© Paul Markow
Our Favorite Color
Brown peacocks. I have 2-year-old twins, and everything they’ve “drawn” this week has been a “brown peacock.” If you squint your eyes and open your mind, you can see the otherwise flashy birds amid the scribbles of brown. I’ve encouraged the girls to try some of Crayola’s more colorful colors — vivid tangerine, shocking pink, laser yellow — but they’re fascinated with brown, even though they’ve never seen a brown peacock. Not in nature, not on Sesame Street, not on a flashcard. Nevertheless, in the imagination of a 2-year-old, brown peacocks are as real as Santa Claus.
As we get older, we tend to lose that sense of imagination — or, worse, we become closed-minded and start buying into stereotypes. I got an email the other day from a guy named Richard. He lives somewhere in Arizona, but he didn’t say where. Here’s what he did say: “Each and every state has its beauty, and foliage in Arizona is not one of them.” In a bitter way, he was suggesting that our state — his state — is devoid of color.
Over the years, I’ve come to expect that kind of thing from people who have never visited the White Mountains or Red Rock Country or the Vermilion Cliffs, but that’s unusual from anyone who lives here. Like most places, there are some laughable stereotypes about Arizona — the one about the landscape being bland is near the top of the list — but, in reality, our state is loaded with color. You’ll see that in this month’s cover story, which runs for 60 pages, from our front cover through our back cover.
For several years, we’ve been dedicating our December issue to nothing but photos, and, with the exception of a few word lovers (bless you), most of you have tipped your hats. I, too, am partial to words, but I recognize the role that photography has played in the history of this magazine. We’ve done some nice stuff, and this issue keeps pace.
The theme, as you might have gathered, is “color,” and it’s the brainchild of Kathy Ritchie. KAT, as she’s known, is our senior associate editor. I don’t remember exactly when she tossed out the idea, but it was at least two years ago. Since then, we’ve been poring over thousands of images, each with a dominant color. In the layout, which was beautifully designed by Creative Director Barbara Glynn Denney, the colors are presented in individual albums. There’s a White Album, a Blue Album, a Red Album ... but, despite a non-verbal lobbying effort by my daughters, there’s not a Brown Album. Although we do have some lovely browns in our state, especially at the Grand Canyon, we decided to focus on the vibrant colors — yes, Richard, there is vibrant color in Arizona.
The title of the portfolio is Our Favorite Color, and we think it’s a pretty good collection of photographs. We hope you’ll agree. If not, we have more words and pictures coming in January. Meantime, happy holidays, and thank you for spending another year with Arizona Highways.