August 9, 2010
Join Us For: Concert & Grill Event
Date: Sunday, August 1st
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Place: Joan & Al’s home
I arrived Colorado time greeted by Al’s calm, smiling face. Joan’s voice was heard in the background urging people to, “Please help yourself to corn chips. The dip is cheezy with zesty thingies in it. I hope you like the guacamole. It’s freshly made, but I forgot the cilantro. There are Nacho cheese and plain Nacho chips to go with the guacamole.”
Entering the lower deck I recognized several people, but there were a few faces I had never seen. Linda was busy in the kitchen putting finishing touches on several trays of food. With plate in hand she greeted me with a warm hug and began filling my plate with grilled shrimp. Linda is a hard worker, a survivor of many hardships, and I consider her one of the beautiful people. Her generosity of spirit and kind heartedness endears her to all of us.
Two very large tables were already over flowing with various dishes and platters stacked high with food. Judging by the enormous amounts of provisions I was imagining the house and decks would soon be over flowing with at least 100 people.
“Oh Arlys, I’d like to introduce you to everyone. Arlys, this is everyone. Everyone, this is Arlys. She is new in town, does wonderful photography, has a unique style of painting and makes luscious designs in fabric.” says Joan in passing, vegies and dip in tow heading towards the deck. Several people nod a greeting.
I work my way towards the cole-slaw and huge pieces of grilled drum sticks and thighs. Oooh, my kind of chicken. None of that dry, white meat that sticks in one’s throat. My favorite, hummus and savory crackers, just had to have a bit. Leafy green salad instead of ice berg! Whoa. This is a feast. I grabbed a mini puff and corn muffin to top off my meal.
“Hi darlin,” cries Trish as she waves me over to her table. Trish, President of the Trinidad Area Arts Council, works like a donkey keeping two galleries afloat. It is my enormous pleasure and privilege working with her as a board member. Her knowledge and expertise of curating and hanging art shows is what makes our art community a success.
Trish is not only an extremely talented potter, her business savvy selling art work is superlative. She knows every art patron in town, their taste in artwork and favorite artist. She has a knack for ensuring they attend all the right shows.
I am about to join Trish when Joan sweeps through the room announcing, “Al just grilled brats, hot dogs and Polish sausage. Let me serve you while they’re hot.” Linda follows listing condiments and asks if you prefer whole wheat or white hot dog buns. Trish and I declined, gesturing to let her know, our plates were full.
Trish introduced me to Tom, a local business owner, and his wife Maria, a teacher, who are also fairly new to Trinidad. Approaching the table with packed plates are Ray and Shana, owners of the “Old Pass Art Gallery” in Raton, New Mexico. Raton is a mere 17 miles from Trinidad, and you must drive over Raton Pass, which can get very nasty in the winter, to get to Raton.
Originally from San Francisco, Ray owned several very successful art galleries in the Bay Area before making Raton his home. He is a fantastic curator, and finds exceptionally talented artists in the hinter-lands of North Central New Mexico. His tag line reads, “Welcome to Raton where we’re up to our Pass in Art.”
Conversation turns to the bear nuisance. Several home owners in the area have awakened to hungry bears knocking on their doors. Pat was hilarious recounting how she was expecting visitors, and to her surprise thee bears were on the other side of the door instead. We all laughed and began calling her Goldie Locks.
“Oh Linda, the grilled pineapple is ready. Can you please pass those juicy slices around?” shouts Joan from the deck. Everyone at the table was half way through their meal, remarking how much food had been prepared. Little did we realize that Joan and Al were just gearing up.
Ken, Trishs’ husband, slipped through the patio door with a glass of wine for Trish and a bottle of beer for himself. He learned the intricate craft of carving flutes from a master carver and has quite a following. His designs and craftsman ship are flawless as well as extraordinarily beautiful.
