Southwest Tour: Part II

When we last left off, our intrepid duo was camping near Goldwell where the wild burros hee-hawed all night long …

In the morning, we planned to go southeast into Arizona to visit Kingman Arthub. First though, a stop in Las Vegas was essential, the lights and spectacle of the Strip a must-see. We had also heard about a neon sign boneyard: The Neon Museum features signs from old casinos and businesses that are on display outdoors and some are slowly being restored. Visitors can take a tour and admire the artistry that went into each sign while learning the significant history of a different era in Las Vegas.


In Kingman, we met director and artist Janie Stapleton and current artist-in-residence, Henry Kunkel. Kingman Arthub, on the corner of the main street in the historic downtown, serves as a community center for locals as well as a free three-month residency space for artists from all over the world. The Arthub was created in order to benefit the Kingman community with workshops, lectures and open studios. After a much needed yoga session at a studio a couple doors down from the residency, we headed to Kingman’s brewery to unwind, learn about the residency’s history and meet some locals. As we sipped on our local brews, the conversations ranged from art, thrifting, punk shows and philosophy …we instantly felt at home. The next morning we hopped around thrift stores and then sadly made our goodbyes to our newfound Kingman friends.


We wove our way north to Utah, heading to a magical campground we visited a couple years ago. Free BLM camping can be found right outside historical ghost town Silver Reef, only 45 minutes west of Zion National Park. The surrounding landscapes range from woodlands to rugged red cliffs. We spent the morning scrambling the slick rock and feeling rejuvenated by the desert landscape.  

We find a lot of our campsites on


We were so excited about our next residency stop: Zion National Park! Arts involvement within the National Parks date back to the 19th century and some parks continue that tradition by integrating artist residency programs. Eleanor Siebers, Volunteer Program Manager, gave us a special parking pass to drive into normally restricted areas of the park, which was very thrilling to us! She lead us to the Grotto House, a historical cabin for the artist-in-residence as well as the occasional researcher. Each year, four artists are chosen to spend a month living amongst the awe-inspiring canyons of Zion. We spent our time hiking, exploring, and BBQing. At night our only companions were the animals, canyons and stars. This experienced was unmatched… we felt like the queens of Zion.


After a couple days of being in nature with no technology and no driving, we felt clear and refreshed as we piled our belongings back into the car and headed to our next residency. Back in Arizona, the Navajo Nation is home to the Painted Desert Project. Chip Thomas, doctor, activist and public artist has lived on the reservation for about 30 years and invites artists from all over the world. Artists create public art in order to collaborate with and contribute to the surrounding community. Chip was incredibly inspiring with his passion, stories and amazing book, record and art collection. 


The next day was our longest driving day, but the end was well worth it. We were meeting with friends in Taos, New Mexico, where they host locally foraged, wild plant-based dinners as part of a series called / Shed Project. These small-scale dinners are served on handmade native clay ceramics or found natural objects. The experience was thoughtfully cooked and curated by Johnny Ortiz and Leia Layus, who had a story to tell about each course.

We had another full day in Taos to explore old adobe buildings, visit artistic landmarks such as the Mabel Dodge Luhan House and Harwood Museum, and attempt a starlit soak in some hot springs. Taos felt so warm and comfortable and we were sad to say goodbye to our friends (although we got to see them one more time, later on the trip!)


Our next stop was a small railroad town in South Central New Mexico, with a population less than 1,000. The town of Carrizozo is home to MoMAZoZO and Carrizozo Colony AIR. We met with Paula Wilson and Mike Lagg (and their dog, Duchess) at the historic movie theater that they are slowly renovating, along with a former hotel and brewery, into living and working artist spaces.The free residency space invites artists of all different mediums — using a very broad definition of “artist”— and offers solitary time for the artists as well as a welcoming community to interact with. We stayed with Mike and Paula in their wonderful home - Mike is a woodworker and has built creative structures and sculptures in the backyard while Paula, a cross-media artist, has painted murals covering every wall of their home, inside and out. We really fell in love with the magic of Carrizozo, Mike, Paula, and Duchess, and can’t wait to return!


Next time: There are still two more residencies in New Mexico to visit, and then we return to where we first met, Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, Colorado. 

This is a video Alicia took while BBQ-ing at our new home, The Grotto House, in Zion National Park.