Tuesday, June 17, 2008

13A-08 Bonus Report, Tinker Town: Albuquerque New Mexico

This article is dedicated to my sister Ann Perrault and to Ruth Hemrick, both of whom enjoy quotes and tid-bits of wisdom.


Tinker Town, Albuquerque NM

Special Report.

Not everyone will get it, but I think most of my readers will. This is one of those road side attractions one hears about and just has to go check out for themselves.
I was in the park office of my campground and the desk clerk said you’ve got to go check this place out.
“It’s so much fun. Tiny little houses and characters and they move and dance to music”.

Now who could resist such a description. Besides, I was told it only cost $2.50, Geezer rate.
So I headed out for the Turquoise Trail, hwy 14. Now the name of the trail alone would get me heading in that direction. The Turquoise Trail refers to the original trail the Native American Indian used to mine for turquoise and goes as far as Santa Fe from Albuquerque.

The story begins with Ross Ward. An artist who began carving circus figures in Junior high school. It all led to a career as an artist painting for all the great carnivals throughout the country. But there’s something more. It’s not just an appreciation for an artist who has a quirky side and builds walls and homes out of glass bottles. That’s been done all over the country. It’s something more. It’s a spirit. You can feel it.

As I enter the museum, which looks a bit like something Rip Van Winkle did and forgot about. Covered with dust and cob webs, it’s like going back in time to something that almost got forgotten and lost and was rediscovered again.

The cashier points in the direction to start the tour and after I pay my $3.00 (not the geezer rate) hands me a quarter to put in one of the many coin operated machines to start the show. Looking through the windows at the display, miniature folk art worlds come to life. Lights, animated figures. Such detail.

Then one begins to read the descriptions. It’s hard to pass them by. It’s like reading little secrets about each setting. The gypsy card reader, the artists workshop. “It started as a hobby in 1962. This little General Store came first….. I did it all “a dollar at a time” without a grant or a bank loan! You can do the same no matter what your project!” R.J. Ward.

He’s started. Ross Ward wants you to get it. He wants to give you some clues to help you in life.

Another sign over a sail boat that circled the globe captained by Fritz Damler in 1981, he “Heard the call of universal freedom. He quit his job and traded his house for the boat….he came to know the variety of people on the earth and to truly know himself…..this display is dedicated to Mr. Damler’s quest and to “YOURS”. “Life is short follow your heart”.

I began to feel the artist who created this miniature world, walls of bottle and concrete, a sailing boat that brought adventure and discovery. Ross Ward was not just an artist, painter, sculptor living his dream but he wanted others to live theirs as well. To discover something within each of us that needs to blossom and come alive.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our
people need it sorely…. Broad, wholesome, charitable views… Can not be acquired
by vegetating in one’s little corner of earth.” --- Mark Twain 1869.

“The greatest mistake we make is to neglect what is possible while brooding over
what is difficult… Harry Meech NCM

“ If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”

I felt I’d come to know the artist, not just by looking as his miniature world and collection of folk art and circus life, but by feeling the spirit of a man who relished life fully.

What a gift, thanks Mr. Ward.

1 comment:

jim auer said...

Well done Doug. This place is magical and should be preserved as a national monument. I sincerely hope it continues to exist. Visit...you'll be glad you did!