Tag Archives: Sue Soaring Sun

Creative Nomad (An Interview with Sue Soaring Sun)

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I met Sue Soaring Sun in December of 2014. She’d seen me repeatedly at the coffeeshop in the small Southwest town where we were both wintering and intoduced herself. An hour later when we ran into each other again in the thrift store, she told me about Bob Wells’ Cheap RV Living website. I soon learned about the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous and decided to attend. I guess you could call Sue my rubber tramp fairy godmother because she introduced me to vandwelling as a way of life and not just something I had to do because I had few options.

Sue is also my Sun sisiter, a fellow artist and blogger, a writer of fabulous letters, and a dear friend. She is the proprieter of Sun Gallery at 407-1/2 N Broadway in Truth or Consequences, NM. Sun Gallery is a folk art and antiques gallery which features Sue’s paintings, collages, and mosaic work.

We were in different states when I started this interview series, so I sent her questions via email. Today you’re in for a treat because you get to read her answers.

You’re not a vandweller, but you do live nomadically. How long have you been on the road?
I’ve been living and traveling in an RV more often than not since February 14, 2011.

What sort of rig do you live and travel in?
I have had Brownie, a 1984 20-foot Lazy Daze mini-motorhome, for about 14 months.

I know you’ve had other rigs.  What were they and why did you decide against them?
I’ve had a couple of Toyota Dolphin 22-foot mini-motorhomes, and they were great for when I travel solo, which is most of the time. Sometimes, though, I travel with my boyfriend, and I wanted something that would work for two. We tried a Class A for a while, but found it was way too much for either of us to want to drive, so we parked it and used it as a part-time urban home base. Last year I found the Lazy Daze which has a lot more power and is about a foot taller and wider than the Dolphin coach. Even though it’s shorter, it’s a bit more spacious. Now I’m selling the Class A. I no longer want to use it as a home base. I have an art gallery that serves that function. So I’m staying in the Lazy Daze all the time, except for if I happen to housesit or stay in a vacation rental.

What are your three favorite things about your current rig?  What would you change about it if you could?

This is how Sue has been decorating the inside of her rig to make Brownie less brown. She gave me permission to use this photo of hers.


*I love the big back windows, and my floorplan has the dinette right there. I can back up to a beautiful lake or river or other view and watch birds and other wildlife from the comfort of my table, drinking coffee and wearing my cozy slippers.

*It has more power and feels more solid than my past mini-mohos. I can pass other vehicles if necessary.

*It is very cool looking. Shagalicious, baby.

What I’d change…it is very brown inside, hence the name Brownie. I am slowly replacing brownness with color and creativity. Also, Brownie takes a lot of gas. I have to budget more carefully than I used to.

I took this photo of the RTArt Camp banner that Sue and I painted together.

How does living nomadically enhance your life as an artist?
Whoo-boy! Living nomadically goes hand-in-hand with my creativity. I’m sure when I’m old and can no longer travel, I will still make art. But so much of what I do now is inspired by what I see and the experiences I have along the road. Traveling has brought me in touch with so many other artists, and now, since the first RTArt Camp at this year’s Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR), we have even started an intentional community for nomadic artists. Imagine that! I could not have predicted all that would come out of a simple idea of wanting to do art with other people while at the RTR. When I spend time camping with other artists, I am inspired. After our recent Rubber Tramp Art Community gathering, I stopped at a beautiful free boondocking site and spent five days doing nothing but paint, eat and sleep.

Does living nomadically make your life more challenging in any ways?
Yes. I have struggled in my new rig to deal with temperature extremes. This summer, I found myself unexpectedly staying in Truth or Consequences, NM, and I could not find any good way to keep my cat and myself cool in the RV. Fortunately, a friend who goes away for the summer let me stay at her house. Next summer, I will probably seek a higher elevation, as I had wanted to this year. I gradually solved my problems with cold last winter, but it took a while.

Also, it can be very inconvenient and expensive when I have to go stay somewhere else if my rig is in the shop.

