Five stones for all of the mountains
The sun and the glow
Radiating from the stones at sunset
The turning Earth, spiraling in orbit
The rain and the snow and seasons of
Warmth, five stones looking down upon
A city and a river and five little volcanos
5 stones, turning in the universe
At the portal to the canyon
Telcon w/ Billie Walters Monday morning February 8, 2021 Albuquerque USA
Knowing how much I admire her “Five Stones for Elena Gallegos” Janet always tells me when Billie has been into her office, so, I decided to talk with Billie myself and got her telephone # from J (and birthdate: March 12, 1927) (she’ll be 94 in March)
She’s a sweet person, a little hard of hearing. Her helper (not a daughter J says) answered the phone and asked what the call was about and I said I want to ask her things about her 5 Stones for Elena Gallegos and the nice person, said, Okay, let me see if she’s available, and she was enthusiastic —– Her assistant had told me to be sure and talk a little louder —- My voice is pitched kind of low and tends to disappear if I don’t dial it up.
I told her that I was husband to her doctor Janet Simon and she coo’d.
So, she couldn’t always hear me that well. But, not too bad. She had a good manner about talking, it didn’t bother her to be questioned, but, after awhile she said she was “fading,” having not been able to specifically answer some of my questions can tire you out ——
I asked if the stones came from nearby where they are situated now? She said, Yes.
Within, say 200 yards?
A little further in some cases, “One was taken out of a stream, the arroyo nearby.”
I asked how?
She said, “We had a lifter.”
A crane? She said, “a crane-like kind of thing.”
I said, a tractor? She perked up, “Yeh!’
A skip-loader type tractor? She said, “I don’t know the names of them.”
How long did you work on this installation?
She said she had located the spot in late January (1983) and “when the weather was
better we had a scraper come out,” to level the site, “and to dig holes, the stones
were set in holes.” So, the placement was March and “then I came back in April or
May to re-situate them.”
I asked how she had decided on the arrangement, was there a lot of trial and error?
She said, “No. I had taken photos using my family to stand in place. I had just enough
family, then, to do it,” laughing (Robert died in 2008 age 82)
I asked if she had worked with big rocks like this before?
She decisively said: “Never.”
Did you ever work with stones after that?
“No, never, that was it,” finding that humorous.
I said, so, you were mostly a ceramicist?
“Yes, because that’s what I am!”
I asked if there are photos of the whole construction process and installation? She said, No, but some were in a magazine, “I can’t remember which, you’ll have to look around.”
I asked if she knew Rita Deanin. (Ed Abbey’s artist wife.)
“Oh, the name rings a bell, but I can’t see her face.”
Raymond Jonson? (transcendentalist painter of New Mexico)
She wasn’t familiar with movie filming LONELY ARE THE BRAVE which I believe used that same canyon in 1961.
I asked how the polishing was done on the shiny round orb?
She misunderstood my question and said, “It was so the sunset would shine on it”
I asked if there were considerations as to placement and alignment with the backdrop of the Sandias? But, I think she misunderstood and said, “No.” It’s obvious that those were considerations, but an interviewer asks just to see what they’ll say.
I told her I knew Robert and she perked up and was happy for that. We men always hope that our wives will remember as fondly when we’re gone. I said that he designed a book cover for me, and she said she’d love to see it. I said I’d mail her one.
I told her I really like the “Five Stones” and she said, “I do too, I hope they stay there for a long time”