Not Just Another Roadside Attraction

With apologies to Tom Robbins, this book was based on a trip that I took through Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico in 2011. The seeds for this book were printed a couple of summers before, when I visited two sites in particular that I found particularly inspiring. One was Ghost Ranch, in Abiquiu, NM. Ghost Ranch is famous for a variety of reasons, including a connection to Georgia O’Keeffe. But it was particularly inspiring to me because what was once a dude ranch has now been transformed into a place that benefits the surrounding community (and arguably a global one) in a meaningful way. The same is true of the Southwest School of Art in San Anonio, TX (featured above). Once a convent, and then an academy for nuns in training, it was saved from destruction by a truly inspiring group of women who had a vision of creating a school for artists.

The Jingu Tea Garden, also in San Antonio, was the place that sparked the idea for this book. I first went in 2007, and learned the haunting, yet remarkable story of how this abandoned rock quarry was transformed into a Japanese Tea Garden in the 1940s. You can read more about the history here, but suffice it to say that I was struck by the history and the power of this place, and what it says about our human nature. And so I started a project, funded by kickstarter, and raised enough funds to go back to Texas an dNew Mexico, and seek out more places that preserved significant historical structures in a way that benefited the surrounding community. I found that there were a lot more places than I expected: my travels took me to Roswell, Los Alamos, and Santa Fe–through national parks, famous landmarks, and hidden patches of desert.

From the Introduction: “In the summer of 2011, I traveled to historical sites in the southwest that inspired me because of the way they had been revived. The history and integrity of the buildings had been preserved in a way that now benefits the surrounding community. Often it seems that historical and cultural landmarks are preserved in a way that makes them more like museums – they become shells of the buildings they once were, and stand silent as tombs. But some of the sites I found on this tip have been resurrected – they maintain their histories while acting as a relevant and vibrant part of the community. I was moved by this transformation, and the people behind it. This book highlights eight locations that are a testament to the spirit of innovation and preservation.”

This book is 5.5″ x 6.5″, printed on Jerry French paper, bound in drumleaf fashion with a soft cover, 20 pages. It makes use of pressure prints based on drawings that I did on site and from photographs I took while traveling. My handwriting was reproduced using photopolymer plates. While most copies went to kickstarter contributors, there are a few set aside for sale, priced at $150.