Thursday, November 5, 2009

Art on the Road, A trip to the Grand Canyon

Art Never takes a Vacation...
but we did. My wife and I just came off a week long trip to the Grand Canyon. We visited such famous tourist traps as the Grand Canyon National Park, Flagstaff Arizona, Sendona Arizona, Gallup New Mexico, Albuquerque New Mexico and Santa Fe New Mexico. We also hit the tourist trap route 66 hotspot of Tucumcari New Mexico (well we drove through it, on route 66 of course). So what's so artsy-fartsy about a vacation that is probably on the top ten vacation destinations of most Americans, and many people from overseas? First off, if you've never seen the Grand Canyon, you have to. It is.... well, Grand. No works of man can touch the display that lays before you when you approach the rim of the Grand Canyon and look down.

However, if you want to see an attempt to capture the grandeur, then visit the Kolb Studio, which is right on the rim (literally, the studio/house goes three stories down into the Canyon).
Flagstaff Arizona
After two days of visiting, exploring, taking pictures and videos of and generally appreciating the canyon, we headed to Flagstaff. We checked into the boutique antique and generally interesting Monte Vista Hotel. Actually we stopped in the Coffehouse called Rendezvous to use their wifi to look for hotels, when we realized that the place we were in was a hotel. So after reading some reviews, we checked in. We stayed in the Jane Russell room. Each room is named after a famous celebrity that stayed in them. Since it was close to halloween, the thought of ghosts came to mind, and this hotel advertises that it has some. Before we checked out, I had to take our dog, Tima, down by room 210 to test out a statement made by one of the ghost story websites...
Supposedly, the hotel avoids putting guests with pets in this room because dogs go crazy with fear and tear up the room. 

eh? Nothing!
We walked around Flagstaff some and enjoyed what we saw. We ate breakfast at a very interesting delightful place, that also seemed to serve as an art gallery for one of the talented waitresses. The place is called MartAnne's. I'm not much into restaurant reviews on an art blog, but if I need an excuse to talk about the place, the food there IS art. It is also relatively inexpensive, delicious, filling and well worth the wait.
Sedona, Arizona
After touring route 66 in Flagstaff, it was time to brave the switchbacks to Sedona. Now, one thing that becomes apparent once you cross the Oklahoma/New Mexico border is that all the tourist trap art and souvenirs are pretty much everywhere and is the same. So, once you get past all the indian pottery, cacti plants and route 66 magnets/mugs/everything, then you can appreciate the beauty past the touristy areas. Such is the experience we had in Sedona, which wasn't a bad one, we just didn't get to spend too much time to get very deep. We walked around the strip and admired the red mountains/scenery around us and strolled the shops.
Gallup, New Mexico
After Sedona, we sprinted across the state of Arizona to Gallup, New Mexico. We didn't get to spend as much time there as I wanted to. We got to spend the night there in a nice historic motel, which was part of the hotel called el Rancho. It was also a place that brags about the many stars that stayed there, and has the autographed photos on the walls to prove it...
Again, this is not a hotel/motel review site, but there were many artistic aspects of this place that were to be appreciated. Even though the gift shop there shared attributes of gift shops all over the two states of Arizona/New Mexico, there was some art that was unique and made this gift shop seem more like a stroll through an art gallery.
I wanted to walk around route 66 there some and explore, and look at all the great googie. We were rushed for time, though, so I had to settle for a few quick photos...
and hidden behind the neon and incandescent bulbs was this mural on the side of the motel we stayed in...
Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico
So, showing poor form and bad manners, I sent a message via facebook to a friend/former co-worker I know who lives in Santa Fe. Instead of telling me where to go, he and his partner took myself, my wife and our dog into their home and showed us a lot of hospitality. We first met up with Mark in Albuquerque, where he works at one of the tv stations. We first stopped off at Downtown Java Joe's Coffee as was Marks recommendation, and it was a good one. Great coffee and some interesting quilt art on the walls, which I lamely neglected to photograph, but I did get a pic of the place....
We met up with our friend, and he gave us a tour of his work and showed us his regional emmy, (I'm so jealous). He took us afterward to the Albuquerque Press Club, which is an interesting historic place that we were given the priveledge to enjoy...
We followed Mark to his home in Santa Fe. We met up with his partner, and they took us to some great restaurants. Marks partner, Russell is an interesting person. When I first met him in Kansas City, he was a dancer with the Kansas City Ballet. He moved to Santa Fe to work for The National Dance Institute of New Mexico.   He is now the Executive Director.

The Way Home
We wanted to stay in Santa Fe longer, but we didn't have that much vacation time.  Other than a 14 hour almost straight trip home, the journey was uneventful.  We hit a stretch of road in eastern New Mexico where there were no cars for at least 50 miles....
We passed through Greensburg, Kansas, the town flattened by a tornado in 2007 which is now being rebuilt, and we stopped in Pratt to get a break, and to get a picture of the world famous Donald's Serva-teria googie sign....
Mountains and Oceans
So, why did I venture down this self-indulgent journey of boorish redundant douchebaggery? Well, for one thing, I have nothing else to write about/share for now. The other is that Kansas City doesn't have mountains or oceans to attract visitors, but we do have an art scene that even people we met in places like Santa Fe and Sedona have heard about. The check out person in the hotel in Flagstaff visited KC and knew about our great art community. So, while the Grand Canyon and Sedona and the whole southwest has spectacular scenery, our arts scene here is just as spectacular in many ways. We should not forget our tremendous musical heritage with the living jazz we have in this town. We need to capitalize on what we have without destroying it. That can be tricky.



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