Mesilla

MESILLA | ABOUT | WATER | ORCHARDS | REFLECTIONS | SHADOWS

Summer Orchard 3_med

I lived my childhood and youth in the desert, playing on the rocks and in the arroyos of the Franklin Mountains in El Paso Texas. Forty miles away was a magical world of pecan orchards and cotton fields, and a town where Billy The Kid spent the night in jail. It was a place to fulfill my longing for water, vegetation, and cooling shade; a place with fertile ground for a boy’s imagination. This place is the Mesilla Valley and the old town of La Mesilla.

Life in the Mesilla Valley, along the Rio Grande, is paced by the flows of The River. Scheduled seasonal releases from up-river dams fill the canals with precious water that feeds the orchards and farmland that provide sustenance and livelihood for the people of the Valley. The River is the lifeblood of the Mesilla Valley, and for the past 100 years its flow has been controlled by human regulation providing a regular rhythm to the human activity that depends on its precious resource, exchanging: erratic flooding for dependable irrigation, the deposits of rich fertile earth for soil salinization, and the unpredictable forces of nature for the partisanship of water politics.

The historic center of the Mesilla Valley is the town of La Mesilla. The town plaza provides a public space for festivals, social and civic engagement. and commerce. The church of San Albino acts as the spiritual center for a historically Catholic populace. For over 150 years, and to the present day, this town of adobe courtyard houses has been the focus of community life for the valley.

The artwork in this opus explores the human rhythms and constructions of the Mesilla Valley landscape: the rhythms of the agricultural fields and pecan orchards; the constructions of the irrigation canals, and the town.  The work is organized into four groupings: WATER, ORCHARDS, WINDOWPANE, SHADOWS

WATER includes work that shares a basis in photographic imagery on the surface of water in the irrigation canal that runs alongside Snow Road, carrying Rio Grande river water, from Mesilla Dam to the southeast, to irrigate the orchards and fields, near the town of Mesquite. The surface of the water reflects the human infrastructure of the canal, and the human activity that depends on the canal's precious resource.

ORCHARDS is a series of polyptychs that explore the rhythm of the agricultural forest. The Mesilla Valley is one of the largest pecan-growing regions of the world and the orchards dominate the foreground of the landscape. The imagery relies on the reflectivity of the surface of irrigation water and on the play of light and shadow in the branches of the trees.

The WINDOWPANE photographs tell stories about the community life of La Mesilla. These stories live in juxtaposition and dichotomy, and are told through the prismatic reflections on the surface of glass: inside - outside, public - private, intimate - formal, sacred - profane. These photographs are, artistically, closely related to the Windowpane San Francisco project.

SHADOWS suggest stories of La Mesilla.  These images capture the play of the sharp desert light on the surfaces of the town; context is highly reduced; perception is augmented by imagination.  The power of these images are in what they project into the mind.