I grew up in New Mexico, not the cool part of the state where everything is built of adobe and where famous artists like O’Keeffe made history, but New Mexico nevertheless. Other parts of the extended family were in Santa Fe, so I got to spend plenty of time there as a kid. It was a time when the Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner cartoons were popular, and I was intrigued that the mesas we passed along the way really looked like the ones in the cartoons. They were flat as a board on top, and somewhat orange colored, just like the cartoon mesas.
Many of our family vacations were in the desert Southwest, at a time when vacations by car were popular. The interstate highway system was being built, the lesser highways were being upgraded to accommodate more traffic, and “modern” motels with extravagant neon signs were being built for the tourist throng. We visited numerous locations in New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona, but my favorite place was Santa Fe. I loved the high mountain air, the Hispanic and Indian cultural milieu, the smell of pinon, and the glorious autumn color display of the aspen trees.
Works in my current solo exhibition at Archway are the inventions of a guy revisiting the memories of a childhood. With the passing of my sister earlier this year, I’m the end of the line. She was the last one, besides me, who knew the family stories. She was there on those vacations in the enchanted land, and she teased me about the roadrunner. After college, she moved away too, but she also hung onto our shared memories of a treasured, colorful place.
– Harold Joiner, November 2021