Wednesday, July 30, 2014

REFLECTIONS ON TRIP TO RUISODO, NM JULY 2014

We spent several days in Ruidoso New Mexico for the Ruidoso Fine Art Festival, July 25-28, 2014. Rather than an extensive write up this time, I thought I'd post photos and some captions to let them tell the story. Enjoy!

CONTRASTING LANDSCAPES...

This was near Roswell, only about 75 miles from Ruidoso. But what a difference those miles make as you'll see!
Grindstone Lake, just west of downtown Ruidoso, New Mexico.
A beautiful sunset over Carrizo Creek Lake near the Inn of the Mountain Gods resort.

 
David took this photo of a public golf course that surrounds the Ruidoso Convention Center where the show was held.

SHOW TIME...

Yes, we were in Ruidoso for more than than just sightseeing. Here are some pics from our booth at the Ruidiso Fine Art Festival. It was a wonderful show!




MORE SIGHTSEEING AND PLAY TIME...

Since we were already there, we decided to stay over an extra day to take some drives around the area. The most memorable was doing up to Ski Apache. The views were just amazing!
 



Headed north for another side trip where we found a great breakfast at the Smokey Bear Restaurant in Capitan, NM. Yes, this are is the home to "THE" Smokey the Bear

AND, OF COURSE, WE SAW LOTS OF WILDFLOWERS! Here's just a small sampling...










So that's some of the highlights of our trip. 
AS ALWAYS, THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST!


Monday, July 14, 2014

REFLECTIONS ON JULY 2014 TRIP TO ARIZONA

View from I-17 north of Phoenix.
If you follow my blogs and postings, you know that I took trip to Arizona in early July 2014. My husband and I did a similar visit in February, but this time it was my sister, Sue, and I enjoying the splendor of the American Southwest. We flew in to Phoenix on a Saturday, rented a car, put in more than 1500 miles, and flew out the following Saturday. What a trip! For anyone interested, here is a recounting of this journey, sharing some of the sights we covered from Phoenix to Flagstaff and many points in between as well as west and east.

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona
As soon as we landed and secured our car, we headed north for Sedona, where we were booked for the first two nights of our trip. The red rocks were calling my spirit and just the drive into Sedona did the trick. Yes, there's something about that place that speaks to me, as it does to many. After checking in at the Wildflower Inn, we drove around and through the rock canyons, stopping for an extended visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. What a spiritual place!

As the day came to an end, we ventured up to the look out at the airport where you see not only the town of Sedona but the red rocks in the distance. Yes, we were surround by the red rocks, including a view of Bell Rock from our motel balcony, which also offered a spectacular sunrise to start Sunday morning!
Views on the road from Sedona to Flagstaff.

For our first full day in Arizona, we decided to take a day trip to the north, heading up the switchback highway to the mountains of Flagstaff. After a brief walk through the downtown, it was back in the car to drive into the San Francisco Mountains and check out the Snowbowl. As soon as we reached the Aspens we knew we made the right choice for our day-trip adventure. Thick stands of the stark white-n-black trunks were surrounded by tall, lush grass and wildflowers! Yes, summer blooms of yellow, white and blues created scenes that will find their way into my paintings in the near future!
San Francisco Mountains near Flagstaff.

We left the mountain top but had time for one more drive, this time taking the 26-mile Schultz Pass through Coconino National Forest. As the road turned from payment to gravel, the landscape also began to change. But this wasn't natural or mother nature's work. It was the result of what was believe to have been an unattended camp fire that consumed some 15,000 in the summer of 2010. While the black skeletons of what was once a mighty pine forest dotted the hillsides and mountain cliffs, I found comfort in the scores of wildflowers in bloom as well as small trees and brush. Still it was very sad to witness the result of one person's neglectful act some four years after the fact.
As the day was coming to a close we made our way back to Sedona via the Interstate. We wanted to spend a little time in Uptown Sedona, visiting some of the shops before bidding goodbye to the area for this trip.

Lagoon at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ.
On Monday we checked out of the Wildflower Inn and headed south with Prescott as our destination for our Monday night layover. On the way, we visited Dead Horse State Park in Cottonwood and enjoyed a morning walk around the lagoons there. While they are man-made, the large bodies of water with the reflections of Arizona sky were just beautiful.