My eyes were drawn to the stairs where bold, wild flowers on a white back ground were descending to join us. It was Sheigla, looking very Carmen Mirandaesque, informing us there was delicious dips and crackers on the upper deck along with petite nibbles of several kinds of cheeses.
Sheigla, an accomplished artist, decided to make Trinidad her home over 7 years ago. Her resume includes shows in well-known galleries in Paris, New York, Rome, San Francisco, Dallas, and Denver. It is difficult to maintain a flower garden at this altitude, and I am positive she was unaware how she made the perfect walking garden.
Trish and I were discussing the feasibility of inviting artists from Taos for our fall show, when Al began dishing out hamburgers, and all the fixin’s. Several of us declined as we were almost finished eating, and were OMGing that more food was on its way. We began to giggle in disbelief at the amount of provisions being served. Ken quickly pointed out that he had discovered to die for potato salad behind a platter of cream cheese covered in picca pepper sauce surrounded by three sizes of pretzels. Oh, yeah, just what we needed.
Several more people arrived. Yes, in Colorado it isn’t that it is fashionable to be late, it is just that, well, that’s the way it is. A photographer and wood-carver were welcomed to the festivities. They too were a bit overwhelmed by the incredible spread before them.
We all looked up in unison as a large dish came towards the table. As it came closer Ray peeked out from the side exclaiming he had found the most interesting dish, and was sure it was dessert. He was about to dig into scrumptious mounds of crumbles when Joan began, “Oh, I hope you like the cobbler. I made it with fresh pears, cranberries and lots of other yummy things I just can’t remember right now. Brownies and cup cakes are right beside the vegies and dip. I hope you all can find the vegies and dip along with the brownies.”
Even though all of us were stuffed we could not resist the fruity smell of the cobbler. We took very small portions, and began laughing, noting there was enough food for a battalion.
Dog lover, Marie, was supplying a side-splitting story about a stranger who had wandered into her yard, and was afraid of her poodle and threatened to hit her dog with his man purse. As laughter subsided Al began serving steak. “The rare steak is on the left, the medium rare is in the middle and the right has well done steaks.” We shook our heads disbelief.
Joan entered from the opposite direction carrying a large dish with pot holders. “You must have a portion of this baked dish of fresh cauliflower from the farmers market along with fresh onions, and I forget what kind of cheese I used. It has some sort of cheese that is terribly delicious.” The food just kept coming.
The sun was fading signaling it was time for the musician to tune up. We grabbed chairs and gathered round the guitarist as he began setting up his equipment on the lawn. Joan had plates at the ready prodding us to “Please take a piece of corn on the cob, and a piece of water mellon to nosh on during the concert.”
Before the entertainment part of the evening began Joan thanked everyone for RSVPing.
“Which we didn’t.” Says Trish.
“Of course you did. You said maybe.” Replies Joan.
Chef Dame Joan
Joan can only be described as the grande dame of Trinidad. Trish dubbed her St. Joan, patron of local artists. Joan and Al’s home is filled with clay totem poles crafted by Trish, Doug Holdread fine art, photos by Michelle Goodall,,,,,,, yes, the list is very long.
Many of her art purchases are sent to her daughter in Philadelphia where Joan was born. Her priority is educating her child and grand children, whom have never been west, that there is indeed life and culture west of the Mississippi. She settled in Trinidad via Philadelphia, New York and California, taking to all things western like a duck to water.
Joan is an extraordinary woman. She is founder of Concerts for a Cause which brings live music to the area. Shows are held at one of the local restaurants with proceeds donated to a local charity. The musical performances are always jam-packed providing a great place to meet, mingle and make merry.
There we were, a conglomerate of East coast sophistication, genteel Southerners, and West Coast avant-garde, tapping our toes to old Gene Autry and Arlo Gutherie tunes.
Of course, the sunset painted Fishers Peak as it disappeared into the horizon.
“Oh, bye the bye, ice cream and cookies will be served after the concert.”