Ridgway, Colorado
May 15
A sometimes artist and photographer, sometimes I write too.  


Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 9, 2011 8:49PM

Beaten with a hammer

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Spider Lilies, Lycoris radiata, in our back yard—volunteers that appear every year and last just a few days—a startling metaphor for lives cut short and all too brief.




I sat out on the back deck this morning. I was finally able to sit out on the deck for a few moments in this too slow to go dread Dallas summer delivered from the bowels of Hades.


We had rain last night that meant more than our cat Popper being pissed she was getting squishy mud between her delicate pink pads as she checked the peepholes in our fence for near trespassers. What it really meant was that many of the horde of firefighters across much of Texas could get a break from trying to put out the hell-spawned infernos that have been incinerating desiccated prairies, crops, trees, homes and people. It's been a hell of a year indeed.


no rain

Fuel for the fires—no rain and no money for irrigation water. West of Hondo, Texas on State Highway 90


It also meant I had a few quiet moments for thought. I'm haunted, still, by something recently seen. 


It's humid from the rain. I try to decide whether to switch off the AC in the house. I hear it click on as the outside compressor fan comes to life. I hate humidity too, as much as her evil twin the heat so I let it run knowing it won't stay on long. I see our neighbors roof above the top of our tall fence. Squirrels are having fun finally, chasing each other before they get down to business planting acorns and somehow imprinting the locations in their little memories. Maybe they can smell those fermented nuts months from now, or maybe it's like a photograph triangulating micro benchmarks for later retrieval. 


It's all beautiful for a change, and I'm still haunted.


What is it drives men to violence and hatred? It's more than big pickups and tiny dicks, though those are common enough indicators. Men have been on a killing spree from either Cain or some unnamed missing link—take your pick. I wish "someone else's turn" would really happen.


Three women, Ellen Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman, shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize. I read some of the celebratory comments in different online fora and a common thread spanned all the ones I saw—that maybe it's time for the women to be in charge of everything on the planet. Oh, to be sure, there will always be Margaret Thatchers, Phyllis Schlaflys and Sarah Palins aplenty. But for every one of those there will be a multitude more who are peaceful and progressive, sheltering and nurturing and true to the essence. I think the odds are in favor of a better job being done.








My friends Joe and Julie Delio were off on a short trip to see the Albuquerque Ballon Festival. On their way back they would take a long southern detour to stop at the Davis Mountains State Park to spend a couple of nights at the Civilian Conservation Corps 1930s-built Indian Lodge, so named for its imitative design of the Pueblo communities of the Southwest. I decided to drive down and join them in the interruption of their journey home.


Dawn at Davis Mountains State Park


and then she came


Indian Lodge just after dawn


Indian Lodge

A progression of dawn shots. It is an achingly beautiful place to spend some time. That Joe and Julie shared it made it all the more wonderful.


Beauty abounds in the spare, sere reaches of the west Texas high country. I love the big sky and big geology of it. What meager talents I have in the transcription of photography, I feel my best work is often done in open spaces such as found in the Big Bend area. 


(I say "meager" deliberately, without a need for any contradiction, knowing my place on the spectrum of ability + artistry and always seeing the beauty in what others produce. I'm rarely envious and usually take such beauty as instructive and illuminating which I think is a sustaining approach both to life and photography.)


Lonely road

I love lonely roads—there's never a worry in going slow or stopping to get out and think on the very nature of beauty. Highway 118 west of Fort Davis. A larger version is here.


Lonely roads are for bikes too.


And I returned, of course, to a favorite personal icon of beauty. It encompasses the paradox and dialectic of the beauty and profane for me. The artists of this non-commercial-functioning art installation intended (I think—I don't really know) for it to be a social commentary pitting two elements against each other: the things we need versus the things we want.


Midday at the Prada Marfa

It was a beautiful day, the clouds were amazing and a gift for composition. Larger version is here.


Prada Marfa

A larger version is here.


Of course I don't own the Prada Marfa store—its art or presence. It's a personal hajj for me to view it again and again because of my affection for it. I only claim the images I've made of it as my own, which are really only a veneer of its substance, and yet I'm happy to place myself inside the store for a moment, if only by reflection, and transform the space it occupies showing clouds within and without. (If you click on the image itself to take you to the Flickr hosting page, you'll see a comment left by my photographer son—a false contretemps comment as he knows what it means to me.) 


