The Land of Enchantment

New Mexico: The Land of Enchantment. My parents are from Los Alamos, so during my life, I’ve spent a lot of hours driving down to visit my grandparents in New Mexico. Honestly as a kid, I decided there were large swathes of that state that were rather less than enchanting. I think back then I had the idea that enchanting things had a lot of moss growing on them or were formerly inhabited by knights or trolls etc. I was kind of into medieval stuff more than Anasazi  or Pueblo stuff. Back then, the main appeal of Los Alamos was the lab’s connection to WWII and the atom bomb. I was happy to imagine soldiers in Willys Jeeps patrolling the canyons to make sure the Manhattan Project stayed secret. But beyond that, it seemed too dry and too sunny to be enchanting.

Then I grew up. I’m not sure if my capacity to recognize beauty increased or developed the same as my ability to appreciate the taste of bell peppers, or if I just happened to look outside in the morning instead of watching cartoons. I recently made another trip with my family to visit grandparents and I decided to take some photos trying to capture “The Land of Enchantment”.

Windmill at dawn with mist North of Espanola, New Mexico

This was taken off the highway North of Espanola when mist from the river was still clinging to the valley.

Pines in one of Los Alamos' canyons

These two are in a canyon between a couple of Los Alamos’ mesa fingers—also in the morning while the light was still low and sweet.

Plants surround path in canyon outside of Los Alamos, New Mexico

This is the valley South of Georgia O’keeffe’s Ghost Ranch home. I always wondered why she would move from New York to somewhere dry and kind of desolate. But I guess this is why, it makes you feel free. It’s also not always so desolate as it seems.

Valley across from Georgia O'keeffe's Ghost Ranch home.

Cliffs North of Georgia O'keeffe's Ghost Ranch home

The cliffs above are North of the Ghost Ranch.

I’ll admit this arch is not in New Mexico, it is South of Moab Utah. Still pretty cool—red rock and all, but definitely not as enchanting, is it? 🙂

Looking Glass Arch South of Moab Utah

2nd Raven Illustration

Illustration in pen and ink, oil wash and NuPastel of raven atop column from cathedral st. Francis of Assisi

Here’s the second raven from my Cathedral of St. Francis series.

So we watched an episode of ‘Stephen Fry in America’ last night. We’ve watched one every once in a while and had reached the episode where he visits New Mexico. I pointed out, to my wife, all the places I had recently been. This was also the episode where he would be visiting my home state of Utah. Unfortunately, he only visited Lake Powell in the Southernmost corner of the state. That was disappointing. I thought he would at least go to the Salt Flats, Promontory Point or Temple Square. Oh well, he did interview a couple of Mormons in Las Vegas, right before he interviewed the owner of a brothel…?

Basically, I hope people don’t make all their judgments about the USA based on the places Stephen Fry visited.

Santa Fe Raven and Basilica

Earlier this Summer, I went with a group of artists from BYU to Santa Fe and various nearby sites. While in Santa Fe, I visited the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. I spent some time sketching the exterior and noticed that no two columns had identical capitals. In fact, they were each very unique. This inspired me to produce the work below, which is one of five ravens atop columns based on those from St. Francis Cathedral.

Ink and oil wash illustration of raven atop capital from cathedral basilica st. francis of assisi.

This is a photo I took at Goblin Valley, where we stopped on the way home. Nothing fancy, but it has that Southwesty feel and thus belongs here helping to describe the trip.

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