Author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, etc.

C.M. Mayo < Digital Media < Podcasts < Marfa Mondays <

Transcript #9

Main (Notes) + Podomatic + iTunes


Announcer: Welcome to Marfa Mondays with your host, C.M. Mayo.


C.M. Mayo: Welcome! And for those of you listening in for the first time, an especially warm welcome. I'm your host, C.M. Mayo, and this is podcast number nine in the 24 podcast series "Marfa Mondays," exploring Marfa, Texas and Environs 2012-2013, which is apropos of a book I'm writing. If you're listening in some time in the future, this book may have a title and may have been published, in which case I invite you to visit my webpage, cmmayo.com, and read all about it. Right now on cmmayo.com you can read about my several other books including Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles Through Baja California, the Other Mexico; and my collection of 24 Mexican writers writing on Mexico, Mexico: A Travelers Literary Companion. And you can listen in anytime to all the Marfa Mondays podcasts, among them so far, "A Spell in Chinati Hot Springs"; "We Have Seen the Lights," about the Marfa ghost lights; an interview with curator Mary Bones on the Lost Art Colony, which began in 1932 and ended somewhat mysteriously in 1950; more interviews, with bee expert Cynthia McAllister; rock hound Paul Graybeal; artist Avram Dumitrescu; and Big Bend expert guide Charlie Angell.

Marfa is a very small town in a very big place. It sits on Highway 90, three and a half hours east of El Paso, on a high plain to the south of the Davis Mountains. From Marfa, if you're to drive south for an hour, you'd end up at the U.S.-Mexico border at Presidio-Ojinaga. The general region is called the Big Bend after the bodacious bend in the Rio Grande. This is ranching country, but there are many artists who have lived or are living in Marfa and environs, of all kinds, of all sensibilities. In this podcast I interview painter Mary Baxter. Her website is baxtergallery.com, and I encourage you to visit that website and see for yourself the beauty of her landscapes. I love her work, for her playful Sorralla-like rendering of the light and the majesty of these sky haunted places: mountains, plains, horses huddling beneath a cliff, the canyon bruised purple with twilight, gold grass, the visual haiku of a red water tank.

This interview was recorded in her studio in Marfa on a sunny day in October of 2012.

Now, for the first couple minutes of this interview you might want to turn up the sound. It's a little hard to hear because it was recorded as I was following Mary Baxter around her studio as she was showing me her works-in-progress. I was tempted to edit this out because of the sound quality, but I think you'll agree, it really is a treat to hear her talking about her work and with such affection for the landscape. Once we sit down, the interview is easier to follow.


C.M. Mayo: So we're in your studio in Marfa looking at this fabulous landscape.

Mary Baxter: I'd like to take you out to where some of these are coming from, the Marfa highland area. It's really close to town right here where I've been allowed access and so I'm really excited about it because... Actually this is Pinto Canyon Road, a lot of these are Pinto Canyon, and then some are from the Davis Mountains, which I did this summer. This is Pinto Canyon right over here. That's Davis Mountains. That's down in the National Park, and this is Davis Mountains.

C.M. Mayo: These are not all on your website.

Mary Baxter: No, none of these are yet. These are all real new. This is not quite finished, but it's just up the road here. That's Blue Mountain in the distance, black cattle, and this is from the same ranch, it's not finished either. But I'm really having fun with this place. The highlands, that's just my favorite place, I think, to paint. Just all that grassland, now that we've had rain, the cattle are fat and happy again, it's good, it's really good.

This one, I think, is almost finished, not quite where I want it, but it was these five antelope and they were lit up. It'll get darker behind them because the sun was hitting them and they were looking at something far away and there was rain way out there. I just thought, this is what it's all about, this country.

C.M. Mayo: The huge distances and the way you can see the sky everywhere.

Mary Baxter: Yeah, and then when the rain finally comes and we're lucky enough to know that things are okay again because the rain has come, it's a nice time.

C.M. Mayo: And which mountain is this in the painting?

