The Lensic – Santa Fe’s Grande Dame

The Lensic – Santa Fe’s Grande Dame

The Lensic – Santa Fe’s Grande Dame

On June 24, 1931, alongside the beginning of the Great Depression, The Lensic motion picture “palace” opened in our fair city of just 11,000 souls.

Built by Nathan Salmon and John E. Greer, and named for Mr. Greer’s six grandchildren, the Lensic was an anagram of the first letter of each grandchild’s name. Built in the Spanish Baroque style, the Lensic’s distinct architecture has defined Santa Fe as much as John Gaw Meem’s Pueblo Revival style. She was the social center of town with her own ballroom and a stage for vaudeville acts, with a 6 musician orchestra pit.

Historic Lensic Exterior-EDIT

By the 1990’s, the wear and tear of passing decades made her look worn down. Because of Bill Zeckendorf’s vision that Santa Fe could and would support a downtown performing arts center, his wife Nancy and other civic minded Santa Feans began the arduous task of raising $9,000,000 necessary for its expansion and historic preservation. Without the foresight and shared vision of Alexis Girard and her family, the Lensic Board would have never been able to eventually own the theater, a critical requirement for philanthropic support.

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View from Stage

Throughout the years, this “wonder theater of the Southwest” hosted performers as diverse as Chet Grass and his Frontier Knights Orchestra to vaudeville shows with skimpily clad dancing girls like Maria Y Sable. When the Lensic premiered Santa Fe Trail in 1940, Roy Rogers Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan and Olivia de Haviland all were in attendance. In 1934, Claudette Colbert appeared at the premier of Cleopatra, a young Judy Garland performed here, Rudy Valle crooned, and for the 1982 film festival, Lillian Gish, Ray Bolger, Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers smiled, blew kisses and danced across the stage.

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With this sort of history, most of our citizens felt the Lensic had to be one of the finest performing arts centers in America. The Lensic Performing Arts Center opened on April 22, 2001 featuring violinist Pinchas Zuckerman, Marc Neikrug, David Grusin and Eddie Daniels among many others, including a hundred National Dance Institute students performing on stage.

Future Voices of New Mexico Awards 2016

The Lensic was off and running, creating in the past 20 years countless diverse community oriented programs including dance, voice, musical, theatrical performances and lecture series.

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Santa Fe is a city whose citizens pine with love for all the performing arts, and the Lensic is one of the major pillars supporting our City Different’s unique position in our land. The foresight of Nathan Salmon and E. John Greer, along with the drive and determination of the Zeckendorfs and Alexis Greer Girard, plus countless donors, big and small, including the State of NM and the City of Santa Fe, gave us this bountiful gift.  Any trip to Santa Fe should include a visit to the Lensic for a performance or two. Before your visit to the Inn on the Alameda, check out Lensic.org for a list of the coming attractions and get your tickets early. The Lensic is truly a gem in the crown of the Performing Arts in New Mexico, and is fortunately located right here in Santa Fe.

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My First Opera

My First Opera

It was in the early 1980’s when I first attended the Santa Fe Opera, one of the most beautiful and most unique opera houses in the world. It is, perhaps, a side effect of coming of age during the 1960s that I can no longer remember exactly which opera I first saw, but the setting itself has always made an impression on me.

John Crosby, a musical genius from Manhattan (recently biographized by Santa Fe writer Craig Smith in A Vision of Voices: John Crosby and the Santa Fe Opera), had a dream of an outdoor summer opera company that would take advantage of the countless performers, musicians, conductors, and technicians who were annually idle when the Metropolitan Opera in New York City closed for the summer. He found the San Juan Ranch outside of Santa Fe and with his family was able to purchase what would become the location. He found the perfect acoustical setting and the rest is history.

 

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What I remember most from my first opera was the setting.

The house is designed so the brilliantly dying light of the setting sun comes straight through the open but covered stage, a stunning backdrop for any opera.

Photo credit wikimedia commons

To the East, each evening, the image of the reddening Sangre de Cristo mountains attests to the appropriateness of their name. The otherworldly red of the foothills struck the Spanish settlers as evidence of the divine, the blood of Christ made manifest. It is these features that shelter the bowl of the opera house providing an appropriately awe-inspiring landscape upon which the fine arts of mankind can play themselves out. But I digress.

