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Gallery+Story: Arizona Weekend Getaway

I once read a piece that said most people would spend their whole lives in one city. They will be born, live, work, and die without ever having visited another city, state, or country.

That was something I read way back in my middle school social studies class with Ms. Mayo. It put me in mind set of if an opportunity to hit to road comes along, take it. This past weekend I did just that.

I found myself driving up to Phoenix, Arizona. One of the reasons I was heading there was to meet a man who has become my hero and motivator. (It’s a bit of a tease, you’ll see my story about him this Sunday).

After the interview, Chantilly and I decided to take Sunday and see downtown Phoenix. I thought I would share some of what we found with you.

Street Art

Since living in New York City, I’ve grown to love street art. Yes, some of it is just tagging and your run of the mill graffiti. You can, on occasion, find some great art.

Here in El Paso, over on 1500 E. Third Street, you will find some great examples of what local artists can do. Phoenix has embraced both street art, as well as public art. The photos I have shared are from an alley that is behind a bar, theater, a couple of other businesses and a parking garage.

Even the dumpsters had a makeover that gave them a bit of personality.

The public art is just a grand. The mosaic is called “The Earth Dreaming” by Isaiah Zagar. I love how it’s abstract, and everyone seems to see something different.

“To me,” said Rudy, one of a few people I stopped after the baseball game, “it shows the beauty of chaos.”

“The Earth dreams of how wonderful and graceful we can all be,” is what Mary Whittaker said after looking at the mosaic. “It shows the resplendent beauty of unity that can be achieved out of so many differences.”

Then there are the statues of people outside the Herberger Theater Center. These were made by John Waddell and are entitled “The Gathering.” What I learned is that at one point these statues were stolen for scrap metal!  I am glad they were recovered and are on a two-year display in Phoenix.

“The Gathering” has been described as larger than life works, and they are. To me, they capture and magnify the everyday mundane activities of life and make them something special. Mr. Waddell has other works, all in bronze, that can be seen on his web page.

YouTuber Encounter

I’m a camera geek. When I see someone with an interesting camera, I must ask a million questions about it. That’s how I ran into Anthony Lloyd in that art filled alley. He was recording part of a video for his YouTube channel.

Anthony’s videos are mostly about motorcycles, with the occasional car video tossed into the mix. I’m watching his videos this week and a liking what I see. If you want to check him out yourself, just visit his YouTube channel.

St. Mary’s

This is a phenomenal church. Though not the Cathedral for Phoenix, it does hold a special place in the hearts of the cities Catholic Community.

“You just ain’t going to match its beauty,” is all Ruben could say about it.

“In the heart of a busy city like Phoenix,” Mary Ellen told me, “you will always find a piece here. The building itself helps you find your quiet center.”

There is an overwhelming sense of peace that overtakes you as you walk into the Church proper. Then as you take in the story told by the windows, you can’t help but reflect on the insignificance of life’s problems.

Another thing I learned about St. Mary’s is that it was elevated to a Basilica by St. Pope John Paul II in 1987. It is one of eighty-three in the world, and the only one in Arizona.

Tombstone

I’ve always wanted to visit this town. Ever since I was a kid and would dream about being able to travel back in time to the old western days, Tombstone has been a goal of mine.

The people of Tombstone are doing their best to keep the story of the gunfight at the OK Corral alive in the age of the YouTube celebrity. It’s not an easy task, either.

There is everything you would expect: re-enactments of gunfights, even of the famed fight at the OK Corral. There’s an old-time band that plays on the main street, the courthouse museum, as well as tours.

But none of that was what untimely caught my attention.

All throughout Tombstone you will see antiques, items from the days when it was an old western mining town with dreams of being as large and metropolitan as San Francisco (got that part from the movie). Old beds, embalming equipment, cameras and more.
If you ever find yourself on I-10, make the trip to Tombstone.

Remember to take cash if you want to see Boot Hill. They don’t take credit or debit cards for that.

The Thing

If you’ve ever been on I-10 going into Arizona, or leaving for New Mexico, you’ve seen the signs, “The Thing.” Just what is the Thing? With so many billboards covering so many miles of I-10 you are left wonder just what it is. For me, it went beyond just idle curiosity to borderline obsession.

I had to know. I HAD TO KNOW!

On our way back from Tombstone we decided we would stop and check it out. It was only a dollar, so I wouldn’t be out a fortune if I were disappointed. So, what is the Thing?

Before you get to the Thing, you are treated to what can only be described as an old circus sideshow museum. They do have some interesting things there. You’ll find a collection of old cars, antiques, as well as a cool diorama type display.

Now, the Thing.

What is the Thing? Well, it’s a…

About Steven Cottingham

Steven Cottingham is an artist, poet (haiku, tanka, senryu) as well as a photographer. Growing up, he wanted to be a columnist, as well as photojournalist. Life, and poor decision, led him down a different path. Today, Steven is chasing those dreams. He is currently working on his next book, as well as starting a small poetry journal. You may visit Steven, online, at www.StevenCottinghamPhotography.com

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