Next stop for the morning was Jerome, an old mining town set on the side of a mountain. We visited the local co-op gallery and a few of the shops and then hit the road for the trip over Mingus Mountain. Switchback roads offered views of from north, where we had been to south where we were heading. Coming off the mountain and the forest of pines and into the desert was a reminder that we were still in Arizona!
We made our way to our motel in Prescott, got checked in and then set out to explore the area.
North of Prescott.
It was Monday afternoon, the day after a long holiday weekend that included a Fourth of July parade and a huge rodeo. I mention this because it has been my experience that the "Monday after" tends to be a dead time for many touristy areas. Visitors have left and locals are exhausted. Not so in Prescott! At least not for this particular post holiday. The downtown courthouse square was like a magnet! Parking was filled, people were walking into shops and galleries. As the day passed we saw folks spreading blankets on the grass by the courthouse to enjoy the afternoon. This was one of the most pleasant and inviting downtown experiences I've ever had.  Spending most of the afternoon there, we enjoyed local coffee and, at the suggestion of a man in a shoe store, had some great Thai food a few blocks from the downtown square.
White Tank Mountains, West of Phoenix
After having coffee on the patio at Starbucks while enjoying some cool temps in the 60s the next morning, we hit the road again, this time heading west and then south toward Wickenburg. We drove several hours with a few stops for photos and once to eat. Finally, when it was about as hot as you can imagine on a July afternoon in Arizona, we made it west of Phoenix and decided to take a drive through White Tank Mountains. I only mention the heat because the area was filled with photo ops and you can't do those with out leaving the comfort of the AC in the car. We took several little walks, drinking plenty of water and keeping our hats on. A longer hike to see the what was supposed to be a waterfall and some petroglyphs was out of the question. But, in the end, even the shorter walks and the drive it was worth it!

Superstition Mountains
Our next stop was the Best Western Papago Inn in Scottsdale, which we would be calling home until we flew out on Saturday.
A memorable drive that David and I took our our trip earlier in the year was up and over Superstition Mountains on Apache Pass.

This was a must-do again this time as I wanted to share it with my sister. So we headed eastward Wednesday morning. The winding gravel roads hugging the sides of the mountains and offering views as far as the eye could see did not disappoint! While creeping along a particularly narrow section about half way through we passed a car with the window down coming from the other direction. Sue rolled down her window and we chatted with the other woman for about 10 minutes, on the side of the mountain. She suggested we take a left at the end of the road just past the Theodore Roosevelt Dam. When David and I did the trip, we had taken a right there and went down to Globe. I was thinking I'd like to see what was up the road if we took a left instead and, thanks to the advice of the stranger, we were glad we did!
Mountain-n-valley view near Payson, AZ
Up the road we found the community of Payson where we had a great cup of coffee and got some free sightseeing advice from the barista, Dylan. He suggested a couple of back roads and even drew us a map. We were able to do one of them, which included driving up Diamond Point for an amazing lookout of the mountains and the valley below.

As daylight was running our we took Beeline Highway (yes, that's what they call it) back to Scottsdale, driving through the mountains as darkness fell, creating silhouettes in every direction.

With only 2 days left, we made plans for another long day-trip on Thursday and then staying closer to home base on Friday. But the mountains were calling to both Sue and I so we knew we needed to find our way back to the Payson area.  However, we would be taking the long way around to get there. So we were up early the next morning and soon on the road to Globe. Just the drive from Phoenix to Globe is scenic and interesting. But I must say that nothing can prepare you for the 2-hour haul from Globe to Show Low through Salt River Canyon! I did a quick Google and read one man's description that it was like a "mini Grand Canyon." I could not agree more! If you are ever in the area and have the time, take that drive! You'll be glad you did!
Salt River Canyon between Globe and Show Low.

We drove around the Ponderosa Pines of Show Low and took a hike to a scenic overlook on the Mogollon Rim. As we were still several hours from Scottsdale, we made the stay brief and headed west for Payson, where we ended up at the same little coffee shop, giving me a chance to thank our friendly barista for his excellent map and information the day before. While we would have loved to visit nearby Pine/Stawberry, we decided to make the trip on Beeline Highway before dark to see what we missed before. The mountains were beautiful and we enjoyed seeing the transition from pine trees back into Saguaro and other familiar cactus of the Arizona landscape.