Do you mostly boondock on free public land?
Yes.  I also stay behind my art gallery, in a parking lot. I can hook up to electricity there.

I took this photo of this free riverfront boondocking area where Sue and I camped together.

Under what circumstances do you pay for a campsite?
I sometimes pay for a campsite or an RV park site when I have a lot of things I’d like to get done…shower, laundry, dumping the tanks, etc.  I’ve also stayed at campgrounds when my boyfriend and I are traveling together in parts of the country where you usually need reservations, such as our recent trip to Florida. And occasionally I have friends who want to go stay at a campground, and I tag along for the fun.

Do you do much stealth parking in cities?
My Lazy Daze is built on a Chevy G30 van chassis, but it doesn’t look like a van! It’s built out into a motorhome. So no, I can’t get away with it.

Do you travel with everything you own?
No.  I rent commercial space that I use as an art gallery and studio. I keep most of my art supplies there, as well as off-season clothing and things that I only use occasionally.

Sonja Begonia in Brownie’s big back window. Photo used with Sue’s permission.

You share your rig with a cat companion. Has she been on the road with you her whole life?  If not, how did you help her transition to life on the road?
Sonja Begonia was about a year old when I got her in 2008, and I went on the road in 2011. She also has some attitude, so I could not get her leash-trained before starting to travel, as I’d hoped, nor since. At first, for her own safety, I had to keep her in a kennel while traveling because otherwise she would try to get out of the RV when we stopped, and many stops are not a safe place for a pet to get out. Now I just start the engine and she gets in her co-pilot seat.

What’s the best part of living nomadically?
I love driving six miles from my art gallery and boondocking on the bank of the Rio Grande. Or, when I’m on the road, finding an unexpected fantastic view. It’s being free to change my scenery, and to be immersed in it. I keep my gallery open very part-timey and give myself lots of time to travel and create.

Do you miss anything about living in a sticks-n-bricks?
Gardening. I like centering myself by digging in dirt. So, at my gallery, for one or two months out of the year, I create fairy gardens for sale. I am also going to get myself a dashboard/cab plant once the 100+ degree weather has passed this summer.

I don’t miss any other thing, not one. I get to experience sticks-n-bricks living occasionally, and it always confirms for me that I prefer to live nomadically.

So Many Chickens, So Little Time!

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I was hanging out with Sue Soaring Sun of Sun Gallery fame.

(Never heard of Sun Gallery in Truth or Consequences, NM? Check it out here: http://www.sierracountynewmexico.info/shopping/a-z/name/sun-gallery/ and here: https://www.facebook.com/sungallerytorc/timeline. The gallery’s Facebook page says,

Sun Gallery is a folk art and antiques gallery in Truth or Consequences, a fun and affordable spa town in beautiful southern New Mexico.

The gallery is located at 407 1/2 N. Broadway.)

We were talking about a restaurant we both know, a place where the decor is heavy on chickens. One of us piped up with So many chickens…Sue’s boyfriend grinned and added in and so little time. When we quit laughing, we agreed it would be a perfect theme for an art show. Sue decided it would be a fun May show for her gallery, so she sent out a call for submissions.

Here’s the call, as it appeared on the gallery’s Facebook page:

CALL FOR ARTISTS
So Many Chickens, So Little Time

All artists of any age or ability are invited to each bring ONE piece of artwork to Sun Gallery for our May 2016 show, “So Many Chickens, So Little Time.”

You can price your work or just show it without offering it for sale. If it sells, the artist gets 100% of the sales price. Sun Gallery will not be taking a percentage for this show.

Have fun with the theme! There are no rules about the medium or size of the artwork.

Sun Gallery will be open for both Fiesta weekend and Art Hop weekend, so your work will be seen by many.

Drop off your work on TUESDAY May 3rd between 12 noon and 4 pm.

Pick up your sales proceeds or unsold work on SUNDAY May 15 between 11 am and 4 pm.

