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SOUTHWEST PILGRIMAGE: BOQUILLAS, MEXICO

June 20, 2013

While visiting Big Bend, we were told about the newly re-opened Mexican border crossing into Boquillas del Carmen. This tiny Mexican village on the edge of the Rio Grande had been shut off from border crossing over the past several years since 911. With the US tourism no longer feeding their economy, the town was almost to ghost town status until it recently re-opened a few weeks before our arrival.

The town survives on Big Bend tourism with Americans crossing over and supporting their economy thru buying food from the two locals who make it out of their kitchen, stopping by the one bar and having a few drinks, and shopping at the one store that has Mexican goods.  When I say this is a tiny town, I mean its real tiny.

The first part of this fun day trip was walking across the Rio Grande into Mexico. How often do you get to say that you did that? From there, we rented donkeys/horses to take us into town for the day.  Here is a peek into this special little place and our adventure.

Photo by @lohdy

Photo by @lohdy

The scene on the other side of the Rio Grande

The scene on the other side of the Rio Grande

Donkeys for rent

Donkeys for rent

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Our transportation for the day

The views from Mexico

The views from Mexico

The scene in the town was minimal and so beautiful set against the backdrop of mountains and clouds.

The town has a small number of inhabitants

The town has a small number of inhabitants and they all sell their handmade goods out front of their homes

One of my favorite photos I've ever taken, this was happening right when I walked up the hill into town

Best denim ad photo ever

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Photo by @lohdy

Photo by @lohdy

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A stop for a delicious lunch made by this sweet lady in her family kitchen.

The kitchen shot by @lohdy

The kitchen shot by @lohdy

An extension of the kitchen with random things for sale..

An extension of the kitchen with random things for sale..

Amazing horse whips made by their family members that were for sale

Amazing horse whips made by their family members that were for sale

A stop at the one local bar is a necessity and such a classic experience. They offer beer and tequila only, what else does one need anyhow?

Our cowboy friend, Jimmy in front of the one bar in town

Our cowboy friend, Jimmy in front of the one bar in town

Photo by @lohdy

Photo by @lohdy

The selection

The selection

Pouring it up

Pouring it up

These pool tables have seen some good times

These pool tables have seen some good times

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Pictures of their local prophet hero hang on the wall

Love this guy

Love this guy

A sampling of the clothing we bought from the market store..

@lohdy and Jessica Lutz

@lohdy and Jessica Lutz

This was such an adventure for the day and topped off our experience in Big Bend.  If you go down to this part of the county, visiting Boquillas is a must.  It felt really great to support this super small community and help them get back on their feet after almost becoming a ghost town these past several years.  I’ll be back in September and plan on buying a few more of these embroidered dresses as well as a few of those horse whips! Go ahead and put your order in now….

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TERLINGUA’S FRONTIER ARTISAN: PAUL WIGGINS, SILVERSMITH

June 13, 2013

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Terlingua Ghost town was one of my favorite stops on my Southwest Pilgrimage. There are so many things that make this place special, and the people who live there on the fringe are a big part of the mystery of the town. Big Bend is a place where you can go and completely check out of life and live in the present.  This is why people go there and never leave.  Terlingua Ghost town is filled with artists and hippies and people who wanted to get away and “do their own thing”. I’m fascinated by these types of wanderers and pioneers and I couldn’t get enough of their stories sitting down at the coffee shop below La Posada Milagro.

I spent as much time as I could at the coffee shop getting to know the locals, and in the process I was introduced to Paul Wiggins who has lived in Big Bend for over 35 years.  He went to Big Bend after attending Rice University, and like many others that visit, he never left.  He has been creating his one of a kind silver creations for over 20 years and I was seriously impressed when he first showed me a bracelet he was wearing.  His designs are extremely unique and I have never seen silver jewelry like this ever before.  There is a simplicity to his work that speaks volumes about him as a person and how he has lived his life.  He sand casts all of his creations and fabricates them all on his own, sometimes taking months to perfect his designs.  The integrity of each piece is remarkable and within each one, you understand what living on the fringe provides an artist: truth, solidarity and a unique perspective. Paul doesn’t create art for the purpose of popularity, money or success; he creates as an extension of himself and his truth.

