Sunday, August 31, 2008

Southwest Ramblings: Thoughts on Making and Living Art

The Joy of Sunday Drives

My husband and I have always taken Sunday drives, even if it isn't always Sunday. Back east we had our favorite routes, green byways around the bays of Lake Champlain. Here the desert Sunday drives are different: no water, no back roads (that aren't four-wheel or covered in water from monsoon rains. Yet we have a few routes that have become our regular haunts: Tucson to second exit at Benson, down through St. David along the San Pedro River (with actual water in it), through Tombstone and angled off to Bisbee. The road back can go through historic Fort Huachuca to Sonoita through mountainous ranges back to the Interstate and home to Tucson. Bisbee is a treat - the early capital of the Arizona territory.

The terrain changes as you leave the desert valley and head through a tunnel into the mountain range that contains Bisbee - and "contain" is the word. Bisbee hugs the mountain sides, surrounded by remains of old and working mines. We decided to explore some of the side roads - and found ourselves headed UP, on a one-way very narrow road, with stairs UP to homes perched precariously on hillsides. The road is one-way, so we knew we couldn't go back down that way....until at the top, at the end, there was a left turn looked to be straight down! But it was the only way down - through rushing water from the night's rains, past blooming gardens tucked into a TINY patch of grass before stairs leading to another home.
Incredibly quaint!

But that is Bisbee, and other re-invented mining and ghost towns of Arizona. We headed to lunch at the Copper Queen Hotel, kept much the same as it was in its mining heyday, complete with its own ghost. Lunch on the porch, watching cars hug the curbs, joggers puffing along the edges of the roads, and the greenery sprouting through the original old brick of the patio floor. Bisbee has reinvented itself as an artists' mecca - lots of little galleries, closed until the fall business picks up, antique stores, southwestern tourista stores, fudge, the One-Book Bookstore, and quaint eating places. Take the mine tour, or visit the Historical Museum, one of the best small museums I have ever been to, with its partnership with the Smithsonian. Check out their site for a trip into the past.

Linda Moran is a fiber artist working with hand-created marbled fabrics. This centuries-old art form originally limited to paper takes on new life when used on fabric. Join her for musings on the fiber field, art in the Southwest, and the challenges of creating fiber art. See her work and contact her at The Art of Fabric, or reading her musings on her blog.

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