Wednesday, September 28, 2022

2022 09 Bill Scrips Workshop in New Mexico


Los Cerillos, New Mexico

September 21-24, 2022

I was cruising on the Internet when I saw a notification that someone had cancelled their spot in Bird Assemblages With Bill Skrips in Los Cerillos, New Mexico, a workshop being produced by Kathie Vezzani through her Bellissima Art Escapes. Ironically, I had these dates available for another workshop which never developed so I asked Denice if she wanted to van it to the Southwest. Being busy that week she passed but I decided to register and go.

There will be only 8 students in this workshop as it is held in Bill’s studio. It is a four day workshop so that should provide plenty of time to make our projects.

Here is the course description: “In this workshop, we’re going to carve a bird head and wings out of basswood or pine, make some simple wire bird legs and feet, and then assemble everything around a small hinged craft box which class participants can fill/paint in class or at home.”

Day 1, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022

After breakfast with my love Denice, some last minute packing and double checking the art supplies, I was down the driveway at 9:00 a.m.

Today was just driving on Federal Highways, something that I do not particularly like but I needed to cover some ground today. I was distracted by El Paso. No, not El Paso, TX, but El Paso, IL, where there are at least two antique places that I found. I did buy some goodies at the appropriately named El Paso Antique Mall but could not find anything at Antique Hoarders. 

Down the road I stopped at Pink Elephant which is almost a requirement if you are a picker and are still living your childhood. 

Tonight I decided to just get on the west side of St. Louis, have dinner at a Cracker Barrel and then into my hotel in time for the Bears vs. Packers Monday Night Football game. 

Mileage for the day: 392.

Day 2, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022

Today I searched out a local restaurant called Maggie’s Lunchbox for breakfast. This is located in an industrial park and I was the only person eating the whole time I was there. The up side is that the restaurant serves great food, is very attractive and even has some ukuleles made from lunchboxes.

Today’s mission was to put on mileage so I was on the Federal Highway program again today. I broke the monotony by making stops at antique stores about every two hours or so. Today’s shopping was done at the Heartland Antique Mall in Lebanon, MO, and the I-44 Antique Mall in Tulsa, OK.

I did find an abandoned gas station.

My final destination tonight was the western side of Oklahoma City but I was a little late in my estimated time of arrival when I was pulled over by an Oklahoma Highway patrolman. My offense: failing to signal my intention to change lanes 100 feet before making the move. Luckily, it was just a warning. With the stuff in the back he became interested in the fact that I was an artist so the officer ended up with one of my business cards.

Mileage for the day: 529

Total mileage for the trip so far: 921

Day 3, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022

I have to admit that I may have underestimated how long it was going to take me to get to New Mexico. I thought I would have noodling time but the reality is that I was pretty much petal to the metal on Federal Highways again today. I did manage to see a few cool things including a tractor trailer that caught on fire along side the highway that was burning fiercely when I arrived on the scene and had to decide to pass or fail. I passed but opted not to pull over to help as the driver was out and being helped by a second rig driver. Well…the help was actually to video the whole truck barbeque with their phones.

I did just one stop today: Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, TX.

When I got to Santa Fe I checked out the location of the workshop: Bill Skrips’ studio in Los Cerritos. Then I found my hotel: Inn at Santa Fe. The good news is that it is a straight shot, 20 minutes long, from one to the other and I feel like I am all set for tomorrow.

One thing is evident as soon as you hit New Mexico: the light is different and the clouds are magnificent.

After a interesting help yourself dinner at a barbeque place called Rudy’s in Santa Fe, I retired to my room where I have set up a collage station. My goal is to make one a night. 

Mileage for the day: 550

Total mileage for the trip so far: 1471

Day 4, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022

Today I ate the hotel breakfast in the lobby as I needed to run to the grocery store for food supplies and to the gas station to fill the van.

The ride to Cerrillos is about 20 minutes from my hotel. Cerrillos is an interesting little town just north of the artist colony Madrid. I found Bill Skrips studio easily after yesterday’s reconnoiter and found a spot on the street to park my car. 

Bill's old '42 parked in front of the studio

Bill Scrips' artwork is everywhere in the studio--most finished and some in progress. It was breathtaking to be around so much art that I like.

The bathroom in the workshop--filled with art

Full disclosure, it took me all four days to finally settle on this piece of work for my collection: Icarus in Free Fall.

Bill Scrips

So now it is time for the class to begin. I met Bill, workshop organizer Kathie Vezzani as well as the seven other students in the workshop. 

Here is the class sample.

After a meet and greet in the courtyard behind the studio, we all got a special gift from Bill. 

The workshop setting is Bill’s crazy studio. Like many artists, he is not the most organized person upon first impressions. Then it sinks in that this guy can find anything in his own environment, it is us who can see the organization in the chaos.

Each student got a spot on a bench that included a vice for the carving. This is my spot for four days.

