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Horseman's Grill

The famous Horseman's Grill in Capitan, NM

I’m painting to the light of a
brand new tune
with  resolution as the brightest
New Mexican moon.
With dancing that inspires
the fire continues growing higher
as the flames turn into a hand of light
a prosperous tree of life
and a celebration that lasts till
the early dawn of a fading night.
-Josh Lance

 

I just got back from Capitan, NM from the bus mural project that took 3 days to complete.  I wasn’t sure how small the town was, when I got there, I was expecting a downtown, but it was smaller than that.  On a main street, there were a few art galleries, the Horseman’s Grill, Smokey the Bear Park, a post office, and a few homes.  But the surrounding area full of the National forest was amazing.  People come here to live in nature, far from civilization, and that suits them fine.  Meanwhile, back to the Horseman’s Grill, a restaurant full of eclectic works of art that had a country/modern/retro theme going was very cool, neatly maintained and warm hospitality run by a married couple named Linda and Kurt.  It’s also a motel but with highly rustic rooms and handbuilt furniture that give it heart and soul.  I had what felt like the wing of a house, two rooms with a bunkbed, a flatscreen wall TV, and a lobby room.  I was also limited to my internet access, which explains why I haven’t blogged in a few days, so hope this one makes up for lost time!

 

My muse, friend and temporary roomate

My muse, friend and temporary roomate

I soon met up with the other 5 artists there, all artists including sculptors, painters and a puppet-maker, along with another videographer who played a very important role in my mural.  Regina, an Apache Indian who lives in the Capitan area with her 10 year old son, Acoose were very sweet people.  I invited them to stay in my “wing” and they accepted, Acoose got the bottom bunk and Regina got her own room.  With her ceremonial outfit, she was so beautiful and inspired me to use her as the main subject in my mural.

The gesso covered bus

The gesso covered bus

 The whole mini-bus was gessoed when I arrived.  I chose the side of the bus, nearly an entire side, so I had lots of space to fill.  I started with the sunset background, with Jackson Pollack type splotches uses intentionally for energy and texture.  At one point during the second day of painting, the main figure in my mural wasn’t looking right.  I looked more like Santa Claus and I was becoming nervous and upset.  Mainly because I don’t paint in acrylic paint often and was thinking like an oil painter.  I spent more time on the figure and carefully constructed the face, using my fingers to blend in the paint, because acrylic paint dries quickly and I needed that blending effect that I’m used to seeing.  So most of the second day was dedicated to this figure, and I received positive feedback from my artist peers and Linda.  Throughout it all, there was a minor incident, where I accidently spilled the blue can of paint and half of it on the ground, I looked and felt disgusted.  During the entire painting process, video taping was taken place, and one of the organizers of the project, who seemed a bit bored and wanted more excitement in the video, was thrilled to see what occurred, and was egging me on to create more drama.  

About halfway done, 2nd day

About halfway done, 2nd day

I stepped in the paint with my sneaker and kicked paint like a kung-fu master which landed on her.  I might have been filmed from that, but I didn’t feel good that I was being exploited for film sake.  But it was soon put to rest and needed the third day to complete this mural.  I added the fire and dancers at the end to fill the space more, at Linda’s request.  It proved very helpful.  I even painted a landscape of the area on the lower left part of the bus, so it’s like a painting within a painting.  And finally, I painted the moon phases above the windows, and the ceremonial fire which lifted high to the moon completed the deal, my mural was finally done.  

But I can’t leave this experience without giving thanks for all the love and support without my fellow artistic comrades who made this a pleasurable, rewarding experience in my life.  Friendships were created like the murals.  We shared laughter thanks to a mannaquin named Missy.  She was quite a doll.  We all went on a joyride in the newly painted bus that night in the area and acted like a bunch of schoolchildren.  I’m not sure if this mural changed my life, but it sure expanded my skills, perception of life, and added some new dimension.  

Finally done, let the ceremony begin. Funny, I titled it "The Enchanted Ceremony"

Finally done, let the ceremony begin. Funny, I titled it "The Enchanted Ceremony"

Video and a book will come out for self-promotion.  I plan to keep in contact with my new friends.  I’m going to see if I can do more murals and teach art workshops.  I gave this project my 110% and left it all in Capitan.