Once upon a time there was a shop on the right side of the high road to Taos in the lovely land of New Mexico. A Roadside Attraction? Maybe not for everyone but it’s part of a photographer’s mind set… if it’s interesting, stop the car, right? Lucky, I guess, that most of the people I travel with are like minded. ;0)
Well, in 1996, this little shop was owned by a quiet man… a man nice enough to take the time for a conversation and a permission to take this picture. Right on the busy road, he seemed able to relax into the dusty light and show us around. Inside, the room was cool and dusky, full of various and beautiful bones… so many shapes. There was a bear skull and there were incredible snake skeletons. Anyone who knows me already understands the draw… been collecting bones and rocks since forever.
I scanned the old negative yesterday and have tried to make it right. The shop was empty last September when Opera Boy and I stopped. Santa Fe has a huge chunk of my heart even though I don’t get to go often anymore but I always thought I’d see this shop again. Stop while you can… Roadside Attractions may not be there the next time you swing through.
New Mexico was a game changer in my life.
In 1994, I stashed most of my ego into a back pocket and signed up for a workshop in Santa Fe… it was a little rough for a very short time. My photographic education was completely homespun to this point. My parents were both serious photographers, if not full time professionals… they had vision and enthusiasm to spare but technique, in our small house, was limited. So I brought a bit of a chip to this class and discovered, to my delight, that I was in a crowd of my peers… we were all there to fine tune a thing we already knew.
Long story short, I found that a solid week of photography and photographers was a balm to my inner skin… no phones, no real housework, no outside life… no contest.
The textures and light that make up Santa Fe and it’s near neighbors were a healing time to me and they return to tease my mind on many a grey day here.
My teacher that amazing week was Kent Barker. Out of Dallas at the time, he was subtle and easy to talk to… a sweet sense of humor, his work was very strong.
He took us two hours north of Santa Fe to his friend’s art gallery in Tres Piedras… a hot pink adobe schoolhouse sitting all by itself on the Taos Mesa.
Imagine 18 photographers, 10 white dogs and a stormy afternoon sky… it was like a dream.
New Mexico pulled me back for many trips in the next seven years. I went until I couldn’t afford to go again but I am not done.
My camera will dance under those wide skies again some day.