And yet we see that profane dialectic I referenced above in the following image. Whether it's mere vandalism or a contributive statement is for you to decide. I know what it means for me, and I know there are other ways as well.


Prada Marfa

I focused on the recent bullet embedded in the bullet-proof Lexan of the storefront—an attempt on my part in composing some semblance of beauty in spite of the efforts of others. I imagine the assault as a drive by shooting betraying some physical or emotional impotence. Again, I choose the words carefully—"assault" for what it portends in the rest of this story, though there is no real comparison.


Come sit a spell with me and grab a Nehi beverage from the cooler—before we get to the bad part of this story. We'll grab a seat near the barber shop and think and talk, maybe solve some minor problems and decide what we ought to do. I don't really think either of us will have any answer to what we're about to see though, but it might help to take our time getting there.


Have a drink


come sit a spell


I returned to this beautiful sparsely populated corner of Texas even though I had recently visited. I don't mind that it takes 11 or 12 hours or more to get there in my choice of how I travel—staying off the Interstates and opting instead for the beauty of blue highways. I'm not really sure how long it takes to get from Dallas to Big Bend, I've never kept track. It's a long drive. Except for the freeways of Los Angeles, and not counting Alaska, Texas is the only state where you can drive for more than 15 hours and still be in the same state. One benefit of these long photo road trips is the modern hermitagea solo driver encased in metal and glass—contemplating the fittingness once again of the song Hejira at about 85 decibels and 58 miles an hour and no one caring or even hearing when I miss the high notes. Joni Mitchell's 1976 album is still beautiful and apt today moving forward to me and backward in time to Muhammad's hijira from Mecca to Medina in the 7th century. I don't know how this song gets so outside of time. 


However, it was another of her songs that turned out to be prescient for me on this trip. Her Magdalene Laundries has often struck me hard over the years. It's not just that my connections to Ireland are so recent, my parents immigrating from that beautiful and troubled island, the song speaks of the corruption of power that one gender holds, one that was evident in ways in our own family. Here it is again, with the addition of her explaining before the song what it was that inspired it.



I think it's amazing, unconscionable, that the last Magdelene laundry only closed in 1996.











Joe wanted to stop by the Marfa Lights Viewing Center on the off chance that some aliens might happen by. We stopped in Marfa for an unremarkable dinner and headed out in the gathering darkness to the viewing center east on Highway 90. As expected, we didn't see anything that couldn't be terrestrially explained, but at least we could say we were there just in case. There were quite a few people gathered and a couple of them were cowboys. 


Cowboy and Marfa Lights

It's a bit dark, I know, but this is shot with my Nikon D3S at ISO 16,000 (normal ISO is usually in the range of 100-200). I couldn't see the cowboy with my naked eyes and had to manually focus since the cam doesn't have a light assist focus. It's a bit grainy, but hell—ISO 16,000? Also, it was shot at 1/13 sec at f/1.4 handheld—so, not too bad.


It was blowing hard and cold at the viewing area, so we decided to pack it in and cap the evening off by counterbalancing the blasé dinner with a trip to the local Dairy Queen on the other side of Marfa for dessert.


We drove by the haunting place, Julie was the first to see it, but we were eager for ice cream so we vowed to come back and look at what caught our attention.








In what looked like an old fashioned service station, but was now according to the signs the Big Bend Coffee Roaster, we saw an enigma. It might just have been a simple art installation and it took a little while to figure out the horror stories it represented.


Random bits of white things floating in an otherwise empty and lit place.




The shapes of the suspended forms, hung by a single red thread, were beginning to make sense.


Red hand-written script on anatomical shaped plaster hearts.


In the larger version, here, you see this inscription: Carmen Patricia Ramirez Sanchez 34, 2005, Shot To Death



Every heart, every heart suspended by a single red thread, represents the death or trauma of a woman from domestic violence. Every heart had the words written out: the name, age, date and method of death or damage. 


What we saw was an installation by Marfa artist Bettina Landgrebe. 


The following is from Bettina's website, and describes the installation in much better and starker terms than I could ever present.


A constellation of objects suspended in mid-air creates an impression of a gathering cloud. Approaching the work more closely, what appears as a cloud dissolves into individual human hearts; a common denominator of our humanity: a symbol of love, hope, and life. On further inspection, each heart is inscribed with answers to the following questions: Name, Age, Date and Method of Death.


