One of the most defining artistic and symbolic elements of the Southwest is turquoise, a stone that possesses a captivating quality to natives and passers-through alike. The name “Turquoise” is an iteration of “Turkey,” the country from which the first turquoise imports to Europe came. This greenish blue mineral, consisting of hydrous phosphate, copper and iron, first emerged in ancient Egypt, where it was placed in tombs around 3000 BC.
In both old and new world cultures, turquoise was/is considered a holy stone – used for protection against unnatural death and hailed as a symbol of healing for both the body and the sacred land.
In the Southwest in particular, its hue is reminiscent of rain, essential to life and rebirth in the Puebloan tradition.
The story of turquoise in Santa Fe dates back over a thousand years (perhaps further), and is a complex one. The evidence of vast trade networks, connecting thousands of miles of land through multiple states and diverse cultural groups, has been recently uncovered by new archaeological techniques. Sharon Hull, a noted archaeologist, has spearheaded this endeavor by identifying clear evidence of pre-Columbian trade, stretching all the way from Nevada to the Cerrillos hills of Santa Fe.
While turquoise can be acquired today much easier than our ancestors’ methods, purchasing a piece of turquoise in Santa Fe ties you to the deep tradition of the bartering system of times passed. Most new turquoise jewelry sold today comes from mines in Nevada or Arizona, but the modern manufacturing tradition derives largely from the work of Fred Harvey and his collaboration with native New Mexican artisans. One of the fathers of modern tourism, Harvey pioneered many aspects of modern-day tourism. His handshake deal with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad to build inns, restaurants, and shops with organized tours of native performers, along the various railway stops helped shape our conception of current cultural tourism. This led to what’s been called ‘the first chain restaurants,’ as well as helped define and create the modern demand for southwestern styled silver and turquoise jewelry. Examples of this antique jewelry can be found in galleries throughout town.
Buying turquoise jewelry can be rewarding and intimidating all at once. Buying jewelry directly from native artisans at the Palace of the Governors located on the Santa Fe Plaza is one option. You can meet the artisans first hand and discuss the quality and history of the jewelry directly with the Native Americans who crafted it, placing yourself in an historical continuum of hundreds of years. The difference in cost between two roughly similar shaped and sized pieces can be thousands of dollars depending on whether the stone is natural or reconstituted and stabilized. Other options are to visit many well known and established shops in town that can take out most of the guesswork, and if you wish to read up on determining the quality of turquoise yourself, read through this guide that the Santa Fe Reporter wrote.
In addition to the native artisans present at the plaza, there are several Canyon Road galleries, located close to the Inn on the Alameda, that sell wearable turquoise art. For authentic Fred Harvey wares, Canyon Road offers the buyer many opportunities, including The Adobe Gallery and the Medicine Man gallery. Sessels on San Francisco St. and Keshi on Paseo de Peralta are additional shopping venues located close to the hotel.
The Inn on the Alameda strives to be the perfect ‘base camp’ for any shopping expedition and we would be happy to point you in the right direction based on your shopping desires.
This beautiful rural and rustic museum to the south of Santa Fe is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Anyone interested in livestock, farming, culture and living conditions during the early Southwest’s history will find this restored one-time caravanserai (from the Persian kārvānsarā, or Resting Place of Caravans), an accurate depiction of what historical life was like at this ranch. This camping or resting place, built in 1710 by Miguel Vega de Coca, was located just one final day’s journey from Santa Fe on the famous El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (The Royal Road to the Interior Land) – the original route from Mexico City to San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico. This is where our story about Rancho Los Golondrinas must begin.
In an earlier blog about New Mexico Statehood, I described the establishment of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro by the Spanish Conquistador, Onate, who traveled north in the last years of the 16th Century from Mexico City to the interior lands. He and his small group of settlers followed ancient Native American trade routes towards present day New Mexico to colonize the unexplored land north of the Rio Bravo (present day Rio Grande River). Over the 2 centuries that followed, until the opening of the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri in the early 19th Century, El Camino Real was the sole trade and military route to the new Province of Nuevo Mexico. The route began in Mexico City, passing through the Mexican mining towns of Zacatecas and Durango up to El Paso, and finally Santa Fe.
