Phoenix Art Museum – Tire Totem

We are in the weather sweet spot in the North Phoenix area and multitudes of people flock to the desert to find relief from the cooler, colder and drearier environs of the northlands. With this influx of “snowbirds,” a number of our friends and relatives arrive on an annual basis and many of them are repeat visitors.

We often face the challenge of providing interesting adventures for them. One of the places we look to is the Phoenix Art Museum. Compared to other major metropolitan areas, I think Phoenix is somewhat small, but the culture offerings are significant.

Our most recent guest is an artist and art student so naturally we gravitated toward the museum. During this visit, we focused on contemporary artists.

One installation I found particularly interesting was created by Mexican artist, Bestsabé Romero and was titled Columna interminable (Endless Column), 2015. The piece was constructed from rubber tires and gold leaf.

Tire column representing migration of ancient civilizations

The work focuses on the theme of migration which connects well with the idea of tires. There are a total of seventeen tires with various designs representing cultures from “pre-conquest North, Central, and South America…”

A section of the tire column representing the Aztec and Hohokam cultures

The snake in the topmost tire in the photo above is from the Aztec/Mixtec societies of Mexico while the oval shaped symbols just below are from the Hohokam of Arizona.

In the picture below, the dancing figures with headdress were drawn from the Wari or Moche of Peru with the abstract design below representing the Mimbres from New Mexico.

A section of the tire column representing the Wari, Moche and Mimbres cultures

I was intrigued by the use of materials and the beauty they created using an item that has historically populated landfills worldwide. The ingenuity and creativity of Bestsabé Romero is to be admired.

I recommend a trip to the Phoenix Art Museum if you are visting the Valley of the Sun. They have paintings from nearly every genre of art including the masters. There are numerous galleries that are sure to satisfy almost all guests.

Read more about the Phoenix Art Museum HERE

PSThey have one of the best art museum gift shops I have seen and I have seen quite a few!


NOTE – All photographs were taken with an iPhone 5 and represent works by the artists named in the stories. All work is copyrighted by their creator and is presented here strictly for educational and illustrative purposes.

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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017 –

Lizards and Snakes of Las Cruces, New Mexico

Those who have been reading my blog for a while realize that I have a strong personal connection to nature. I am interested in other living things as well as a few that are not quite alive such as rocks. If I had it to do all over again, I would collect rocks. I have a few, but not many. Let me not digress.

As we hike along, I collect (via photographs) a record of the various species of insects, reptiles, birds, plants, etc. that we encounter. Some are new to me and some are found in unanticipated circumstances.

In our spring trip to Las Cruces, NM we encountered several interesting lizards and one snake. By way of sharing my interest in photographing these animals and the joy in the abundance and variety of nature, I am including several pictures below.

Many thanks to the Arizona Herpetological Association – AHA for their warm hospitality and support in helping me identify these specimens. I recommend their website and organization to anyone who is interested in southwest herpitology.*

Lets start with a popular lizard of which we saw many…

The Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail (Aspidoscelis exsanguis)

The Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail (Aspidoscelis exsanguis)

This fellow was particularly interesting because of his “racing stripes” along his side. Adidas and Nike have nothing on him.

Greater Earless Male

Greater Earless Male (Holbrookia elegans)

This female appeared to be obviously pregnant.

Greater Earless Female

Greater Earless Female (Holbrookia elegans)

At quick glance, this looks like a pretty ho-hum specimen sitting on an ordinary rock, but…

Ornate Tree Lizard

Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)

Look at that turquoise-like coloring under his chin and belly!

Ornate Tree Lizard

Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)

And let’s not forget a fellow we included in his own post here,

Eastern Collared Lizard

Eastern Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris)

The only snake we encountered was an adventurous, long and thin Patch-nosed Snake.

Patch-nosed Snake

Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis)

The markings on this specimen were quite nice; two colors of brown, one tan and one near chocolate in shade.

Patch-nosed Snake

Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis) – close up

*If I have misidentified any of the reptiles in this post, please let me know and I will make the appropriate corrections. originally published this post

Lightroom 6 First Panorama – Las Cruces, NM

Readers of my blog may have noticed that I enjoy the outdoors, hiking, birding, etc. My wife and I were recently hiking in the recently created Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

There were many excellent sightings that I hope to write about in the future, but for now I want to tell you about my very first attempt at creating a Panorama using Lightroom 6.

I have only been using LR for less than a year and I have been making progress in learning about the various tools. When LR 6 arrived with “built-in” panorama creation tools, I couldn’t wait to try it.

The Organ Mountains are very large and cannot be captured easily in one shot so I decided to create a Panorama.

I took the following seven pictures with hopes of being able to “stitch” them together using LR.

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, NM - Panorama Picture 1

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, NM - Panorama Picture 2

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, NM - Panorama Picture 3

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, NM - Panorama Picture 4

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, NM - Panorama Picture 5

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, NM - Panorama Picture 6

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, NM - Panorama Picture 7

I wasn’t sure exactly how to accomplish this task so I searched online and found Julieanne Kost’s blog post about it. She is an excellent and gifted instructor. I have used several of her videos before. If you are interested, you can watch her video below:

I heard that when doing a panorama, one should have about a 30% overlap and although I wasn’t too exact about this, I took a guestimation as I captured the various pictures while moving my camera as level as I could across the distant view.

Here is the final result via a thumbnail-ish rendering.

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, NM - Panorama

You can see a large-sized image here at the link below:

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, NM

The image needs a bit more editing, perhaps reducing the “noise” in the sky, etc., but I am pleased with my first attempt. Are you encouraged to try creating a panorama?

The Contemporary Cave Man

This is an interesting story of Ra Paulette who found his passion as a Cave Digger. The video episode below was aired on CBS Sunday Morning. Without any formal training or experience in architecture or cave digging, Mr. Paulette has become an expert at designing and building underground dwellings. Although he has been given the title of “Cave Digger,” once you see his work, you will agree he is much more than that.

So spectacular are the designs and executions of these cave dwellings, that an award winning and Academy Award nominated documentary, Cave Digger, was made. You can learn more about the film here:

Cave Digger

Before you do that, however, why not watch the Sunday Morning segment below which I assure you is quite intriguing.

“For the past 25 years, Ra Paulette has been carving out man-made caves from the sandstone hills of New Mexico, and then sculpting these spaces into works of art he calls wilderness shrines. Lee Cowan has the story of an artist who does his best work underground.”