Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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


On the Road

Late on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, my Greyhound Bus arrived in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  Alamagordo’s elevation was 8600 feet. A car from the hotel was waiting to take me  to 9,000 ft!   Our trip to the Lodge was an uphill climb all the way…. heavy forests on either side of the road with only a few buildings tucked every mile here and there. This place, these mountains were strange to me.  This was beyond adventure – it was a giant leap to another planet!   The driver of the car was very chatty and told the story of the Lodge.  It had been built in 1899 to facilitate taking lumber for the new railroad.  Later it developed as a resort and famous people stayed there – Judy Garland, Clark Gable, Pancho Villa and a resident ghost named Rebecca!

Apparently Rebecca still lives in a room downstairs in the hotel.   She was a chambermaid at there in 1920 and 1930.  One night her huge lumberjack boyfriend caught her in bed earning some extra money with another man and killed her on the spot! There are many documented sightings as she roams the halls of the Lodge freely. She is  known to be a redheaded gentle presence among guests and staff of the hotel.

After unloading my art supplies and suitcase, I was led to the dining room  for supper.  I watched the sun set from the huge windows and had a quiet moment to reflect on all the changes in my life since leaving Chicago.  What was I doing here?  Later I sat in the common area of the lobby hoping to acclimate myself to this new experience.  It felt strange to be without my babies.  I missed them tugging at me and wanted to be back in Santa Fe with our familiar nightime routine of baths and bedtime stories. I pushed down a giant wave of homesickness.  At the same time it was exciting to  be starting art class early the next morning.  Although I had been in night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, this workshop situation was new to me.  I had no idea what to expect, nor did I realize the impact this experience would have on the rest of my life…..blank is the end and blank is the beginning!