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1 Left: ED PATRYKUS “I had a sister who was living in El Paso and I stayed with her the last half of the winter. I went back to Wisconsin, but when the Canadian winds started blowing, I returned. It’s where I’ve been since 1965. El Paso was my salvation. The open spaces and isolation, the loneliness and ravines:: of nature, the wind and dust, the empty railroad tracks, the cemetery, the down-at-the-heels cantinas, even the poverty was liberating. The sad and tragic side of life in Mexico, the intensity and impermanence reduced life to its foundations. Despite El Paso’s defects, its isolation and provincialness, when I step across the Rio Grande into that earthy life in Mexico, I’m free of myself. My writing was motivated by rage, and it was taxing because I don’t have a natural talent, but I did have a need to express myself and take a crack at telling the truth. I don’t have the passion to write any more. I didn’t expect to live so long that my writing would empty itself. I still get an occasional idea, but I don’t have the drive, the spark, that burn, burn, burn. But I’m not sad that I had it and I’m not sorry that it’s gone:’ 1 Right: MARILYN MARTIN “It’s strange to be told you’re going to die. I prepared myself and waited, but then I didn’t die. I had gotten rid of all my stuff because I didn’t want people to go through it when I was dead. And then I thought, ‘Hey, I want my stuff back:” A native of Delaware, Marilyn Martin moved to New York after college. After five years she wanted out: “The whole gallery system, the museums and collectorsit’s a system of unregulated currency exchange” She married an El Paso native and moved here in 1982: “Looking out over the lights of the city, I thought it was gorgeous and huge. It was like LA:’ She had a show in Juarez, but felt isolated with her work. The El Paso art community was “provincial”; the marriage ended. Eventually she found happiness with a new job, a new husband, and a daughter, Charlotte, born in 1993. Then Martin was diagnosed with leukemia. It’s been five years since she was last told to wrap up her affairs. She’s writing and doing water color abstractions. They “aren’t really ambitious or Art News, but they satisfy my desire to paint. Charlotte’s declared that she’s an artist and I dream of taking her on a trip to Europe, just the two of us traveling around on a train, going to the great museums and churches, looking at all the art together. But she wants to go to Disneyland:’ 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 8/1/03 L