Imagine the excitement of finally nearing Santa Fe – your final destination following a 6-month difficult, dusty and certainly uncomfortable trip! Here, one day away, was a place with water, feed for stock, food for weary travelers, and a place to bathe and pull out and clean your best clothes for your arrival the next day at the capital city of Santa Fe. Rancho Los Golondrinas was a true traveler’s paradise set among the cool cottonwoods of Caja del Rio.
If it were not for the Curtin-Paloheimo family, there would be no museum. This was the far sighted family which, in the 1930’s, bought the ranch with a preservationist’s vision. As part of that vision, The Museum was created to reconstruct and recreate what life was like in the 1700’s on a colonial Spanish ranch. Comparing it to its more famous cousin of Colonial Williamsburg is interesting. While both are “living museums,” I naturally preferred the relaxed Southwestern style of Los Golondrinas that embodies New Mexico. The historical recreation is done with more familiarity and approachability, and offers an informal view towards the past. The tradition of preservation continues today under the auspices of the Los Golandinas Foundation.
Many activities and exhibits embody the feel and look of the early New Mexico years, including: the restored acequias (irrigation ditches), the small flocks of sheep and their shepherds, the flour and corn grinding mills, the stables and outbuildings, barns and corals, original clothing and other activities of the early Spanish settlers. Be sure and visit the Museum during its annual Spring or Fall Festivals for the best experience. Canyon Road, near the Inn, shares the distinction of both the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and Camino del Canon (Canyon Road) being originally Native American trails that the Spanish turned into their own routes.
While in the neighborhood, please stop in and spend the night refreshing yourself from your journeys at the peaceful and relaxing Inn on the Alameda, nestled in a beautiful, cottonwood-lined setting. No matter what time of year it is, a stay at the Inn is always a treasured experience – winter, spring, summer and fall.
-Joe and Michael Schepps
Santa Fe richly deserves its artistic reputation, and summer is a season that brings many opportunities to learn why. Free Friday evenings at the museums, First Friday Artwalks at the Railyard and Last Friday Artwalks in the West Palace and GALA Arts District, right off the historic Santa Fe Plaza, may be at the end of the week, but they are just the beginning of an arts experience!
The Santa Fe Plaza: Green Heart of our Town
ART Santa Fe
Now in its eleventh year, ART Santa Fe brings contemporary artists from around the nation and the world to the attractive and welcoming Santa Fe Community Convention Center. At 72,000 square feet, with state-of-the-art amenities, what a change this venue has brought to this particular art scene! Taking place from July 7-10, the broad schedule of events includes a gala opening night Vernissage, as well as the informative and entertaining Art Santa Fe Presents lecture series that features noted art-world critics and cognoscenti.
Art Santa Fe Returns to the City Different
International Folk Art Market
Santa Fe is already renowned for the fantastic collection at the Museum of International Folk Art, and the weekend of July 9-10 brings the International Folk Art Market to the Milner Plaza on Museum Hill. The goals of economic stability and cultural sustainability for global folk arts combine to create a positive inter-cultural exchange that unites artisans and aficianados from around the world. During this festive two-day event, more than 120 select folk artists from more than 45 countries will travel to Santa Fe, where fortunate fans can peruse and purchase unique folk art direct from these diverse artisans.
Santa Fe International Folk Art Market from David Moore on Vimeo.
No summer in La Ciudad Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis (Santa Fe’s official moniker) would be complete without this annual celebration of traditional and contemporary Spanish arts. Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Spanish Market has grown to include far more than the beautiful retablos and straw applique of yester-year; today, collectors can encounter La Guadalupana rendered in computer circuitry or find a pair of far-out bottle-cap earrings. Held on July 30-31, this event is a consistent contributor to the lively Plaza scene.
Santa Fe’s Spanish Heritage
Many art-lovers are already aware of the annual SOFA (Scultpure Objects & Functional Art) shows that take place in New York and Chicago, and three years ago, SOFA arrived in Santa Fe seeking western exposure. Taking place from August 4-7, SOFA West brings international, gallery-curated exhibitions of work that present the very best in contemporary fine art and design. This year, the Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art will come along for the ride with SOFA West, adding the leading dealers of outsider and non-traditional folk art to this exciting artistic mix.
