JornadaDelMuerto72-8in.gif (11286 bytes)

gas-food-lodging72-8in.gif (10565 bytes)

Jornada del Muerto
By Dana Burgy-Gautschi

January 2002  These two billboard designs were created in response to a call for entries for the Millenium Billboard Project.  This competition was sponsored by Magnifico and funded by New Mexico Arts (the state public art program), the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and Clear Channel Outdoor (the billboard company).  It was a commemmoration of the historical, present and future El Camino Real as it traversed New Mexico.  Stipulations included a maximum of seven words of text and "readability" at 75 miles per hour.  "Jornada del Muerto" was selected as a semi-finalist, but was determined to be in violation of New Mexico Highway Department regulations for billboards erected on Highway Department lands.  What follows is the statement I submitted along with these entries:

This is New Mexico on El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. This part of your journey is beautiful, forbidding and treacherous, some areas more than others.

You would probably be enjoying your 16th Century, six-month trip between Santa Fe and Mexico City more if The Road hugged the Rio Grande all the way between between Santa Fe and El Paso. But between Socorro and Las Cruces, the river swings wide to the west and back, for many miles of virtually impassable canyons. Meanders in its sandy bed also left unpredictable and undetectable quicksand and other deadly obstacles.

The shortest and safest route through there feels like neither and will take you far from the river, but you really have no choice. Besides, that's the way The Road goes. This short stretch on the long and lovely Camino has become known as "Jornada del Muerto", the "Journey of Death". It's only ninety miles, but interminable hell - some of the most desolate terrain on the 1800-mile Royal Road. You are in for three days and nights of constant motion, sleeplessness, increased chance of ambush, and likely heat and thirst, which many will not survive.

But it's a different millenium. So you're cruising the long way, The Pan-American Freeway, along the river, comfortably bypassing that virtually waterless, rock-filled basin that sweeps to the east. You crank the air conditioner of your luxury-liner sedan. You have an ice-cold Coke in your cup-holder and you and your babe are singing loudly to jammin' tunes on cd. On cruise control on I-25, you think Jornada del Muerto is nothing but gorgeous.

In response to this request for 75-mile-an hour art, I submit these two designs for billboards commemorating The Royal Road to the Interior Lands. In seven words or less and with secular iconic visuals, I am attempting to encourage questions. It is my intention that some might be inspired by surprising billboards to cock their heads and wonder about where they find themselves driving, and where they find themselves in history.

I have always been in love with roadsigns. Thus, I am inspired by artists who have created signs as art pieces. Contemporary influences include Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger and Scott Roeben - people who have blurred the line between fine art and graphic design.

EllipsisWeb Design & Graphics