Mary Baxter: Let me think... it might be Chinati Mountain if I was looking south far enough. Or I might have just made it up. [Laughs] Sometimes that happens too, but usually all these are from real things I see or real places that I get the idea and I think, there it is, it's almost like it's just handed to me. It's so obvious when it happens like that.

C.M. Mayo: Your work, it's about the landscape. And you are living and working here. You're not someone coming from outside seasonally, but you're here. What brought you here and what keeps you here? I know from Googling and finding your bio on another gallery website that you had a lot to do with horses.

Mary Baxter: Yeah, I guess that's what did bring me here originally was my then partner and I came out for the ranching. We got a grass lease on one of the ranches and so I never thought I could be an artist as a profession. I didn't really think it was that doable, does that make sense?

C.M. Mayo: Of course it does, I'm a writer. [Laughs]

Mary Baxter: Yeah. And we had cattle and horses at the time so we leased it, and ran cattle, and trained horses down there, and obviously that's when you would fall in love with the landscape, because you're out on it every day. And so slowly I started painting it. I had some art classes at University of Texas at San Antonio, mostly print making, and then not much painting, and so I started painting the landscapes that I saw everyday either riding, or driving, and putting out mineral, and checking on the water, and they would just be so obvious these landscapes. They would just be like handed to me. And in the beginning I thought nobody else will understand this, it doesn't make any sense to anybody else. It's just a flat ground, and the earth, and the sky, and some three black cows, it's not enough, you know, it's not really a landscape, but I did it anyway, and then I found people did like it.

C.M. Mayo: They're absolutely gorgeous.

Mary Baxter: Well, thank you.

C.M. Mayo: They're stunning. I have to just interrupt and tell you, one of my favorite pictures that you painted on your website is precisely... I'm going to see if I have the print out here... it's this one.

Mary Baxter: Oh, you even printed them off.

C.M. Mayo: Yeah, I printed a few of them.

Mary Baxter: Oh, the two cattle.

C.M. Mayo: It's this one with the two cows, with Chinati Peak in the background and the cows are red. It's almost minimalist.

Mary Baxter: It really is, and yet that really happened. And I don't take photographs— although this year I'm just starting to experiment with them— but I remember driving past and there it was! Just like that, exactly like that! The mountain and the two cows, and there it was, it was just handed to me.

C.M. Mayo: You guys lived in Marathon and then...

Mary Baxter: Yeah. I lived in Marfa before and moved to Marathon. So I lived here years ago and I really like this town. The old timers, we got to know them from the ranching side. That was before all the artists came, and it was just mostly ranchers, and native Marfans, and they were just the most friendly, real, wonderful, people. So yeah, I fell in love with the town a long time ago.

C.M. Mayo: And what is it that you like about the town?

Mary Baxter: Well, that was part of it. They seemed very... not so much overly friendly, but real. All the people we've met, the ranchers, they were mostly the ranching families and they would come and say, "You're new here." And they would introduce themselves, "And if you need anything, call us." And they were not like some I know that in some cattle communities they can be a bit clannish, and Marfa was not that way. And it was also I was so amazed with its worldliness and its internationalism because I think a lot of the families, even from way back, they would send their kids off to Ivy League schools, and so even back before the hip crowd found Marfa, from the ranching community they had it going on. Yeah, so that was a surprise. The first time I went to the library I was amazed at the video collection, which was put together by Gary Oliver. I couldn't believe this was a small town video collection. So, yeah, Marfa's been really a beautiful place for a long time.

C.M. Mayo: So then you started painting.

Mary Baxter: Yes, I would see these things as I was driving or riding around on the ranch and it took a while before I actually started painting them and I'm not sure why. I guess I thought that they were so minimal in a way, and I hate to use that word, but the landscape really is a little bit minimal, and I guess I thought it wasn't enough maybe, but there would be things happening like the two cows and the mountain beyond them, and it would just be like, I call them the whomp there it is moments because it would, you know and sometimes I might drive around for three days and not have one of those moments and then other days I might have eight of them in one day! Just everywhere you look! So I know it's not the landscape as much as it is what's going on in my head, but it amazed me the beauties everywhere and the paintings were just there to be had.