If you haven’t already made your reservations, attendance at the 89th annual Santa Fe Indian Market will require some timely effort on your part and could even necessitate a stay in Albuquerque, as Santa Fe hotels frequently sell out! There is nothing quite like seeing the diverse Native faces from around the nation, all gathered in one place to celebrate their arts and culture. Silver jewelry flashes, beads jingle, and lots and lots of wampum changes hands in a very short period of time. This year’s market takes place on the weekend of August 20-21, and if you already have all your travel plans in place, include making advance dinner reservations as part of your planning – we can help!
The Many Faces of Indian Market: Photo SWAIA
The Houser Compound
If you have a car, we encourage a visit to the Houser Compound, the home of the noted Apache artist, Allan Houser. Located about 20 minutes south of downtown Santa Fe, this pristine plot showcases a treasure trove of works by the late sculptor in a gorgeous landscape setting. And it can even be reserved for private events, such as weddings and birthdays!
We Sing the Praises of the Houser Compound
For sculpture closer to town, just seven miles north in Tesuque, you’ll find the Shidoni Sculpture Garden, which holds work by many local and national artists, all arrayed in a petite river valley just minutes from the Plaza. The Shidoni Foundry also invites visitors to observe bronze pourings, typically on Saturdays, although the schedule is not always firmed up until the Friday before.
We invite you to enjoy an artistically engaging stay in the City Different!
The Allan C. Houser Compound is located at 26 Haozous Road, 22 miles south of Santa Fe on Highway 14
“Simplicity appeals to me in a land where the simple things are respected and appreciated – simplicity is a way of life.” Allan Houser
Simplicity IS appealing, especially in our increasingly complicated, task-filled lives. Sometimes we become so habituated to our routine and our surroundings that we neglect to simply visit our neighbors. A good illustration of ignoring what’s in your own backyard? The Allan Houser Compound and Sculpture Garden! Fortunately, my neglectful behavior has recently been rectified by a morning spent exploring this stunning piece of land, enriched in every direction by the sculpture of the late Apache artist, Allan C. Houser, whose hours of painstaking work were distilled into deceptively simple forms.
Mr. Allan C. Houser, Always on the Property
Born as Allan Haozous in 1914, this renowned New Mexican (whose name change came courtesy of the US government) was a member of the Warm Springs band of Chiricahua Apache, originally based in the area near Truth or Consequences, NM. Led by Geronimo himself, the Warm Springs tribe, driven south to Mexico, eventually surrendered to the US Army in 1886 and was speedily transported acroos the country to a prison in Florida as retribution for their recalcitrant refusal to acknowledge superior firepower. The Haozous family itself is descended from the great Mangas Coloradas, a leader of the eastern Chiricahua in the late 1800’s. The Chiricahua were scattered in locations around the southern states; Allan’s father was among those jailed in Florida, and his mother was born in a prison camp in Alabama where surviving members of the tribe were sent in 1887. The remainder of the Chircahua were sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma where they remained as captives for what have been 23 very long years. Finally freed in 1914, members of the tribe returned west to join with the Mescalero Apache, for whom a reservation had been carved out of public lands in south-central New Mexico. Allan’s parents, however, were among a small group that elected to remain in Oklahoma, and Allan was their first child born out of captivity. From these roots of struggle and privation arose a talent that continues to inspire generations of artists, Native and non-Native alike.
Warm Springs Apache Man: Allan C. Houser
Although he was raised in an agricultural lifestyle, Mr. Houser became interested in imagery at an early age and soon tried his own hand at creative endeavors. His artistic fire was further fueled by a 1934 notice for an art school located on the campus of the Santa Fe Indian School. Thanks to his talent and the hard-working ethic of his forebears, Allan became the most notable graduate of the Dorothy Dunn School, and by 1939, his artwork was being exhibited around the country.
Mr. Houser was a Painter First!
Mr. Houser and his wife, Anna Marie Gallegos, moved to Los Angeles in 1941 with three young sons, where Allan found work as a ship-builder during the busy years of the Second World War. This was a fortuitous decision, since it was here that he honed 3-dimensional skills that would later serve the sculptural forms of his work, and at the same time, encountered museums rich with the work of European modernists that satisfied his desire for a greater knowledge of art and art history.