Thanks for your participation!

I responded to the call with a big ol’ chicken collage. First I bought a used canvas and a red and white checkered napkin at Goodwill. I ironed the napkin, then used a staple gun to attach it to the canvas. The napkin made a great background to fill in any gaps between chickens.

As soon as I knew the show was happening, I requested catalogs from several chicken supply companies. Unfortunately, only one catalog had arrived by the time I really needed to get working on the project. I needed to find another source for photogenic fowl.

I had credit at bookstore that buys used books, DVDs, magazines, video games, CDs, craft supplies, musical instruments, and knickknacks. I went to the store’s periodical section and found several copies of Grit, the magazine Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. Chicken photo jackpot!

One additional source for poultry pictures was a beat-up children’s book given to me by the Lady of the House. Called The Lifesize Animal Opposites Book, it afforded me with my rooster focal point.

I spent a few evenings cutting, arranging, and gluing photos of chickens while sitting in front of a television IMG_6012playing late 20th-century game shows. I even made a special artist bio card to go with my collage.

I ended up pleased with the outcome of my work. There are a lot of chickens in my collage. There are SO many chickens!

I decided to call my piece Chicken Tractor because I think that’s a hilarious term.

My collage will be on display at Sun Gallery starting tomorrow until May 15. If you are in the neighborhood, you should stop by and see it live and in person. (As usual, my photos don’t do justice to the real thing.) The collage (13″ by 15″) is most definitely for sale. If you want to add it to your very special chicken collection or display in in your heretofore fowl free home, please contact me and we can negotiate.

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I took the photos in this post.

Artwork at La Paloma

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In a previous post about the bathhouses in Truth or Consequences, NM (http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/06/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs-my-experiences/), I mentioned enjoying the paintings on the wall of the private room I soaked in at La Paloma. However, I couldn’t get the formatting right to include any of my photos of the murals in the post. I decided to share those photos today because #1 the paintings are nice and #2 I am tired and possibly incapable of writing anything long and thought-provoking.

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When I asked my friend Sue Soaring Sun about these paintings, she told me they were done by Tracy Turner Sheppard. Here’s what Sue said about the paintings on her blog The RV Artsy Life of Sue Soaring Sun (http://ebayrv.blogspot.com/2012/06/cool-times-in-hot-town.html):

La Paloma was beautiful last year when I worked there and became even more beautiful while I was gone for the winter.  There are more gardens, some bird feeders, and lucky bamboo plants in every room.  All of the bath house rooms have been replastered and repainted, and a well-known New Mexico artist, Tracy Turner Sheppard, is painting mimbres and mandalas on the walls of each tub room.  Tracy is in town working on this project this week, and I’m delighting in getting to know her.

The next photo shows how the artist took an air vent and turned it into something cute and colorful.

soaked at La Paloma.I think if something functional (and kind of ugly) has to be in a room, living with it is much easier if it can be colorful and cheerful.

I really like how the colors the artist used are somehow both vibrant and subdued. They make me feel energized but not hyper or frantic. (I think “vibrantly subdued” is an oxymoron, but that’s the best way I can think of to describe these colors.  Please leave a comment if you can think of better words to use to describe them.)

SDC10003 - CopyMy favorite thing on the wall was this fat turtle and the decorative squiggles all around it.

This is what the artist says about herself on her website (http://www.tracyturnerart.com/bio.htm):

As a native of the west, I grew up surrounded by landscapes of astonishing diversity, light and beauty.Coming into the world this way, I developed a great passion for wild places and a love for the infinite ways color and light manifest with form on this earth.
My work is a reflection of that love and seeks to express a magical reality with color as the universal language. I play with its endless variety and vibrancy, translating my own sense of joy and mystery of the physical world onto canvas.

To see more of Tracy Turner Sheppard’s work, go to http://www.tracyturnerart.com/gallery.htm.

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I love the lavender sun and the fat-bellied reptile.

I took all of the photos in this post.