Silversmith Paul Wiggins

Silversmith Paul Wiggins

An assortment of cuffs

An assortment of cuffs

The silver concho belt is beyond amazing!

The silver concho belt is beyond amazing!

I covet this belt!!

I covet this belt!!

Copper and silver pieces reflect his Texas roots

Copper and silver pieces reflect his Texas roots

This is a mini replication of a Native American canteen

This is a mini replication of a Native American canteen

The shapes he creates are very unique

The shapes he creates are very unique

Paul's father's life in the military has a major influence on his designs.  This cuff is a favorite.

Paul’s father’s life in the military has a major influence on his designs. This cuff is a favorite.

The crosses are influenced by the local cemetary's graves.

The crosses are influenced by the local cemetary’s graves.

Growing up during the Vietnam war has influenced his design

Growing up during the Vietnam war has influenced his design

Such a unique piece, this one belongs to me!

Such a unique piece, this one belongs to me!

Paul inscribes his logo, the year and "Terlingua" on every piece he creates giving each piece it's own mark in history.

Paul inscribes his logo, the year and “Terlingua” on every piece he creates giving each piece it’s own mark in history.

Artisan Paul Wiggins

Artisan Paul Wiggins

I feel so honored to own one of Paul’s designs and I’m excited to share his special work with the rest of the world in this post.  You currently can only buy Paul’s work directly from him in Big Bend.  He doesn’t have a website, he doesn’t have a cell phone, and no he actually doesn’t have email either.  That’s what living on the fringe is folks! If you would like to commission a piece from him, you can call him on his home phone (432) 371-2361.  In the meantime, I’m working on a plan to help him get into some stores so more people will be able to own one of his special pieces.

Thanks to my road dawg, Lindsay Lohden, for the beautiful photographs of Paul’s work.  You can follow her eye on instagram @lohdy.

SOUTHWEST PILGRIMAGE: RIVER ROAD TO BIG BEND

June 7, 2013

After the inspiring trip to Marfa, the next part of our journey was by far the most epic part of the whole trip.  I had heard about Big Bend National Park and the area surrounding it and was told that we had to take the River Road down alongside the border and experience the magic that is this area of the country.  Referred to as “The Last Frontier”, I completely lost my mind when we began to enter the state park portion of Big Bend.

I’ve been to a lot of places across the country and have seen some really beautiful landscapes, but nothing can quite compare to the mixed textures and levels of awesomeness that this part of West Texas has.  So majestic, so regal, so strong these mountains are.  And to see the Rio Grande river running right alongside them…well, its just beyond beautiful.  You can feel the history of our country down there.  Mexico is but a few feet away and you are looking across at it the entire time.  Very surreal and very special.  This place captured my heart and I’m already planning my trip back in September.

Here is the drive down the River road…

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The heaven's were singing to me

The heaven’s were singing to me down here

Our first dip in the Rio Grande

Our first dip in the Rio Grande

Sweet spot

Such a sweet spot!

The first town we hit in Big Bend was Lajitas which was a beautiful community that actually has a small resort type hotel there.  I need to check it out.  This cemetary caught our eye and we were so taken with it’s beauty.  Set on the mountainside made of rocks, the graves with the wrought iron crosses were so breathtaking and unique.  What an amazing place to spend your resting days..

Lajitas, TX

Lajitas, TX

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We stayed in Terlingua Ghost Town in Big Bend at a very special and magical place, La Posada Milagro. I stumbled upon this spot online and was so amazed when we got there at how wonderful it was.  A group of 5 casitas all set up on a hill with views of all of the Big Bend and Mexico mountains.  This is a place where you literally just sit and watch and look and be present; no cell phone service, no internet, just a complete disconnect and reconnect to mother earth.  The night we arrived we witnessed the most amazing lightning storm and transition into rainbows and sunshine.  This place is truly spectacular!