While reading/listening to the systemic tone of a female voice reciting the fate of these human hearts, a terrifying emotion shutters through the room.


The body of these hearts is absent. The corporal silhouette that housed these vital organs is invisible; this body, we find out, was prematurely and unnaturally taken from these hearts.


But it is not only the body that was violated. The body of their relationships with their family, their community, and their culture was also disrupted. These hearts belonged to females of varying ages and backgrounds: to a girl, a daughter, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a wife, a cousin, a niece, a godmother, a friend, a lover. 


However, we must remember that the death of these women will not be primarily remembered by the heinous transgressions that took their life. The life of these females goes well beyond this exhibition. They were and remain richer and more colorful than this installation or anyone could ever try to capture. But what this exhibition strives to do is to cast a stark and unflinching eye at a common red thread that is shared by these human hearts; that is, collected in this room, a system of violence emerges. 


A war is being waged on the culture of women and civil society along the border city of Juarez, Mexico. 476 hearts are testimony to this war. A war that is waged against empathy, civility, love, hope, family, community, and towards the “softer”, fragile side of life, which the war of terror and totalitarian domination views as a threat to the complete command and control of society.


It is not a war contained amongst warriors, but it is a war that devours life and replaces it with human greed and the vanity of power. The physical and psychological warfare perpetrated against women is a testament to this naked disregard for life after war. There will be no life.


copyright 2011 Bettina Landgrebe, used with permission.



The installation runs through November 19.








The name of the installation, Beaten with a Hammer, is from one of the hearts, one of the invisible silhouettes—Tomasa Chavarria Rangel, aged 54—and the method used in her murder in 2005.


I can't really do this justice, but I can bring it to you and let you think about it. Maybe it will haunt you too.




Update: I want to personally thank Bettina Landgrebe, with whom I've corresponded via email, for her kind permission to allow me to use the text from her website. It's my hope that bringing some attention to the installation will also bring attention to the horrific plight of the victims—that with more attention that there will be changes. I know what I've done here is just a small measure of what needs to happen. I hope also, that with this blog and with others writing about Bettina's art in all it's terrible beauty, that the installation will find a home at other venues across the Southwest. It just takes a spark for that to happen. If I helped in that spark, then I'm gratified to have that small part. 


You can also hear Bettina with host Tom Michael of Marfa Public Radio 93.5 talk about the installation at this link. It's an enormously interesting interview.  







all photos copyright © 2011 by barry b. doyle · all rights reserved






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Oh lord.

There I was, grooving on the landscape shots (3rd sunrise particularly), and then the surrealistic Prada place and the Marfa viewing place (hey, what are those lights in the sky?), and then I got to the end and it's like a blow to the gut.

I don't know if the world would be better if women ran things, but there would probably be a lot fewer domestic murders or whatever's going on at Juarez (or the long lists of women murdered by psychos, as with our own [Canadian] pig farmer and whoever's behind the Highway of Tears in B.C. ...and all the other prostitutes murdered for entertainment...)
Great read Barry - a wide range of subject merged and blended in one with great detail. Loved this piece Barry! As always the photography is candy to the eyes...
Myriad, thank you for getting through it to the end. Honestly, I struggled with it on how to present such beauty with such horror, but isn't that sometimes how things seem to be...I was truly delighted to be there, and then that installation is as you describe, a blow to the gut.

I don't know either if it would be better, but it's past time to at least start to go there. Thank you for your thoughts, that cut to the quick.
Jim, thanks to you too. You have always been such a supportive, gracious and loyal friend--I'll always be in your debt.
I have seen spider lilies and for the short time they live, they give the most delicate, gentle beauty. For the short time they live ... most delicate ... most gentle ... for the short time ... they ... live. Harrowing truths ... haunting ... truth ... too close to home ... truth. Spider lilies ... for the short time they ... live ...
Ghastly beauty. Savage metaphor. I remember every blow of my father's fist . . . . .
The title grabbed me... "Beaten with a hammer" ... I couldn't make sense of it. The beauty of your photos, the eloquence of your words, and then I would flash back to the title.
Beaten with a hammer. Still struggling to make some sense of it. Then I saw the floating bits of white. My gut clenched. The power of that display is beyond words. Haunting. Yes, that's a good word. Haunting.
Excellent post, Barry. One I will long remember.
Where to start? There is so much here; landscape, art, music all connecting threads culminating in plaster forms on the end of red threads. Not for the light-hearted. Beyond the haunting, one inescapable by-product of reading this however is the emphatic opening of the heart.
I am having trouble posting a comment!

