Ghost Town Gears: Vulture City’s Mechanical Past Picture of the Week, Vulture City, Arizona

Antique differential gearing linked to a hit-and-miss engine, showcasing the mechanical history of Vulture City.
Vulture City’s Mechanical Tale: A Flywheel’s Connection to a Bygone Era

Welcome back, intrepid explorers, to our final haunting episode in Vulture City. Today, we’re diving deep into the mechanical heart of this ghost town and a peek at the commendable efforts by the caretakers to ensure its stories are preserved for eons to come. Remember last week’s little misadventure? Let’s stick close together; one ghostly escapade is quite enough!

This week’s spotlight is a relic from yesteryears—an old gas-powered engine. Not the vroom-vroom kind in your garage, but a stationary titan engineered to power the weighty machinery of its time. Its genius? To be fuel-efficient, it was crafted to ignite every other cycle, creating an unmistakable bang-pop-pop sound. This rhythmic cadence christened them “Hit-and-Miss” engines. Much like the nostalgic rhythm of a gramophone, the beat of these engines is Vulture City’s undying echo from the past.

Surprisingly, despite their robust build with cast iron and boilers, you rarely find them in old abandoned mines. Why? Because most were sold or, unfortunately, scavenged for scrap. But in Vulture City, these pieces of history stand tall, painting a vivid picture of the bygone era.

Visiting Vulture City is akin to stepping into a time capsule. But don’t be fooled by the town’s pristine appearance. Recent photos showcase the harrowing reality of dilapidated structures just a few years back. However, the new stewards have tirelessly worked to resurrect the town. From rusty Core 10 stainless steel rooftops to stabilized walls, every corner has been touched with care. And while some artifacts aren’t precisely period-authentic, they enhance the visitor’s experience manifold.

OMG—They Do Exist!

Humorous Halloween scene in Vulture City's brothel with playful pumpkins, hinting at a night of mischief.
Haunted Brothel: Pumpkins Celebrate in Style – Have you ever wondered why the Great Pumpkin never appears before the ‘Peanuts’ character, Linus? Here’s why. The Pumpkin has better things to do than hang out with kids all night.

Have you ever met pumpkins with more charisma than the guests at some fancy parties? Thanks to Ray Villafane’s magic touch, the pumpkins at Vulture City are a sight! Having showcased his prowess on HGTV, Ray’s uncanny ability to breathe life into gourds has added a spooky charm to the town’s Halloween festivities. For a deeper dive, check out this article here. All these initiatives spotlight the town’s undying spirit and commitment to entertaining and educating visitors year-round.

Thanks for tagging along on our ghostly gallivant this month. We’ve been overjoyed to share our tales and would be thrilled to hear yours! We invite you to share your Halloween or even brothel stories in the comment section below. Drop by my website for a closer peek at the engine here, or visit its gallery on Fine Art America here. Next week? A new location and saga you won’t want to miss. Be sure to tune in.

Till next time, keep your spirits high and your humor dry.

Techniques: Shapes as Compositional Muses

Close your eyes and imagine… Oh wait, bad idea! Let’s explore the transformative power of shapes in photography. Do you think a plain signpost is mundane? Tilt it a bit, and you’ve got a story! Here’s a dive into how shapes craft a picture’s narrative:

  • Horizontal Lines: These lines evoke a sense of tranquility and restfulness. Imagine the horizon during a sunset; it exudes peace and serenity.
  • Vertical Lines: These lines impart strength, rigidity, and stability. Think of towering skyscrapers or tall trees reaching up to the sky.
  •  Circles: Representing wholeness and unity, circles can create a focal point that keeps the viewer’s eye engaged. The never-ending loop of a circle often symbolizes the circle of life or eternity.
  •  Triangles: Triangles can provide a sense of balance and stability in a composition, often directing the viewer’s eye to the top or base of the triangle. They can be dynamic or stable depending on their orientation.
  • Curves and S-Curves: These lines are graceful, flowing, and can be sensuous. S-curves, in particular, can guide the viewer’s eye through the composition, providing depth and interest. Picture a winding river through a landscape; it captivates the viewer into the scene.