Horse: Allan C. Houser
In 1951, the Houser family moved from L.A. to Utah, where Allan taught art at the Inter-Mountain Indian School for the next eleven years, all the while continuing his own work on canvas and in wood. In 1962, his family heritage came full circle with a move to New Mexico, when he agreed to join the Santa Fe faculty of the newly created Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), currently the only four-year institution with a fine arts degree dedicated to Native arts. Mr. Houser created a sculpture department from the bottom up and in the process, turned his own artistic focus toward three-dimensional work. By the late 1960’s, exhibitions of his sculpture became a regular occurrence, and both national and international recognition grew along with his output. In 1975, after having influenced several generations of Native artists, Mr. Houser finally had the opportunity to retire and devote himself to his own work, producing close to 1,000 sculptures through the next two decades. His dedicated work ethic never left him, as he continued to create right up until his death at age 80 in 1994.
Wood Ceilings and a Welded Circular Staircase Inside the Houser Home
The compound itself is perched between the villages of Cerrillos and Galisteo on 109 acres of pinon- and juniper-studded land 22 miles south of downtown Santa Fe off Highway 14, the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. The property was originally discovered in 1976 by Allan Houser’s son, Phillip Haozous, who invited his father to settle there and who faithfully and respectfully maintains his father’s work and legacy. Phillip, a quiet, modest and self-effacing gentleman, deserves much credit for planting the seed that grew into this beautiful artistic environment, as well as being responsible for the handsome landscape design. Father and son collaborated on the layout and construction of a group of studios and residences, slowly adding the sculpture gardens, as well as dance grounds and outdoor amphitheaters.
The Dance Grounds at the Houser Compound
In addition to the ten acres of sculpture gardens and gallery, in 1995 the compound was expanded to include the Allan Houser Foundry, a traditional lost wax process operation, begun to help the Houser family complete Allan’s lifetime work. By casting works of select artists since 2002, the foundry has grown to be a welcome presence in the Santa Fe art world.
This is Where It All Happens: The Foundry
Although the Allan Houser Compound is a private facility, owned and maintained by the family and staff, throughout the year, tours can be arranged by appointment only, weather permitting. In addition, the grounds and select buildings are made available for those who want to create a special event that will be both unique and memorable. For more information or to treat yourself to a spot where the spirit of art flows with the breeze through the rocks and trees, call (505) 471-1528; you will leave feeling richer in spirit than when you came.
The Wheelwright Museum of the Almerican Indian, International Museum of Folk Art and Museum of Indian Arts and Culture are all located on Museum Hill, Camino Lejo in Santa Fe, NM
New Mexico Museum of Art, 107 West Palace Avenue, Santa Fe
New Mexico History Museum, 113 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe
Palace of the Governors is on the north side of the Santa Fe Plaza
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, 217 Johnson Street in Santa Fe
BRRRR! That’s all we can say about wandering around outdoors right now. While not as challenged by winter as many destinations, Santa Fe can have frigid weather, much to some travelers’ surprise. On those winter days when the sun is not shining, cold weather does negatively impact the desire to wander in and out of Santa Fe’s many unusual shops and boutiques. So we suggest combining your visit to our wonderful museums with a visit to the equally wonderful museum shops!
Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
Starting on Museum Hill, a favorite has to be the Case Trading Post at the Wheelwright Musemum of the American Indian. The museum itself is unusual in that it operates serarately from the New Mexico Museum group that includes the other major institutions in Santa Fe. Even more unusual is the fact that admission to the Wheelwright is by donation, so while the suggestion is thoughtfully observed, no actual fees are required. Currently on exhibit through April 17, 2011, is a fabulous show of Native American rugs woven by the Toadlena/Two Grey Hills master weavers. The show should not be missed, and a visit with these beautiful works of art can be followed by a walk down the stairs to the intimate Case Trading Post, where a desire to buy a rug can be easily satisfied.
