Friday, January 29, 2010

Border towns

I ventured down to the university art gallery today and found the Border Stories exhibition by Bruce Berman, his stuff can be found at

Lucky for me he is doing an artist talk in an hour so I will find my way down town.

El Paso has about 800,000 people living here and literally in the town next door Juarez has 1.5 million people but there is this a massive bridge, and fences and a river between the two. 

Here are some random shots of where I am. My Uncle and friend Jeff we went out to this great Italian and were enjoying the biggest dessert ever for $4, the desert from the air. Two little shops in the down town, that push up against the border and of course the cowboy at the Museum of Art.

Mary spoke to me

 I went into the Musuem of Art in El Paso yesterday and apart from the fact there was actually very little art in the two story building, i was struck by these painting os Mary, about the size of an A4 piece of paper, on tin, or another light metal. The card said Anonymous and in about the 19th century. 
The painting of a woman holding out what looks like a bed sheet with the image of Mary on it, is my favourite. Just ordinary Mary on a bed sheet. This was very popular because it had been painted about 5 different times over several centuries.

If anyone knows why this work is so important please let me know.

Mary is one of middle names and I always think paintings of her look somewhat angelic also somehow kind of devious.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

some strange southern way

wed 27 - 1- 2010 was about the longest day I have had in a long time.  From Brisbane where i boarded the very comfortable V Australia flight which made the distance in a record 12 hours to the 8 hour stop over in LAX to the bumpy flight to El Paso. This is the part where I visit some of my favorite people in the world, who also happen to be my relatives.

They have done the very brave thing of leave their previously loved community of Tyler, Texas and move to this intriguing desert / border town El Paso. I wonder where that church is from the Kill Bill movies?

Anyway I wanted to write about my amazing array of experiences in Los Angeles Airport, mind you there are 9 terminals t negotiate, its like a small city - so i imagine it is easy to have some great experiences.

First I should point out that I am always a little cautious when traveling in the Deep South, the people are super friendly and always very kind to me but I sometimes wonder if  this little thing called religion can in fact interrupt the possibilities of someone like me and someone else having an great interaction. Not because I have a problem with religion but because most religions have problems with people like me.

Anyway with that in mind who should be sitting next to me on the 12 hour plane ride but an evangelical preacher, a young man from Australia who travels Texas and other places preaching. Anyway in that very ozzie kind of way he turns out to be a great conversationalist and has some ideas about changing the world which i agree with  and I do appreciate people who have found a way to live the kind of life they want to, also he was a pretty opened minded kind of guy. Anyway as the conversation evolves into some of the questions I have also wanted to ask an evangelical preacher such as  - has ever met those people who handle snakes as a reflection of biblical verse and he says no, but he does stay with a guy who has a zebra shooting range in his front yard etc etc, we realise that he is in fact the brother in law of a very old friend of mine - what are the chances?

We arrive 2 hours early, I am exhausted and unable to check in for my next flight, however under the advice of a local LAX staff member i negotiate my way across about 6 lanes of traffic with my suite cases to find my way into a Deli - she told me "it will be cheaper than the airport food". Anyway i eventually find his and her toilet doors and a third door saying "yes we are open" so i back in with my trolley , hoping this is the "deli" to find a cafe full of airport staff. I am the only non staff member. Its weird, i think I am like baby from Dirt Dancing, but sans the water melon.  With the glances I am getting I can tell I have breached some unsaid rules about guests and staff.  Anyway I am greeted with more kind people concerned for my financial well being.

"if you buy it in the cup its cheaper and you can get refills"

"this water is $4 is that ok, cause I can get you another water for $3.80" 

I am beginning to wonder how hard the global financial crises hit the States.

Anyway a bit of food and some trashy cafe tv and I am off to negotiate south west airlines they do not book seats in stead they give you a standing position in a cue and when you board you choose your own seat - there were only 25 people on the plane so it was quite easy - but imagine the anarchy that could happen. The woman on the loud speaker was insane enough, here is a text example of her speaker announcements

" ok everyone, we only have twenty of ya going to el paso, so we gonna make you wait out here, and we will board around 1:10pm, so don't worry just rest and wait and ill tell you when to board" this was the professional voice over for this airline - should i be scared?

After all of this fun i stumble out of the airport to get some sun as I do have another 5 hours to fill up with something, when a woman accosts me out the front of the airport because she and I are wearing the same jumper. What is strange about this, is that I have my one and only ultra comfy jumper on, that i picked up either in the Perth or Kalgoorlie airport I can't remember, but it was back in march 2009,  i was heading to the desert and realised i needed a jumper, so i bought this red thing.

It was the only thing in the airport that was desert appropriate and its was an oversized Surf Life Saving Club logo-tised jumper, and on the rim of the hood, it says "swim between the flag".
It has been the brunt of many jokes, so you can imagine my surprise when someone from the other side of the world is wearing the same jumper and standing right in front of me.

It gets me wondering about people and clothes and the journey we take and what we wear when we are taking it - possible project idea wrapped up in this idea.

The longest day in my life ended with a quick tour to the mexican border town, and a chilli pasta dinner with my Aunt, Uncle and a visiting friend of theirs. The best part of this was when Jacob the visiting friend said a prayer prior to dinner and in some strange southern way closed the day for me.