Double Takes Show – 2019 Art show announcement

I’m pleased to announce the 2019 Double Takes Art Show sponsored by the Wickenburg Art Club. Each year, the club asks of its photographers to submit a few of their photographs. Then, the club’s other artists select an image from the pile and produce a piece of art inspired the photo that they chose. Then the collaboration is hung together at the club’s gallery in January. The resulting work can be a painting, sculpture, or a piece of written work. It’s fun to see the creative results.

Long Canyon Cottonwood
A mature cottonwood tree masks a side slot canyon within Long Canyon. A member of the Poplar family, cottonwoods thrive where water is plentiful. A healthy specimen like this is a sigh that water is just under the dry creek’s surface.

I’m pleased that three of my images were chosen by club artist for interpretation and will be on display. The show runs from January 5th thru February 9th from 1- 4 pm. The gallery is at 188 S. Tegner Street. Turn south at the stop light just east of the railroad underpass on US 60.

Point of Light
Light falls on Navajo Sandstone outcrop along Dry Creek during an approaching summer thundershower.

I’m hoping that you can visit Wickenburg, grab a late breakfast at Spur’s Café, lunch at Wickenburg Ranch, or hamburgers at Screamer’s Drive-In and take in the show.

Yellow Streak
Aspen forms a yellow line like a streaking comet as they descend Boulder Mountain in Utah.

Until next time … jw

Herberger Theater Exhibition New Art Show Announcement

The Herberger Theater art curators have selected one of my photographs to be part of a show this month. It’s not an art show as such as it will be on display inside the theater and the only way you can view it is to buy a theater ticket. But what the heck, something of mine is hanging on a wall somewhere.

Sunset Thunderhead
As the sun began to drop below the horizon, this beautiful thunderhead moved southward over the Weaver Range.

The theme of this exhibit is Sunrise/Sunset. The pieces submitted are depictions of events or scenes taken at those times when the light is golden. They accepted my image called Thunderhead Sunset. This is the third time this picture has been selected for a show,  so it seems to be popular.

The exhibit will run until the end of October and will be in Bob’s Spot Gallery—I believe that’s the bar area. If you happen to be going to the Herberger, stop by and check it out. Wait, maybe I should rephrase that. You should buy a ticket to a play at the Herberger before the end of October so you can see my artwork. There, how was that?

Until next time — jw

West of Center Art Show New Show Announcement

The inmates are taking over the asylum again. Each year at this time, the folks at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum take a vacation and before they leave town, they toss the keys to the Wickenburg Art Club. Like a bunch of teenagers hyped on hormones, we throw a wild party … well, we actually host an exhibition of local artists for three months. Nobody’s in town anyway, so why not?

This is the seventh year that the Art Club has put on the West of Center Art Exhibition and Sale and it’s really a big deal around these parts. The members each submit up to five pieces for consideration and a jury selects the best for the show. Year after year it’s a good show because there’s a lot of good talent in the Wickenburg area. The show runs from July 28th through October 28th at the Desert Caballeros Museum’s Learning Center at the northwest corner of Highway 60 and Tegner Street. The hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The store is closed Mondays. There are also art demonstrations on Saturdays from 1 – 3 p.m. If you can stop by then, we’ll learn ya somthin’.

Blue Mesa
Blue Mesa was my favorite shot from the Petrified Forest last summer. It was selected to be part of the West of Center Art Show this year.

The jury selected two of my submissions for the show this year and I’m excited to see them hanging. My first piece is a shot I took from the Petrified Forest last year called Blue Mesa. It’s a 17 x 10½ print in one of my standard black frames. You may remember a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about how I was having trouble printing it because of ink problems. Well, I solved them and I’m happy with the results.

Mud Arch
Mud Arch – I had this printed on a piece of aluminum and floated it a walnut frame for the show.

