Monthly Archives: August 2011

THE TURQUOISE TRAIL


Danielle Levitt, a friend and photographer, joined me on a recent trip to New Mexico. Upon looking at the map we noticed the Turquoise Trail, an alternative back road to I -25, our route north to get through Santa Fe, up to Chimayo, our first stop on our weeklong blacktop journey through the southwest.

Along the Turquoise Trail we stopped in the town of Madrid, which has a couple craft shops and roadhouses. After shopping the local pottery and second hand sections, we went to get some food and came across half a dozen true grit types sharing a drink outside a restaurant. We chatted them up, took their picture, found out most of them were cowboys, one a painter whose work I’ve been really into since, and another said to be most photographed man in New Mexico – the guy with the big white moustache. I guess the guys get cast as extras a lot when movies are shot in the area.

We were set to meet Irvin Trujillo in Chimayo. Irvin is a weaver who has lived in Chimayo and woven textiles in the Chimayo style since his dad, also a master weaver, gave him a loom when he was 10. Their company is called Centinella Traditional Arts. They live out back from their workshop and studio and the sheep they sheer for wool are out back too, near the natural dye house. I went there to develop three patterns and color ways for weavings that will become the back panel on Levis denim trucker jackets.

Down the street from the Trujillo’s is an incredible old church called El Santuario de Chimayo that’s been around 200 years. People make pilgrimages there all to see the holy dirt, which sits in a hole we weren’t allowed to photograph. After having the church door shut in our face, we stood there for thirty minutes. The line built up and the women behind the door cried, disrobed and rubbed dirt all over themselves. When they were done we quickly filled the holy dirt containers we bought in the gift shop and got out of there.

Up the road we found another old church. There was no one around this one, but apparently there are pilgrimages to it as well. There was a guy working the yard there that came over and opened his store ( potter weavings, jewelry), which was more like a cluttered living room with lots of greats pottery, silver and turquoise jewelry and kachina dolls — exactly my kind of place. We bought a few things, including a great hand shaped ceramic bowl with lots of imperfections and and what looked like gold flakes mixed into the clay.

We got on the road again and, on our way to Window Rock Arizona, we stopped in Gallup New Mexico, and did more jewelry shopping at one of the many trading posts there. We posted up at Hotel El Rancho, an establishment so lit up you can see it from the highway. It was built in the 30′s for all the movie stars going out there to shoot westerns. The charm and character are still there and the lobby and bar were completely stuck in time. Unfortunately the rooms are stuck in time too, and not in the best possible way.

Once in Window Rock we met up with a Navajo rug weaver who forages plants and natural materials to dye her wools.   She took us out to a large expansive field where we collected a lot of sage, ground lichen and other plants. We took it back to her house and spent the afternoon with her and her family cooking it up, dying a limited run of vintage t shirts and filming the process.

Read the Huffington Post version.

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MOZAMBIQUE

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BOAT NIGHT


On the edge of SF’s Aquatic park lies the Dolphin Club, my local 134 year old gym/swimming/rowing/dinner club and oasis from the madness that is Fishermen’s Wharf. More recently my favorite place to spend a Tuesday night. It’s then when John Beilinski hosts boat night, a 3 hour spell of story telling and dinner that’s done while sanding, scraping, splicing, hammering and varnishing… you know, generally maintaining the clubs huge wooden boat fleet. You don’t need to be a member to come by, just bring a good stories and a bottle of wine… Starts at 6.

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HAPPY TRAILS

Last May, Jim Goldberg and the Magnum Photo Crew hit the road from San Antonio to Oakland to explore the southwest and document their experience (the first trip of a few I hope and imagine). Along the way they made post cards of what they saw and me being the guy that wished he could have come along, had to get a piece of the experience and signed up to get 5 delivered ( I also signed up for the book which isn’t out yet but I’ll post a follow up when it is). Here are the 5 post cards, front and back, from Paolo Pellegrin, Mikhael Subotzky, Alec Soth, Jim Goldberg and Susan Meiselas respectively. Happy Trails and keep it in the road…

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