Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

How I Came to New Mexico and learned about Art and Life

WORD PAINTINGS #3 – August 1967 – Finding Home

Walking Rain

It is said that every journey has a beginning, a middle and an end, followed by a new beginning….51 years ago this month, the moving van left our house on Riegel Rd. in Homewood, Ill. My son was two and my twin girls were six months old.  It was a long trip – I felt like a pioneer woman minus the covered wagon! The girls learned to eat spaghetti with their fingers in some little restaurant along the way. We crossed the border into New Mexico late in the afternoon.  The sky above us was cloudless, but to our left was this huge ominous blue and black monster bursting with thunder and lightning!  I would later learn that the dark pouring from that cloud was called”walking rain” – I was awestruck!  the highway straight ahead was sunny and clear; this was the beginning of my  intense love affair with the people and landscape of New Mexico!

Santa Fe – My husband and I rented a small adobe house on Alegre St. (Happy Street) from an old cowboy named Les Langley. Across our backyard fence was Rosario Cemetery.   All three babies were still in diapers – the twins were still crawling. Our only heat was from antiquated floor furnaces – a big challenge. Still a Chicago girl, I was very homesick and lonely.  Where to begin? A neighbor gave me a New Mexico Magazine. There was a photo of a drummer from Taos Pueblo. I got out my paints and copied the photo. The painting sold quickly for $75 which was a fortune to me, we really needed the money.  The wheels started spinning – maybe Santa Fe, New Mexico was where I belonged from the very beginning – I was just born in Chicago by accident!