Now for some far more glamorous views of La Cita. Here is what the restaurant looked like in 2003, at the website of Richard Franke. And another 2003 view of it at the website of a Scott Granneman. Opheliate’s photostream at Flickr gives this view, uploaded Jan 2006. And here it is back in the day of the land cruisers.
Is La Cita still open? It didn’t look very open when we passed by it in Sep of 2005. It appeared to be shut down.
I started on the picture back in January. My approach with many of these digital paintings is to go understated. I return to look at it again and again, La Cita with its weeds and empty marquee seated between the broad intersection of roads and the mountain in the background. My intent wasn’t to have a picture that was capturing and memorializing another Route 66 landmark and neon. Just the building in the sharp sun, between the highway and the mountain. When we entered Tucumcari, I had no idea La Cita even existed so wasn’t anticipating and saying, “Oh, we must see La Cita.” We were driving through the town, many miles yet to go that day, we passed La Cita and I thought, “Think I’ll paint this” and grabbed for the camera hoping that I’d time to catch something of it as we zipped along.
I went very light with this painting for months and finally took it darker. Am not positive I did the right thing but I decided when it’s lighter the sun is too much the subject. I perhaps should have made the covered over windows on the right side of the building (under the neon) less dark, less contrast between them and the wall, but I didn’t want the eye to sit on the La City sombrero, I wanted it to take in the mountain and La Cita and move along to the neon and the store with its Coke machine in operation next door.