View near Show Low and a cool 82 degrees!
Friday was our last full day in Arizona so we did a shorter day trip, this time heading for downtown Phoenix for a brief walk and then up to Cave Creek and over to Carefree. On our last trip, I signed with Wild Holly Gallery in Carefree and it was nice to see them again and to get to see my art on display there!
Every day the temps were rising and by Friday afternoon it was over 100 in the city. By the way, one reason we kept heading to the mountains was because it was an easy 10 to 20 degrees cooler in the higher altitude, among the towering pine trees!
But the Friday afternoon heat was getting to both of us and we decided that an afternoon at the mall was not a bad idea. We ended up at Scottsdale Fashion Square, whose claim to fame is being the "largest shopping mall in Arizona and the Southwest." While there we decided to take in a movie and timing was right to catch "Jersey Boys." What a great way to spend an afternoon when it's 108 outside!
Saturday morning was our travel day and we got out early to have plenty of time to gas up and return the rental car, check luggage, and make it through security. While standing in the long line to the luggage counter we learned that our flight was delayed by 2 hours. Then it was delayed another 3 hours. Then another 45 minutes. Ten hours from the time that we dropped off the rental car we were, finally, back in Austin!
As you can tell, it was an amazing trip from start to finish. In addition to the wonderful memories, I brought home tons of photos to use as reference for my next wave of paintings. You never know where the inspiration will come from! Thanks for reading about this journey!

Here I am, on the left, with my sweet sister, Sue, in Sedona.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

REFLECTIONS ON TRIP TO NYC FOR ARTEXPO 2014

For the third year in a row, I was invited to exhibit my wildflowers at Artexpo in New York City.

As one of the largest art shows in the US, with artists and galleries from around the world, I was honored to be included. The show was held on Pier 94 on April 4-6, 2014.

While my husband David and I have visited NYC several times now, for this and other shows, there was something new this time. We decided to pack our Transit and drive rather than ship the art and fly in for the show. In the end, we drove some 3939 miles! We were a bit nervous about driving into Manhattan but with lots of pre-planning and a little luck, we did just fine. Or should I say, David did fine since he was behind the wheel!
But first, we had to get there.

Blossoms in Tennessee.
We left for the trip several days early to give us time for the long drive. Along the way we enjoyed seeing wildflowers along the roadsides throughout the South, though it was still a bit early in the season. As we turned northward heading through Alabama and into Tennessee, it began to look more and more like winter, with bare trees and brown fields. However, several varieties of flowering trees, such as fruit trees, redbuds and dogwoods, were starting to bloom and made the trip really enjoyable.
Snow in the Blue Ridge Mtns!

As we made our way into Virginia, we decided to enjoy the off season and take Skyline Drive, which runs north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park for 105 miles. We pretty much had the road to ourselves. The views were breathtaking and we even saw some snow along the way! As far as the weather, our timing was good as we were just ahead or had just missed storms through the regions were were traveling.
A view of Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive.

After being on the road for four days and nights, we drove across the George Washington bridge on Wednesday, paid our toll and made our way into The City.

While we were booking rooms for nightly stays along the way, we had made arrangements for our NYC accommodations weeks in advance through AirBnB. We were able to rent an apartment for the week, which we were sharing with some of my family members who were flying in to see my work at Artexpo and a vacation. With a total of 5 of us, it was nice to have a place with a kitchen and sitting area rather than staying in separate hotel rooms.

After we checked in at the apartment, we made our way to the show site where we were able to unload and start preparing for set up the next day. Plus we were able to park the Transit on the next pier over where it stayed until we were ready to leave, which was our plan from the start since the apartment was within walking distance.

Crowds enjoy art at Artexpo NYC.
We hit the ground running every morning for the next few days, with set up on Thursday and the show hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Over the course of the event, we met hundreds of visitors and talked with dozens of galleries, returning home with several solid leads for future representation and other opportunities.

