"Life on the Rocks," by Kathleen Wells


"Life on the Rocks," by Kathleen Wells

“Life on the Rocks,” by Kathleen Wells

Katherine Wells’s obsession with petroglyphs (images pecked on stone) began in the 1960s. Three decades later, after careers as a teacher, a businessperson, and an artist in Southern California, Wells and Lloyd Dennis, her partner, purchased almost 200 acres near Española in northern New Mexico. The large boulders on the property contained many examples of rock art from previous Native inhabitants and the lure was overwhelming.

In her latest book, “Life on the Rocks, One Woman’s Adventures in Petroglyph Preservation,” Wells describes the beginning of her new life and her exploration of the petroglyphs on her new land. Meeting New Mexico archaeologists and local rock art aficionados, and locating previously published information about petroglyphs and the prehistoric inhabitants of the Española area, Wells learned to identify the time periods when the glyphs were made and to understand many of the motifs found among the more than six thousand petroglyphs on the site at Mesa Prieta.

In addition to discovering all she could about her surroundings, Wells worked with Dennis to design and construct three buildings on their property, each constructed of straw bales. Each of their experiences introduced these transplanted New Mexicans to the oft-cited definition of mañana: ‘not today.’ However, the beauty of their adopted homeland made the trials and struggles they encountered pale in comparison.

In 2005, she was awarded the Conservation and Preservation Award by the American Rock Art Research Association. In 2007, Wells recently gave the land described in ‘Life on the Rocks’ to the Archaeological Conservancy, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and the State register of Cultural Properties.

On Tuesday, April 16, 7 p.m., Montrose Library, The Friends of the Library Annual Meeting hosts Wells, who is scheduled to give a talk about her love affair with petroglyphs and other insights from the book.

On Wednesday, April 17, 7 p.m., Montrose Methodist Church, 19 South Umcompahgre, the Chipeta chapter of the Colorado Archaelogical Society hosts Wells.

For further information, contact Meg Nagel at the Montrose Library, 970-964-2548.





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