You know how much I love your photo essays, and this is no exception, i do love it.

And then, the hammer exhibit, yes, exceptionally horrific, mind-blowing, gut-grabbing. I can just feel your own horror as each step closer brought home its message. Thank you for sharing your art, your heart, and your mind. Bless you.
What a haunting installation! That puts a new spin on the abortion bumper sticker: "... stills a beating heart."

We returned from Jackson Hole yesterday, driving in snow every inch of the way. As the saying goes, fall has fell.
Barry ~ there is enough thought provoking information and amazing photos to fill several posts! The Marfa Prada installation is still looking quite pristine and troublemakers shooting at it apparently goes with the territory. The exhibit featuring so many female violent deaths is such a moving body of work that I hope it is shown around the nation. Thanks for another beautiful and informative post!
This post takes my breath away--from the startling beauty of the dawn photos, to the mysterious little Prada store, and finally to the devastating installation that will stay with me for a long while. Thank you for sharing your astounding talent and insight.
Oh my. I couldn't figure out what you held in store for us as I viewed the achingly beautiful photos, but there it was at the end: an ache that wasn't so beautiful. Thank you for bringing attention to this horrific problem in such an amazing way.
Gentle readers, thank you so much for coming by and working your way through this post. For some, it brings physical pain and memories. I'm sorry for that pain and what caused it. I have no wish to add to that pain and I'm sorry if that's so.

For others, it might just add some small measure of momentum, if not now, then something that can be called up and added to a collective memory of what ought to be...the path and road that might lead to decisions that will be good, whether by change or affirmation of what's already there.

Anna, your words are hard to read, too many things between the lines. I hope it's better for all now.

imnrg, no child should ever have that, ever. thanks for your courage in saying it.

Kate, thank you for coming by in what must be your wee hours. One can only hope for what you suggest.

Kim, oh, your words are very kind and filled with love and understanding in spite of the story here. Thanks for your heart.

Scarlett, thank you, I appreciate your words on the woven thread, and yes, there must be hope.

Diana, thank you. I had in mind at times your changing gender post, how brave you were to write it in spite of the cost. That you can take in the beauty and horror of this one means a lot to me dear friend.

HL, we still have our eyes on the prize of getting to Ridgway at some point...still a couple of years off I fear, but it will be a good place to shed the years to come. Thanks for your thoughts.

catch, always a nice thing for you to come by, and yes, I agree.

John, thanks for your kind words. I hope it goes around as well. You never know, the more people write about it there may be a seed planted.

Karin, always an honor for you to stop by. Thanks for the encouraging words in spite of the content.
I had no idea where you were taking us, but when we arrived, we too were beaten with that hammer. Powerful writing, powerful images, and powerful art. Beautiful and hearwrenching post.
Lisa, dear friend, thank you for stopping by and for your words.

Steve, your words, as those from others here, stir some mixed emotions in me--beauty and the horror. As my friend Julie says, who was with me when we viewed it, "I'm still processing what I saw." Thanks friend.
It was a good choice to have the landgrebe installation follow the earlier bits of the trip, the drive, right after the dairy queen, the way it occurred in life, on the trip with Julie and joe. Into the ordinariness of desiccated corn crops and cowboys looking for UFOs and vandals in marfa with guns quietly falls the horror of all those dead women, killed by violent men who, I'm sure, once professed to love them. I'm struggling these days with randomness and pain and death and disconnectedness. Time will tell if knowing this, seeing this, adds to my confusion or brings some clarity. For now, I'm going back to those beautiful dawn shots, and I'm going to look at them until I can imagine I was there, seeing that with my own eyes. Thank you, friend.
First of all, your photos are gorgeous, as usual, and I love the cowboy at the viewing spot. And the slow way that you lead us through your thought processes, and it was a gentle path to a horrific end.

