Need to Revive Your Creativity? Try the High Desert

There was no posting this past weekend because I spent it in the high desert. This time it was central and northern New Mexico.  The trip was to explore Santa Fe, but it became much more than that. As always, I returned with feelings of being refreshed, inspired, and disappointed that I had to return to my normal life.

Santa Fe itself is an art fair on crack–everything from affordable earrings to six-figure artwork by world-renowned artists. There are not only hundreds of individual artist/vendors at tables, in tents, with wares spread on blankets, but there are hundreds of galleries with more high-dollar work than I have ever seen in one concentrated area. Santa Fe may be the only city in North America where you will find a clothing store sandwiched between two art galleries.

But you have to get out of the cities and towns to find what the area really has to offer:  an amazing austere, unique landscape that exists in solitude and silence, surprising outcroppings of rock, mountains, arroyos, canyons, rivers, crystalline air and Ansel Adams clouds, warm summer sun with a cool breeze, an amazing canopy of stars overarching the cool evenings.

Count me among those who are in love with this part of the world. Admittedly, I am much more familiar with west Texas since I have spent much more time there. It is much less an obvious tourist destination, but it has the same vast expanses, the same quiet, the same ancient solitude.

There’s something magical about the high desert, something very seductive.  It is a place that gives me focus—I begin to think about what is important to me, instead of what is important to all of those who make demands on me, particularly in terms of art. I think about art a lot, but a trip to the high desert settles my soul, makes me reevaluate and reconsider old ideas and allows new ones to take hold. I always come back with a new approach, a new way of seeing, a spiritual rejuvenation.

I’m not sure what causes this: the ascetic, ancient landscape, the unbelievable stillness—almost a living presence, the amazing weather—winter or summer, the character of the land and its people. It is certainly more than being in a different place: the lack of familiar television or eating places. There is a different set of smells on the air, a different feeling, and, outside the cities, a pleasurable lack of traffic. I have been to other remote places, other pleasant places; no other impacts me the way the high desert does.

I am not the only one who seems to be influenced by this unique locale.  It has been sought out as a place to work and create by various artists. Artists as diverse as Georgia O’Keefe, Donald Judd, and D. H. Lawrence, among others, have found the open beauty of North American high desert irresistible. One can never be sure what they found in the high desert. Maynard Dixon said, “You can’t argue with those desert mountains — and if you live among them enough — like the Indian does — you don’t want to. They have something for us much more real than some imported art style.”

In the midst of that reality, I find the freedom to let my mind drift, really drift, in a way that it cannot in the surroundings of my everyday existence. And in drifting I rediscover where I want to go and how I want to get there. I often find myself wanting to stay.

It may be a place you would like to stay as well—or at least visit. So whether it’s west Texas or New Mexico or some other area of high desert, go. Find out. Discover this place of magical artistic renewal for yourself.

In addition to peace and solitude, you may find that the high desert engenders a lot of questions—it does for me. By way of warning, if you happen choose New Mexico as the target of your artistic wandering, there is a question that is unique to that “land of enchantment.” That question is, of course: red or green?






Date: Sunday, 21. August 2011 23:52
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