crystal-clear intention, and one that guides me fully to this very day: I gave myself permission to nurture what was truly mine while not selling out my culture—it wasn’t mine, or anyone else’s, to give away in the first place. In New Mexico, we embrace our varied cultures so completely that the act has the ability to heal old wounds. When you come from a place whose history is as rich as New Mexico’s is, you can’t deny it or hide from it. Who we are in relation to this place compels us to move forward, somewhat exposed, regardless of our personal circumstances. And that makes for some serious creative energy. It’s how you harness it that counts. Out of all the applications in the world, I thought, why did they pick mine? That was my reaction after winning a spot on season 11 of Project Runway. I was standing there, taking in a deep breath ahead of the season’s first challenge, the series’ first-ever “Teams Edition,” in which we had to use New York as our inspiration for creating our garments. Everyone was conversing as a team, but I decided I wasn’t going to listen. I was going to make a statement. It was time to take back my power, and I wanted powerful artists in my corner to help. I looked out at the New York skyline and asked myself, “Well, you’re here now; but where did you come from?” And the epiphany returned. I thought about Georgia O’Keeffe’s cityscapes and Agnes Martin’s linear charcoal drawings. I thought about the landscape of Taos Pueblo and my family, the powwow dances, the regalia, and D.H. Lawrence, who wrote of his Taos ranch in his collection of essays, Mornings in Mexico: And you’ll see the shadows of actual coyotes, going across the alfalfa field. And the pine trees make little noises, sudden and stealthy, as if they were walking about. And the place heaves with ghosts. But when one has got used to one’s own home-ghosts, be they never so many, they are like one’s own family, but nearer than the blood. I was almost eliminated from the show on more than one occasion, and I didn’t walk away from it with a glorious prize package. But I did come in second—and I left the show with my pride and my conviction as an artist, mother, Native American, and New Mexican intact. I didn’t back down, but I did take to heart the critiques the judges served up to me. To ignore them would have been to negate the perfect opportunity to grow from the experience, just as ignoring my roots as a Native American living in New Mexico might have negated my participation in the show. My given Pueblo name is Waterlily, and my first ready-to-wear collection is called PM (for Patricia Michaels) Waterlily. The collection is inspired by the importance of family, and by elements of the natural world. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you have to love yourself to be able to grow. Picture a seed in the ground, surrounded by life-giving nutrients, and imagine what that seed first sees and feels as part of the bigger world around it. So many things determine whether or not that seedling makes it, including how it accepts its new surroundings. The scenario reminds me of my teenage daughter. Vocally she was always a mighty baby, but every teen has this particular voice he or she needs to find. It’s so beautiful to see that transformation, from seed to voice. It’s scary as heck, yes, but that energy, that youthfulness, needs to be celebrated. You give that empowerment to a young soul, and it can grow into something beautiful and strong. It’s what designing has done for me—and what I hope to do for my family and my people. ✜","publish_start_moment":"2013-12-23T16:00:00.000Z","publish_end_moment":"2017-12-18T22:21:01.761Z"},{"_id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f933","title":"One of Our 50 Is Missing","slug":"one-of-our-fifty-is-missing-jan-2014-84427","publish_start":"2013-12-19T17:00:00.000Z","enable_comments":true,"categories_ids":["58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8","58b4b2404c2774661570f30b","58b4b2404c2774661570f267"],"tags_ids":["59090d03e1efff4c9916fa58","59090de2e1efff4c9916fafb","59090c10e1efff4c9916f95a"],"cms_tags_ids":["58b061ec6a2b0936c34a23ea"],"enabled":true,"custom_tagline":"Rueful anecdotes about New Mexico's mistaken geographical identity, since 1970.","created":"2013-12-19T17:03:02.000Z","legacy_id":"84427","blog":"magazine","_title_sort":"one of our 50 is missing","updated":"2017-10-31T21:31:30.927Z","active":true,"description_raw":"

\"someecards.com

\r\n\r\n

 

\r\n\r\n

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD

\r\n\r\n

Eric Overbey, of Springfield, Missouri, shared a story his teacher told him when he was a student in Roswell. The teacher, a competitive fisherman, was driving through Mississippi on his way to a tournament when a police officer pulled him over for driving with a broken taillight. The officer asked for his license and registration, and he complied. The officer then asked for his green card. “I don’t have one,” he said, confused. The trooper told him to exit the vehicle and proceeded to arrest him.