Lunch today was pizza and for dinner we all drove down Highway 14 to the artist colony Madrid. This hippie colony is still going strong and I really wish I had more time to explore it and all the surrounding artist’s galleries visible from the highway.

Tonight in my room I worked on my substrates for class and was quite successful in making some progress.

Mileage for the day: 50

Total mileage for the trip so far: 1521

Day 5, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. 

Today after breakfast at Denny’s I did an auto tour around Cerrillos. This is a very unique town for me as it has a run down funk to it that also has the appeal of relatively inexpensive artists’ galleries and studios.

In class today we continue to work. I have three projects in the works so I never lack for something to do. Lunch today was next door at the only restaurant in town, Black Bird Saloon. Much of the menu was plant based and the food was remarkably interesting. 

After class today I made a dash into Santa Fe to try to get to three antique stores before they closed. Despite listings of closing times of either 5:30 or 6:30 pm, two out of the three were closed and the one I got into was closing. I did manage to score a few things at that shop only because the owner was unloading things he must have picked up at an estate sale today.

Dinner tonight was at LuLu’s Chinese Restaurant. Despite being in the Southwest, lately I have been hungry for Chinese and need to eat that when Denice is not around. 

Tonight in my room I worked on my main project for class and was again quite successful in making some progress.

Mileage for the day: 63

Total mileage for the trip so far: 1584

Day 6, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. 

After breakfast at a local Mexican restaurant, I started the day by going to a huge estate sale in an abandoned fashion outlet next to my hotel. While I did not buy anything, mostly because the stuff was too nice to be wrecked by an assemblage artist like me, I did get a few photos in the mall.

Another day in Bill Scrip’s studio today.  I spent the day completing my first project and connecting the second. The third project is languishing but I have one more day in class.

I am a little disappointed at the easy choices I am making for dinner in Santa Fe on this trip. Without Denice, and being hot and tired after all day in class, I am settling for the low hanging fruit and tonight it was Red Lobster. 

Tonight in the hotel I worked on two collages for the enjoyment as they are not going to be used in my projects this week. 

Mileage for the day: 45

Total mileage for the trip so far: 1629.

Day 7, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. 

Today was a Denny’s kind of breakfast before heading to class for the last day in the workshop.

I have worked on three projects: one is in parts and will be heading home for completion; one is assembled but needs to be worked on at home; the last is done and I am pretty happy with it. 

At three we had a Show ‘N Tell, sharing our work.

Tonight I got carry out from KFC so I could be in my hotel room in time to watch the Wisconsin Badgers play The Ohio State Buckeyes. The game was humiliating if you are a Badger fan.

Mileage for the day: 66

Total mileage for the trip so far: 1695.

Day 8, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. 

While I could have made an easy time of it and taken three days to get home, I decided to try to make it home in two. So I was up at 6:00 am today and on the road by 6: 30 am (7:30 CT). After heading north out of Santa Fe, I jumped on Highway 50 at Trinidad, CO, which is the Santa Fe Trail Auto Tour route. It proved worthy despite that fact that all the cool antique stores in Trinidad are closed on Sunday.

I found an abandoned convenience store that proved interesting.

While I was roaming the grounds, shooting photos and picking up some rusty stuff for assemblage, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. Yikes, its a dog. I will admit that he seemed as nervous about me disturbing him as I was at potentially getting my ass bit, so we agreed to keep our distances. However, it was not until I was driving down the highway that I realized in my panic I dropped all the goodies.

Somewhere on Highway 50 in Colorado, I found this display.

While on Bainbridge Island in July, Denice and I were at the disembarkation memorial for the Japanese-Americans interned during World War II in camps. I was stunned to discover one of the camps on Highway 50. The Amache National Historic Site, formally the Granada War Relocation Center but known to the internees as Camp Amache, was a concentration camp for Japanese Americans in Prowers County, Colorado (from Wikipedia). 7,300 Japanese-Americans lived here in prison conditions, with entire families living in one room buildings without indoor plumbing. This spot is a reminder that while we might love our country, we need to recognize that it has a racist history that appears to continue today. Shameful.

Remnants of the foundations of the camp now completely eliminated
--except in the memories of those who were forced to live here and their survivors

Next stop was Syracuse, Kansas, and this wall of cars alongside Highway 50.

Tonight I drove a bit to far and had to head a little south to Wichita, KS, in order to find a place to sleep.

Mileage for the day: 679

Total mileage for the trip so far: 2374.

Day 9, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. 

Today it was about miles on Federal Highways in order to get home. I did stop at The Enchanted Frog Antiques in Missouri and Rusty Nail in Lanoni, Iowa. 

I got home at 8:00 p.m. and was very happy to see Denice again.

Mileage for the day: 759

Total mileage for the trip: 3133.

I want to thank Bill Scrips,  Kathie Vezzani and Bellissima Art Escapes, my fellow workshop participants and all the kind people who took care of me on the road. 

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