Arrive Gallup, New Mexico, look for State Park, have a look-see around town. Find very quickly the El Rancho Hotel on historic Route 66. Famous for hosting movie stars and politicians such as John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, and Ronald Reagen, the region was ripe for western films. By reputation, Gallup is a rough city; heard it from several sources who knew the city well. “Stay on your guard.” Okay, I shall.
The motto is emblazoned across the front of the hotel just below the iconic neon sign: “the charm of yesterday, the convenience of tomorrow.” Like it.
I get a late start on the morning, waiting endlessly for a call from Bowie that never comes; whatev’s, his loss, don’t care to discuss it any further.
Catch what I thought was a breakfast restaurant, only to sit and knock out taquitos at 11am – but good, so good. A few hours at the library for WiFi, blog-posting, and research of Gallup and Albuquerque. A walk around the immediate area, looking for a something to paint.
Try to paint the El Rancho from across the street, two hours. Gets scraped. I am painting window dressing and not painting foundations; hence, the gestural paintings are suffering for it.
If you don’t know where you are going, you are sure to get there, you know? I am frustrated because I want so badly to knock out a painting, maybe even a good painting; but oh, how romantic, to be in these sexy and exotic locations - I am being ironical - the drama simply should drip from the pen, to exploit a phrase, something, I am sure, many a decent writer has certainly experienced.
I really need to focus down the process, not be so loosey-goosey, but actually need to have a plan, a ground-plan; my problem-solving skills are not thus far entirely economic. So I pack it in and let us head closer to Albuquerque, try to get to Bluewater State Park.
Actually arrive several hours in front of sunset, that's a first: “meet it is, I set it down thus” (Hamlet). Might actually get some painting done.
Beautiful drive up into the hills. No ranger, pay the fee at the metal drop-box (only $10, bonus!). Set up camp and head for the lake, 200 yards away, have maybe an hour before the sun pinches itself into the lovely mountaintop.
I start painting.
Jeffrey, please, let's not waste our time again, a good drawing, get the values close, do not wait for inspiration, but try to keep everything harmonious and tight, the values tight. Going along nicely. I see someone approaching in my periphery, a man and his teen son, maybe 13. A conversation yields that they are from Wheaton, suburbs of Chicago. I keep painting. Can we watch for awhile, can I take some photos? Sure, thank you for asking. More conversation, they are actually doing my same trip in reverse order somewhat and in less than a quarter of the time. Do you know this place, hey, be sure to see etc etc. At one point, the father asks the son, "you wanna get going back to camp?" The son is watching very intently, says, "no, I want to see more of how this turns out." Big smile, him and me, both of us.
Get close to what I think is a decent start, then no more light. Dad and son leave. A call to Clarence in Albuquerque to coordinate schedules and arrivals tomorrow and he tells me check in for the… what’s the word? Venus Transference? It will be a dark spot on the sun as Venus passes in front of the sun just before it sets, won’t happen again for over 120 years, he tells me, wear some heavy sunglasses, don’t look directly, might hurt your eyes, too intense.
Well, I couldn’t see it, but apparently some folks in the campground had the proper gear and were able to see it. That's kind of cool. I can’t wait till the next time to really see it (120 yrs). Venus Transference, good title for a painting, hmmm.
Pack up, back to tent early, watch a dvd (I think it was "Serpico", bought it last week in a cheap bin, couple of bucks) and asleep. Next leg of journey starts tomorrow in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos. ¡Hasta mañana!