Thursday, February 6, 2014

Small towns, USA

One of the best things about traveling the way I do is the serendipity of discovery. Towns whose names on the map are in tiny letters, names I've never heard before, can cause a couple-hour delay. I think I'll cruise through, maybe having to slow to 45, but so many of them trip me up and I find myself parked for an hour or more. Places like Montezuma and Americus, Georgia. Marathon, Marfa, Alpine, and van Horn, Texas. Tularosa and Carrizozo, New Mexico. These places are interesting

You may have noted that I like words that are fun to say, and when I first heard the name Carrizozo I was quite certain the speaker was mashing up the pronunciation, but no. 

The town was founded in 1899 by two brothers who developed the El Paso and Northeastern railroad, and gets its name from tall reed grasses called carrizo that used to grow in abundance. At some point the last zo was attached, pure poetry in my opinion because it changes the accent from the ri syllable to the second to last zo and the short alliteration is nice.

Carrizozo, according to a man I spoke with while wandering around with the camera, had a boom about ten years ago and he says it's been in decline since, but a little later I spoke with a woman who owns a gallery there. She's a transplant from about the same ten years ago, and loves the place and the artists it draws because of low rents and a level of anonymity. She said several artists sell in New York and because of their contracts with galleries there, are forbidden to sell elsewhere. A place like Carrizozo allows them to work in a quiet atmosphere.

I just like the architecture and the effort these small towns that have not yet given up make to breathe a spark of energy into their lives. Here we go:

Religious iconography will stop me in my tracks every time. Fourth World Imports, established 1976 with not one but two Ladies of Guadalupe.

This may have been the library at one time, but now what Carrizozo has is Little Free Libraries. Do you spot the irony of the spelling on the sign?

 It looks like an old saloon, the kind with the swinging doors.

No swinging doors, though, but you have to decide if you'll drink or eat. (Hint: look over the doors.)

The pure joy of fuchsia. Did you know the flower was named after the botanist Leonhard Fuchs? True story. How did the pronunciation go from Fyooks to Fyoosh?

I've seen painted public art objects, mostly portraying animate creatures, all over the place. Orcas, elk, cows, and party animals (donkeys and elephants) in DC; but also open books in Fairfax County, Virginia, and bombs (!) in Marfa, Texas. Carrizozo has half of the DC complement, and they're all over town.

A fairly nondescript building if not for the critters on the roof, and the fun bookstore name.

This sign goes back a ways when not only did you not have to dial the area code, but could skip five more numbers too.

There is something under the rust-colored paint on the facade but I can't quite get it.

This piece of art was in the courtyard with the donkeys, above, and I almost walked past without paying much attention until I saw the label at its foot.

 The Suspended Blade Bridge. I just liked it.

 There's no missing this place.

 Or this one. The red was electric, even under a cloudy sky.

I love Ben Franklins. They used to have the best crafts supplies.

 This building is an artists' studio.

 There's at least one snake and an eagle on this one. It's Art.

I got distracted by the antiques in the windows of this store and missed getting the sign on the front until I got back from White Sands and made a little detour. So glad I did.

It's a really nice font and the sign is still in great shape.

I have so many photos still sitting unprocessed but now that I'm parked again for a few months, I hope to get caught up. Eventually.

Thought of the day:

To find is the thing. (Pablo Picasso)