Shelby Roberts

Mountainview and Valle de Oro
Getting out here by car and then getting to the preserve on foot took enough time that it was less peopled than it could have been, which was something I appreciated. I immediately high-stepped out to the river and got into it, walked out to some muddy banks with lots of marks of bird life. I made a point to notice how the place was where I exited land and entered water so I could make my way back easier. There were pieces of concrete and rebar with detritus, they all kind of looked the same but I noted how the nearest cluster of trash looked and identified some nearby plants and really looked so that I could remember their constellation and find it again when I was done walking in the river. I remember especially the Bidens frondosa which surprised me with lots of barbed cypselae stuck into my shorts and shirt and hair. This was the last plant I passed through before entering the river.

This part of the Bosque seemed low and closed in by plant life. I was in a curve in the river so I couldn’t see far enough in any direction to see any other people and so I felt very alone and like I had a lot of protection and privacy. I saw Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese. The Sandhill Cranes look very silvery blue.

I lost track of time and got lost in slowly eating a dry and pleasureless blood orange while exploring more. I showed up late to meet with the group and felt embarrassed.

I rode my bike from the Hispanic Cultural Center this morning to Valle de Oro, I was near but not in the preserve. I think that I need to go back again to understand better where I was. It seemed like the Valle de Oro bike path I was on was very near to where we walked on October 11th.

Today I could barely see what was around me, I have been too wrapped up in my thoughts. I stopped frequently to look HARD at the places and tried to be present in these places. I got repeatedly lost and reoriented myself, this helped keep me present. I was lost and then recognized the gas station where we met on the morning of the 11th. I recognized straw bales painted like Jack-o-lanterns that I noticed on our caravan with Richard Moore. I rode my bike down the path Britney and I took, and today men were patching potholes in this path.

All of the industry and the rail line in proximity to new bike paths and new development, such as the Paseo Del Rio, reminds me of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles. I am curious why this place has been chosen for development.

When I got to the diversion channel I cried. I did not expect that this would make me cry but it was so steep and violent I cried. It was so white and smooth and I can only imagine water shooting through it too quickly.

I map over Albuquerque with my dream map of places, a map which grows every year but always seems to be basically the same.

The Rio Grande is the St. John’s River, is the Eel River, is the Mad River, is the Colorado River, is the Kaweah River, is the Kern River, is Cherry Falls, is Slick Rock, is Livingston, is the track in high school, is the freeway I swim with all the other swimmers too fast, too fast to go where I want to go and I always have to get off miles past and turn around or wait, soggy and impatient. The Rio Grande is the mined river full of sedimentary pollution, I feel slimy rocks in the current slapping into me like fish. The Rio Grande is the airport, is the airplane, is LAX, is my father driving too fast. The Rio Grande is utterly new to me.

I feel like this is a very familiar place. I visit the Rio Grande in my dreams every few nights, I visit the Rio Grande during the day once or twice a week. I am curious about this place and feel very happy to be getting to know the river, slowly. It feels like meeting the different people in the hilly dream neighborhood, they welcome me inside their colorful homes, and I feel like I do not belong in their homes but they welcome me in anyway and show me everything, like when I went caroling as a child. Like this place was somebody’s grandmother, I feel accepted and loved without deserving any of it. I feel embarrassed.

The river is slower than what I think and I am changed in the presence of this place.

WHEELS Museum/The Big I
I have visited many museums like this before, I am a fan of historical museums.

The strangeness of the space itself and the strangeness of going to a place just to look at things and pictures for a long time.

We Have Everything Everyone Likes (Loves?) that Spins!

In a building full of unmoving, static objects meant to be in motion.

How do we decide what is worthy of preservation?

What do we deem worthy of being saved?

What sparks nostalgia?

What about haptic labor makes us yearn to travel back in time?

The Big I – watching and listening from the Realtor’s Association parking lot was a new way to experience this place. I usually experience the Big I when I am in the Big I, and as a newcomer I am often confused about where I am or need to be in the I. Looking at the structure from the outside makes it clear how one could be lost.

When I moved here someone asked me “HAVE YOU SEEN THE BIG EYE YET?” which frankly terrified me.

A band of turquoise runs along the lengths of these snaking forms, tying a knot of approaching and receding bands of wind. The structure reminds me of the diversion channels.

Which of these big rigs carry nuclear missiles, which are equipped with immobilizing foam in the event they are hijacked by terrorists?

Imagine a future without vehicles and ask what purpose these structures might serve. Will highway infrastructure be preserved and historicized? Will we outlive vehicles? Will collective living structures be built into the sides and underneaths, will the roadways be kept up for bicycles and other things we love that spin?

Tiguex Park/Old Town/Sawmill District
This day was spending mostly talking and eating in the park with my classmates. I have not felt this connected to others for many months now.

When I imagined what my graduate experience would be like, I anticipated that there would be opportunities to build relationships with others that went beyond emails and studio visits. This pandemic reality has boiled down much of the academic experience to business only, and the pleasure of encountering humans as humans has been lost. This has been a dry and pleasureless time (like a shitty blood orange), which made simply eating lunch and chatting feel intoxicating by comparison.

The Mill Pond Refuge – here is a park in formation which has been abandoned. Here is a place for humans but also for plants and birds and groundwater recharge, but the place is paused. Trees and plants are dead, having apparently been planted not long ago. Infrastructure seems abandoned; trash receptacles are overflowing.

Who is responsible for tending to this place?

When do people feel responsible for lands near where they live?

When do people form connections to places and feel compelled to care for them?

What makes people feel as though they can interact with a place?

What prevents connection to a place?

What will this place be like in 30 years?

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