So then I began to paint and a friend of mine Kerri, she owns a gallery in Alpine, Kiowa Gallery, and she said, "Well let me put some up." That surprised me, and then when they sold quickly that surprised me even more, and that was a shock to think you could actually sell art. And then it went from there.

C.M. Mayo: When did you open your gallery in Marathon?

Mary Baxter: I didn't really so much open it as a gallery, more of a studio and that must have been about... I want to say around 2001, or maybe 2002. I would say it was 10 years ago, probably.

C.M. Mayo: So it was more of a place where you painted and if people wanted to come see it...

Mary Baxter: Yes. It wasn't like it had regular hours, but it was a great building. It was an old Shoemake Hardware Store and the building had good juju and good vibes. People would come in and even mention that, that the building had such good vibes. And it worked out really well as a studio. We had several parties there, and openings, and we did a show to raise money for the Humane Society called "The Animal Art Show" and that was fun, we had a big turn out, and yeah I had a lot of fun with that building.

C.M. Mayo: And did you show other artists in the gallery?

Mary Baxter: Not really. The last couple years a good friend of mine in Marathon, Maisie Lee, she's in her mid-90s and she still carves doors. She makes these big wooden doors and she carves these scenes in them, and she paints, and she sculpts. So she began to stay there at the gallery a lot and she showed her work there, too. She lived in the national park [Big Bend National Park] before it was technically a national park. She and her husband lived down there at the Hot Springs, so she's got some stories to tell.

C.M. Mayo: Wow. I would love to talk to her.

Mary Baxter: Yeah. She's great. You would love Maisie.

C.M. Mayo: Well, but back to you, and your story, and your gallery. So after you had your gallery in Marathon you decided to come back here?

Mary Baxter: The gallery worked well in Marathon, the studio did, and I did sell a lot of art out of there over the years and met a lot of people, but my husband Neil and I just decided that we were ready for a change. Things were happening in Marfa and I was happy to get back to this town. I still have a lot of friends from when I lived here before.

C.M. Mayo: How is the rhythm of life here? I mean, it seems really quiet and yet there are a lot of things going in the evenings and the weekends.

Mary Baxter: Yeah, I know. It's a strange thing. It's this quiet little town and then there are all these undercurrents happening. I have to say I don't know a lot of the newcomers and the younger hip crowd, and a lot of them are the ones making things happen. But they have interesting events going on. So there's plenty to do here.

C.M. Mayo: I was amazed when I went by the Get Go, the little supermarket, just the bulletin board or what they've got pinned up, you kind of cross your eyes at the variety of it all, from dressing up your pet for a parade to this dinner, that film thing, and the films are you know. Like there was one about, what was it, I think it was French films or the Caribbean or something.

Mary Baxter: I think the library does it, either it's once, or twice, or maybe it's twice a week they do film night, and they do foreign films or documentaries and I think a lot of people go to that. We haven't been yet. We just moved here recently so we're still getting into what's available, but there's a lot of things to do. So I'm really excited about it. I guess I moved here more probably for the landscape and just for a change. So it will probably be awhile until I have a showing I think. I just want to do my own paintings for a while and keep my head down. Does that make sense?

C.M. Mayo: It sure does. The Orphic journey, you kind of go into...

Mary Baxter: It's funny the art scene, and you must know this by now here, but the circles don't overlap as much as you would think they would. Like there's sort of a conceptual art-people that do that, and then there's the minimal, and so they don't really have much use I think for landscape artists. So we all kind of sometimes do our own art, but that's what makes it interesting, too. It's not like all landscapes or all boxes. Had to put that in there.

C.M. Mayo: Well, everybody's different. Yeah, the writing world is similar in that sense.

Mary Baxter: I guess that's true. Yeah, you understand that.

C.M. Mayo: So it's not like when you come and you're an artist here there's this club, you know, you're in the "art world" here, it's more you're just doing your own thing.

Mary Baxter: Everybody's doing their own thing, yeah. There's a lot of RISD* graduates here I think, and then there's a lot that are self-taught, and everything in between.