Greeted by a rainbow viewing at our spot

Double rainbow action

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I loved the simplicity of the decor and surroundings and how everything was set up to be outside. There was an outdoor kitchen and bar and a ton of little seating areas. Just down from the casitas is the town’s coffee shop where are the locals hung out and caught up. I met some amazing artists and people at that coffee shop and it was so inspiring.  Next week I will be sharing an artisan that I met at the coffee shop who has been living in Terlingua for nearly 30 years.  This place attracts some really interesting artists, hippies and intellectuals and I can’t wait to go back and reconnect with them.

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SOUTHWEST PILGRIMAGE: MARFA,TEXAS

June 4, 2013

After making our way through New Mexico into Texas we cut down from El Paso and headed to Marfa, TX to discover what everybody has been talking about in regard to this small little West Texas town of fewer than 2,000 residents.  A few weeks before we arrived, 60 minutes did a short story on Marfa giving a glimpse into this small community that has become an official influence on the Art community. Watch it!

Marfa is a bizarre mix of a small old west town and a progressive NYC neighborhood.  It’s kinda crazy, I’ve really never seen anything quite like it before and now I understand what all the fuss is about in regard to this town.  The juxtaposition between the flatlands and the old town and the modernity that the NYC art world has brought in is quite unusual. At times throughout our stay, we would look around at the mix of cowboys and artists walking around and it felt a bit surreal.  From the new stores that have found their way into town to the art galleries and the progressive restaurants and food trucks, Marfa is definitely making a mark in regard to the over-arching artistic movement that is happening across the USA.

Once again, the photo opportunities were amazing and it was hard not to take a picture of every building, sign, and skyline that we saw.  This town and the area around it is prime for some serious photoshoots. Joshua Tree, be warned, Marfa will soon be taking your spot in all the latest denim and contemporary advertising shoots.  It was surprising how such a little town with only ONE STOPLIGHT could provide such an endless array of photography opportunities.

Our Arrival…

First stop Valentine, TX

My "welcome to Texas" shot

Railroads and clouds

Welcome to Marfa

Great vintage signs

A stop in town

Our digs for the next few days were at the El Cosmico, a great spot complete with teepees, safari tents and renovated airstreams.  The property included a hammock grove, an outdoor kitchen, bar and outdoor showers all completing the bohemian camping vibe of the place. We loved the property and the whole aesthetic(we did some serious damage in the gift store!).  The owner, Liz Lambert, also owns the Thunderbird in Marfa as well as Hotel San Jose and Hotel St Cecilia in Austin and she has done a great job targeting her customer.

Our digs at night

Lobby of El Cosmico complete with record player

A view of our layout

Inside of our safari tent

Our walkabout through town…

Downtown Marfa

Old church

Abandoned buildings in town

Downtown Marfa

The Marfa Contemporary

Love this shot of the perfect Marfa sky

The heavens shining telling me to drink beer

Food Shark, a great mobile food spot in town

Outside the Lost Horse Saloon

More old signs...

One of two music venues in town

Inside shot of Padre's

Along the way we discovered some local artists and got a peak into their studios in town.  First we met Lizzy from Snakeoil Magick whose hand-dyed Shibori garments I had spotted last year during my visit to Austin’s JM Drygoods(which actually used to be in Marfa).  As we passed artist Lizzy’s house, she happened to be outside and showed us around her place.  I absolutely loved the painting on the side of her place, and discovered that it was her logo. This is a great example of the quirkiness of Marfa and I loved the idea and freedom of an artist placing her brand on her home space signifying the lifestyle she has created.

Artist Snakeoil Magick's logo painted on the outside of her house in town

Creative up-cycling of bottles on her fence

A peak inside her studio to her hand dyed garments

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Another find was The Wrong Store, a gallery owned by local artists Buck and Camp that have been living in Marfa for the past 11 or so years.  (They were actually featured on the 60 minutes story, make sure you check it out!) A super fun creative couple, their studio gallery is in an old church while their house is the old rectory connected to the space.  Camp is an amazing artist who creates unique objects out of carved reclaimed wood.  I’m talking giant tequila bottles, boom boxes, guns and other wacky objects. Funny enough, I had seen some of Camp’s work at a gallery in Austin that I wrote about a few years ago.  His wife, Buck runs the gallery space that had a great collection of local and global artists including Camp’s work.  They feature artists monthly and are definitely a big contendor in the quirky perspective that Marfa has on the art scene.  Their space was one of my favorites.  Make sure to take a look at their website, they don’t allow pictures to be taken while inside the space.

