Tag Archives: Shidoni Gallery

Meeting Max Evans

9 Jun

Recently, I returned from our annual field trip to New Mexico, and, as always, it brought some great experiences and memories. We operate on a strict schedule, but something unexpected always happens. One year, we met the tribal judge of the Nambe¬†Pueblo at IHOP, and she invited us to visit her courtroom. Another year, we stumbled into a Mother’s Day celebration at the San Ildephonso Pueblo and were invited to stick around.

A couple of trips ago, I bought a statue of Billy the Kid at the Shidoni Gallery. It turned out to be the last one, which meant the artist had to approve the sale. The next year, we were exploring Ghost Ranch and started talking some people. As it turns out, one of them was the artist who made my sculpture, and he was very interested to meet the person who had bought the last one.

This year, we arrived in Santa Fe on Friday and headed to the plaza to take advantage of free admission to the museums. The New Mexico History Museum is one of the best I have seen, and we wanted the students to go through it before we went on our daily tours. Usually, they walk around, and I hang around to answer questions. However, I wanted to do some of my own exploring. Upstairs, they had a special exhibit on cowboys, both real and imagined.

In the lobby, I saw an elderly couple, and the man was dressed to the hilt as a cowboy. I figured they were there for the exhibit and really thought that when I heard the woman say she was wondering if they would see anyone they knew.

A student and I went into the exhibit, and it was great. There were artifacts and photographs that offered a sense of what true cowboys did. As the exhibit continued, it ventured into the realm of the cowboy myth with tales of wild west shows, rodeos, dime novels and movies.

I looked at all of these things, but I also watched the elderly couple being escorted through the exhibit by a museum employee. That’s when I began to think that maybe this man was depicted in the exhibit or had donated some of the artifacts.

Toward the end of the display, there were movie posters and clips from some classic westerns. My eye was immediately drawn to Chisum, and I told the student that she had to watch that clip. Before she could pick up the headphones to listen, the museum employee spoke to us.

“I would like to introduce you to someone.”

He motioned to the elderly man in the cowboy hat.

“This is Max Evans. He wrote that.”

As the man said this, he pointed to the movie poster of The Hi-Lo Country. We were standing in the presence of a great western writer. Honestly, Mr. Evans didn’t seem interested in talking to us, as he began to mosey away. That’s alright because I was still happy to meet him.

A few minutes later, we found out that they were screening The Hi-Lo Country that night, and he was going to answer questions about his work. We went to the theater, and I took a very dark picture.

Max Evans is in the white hat.

Max Evans is in the white hat.

I wish we could have stayed around for the screening, but, as I said, we operate on a strict schedule. I have never seen The Hi-Lo Country, but I will now.

Picture This – The Shidoni Gallery

25 Jan

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Santa Fe is full of artisans and art galleries. This has made the city a destination for art lovers all over the world. A walk around the plaza is a walk from one impressive gallery to another. Paintings. Sculptures, Jewelry. Pottery. Everything can be found in downtown Santa Fe.

However, my favorite, the Shidoni Gallery, sits on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Anyone who likes metallic art has to turn onto the dirt drive of the gallery and explore the grounds. They will see art and art in the making.

The display room is filled with smaller pieces and serves as an entrance to the pouring room. That’s where everyone can watch liquid metal being poured into molds. Eventually, this metal will cool and turn into something cooler, like the giant skull in the photograph.

The skull sits in the sculpture garden that covers the complex. People can walk through the garden and examine the sculptures up close. They vary from the realistic to the abstract and everything in between. Although there is activity all around, it’s as if you have stepped into another world – a world where nature and art collides to create an unusual combination of beauty.

Pueblos, Pottery and Captain Vla

22 May

I have returned from the sojourn into New Mexico with fellow faculty and a class full of students. Fun was had by all, and it would be impossible to cover everything we did in a blog post. With that in mind, I will provide a brief synopsis by describing my favorite activities from each day. Hopefully, this will provide an entertaining glimpse into our adventures.

Day 1 – The beginning of a trip is always the best part of the first day. The students are anticipating the places that they have yet to see, and the teachers are anticipating the return to an interesting part of the country.

Day 2 – We can’t drive vans to New Mexico in one day, so we check out some things along the way. My favorite part of the second day is driving through Hereford, Texas, the citizen-proclaimed “Beef Capital of the World”. I don’t know if that is true, but there are definitely more cows in Hereford than there are people. Holding pens line the highway and railroad as thousands of head of cattle wait to be shipped to the plates of America. The students could only discern the smell, but I find the beef industry, both its past and present, interesting.