[*Rhode Island School of Design.]

C.M. Mayo: You must have seen a lot of changes from when you lived in Marfa from now.

Mary Baxter: I have. I think that was what they call the pre-boom period, or you know when it really started happening, the pre-hipster period.

C.M. Mayo: This hipster period would be what the 2000's?

Mary Baxter: I guess so. That's probably when that started up, yeah, but I think that Marfa's retained its beauty. It's certainly retained its beauty, but I think it's also retained its friendliness, I hope.

C.M. Mayo: I feel like it's friendly. Just walking around or going in and out, I feel like it's friendly.

Mary Baxter: Good. I hope that that never goes away. I hope that it doesn't, because I remember when I first got here too I'd be driving real slowly through the neighborhoods just kind of checking out houses, and rather than feel like a voyeur, anybody that was out in their yard would just smile and wave. It was just like, welcome to my neighborhood. I just thought, this is the friendliest town.

C.M. Mayo: And that is unusual.

Mary Baxter: Yes, I know. Rather than look at me warily, why you are looking at my house, they just smile and wave.

C.M. Mayo: Back to your work, what would you say your influences are as an artist? Apart from the landscape itself.

Mary Baxter: The main thing is the landscape. There are other artists that certainly turned me on, Maynard Dixon and some of the Taos group. But the animals on the landscape just you know and you think, what is this human urge that you want to record what you see. It must go back to prehistoric times when people painted on the cave walls the animals that they saw. So I can't explain why we do it. You know, nothing is as good as being there and seeing it, just being in the landscape. But there's this urge to say, "I'd like to try to translate this. These colors, or these shapes, or these animals, and this moment, and at this place." And so I guess that's why we do it.

C.M. Mayo: You've got cows, a lot of horses, ravens, or crows.

Mary Baxter: No, not crows. I don't think we have crows here. As far as I know they're all ravens.

C.M. Mayo: They're all ravens.

Mary Baxter: And antelope. The antelope are just awesomely beautiful, and even the dogs. You know, you look at your dog and they just radiate beauty, don't they do that for you, too?

C.M. Mayo: Yeah.

Mary Baxter: Just the way they're built or the way they move, and you think, why should I try to capture this, I can't capture this. But yet we try.

C.M. Mayo: It's a translation.

Mary Baxter: I think it must be the translation, yeah.

C.M. Mayo: The translation of the light. One of the things I love about your paintings is the light, how the colors and the shadows...

Mary Baxter: I'm glad to hear that. Just yesterday I was out until dark in the highlands and sometimes the beauty is so overwhelming you just have to take a deep breath and just kind of be there. Be part of it. Do you know what I mean?

C.M. Mayo: I felt that yesterday. I was at Swan House.

Mary Baxter: You were down there yesterday?

C.M. Mayo: It's outside the city [Presidio], and you go up on the roof, and you see the moonrise.

Mary Baxter: Yeah, you saw that big moon rising!

C.M. Mayo: Three-sixty-degree view. You see Ojinaga in the distance, but there's just nobody out there, and you're looking at this and thinking, I don't have words for this.

Mary Baxter: I understand. That's how it was last night with that big moon rising. I had my sketch book in my hand and my pencil, and it was just everywhere I looked was beautiful and I kind of thought, it's okay not to record this tonight. It's okay just to be part of it. And it was.

C.M. Mayo: What are your favorite areas to paint in this [area]?

Mary Baxter: I think the Marfa highlands are my very favorite. They're, to me, the most wide open and quietest. This last summer I worked up in the Davis Mountains for the first time in all these years and that was amazingly beautiful, and then way down south, and then the park [Big Bend National Park] is so different from the Davis Mountains. So this area of Big Bend has such a wide variety to paint.

C.M. Mayo: It really does.

Mary Baxter: And then that one year I did Sanderson area and a man wanted me to paint his ranch, and the first few days it's funny, because it takes a few days to get to start understanding it. And the first few days I thought, oh man, I don't know about this. Compared to Big Bend I think this is more Big Bend, but in the Sanderson I thought I don't know it's just kind of rising canyon after rising canyon and I couldn't really see the beauty. And then after about three days then it started happening and of course it was just as beautiful. It was all around me. But it took a few days.