Book your room for any Opera showing now ~ receive a Split of Champagne & 2 slices of Opera cake to enjoy!

Since that first production, I try to see at least one opera per season, always the one recommended by Nancy Zeckendorf, my close friend and co-founding director of the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Nancy’s influence on me cannot be described. It was she who brought me onto the board of the opera in 1986, first to run the business fund drive, later as treasurer and chairman of the facilities committee.

Even still, I cannot remember my first opera’s name! It was a board-known fact that I never developed the deep understanding and knowledge of opera. Nevertheless, it was just as board-known that my enthusiasm and drive more than made up for my other shortcomings.

Besides, I was surrounded by people who knew everything about opera. My speech and drama background from college drove my interests more to the physical plant side of the performing arts, and therein lay the key to my interest in helping create Santa Fe’s finest and most versatile venue: the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Along with Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, Patricia McFate, and Alexis Girard, the dream came true, a dream that is much more fitting to my strengths as a builder and developer (like Bill).

The Lensic offers such a variety of programming. To name a few: the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, the Lannan and Santa Fe Institute lecture series, the New Mexico Jazz Festival, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Met Live, and Performance Santa Fe. All valuable cultural institutions, all as worthwhile as the opera, and all of which I’ve attended.

As for opera, I have seen dozens since that first one now forgotten, and I’ve always been impressed and had a wonderful evening. And what it’s taught me is how communal and convivial an outing it is—before, during, and after. Operagoers—regulars and first-timers—typically turn a night at the opera into a nightlong experience, with drinks or dinner beforehand (the opening night tailgate at the Santa Fe Opera is legendary), food and libations at intermission (though moderately), or dinner and/or drinks afterward.

Which is why I heartily recommend our own Agoyo Lounge as the perfect complement—to the opera or any of the many other cultural events going on throughout Santa Fe. Come in for an early dinner (starting at 5:30–please call for reservations) or an aperitif beforehand, or if it’s a shorter performance, come by for a late dinner or digestif.

Whatever your taste in the arts, the tastes at the Agoyo are unsurpassed and you will always be pleased, just as I have at the many operas I have attended. I just wish I could remember that first one. No matter. What I do remember vividly is the first time I watched lightning and giant black rainstorms rolling into town past the SFO stage, which now, like the entire audience, is fortunately covered from the elements.

Book your room for any Opera showing now ~ receive a Split of Champagne & 2 slices of Opera cake to enjoy!

NM Artist Profiles – Gustave Baumann

NM Artist Profiles – Gustave Baumann

There’s no shortage of natural beauty to explore here in Santa Fe and in the neighboring Pecos Wilderness. But our region has much more to offer than just natural beauty, and we highly recommend exploring Santa Fe’s art museums while you are here, particularly the work of artists who lived and worked here. One such artist, Gustave Baumann, lived in Santa Fe for more than 50 years and became widely known and appreciated for his work in color woodblock prints.

Baumann was born in Germany, and his family emigrated to the U.S. in 1891 when he was ten years old. He studied engraving at the Art Institute of Chicago and eventually moved to New Mexico. He originally came for the art community in Taos, but he found it too crowded and social. On his way out of Taos, his train stopped in Santa Fe where the curator of the newly created New Mexico Museum of Art persuaded him to stay.

During his time in Santa Fe, Baumann became a well-known artist. He created oil paintings, sculptures and hand-crafted wood marionettes. He continued his early work with engraving and print making, and that was always what he was most known for. Baumann is considered one of the key leaders of the American color woodcut revival, an art technique that involves carving an image into the surface of a block of wood and then using it to make a print.

‘Aspen_Red_River’_by_Gustave_Baumann,_New_Mexico_Museum_of_Art

Baumann’s prints depict many of his favorite places in New Mexico. His work features desert landscapes and the regional traditions that inspired him, including scenes of Pueblo life, Native American Indian petroglyphs and lush private gardens. Many of Baumann’s works are on display in the permanent collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art, located just off the plaza in Santa Fe.