The Case Trading Post
The Case Trading Post has been artistically designed to recreate the flavor of an early 20th century trading post on the Navajo Reservation, right down to the squeakiest floors in Santa Fe. The management of this little gem boasts some sharp eyes, much like the traders of yore, with a beautiful selection of old and new items that reflect the panoply of Native arts, past and present. Particular favorites for me begin at the “pawn” section in the back, where I regularly yearn for beautiful inlays and handsomely worn silver goodies. The pottery and weavings chosen by the Case’s skilled buyer offer a variety of styles and price points. I have bought some lovely little watercolors, very reasonably-priced, by Hopi painter Peter Sumatzkuku that I never get tired of seeing on the wall. There are plenty of books for adult minds and for children, and enough small affordable collectibles that you can bring the kids in without feeling like your wallet will be seriously depleted when you leave. Serious depletion here is for the adults, but when it occurs, you can be sure you’ll go home with something you love and treasure.
The Museum of International Folk Art is much praised and justly so, and its gift shop gets kudos too. After spending a few hours or a full day in MOIFA’s collection, the yen to take home a little piece of folk art can easily be assuaged in the shop located right by the entrance. Visitors have until January 31 of this year to see the exhibit, “A Century of Masters: The NEA National Heritage Fellows of New Mexico,” comprised of examples of the works of all the Fellows from New Mexico in its collections, from weavings, to pottery, tinwork, straw appliqué, retablos, and woodcarving. National Heritage Fellows must demonstrate artistic excellence and commitment to their art forms through process, technique, and subsequent transmission of the knowledge to strengthen and enrich their communities. This notion has been an ongoing tradition in New Mexico throughout the centuries, and this is an excellent opportunity to see the fruits of this heritage.
I Met ‘Em at the MOIFA Gift Shop!
The plethora of objects in the MOIFA tend to stun the mind, but there is always something memorable that stays with one. Even for those who choose to travel to Santa Fe at times other than the International Folk Art Market, desires inevitably arise: Need a calavera for Day of the Dead? Earrings made of bottle caps? Colcha embroidery? Name your fixation, and the friendly staff at the shop will help you find a souvenir or gift that accurately represents the finest in folk art traditions. And of course, if a visit makes it imperative to return in July for the Market, make your reservations now, because it is always a sell-out!
A Slogan Worth Remembering
While on Museum Hill, lovers of Native arts will want to stop in at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. History and art combine to educate and delight in the painstakingly acquired collection of this institution, and their website offers many resources, such as a Pueblo dance calendar to help you decide when to visit if this is part of your desired itinerary. Currently on display, but soon to leave in February, is an exhibition of Huichol art with the fine yarn paintings for which this indigenous culture is known. The concept of balance is central to Huichol art and culture, and who doesn’t need that in their life about now?
Inexpensive souvenirs are sometimes necessary for our wallets, but for those who want the real deal, museum shops are the go-to experience. Making a purchase at the Indian Arts and Culture Museum shop guarantees that you’ll be going home with authenticated goods, a certainty not always ensured by shopping at the many tiendas in Santa Fe. Shining silver bracelets, fine pottery and kachinas, tomes on Native art, you’ll find them there. The staff is knowledgeable about the art and the artists, and they’ll take the time to help you receive a better understanding of designs and the culture.
Huichol Yarn Paintings at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
If your Santa Fe visit is limited to downtown, you can find plenty to admire in our New Mexico Museum of Fine Art located on the northwest corner of the Plaza. A new exhibit entitled “Cloudscapes” just opened on January 14, comprising a selection of pictures from the museum’s permanent collection of works that by necessity spend much of their life in storage due to light sensitivity issues. Many of the pieces are from the mid-twenthieth century, along with more recent acquisitions, and works on display are by masters of the medium, including familiar names like Alfred Stieglitz, Laura Gilpin and Edward Weston, with more recent images by Paul Caponigro and William Clift. Following your trip through photographic history, make a stop at this museum store. Though petite in size, it will yield good postcards, always an inexpensive memento, as well as catalogues of past exhibits and a wide assortment of art books. And the art jewelry is always a delight!
