Having a Ball in Marfa

Although Chinati makes up a large part of the entertain and educational life of Marfa, there is much more to explore.

One of the sites for exploration is Marfa Ballroom, and it contained several exhibits that left a lasting impression on us.

The first one was an untitled piece by Tara Donovan, and resembled hills made of plastic cups of various sizes. The cups were not connected by anything, so it appears they were all hand placed.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom, Tara Donovan

Upon first glance, it actually looked like styrofoam.  But the true nature of the exhibit was more clear from different angles.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom, Tara Donovan

Intriguingly, much of what we saw looked different depending on the perspective.  This piece, for example….

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

…looks different based on the perspective…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom, Tara Donovan

…and we worked hard to photograph the art from different perspectives.

The second major exhibit was outside in the courtyard, and they were holes of various sizes.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

The exhibit was a bit vague and we all felt that the artist was doing quite a bit of projecting, but the holes were complemented with sound effects and collectively they represented the “deceitful means” (curator’s words) the US Border Patrol uses to “trap” immigrants traveling across the desert.

On a more practical level, we learned the holes were interactive, so Maggie immediately went to work!

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

Back inside the museum, we encountered an intriguing two-piece set.  The first thing we saw was a rather indistinct photograph, which left us wondering if the photographer had full control of her camera’s focusing capacity.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

But then we saw a piece of glass nearby (seen above on the right side and below close up).

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

The “glass” was made from sand melted in the Atacama Desert in Chile, and then it was used to take the photograph above–thus explaining the apparent lack of clarity in the image.

Another interesting piece was VIRUS, or the Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrographs, which was from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment.  It is designed for people to look through at opposite ends and the Spectrograph allows the viewer to see an intriguing composite of their own face and the person’s face that is opposite them in the lens.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

The final piece we got to see was a green, fluorescent light that shined around a one-way mirror in front of a mirror, projecting what seemed like a hallway of green florescent lights. This reminded us all of the light pieces by Flavin we had seen earlier so we all enjoyed it a lot.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

For lunch in Marfa, after touring the Chianti Foundation, we stopped at Squeeze Marfa Swiss Café for sandwiches. It was a neat little shop where the nice lady who took your order seemed to process each order one item at a time….so you might plan on being at the counter for a while.

But the food was worth it, and we all ordered an interesting drink along with our meals. I ordered a Basil Lemonade, Anne tried the Peach Pear Divine smoothie, Peyton had a Belgian Chocolate Frappe, and Professor Yawn ordered a Napoli Italian Soda.

After lunch we continued exploring the little town. We visited the Prisittio Hotel where James Dean, (ect) stayed while they shot one of the greatest western films, The Giant. The hotel has a section filled with pictures of the famous actors on set as well as a very big gift shop area with everything from nice clothes to kitchen accessories. We began back down the block and came across an Andy Warhol exhibit in a closed art exhibit hall… we may or may not have crawled to the ground to peak under the blinds and catch a glimpse of the exhibit (it was worth it).

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Andy Warhol

Marfa is an interesting little town full of quirks…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas

….more quirks….

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas

…..more quirks….

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Andy Warhol

…and lots of small-town charm.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas

 

 

 

Big Bend Bound: Via San Antonio

By Maggie Denena,

The LEAP Center arrived in San Antonio around noon today and stopped for lunch at a local treasure, Mi Tierra. After navigating through the city to a public parking lot, we made our way around the block to the Historic Downtown Market, where Hispanic heritage runs thick. We checked into Mi Tierra with a 30 minute wait list, so we made the most of it by visiting the local shops and stands.

There were quite a few interesting characters, including but not limited to a dancing lady…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Mi Tierra, Market Square

…and a Hispanic Elvis, plus the local food stands smelled amazing. Finally, we made our way back to Professor Yawn in the restaurant lobby just in time: our wait buzzer went off and we were ready to be seated. The restaurant was very colorful, with lights and banners running along the ceiling and walls.

 

Once we sat down, we all spent a quiet few minutes looking though the menu—everything sounded so good it was hard to make a decision. Professor Yawn ordered queso flameado and guacamole for the table. The queso flameadio was so thick we had cheese-pull competitions, and the guacamole was some of the best I’ve ever had. I ordered the lunch special, enchiladas, but I was so full from our appetizers that I was only able to finish one of the two on my plate. I now understand why the restaurant was so packed!

After we had all that we could possibly eat, we headed out for another stroll through the market, where we found a mechanical bull.  Of course, I couldn’t resist! 

SHSU, LEAP Center, Mi Tierra, Market Square, Maggie Denena

After my impromptu rodeo, we headed to our next stop, which was the McNay Art Museum.
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By Peyton Reed

The first interesting thing I noticed about the McNay Museum is the location. The museum was designed as a large house, with each room holding various paintings that flowed together seamlessly, arranged by various characteristics such as color, technique, period and artist. The winding path to get to the entrance of the museum passed by several sculptures by Robert Indiana, George Rickey, and Alexander Liberman, to name a few.