There are many ways to explore Santa Fe’s history and arts community. The excellent New Mexico Museum of Art and many other notable museums and galleries are a short walk from the Inn on the Alameda.

To learn more about all that Santa Fe has to offer, or for help planning your trip to Santa Fe, visit our website.

To learn more about all that Santa Fe has to offer, or for help planning your trip to Santa Fe

Amazing Chaco Canyon

Of all the thousands of archaeological sites you can visit on a trip to the American Southwest, the remains of the Chacoan Great Houses, preserved in Chaco Culture National Historical Park – a three-hour drive west of Santa Fe – have to be the most remarkable. They...

New Mexico History – Palace of the Governors

New Mexico History – Palace of the Governors

No trip to Santa Fe would be complete without a visit to the city’s famed historic Plaza, and we highly recommend making the historic Palace of the Governors part of your visit. The Spanish government built the Palace of the Governors in 1610 as the main government building for the territory, which included most of the Southwestern United States at that time. This coincided with the founding of Santa Fe, which makes it the oldest capital city in the country.

The Palace of the Governors has been used by various governments for hundreds of years, and is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the country. Today, the building is a National Historic Landmark and a designated national treasure. It houses the New Mexico History Museum and sits at the hub of modern Santa Fe life.

InnontheAlameda-dreamcatcher

On any given day, visitors may find cultural events, live music and art shows in the Santa Fe Plaza. One of the plaza’s greatest attractions is the Native American artisans who sell jewelry in the colonnade out in front of the Palace of the Governors daily. 

This is widely considered one of the best places to purchase Native American jewelry because you can find a genuine piece at a fair price.

Once inside the Palace of the Governors, you’ll find objects and artifacts of New Mexico and Santa Fe’s history. As you explore the museum’s collection, you will see ancient arrowheads, the armor of colonial soldiers and family artifacts from the earliest Spanish settlers. The museum offers free self-guided and docent-led tours as well as seasonal walking tours of the area for $10.

If you’re exploring the area on your own, you’ll find many boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and even more history to explore. Santa Fe’s Plaza and the Palace of the Governors are a short walk from the Inn on the Alameda, and the Palace itself is a great way to spend part of a day in Santa Fe.

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We hope this has piqued your interest in Santa Fe’s colorful history.

To learn more about all that Santa Fe has to offer, or for help planning your trip to Santa Fe

Amazing Chaco Canyon

Of all the thousands of archaeological sites you can visit on a trip to the American Southwest, the remains of the Chacoan Great Houses, preserved in Chaco Culture National Historical Park – a three-hour drive west of Santa Fe – have to be the most remarkable. They...

Oh, Georgia!

Oh, Georgia!

 

Miles and miles of blue sky, towering mesas, native plants, and the rocky desert landscape instantly inspired American painter Georgia O’Keefe when she first visited Abiquiu in the late 1920s. She came back time and again, and eventually moved to the area in 1949, where she lived until her death in 1986.

Abiquiu’s stark landscape, indigenous art, and unique adobe architecture prompted O’Keeffe to take her artwork in a new direction. She shifted from New York City cityscapes to the flowers, bones, natural landscapes, and colorful shapes of northern New Mexico. She referred to this imagery as “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.”

The beautiful, unique landscapes that inspired O’Keeffe’s world-renowned pieces of art can only be found in New Mexico, and you can come see the inspiration in person. The majestic, red-rock formations and rich history of the area will inspire you to take out your easel and paint your own masterpiece.

About an hour drive from Santa Fe, the Abiquiu village bridges the past and the present. Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic home and studio in the village is open seasonally from March to November for public tours with advance reservations. O’Keeffe purchased the home in 1945, and visitors can see how she lived and worked, and how her lifestyle inspired her art.

And, while you’re in Santa Fe, don’t forget to stop by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, featuring a vast permanent collection of her work and changing exhibitions of her work and work by her contemporaries.