\r\n\r\n

When he asked what he was being arrested for, the officer said, “For illegal immigration. You will be deported.” Despite every attempt to explain to the officer that New Mexico is a state and that he was a citizen in good standing, he still spent the night in jail. When the sheriff of that county arrived at the jail the next morning, he asked what the teacher was in for. The deputy explained that his prisoner was from New Mexico and that he did not have a green card. The sheriff then schooled his officer in New Mexico’s status as part of the U.S.A.

\r\n\r\n

\"The

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LET’S CONFUSE PEOPLE MORE

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Carline Anderson, of Las Cruces, sent us an e-mail with a link to “The New Mexicans,” the Washington Post’s series on Mexico’s growing middle class. She wrote to the paper’s tone-deaf editors, suggesting that they change the title of the report to something less confusing. To make her point, she helpfully pointed out that “They would never title a report about the people of York, England, ‘The New Yorkers.’”

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PROF GETS “F”

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When Mauro Montoya Jr., of Albuquerque, was a senior at New Mexico State University, he spent a semester at Towson State College (now University), in Baltimore, Maryland. During one of Montoya’s first days at Towson, a professor asked each student where he or she was from. “New Mexico,” Montoya responded.

\r\n\r\n

After class, the professor took Montoya aside and told him he was impressed that he’d come all the way to Baltimore. “Your English is excellent! How do you like the American schools so far?” Montoya writes that, “I looked at him somewhat incredulously, but then responded, ‘I like them well so far, but their geography classes must be lacking!’” The teacher looked puzzled, until Montoya pointed out that New Mexico is the U.S. state between Texas and Arizona, just below Colorado, and that it shares an international border with the nation of Mexico. “He had the grace to be rather embarrassed,” says Montoya.

\r\n\r\n

RETURN TO SENDER

\r\n\r\n

Although Tom Mullen now lives and works in Pakistan, where he works as a consulting civil engineer, in the 1990s he and his parents lived in Albuquerque. He recalls, “My mother once sent her income-tax statements to a prestigious firm so they could prepare her return. When they had not sent her back the paperwork to approve within a time she considered reasonable, she grew worried and phoned them.” The mystery was solved when it came to light that they had sent the envelope to her in Albuquerque, Mexico. Fortunately, it had been returned to their address via Mexico’s postal system.

\r\n\r\n

A LONG WALK TO THE BEACH

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Zora O’Neill, who occasionally writes for New Mexico Magazine, also writes a guidebook to the Yucatán Peninsula, in Mexico. One day, her editor forwarded her an e-mail from a Santa Fe hotel, thinking she’d like to consider it for inclusion in the guide. “The publisher of my Yucatán guide is based in England, so that may be an excuse for the confusion.” She wrote back, suggesting that her editor forward the e-mail to the author of the guidebook to the American Southwest. ✜

\r\n\r\n

Send Us Your Story—Please!

\r\n\r\n

Dear “50” fans: Help sustain this popular feature by sharing your anecdotes—we know you have some choice ones that you haven’t gotten around to sending in. Just dash it off if you like, and we’ll take it from there. Submissions will be edited for style and space. Please include your name, hometown, and state. E-mail to fifty@nmmagazine.com, or mail to Fifty, New Mexico Magazine, 495 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501.

","teaser_raw":"

\"someecards.com

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD

Eric Overbey, of Springfield, Missouri, shared a story his teacher told him when he was a student in Roswell. The teacher, a competitive fisherman, was driving through

","version_id":"59f8ebb2648901d6cd725d13","categories":[{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8","blog":"magazine","title":"January 2014","_title_sort":"january 2014","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.555Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.560Z","_totalPosts":14,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8","slug":"january-2014","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/january-2014/58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/january-2014/58b4b2404c2774661570f2d8/#comments","totalPosts":14},{"_id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f30b","blog":"magazine","title":"One Of Our 50 Is Missing","_title_sort":"one of our 50 is missing","updated":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.592Z","created":"2017-02-27T23:12:00.600Z","_totalPosts":68,"id":"58b4b2404c2774661570f30b","slug":"one-of-our-50-is-missing","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/one-of-our-50-is-missing/58b4b2404c2774661570f30b/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/category/one-of-our-50-is-missing/58b4b2404c2774661570f30b/#comments","totalPosts":68}],"teaser":"

