I've been trying to write about the old adobe church ruin for quite a while, but for some reason, just couldn't sit down and do it. Even these sentences are coming slowly, but every once in a while, you're given a sign that provokes action.
We were thumbing through old National Geographics before giving them away, just to see if there was something to save (that's another several blog postings to come). We put one aside to look at later, because it was from 1990 with Quaddafi on the cover, illustrating an article on Libya coming out of isolation. I barely looked at it, and then, just a couple of weeks ago, discovered the very last article in the issue was about this favorite place of mine.
Pecos National Monument, 25 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The article was about the ancestors of the now extinct pueblo--who now live at the Jemez Pueblo 100 miles west--gathering the remains of 2,067 of their ancestors from a Harvard museum and reburying them in their own sacred ground.
I had just visited there Memorial Day and taken more photos, as I have done many times before, along with taking students there for photography and writing, wandering the ruins with family and friends and the spirits and presence of the very visible past.
I've watched over the years the continual improvements to the National Park Service Welcome Center and its unceasing efforts to preserve the earthen monument and rock walled pueblo ruins from further decay. You can see scaffolding in the photo at the top of the blog, taken Memorial Day, as workers continue their efforts.
The adobe church and pueblo are historic--even mentioned in Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. The skies and light of New Mexico continual change the color of the adobe---almost orange in the morning sun, muddy brown at midday, sometimes almost red in the evening.
I've tried to paint it many times, never to my satisfaction. I will try again.
|12 by 9, watercolor, 300 pound d'Arches paper|
To me the most captivating part of the ruin is that window...it's almost like it's an entrance into another world. More on that later with photographs. By the way, that is not the front of the church. It is a window into where the bells once hung near the rear of the church. The projection on the left is the former apse of the church. The huge structure faced West.
|5 by 7, watercolor 140 pound d'Arches paper|
Obviously I need to do more of this, because I sold a very large painting of Taos pueblo in the same style at the Paseo Arts Festival--my larges sale in a long time. But Pecos' influence was first.
I don't believe you can measure the power of such places.
|An earlier 11 by 14 photo of mine from one fall morning a few years ago. It hangs in my garage because I don't have a place for it.|