C.M. Mayo: Very different light?

Mary Baxter: Yeah. Just very different terrain. So you think well how do I make a painting out of this, but then the more time you spend, it becomes obvious. Yeah, it takes a few days, but you really need to be there awhile, I think. On any ranch or any place I've gone it's always that way. You just have to kind of kick back and not try so hard I think to get the paintings in the first few days. And then they just come to you.

C.M. Mayo: And when you've gone out in more remote areas—as I read on your bio on the Hunt Gallery and they were talking about how you would take a trailer out.

Mary Baxter: I do, yes. I have what I call my mobile studio and it's this sort of vintage trailer, and that really works well because rather than just being able to go there one day and then get off the land and come back, I can stay for several days at a time.

C.M. Mayo: By yourself out in that landscape?

Mary Baxter: Yes. Yes, I have a dog that I carry with me. He's my painting buddy. I adopted him from Grand Companions in Fort Davis and he's so funny, he's such a home boy, he hates to leave home, but that's his job is to go with me.

C.M. Mayo: So he knows not to wander off.

Mary Baxter: No, he stays real close.

C.M. Mayo: That's good because of all the animals, the coyotes, and the javelinas.

Mary Baxter: Yeah. He watches, it's funny. I'll be looking over here doing my thing, really working, and painting, and I'll forget to keep an eye around me and he watches for me. So he'll spot a truck three miles away and he'll let me know there's a truck.

C.M. Mayo: What kind of dog is he?

Mary Baxter: He's a heeler type. So he and I go out to these... we stay in the trailer, and the first year I had the trailer I got to park it up at McDonald Observatory, and I worked in and out of there for a year and that was a fantastic experience. I can do the little studies at the trailer and the drawings, and get the ideas, and then I come back and do the larger ones in the studio. So that's a good system that seems to work.

C.M. Mayo: Wow. What a fabulous process to go out in trailer and just be there, feeling protected, and with what you need. It must be incredibly quiet.

Mary Baxter: Oh, it is. It is, it's wonderful.

C.M. Mayo: It doesn't ever get scary?

Mary Baxter: No. I was on a ranch this summer and there were some large animals outside and I know that there were cats—mountain lions—on this ranch and I'm thinking, well I'm not going to go out there. I didn't know if it was a mountain lion. I think it was javalina, but in the beginning I thought, it sounded like a really large animal bumping my trailer.

C.M. Mayo: Oh my god, that would scare me!

Mary Baxter: But I like it. I like it. Then you can get up, you catch the sunrises and the sunsets, you don't have to do a lot of driving, and so it's a good system. The trailer works well.

C.M Mayo: Well, the driving distances out here are enormous.

Mary Baxter: They are, and my husband he's a sweetheart about it, but we rarely drive after dark because of the animals. Because if I were to run over a snake it would make going out to get a painting not worth it. I mean, even a really great painting is not worth killing a snake. I know that sounds crazy, but it's just easier not to drive during the dark. So the trailer helps me not have to do that. And sometimes too I'm lucky enough to get to stay in peoples ranch houses.

C.M. Mayo: I love the color in your paintings and how it's— I mean having seen these landscapes or some of these landscapes myself, I just love how the color evokes it. But they're not necessarily realistic.

Mary Baxter: I hope not. No, I guess they're not. They're getting looser and looser, so slowly.... I just think every one I start, oh this one's going to just be completely loose.

C.M. Mayo: Well that was actually my next question, how you feel your painting has evolved from the time when you started painting and where you are now?

Mary Baxter: Gosh, it always feels like it's just right in front of me, where I'm trying to get. I am one month away from getting there and I've felt like that for the last eight years. You know, so... I don't think we ever get there. I'm pretty sure now we never actually get there, but I hope it's evolved. I think it has gotten looser over the years. I'm having a lot more fun with it than I used to. It used to be more of a battle and more of a fight between the right brain and left brain maybe, and now I'm maybe better able to shut the left brain up and do it with less words, I guess you would say. Less and less verbally, which for a writer... I don't know how you guys do it, you're having to tweak the creative part.

