I don’t really feel like blogging today. I’m still not settled in after going to visit my friend Sally in Estancia this weekend. Do you remember Sally? She’s also a patternmaker, originally from NYC. Anyway, she invited me up to meet her friend Amy who was visiting from Centralia WA and who is also originally from NY. Sally doesn’t drop names (but could); Amy Downs is a famous hat designer so I was excited to meet her. I found out later that Amy’s sister is the singer Lila Downs. Now that I’m sitting here writing this, I wish I’d asked her more questions about her work. My impression is that she produces when she feels like it and it doesn’t matter what’s popular. She says that the one time she followed the trends, her stuff sold -she sells everything she makes; people collect her- but under protest. Her stores didn’t like it at all so she doesn’t follow trends. Amy’s husband Gary is -get this- a successful magic trick inventor and manufacturer. Amy is interesting to say the least. Obviously, Sally collects interesting people; I flatter myself by thinking I’m one of them.
If you recall, it’s a little over 200 miles to Sally’s place from Las Cruces. Heading north, I was going to take a picture of the guy at the border patrol checkpoint like I did last time but he seemed rather humorless about it. I decided to take landscape pictures for you this time. I realize New Mexico is an acquired taste but there’s beauty in these wide panoramic views of the horizon.
This is Amy outside of Sally’s house. In real life you’d see that Amy is a sensory delight of color. She inspired me.
Amy was so inspiring to me because I like her taste in colors, that’s what I like too. Wild, bright garish colors. My ex-husband (who fancies himself an artist) said I had a lousy sense of color so not having any other options, I gravitated towards neutrals and black. Amy’s proof that strong colors can work. I noticed that I felt more upbeat around Amy and her colors -her outfits are visually striking- but get this, the colors were enhancing. They weren’t so garish that they’d hijack your screen. She’s inspired me to redecorate the house. You’d have to see our house, it’s awful. It’s drab and our sofa should have been dumped years ago. The sofa -by the way- is not to be believed. It defies exaggeration, I kid you not. If minimalism has drained rather than invigorated my environment, I’ve gone too far (asceticism). When we get a new sofa, I’ll put up a picture of it.
Above is a picture of Sally. She’s going to kill me when she sees this on the blog but I love this picture and I love, love the shoes. I also loved the fact that she just dressed however. People always think that people in the fashion industry get dolled up and it’s just not true. Few of us are Amys.
Below is a picture of Sally, Amy and Festus, Sally’s dog. Festus likes me. He’s very shy. I think he likes me because I avoid making eye contact (eye contact can be very threatening to dogs). I think he’s part Ridgeback and part Heeler. I worry about her out here, she’s 11 miles from town but with Festus, I worry less. He looks too thin to me but then, I’d probably overfeed him.
Later that day, Sally took us into Estancia (population 1,500); Estancia is about 40 miles south east of Albuquerque. I loved Estancia -a really long story. Here is a picture of their public library.
This library was built by Rohde May Keller McNamara Architecture and it won 3 of 5 top AIA awards for architecture. It cost one million dollars to build. The money to build it was donated by Willis and Corine Williams (brother and sister). I can’t get a fix on who they were. Apparently Corrine was well to do before she died. Her brother donated the money in her memory. It’s a lovely story. Towns of this size rarely enjoy such gifts.
Behind the library is the community swimming pool (below). For such a tiny town, their social infrastructure is quite amazing. This is a beautiful pool.
As it was, the pool wasn’t open yet but the mayor -yes, the mayor- was there cleaning the pool and filling it so it’d be ready to open on Memorial Day weekend. The mayor is Marty Hibbs and he is wildly popular. He has really turned this town around; it’s absolutely amazing what one person -and his wife Margarita- can do. The town librarian (Angela Creamer) says Marty is the guy to call because in addition to managing the town, he’s the one to call to unclog toilets or anything else that goes wrong. The last time I drove through Estancia, the middle of town was a dump. Literally. Now it’s a beautiful park. Below is a picture of the mayor of Estancia NM.
Below is a picture of Amy and Sally on Sunday morning. Amy is quite bright!
Below is a picture of me and Amy. I look so washed out standing next to her. You’ll note I’m wearing my house slippers and wearing the hat she gave me, an Amy Downs original!
I left on Sunday, and Amy and Sally went to Taos to see the Millicent Rogers Museum; I had no idea that museum was in Taos. I’ll definitely stop there when we go to Taos next month for the Solar Music Festival. Millicent Rogers was an heiress, granddaughter of one of the original founders of Standard Oil. While she was a legend in the fashion industry, she was a compassionate and tireless humanitarian as well. From the Taos news:
[…] Rogers assembled influential friends with the purpose of addressing the rights and cultural value of Native Americans. In 1947, a busy year for Rogers, she and authors Frank Waters, Oliver Lafarge and Lucius Beebe hired lawyers and went to Washington to lobby for Indian citizenship. At that time, Native Americans were considered as numbers and couldn’t even get passports. Their mission was the formation of more humane policies in which to govern America’s affairs with the eight northern Pueblos in New Mexico. Rogers also successfully fought for Indian art to be classified as “historic,” thus providing protection and status. Because Rogers was well-known and influential, she called upon the magazines that had written so much about her to help spread the word of her cause.
Sally told me that Millicent Rogers was able to convince Balenciaga to make her some peasant blouses. Considering the kind of influence and money she had, it’s humbling to know she was buried “in an Indian blouse, skirt, moccasins and wrapped in a Navajo blanket”.
On the way back I took a picture of the Rio Grande as it is much in the news lately. At this point, the Rio Grande is running north and south and this is what the river looks like in Sally’s neck of the woods (or desert if you prefer).
For contrast, I took a picture of the river in Las Cruces (below). Just 40 miles south of here, the river makes an abrupt turn running east and continues on south easterly. This section of the river is what marks the boundary between the United States and Mexico. Here is the river about two miles from my house.
I had a great weekend; New Mexico is such a lovely place and I really should get out more.