Visiting with David Bromstad.
In the mix of the amazing artists at this year's expo was one face familiar to fans of HGTV. David Bromstad, host of Color Splash, was a featured speaker at one of the seminars and was available to chat with visitors on Saturday. I've seen him on TV a few times but I must say that, in person, he is as nice as he is good looking. It was a pleasure to meet him and to get to share our mutual love of flowers!


All too soon the show came to an end on Sunday night and it was time to pack up and load out. As we put the last load in the Transit, the sun was setting over Manhattan, giving a perfect ending to another wonderful experience.

Sunset over Manhattan.
We stayed one last night and left Manhattan on Monday, driving back over the GW bridge into New Jersey and on to Pennsylvania.

This time, however, we were driving right into some rain storms and decided to stop over in Bethlehem for the evening. What we didn't know is that we were in for a treat!

Bethlehem, PA in the rain.
We stayed at the Sands, a casino hotel, in a room overlooking the town, which was build on a hillside.

The Sands is a huge complex using buildings and land of the old Bethlehem Steel Company. Since we were also celebrating our wedding anniversary, we decided to stay over an extra day and explore the area a bit before hitting the road for home. The town is very quaint and the buildings and streets are filled with a sense of history and pride. It is a very special place and I hope that we can make it back again some day.

Wildflowers in Mississippi.
It was time to head home so for the next few days we made a straight shot down through the Delta Blues, into Louisiana and westward, into Texas. It was amazing how much greener everything was than when we came through on our way up. In Alabama, the wisteria were blooming like crazy, as were the redbud trees. Each area has its own version of wildflowers along the roadsides. Some of the nicest were in Mississippi but the flowers in Louisiana were pretty impressive, too.

Even so, I have to say that the most appealing patches were the ones along I-10 once we were on the west side of Houston. I know I have to watch my "Texas Pride," but we do have beautiful wildflowers in Texas. That's where I've drawn my inspiration from the beginning and continue to do so. As always, thanks for reading and for letting me share the highlights of this journey with you.


Artexpo NYC 2014.




Friday, February 14, 2014

REFLECTIONS ON TRIP TO SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL ARIZONA, JAN-FEB 2014

On the way to Yuma!
We recently returned from an amazing two weeks in the great state of Arizona. The last and only time I had been there was some 21 years ago and, though we drove from far south to Vegas and back, it was the images of the red rocks of Sedona that were forever etched in my mind. I can't believe that it took two decades to make my way back. However, this time I was able to gain an even greater appreciation for the scenery of the great Southwest (beyond just famous Sedona).

Along with my husband and sister, we flew into Phoenix, rented a car and headed to Yuma. My husband's dad and some extended family call that area home now, having moved from Idaho and other up-North climates. Some of them are still "snow birds," coming down for the winter and heading back home as the temperatures rise in the South and stop plummeting in the North. Our timing was intentional. Family is important to both my husband and I and this visit was long overdue.

I had never been in the Yuma area before. For the most part, the scenery is typical desert Southwest. Vast, flat plateaus dotted with towering Saguaro cactus, thorny Buckhorn Cholla, and Ocotilla, also known as Coachwhip. Serving as a perfect backdrop for the deserts were foothills of various mountain ranges, but for someone who lives in the Texas Hill Country, they were all mountains to us.

Date Palm tree orchard near Yuma.
Two features of the Yuma area came as a surprise.

First, it's not all dry desert. In fact, the area is a huge supplier of vegetables. We would drive past fields upon fields of cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and more. Fact: Yuma county is the nation's third largest vegetable producer and tops in winter vegetables. The second surprise: dates. OK, so you do find palms in the desert. But I never thought about acres of palm trees thriving in Southwest Arizona. They have the most delicious Medjool dates. And don't even get me started on the date milkshakes. Wow, who would have thoughts that bits of date blended into ice cream would be so tasty? Another little fact for you: the Yuma area grows more Medjool dates than anywhere else in the world!

One of hundreds of booths in Quartzsite.
In addition to some quality time with my father-in-law, one of David's brothers, a special cousin and an aunt, we took a few day trips around the area. One highlight was a few hours spent in Quartzsite, north of Yuma. The little town is, for some reason, a huge draw for RVers who come in droves during the winter months. Plus, it has at least 9 big rock-n-mineral-n-gem festivals each year and acres of swap meets. We walked one of the shows, where hundreds of exhibitors gathered to sell their jewelry, beads, rocks and art.