 The featured exhibition is titled “Immersed,” an interactive and compelling exhibit featuring pieces from Andy Warhol, Chris Sauter, and Yayoi Kusama.

The first piece we saw was the piece by Chris Sauter. Walking in to the enclosed space, circle cutouts allow some light to pour into a small living room set up. In the chairs are circle cluster figures, entitled “dopamine molecules” by Sauter, which he made from the wood he cut out of the walls.

SHSU, LEAP Center, McNay Art Museum, Chris Sauter

 

The Shadow Monster by Phillip Worthington was a playful exhibit. Pool noodles, hula hoops and spinning flower props allowed for interesting additions to our figures as a projector casted outlines of the observer on to the wall with fun twists. Our shadows morphed as we moved, forming eyes, tails and ears and transforming us into magical creatures.

One of the interactive pieces in the museum was a light board with different colored pegs. We did our best to spell out SHSU with the letters.

SHSU, LEAP Center, McNay Art Museum

We took a similar marketing strategy to the sequin boards, also at the patrons disposal, making for a truly immersive experience.

My favorite piece was the Yayoi Kusama piece. We were allowed into an enclosed room lighted by hundreds of hanging candle fixtures.  The walls of the room were covered in mirrors, giving the viewer the perception that the space was infinite.

 Exploring the museum’s permanent collection was also an extremely satisfying experience.

Claude Monet’s “Waterlilies” was my favorite painting among the collection. I was struck by the size of it alone. Since this was my first experience at an art museum, it was amazing to see paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet, some of the most well-known and talented artists of all time, all in one place. Another favorite sculpture piece was by Alexander Calder, an artist who specializes in Kinetic art sculptures.

SHSU, LEAP Center, McNay Art Museum, Alexander Calder

 Overall, exploring the McNay museum was an enriching experience that helped me gain a little more familiarity with art.

Career Service’s 11th Annual Etiquette Dinner

In an effort to become well-rounded professionals, the LEAP Ambassadors were eager to attend Career Service’s Annual Etiquette Dinner. Some Ambassadors had previously attended the Etiquette Dinner while others were exposed to it for the first time. However, we all knew that we would gain a lot from this experience, especially since it was being led by Diane Gottsman, a world renowned etiquette specialist and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. The dinner was bound to be engaging and insightful!

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Career Services Etiquette Dinner. Dianne Gottsman

Our meal began by learning where and how to place napkins on our lap.  The straight edge of the napkin belongs parallel to your waistline in order to best protect your clothing. We also learned a cool tip on how to see which bread and drink were yours. To determine which drink is yours and which bread plate is yours, Ms. Gottsman taught us to make the letters “b” and “d” with our hands which would show you which side your bread and drink will be. This little trick lessened our anxiety and gave us a clever way to remember the placement for the future.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Career Services Etiquette Dinner. Dianne Gottsman

Our first course was served; meatball soup. In order to properly eat soup, you spoon the soup from the side to glide the liquid onto the bowl of the spoon. For creamy soup, we learned you eat from the side of the spoon. For chunky soup, you eat the soup from the front of the spoon.

During the main course of the meal, we learned how to hold our silverware properly. There are two dominant ways to hold the silverware, American and European style. American style is typically loud because of the scraping of the silverware against the plates whereas European style is a cleaner and quieter way of using your utensils. For European style, you hold the utensil with your index finger on the spine to glide it while cutting or bringing food to your mouth. We practiced with our chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. The meal was wonderful practice! While we are not experts after eating one meal, we certainly gained valuable practice.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Career Services Etiquette Dinner. Dianne Gottsman

Our third course (and possibly everyone’s favorite!) was dessert. We had a mix of strawberry cheesecake and chocolate fudge cake. We continued practicing our eating style and learned some helpful tips for networking and job interviews. The discussion ranged from appropriate interview attire to what to order during an interview over a meal.

The dinner quickly passed as we tried to soak up all the knowledge we could. The Career Services Etiquette Dinner was a great event! We learned new etiquette and brushed up on what we previously learned. Diane Gottsman provided a comfortable learning environment for us all to learn without fear of embarrassing ourselves. Thank you to Diane Gottsman, Vinessa Mundorff, and Career Services for the opportunity to learn!

