all’s quiet in quemado

Three hours due west – then south – of Albuquerque is the town of Quemado, home to the Dia Art Foundation‘s field office for The Lightning Field. It’s where you deposit your car and wait to be ferried another hour further into the desert by the caretaker. There is not much to the town; in quick succession there’s a magistrate’s building, el Serape diner, a gas station, the Largo Motel and an ATM. (This is why you make a point of stopping at the liquor store in Grants.) If you make it to the end of the road – and one assumes, the town limits as well – you’ll learn that Quemado is the Spanish word for burned. You’d be forgiven for doing a double-take and reading the word as burnt, however, because Quemado appears more than just dry – it looks scorched.

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twombly from above

The Menil Collection encompasses multiple buildings spread across a campus of carpeted lawns.  In addition to the main collection and Rothko Chapel buildings, there are three site specific light works by Dan Flavin at nearby Richmond Hall, a Byzantine Fresco Chapel designed by M. Menil himself to house two thirteenth-century frescoes in a consecrated setting for the Church of Cyprus, and in collaboration with the Dia Art Foundation, the Cy Twombly Gallery, housing more than thirty works by the abstract painter and sculptor.  I must confess that I don’t have any particular connection or attraction to Twombly’s work but the structure itself, designed by Renzo Piano, is hushed, cool and reverent – a perfect setting to contemplate Twombly’s abstractions.

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