David's family hosted a bonfire while we were there. We spent the evening watching the fire burn as the sun set on the desert, while listening to stories from his wonderful aunt, a "snow bird" from Wyoming, along with cousins, dad and brother. His family has a long tradition of heading South for the winter, where they park their RVs and travel trailers on the desert and soak up the sun for several months. We were grateful for this quality time with his family.
 As you may have noticed, I haven't mentioned anything about art or galleries. This part of the trip was more about family and a little sight seeing. After our week in Yuma, we headed back to Phoenix to drop my sister at the airport since she was heading back home. The next week, David and I spent exploring the greater Phoenix area and beyond, with our focus on finding gallery representation for my wildflower art.

If you are not familiar with the area, here's a little info. While people talk about Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa as four cities, if you look at the map and drive the streets a few times, they really are just part of a larger metropolitan area. Sort of like interlocking jigsaw puzzle pieces. Yes, they each have a "feel" that you sense as you drive from one city limit into the next, as well as their own street signage and downtown areas, but they are seamless. Then there are several more cities and communities in the same general area. Once you get outside of this metroplex, you find more towns, like Fountain Hills, Carefree and Cave Creek to the North/NW; Sun City and Surprise to the Northeast; and Gilbert and Chandler to South/SW.

Since Scottsdale is one of the nation's top art destinations, we had that high on our list to visit galleries and see what contacts we could make for my wildflower art. However, we also wanted to make a visit to Sedona, for both business and pleasure, a top priority. So, after one night in Phoenix, we headed to north to Sedona for a few days.

A glorious sunset in Sedona!
The rocks were just as red and just as majestic as I remembered from 20 years before. It was David's first time to Sedona and we took great joy in sharing the experience. In addition to drives in the area and catching both sunsets and sunrises that ignited the landscape, we visited several wonderful galleries in Sedona. The gallery submission process requires patience. I did make a couple of good contacts and hope to find a good home for my work there when the time is right.

Ready for take-off...Sedona by helicopter!

While in Sedona, we decided to treat ourselves to one of those helicopter sight-seeing tours. Soaring over the rock formations, between the mesas, and near the ruins of cliff dwellings from centuries past was an amazing experience.

On our way back to Phoenix, we took a side trip to visit a town we had never heard of until this trip, Jerome. Once a thriving copper mine in the late 1800s and early 1900s around which a town was built literally on the side of a mountain, Jerome was discovered by artists over the last 30-40 years and is now home to dozens of galleries, shops and restaurants.

Street view in Jerome, AZ.
If you are ever in the area, the climb up the switchback roads are worth the trip!

We arrived back in Phoenix (technically Mesa, where we booked our hotel for the rest of the trip) in time for the weekly Thursday night gallery stroll in Scottsdale. Streets lined with galleries were filled with art lovers as they popped in and out of the shops, meandered alley ways, hopped on and off trollies, or took horse-drawn carriage rides. One visit and you certainly see why Scottsdale is known for art. Fact: With more than 125 art galleries and studios, it is one of the highest per-capita anywhere in the US.

As much as I wanted to find that perfect fit for my wildflower paintings, and I did narrow the list to a few possible galleries, I just did not feel at home there.

Another area on our must-visit list was Carefree. I'll admit it: Up until about 2 weeks before the trip I had never heard of this community. I ran into a friend while shopping, mentioned our upcoming trip to Phoenix, and she told me about Carefree. She said I had to go and so I did. And I'm glad I did.

A planned community north of Scottsdale with streets named Easy, Ho and Hum, it's about as cute as you can imagine. And it has a small handful of really nice galleries. One in particular, Wild Holly, felt "right" from the moment we walked in. After a pleasant chat with Magda, a nice English lady who minds the gallery when the owner is out, we left Carefree feeling good about taking the time to visit.

