Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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


10/29/18 – Taos, New Mexico – Many, many memories from my trip through Truchas last Monday….
MY SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY Part II – Don Eusavio’s Paradise
Moving back to Truchas for the second time, I wasn’t looking for a Zen master, but that is exactly who I found.  His name was Don Eusavio. He was a very old man and lived one small field away next door to me.  He owned a fairly large property – a big adobe house with several sheds in back. Right next to the house was a small “capilla” – a little chapel he had built for his wife.  By that time she had been gone for many years and he lived quite alone.
This week I realized that besides My Old Artist  in Chicago when I was eight years old, I was blessed to have another Wayshower in Don Eusavio.  The Artist and I met only once, Don Eusavio and I met twice – once when I moved into Susie Romero’s adobe and once when I was leaving to move back to Taos.   These two men changed my life in ways I never fully understood until now.  At the age of 20 I had left my family home without a roadmap. In the game of life, they left out the directions on how to live a sane and happy life.   I was now in my mid-forties and as always, my lifeline was my painting.  I looked grown up, but I was still a lost child.
First thing each morning there was a hammering and tapping from one of the sheds in back of Don Eusavio’s house.  I’d look at his house and then at the magnificent Truchas Peak still amazed how a girl from the Southside of Chicago came to live with such quiet beauty.  About noon the hammering stopped and I watched the old man take an armful of logs into the house.  Soon smoke would rise from the chimney and I imagined him cooking his lunch.  Later he might put on his green baseball cap and take an orange bucket to climb a ladder and pick apricots from the tree in front of his house.  Everything he did was slow and deliberate. He lived a very simple life.  My life had always been so chaotic, filled with drama and confusion.  It occurred to me that this old man was setting an example for me to follow and slowly I noticed how he lived with purpose and meaning, but without all the noise. Slowly I began to change.
One day Don Eusavio appeared at my front gate with his best girl, Rosita.  My guess was that they were both in their eighties!  Baseball cap in hand, he introduced himself and his friend.  They spoke only Spanish, but I understood that this was a “welcome to the neighborhood” visit.  I invited them in, but they were on their way to meet with friends at Clarence’s tavern.  Doing the best I could with my one semester of high school Spanish, I thanked them for stopping by and really felt honored by their visit.
Much later when it came time for me to move back to Taos I was in trouble moneywise.  I had hired movers on a wing and a prayer and I had no way to pay them!  Bill’s gallery across the street had not sold anything for a while.  In between packing my boxes, I stopped in to say goodbye to the friends I had made this time.  It had always been my intention to live beneath those mountains for the rest of my life.  A plot in the little cemetery down the road cost $75 – and that was my plan.   Am certain that the minute I make plans, God roars with laughter!
One of my friends from down the road knocked on the door and said that Don Eusavio wanted me to stop by that afternoon, he had a gift for me.   We walked over to his house, he was standing in front of the capilla and opened  the door for us.  The floor was covered with linoleum and at the far end of the room was an “altaro” with photos and some statues of the saints. A simple room built with great love.
Don Eusavio gestured to the altar and told me to pick out any one of the statues to take with me to Taos.  I chose a small plaster figure of the Santo Nino de Atocha  – the patron saint of children and prisoners.  There were words of gratitude – I had been blessed by goodness.
Walking back to my house, Bill shouted out that he had just sold a $4000 painting!  Yes, I believe in miracles!  Some tears as I write this morning.  Observing my neighbor’s simple life changed me in profound ways.  I learned to live without all the drama – just doing the things in life which must be done – one day at a time, one painting at a time.  God bless you, Don Eusavio….
Painted in memory of Don Eusavio – ESPIRITU BLANCO