This past weekend, I initially thought that the highlight of my trip to Santa Fe was going to be visiting the increasingly popular Meow Wolf art installation, “House of Eternal Return.” But as I was nestled in a truck of creatives, I quickly realized that it was their wisdom, humility and fun attitude that would make my road trip a blast.
My excursion to the Land of Enchantment sparked from a casual conversation with Michelle “Deady Page” Padilla. I first met her several years ago while interviewing her about a Dia de los Muertos event she co-organized. What’s amazed me about her over the years is that all of these events she throws are a side hustle on top of her full-time job and being a mom. Despite the little sleep she gets to help put these events together, she has the energy of a teenager!
A few weeks ago, while we were talking about her first visit to Meow Wolf, she asked if I wanted to join her on her next trip to Santa Fe. Little did I know that joining us would be Angel Cabrales, another artist and UTEP professor I’ve interviewed, painter and teacher Lizzie Ochoa and Bobbie Welch. Bobbie owns Tricky Falls and helped bring some major shows to the region like the Warped Tour and various Sun Bowl Stadium concerts.
With so much creative energy surrounding me, the trip to and from Santa Fe practically felt like a trip to Las Cruces. I learned so much about the hard work that goes into organizing major shows and encouraging students to find their uniqueness in a world that’s saturated with art.
I won’t pretend that Meow Wolf didn’t blow me away, however. It was hard to believe that the place I explored used to be a bowling alley (other than the ’80s/’90s-looking carpet you see as soon as you walk in). From a giant robotic hand that visitors could control to a tumble dryer that leads you into another room, every inch of that place ignited child-like curiosity.
We also visited the Shidoni sculpture garden about five miles north of Santa Fe. While its foundry unfortunately closed due to financial struggles, there’s plenty of breathtaking work to marvel at.
All in all, my trip with Michelle, Angel, Lizzie and Bobbie was a reminder that with enough enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and integrity, art can be a consistently rewarding – and necessary – practice in this crazy world.