Sometimes from the desert heat, great clarity emanates, and it says to you, “Get out of town.”
And so to Jerome we went, where it’s a mile high and 20 degrees cooler on an early October day. The trip purposely coincided with the town’s Art Walk, which occurs the first Saturday of most months.
At the outset, it seemed that not much had changed about Jerome since our last trip 15 years ago (my bad!). The town has not fallen down the red slopes of Cleopatra Hill, and many of the buildings remain close to their original state from the late 1800s and early 20th century, when Jerome was a booming copper-mining town. The town continues to capitalize on Halloween, thanks to its rank as “largest ghost town in America.” Who am I to argue with the apparitions about that? I can say, though, that the art is better now than on my last visit.
Jerome, pop. 450, must have one of the highest rates of artists per capita in the state. I mean, the town is swarming with galleries, and the art ranges from familiar and affordable to exotic and costly. We actually succumbed to art-gallery overdose by 3 p.m. Maybe we should have spent some time in Jerome’s iconic Spirit Room at the Connor Hotel to rest our legs. Right.
Here are a few gallery highlights, kind of in order of the way we walked up and down Jerome’s hairpin curves:
– The digital photos turned into archival giclee on canvas prints at Lincoln Gallery.
– Not-your-childhood kaleidoscopes at Nellie Bly, which calls itself the largest kaleidoscope gallery in the world.
– Customized sundials by Leo Shakespeare in the town’s open-air Art Park.
– Shadow boxes with color-enhanced, skeletonized leaves by Booker Morey. The popular artist shows at Pura Vida Gallery.
– Ardis Harsche’s encaustics recalling Native American pictographs at Gallery 527.
– Dozens of works to marvel at — from watercolors to functional art — when you walk into the Jerome Artists Cooperative.
Like me, if you haven’t driven to Jerome in a while, think about a trip, as a heat escape or not. Beyond the art galleries, there are a number of good restaurants and bars as well as historic sites. It’s picturesque, too, as you can tell from my overabundance of photos.