The Distinctive New Mexico Museum of Art
Of course, a walk to the Plaza should include a trip to the New Mexico History Museum, where one can garner a comprehensive understanding of how the Southwest grew and changed through the centuries. Running through early April is an interesting exhibit entitled “Wild at Heart,” curated by New Mexico art historian David L. Witt of the Academy for the Love of Learning, home of the Seton Legacy Project in Santa Fe. The exhibit is a fascinating study of Ernest Thompson Seton, conservationist, author, artist, lecturer and co-founder of the Boy Scouts and includes a series of lecture programs that expand one’s understanding of Seton’s legacy and how it lives on in Santa Fe. And lo and behold, there’s more than one gift shop! Beautiful hand-crafted decor items and artistic creations by New Mexicans from all over the state will be found in the shop on the Lincoln Avenue side near the new museum, and a treasure trove of New Mexico books, archival photos and prints from the Museum of New Mexico Press will be found at the Washington Avenue location around the caorner from the Palace of the Governors.
Prints, Photos and Books Galore!
You truly can’t finish a downtown tour without a visit to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum! Probably the most well-known name associated with the arts in our state, O’Keeffe is well-represented in this small but gorgeous museum, notable not only for the collection but also for the wonderful educational opportunities it offers to the community. The current exhibit, “O’Keefiana; Art and Art Materials” is itself an education experience, with artworks supplemented by the materials the artist used and the objects that inspired her. The exhibit runs through early May, and it is a pleasure to see the detailed notes O’Keefe made for herself regarding colors she used and the art materials she created to use, along with the art works that resulted from both.
The O’Keeffe Museum Gift Shop
The O’Keeffe gift shop is definitely postcard heaven, with the only hard part being to actually let go of the cards and mail them out! Who doesn’t want to keep these on a wall somewhere? And if you want it bigger, get a poster and frame it to have your own O’Keeffe! If you missed the movie version of O’Keeffe’s life, staring Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons, you can get on to enjoy by your own fireplace on a winter evening. The jewelry and clothing items are thoughtful extensions of O’Keeffe’s subject matter, and the books are definitely keepers, destined to be thumbed through repeatedly. The online store is well organized, too, so if you left without it, go online and get it!
Try making your museum hop into the museum shop, and you’ll not only go home with something uniquely Santa Fe, you’ll also know your spent your souvenir dollars to help keep the arts alive in the Land of Enchantment!
The Institute of American Indian Arts is located at 83 Avan Nu Po Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe
While many cities can boast an art school or two, Santa Fe has unusual bragging rights by virtue of having an institute for indigenous artists! Students at the Institute of American Indian Arts (commonly known as IAIA) have the opportunity to partake in an eclectic learning experience in a distinctive Native-centered environment. Faculty and staff, comprised of both native and non-native individuals, provide nurturing support, professional training and positive role models for native students embarking on new endeavors. By opening its doors to the community recently for an afternoon open house, IAIA gave locals and visitors the time to see how this dedicated educational institution fulfills its mission, as stated here: “To empower creativity and leadership in Native arts and cultures through higher education, lifelong learning and outreach.”
The Institute of American Indian Arts was funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and first opened in October of 1962 on the campus of the Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Under its first Superintendent, Dr. George A. Boyce, the Institute embodied a bold approach to arts education and has evolved through the decades into a leadership role in the contemporary Native American art world. The Institute was later housed on the College of Santa Fe campus before settling it on its expansive new campus about ten years ago. A total of 80 tribes from 25 states are represented in the student body of this multi-tribal learning center, which provides a bridge between a past rich with tradition and the dynamic American Indian culture of the new millennium.
IAIA offers four-year degrees in Studio Arts, Visual Communication, Creative Writing and Museum Studies, and it is uniquely qualified to offer students a foundation from which to build new forms of artistic expression and accomplishment, while guiding them into maturity as proud representatives of their culture and participating citizens of the world. The college promotes Native leadership and offers an ecologically-sound atmosphere that allows students to explore their culture and artistic heritage in a supportive and understanding environment. A place where the spirit and vision of American Indian and Alaska Native people is the number one priority, IAIA honors the traditions of the past, continually being rediscovered and reaffirmed, while giving students the freedom to celebrate their artistic identity in new ways, helped by its affiliation with the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.
