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Second in a series

TRINIDAD — Nothing remains. The landmark domes and most all of the original documents which testified to the value of Drop City no longer exist. Almost all that remains are various incomplete and objectively inaccurate reports from the decade during which it did exist. Only those who were there know what Drop City was, and even in their minds, memory often is a fickle mistress. According to the media of the day, the most significant artifacts of the experiment which began in 1965 were its domes. As an architectural experiment, they were extraordinary achievements which not only adopted the original theoretical concept, but developed it and expanded what was possible. Of the Droppers’ original works, the ‘Ultimate Painting’ is no more, although a replica of it exists. Gene Bernofsky’s Drop City movie, a record of their communal life, has apparently been recycled back into its primary materials. The Droppers’ lifestyle, sculptures, and experiments in solar collection exist now only in photographs. Their graphic experiment, ‘The Being Bag,’ a cooperatively written and illustrated, hand-made black and white comic book, exists

only as a regret that not enough copies were ever sold to ensure that at least one would remain intact. When original artworks are destroyed or lost, we want the essence, at least, to remain. At Drop City, all that is left are photographs and sometimes inaccurate memories. Perhaps this is appropriate. Just as the motion of a Dropper’s falling droplet of paint or colored stone could not be fixed between the moment of release and the moment of splatter or shatter at the end of its journey, the transitory was what the movement was all about. The movement was about “being” rather than substance, making its ethereal and ineffable mark in passing. Those fortunate few who saw the rough cut of the movie the Droppers were making in their early days can recall, rather vividly in some cases, some of its scenes; scenes of Trinidad and we who came to look, not realizing we were being recorded in the process. Their filming of the downtown Labor Day parade was as much about the strangeness of the townsfolk as much as it was about the uniqueness of the city dwellers. Their erotic black and white stroboscopic visions, daring and contrasting sharply with the documentary look of the color footage, at least in the judgment of the police who raided Santa Fe’s Atlantis Art Gallery back in 1967, “could not be classified as obscene,” according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, but it was startling when first viewed in a Trinidad Catholic High School classroom during one of my evening film classes for the community. At the time, the film simply presented the Droppers’ aesthetic and vision, and gave viewers secret pleasure in having discovered some forbidden truth, an absolutely unique moment. The great regret is that the experience cannot now be recalled in its totality. Drop City is gone; long live its passing. Next week: Name Dropping

Bertha Trujillo

  Bertha Trujillo, 97, from Gardner, Colo., entered her eternal home on Feb. 12, 2024. She was born in Gardner, Colo., on Sept. 30, 1926,

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