\"someecards.com

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD

Eric Overbey, of Springfield, Missouri, shared a story his teacher told him when he was a student in Roswell. The teacher, a competitive fisherman, was driving through

","description":"  GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD Eric Overbey, of Springfield, Missouri, shared a story his teacher told him when he was a student in Roswell. The teacher, a competitive fisherman, was driving through Mississippi on his way to a tournament when a police officer pulled him over for driving with a broken taillight. The officer asked for his license and registration, and he complied. The officer then asked for his green card. “I don’t have one,” he said, confused. The trooper told him to exit the vehicle and proceeded to arrest him. When he asked what he was being arrested for, the officer said, “For illegal immigration. You will be deported.” Despite every attempt to explain to the officer that New Mexico is a state and that he was a citizen in good standing, he still spent the night in jail. When the sheriff of that county arrived at the jail the next morning, he asked what the teacher was in for. The deputy explained that his prisoner was from New Mexico and that he did not have a green card. The sheriff then schooled his officer in New Mexico’s status as part of the U.S.A. LET’S CONFUSE PEOPLE MORE Carline Anderson, of Las Cruces, sent us an e-mail with a link to “The New Mexicans,” the Washington Post’s series on Mexico’s growing middle class. She wrote to the paper’s tone-deaf editors, suggesting that they change the title of the report to something less confusing. To make her point, she helpfully pointed out that “They would never title a report about the people of York, England, ‘The New Yorkers.’” PROF GETS “F” When Mauro Montoya Jr., of Albuquerque, was a senior at New Mexico State University, he spent a semester at Towson State College (now University), in Baltimore, Maryland. During one of Montoya’s first days at Towson, a professor asked each student where he or she was from. “New Mexico,” Montoya responded. After class, the professor took Montoya aside and told him he was impressed that he’d come all the way to Baltimore. “Your English is excellent! How do you like the American schools so far?” Montoya writes that, “I looked at him somewhat incredulously, but then responded, ‘I like them well so far, but their geography classes must be lacking!’” The teacher looked puzzled, until Montoya pointed out that New Mexico is the U.S. state between Texas and Arizona, just below Colorado, and that it shares an international border with the nation of Mexico. “He had the grace to be rather embarrassed,” says Montoya. RETURN TO SENDER Although Tom Mullen now lives and works in Pakistan, where he works as a consulting civil engineer, in the 1990s he and his parents lived in Albuquerque. He recalls, “My mother once sent her income-tax statements to a prestigious firm so they could prepare her return. When they had not sent her back the paperwork to approve within a time she considered reasonable, she grew worried and phoned them.” The mystery was solved when it came to light that they had sent the envelope to her in Albuquerque, Mexico. Fortunately, it had been returned to their address via Mexico’s postal system. A LONG WALK TO THE BEACH Zora O’Neill, who occasionally writes for New Mexico Magazine, also writes a guidebook to the Yucatán Peninsula, in Mexico. One day, her editor forwarded her an e-mail from a Santa Fe hotel, thinking she’d like to consider it for inclusion in the guide. “The publisher of my Yucatán guide is based in England, so that may be an excuse for the confusion.” She wrote back, suggesting that her editor forward the e-mail to the author of the guidebook to the American Southwest. ✜ Send Us Your Story—Please! Dear “50” fans: Help sustain this popular feature by sharing your anecdotes—we know you have some choice ones that you haven’t gotten around to sending in. Just dash it off if you like, and we’ll take it from there. Submissions will be edited for style and space. Please include your name, hometown, and state. E-mail to fifty@nmmagazine.com , or mail to Fifty, New Mexico Magazine, 495 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501.","id":"58b4b2804c2774661570f933","url":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/one-of-our-fifty-is-missing-jan-2014-84427/","commentsUrl":"/nmmagazine/articles/post/one-of-our-fifty-is-missing-jan-2014-84427/#comments","absoluteUrl":"https://www.newmexico.org/nmmagazine/articles/post/one-of-our-fifty-is-missing-jan-2014-84427/","metaTitle":"One of Our 50 Is Missing","metaDescription":"

