Day 23: July 1, 2011
Art of All Sorts
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Last night a Facebook post that mentioned I was in Albuquerque drew a response that said "Don't forget to checkout Tinkertown". I didn't even know it was there to forget. A web search quickly confirmed that this was something I didn't want to miss and I headed directly there when I checked out of the hotel this morning. From Tinkertown's Facebook page I knew it was open and half knew to expect a sign like this. Tinkertown is in the general area north of Albuquerque where forest fires are currently burning. The road is actually closed off about a mile beyond the museum. The sign is quite a ways before the museum. Officials say the sign is proper and I've no doubt that it is. But it's not doing anything good for Tinkertown and two hand written signs stating that the museum is reachable have disappeared. I went on because I knew I wasn't thru. I was just getting started.

You can seen some of it by just looking around but you enter the world of Ross Ward by walking between bottle & rock walls. Then, after paying your admission, you're handed back a quarter so you can fire up the display that's right around the corner. It's a great preview of what is to come: music, motion, phrases on little placards, and detail on top of detail. Ross Ward worked as a carnival painter. He created Tinkertown in his spare time. As he was fond of saying, "I did this while you were watching TV." Ross succumbed to Alzheimer’s in 2002. He was artistic and creative. He was also very wise.

The first part of the museum contains a lot of three dimensional scenes; dioramas, I guess. Some offer buttons, like the one for Emily that add some motion. All offer details to study or to miss completely and discover on your next visit. At a cutaway big top, there is an invitation from Ross to "Sit down for a few moments and imagine...". I accepted.


There is something of a break in the Ross Ward creations with a walkway that encircles something that Ross did not build. Ross did make the signs that explain that the boat was built in England in 1936 and was the home of Fritz Damler for ten years starting in 1981.

"So he traded them both for a sturdy old boat
and the one dream that he'd always saved."
    Michael McCloud - Chasing the Wind


Then it's on to more music, more art, more advice, and more walls made of lumber from bottle trees.

The fellow who tipped me off to being in Tinkertown's neighborhood has his own folk art based roadside attraction in western Kentucky. Apple Valley Toyland isn't as big as Tinkertown but it has its own charms and is well worth a stop. I made my only visit there around Christmas of 2009 and need to make it over that way again.

The lady is Ross Ward's wife, Carla. I learned that on the way in. I also learned that she often visits her brother during the museum's off season. On the way out I learned that the brother is Fritz Damler; The guy who sailed the Theodora R for ten years. He's living on land now but not all that much of it. Fritz now lives on an out of the way island in the Bahamas.

The last picture is of a sign that appeared early in my walk through the museum. It quotes two great American philosophers. Although I probably wouldn't support the law that Will Rogers suggests, I certainly agree with the sentiment that prompted his comment. In fact, I see it as something that not only applies to "...this country" but to this state (whatever it is), this county (whatever it is), and this community (whatever it is). I like seeing stuff in New Mexico but I know i have stuff to see in my home state and so does everybody else.


I again drove the I-40 Business Loop through Glenrio and found no more business than last time.

The Boot Hill Saloon & Grill was still a few weeks from opening when I stopped here in 2007. I met the owner and got a tour but no meal. Today I got friendly smiles from Melissa and Audrey and some tasty ribs from the kitchen. These are chef/owner Rory Schepisi's "Fork 'N' Ribs" that have appeared on the cover of Bon Appétit. Rory wasn't here today but whoever was running the kitchen did a fine job.

Next stop was at the Galleries at Sunset Center in Amarillo to say hi to roadie & artist "Crocodile" Lile. "Croc" is one of several artists with galleries in the Center and tonight was July's First Friday Art Walk. The place wasn't packed but there was a goodly amount of traffic. This looks like a real class operation and Croc's gallery certain is. Guess I should have got some more pictures of that.

The end of day stop was at one of my favorite Route 66 motels in McLean, Texas. The Cactus Inn changed hands a couple of years ago when the previous owners retired -- for real this time. The place seemed just as good as ever to me. Owners Ben & Mindy Reeves are nearby and managers Peggy & Duwain Baer are on site. 806-779-2346

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