Day 3 – We made it to Santa Fe, our ultimate destination, later this day, but we had one stop along the way where I had the chance to talk about some history where that history took place. Billy the Kid is buried in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Well, most people think he is buried there. Conspiracy folks believe he survived instead of being killed by Pat Garrett. Anyway, I was able to tell the students about Billy the Kid next to his grave.

Day 4 – Our plans to hike Chaco Canyon were rained out, and our leader had to develop a day full of activities on the fly. We went to the Santa Fe plaza, but my favorite part of the day was spent at the Shidoni Gallery. The building and surrounding grounds are full of metal artwork that has been forged at the on-site foundry. It is interesting to see what people consider art and the prices they are willing to pay for it.

Day 5 – On this day, we went to a few places that we had never taken students before. The Very Large Array, or VLA, was the best. This is a series of giant satellite dishes used to study the far reaches of space. I don’t have a good picture of these, but if you have seen Contact with Jodie Foster, then you have seen the VLA.

It was cool to walk around them, but the real fun was on the periphery. On the way, we drove through sunshine, rain and hail. On the way back, we drove through snow. This is the first time we have seen precipitation in New Mexico – much less three different kinds. Also, one of our students, with my help, began calling himself Captain Vla. He imagined himself a superhero who could fly through space, powered by the satellite dish that emerges from his butt. His only weakness would be his limitation to travel by rail while on Earth, just like the VLA dishes. He even had a theme song – Super hearing! Super sight! He can travel through space at the speed of light! (For those readers who know the students who went, I will give you one guess who turned himself in Captain Vla.)

Day 6 – We visited my favorite place on the entire trip, the Acoma Pueblo. The oldest continually inhabited place in the United States, Acoma is located on top of a mesa and has a history of survival from the elements and European invaders. Native American docents take groups on a tour through their pueblo and their culture. Along the way, tourists can buy pottery from local artisans. One of our teachers, who shall remain nameless, buys pottery from the same lady every time we go. He also gets a hug.

Day 7 – We always eat well in New Mexico, and this trip was no different. The New Mexican cuisine is wonderful, especially the sopapillas that are always served for dessert. On the seventh day, we ate at Rancho de Chimayo, one of the great restaurants of the area, but dining was not the only enjoyment. There is a pottery shop inside, and two of the faculty members on the trip are addicted to buying Pueblo pottery. It so happens that the shop had a pot that they were lusting after. As they bickered back and forth about which one was going to purchase the $1,400 piece of pottery, the third teacher, not me, stepped in and said he would buy it. They both stood there with their mouths hanging open.

Day 8 – This was an easy day with little driving and little expended energy. Believe me when I say that everyone was ready for it. We were also ready to visit Madrid, New Mexico, an old ghost town that was resettled by flower children in the early 1970s. It is like going back in time to a place where peace, love and other things were still possible. The guys found a blonde in the ice cream parlor/art gallery that they wanted to find peace with. I found the first person to move to Madrid in 1973 and had a discussion about his life.

Mel Johnson was a dean at the Art Institute of Chicago and gave that up for a life in Madrid. In the following years, other people followed him until the town was filled with artisans and free-thinkers. Before I left his studio, I had found an interesting story and bought a painting.

Day 9 – Once again,¬† I was able to talk about history where it actually took place. We visited Los Alamos and a museum that is housed in the only remaining building from the days of the Manhattan Project. I find World War II history interesting and have a special interest in the building of the atomic bomb. One reason is that Oak Ridge, Tennessee was one of the secret locations. Another reason is that my mom’s uncle worked in the Manhattan Project and told a lot of stories about it. People have different opinions about the use of the bomb on Japan, and it is great to discuss the different views of the students. In the end, we agreed that hindsight is 20/20, and we can’t place that hindsight on people who were making decisions in the moment.

Day 10 – This was our last full day in New Mexico and was really a time to wind down. We hiked the mesa at Ghost Ranch and spent some time back on the plaza in Santa Fe. On top of the mesa, the students and I spent a spiritual moment reading a Native American poem, an ode to the land of New Mexico. I think we all felt a twinge of sadness because we were soon leaving and a sense of happiness because we had a great time throughout the trip.

Day 11 – We left Santa Fe at 5 am and drove over 700 miles to our original hotel in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. After a meal at Western Sizzlin’, the professors pulled chairs from our rooms into the Super 8 parking lot and discussed the trip. We deemed it a success.

Day 12 – We left Sallisaw at 5 am and headed home to Tennessee. It seemed that we got faster the closer we got to home. Like most trips, we were glad that we went but also were glad to get home.