C.M. Mayo: It's all verbal. [...] Becoming more intuitive or having more of a wisdom in one's intuition. Just knowing this is right and this is wrong.

Mary Baxter: Yes. Yeah, maybe the intuition gets stronger and it's like maybe ten years ago I would be trying to paint a greasewood and I'd say, "Okay this is a greasewood." And I'd try to literally say, "This is a greasewood." And now, if I'm lucky, I can just kind of take one brush stroke and a couple lines and that says, this is a greasewood, and it's so much quicker and better and that was never what the painting was about in the first place, so I didn't want to get hung up on it. And the paintings are coming faster now and that's helped me a lot. The best ones I do come the fastest.

C.M. Mayo: Wow.

Mary Baxter: Yeah! I mean, really when I can do it really quickly, usually they're much more successful than the ones I battle with. Because the ones that you fight and try, it shows up. And I think any painter will tell you that. And you think, why did it take 20 years to be able to do this and say this quickly? So for a long time I kind of think, why is it taking me so long? But now I'm understanding that it's a process. You go through it.

C.M. Mayo: And when you were studying art and you mostly did print making, did you also do some painting back then?

Mary Baxter: I took a basic painting class with a man named Charles Field and this many years later we've kind of reunited and he's now like my mentor. So if I have a real issue or a question I can email him, and sometimes when he and his wife come out to visit, we get together and I'll give him a place to stay in return for a critique, and he's helped me out a lot that way. So I just took that basic painting and one time I was talking to Charles Field fairly recently and I was lamenting the fact that I didn't take enough painting classes, and I didn't graduate with an art degree, and that's kind of always bothered me a little bit and he said, "No, no, you're a painter now. You've become a painter by painting." And I really am glad he told me that because it's like, maybe he's right. Maybe there's different ways to get to the same place.

C.M. Mayo: You're hitting a button for me because I don't have a degree in creative writing.

Mary Baxter: So can you relate to that?

C.M. Mayo: Yeah, most people who do the kind of writing I do have an MFA in creative writing, and I never did that. I just wrote. I did take a lot of workshops, but I didn't go through that.

Mary Baxter: That process.

C.M. Mayo: Process, and yeah, do you really need certification? You either do it or you don't.

Mary Baxter: Well that's true, and then I thought there's a ton of people that got their art degrees and then never really used them. And for a long time up until maybe this last year or two I think, oh gosh, if I'd only learned the studio practices, if I'd only learned, I don't know what I'm doing. So many times I think, I don't know what I'm doing as far as the technique, and the skill, and the materials, and so maybe it took me longer. I think maybe it took longer if you're self-taught, but it worked. Some Buddhist saying says don't curse the path that got you here, and I like that. I think about that a lot now. It was a longer maybe path, but it seemed to work okay in the long run.

C.M. Mayo: Sometimes I think— this is just my opinion from what I've seen with the creative writing world— sometimes other one does need a mentor, one does need help, you can't necessarily learn to do things in a vacuum. Too much can actually shackle you.

Mary Baxter: Stifle you. Maybe so, because there's too many rules.

C.M. Mayo: And too many people to compare yourself to.

Mary Baxter: Yes, I know.

C.M. Mayo: And you kind of get into a group, and who's doing this, and who's doing that, and then it's about who got the show, or who got the agent, or who got this, and then it's just like this whole bramble of stuff in the brain that isn't about making the work.

Mary Baxter: Especially maybe nowadays in the art world. I think that's true, it's like it's so important to have those initials, you got your MFA, you went to a good art school, you have all the credentials, and I don't. I don't have any of those credentials, and the other hand, I'm able to, the last several years, probably the last ten years, support myself through my work. And they don't sell for 200 thousand dollars, they're not at that level, and that's okay.

C.M. Mayo: But it's extraordinary that you can do that.

