Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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



3 August 2020 (Llano Quemado, N.M.) 6AM – The kitchen window is open about 6 inches – very cold air is pouring in – thinking that it will only be about five weeks before there will be the first snow on Taos Mountain and Truchas Peaks. A perfect cup of coffee. Except for my neighbors’ roosters greeting the sun, all is perfectly quiet.  A short and intermittent monsoon season – so grateful for the rain!  Unbelievable sunsets due to the storm clouds.  The reds, oranges, purples – pale lavenders – definite heart palpitations – quiet blessings.
About two weeks ago I deleted this blog because I was so close to the truth of what happened on the horse ranch.  In that time I reached my one year anniversary in this new studio which still feels like a gift from my Art Gods.  Pure Grace. It isn’t easy to expose the truth of me.  Still feel an obligation to all my “she-roes” – Betty Ford, Ann Richards, every woman I met in recovery – their strength and courage.  It is important for women to know there is a way out of abusive relationships and addiction, but it can’t be done alone.    God bless the Helpers!….women who openly share their stories – experience, strength and hope. The decision to be live a life of sobriety is the first step in a lifelong journey of healing.
One morning recently in that hazy still half asleep waking up time everyone came through as though in a dream to remind me of their influence in my life.  My first husband the college professor, Ernie, my parents – and my third marriage partner.  It was almost as if they were passing by in some crazy Memory Parade.  Finally I knew their importance…..each one gifted me with a reason to reshape my purpose and to change course toward greater health and stability.  All the pieces finally fit and I realized how each one offered me a definite path to healing.  After years of struggle to forgive the pain I felt a quiet acceptance for everything. My burden basket is empty! 
My first husband’s infidelity brought me to Santa Fe.  In the beginning Ernie offered his protection and gave me some studio space to support my beginning work.  I loved him.  My third attempt at a happy and creative relationship crumbled abruptly; in the end it became quite dangerous.  He offered a temporary escape from reality and we were drinking buddies.  We pretended to have a spiritual connection, a popular trend at the time.  It was definitely a grand adventure.  I would never have gone to live on a horse ranch by myself!  Even though he is long gone, my deep love for Truchas has lasted through my paintings for 40 years! 
Fate, destiny – whatever you want to call those strange mysterious coincidences, this man had been a long-time member of AA and introduced me to some meetings in Espanola. Still in denial over my own excess, my first reaction was that I was “going along to get along”.  I was completely shocked by this turn of events and felt threatened by this new twist in our relationship.  Although it took another year for me to wake up, this surprise introduction to recovery saved my life.  There are no accidents!
Next month I will arrive at my 81st birthday.  Mine has been a long and arduous journey of healing.  A few weeks ago I saw work by Ruth Homer  a Navajo weaver in Arizona.  Had such a strong reaction to this piece with four Yei Bei Che dancers during a sacred healing ceremony. I made immediate contact with Ruth’s granddaughter for the purchase.  It was greeted with tears on arrival.  Soft wool, tightly woven – I felt loved by the woman who made it.  Still weaving at the ripe old age of 90, Ruth has inspired me to begin a new body of work…..surprise, surprise!  To be continued….