Paying Attention to the Southwest
The curriculum at the Institute is geared towards a comprehensive integration of the arts into a college program of study that graduates Native students prepared to juggle the artist’s life with the more mundane aspects of everyday reality. The Creative Writing Dept. holds a prominent place at the College, and students come from reservations and pueblos, cities large and small, to study with nationally and internationally-known working writers. A Studio Arts Department, divided into five areas of focus (painting, photography, ceramics, jewelry/metals, and sculpture), delivers foundational art classes leading to the College’s AFA and BFA degrees. The newer arts are not neglected, since a comprehensive program is in place to teach digital media students the evolutionary principles of new media, as they study the history and theory of graphic design, film and the ongoing evolution of story-telling.
In recognition of the role Native arts have played for thousands of years, IAIA is home to the only museum studies program designed from a Native American perspective. Experienced museum professionals lead the College’s hands-on, experiential program with courses addressing the cultural history of exhibition, curation, conservation, collections and museums themselves.
A Re-Imagined Image from the Past
The Indigenous Studies Program prepares students who desire the broad education that the liberal arts provide. Students are taught to master competencies in critical thinking, research and writing, with courses in culturally-based anthropology, policy, traditional arts, art history and Native American studies. An Essential Studies Program provides a solid undergraduate education in English, math and science, as well as a grounding in the strategies necessary for success in college and life in the wide world beyond the reservation or pueblo. The Native Eyes indigenous studies program offers accredited online courses, and the Center for Lifelong Learning is onsite to coordinate tribal outreach services. To address to the specific health concerns of Native peoples, a Fitness and Wellness Dept. schedules classes to help students develop healthier lifestyles through education and experience.
The open house was held on a Friday afternoon, with the glorious autumn Santa Fe weather offering blue skies, warmth and sunshine even in November. Visitors could take a guided tour or wander at will around the beautiful and state-of-the-art campus located on the southwestern edge of Santa Fe. The feeling was genuinely welcoming, with students and faculty alike proud and eager to demonstrate the worth of the program.
Native Stickball Equipment
The striking campus buildings were laced with attractive landscaping and sculptures, and on a large circular center lawn, a fierce game of Native stickball, a full contact sport that is the ancestor of lacrosse, was taking place. Student housing comes in the form of dorms and apartment-style homes for students who come with families. An outdoor cooking area promised a tasty potential for adventurous picnicking, although I didn’t notice an horno.
Mark Herndon in the Jewelry Studio
Painting Demonstration by Charlene Teters
Tours of the classrooms offered ongoing demonstrations by faculty, and visitors were free to roam through the halls, which were liberally hung with student works. Equipment in studio art classrooms was up-to-date, and non-arts rooms were outfitted with computers galore. The museum conservation program showed some serious chops, as Museum Studies Professor Jessie Ryker-Crawford demonstrated art polarizing microscope technology, letting visitors expand their understanding of the conservation concerns involved in maintaining two- and three-dimensional works of art.
Jessie-Ryker Crawford, Museum Studies Chair, in the Conservation Lab
An old-fashioned auditorium hosted a continuous screening of Native films, and the new digital dome, opened in October of this year, was designed to revolutionize the college’s fastest-growing degree program, new media arts. The 24-foot diameter, 12-foot high dome is the only one in the world to rotate from 0° to 90° views at 0°, 30°, 45° and 90°. With an 8,000-pound steel exoskeleton and an immersive environment featuring a surround sound system with six film projectors, it will be used to explore science, Native storytelling and art.
Untitled Painting by Collestopher Chatto, Dine Student
A student-run gallery offered an exhibition of student works for sale at very reasonable prices, but it a definite improvement would be realized by painting the gallery walls white to let the artwork shine! A gentle and friendly librarian encouraged visitors to browse the stacks in the expansive, peaceful and thoughtfully LEED-built library, with intelligent-sensor lighting, recycled carpeting and a treasure trove of books, all enhanced with a terrific Geronimo sculpture by Bob Haozous. And our transit back to the car led us by nose to the student cafeteria where locals can come and feast for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The IAIA Library with Geronimo Keeping Watch
Yet another distinctive feature of our City Different, the Institute of American Indian Arts lends authenticity and merit to the artistic reputation of Santa Fe, helping Native youth lead the way into this new millenium. We are genuinely grateful to have IAIA in our midst!
Native America Builds for the 21st Century