Friday, June 15, 2012


Rest is the word for healing, but we haven’t been resting.  We both felt like we needed a restful day instead of moving on.  Besides, I’ve become intrigued with Durango and wanted to see more of this town, so we stayed an extra day.

For starters, it ought to win a prize for clever names.  No Way Jose’s is a Mexican Restaurant. Oohs & Aahs is a home furnishings place, The Irish Embassy Pub, (not knocking the Irish) but it is customary for the Irish to do business in their pubs. Nobodys Inn, cute. And, I didn’t wander off the Main St. of Old Town. I’m sure there are more clever names.   I found Diane West’s Gallery from the list Amanda Nichols gave me on Monday.

Lamenting the lack of handwritten letters,  artist, Alexis Mc Clean sent out 40 letters to people  asking them to write a note, a poem or a drawing and send them to her.  This is the result:

A full wall display of 12 small pieces of her art from the heart with a copy of a letter in between each set of three.

She made notebooks of her art and just snippets of the handwriting,  on the covers for something very endearing. She hung the original letters on  clothes lines with clothes pins.

Diane likes to encourage young artists and this and several other bicycle pieces appealed to me.

Something for everyone here,  affordably priced fine arts,  from abstracts to jewelry.  The blocks with rolled rice paper and blossom vases I found clever and appealing.

Moving up the street I saw a beautiful door. But I smelled the place before I ever saw the door.

Heavenly. I practically swooned at Dancing Willow Herbs. And there is a Chinese Pharmacy across the street. In fact, it had a sign on the door, “Be back at 1:30.”  That small town touch where the owner can leave a note and go off to have  lunch.
& Gallery also had a similar note on the door. It’s a studio gallery, an incubator for ideas. You can visit artists while they are working. I caught a couple pictures through the window.

All local artists here.  Elizabeth Kiniahan’s  Poppies.

Rosie Carter did three  pieces like this one. She is from Montezuma, Co.
Did I mention this is a bike friendly town?

I’ve never seen an embedded sidewalk sign that encourages bikers and skate boarders to dismount before crossing busy streets.  There are bikes everywhere in this city. And bike shops, bike repair shops. Biking is really big.

This bike is actually a sign for the Carter Brewing Company. The website for Durango gives tourist information about rafting, skiing, the steam train, the area attractions nearby, fishing and so on, but very little about the strong arts community here. It is astounding that a city with  a population of around 16,000 people  has multiple bike shops,  three micro breweries, two herbal places and quality fine arts.

A mural on the side of the old 1992 building that houses the El Rancho Tavern and Century Hotel is of Jack Dempsey. We didn’t know he was a local.

We took a peek into the tavern.

Again, that homey touch.  You can sit around and play Klackers, an old 1800′s game;  or enjoy sports TV or play pool.

Many restaurants, from a 1950′s style counter luncheon to fancy restaurants and everything in between.  You can find Sushi, Thai, Indian, Mexican and I didn’t even look in the phone book.

Bob and Lori Curtis of the Rain Dance Gallery handle Rance Hood’s work. He is the most famous Native American Artist still working images of traditional Indian culture and spirituality of the past. He is Comanche and this particular painting is a political statement: It is the Palo Duro Holocaust.  In his words: “…the white soldiers came looking to kill the Comanches and they went to the Palo Duro Canyon..they found and burned our camps and killed over 2,000 of our horses.”

This is another Rance Hood canvas.  These pieces are huge by the way.

Rain Dance Gallery is totally South West art.

I loved the painted and decorated western hats here.
I couldn’t begin to see every gallery with the limited time I had, but the Open Shutter has photographs and a few ceramic pieces. Photos old and new, classical and modern. Prices range from $25 to $50,000.  Brandon Donahue is the manager and they handle work from the famous National Geographic photographer Steven Mc Curry and an  impressive list of well knowns. I think what I’ve learned about Durango, from looking and talking to people is that it is a transfer Community.  You can enjoy the same amenities you get in world-class cities, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Portland.  Then transfer to the peace and friendliness of a small town, and you have Durango.  I was totally impressed. I visited more places and hope to include them in my blog tomorrow.

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