Mary Baxter: It is and it's probably rare. And I'm really, really fortunate and lucky. So however I got here I'm really thrilled and happy that so far, I'm able to make a living out of it.

C.M. Mayo: The show at Sul Ross [State University's Museum of the Big Bend]—?

Mary Baxter: The Lost Colony.

C.M. Mayo: Did you see that?

Mary Baxter: I did. That was a good show. We enjoyed that one.

C.M. Mayo: Did that strike any chords with you?

Mary Baxter: It surprised me that at that time there were people out here painting the landscapes. Overall, it seems like this area has not been painted a lot compared with Taos, and Santa Fe, and Arizona, and Utah, and I finally figured out maybe one reason is because it's so much quieter, the landscape. It's not super dramatic like Monument Valley or it's quieter. Maybe it takes longer to understand, but yeah it was a good show. One of the best things I learned about landscape painting is the fact that I don't have to have a lot of words with it and there's no message, there's no hidden meaning, there's really not a lot of conceptualism going on there. It is what it is, and that's to me kind of refreshing about art. I think I'm an anti-snob, a reverse snob.

C.M. Mayo: Well how do you see it going? What are you interested in painting now?

Mary Baxter: More animals and for the longest time I think well how can I paint an animal without photographs, they move too quickly, and they're beautiful, and the light hits them like this, and the shadows are here, and the next second they're, I can't draw that fast, I can't capture it, I can't figure it out, and I think I'm just right on the hopefully getting it figured out. I'm studying their anatomy. I want to learn them anatomically first better, and then hopefully I'll get to the point where I'm not saying here's the hawk, and here's the hoof. The stance will be more correct in the light, and the shadows, and the angles, and the way they stand or move, and the landscapes hopefully bigger, bigger, and bigger. I mean how can they not go bigger in this area and bigger brushes, and bigger everything, because the area is big, and looser. Continually pushing the quicker and the more looser and get it right. So to me, it's really an exciting time.

C.M. Mayo: And it's easy to work here.

Mary Baxter: Yes. You mean here in Marfa?

C.M. Mayo: Yeah.

Mary Baxter: Oh yeah. It so much is. Every day is a new painting in every direction. We're just surrounded by all this beauty, and then if it's not enough within five miles of town, go down to the park and spend some days, or the Davis Mountains. So yeah, it's just wonderful. I shouldn't promote it too much. One thing I believe that saved Marfa all these years and hopefully will continue to, is that it's just remoteness, there's not a big airport nearby.

C.M. Mayo: It's a heavy-duty drive to get out here.

Mary Baxter: That, and then it's so landlocked, and as long as the ranchers can still afford to own the big ranches surrounding the little towns out here I think it protects it from sub-developments. It protects it from urban sprawl. It's so beautiful that you're at somebody's backyard, and then you drive 30 miles, and then you're at somebody's backyard, and there's the next town, and that's why all these wide-open spaces are still so pristine I think is because they're part of big ranches. So we have that in our favor.

C.M. Mayo: Is there something I didn't ask you that I should've asked you?

Mary Baxter: No, I think we pretty well covered it. I just feel so fortunate that I'm able to... I really love that I can go out on the land and make a living from the land and not alter it in any way. I can just leave it exactly like I found it.

C.M. Mayo: That's an extraordinary thing to be able to say.

Mary Baxter: I'm really lucky that way. It's like I'm honoring it. I don't want to say honoring it, because it's already honored just by its beauty, but I'm paying homage to it.

C.M. Mayo: That's a really beautiful thought. I feel that when I look at your paintings.

Mary Baxter: Oh, I appreciate that.

C.M. Mayo: I really feel that when I look at your paintings.


Thank you for listening. One quick announcement, I will be reading from the manuscript of the book-in-progress PEN San Miguel in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on January 29, 2013, and that will be a podcast. I welcome you to visit my website, cmmayo.com, where you can get all the details and listen in to the podcasts anytime.


Announcer: Tune in for Marfa Mondays with your host C.M. Mayo at cmmayo.com/podcasts.


Your comments are always welcome.