Something Special on the Santa Fe Plaza
June 07, 2010
Running through June 14 nightly at 8:30 pm in the second story windows of the Shiprock Gallery on the NE corner of the Santa Fe Plaza
What can one say about a four-hundred year-old destination? It’s timeless! That has been a standard answer – and a challenging question – for me when queried by journalists about what is new in Santa Fe. Much of what is so entrancing about our city is indeed related to its unchanging nature. At the same time, however, one can become a bit inured to the usual charms of the city, passing by the backdrop of adobe and blue sky, galleries and taco spots, without ruminating on how it all came to be. The Santa Fe Plaza, jewel of our city center, always calls to us, however, and thanks to Almas de la Plaza and Shiprock Gallery, there is a fresh and different way to learn more about the history of Santa Fe, but you’ll have to catch this one fast!
Through June 14 – and perhaps longer, if enough delighted viewers call and beg for an extension – each evening at 8:30 pm in the second-story windows of the Shiprock Gallery, located in the Catron Building on the NE corner of the Plaza, curious newcomers and old hands can be treated to a series of video vignettes recounting historical tales of the last 400 years of La Ciudad Real de Santa Fe de San Franscisco de Asis, i.e. Santa Fe, NM. Working with an assembled team of multimedia production students from IAIA, Highlands University and College of Santa Fe, Robert Drummond Studio used local actors and storytellers to bring this work to life with their talents. The production was made possible by the New Mexico Film Office, New Visions “Experimental” Award, funding from the Judith McBean Foundation and the generous support of the City of Santa Fe Mayor’s Office, Land Use Director and Constituent Services Manager.
Every segment of Santa Fe’s multi-cultural community is represented here in this intriguing hour-plus installation. Viewers are treated to tales of the distant and more recent past, as video projections introduce such notable and authentic Santa Fe characters as Dona Tules, famed courtesan and saloon-keeper; Governor Lew Wallace, author of the classic Ben Hur, San Ildefonso potter Maria Martinez; artist Will Shuster, one of the Cinco Pintores and creator of Zozobra; New Mexican suffragist Nina Otero Warren; Navajo medicine man and artist Hosteen Klah, guiding light of the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian; and the subject of Willa Cather’s novel “Death Comes for the Archbishop” Jean-Baptiste Lamy, creator of Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. It seemed like only Tommy Maccione was missing!
And not just celebrated Santa Fe notables come to visit. Basket-making is explained in its four stages by a young Native girl who learned about baskets and life from her grandmother. One of the many legendary tales of Coyote is recounted, and a Buffalo soldier expresses his delight at being able to fight in the Civil War for his rights as a freedman. A merchant’s wife tells of the numerous Jewish merchants who came west with the railroad and brought desirable goods that made the Plaza an early shopping destination. A Native runner describes the knotted rope he carried to inform the Pueblos of the exact time to begin the revolt of 1680. All of these stories are captivating, as demonstrated by the crowd that gathers nightly and stays on, despite the lack of adequate seating and the traditional summer circumnavigations of Plaza traffic, complete with noisy Harleys and Santa Fe Fire Dept. vehicles.
This is a thoughtful and artistic expression of Santa Fe’s 400th anniversary, so abandon the TV in your hotel room or your cozy adobe home and head for the Plaza before its gone – you won’t regret it!