Monday, April 18, 2011

Winslow, Arizona

Imagine a town in the desert.  It's orange and white, dusty, faded, still, like an old photograph.  The wind blows broken signs on creaky hinges.  Windows are dark or boarded up.  Rusty trucks sit in front of small adobe houses.  A faded American flag flaps.  There are no voices.

Welcome to Winslow, Arizona.

This may be the most amazingly desolate desert town I could imagine.  As we were driving into it on Route 66, my friend started to feel a sense of panic rise, slowly out of her grey ankle-wrap heels, creeping up into her chest.  We drove in from Flagstaff, and the parts of town we drove through seemed totally empty.  I understand that people do live there, but where they live, or where they work, are total mysteries to me still.  The land is flat, the air is dry, the grass is gold.

There is one very good reason to go to Winslow though (not counting the old hotel called La Posada that used to be bumping back in the days when a train came through Winslow on a regular basis, and which still has great food and displays sweet art).  That is the mural by John Pugh.

John Pugh's superb trompe l'oeil

Don't be fooled by that seemingly innocent wall - everything you see in this photo, aside from three plaques on the wall in the bottom left and four lights hanging at the top, is painted.  That includes the masonry, the open window, the couple kissing, the vines, and the reflection in the windows at the bottom.  So amazing!  John Pugh is an American artist, and expert in ultra-realistic murals that make the viewer unsure about where the wall begins and 3D ends.  When I was reading about him over the winter I was both astounded and gleeful to discover that one of his murals existed in Winslow.  Compared to the other locations (often universities, or in cities like Honolulu, Jacksonville or Anchorage) this seemed like an unusual place for Pugh to work.

Us in front of the mural - even close up it's convincing!
This mural was totally worth the journey, even though we quickly turned around and jetted out of Winslow.  There's also a statue of one of the Eagles on the corner, but while not everyone loves the Eagles, I think everyone loves a convincing trick of the eye.

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