In addition to all of the galleries, Scottsdale is home to not one but two huge, 10-week-long art shows held in big tents this time of year: Celebration of Art and Scottsdale Art Expo. Since both are a few miles apart and on the road back to our hotel in Mesa, we made a point to check them out. More than 100 artists are set up at each of the shows. Most not only display their art, which is for sale of course, but also demo and work in their temporary studio space. It was both inspiring and somewhat overwhelming to tour these two mega shows. It never ceases to amaze me at how much really good art there is in the world.

While at one of these shows, I got a call from Magda. The owner was, indeed, interested in talking with me about my wildflower art. We made an appointment to return to Carefree a few days later.

Awesome view of Superstition Mountains along Apache Trail.
As we headed into the weekend, we decided to take a break from the gallery visits and get out into nature. I read up some on Superstition Mountains and the Apache Trail that cuts over and through the mountain range. We headed due east and spent the day driving through the mountains, stopping to enjoy and photograph the awesome vistas along the way. Once on the other side of the mountain range, we turned south on AZ 188, ending up in Globe for a bite of supper before heading back to Mesa on US 60. We were losing light as we drove through even more mountain scenery and both David and I decided that we would need to visit this area again someday.

Church in downtown Phoenix.


Sunday morning we headed into downtown Phoenix to enjoy the heart of the city at it best, when most of the offices and businesses are closed. This has become somewhat of a ritual with us when we are in or near a major metropolitan area. We like to walk the streets on a Sunday morning and find an old, historic church to visit, which we did. We then grabbed coffee at a local coffee shop, took a side trip though the downtown's arts district, and then headed out for our appointment in Carefree.

We met Holly, the owner and namesake of Wild Holly Gallery. By the end of the meeting we agreed to terms, Holly picked out paintings she wanted to start with and I told her I'd be packing and shipping the work once we were back home in Texas.

Holly and I pose for a photo in front of her wonderful gallery!
I'm proud that Wild Holly Gallery will be representing me and offering my wildflower art to collectors in the Carefree and Phoenix metro area! This is my first Arizona gallery and I could not be happier that it work out that way.

We were down to one full day before we would be flying home to Texas and decided to head south of Phoenix to look at a few more galleries. In doing some online research, I came across the town of Tubac, which is located south of Tucson. Like Jerome, Tubac is an artists' community and one that I had never heard of before this trip. But unlike Jerome and Carefree, Tubac isn't even on a map! If you are looking for it on your iPad or phone, follow US19 out of Tucson. Once you get a little south of Amado, zoom into your map and you'll see some streets along the freeway, due west of Tumacacori. That's Tubac you are looking at. While it's not easily identified on a map, people find it. An interesting little bit of trivia: One of the people involved in designing the golf course there in 1959 was Bing Crosby.

Wildflowers were already starting to bloom while we in Arizona.
We headed to Tubac Monday morning and were greeted with more inspiring desert scenery.  Another must-return place on our list now is Picacho Peak, where wildflowers are said to be spectacular. Once in Tubac, we grabbed lunch at a wonderful Italian restaurant (whose gourmet, wood-fired pizza rivaled that of the finest restaurants anywhere) and then began to stroll the many galleries and shops concentrated in about a four-to-six block area. These ranged from the highest end you could imagine, with works in the tens of thousands of dollars to small co-op galleries representing mostly local artists and artisans. I was able to pinpoint a couple of potential fits for my wildflower art and am in the process of following up with them. Even if I don't get into a gallery there, just the experience of finding and visiting this arts community was worth the drive. In talking with one of the local residents, we learned that out of the community's population of about 1700, some 400 were artists. Since she was an artist herself, she would know!

As the day was drawing to a close, we decided to hit last one gallery on my list from Tucson. We made it just before they closed and had a wonderful visit. However, we soon learned that this some gallery had a location in Scottsdale, which would be a conflict with our new Carefree gallery. We will visit other galleries in Tucson on a future trip to see what other connections we might make. As we left Tucson, we were treated to the most amazing sunset! What a perfect last day for what was an amazing trip!
Sunset near Tucson, AZ.

We've been home now for a few weeks and we're already planning our next trip to Arizona, hoping to make it back in time to see the wildflowers in bloom. Thank you for reading about this journey. Sharing these "reflections" of our trips, shows and gallery visits have become somewhat of a tradition. If you scroll through my blog posts, you'll see past trips that I've written about. Enjoy!