The Wrong Store

Lady Luck

Their hot pink house attached to their gallery

Their hot pink house attached to their gallery

Their fence!

Camp and Buck’s creative interpretation of a fence

Unfortunately we were in Marfa at the beginning of the week and the town is really only open from Wednesday through Sunday- good information to know if you plan on visiting! However, we were able to do some window shopping and got a glance into a few cool stores including designer Dosa’s gallery store Tienda M and local artisan boot makers Cobra Rock Boot Company. This small town is filled with artisans and I only was able to scratch the surface on the scene that is going on here.  There is also a great store Freda that carries some really great independent artists from LA and NYC including  artisan Adina Mills and many others.

Dosa's project in Marfa, Tienda M

Tienda M

Another view of Tienda M

Another view of Tienda M

Handmade boots at Cobra Rock Boot Company

Handmade boots at Cobra Rock Boot Company

Shop Freda

Shop Freda

Inside Freda

Inside Freda

I can’t wait to head back to Marfa in September for El Cosmico’s Trans Pecos music festival.  Now that I am in Texas, visits to Marfa will be more frequent and I look forward to sharing more with you in regard to the artists and people that are living here.  I only scratched the surface and I look forward to digging a bit deeper into the community and seeing how I can bring what they are doing to other parts of the world through The Sche Report.

Walking thru town

Till next time Marfa...

Till next time Marfa…

P.S. Just this week I discovered a really great crew of creative folks that are producing a magazine called The Collective Quarterly.  It’s a group of artists, photographers, and illustrators who have joined forces and are visually communicating the above referenced USA artistic movement via these quarterly magazines dedicated to places where this movement is happening. Their first issue is on Marfa.  We happened to be there at the exact time they were and must have been a few steps behind eachother during the entire trip.  Check out their amazing instagam feed of their trip to West Texas at @collectivequarterly and sign up to receive this first issue on their website.

SOUTHWEST PILGRIMAGE: ARIZONA & NEW MEXICO

May 30, 2013

With Memorial Day weekend a wrap, it is time to get back to sharing my epic journey with you across the country.  After exiting California, we headed into Scottsdale for the night and then made our way to New Mexico through some back road driving and exploring off the beaten path.  The sights we saw along these few days were diverse and rich in character and history.  From the skylines and desert dunes to the many antique store stops and roadhouses, there was a treasure to be found around every corner.  It was amazing how the landscape changed from Arizona to New Mexico and it was so interesting to pass through both in the same day and see it gradually change. For this post, I’m utilizing Instagram to tell the story from my feed as well as my traveling partner’s @lohdy.  Hope you enjoy!

Arizona border by @lohdy

Arizona border by @lohdy

We are America by @lohdy

We are America by @lohdy

World's largest smoke shop by @lohdy

World’s largest smoke shop by @lohdy

Side of the road sights by @lohdy

Side of the road sights by @lohdy

Small town AZ by @lohdy

Small town AZ by @lohdy

Arizona saguaros by @theschereport

Arizona saguaros by @theschereport

Frank Lloyd Wright's Talisen West in Scottsdale by @lohdy

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Talisen West in Scottsdale by @lohdy

Talisen West by @lohdy

Talisen West by @lohdy

AZ off road landscape by @lohdy

AZ off road landscape by @lohdy

Apache Reservation by @theschereport

Apache Reservation by @theschereport

Curly's Place in Ft Thomas, AZ. A MUST STOP by @lohdy

Curly’s Place in Ft Thomas, AZ. a MUST stop by @lohdy

Best bar on the side of a highway I've ever seen by @theschereport

Best bar on the side of a highway I’ve ever visited by @theschereport

Behind the bar at Curly's Place by @theschereport

Behind the bar at Curly’s Place by @theschereport

A stop at an amazing vintage store Somewhere in Arizona by @lohdy

Side of the road stop somewhere in Arizona by @lohdy

My amazing charcoal and watercolor prints from 1978 that I bought at this stop by @theschereport