For my second entry, I did something exotic (for me). I sent my image of Mud Arch off to be printed on a sheet of aluminum 15 inches wide by 20 inches high and when it came back it looked stunning. The colors and detail came out exceptionally well. Because the print’s surface is cleanable with a mild window cleaner, I didn’t have to cover it with glass. Instead, I float-mounted it in a rustic-finished walnut frame. Despite the extra costs for this process, I plan to keep this process in my repertoire.

I hope you get a chance to stop by and take in the show. I think you’ll be surprised by the quality of art on display. The Saturday demonstrations are interesting and informative. Last year, for example, Stan Strange’s talk on Cell Phone Photography turned into the basis for the photo classes the club put on this spring. After the show, put the top down on your hot-rod and stop by Screamer’s drive-in for a cheeseburger and shake.

Until next time — jw

La Dolce Vita

I’m living a dream and I don’t mean that I’m Back in the Highlife Again. That would never happen. I have too much bad Karma. The dream I’m talking about is the one that everybody has. The details change, but in it, you’re trying to get something accomplished and things keep happening to thwart you. If you overcome one obstacle, another one takes its place and it’s usually worse. The dream goes on and on until you finally get to school and realize that you’re not wearing pants. I’m sure my dilemma isn’t a  dream because I can remember what happened yesterday and it continues after I wake-up.

I’ve had my current photo printer for three years and it’s the second one that I bought. I got this unit because the printing heads on its predecessor clogged and nothing I did would clear them, including a fresh round of ink cartridges. Of course, I discovered the problem when I urgently needed to make a set of prints for a reason that’s now escaped me, so I panicked and ordered the second printer, and even paying for two-day delivery. I salvaged all the new cartridges from printer #1 so that I could use them in printer # 2. It’s been a couple of years and I haven’t needed to replace the entire set yet.

The new printer is off most of the time. I only turn it on when I sell a print or I have to make a new show entry. I stopped printing all of my images years ago. My closet is full of print boxes that just take up space. Since I don’t do very many art shows anymore, I don’t need to replace the existing stock very often.

I have a new show later this month (more to come) and the committee selected two of the five prints I submitted, so I fired up the printer a couple of weeks ago. The first thing I do when I turn it on is run a couple of cleaning cycles before I ever load the paper. I want to make sure the printer is hitting on all eight cylinders so I don’t waste a sheet of expensive paper. I went to make my four prints—two for show and two for backup—and the first three printed perfectly. There was something wrong in the shadows with the fourth print, so I tried again with the same results. The indicator for the cyan cartridge was flashing, but I didn’t have a replacement in my stash. Instead, I ran the head cleaning maintenance a couple of times while I ordered another cartridge from Amazon. Then I tried another print, but the results were the same. I tweaked the paper profile, I used another brand of paper, I did more cleaning, but nothing worked. In desperation, I ran a series of cleaning cycles until the printer yelled at me, “Can not do the head cleaning, one of the ink cartridges is out of ink.”

My cyan cartridge arrived yesterday and I put it into the printer. Before printing anything, I ran a nozzle check. When you do that, the printer spits out a print with a series of color music scales. If one of the heads is clogged, that color scale has broken lines. In this case, almost all the black scale was missing. Now that I had plenty of ink, I began running cleaning cycles. After each one, more of the black pattern appeared and after a half-dozen cycles, there was only one small break in the black pattern, so I tried once more. The printer began yelling again, “Maintenance cartridge is full, please replace with a new cartridge.” When you do a head cleaning, the printer squirts ink into the maintenance cartridge and when that’s full, the printer stops working until you replace it.

So I’m waiting for the new cartridge to arrive from Amazon. Because of today’s holiday, it won’t arrive until next week. Instead of matting and framing my show entries, I have to spend the day being nice to the birthday girl. That means I have to cook dinner and watch Independence Day again because that’s what she does on July 4th. Jeez, it’s not even the alien invasion movie with the cool Slim Whitman ending. Maybe if I’m lucky, I can take a nap and sleep away this nightmare.

