As many of you may know, we have land in northern New Mexico, in the high desert area at the top of the gorge. It’s beautiful, surrounded by mountains (which are often snow capped) on three sides, with trailheads at the entrance of our property leading down into the gorge. We regularly see coyote, elk, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, kit foxes, jackrabbits and, yes, rattlesnakes (oh, and scorpions too). It’s the wild west, still untamed by man, and we love it that way. It’s a breath of fresh air, a way to reconnect with nature, a solitude so desperately needed. At night, you can see the entire Milky Way (since we don’t have light pollution on our land). It’s a million or a bajillion stars lighting up the black night sky, and it’s amazing.
We just returned, and I’m still trying to readjust to city life. I sleep like a baby out there. But besides the personal recovery time, I visit with artists and go to studios to see what the artists are working on. This particular visit was a little more casual. I met with a potentially new artist who is considering showing monumental sculpture on our land for what is to be a sculpture garden (in the next 2-3 years). He does amazing, gigantic pieces that are about form, each welded and constructed by him personally (as opposed to sending it to a foundry). Out of Colorado, but small world that it is, his wife is from Bexley.
To understand a little about what we really had to do to make the place livable (besides actually build the structure) and to maintain it and make it comfortable for ourselves and guests that visit through Airbnb and VRBO, here’s a little rundown of what we did just this 10-day visit:
re-stucco’d cracked walls; had 45 ton of gravel delivered (and picked up 4 more ton ourselves), which we had to spread); picked up and spread a ton of dirt, which I then planted with wildflowers and squash seeds for the animals to eat; tore out our kitchen sink and counter and built a new kitchen island with granite countertops, had 4 cords of wood delivered which then had to be stacked; went to the spring for 250 gallons of water to top off cistern; repaired broken wood fence; reburied clothesline poles; moved rock out of old footers and then refilled footers with dirt; in addition to the regular maintenance stuff like 11 loads of laundry (which are hung to dry), emptying compost toilet, vacuuming, changing all sheets, washing couch cushion covers, shopping, dishes, and general cleaning. It’s exhausting but exhilarating. I feel accomplished afterwards — I can see the results of my labor, and I come home feeling a little better about how we left the house for the next guests.
For the artist community, our intent then is to start small with maybe Char Norman teaching a weaving class on the land, where people can stay in the house and I would provide breakfast and lunch as part of the program. We would like to start installing monumental sculpture within 2-3 years, to make a sculpture garden that would be part of the experience of staying there or could be a day trip for those staying in town. We have plans to offer workshops in assemblage work, weaving, clay, sculpting, and then building workshops such as “building off grid”, “building a fireplace”, “working with solar”, “ organic gardening in the high desert” and more.
We are making progress, and are excited about the coming few years.