Chapel, Monastery of Christ in the Desert
Chama River Canyon, New Mexico, 2004

In October of 2005, I biked north from Santa Fe, New Mexico to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, which is located 13 miles down a dirt road just beyond Abiquiu in the Chama River Valley.

I had been to the Monastery several times before, once for an extended stay, and returned in that same way that people occasionally travel to the highest place in the land to get another look around.

You want to check your bearings, see where you stand in relation to the world around you. Get close to the sky.

I was also kind of fascinated by the notion of riding a bike along those long stretches of New Mexico desert highways.

I wanted to see the side of the road, to move slowly, and stop
whenever I wanted. Of course, getting to the Monastery
was the point, but I also wanted a deeper sort of understanding of the traveling towards.

I wanted time, hours and hours to sink deep into myself. And I wanted this time in a landscape that was up to it: big skies, endless roads, sound of the wind and just... desolate.

On the way out of Austin, while waiting in a checkout line, I purchased a black and white disposable camera. Typically,
I don’t like to “take pictures” of anything, especially not when I am traveling.

The captured image infects the memory in a such subtle and seductive ways. Years later, the photographed experiences
hang like albatrosses on the walls - always reminding me that I was the one that killed them.

But I figured that to not be such a bad thing this time and tossed it into my pack. Every now and then, it’s existence
would come strangely back to me. Out there in the middle of nowhere: hey, take a picture of this.

I don’t imagine the camera’s designers testing that little black box to the extremes that I put it to. During the time I was out at the Monastery and in the months after my return, the
camera went from below freezing to near 100 degrees; suffered relentless sunlight, icy rain, snow and dust; it
was dropped, almost forgotten, and nearly crushed on a daily basis; it existed only as an after-thought at the bottom of my pack for weeks only to be brought out one beautiful
sunny day in Austin and dunked, with myself, into Town Lake. In short, the camera and the sensitive film inside of it, was “experienced” by me. As the world used me, I used the camera.

When I took it in to get the film developed, I had no substantial hope that anything would come out. But I was intrigued to see how time and light had written upon what was there. I laughed to see how all of the elements had worked into the images. And, for the first time in quite a while, I was satisfied with the photographs that I “took”.

They are filled, for me and perhaps for me alone, with the ineffable qualities of nostalgia, fragmentary evocations,
partially obscured vistas, glimpses under the curtains. And when I look at them here I think, not a little sadly: yes,
that’s exactly how it was.

Side of the Highway
North of Espanola

Highway Grave
With Sugar Skulls and Pumpkins
South of Espanola

Desert Bike
New Mexico

Red Rocks
North of Abiquiu

The Long Road
North of Abiquiu

Tree and Bike
Chama River Canyon

Chapel, Monastery of Christ in the Desert
Chama River Canyon

Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Cliffs Behind Guesthouse
Chama River Canyon

Chama River Valley

Dead End
Chama River Canyon

Santa Fe

Chapel of San Miguel por Barrio de Analco
Old Santa Fe Trail

Portrait by S. Walsmith
L'Insalata Subterranean Museum, Santa Fe

End of Film, Woodbridge
Austin, Texas

October 2004 to February 2005


The Monastery of Christ in the Desert

The A.S. Foote Endowment for the Osteological Arts

A Wieding Amnesiac Artist Grant

The Charles Boney Foundation

J.G. Milbauer Travel Services

The Walsmith Photographical Museum & Trust

The Samuels Oenological Institute Of Zoetropical-Political Discourse

The L’Insalata Subterranean Museum

The Walker-Beach Foundation

And the support of discriminating
readers such as yourself