I have thought similarly that women should be running the world, but Palin/Bachman/Coulter have convinced me that gender is no guarantee of intelligence or restraint. In point of fact, since I was raped at gunpoint at 20, I have nurtured an anger that will end in violence if anyone tries that again. My plan is to take him down with me. I had heard of the war on women in Juarez, and have felt that anger again. Women are fierce, and woe betide any man underestimating us when we start to arm ourselves and fight back.
Barry, I am speechless. The power of your words and photographs are consuming. You have created a phenominal expression of living and dying, and the beauty in between. I must catch my breath.
It's an interesting thought to have women run the world again. I for one would welcome it - for a while anyway. But nature will sort it out in the end. It's probably a yin/yang sort of balancing thing that's needed.

The dawn shots were incredible. It's seeing photos like that that remind me how much we miss on a daily basis of the magic that is all around us. As always, I enjoyed taking this trip with you.
Candace, I wish you had been there too, to experience the dawn, the trails, the beauty and for support in what we saw that night at the installation. You tracked the story line perfectly, so thanks for understanding that. Sorry I've been away and inattentive so long...hope your trip to the PNW is wonderful.

Ardee, I can never approach your knowing of what this means, I can only offer my support and appreciation and affection for our long friendship, but that means a lot to me and I know it does for you too.

Carol, thank you very much for your very kind words. I'm honored you've stopped by.

Hi Harry, first, I'd like to send people to your latest post, the one on Occupy Dallas, found here. It's extraordinarily well done. Yeah, I think you're probably right that a balance is best. Thanks for your kind words, and glad to have you along for the journey.
Barry - Pretty heavy and horror...dark cowboy photo mesmerized, as did your photos and words. "Lonely Roads" begs a different kind of question. Inspires me to travel down that road. One of these days. Great to see you and your art, B!
A sobering post, at first I got caught up on the images than my blood ran cold. That exhibit chilling.
As always, profound and beautiful. And not even including the pictures!
You drew me in, and then this installation...It hit. It should hit. It's something prevalent amongst us and we know not what to do. Speaking thru art will hit some of us; your essay will help others to speak because they feel it. Nicely done despite a horrible ending topic.
A worthy tour and many new learnings. Always a great road trip with you.
A worthy tour and many new learnings. Always a great road trip with you.
You find the most astounding stuff. That fifth picture down is gorgeous. They all are, and I particularly love the Nehi cooler. And what Myriad said - the end is just shocking. Keep looking for those Marfa lights. I want to believe there's something above us that we can't destroy.
The photos are stunning, and your words! They are equally sublime. What you show, visually and in prose, is that there is always more to things, something irreducible, implicit--that's its magic, its beauty. And you come as close to that essence as anything I've seen or read in a good long time.
The eye can retain an image for 1/13th of a second, the same shutter speed you chose for oneof these photos. It's the magical number that leads to the illusion of movement when viewing film. Film has 24 frames per second passing by but half are blank. Only twelve have an image.
That retention of image creates the illusion of the images moving.
These will be retained much longer and are all moving.
Cathy, thanks for coming by and for your words. I like what you said that Lonely Roads begs a different question--very astute.

MC, I agree, it is chilling. As I mentioned before, and with friend Julie, I'm still processing.

ONL, your words mean a great deal to me, thank you very much.

Drema, I think in your professional capacity you have to deal with tragedy and, hopefully, restoration. It just empties me that the hearts represent no return, no recovery. Thanks for your thoughts.

Linnnn, thanks for coming along on this one too, a bit different than what I normally do.

Mumblety, thanks for your kind words. The image you liked can be seen in a larger view in this link


The Marfa lights are a very curious phenomena, many people believe.

Jerry, your words mean a great deal to me as well. I am always grateful when someone enjoys the word as well as the pictures. Thanks for your gracious praise.

aka, that's so interesting, I hadn't realized that about film images being blank...and thanks for your kind words as well.
This was one journey of a post. I enjoyed how you melded beauty and horror, which exactly how life is.
You drew me in, and then this installation...It hit. It should hit. It's something prevalent amongst us and we know not what to do. Speaking thru art will hit some of us; your essay will help others to speak because they feel it. Nicely done despite a horrible ending topic.
There is no "bad part" of this story! There is so much that is good. There is a bit of sorrow, but when so well-told it is beauty too.

