A Curious Place in Old Town
I've been fascinated with this little chapel since I first discovered it back in the day, that day being sometime around 2008. It's well hidden and most regular visitors to Old Town don't even know it's there. I feel like it exists in a slanty dimension and will reveal itself on a need to know basis.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel was built in 1976 for the students of Sagrada Art Studios, giving them a place to pray as a group. The project was headed up by Sister Giotto Moots, making this a chapel built by nuns that is not a church.
Not a church.
Which is why I like it.
For me, the biggest attraction is the large round window depicting the phases of the moon. In case you were wondering, the window also has a name. It's official title is Feast Days Of The Virgin and Phases Of The Moon. FYI, nowadays the window is barely attached so don't lean on it, touch it, breathe on it, or look at it funny. Be respectful.
Over the years, I have shot more portrait sessions in and around this chapel than I can count but I never noticed, until viewing these images that I shot with my phone, that there are spots in the wall on either side of the big window that have been closed up. Once upon a time there were two other windows in that wall. According to the chapel website, these windows are now in storage but it doesn't say when they were removed. It may have been after the dumpster fire in 2010 that spread to the roof of the chapel and caused a good deal of smoke damage, but the website doesn't specify.
In other news, the chapel is also haunted and is a featured location on the Old Town Ghost Tour. It has also been visited by paranormal investigators from across the country. I'm not usually there at night but visitors have claimed to see the apparition of a "woman in black" who sits on the built-in benches in the main room either meditating or praying. I don't think anyone has died in this chapel but the now quaint tourist-trap that is Old Town has a violent history. Long before the art galleries and Kokopelli incense burners, this area was very much The Wild West so it doesn't seem far fetched to think that an Old Town ghost would make itself at home in this friendly chapel.
Our Lady Of Guadalupe Chapel is open to the public. Anyone may go there to oogle the round window, look for ghosts, or to pray. The chapel website bills the location as a wedding venue and I suppose that could work so long as the wedding does not require guests or chairs.
For more information about Our Lady Of Guadalupe, visit their website by clicking here.
All photos shot with Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
The Diner That Never Was
Last weekend, Johnpaul and I went on a little photo-adventure to the Rio Puerco Bridge on-the-mother-road-to-rio-puerco-bridge.html which is out on Historic Route 66 west of Albuquerque. From there, we decided to take Hwy 6 back to Los Lunas and, on the way, came across Maybelle's Diner.
After posting a few photos on Twitter, one of my followers shared some interesting information about this location, namely that there never was any such place as Maybelle's Diner.
Turns out the original name of this place was Wild Horse Mesa Bar. After it closed, Hollywood came in and used it for an on-location set in the 2016 movie Katie Says Goodbye. It was renamed Maybelle's Diner for the movie.
A Steel Guardian Of The Mother Road
Originally constructed in 1933, the Rio Puerco Bridge stands guard over this section of Historic Route 66 in New Mexico. It is no longer accessible by automobile but I-40 is a mere stone's throw away and certainly a safer method of crossing the river.
The Rio Puerco Bridge is a Parker Through Truss style bridge and was fabricated by the Kansas City Structural Steel Company. The bridge is 250 feet in length, making it one of the longest bridges of it's type in New Mexico.
These photos were shot on January 12, 2019.
Creating Art For The Love Of Route 66
Darryl Willison is arguably one of Albuquerque's most recognizable artists. His career, spanning over twenty years in New Mexico, has produced a signature style and his work can be seen in galleries, museums and restaurants all over town and even in the White House.
Once known for his two dimensional art; cowboy themed paintings, pastels, and colored pencil creations, Darryl's work has evolved to meet the demands of a changing marketplace and he now specializes in steel sculpture - which he creates with a plasma cutter and describes as "drawing with fire", and in creating designs for gift items such as tee-shirts, coasters, wall art, and bumper stickers. All of his designs are original and still drawn by hand.
Currently, my favorite Darryl Willison art pieces are these absolutely fantastic saw sculptures.
Holding On To The History
Darryl is the director of merchandising for the New Mexico Route 66 Association and his lifelong love of Route 66 shines through in his work.
When asked about his fascination with The Mother Road, Darryl says:
"Route 66 is steeped in the rich history of this country and represents the heart and backbone of the people who live here. Families would get in the vehicle and enjoy the landscape without the distraction of electronics. You enjoyed the ride because the road was the destination. As the older generation passes away, it's like a library burning to the ground and this history is something we can't afford to lose."
Bringing History Back To Life
Albuquerque's Central Ave. is a living and breathing stretch of historic Route 66 and New Mexico hosts the longest stretch of Route 66 in the country.
Along this main drag are numerous roadside motor lodges, many built in the 1930's that have since fallen into various states of disrepair, some have even been abandoned and become derelict.
When it was built in 1937, the El Vado Motel was one of New Mexico's first motels to greet Route 66 travelers. In more recent times, it had been rundown and was considered an eyesore and all around dangerous place to be (though I believe it made an appearance in an episode of Breaking Bad)
Fortunately, the El Vado was rescued by the city and in 2017 it was renovated into a beautiful commercial space hosting many shops and restaurants as well as a boutique motel for those who want to spend a night on The Mother Road.
I wish I had photographed the El Vado prior to it's renovation, just to show the before and after. What I remember was a boarded up motor lodge in a lot overgrown with weeds and enclosed by a razor wire chain link fence. Needless to say, the transformation has been incredible.
Merc 66 In The Newly Renovated El Vado Motel
Never content to sit quietly behind the scenes, Darryl Willison is not only a gifted artist but also a lifelong entrepreneur. Recognizing that functional gifts meet the needs of travelers, Darryl's latest venture is a fun and quirky giftshop full of one-of-a-kind creations that are not only decorative but also serve a purpose.
Merc 66 is part of the newly renovated commercial space at the El Vado Motel located at 2500 Central Ave SW in Albuquerque. It is walking distance to Old Town and is right across the street from the Botanical Garden.
Merc 66 is actually a co-op giftshop and not only features numerous fun and functional "Darryl" creations but those of other artists as well; all of whom have a vested interest in the success of the shop.
Merc 66 has a tiny boot print, occupying only 350 square feet, but there is no wasted space here. The quantity and selection of products is impressive and every explorer of The Mother Road is likely to find the perfect thing to bring back home.
In addition to wall art, there are tee-shirts, coasters, bumper stickers, refrigerator magnets, New Mexico shaped cutting boards, hand made soaps, fruit preserves, steel sculptures, neck pillows and even pool wrap ponchos made from southwest themed beach towels. Like I said, something for everyone!
For more information about Darryl Willison, visit his website at WhimsicalWest.com and be sure to "like" Merc 66 on facebook. Merc 66 merchandise is also available online and can be ordered at www.Merc66abq.com and if you're traveling through Albuquerque, don't forget to book your room at the El Vado Motel.
I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.