\"someecards.com

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD

Eric Overbey, of Springfield, Missouri, shared a story his teacher told him when he was a student in Roswell. The teacher, a competitive fisherman, was driving through

","cleanDescription":"  GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD Eric Overbey, of Springfield, Missouri, shared a story his teacher told him when he was a student in Roswell. The teacher, a competitive fisherman, was driving through Mississippi on his way to a tournament when a police officer pulled him over for driving with a broken taillight. The officer asked for his license and registration, and he complied. The officer then asked for his green card. “I don’t have one,” he said, confused. The trooper told him to exit the vehicle and proceeded to arrest him. When he asked what he was being arrested for, the officer said, “For illegal immigration. You will be deported.” Despite every attempt to explain to the officer that New Mexico is a state and that he was a citizen in good standing, he still spent the night in jail. When the sheriff of that county arrived at the jail the next morning, he asked what the teacher was in for. The deputy explained that his prisoner was from New Mexico and that he did not have a green card. The sheriff then schooled his officer in New Mexico’s status as part of the U.S.A. LET’S CONFUSE PEOPLE MORE Carline Anderson, of Las Cruces, sent us an e-mail with a link to “The New Mexicans,” the Washington Post’s series on Mexico’s growing middle class. She wrote to the paper’s tone-deaf editors, suggesting that they change the title of the report to something less confusing. To make her point, she helpfully pointed out that “They would never title a report about the people of York, England, ‘The New Yorkers.’” PROF GETS “F” When Mauro Montoya Jr., of Albuquerque, was a senior at New Mexico State University, he spent a semester at Towson State College (now University), in Baltimore, Maryland. During one of Montoya’s first days at Towson, a professor asked each student where he or she was from. “New Mexico,” Montoya responded. After class, the professor took Montoya aside and told him he was impressed that he’d come all the way to Baltimore. “Your English is excellent! How do you like the American schools so far?” Montoya writes that, “I looked at him somewhat incredulously, but then responded, ‘I like them well so far, but their geography classes must be lacking!’” The teacher looked puzzled, until Montoya pointed out that New Mexico is the U.S. state between Texas and Arizona, just below Colorado, and that it shares an international border with the nation of Mexico. “He had the grace to be rather embarrassed,” says Montoya. RETURN TO SENDER Although Tom Mullen now lives and works in Pakistan, where he works as a consulting civil engineer, in the 1990s he and his parents lived in Albuquerque. He recalls, “My mother once sent her income-tax statements to a prestigious firm so they could prepare her return. When they had not sent her back the paperwork to approve within a time she considered reasonable, she grew worried and phoned them.” The mystery was solved when it came to light that they had sent the envelope to her in Albuquerque, Mexico. Fortunately, it had been returned to their address via Mexico’s postal system. A LONG WALK TO THE BEACH Zora O’Neill, who occasionally writes for New Mexico Magazine, also writes a guidebook to the Yucatán Peninsula, in Mexico. One day, her editor forwarded her an e-mail from a Santa Fe hotel, thinking she’d like to consider it for inclusion in the guide. “The publisher of my Yucatán guide is based in England, so that may be an excuse for the confusion.” She wrote back, suggesting that her editor forward the e-mail to the author of the guidebook to the American Southwest. ✜ Send Us Your Story—Please! Dear “50” fans: Help sustain this popular feature by sharing your anecdotes—we know you have some choice ones that you haven’t gotten around to sending in. Just dash it off if you like, and we’ll take it from there. Submissions will be edited for style and space. Please include your name, hometown, and state. E-mail to fifty@nmmagazine.com , or mail to Fifty, New Mexico Magazine, 495 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501.","publish_start_moment":"2013-12-19T17:00:00.000Z","publish_end_moment":"2017-12-18T22:21:01.761Z"}]});

Posts from December 2013