Sunday, May 31, 2015

Space, the Final Frontier

Under development in the middle of the New Mexico desert is America's first commercial spaceport. Spaceport America has been under construction for several years and is designed to support commercial space tenants like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX.  It is currently home to Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo as well as SpaceX's Falcon 9R.  In the photo above you see Virgin Galactic's sleek and sinuous gateway to space building designed by Foster + Partners.  (You can see some spectacular photos of the building by clicking the link.)  The building was specifically designed to be sustainable and sensitive to it's surroundings, blending well into the landscape.

I learned over a year ago that tours of this amazing site were available and I immediately put it on my list of "must visit" places.  I took that opportunity on my recent trip to New Mexico.  Only problem is, now I want to go back.  This place will just start getting more and more exciting as development continues and more tenants move in.

Our tour group got a peek inside the Spaceport Operations Center, another building built to blend in with it's desert surroundings.

Our guide (on the right), explained how this building will be used and how both commercial space clients and media representatives could use the facility.

We got to meet the firemen on duty the day we were there.  John and Jack were happy to explain the state of the art fire fighting equipment they were trained to use.

After our tour of the operations center, the firemen escorted our tour group out on to the 12,000 foot "space way", the extra long runway that will one day see the take-offs and landings of the first commercial space flights.

From the runway, our fire department escorts followed us over the the Virgin Galactic building so we could see this incredible building from the runway side.  My only regret was that this impressive building wasn't open for tours yet.  Our guide did say that sometime late this year it would be ready to host visitors and will contain some exciting video and simulation media.  Obviously, I have to go back again.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Art in Santa Fe

Santa Fe New Mexico and it's surrounding area is the home to many, many artists making the city a hot bed of wonderful artworks and galleries.  Above is a photo of the courtyard of one gallery filled with sculptures that fit right into that southwestern decor.

You can of course find many beautiful Allan Houser sculptures like this one called "Singing Heart".

Inside the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, you can find a variety of wonderful works from pottery, to sculpture and paintings like this one to the right by Star Wallowing Bull called "Chief Cadillac"

Inside the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum you can see many of her wonderful paintings as well as a few by her contemporaries.  Here we see a young artist learning from the master.

Just walking along the street you can see beautiful sculptures outside of galleries.

This whimsical rabbit was outside the Sorrel Sky Gallery.

This family of burros was outside another gallery.

Even inside my hotel room was this wonderful painting by Dorothy Dunn called "The Studio School".

Up on Museum Hill this extra large sculpture by Craig Goseyun called "Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer" dominated the beautiful  courtyard of the museums.

Also in the courtyard of the museums that comprise Museum Hill was this wonderful statue by Estella Loretto called "Peaceful Warrior".

Art can be found everywhere you look in Santa Fe.  That's one of many things that makes this city so special.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Style of Santa Fe

There is something about that Santa Fe style that charms me and there is no better place to soak it up than at the very source, the city of Santa Fe New Mexico.  My recent trip to Santa Fe was specifically to meet two blogger friends, Randy of Santa Fe Daily Photo and Ciel of Versailles Daily Photo.  However, just visiting this lovely city tends to feed my soul.

The city has had a unified building style dating as far back as 1912 and in 1957 that style was written into a building ordinance.

All new construction has to fit into the defined style of Spanish Territorial or Pueblo style.  I admire the city for sticking with that plan.  It has given the city a look and feel all it's own.

In addition to its distinctive style, the city is also one of the foremost art centers in the country.  Santa Fe has been designated as a UNESCO Creative City.

The city and surrounding area is home to a staggering number of artists and writers who have gathered there over the years to be inspired by the natural beauty of the landscape and the creativity of its residents.

I love the southwest and all it has to offer but, Santa Fe stands apart as a very special place in this region of the country.  Art, culture and the unique characteristic of the place all mingle together to endow the place with an almost magical feel.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Art in the high desert

Last week I told you about the history and restoration of the La Posada Hotel in Winslow Arizona. Two of the hotel's owners are artists, Tina Mion and Dan Lutzick, and many of their works can be found throughout the hotel.

The second floor gallery features many of Tina's paintings including this 18-foot piece called "A New Year's Eve Party in Purgatory for Suicides."

Another painting depicts some collectable spoons of famous American women.  These famous women are more known for their darker sides like Lizzie Borden and Typhoid Mary but, Tina has painted herself on to the last spoon.

Also in this gallery are paintings from her "First Ladies" series.

To the left is Nancy Reagan with a twinkle of "Ron" in her eyes.

And to the right is Jackie Kennedy.

There were a few others in the collection too.

Among the paintings were several sculptures by Dan Lutzick.  His works have a very southwestern look to them are created from common materials and found objects.

In addition to what is on display in the hotel, Dan also has a gallery called Snowdrift Art Space and it contains a large collection of his work.

All of this art inside this historic hotel made the visit almost like staying inside an art gallery.  Every guest finds themselves surrounded by history and art and good food and hospitality.  What a great combination.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Lure of the Rails

In the sleepy little northern Arizona town of Winslow a historic hotel has been brought back to life to serve a whole new generation of travelers.  Their clients might not all be rail riders but, they are generally all lovers of historic places.  A recent road trip took me through Winslow so I decided to spend the night at this historic gem.

The story of the La Posada Hotel starts with Fred Harvey the man who is said to have civilized the west with his impeccable service at the hotels and restaurants of the Santa Fe Railway.  Construction of the La Posada (meaning resting place) began in the 1920's with Mary Colter as the architect designing the hotel.  Colter was a rarity at the time, being a female architect and working in rather rugged locations.  She began working for the Fred Harvey company in 1905 and through her career created some 21 projects for Fred Harvey.  La Posada was considered to be her masterpiece.

The hotel is located right next to the railroad tracks as you can see from the above photo.  The yard of the hotel ends at that fence and the trains are on the other side.

The hotel was open for 27 years closing in 1957.  In the 1960's much of the building was gutted and used as offices for the Santa Fe Railroad.  Several times over the years that followed the building came close to being demolished.

Through the efforts of some local people the building was saved and in 1994, a partnership was formed to restore the hotel and bring it back to life.  The new owners are Alain Afield and is wife Tina Mion and Daniel Lutzick.

None of the three partners had any hotel experience but they have accomplished what many might see as an impossible task.  They have transformed this shell of a building into an Arizona destination.

Just to give you a peek at one of the rooms, the above photo is a shot of my room.  I love the rustic, old west feel.

The note on the night table made me smile.  It says "Many of our guests are train enthusiasts. For those who are not, we are providing complimentary ear plugs."  The trains do rumble through here all day and all night but to be honest I slept very well and hardly noticed them and I didn't need the ear plugs at all.

As well as it's historic features, the hotel also has become an amazing art gallery.  More about that in another post.