A block or so from Bobby's house, the road turns to dirt and the houses to shacks. Las Vegas, NM, becomes grey and dusty and slightly collapsed. And then the street dead-ends in a burst of color.

Casa de Colores, the House of Colors

Laundry lines of weathered stuffed animals and the oddments of plastic children's toys hang around the yard. The house itself is three tin-roofed rooms set on a slope. Mud walls are covered in spray painted polkadots and pictures. From the bleak street it's confrontational, vibrant, and impossible to ignore. Its meaning is obvious.


Casey Marquez, the 79-year-old artist, invites us into his bedroom. There's a woodstove next to his bed where he is heating up food in an aluminum pan, and a TV silently playing Judge Judy. The house is warm. Casey tells us about his social worker and about the graffiti artist who does the painting for him. He says he used to drink too much but doesn't now, only smokes pot. Says he has an achey, breaky heart and calls us "ladies," says "God Bless You."



Casey passed away less than a year after our visit. His Casa de Colores - beautiful, sincere, and necessary - was easily our favorite artwork of the trip.

Out of Las Vegas, it starts snowing and gets dark. We keep going until Moriarty, where I miss the exit and we see strobe lights full of snow, and the highway is bad, but we make it back to Moriarty and get a motel. I eat oysters in the room and shower; we fall asleep watching a TV show about beer made from donuts.