Monday, June 22, 2015

Day 9: Land of Enchantment and Objects in Space

Today's Distance: over 574 miles (going by Google Maps, since I can never remember to check the odometer)
Total Distance: over 3000 miles
Today's Destinations: Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM; Roswell, NM

Greetings from Roswell!  We had a really long day of driving today so we got into town too late to see anything but a few aliens. (You know, on fences and in front of businesses.)  Tomorrow we want to hit the museum before venturing into Texas and our next destination, the Alamo.

New Mexico looks pretty much like Arizona, although as you go east it gets more yellow and spotty.

 We got an early start and started listening to an audiobook we rented from Cracker Barrel: a British thriller called Girl on a Train.  We got through the first disc, but partway into the second, there was no audio (the CD was still playing, according to my CD player . . . just no noise).  We fiddled with it for some time before abandoning the book altogether.  Justin found the synopsis online and read it to me, and I felt like maybe we dodged a bullet.  Let's just say, the plot is not Agatha Christie - which isn't a problem, unless you read a lot of Agatha Christie (which we do).  On the plus side, I will say that it's well written for a debut novel, and that as much as I generally loathe the use of present tense in prose, it works in this particular book because of the way the narrative is structured and, I think, because of the personality of the protagonist.  I dunno.  Give it a try and tell me what you think.

So after that, we started reading aloud to each other again - this time, Terry Pratchett's Going Postal.  We've seen the movie (loved it) but each of us has only read one Pratchett novel (well, I've read one; Justin's read a book he coauthored with Neil Gaiman) so we decided to give it a go.  We're now 150 pages in and loving it.  Sharp, dry humor characteristic of Pratchett (Douglass Adams or even James Barrie are similar in this respect, if you're not familiar), and the story is engaging and fun even when  you already know the story, as we more or less do from the movie.

Nevertheless, we both got pretty sleepy during parts of the day - partly because the Super 8 we stayed at last night, although great in most respects, had very hard beds (wonderful pillows though).  I think another reason for our lassitude [vocab word] was the monotony of the drive.  It was a long 300 miles from Flagstaff to Santa Fe, and during that time the ground all looked pretty much the same.

When we reached Santa Fe and got a look at the New Mexico licence plate up close, we noted that the state slogan is "land of enchantment."  I remarked that this may be a reference to the dullness of the drive putting us into a hypnotic state, but this may not be what they meant by it.

Santa Fe is a city wholly committed to embracing its roots.  Most of the buildings downtown are built in the adobe style - even ethnic restaurants.

I knew in advance that, since Arizona wisely does not use Daylight Savings Time, we would be jumping forward an hour when we reached New Mexico.  However, this thought escaped both of us today, until we reached the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum at approximately 4:20 thinking it was 3:20.  The museum closes at 5, leaving us a very little time to see as much as we could.  Fortunately, the people at the admission counter charge only half price when you get there late ($6 instead of the usual $12 - which is still cheaper than the Steinbeck museum), and since their computers weren't working properly, they ended up deciding to charge us the rate of one New Mexico resident ($8 for the both of us).  We thanked them, rushed to the end of the museum, and made our way forward.

The end part of the museum right now is all photographs, mostly taken of Georgia and mostly done by her husband.  If we hadn't been in a hurry I'd have taken more time with them, but I wanted to get to the paintings.  I've only recently become an O'Keeffe fan, when my mom and I took a painting class at the MAC and did a study, of sorts, of her giant red poppy (which, by the way, was not at this museum, as it is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Georgia O'Keeffe is known mostly for painting flowers and bones, although she did many other things as well.  I like that she painted flowers and bones, and that she often painted them together, as they're things that don't seem to go together unless you really think about it.  She also liked painting small things (like flowers) on a really big scale, to examine them up close.

I love her flower paintings

one of my all-time favorites

One of my favorite paintings in the museum actually was of a part of a pelvis.  If you don't know what it is, it looks like a blue circle surrounded by curves of white, and the whole composition is a harmonious blend of shape and color.  Then you find out it's a pelvic bone, and you think it's weird.  But why does it have to be weird?  Pelvic bones are functional, in that they support a lot of important parts of the body.  But the form of the bones themselves is also beautiful, a fact I'd never considered until I looked at that painting.  Reflecting on this now, I'm reminded of the cancelled-too-soon TV show Firefly by Joss Whedon.  In the episode "Objects in Space," he attempted to demonstrate this very principle of existentialism by drawing attention to objects and exploring their existence as objects in and of themselves, divorced from their meaning (e.g. a ball is a toy you bounce, but it's also just a round object).  We often don't appreciate, as a character in the show said, "the substance of things.  Objects in space."  Art sometimes exists to remind us to see things, not just for what they can do, but for what they are in a completely different sense.

another pelvis, though I like the white and blue one better

Like I said, we had to move through the museum quickly, so I didn't get much time to reflect on what I saw.  O'Keeffe was more versatile as an artist than I had known before.  I knew her, as I said, for her paintings of flowers and skulls, and also her landscapes.  I didn't know that she also did some abstract art - abstractions of physical objects but also purely abstract art, art that doesn't represent anything in particular.  I also had no idea she sculpted.

these make me think of music - like violin scrolls and bass clefts

After leaving the museum, we continued on to Roswell, which was a late addition to our itinerary (partly added to break up the drive between Santa Fe and San Antonio).  The ground got a little greener, but also flatter, so it was a relief to finally make it to this little tourist trap.

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