In Santa Fe they stopped long enough to gas up and then headed north toward Chimayo.
The sweet smell of juniper blew through the open windows.
Crows floated above the highway scanning for dead lizards and rabbits.
The Black Mesa appeared on their left and they all agreed that they understood why the Indians considered it sacred.
But none of them actually explained why they thought that.
-SAM SHEPARD, MOTEL CHRONICLES
Sam Shepard, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, author, screenwriter, actor, and director had a deep bond with Santa Fe, where he lived in the 1980s and from 2010-2015.
But Shepard had some nomad in him, and beginning with Motel Chronicles in 1982, he spent much time crisscrossing the deserts of New Mexico.
As Johnny Dark said: "He lived in Santa Fe, but he also lived in hotels and on the road... He might have been running away or he might have been running toward something."
Twenty years earlier, traveling from Oklahoma to LA, the artist Ed Ruscha traversed the same territory, creating ghostly images of New Mexico gas stations.
Now, in this special volume, these two restless storytellers combine their talents to paint a unique portrait of New Mexico.
In 1963, artist Ed Ruscha photographed filling stations from Oklahoma to LA. He published them in Twentysix Gasoline Stations, generally considered the first modern artist's book.
Ruscha took 60 photographs which he edited to 26. The unpublished images from New Mexico are reproduced here, from the artist's original negatives.
I asked him once, "Sam how do you write all those plays?" And he said, "Man, it's like I commune with the dead." And I said, "Yeah you'd have to to write plays like that."
Sam Shepard has wandered this place…Lived here. Loved here. Lost here. Felt the spirit of this place. Looked into the soul of it. To know his stories of New Mexico is to step into the soul of this beguiling, enchanting land.
His writings reminded me that ranch life was quintessentially and wildly American and that I was American and that I could question those trying to arrest art and I could find art in an oak tree.