You are the Vermeer of photography.
Beautifully done. The shot of the dried up corn field is just stunning and frightening. Excellent framing and perspective, and I htought that would be the horror of the story until that pretty amazing installation below.
I am so glad humans were given creativity to express unfathomably awful moments-- someone was inspired with this choice of presentation as it draws you in further to the 'heart' of the matter rather than repelling one with too much blunt information. This was so well done, thanks.
Also, it's just great to see peeks of our giant country through the discerning eye of someone who loves their particular corner...thanks for that also.
That was meant to say, "...too much blunt information too quickly."
(and that misspelled word is 'thought' -- I clicked too fast)
Oh, my God, at first I thought the floating white baubles to be simulated popcorn or something festive, not women's hearts. How tragic. Thank you for sharing this story, and raising awareness.
all of those murdered women, all of those hearts released into the air when they had so much more love to share....

beautiful pictures, beautiful story, beautifully written

p.s. Hi Barry! xo
greenheron, I think that was my goal, the blending, I'm grateful that you were able to find that. Thank you.

mh, I've been sort of out of touch with OS for a while, as you have been with your work claiming time. Congratulations on the publication (and distribution) of your book of poetry. You're my favorite living poet. Oh, and thanks too for stopping by and your lovely words.

just thinking, since we can't edit comments, I never mind typos. I certainly understood what you intended. It really was a tough installation to absorb and then think about what needs to be done. Thanks for picking up the lots of various nuances in the post as well, that is much appreciated.

Erica, I'm glad you stopped by and the post touched you. Thanks.

Sandra, xo, so nice to see you too. Yeah, I think you captured the essence of it, hearts released when they weren't really done--a tragedy in the classic sense of the word--something that should not have been. xo
Brother, the way you set this up . . . forshadowing the haunting . . . the images of such amazing natural spaces . . . bringing us toward Marfa . . . then closer and closer to the hearts . . . damn . . . yes . . . I am now haunted.
Owl, I'm glad you stopped by. I thought of you as I began my journey more than a week ago now. I went by Austin to pick up one of my cameras that the no. 1 son had borrowed for a project, but when I got there and woke him up all blurry eyed, he wasn't quite done with the job. I should have called before I left. But it was ok, because I was able to do something I've wanted to do for a while, and that was to take a beautiful road westward, though I which it wasn't so dead dry. I took Highway 90 from San Antonio. I saw some pretty cool things on my way to the Big Bend area, not the least of which is Langtry, the tribute to the beautiful British actress Lily Langtry that Judge Roy Bean was so obsessed over. Anyway, I'm glad the piece spoke to you as well, and I always appreciate when you stop by...thanks for that. thanks for everything. xo
Beautiful post inside and out. I think we are moving toward female leadership and it should curtain some of the violence, but so much is committed out of sickness.

I really like the photo on the cover because of the big twist formed by clouds over the highway. Excellent!
Stunning, astonishing and brilliant. Your photography always blow me away, Barry. Yes, I'm gushing. Who wouldn't? ~r
Susie, thanks for your words and for stopping by--I love that photo too. Much appreciated.

Joanie, what you said, coming from someone I admire very much, means so much. Thank you.
Back home in Marathon, just down the road, after a nearly six-month trip North and West in the Bus. Nice photos, slunk through 1AM Marfa just a week ago, looks better at night. All the fires and lack of rain have made for some pretty desperate animals- raccoons and skunks can't make a living out there so they are coming in and holing up behind the washing machine over by the catfood.

Anyway, good snapshots. Oughtta try living out here a season 'steada just visiting. This is my 18th year. You get used to it.
What fun to go along the roads with your great talent, your great eye.
Thanks, again Barry.
Magnificent, all of it. I couldn't imagine where you were going with that title and I wish the exhibit hadn't been necessary for Bettina Landgrebe to create. Would women do any better than men at running things? Hard to know but if more people looked at the world through eyes like yours it would be a very different and more hospitable place.
There is a stark beauty out west and lots of surprises like the important installation you featured.
I wouldn't call them "lonely" roads. I'm a real sucker for what I call "path" photographs. They speak to us all. The trails we're on. The trials we've had. Great piece. Rated.
Wow. Great photography, incredible, important installation. Thank you for bringing it to us. R.
Your posts are always such a treat--no make that a feast and this one is no exception. I love the lonely road shots you do best of all. I am a blue highway guy myself--have you ever read Blue Highways by William Least heat Moon? You would enjoy it. Thanks again for an inspiring few minutes in reading and viewing this fine piece of art.
Beautiful work. And that "cowboy in the dark" shot really works! Love it.

