viva las vegas (nm) – another incredible site discovery!

Casa de Colores—Casimiro “Casey” T. Marquez
Home environment (interior and exterior)
Las Vegas, NM
“I live a happy life.”
– Casey
Another lucky day!  Magaret walked us over to an amazing site we had never heard of, and right around the corner from the hotel.  Casey (Casimiro T. Marquez) lives at the end of a short road, and has created the House of Color, a wildly colorful, decorated home environment, inside and out.  His joy is contagious, as he showed us around his modest 
old-style” abode  – no running water – but his incredibly kind caretaker, Yvonne brings fresh water every day, and genuinely watches out for Casey.   His english is quite good, and he is quite a jokester.  
Spray painted color is everywhere.  Outside, inside, on the floors, walls and ceiling.  Stuffed animals hang from trees and inside from the ceiling as well.  In ways, his work is similar to the home environments of James Percucca’s in Kansas, The Rhinestone Cowboy from Texas, and Leroy Wilson, Kansas…and is still something I have never seen before.  I left mi carazon at that little house at the end of the lane.


Robert “Bobby” Valdez

c. 1942-
Home concrete sculpture environment
Las Vegas, NM
Bobby wasn’t home today, he was in Albuquerque…but his wife suggested that we go ahead and look around. And once again, as luck would have it, his neighbor, Manuel, stopped by to fill us in on the story a bit.  He is a disabled serviceman (Vietnam) and has been constantly creating his concrete sculptures for the last 2 decades or so, since his retirement.
Alligators and dolphins spout water in the backyard, and the caveman in the front is anatomically correct (quite…apparently other neighbors were a bit concerned, so now a few leaves kinda block the view).  There are parrots in palm trees, the Virgin Mary in the front inbetween dinosaurs and a snake.  
Chilili Tombstones—Horace McAfee
Garland Cemetery
State Highway 337
Chilili, NM

It isn’t the biggest of most dramatic site, but there is something about the care the Horace McAfee took in making the metal tombstones that touches me.  
Southeast of Albuquerque,  this cemetery has tombstones, grave markers, and memorial plaques, many have been created with sheets of tin, and metal, sometimes mounted on marble, sometimes with found objects set in concrete. 
McAfee originally hand lettered sheets to tin by painstakingly punching the individual letters with a nail.  A few of the tin sheets, with McAfee’s musings on the afterlife.  In what I suspect as later works, the metal looks to be scraps of stainless, this the lettering carefully drilled in the same manner as the punched tin.
The arguable centerpiece of the cemetery in the gravesite of McAfee’s father, Private Harry McAfee, who died in 1933, after receiving 2 purple hearts and 2 silver stars in WWI. Created by Horace 14 years after his father’s death, the decorations of the memorial includes a bowling ball, bicycle reflectors, his fathers WWI helmet, and a protected  hand tinted photo, that has withstood the elements over the years.  Harry’s graveside marker has also been noted in the Smithsonians American Art Museum’s art inventories catalog.
In 1900, many of the gravesites from the local catholic church to the Chilili site were it is today.  After completing his father’s memorial, Horace went on to create markers for other members of his family, including a section for the children that died too early.
To find Garland Cemetery in Chilili …west of Albuquerque, on I-40 to Tijeras, and then south on Highway 14.  It is right alongside State Highway 337 as you travel through “town”