But Georgia isn’t the only artist to call Abiquiu home. The Abiquiu Art Project features other artists who are living and working in the Abiquiu area. Teresa Toole has created this project to offer private or small group tours year-round to visit the private studios of 4 of Abiquiu’s most internationally known artists, offering you a feel for both this special area of New Mexico and also the art and artists that choose to call this area home.

Inspired to find your own inner artist? You can schedule an art lesson during your stay here at the Inn! We are a proud sponsor of local artist Lisa Flynn’s Inner Artist Workshop. Ask us about this local workshop.

Take a Detour into Meow Wolf’s Multiverse

All photos by Kate Russell, courtesy of Meow Wolf

Grandparents go there with their kids and grandkids. Tour buses full of Australians and New Zealanders, Japanese and Chinese (basically, people from all over the world and many of them shuttled in via the Road Scholar travel company) arrive almost daily. Locals return again and again. And hipsters, artists, techheads, nerds and outsiders of all stripes practically live (and work) there.

The “there” in this case being Meow Wolf, Santa Fe’s artistic version of the otherwise pure-science-focused Exploratorium of San Francisco. Only here what you get instead of an experiential science learning lab is an immersive science fiction art installation that encourages if not demands to be touched—and run through and around and tugged on, sat on and interacted with in almost every physical way possible.

Built in an old bowling alley, with help from Game of Thrones creator (and Santa Fe resident) George R.R. Martin, Meow Wolf is actually the name of the arts collective that oversees what is their performative coup de grace: their 20,000-square-foot House of Eternal Return, which they debuted as a fictionalized no-matter-where-you-go-there-you-are spaceship back in 2008, but which they updated and relaunched in their current permanent space last spring as a kind of time-travel-y home to the Seligs, an imaginary Swiss Robinson-like family of space explorers. (A family who up and disappeared, and whose mysterious disappearance, mid-supper, so it seems, is part of the allure of this interactive space, and the “job” of all visitors to reconstruct just who it is the Seligs seemed to be and why they suddenly went AWOL.)

So. Now that the House has been up and running for over a year, the Meow Wolf collective, a collaborative of over 100 artists, technicians and performers (all of whom contributed to the House’s creation and construction) have embarked on an equally ambitious summer venture, one in keeping with the Outer Limits vibe of the entire space.

Billed as their “Summer in the Multiverse,” this summerlong vacation destination celebration will feature over 100 different performing artists: musicians, magicians, acrobats, fencers, lighthouse keepers, belly dancers, snake dancers, firewalkers, stiltwalkers, drag queens, and whoever else might fall down from the sky. All there at the Meow Wolf space, in an area now rightfully self-designated as Santa Fe’s Innovation District, from 10:30 in the morning till closing time.

“We’ll have everything from an intergalactic space-bug hunter leading kids on scavenger hunts to Spanish story hour to somebody playing the tuba in the caves for a couple hours,” says Alexandra Renzo, the Multiverse’s artistic director (who also starred in the Adobe Rose Theatre’s recent production of Time Stands Still, with Broadway Drama Desk nominee Kevin Kilner).

“You might bump into a cosmic fortune teller or a Sno-Cone reader (instead of a tea leaf reader),” says Renzo, who has lured back many of the performers from last Fall’s House of Halloween extravaganza as well other entertainers from Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Colorado. Plus, Meow Wolf has partnered up with Santa Fe’s animal-free circus troupe, Wise Fool, who’ll be around 24-7.

“This is for the child in all of us,” adds Renzo. “We’re all about bringing in creative ideas and activities that are offbeat and sci-fi-ish. And we like to combine all these skill sets people have and embrace them.”

As Joseph Campbell put it in The Hero with a Thousand Faces: “Mythology [which is at the heart of what the folks at Meow Wolf are up to] is eminently untragical. Indeed, whenever the mythological mood prevails, tragedy is impossible. A quality rather of dream prevails. [And] as in dream, the images range from the sublime to the ridiculous. The mind is not permitted to rest with its normal evaluations, but is continually insulted and shocked out of the assurance that now, at last, it has understood.”

“To watch adults get excited about doing something new,” says Renzo, “that’s what it’s all about. And when the space is alive, that’s how it’s meant to be.”

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