Exploring the Four Corners area

We took a four day trip in the Four Corners region of the USA: where New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona meet. Check the map – it is actually the only Four Corners in the entire USA. An amazing part of this great country! We drove from Santa Fe, past Abiquiu, to Farmington, Aztec, Shiprock, to Cortez. Then Mesa Verde, a quick visit to Utah and the Hoovenweep National Monument and back to Cortez. Then rode our bikes at Phils World and continued to Durango, back south to Aztec, then east past Navajo Lake and Dulce, Chama, Abiquiu and back to Santa Fe last night. What a trip! A few photos and some history lessons:4c1

Looking south from Shiprock, NM. Vastness.4c2

Desolate landscape. Beautiful skies.4c3

Sunset. Shiprock rises 1583 feet above the high desert plain of the Navajo Nation in San Juan County, NM. The peak elevation is 7177 feet. The rock can be seen from very far as you drive around the Four Corners area. Shiprock plays a significant role in Navajo religion, mythology and tradition.4c4

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde. Ancestral Puebloans lived here for around 100 years and moved away around 1280-1290, probably due to a severe drought. A young Swede, Gustav Nordenskiöld, arrived here in 1891 and explored, excavated and photographed the ruins, which led to nationwide recognition of these amazing national treasures and eventually this became a National Park. According to National Geographic it is one of fifty MUST SEE in a lifetime.4c5

In this picture it is easier to get an idea of the size of this amazing dwelling, where approximately 150 people lived.4c6

Here it almost looks like some kind of Legoland.4c7

At first the people lived on top of the Mesa and at some point they moved down and built these amazing buildings of stones, many shaped like bricks.4c8

At Cliff Palace there are several Kivas, which are circular rooms used mainly for religious and ceremonial purposes, maybe they were also used as dwelling places in the winter. They had roofs resting on six pillars. The round pit is for the fire, the small hole is a Sipapu, which symbolizes the portal through which their ancient ancestors first emerged to enter this world. There is a rectangular hole behind a small wall, this is where fresh air is entering the Kiva. The little wall apparently creates a vacuum which makes the airflow help the smoke go up and out of the small opening in the roof, which also functions as the entry to the Kiva. A ladder makes it possible to go down into the Kiva. The present day Pueblo Peoples who live in the Santa Fe / Taos area use Kivas like this for religious and ceremonial purposes even today.4c9

We had a very interesting tour by a charming and funny Park Ranger. It was very cold and we had to smile and laugh to stay warm.4c10

These walls are about 700 years old. Built of rocks which had to be hand carried from far way. Built by people who basically had only sticks and rocks as tools. With this they made elaborate pottery and much more. But they had no written language and not much is known for certain about them. Much has been learned about them from the present day Puebloans.4c11

Spruce Tree House is another dwelling which is amazingly well kept. Two Kivas in the foreground have been rebuilt with stone roofs resting on large beams (vigas). The ladders are sticking up from the small holes through which you enter the Kiva below. Note the T-shaped doors. Amazing architecture! Very inspiring.4c12

From Mesa Verde we continued towards and into Utah. We noticed a sign for Hoovenweep National Monument and drove off the main road and entered a vast wilderness. At one point we turned off onto a small dirt road and eventually found a number of ruins in the desert.4c13

These beautiful walls have been standing in the harsh wilderness for around 700 years. Small stones have been pushed into the mortar and archeologists believe that is one reason why the walls are still standing. This is similar to how stone houses in Mallorca have been built!4c14

On the way back to Cortez, southern Colorado. Mesa Verde at sunset. In the deep canyons atop Mesa Verde is where both we and Gustav Nordenskiöld were awed by the ruins of the Ancestral Puebloans, formerly called Anazasi.4c15

Next history lesson: these are the ruins at Aztec, New Mexico, not very far south of Mesa Verde. The first explorers/archeologists who came here believed this was the origin of the Mexican Aztec people, but later they have learned that to be wrong. These are buildings made by the Ancestral Puebloans as well. The large circular building to the right was rebuilt by archeologists in the early 20:th century.4c16

These ruins are located just next to the Animas River, so it was probably a good location. But the square brick-like stones had to be hand carried from far away in order to build these beautiful walls.4c17

Inside the large circular building – a truly amazing room! I am not sure it is entirely ok to take pictures here, did not see a sign forbidding it, but a plea to be quiet and respectful.4c18

A beautiful ceiling/roof. Much can be learned…4c19

There are two circular walls, between these there are small rooms. Note how the windows have been built in order to allow more light to enter the large room inside.4c20

The building seen from the outside. I would love to build a studio inspired by this, but am not sure the Pueblo People would approve?4c21

After mountain biking, driving, hiking, and history lessons, we returned home to Santa Fe. A short lunch break outside of Aztec – Coke is it! What would the old Ancestral Puebloans think if they knew how we so easily travel, consume and waste today? We felt humble and thankful on our way home. A great trip and probably lessons for life.

A new cutout…

I have experimented with another cutout in plywood. Am not convinced… will soon start on something totally different.sfsep11

The finished work.

After a few days of thinking and doing other things, yesterday I finished the piece.sfsep7sfsep8sfsep9sfsep10


Look what happened…sfsep6


Well, this is as far as I am now. Next… need to tweak it and squeak it, will find out something.sfsep5

Back – and back in action

How nice to be back. In Santa Fe and in action. There was a need for some color in the living room, so I started this project yesterday. Finally painting again, it has been over two months since I touched paintbrushes. Nice!sfsep1sfsep2sfsep3sfsep4 Warming up with something simple.

I am working in the beautiful backyard. Right now as I am updating the blog I am sitting right there in that lounge chair. The piece I am working on is fairly large – 152,5 x 153 cm. I am not done, hang in there, more soon.

What a summer it has been!

I am sorry I have been unable to update the blog for exactly two months! It has been a crazy active summer with exhibitions, selling our house of 19 years and moving, etc. A lot of work both to empty the old house and preparing space at the studio, where we will live now. I have not touched a paint brush in over two months, have not had time to think much about creative ideas, except building a walk-in closet with plywood (of course) and IKEA kitchen drawers.


Summer is fading out to fall and the views are changing.

In the September issue of the Swedish interior decorating magazine Residence there is a nice nine page article on Villa Holsby. No pictures on-line, though.

Now we are back in Santa Fe for a while and my creative ideas are bursting out. Hope to show more soon.