Until next time — jw

Yarnell Daze New Art Show

There’s a thing about living in a rural Arizona town that is lacking in big cities. It’s the small town block parties.  It’s where the town celebrates an obscure but important community event. Wickenburg has Gold Rush Days that coincide with the Senior Pro Rodeo each winter. Our town celebrates Congress Day. I don’t know who sponsors our event since we don’t have a city hall, but in the dirt lot in front of the library, our firemen line up their shiny truck beside a half-dozen citizens sitting at card tables hawking arts and crafts or shiny boxes of rocks. This year, organizers omitted the bouncy castle because last year, none of my fellow septuagenarians were able to get out of it.

Cinderhills and Clouds
On the high plains of Western New Mexico, puffy clouds cast a shadow on one of the cinder hills.

This Saturday, ten miles up the highway, the town of Yarnell will be having a block party that they call Yarnell Daze Mountaintop Festival. The celebration on the hilltop is bigger than ours because they have a chamber of commerce. There is a parade, live music, and different activities scheduled all day, but the one thing that warrants me writing about the festival is the art show. The organizers have invited artists from Wilhoit to Wickenburg to show samples of their work and I have submitted these three pictures from my cloud series for the show.

Sunset Thunderhead
As the sun began to drop below the horizon, this beautiful thunderhead moved southward over the Weaver Range.

The festival starts off with a pancake breakfast at 7:00 am, hosted by the Yarnell Fire Department. The parade begins at 10:00 am (remind me to tell you the story about the parade in Kanab sometime). The art show is inside the Big Blue Barn on AZ-89—it’s the only two-story blue building in town and it’s on the east side of the street. If you go, there are also a couple of good cafes to eat at if you don’t want pancakes and besides the art show, there are a myriad of antique stores to peruse.

Skull Valley Monsoon
Monsoon clouds move down from the Bradshaw Range in Skull Valley.

Unfortunately, Queen Anne extends her regrets. It seems that her posse is gathering at Yaz’s house for The Wedding. If you can believe this, they will be getting up at 2:00 am to watch TV while wearing tiaras and consuming high tea. Right now she’s busy in the kitchen making cucumber and egg salad sandwiches. She’s already cursing about the nail she broke while trimming the bread crust. Knowing that group, I bet they oversleep and miss it.

Until next time — jw

Gold Rush Days 2018 New photographs on display at fine arts show.

It’s February again and that means that Wickenburg will be celebrating Gold Rush Days this weekend (Feb 9-11). It’s the closest thing that we have to a street party. Wickenburg closes the streets around the city library to make room for carnival rides, food vendors, arts and crafts booths. The rodeo grounds—down by the river—will have a senior pro rodeo—old guys and gals take the spotlight.

There used to be a lot of local places to eat down around the fair, but most of them have closed. Anita’s Cocina—one of our better known Mexican places—is located at the fair’s center so they make a killing over the weekend. Another place that’s within walking distance is Nana’s Sandwich Shop on Tegner. They have a limited sandwich menu, but they bake a fabulous Lemon/Blueberry bread that you have to try. Be warned, it sells out quickly. Next, to the museum, one block over is the Local Press. Here you’ll find hand-made sandwiches with interesting flavor combinations. It’s another one of our favorites.

The event that is important for me is the Fine Arts Show held at the library. I have a couple of photographs that will be on display. One is Piedmont Crossing—the night photo of a crossing guard that was in the West Valley Art Show in Surprise. The second is a brand new print that I made last week called: Mine Mack. It’s of an old Mack truck at Robson’s Mining World. I’m really jazzed at how well the truck’s patina came out in the photo.

Mack Truck
Mack Truck – A classic truck that miners used to haul stuff.

To be included in the art show, I also have to volunteer to work it. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing this year, but last year I was Sunday’s guest host. In any case, I’ll be around Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The weather will be great on Saturday with rain possible on Sunday. If you’re in the mood for a day trip, come on up and join in on the fun.

Until next time — jw