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Career Services Etiquette Dinner. Dianne Gottsman

 

 

Mountains and Monuments: Another Day in Santa Fe

Bandelier National Monument by Bianca Saldierna

On our last day in the rugged west, we went for an early morning hike at the Bandelier National Monument, where the Ancestral Pueblo people lived starting approximately 11,000 years ago.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

The Bandelier National Monument encompasses over 33,000 acres of protected land and over 70 miles of trail. We adventured on the most popular trail at the national monument, the Main Loop Trail, also known as the Frijoles Canyon Trail. As we wandered on the 1.2-mile trail, we had the opportunity to see archeological sites such as Big Kiva…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

…Tyuonyi, Talus House and the Alcove House. As we learned about Big Kiva, a communal meeting place used for religious, educational and decision-making purposes, we spotted three mule deer around the Tyuonyi ruins. To our surprise, one by one, the deer calmly approached the site, stopping a couple feet away from us to snack on some of the grass (although we want to believe that it was because we are some kind of wildlife whisperers).

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandolier Monument

As we continued with our tour, we learned that the Tyuonyi pueblo was one of the several large pueblos located within the Bandelier National Monument. The Tyuonyi once had over 400 rooms and it was home to approximately 100 people.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

We were able to better appreciate the scale of the remainings of the Tyuonyi structure after climbing a volcanic tuff cliff situated in front of it. Resting on the cliff were the Talus Houses which were reconstructed in 1920.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

We had the opportunity to enter the small cave dwellings called cavates via ladder.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

We learned that because the clay rock was crumbly, the people would burn the clay constantly to make it sturdier.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

Midway through our trail…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

…we adventured on the Alcove House which rests in the upper part of some large volcanic tuff cliffs.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument, Alcove House

To reach the former ceremonial cave, we climbed 140 feet up via four steep wooden ladders…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

…all despite Karla’s fear of heights.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

Luckily…

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…the narrow and partly paved paths were not crowded by visitors, which gave us some extra time to carefully explore…

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…and enjoy the views…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

of such a scenic and photogenic place.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

Shopping Downtown by Karla Rosales

After our hour-long hike at the Bandelier National Monument, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and enjoy our last few hours in Santa Fe. We spent part of our afternoon at the heart of downtown Santa Fe around the plaza market which was filled with various shops and art galleries.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Plaza

We began our walk through the portal at the Palace of the Governors which was filled with Native American Vendors. The Native American artists, from approximately 41 pueblos and tribes, make and exhibit jewelry, pottery and other works of art.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Plaza

The program that allows Native artists to showcase their art is called Portal Native American Artisans Program and it requires for the vendors to be members of New Mexico tribes and Pueblos and for all of their pieces sold to be genuine pieces. Some of us bought copper bracelets and even a copper guitar pick which were handmade and had unique cultural symbols and designs. Other ambassadors decided to walk around the plaza and enjoy a hot cup of coffee from a local shop.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Plaza

We wrapped up our quick shopping trip and hurried to meet with Mark Burns for lunch.

Lunch with Mark Burns by Christina Perez

Make Burns is a well-known photographer who grew up in Houston and who is known for the National Parks project that featured his photographs of all 59 National Parks. Currently, The LEAP Center and Mark Burns are collaborating to create a documentary on his profession and his successful career as a photographer. Interestingly, as he was working on the National Parks Project he spent some time in Santa Fe. Besides joining us for lunch, he also met us to work on the documentary and allow us to take a few photos of him. Because of being so familiar with the city, he recommended that we visit Tomasita’s Restaurant which serves Northern New Mexican cuisine.  Tomasita’s was first opened in 1974 and has been a local favorite since then. During lunch we enjoyed listening to experiences Mark Burn’s had during the last few months. He shared news about his project of the 100th-year anniversary of the Grand Canyon and his new website design.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Trains

Canyon Road Walk and Film with Mark Burns by Bianca Saldierna

Our conversations were carried on through our walk with Mark Burns around Canyon Road.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road

The half-mile long road located in Santa Fe’s Historical District houses more than one hundred galleries, boutiques and restaurants.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road

As previously mentioned, Mark Burns sporadically lived in Santa Fe while he completed his National Parks Project. He took us to his short-term house located in this picturesque road. We were able to briefly film and photograph Mark Burns in this location to include the material as part of our documentary.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road

To our surprise, the neighboring gallery displayed several pieces of one of the ambassadors’ favorite sculptor, Allan Houser Haouzous.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road, Allan Houser

We also had a chance to photograph Burns at the front of the home in which he stayed during his various trips to Santa Fe.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road, Mark Burns

After concluding our work with Mark Burns, we strode through the charming road…

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…peeked into a couple of galleries, took some photos, and visited a restaurant with a noteworthy side story.  The walls of El Farol’s (The Lighthouse) restaurant display five small murals brushed by Alfred Morang, an artist who made Santa Fe his home and whose house and former studio sit just off of Canyon Road.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road, Alfred Morang, El Farol

We had previously admired Morang’s artwork at the New Mexico Museum of Art…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe NM, New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Alfred Morang

…in fact, our knowledgeable museum tour guide directed us to his artwork at this unique restaurant. Our New Mexico visit ended in this historic and popular part of Santa Fe. Although we were nostalgic to leave such beautiful city, we headed back to our home state delighted to have learned about the city’s culture, people, art and history.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road