New Mexico is not a perfect place, nor does it pretend to be. Much of its beauty comes from its imperfection.
To me, it is a stirringly beautiful place, a Gorgeous Mosaic, what I love most about America, what some of our most powerful leaders seem to have forgotten in their rush to power.
There are all kinds of different landscapes here, many stunningly beautiful, and all kinds of people, a magnificent mix of cultures – rich, poor, Hispanic, Native-American, Caucasian, all the people of the rainbow. They exist together, and have for centuries, not without conflict or trouble, but mostly with acceptance and tolerance.
The cattlemen live alongside the artists, and the artists live alongside the working people, and the Native-American culture and influence is everywhere, in the open, along with casinos and their bowling alleys and the mysterious pueblos and the adobe houses that never seem to fall apart.
The beauty of the mountains and hills and clay mounds are a backdrop to this mosaic, but they don't define the place for me. It is the friendliness and individuality and diversity of the people that evoke the American ideal to me, I see why Georgia O'Keefe was so comfortable and creative here I feel the same way just being here a few days.
I have a sense of freedom and openness here – a hothouse for creativity, a huge incubus.
Yesterday, we met Richard, tending his wife's art gallery while she was out shopping.
He makes the wooden saints that line the walls.
He was (is) a rabid Beatles fan so he also made a life out of making and selling Beatle art, mostly wooden wall hangings with writing on them. He went to see Ringo Starr in a concert carrying some Ringo Starr art he made and a woman came up and said she was Starr's daughter and she would tell her father about Richard and his art, and show him the artwork, but Richard just laughed and said "if you are Ringo's daughter, I am the Pope."
He wouldn't turn over the art.
He was stunned later to hear Starr talking about his daughter flying in to meet him. He laughs when he tells the story, and soon we were off, talking about my work, my life. He was beginning to invite us to dinner when we left. I was touched by his openness and warmth and individuality.
He was free.
America is about freedom to me, and about acceptance and tolerance and the mixing of different worlds. Somehow, the people who are supposed to be celebrating this are threatening it. Richard is the true hero to me, a man who gives up safety and security to follow his passion and devote his life to it, he isn't living on a corporate slaveship or ranting about the left or the right or posting nasty messages on Facebook.
Freedom to speak openly and live his life, the most precious kind of freedom.
Richard is living his life, and wide open to strangers from the outside world. Can I take your portrait?
Sure, he said, and thanks. I hope I don't break he camera. Odd, but I've already met a dozen Richard's in just two days here.
He gave us a fistful of postcards to take home and only charged me half of a $30 pottery cup I dropped and broke. Maria took it and wrapped it up, she will fix it when we get home. We are here until next Wednesday and I am eager to see what happens next, we have a lot of places to go – Taos today.