For years, I've had a fascination with Big Bend. I'd like to go there, perhaps on a Sierra Club trip. Unfortunately one of my knees is in bad enough shape that doing much hiking is out of the question. Sooner or later, that knee will have to be replaced. If I had two solid dependable knees again, I hope to get there eventually.

The juxtaposition of beauty and tragedy in this post makes each more poignant. Well done.
I'm back again after having to take care of some business...thanks to all who've stopped by to read and to those who have commented.

Foiled Again, thanks so much for stopping by. I went to your place here on OS and loved your story...I hope you continue it as it's so compelling and you write so beautifully.

Lea, you're most welcome, thanks. xo

Margaret, I'm really humbled by what you've said, truly one of the kindest things said to me here on OS in my 3.5 yrs here. Thank you.

Miguela, once again while out in west Texas I thought of you not really that far away in Portales. One of these days I hope to include a trip through there. Thanks for coming here.

FTMW, you've captured an essence here with your words, and thank you for that.

bnz, I'm glad you found the installation important, it was incredibly moving to see it first hand.

Dr Spud, I love WLHM, and loved his Blue Highways, it's an homage to him that I call my backroads blue highways...I'm so glad we share that love. And thanks for your lovely words.

bpb, I'm sorry about the attrition to your knees, but hope you get as good as new so those dreams can be fulfilled. Let me know when you come down this way. xo
You have very effectively taken us on a journey with you through words and evocative images. Thank you, Barry.
Thanks for the kind words. I hate feeling old before my time.
Powerful piece and gorgeous photography. A great reminder of what has happened to so many...........Thank you.
What an epic piece. Photos, amazing, as per your usual self. Big sky, wow. Indeed. It must add some space in your head when needed, I'm guessing.

What a way of meandering around such big topics. You were our life tour guide. The stunning, the horrific.
If I reach up to my forehead with my right hand to the place just above my right eyebrow, at the edge of my hairline there is an indentation where my index finger naturally rests. That place where my mother hit me with a broom when I was fifteen. I can't remember why. There is the groove in my left forearm, where that same Spring my grandmother sank her nails into my arm when I was pulling the opposite direction to get loose from her tirade. In every case, it was deemed my fault, that as my stepfather had said, I would soon be barefoot and pregnant without a husband. Whatever ill struck our family, it seemed at some point it would be decided that I was to blame. Perhaps it is an Scots Irish thing to be so hard on ones family, to be extra judgmental because God knows life is not nearly hard enough to toughen ones character.

I don't remember any discussions of beauty, art or poetry when I was a child--even though those subjects became important to me as I matured. I remember having an argument with my mother in which I told her that "you never have said that you loved me and that fact made me feel unloved given all the trouble." It wasn't resolved. Our family was always engaged in a violent power struggle. We didn't call it Domestic Violence in those days, we called it home. One day, when I was in fifth grade I threw away a large bottle of Vodka by pouring it down the storm drain at the corner, and then I threw the bottle in the neighbors trash can. Later that night my stepfather tried to stomp on my head with his Tony Lama's and spurs after he had thrown me to the floor in a drunken rage. My mother saved me from him or I wouldn't be writing today. It was a brutal life.

Today I was listening to NPR. There was an author, whose name I didn't hear, who recently wrote about Kurt Vonnegut, and about how difficult his family relationships had been, what it was to be stuck in a basement during the bombing of Dresden, how hard he had been on his children, and how he still resented his family, particularly his father, when he was in his eighties.

I felt a lot of sympathy for how he had lived a very productive and interesting life in spite of, and in counterpoint to the unresolved issues and emotional scars that coming from membership in a difficult & violent family. It's no wonder some of us are a bit emotionally difficult, having been trained from birth. I think we all try hard.
PS - Thanks for the beauty and for making me think a little more about that which is easy to put away from oneself. I have worked as a volunteer Rape Crisis counselor. Finding compassion within oneself makes all the beauty of the world that much more beautiful. This is what I always get from you: your big, generous heart and the consciousness of beauty, even when it is difficult.
Thanks so much for this emotional journey...Had a great time even though life can be very tough for some folks.
You are a beautiful soul. xxxooo