Feb 20, 2013

Photo Tribute to the Southwest

Albuquerque at Nightfall from 10,000 ft atop Sandia Peak

Scenery off Highway 10 in New Mexico

Santa Fe Kachina Statue

Santa Fe Sculpture Garden

Residential Street in Tucson

Tucson's Catalina Mountains

 Picacho Peak, Casa Grande, AZ

Gallery in Tubac, AZ

Church in Tubac, AZ

Old Adobe Building, Tubac

While I tour the American Southwest, Panama has just completed Carnaval celebrations and  Boquete is preparing for it's 3rd annual Jazz Festival, to start on Feb 28th, running through March 3rd.  Several excellent jazz and blues bands are slated to perform in Valle Escondido's amphitheater as well as in local restaurants.  Hoping to be back in Chiriqui the first week of March, following a brief sojourn in northern California.  Reports are that the rains have started early this season...

Feb 18, 2013

Tubac, AZ Artists---Last leg of the Journey back to CA

The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History

Spent an enjoyable Saturday afternoon in old town Albuquerque, at the city's  Museum of Art and History, with a very pleasant and accommodating local host.  We were fortunate enough to catch the exhibits during a time when a live musical trio was playing Spanish ballads depicting the colorful personalities and history of the area.  

The building, itself, is an impressive structure of contemporary design, that houses approximately 7000 works of art focusing on the southwest.  These include Native American jewelry, tapestries, miscellaneous folk art forms, ceramics, war memorabilia, and paintings.  

The above painting by Delmas Howe, entitled The Three Graces, is a prelude to a series the artist did called Rodeo Pantheon.  The artist proposed that the cowboy was the only authentically american equivalent to the Greek gods of antiquity because their hyper-masculinity had been elevated to a mythic level in the American mentality.  The above depiction of three middle-aged farmers or ranch hands allegedly also speaks to the issues of male bonding and gender expectations in our culture.  

San Felipe de Neri Catholic church.

Feb 15, 2013

New Mexico Museum of Art, and Santa Fe Galleries

John Hair's Mark Twain on park bench

The Streets of Santa Fe

Miracle Staircase

The Staircase in the  Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, NM, is a sightseeing imperative.  

History indicates that  in the autumn of 1852, the Sisters of Loretto left Kentucky to cross the Mississippi River and head southeast to Santa Fe---a small pueblo inhabited primarily by Native American Indians and Mexicans.    A few years after the Sisters' arrival,  Mexican carpenters constructed a school for them, which was named the Loretto Academy of Our Lady of the Light.  Then, 21 years later, these same carpenters began construction of a  gothic chapel that modeled the Sainte-Chapelle de Paris, as comissioned by Archbishop Lamy.  It's measurements were 25 feet by 75 feet by 85 feet in height, with a choir space in the back of the upper level. Construction was completed in 1878 at a cost of $30,000.   At the point of completion, the architect, P. Mouly, noted he had made a grave error of omission in his design.  There was no means to get from the ground level to the choir area on the upper level.  Many carpenters were called in to contemplate constructing a staircase, but all concluded there was no way of doing so.  The Sisters of Loretto were disappointed, but being of strong faith, decided not to make do anything drastic,  and instead prayed to St. Joseph with the expectation that a solution to the problem would manifest.

Legend has it that on the last day of the nine-day devotional dedicated to the issue, a white-haired man with a mule and box of tools arrived asking for the sister in charge of the convent.  He indicated he was sent to construct a staircase for the chapel.  One account states this was done very quickly, whereas another indicates it took 8-9 months to complete.  Nevertheless, it was completed, and the sisters who were present at the time of construction claim the man used only a saw, a hammer, and a framing square.   They also reported seeing buckets of water everywhere with pieces of wet wood inside.  When the time came for the sisters to pay the carpenter for his work, he couldn't be found.  Nor could any record of purchase for the building materials be located.

The staircase, apparently left as a gift to the sisters by the constructor, is circular.  It consists of 33 stairs formed in two complete spiral turns of 360 degrees each, without any central support.  The upper end of the stairwell is supported against the floor of the choir space, and the lower end is supported by the chapel floor.
Only dowels, and no nails, were used in the construction.  Experts from all over have been  to New Mexico to inspect the stairwell.  The conclusion was that the crossbeams in the curves were placed with extreme precision.  The wooden pieces overlap on the inside in 7 places and on the outside in 9 places. Each piece forms part of a perfect curve.  And besides this, the wood used in the construction is a very hard wood not of New Mexico origin.  

The sisters of the Loretto Academy are certain that the stairwell was a response from St. Joseph to their prayers.  Whether one wants to believe in miracles or not,  the staircase has stood the test of time and remains an architectural wonder that has endured 85 years of use.