The lady walks softly under turquoise skies, her feet crunching over bones. Jessica Contreras’ deft hands painted Mictēcacihuātl, Aztec Queen of the Underworld, remembered still on Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Look there! You can almost hear the warbling of Joe Pagac’s saloon birds. Not far away, bugs crawl over the faces of the living. Ewww, you say, but no! These cool paintings by Jessica Gonzales are intriguing juxtapositions. What is this place? An art gallery? Guess again. It’s Hotel McCoy off the ramp of Highway 10. Back in the day, someone else might have lamented the long blank motel walls punctuated by doors.Or maybe the traveler was too tired to even see the walls, stopping late to fall asleep after a long drive on the freeway crossing states at 80mph. In 2016, the owner got the bright idea the walls were the perfect canvas for creativity. The renovations took two years. Local Tucson artists surged in, splashing dreams and words everywhere. Words? Yep, poetry and optimistic quotes also have their spaces. Hotel McCoy opened in March 2018 with 93 rooms, a coffee and wine bar, and 8 murals. Now there are more than 40 murals. So unlike the motels I remember in 1968, my dad driving us from California to Massachusetts in 5 days, stopping at night at interchangeable flat long rectangle buildings, blank white walls, boring places but good enough to crash for a few hours, dragging in a suitcase, feeding on hamburgers and french fries and in the morning, grabbing a muffin and driving on. Hotel McCoy takes that road trip, adds a dollop of nostalgia, and manifests desert dreams into reality. My feet walk softly, camera clicking, the road calls but I like it here.
highway rolling past
bones, bugs, prickly cactus heart
I want to go back
haibun by M. LaFreniere
720 W Silverlake Rd
Tucson, AZ 85713
I put in “highway motels”. I remember seeing a photography book on motels but it didn’t come up in the search. Now it’s going to bother me. You know how you almost remember a song. It’s like that. It’ll probably pop into my head when I’m doing the dishes or something.
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