My amazing charcoal and watercolor prints from 1978 that I bought at this stop by @theschereport

Guns for sale on the side of the road by @lohdy

Guns for sale on the side of the road by @lohdy

Teepee on the side of the road in New Mexico by @theschereport

Teepee on the side of the road in New Mexico by @theschereport

@lohdy's perspective

@lohdy’s perspective

White Sands National Monument, NM by @lohdy

White Sands National Monument, NM by @lohdy

Partners in crime at White Sands by @lohdy

Partners in crime at White Sands by @lohdy

SOUTHWEST PILGRIMAGE: SALTON SEA & SALVATION MOUNTAIN

May 23, 2013

My week long road trip to Texas was an epic journey of sights and experiences that I will never forget.  I will share all of our stops with you in the next week, hopefully you enjoy them visually as much as I did!

The first stop was east of Los Angeles in the Coachella Valley about an hour and a half from Palm Springs.  I have been wanting to visit this area the entire time I have lived in Los Angeles and somehow never had made it there. I was excited to drive along the Salton Sea and witness its strange terrain.  The sea was created in 1905 when the Colorado River flooded into it.  It is below sea level and contains more salt that seawater which results in killing all of the animals that try to survive in its magnitude.  This explains the “whitewash” effect that is all over the shore filled with feathers and fish skeletons and other random bleached out remnants of the sea.  The feeling around this area was very eerie yet extremely beautiful and quiet.  It was remarkable.

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About a half hour away in Niland,the folk art site known as Salvation Mountain sits in all its glory.  Artist Leonard Knight built his massive tribute to God out of adobe clay and donated paint with the art spanning 50 feet high and 150 feet wide in the desert.  I had first seen this place in the movie “Into the Wild” and I had always been fascinated and wanted to check it out.  I was amazed at his dedication and very impressed by the magnitude of the site.  It was quite amazing to walk through and discover.

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Anyone that is traveling east of LA, these two spots are a MUST SEE! Their stark contrast is so compelling and both equally challenge your visual perception of landscapes.

Picture by my road partner @lohdy on instagram

Picture by my road partner @lohdy on instagram

ONE LAST LOOK AT MY LA DIGS

May 21, 2013

It’s been a busy past few months planning all the changes that I mentioned were going to happen in 2013.  The first part of the change is complete.  I’m now officially based between Austin,TX and Los Angeles, CA.  I’ve been MIA the past few weeks as I moved out of my apartment and took a cross country roadtrip with one of my best buddies to Texas.  Words cannot describe the experience, but the pictures certainly do and I can’t wait to share the visuals with you.  It was an epic journey and what I hope to be the beginning of a great new chapter in my life.  I will get into more of the details on the move and the reasons behind it in future posts, but today I want to share a view into my great apartment that I called home for 6 years.

My environment has always been a huge reflection of my personal style and taste level and with my talent in merchandising, I really enjoy interior design.  You know I am a collector of vintage finds and unique things for my closet, and my place is no different.  I have been collecting objects, art and furniture for almost 20 years and in this Los Angeles apartment I was able to put them all together to create a unique environment that fully represents me.  I take references from all over the world from Africa to Mexico and Asia, I borrow from the past and I make nods to the future making sure everything works harmoniously together to create soul and character.

As I let go of my Los Angeles digs, I look forward to creating a new environment in Austin that represents this new chapter in my life.  Right now, its all about Reinvention for me.  So here’s one last look at my past…can’t wait to show you my future.

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Everybody always wanted to have photoshoots at my house and right before I left, I worked with my gals from Heyoka Leather on their summer 2013 lookbook in my apartment.  The images by Alexandra Valenti are gorgeous and the shoot turned out fantastic with models Kelly Ash and Jenny Parry showcasing Heyoka’s best bags and jewelry for the season.  Take a look at the images below and be sure and check out Heyoka Leather on facebook and instagram for more!

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