The Arts

    Mudgap has long standing sympathies with the arts.  An artists’ and writers’ community may be unexpected in a modern tourist attraction and also a strange successor to the leathery, scrape-knuckle early Mudgap.  Nevertheless the muse finds a home among gunfighters’ shadows and voracious visitors in Mudgap’s living ghost town.

•    Montana Estatua (sample a few pages or, if you’re doing a book report, consult the synopsis) is a soon-to-be-published pilgrims’ saga by a lifetime resident of Mudgap using the pseudonym Gregory S Trachta.  Yes, yes, everyone in town knows his real name. So be it. After years of dabbling with stories like “Christmas Wrap”, “Shortcut to Illumination”, “Dogma, Yo Soy Dios,” the wary author has quilted a yarn of Mudgap’s passage, his quaintly frangible characters exploring life’s big questions about time, truth, reality and the meaning of it all. Consider it a southwestern symphony of jukebox tunes you could punch up from a red-cushioned, leatherette booth in Marcella Morgan’s Shooting Alley Mexican Café. Enjoy your breakfast while tiny glistening crystals drift onto the windowsill and the eclectic harmonies brighten your palate.  You want salsa verde with that?  Or pico de gallo?  Or grits?

•    Former resident and author Titus Wright-Smith, with illustrator Joli L’enfant, wrote five famous books about frontier legend, Doc Bohannon.  They are today considered more fiction than fact but did much to grow the Bohannon narrative.  One of them, recounting Bohannon’s exploits during the Civil War, was made into a movie in the fifties. Its prominence on after-midnight TV resulted in a remake as Kid Glover’s Bloody Missouri, the producers finding the name “Bohannon” unlikely for a gunfighter.
•    Two sisters, Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. St Ives, wrote a book about the early days of Mudgap schools.  It remains one of the most credible sources of information about this period and about Bohannon.  A second book dealt directly with the elusive educator but it was never published and only fragments have been found.

•   Tom LeMaster did illustrations for the original Mudgap newspaper, “The Lodestone Chronicle,” and also oils and watercolors.  His work hangs in the Historical Society, local businesses and even some private homes.  His painting of the curious statue on Montana Estatua, as if etched in the gold of morning light, hangs in the Historical Society.  Native details in the painting bear markings, not of Apaches who were prevalent in the area, but of Pima Indians from Arizona.  His work merged the fanciful and the real.

•    Maude Lownde, a still-active artist, is known for her speculative compositions.  Her spooky ability to visualize and capture events she didn’t experience has entered local lore.   Her work can be seen at the Historical Society and other tourist spots.
 
   Catherine Morgan

 •    Lydia Lownde, Maude’s cousin, is editing the poetry of her late relative Powel Latch, known as Powder.  “I had no idea Uncle Powder was a poet,” she says.  “When he died we found verses all over his laptop. They fit together like jigsaw puzzles.  I don’t know how many separate poems there are.”  Perhaps you’d like to see a few of her favorites

•    Our amateur thespians, the Bear Hill Players, present several productions each year in the Estatua Opera House. Their name recalls the frontier practice of hosting traveling theatrical groups at what is now the Historical Society on Colina del Oso, bear hill. Their standard repertoire includes King Lear, usually performed on the concrete stage in the Historical Society’s courtyard, an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, an adaptation of Orwell’s 1984 and, since the playwright’s death in 1996, Emerson Stockton Bardwell’s iconic, The American Pilgrim. 
 

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