Mike’s Blog: Turquoise, a Defining Element of the Southwest

Untitled design(4)

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.

 

Untitled

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.

SONY DSC

 

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.

Santa Fe Art & Poetry at the Community Gallery

Santa Fe Community Gallery, 201 West Marcy Street, Santa Fe, NM

Hours: Tue-Fri 10a-5p, Sat 10a-4p through June 8, 2012

Did you know that the  Santa Fe Community Convention Center includes a Community Gallery? It’s a nice little secret to discover, especially since it provides a venue for artists who might otherwise not have an opportunity to show their work. So many Santa Fe galleries, but so many more artists than exhibit spaces!

Santa Fe Community Gallery inside the Convention Center

The exhibit currently on display at the Community Gallery, “Odes and Offerings,” is the brainchild of  Santa Fe’s Poet Laureate, Joan Logghe. (Yes, not only does Santa Fe have a community gallery, the City Different also has a Poet Laureate, pretty impressive for a city of 65,000!). To complete her poetry tenure, a project was devised for the Gallery whereby 36 writers were invited to collaborate with 36 visual artists to create works in tandem, paired up by Ms. Logghe and the Gallery’s Director, Rod Lambert.

Wish You Were Here: Artist, Donna Ruff; Haiku by Poet, Charles Trumbull

Each artist was supplied with two poems from the poets’ works and asked to incorporate a line, a phrase or a stanza into the completed work.  Logghe states that “The idea is not a poetry-inspired piece, but a piece where the text becomes part of the work or art.”

Detail Panel from The Archaeologist as Full Moon: Artist, S.K. Yeatts; Poem with the Same Title by Poet, James McGrath

The works run the gamut of media, from photographs to sculpture to giclee prints to film. In some works, the texts are utterly obscured and in others, words boldly confront the viewer/reader. The gallery has thoughtfully provided texts for all the poems, so one can wander through the exhibit with literature in hand, which significantly enhances the experience. The exhibit is peppered with names familiar to Santa Fe arts-lovers; artists such as Jane Shoenfeld, Charles Greeley, Gail Rieke , Ann Laser, and Andrew Keim are paired with writers like the late Witter Bynner, Judyth Hill, John Brandi, Dana Levin (who brings us the Muse x2 Poetry Series), and Henry Shukman, who wrote a lovely and ruminative piece on Santa Fe for the New York Times.

The Mesa the Shadow Built: Artist, Charles Greeley; Poem with the Same Title by Poet, Judyth Hill

A variety of public events will be held in conjunction with the exhibit:

“Words Away” a reading by three Santa Fe Poets Laureate, Joan Logghe, Valerie Martinez and Arthur Sze, taking place in the New Mexico History Museum Auditorium on April 27 at 6pm

A four-hour Poetry Workshop with Ms. Logghe on April 28 from 1-4pm at the Gallery

A two-hour Visual Arts Workshop with Sabra Moore at the Gallery on May 5, from 12-2pm

A Poetry Reading featuring approximately half of the participating poets on May 16 from 6-8pm at the Gallery

A tw-hour Visual Arts Workshop with Suzanne Vilmain at the Gallery on May 19 from 1-3pm

A Poetry Reading by the second group of participating poets at the Gallery on May 23 from 6-8pm,

A Final Poetry Reading by Joan Logghe, featuring works penned during her service as Poet Laureate on June 8 from 5-7pm

“Let the mind and the soul swap places for a while.” from Jack’s Creek Soliloquy by Tommy Archuleta

This exhibit is worth the time…and you have plenty of  time to see it, since it is up until June 8!

 

Look for It!

Santa Fe: What is There to Do In Early December?

The short answer would be LOTS! With the onset of the holiday season, Santa Fe, like so many other wonderful destinations, comes alive! The wind is crisp, the scent of pinon is on the air, and holiday lights are lit. While the most obvious choice is to be here for the Christmas holiday, especially since the Inn is such an ideal location for touring the Canyon Road and Plaza farolitos, there are definitely many local events in which to participate before the full-bore holiday week.

The month opens with the annual Rumi Concert, a Storydancer project encompassing music, poetry, dance and song presented by local and national talents. Although the esteemed Robert Bly is no longer a visitor, the poetry slot will be filled by Coleman Barks, poet and translator of the 13th century mystical poet, Rumi. Grammy-award winning cellist, David Darling, and Glen Velez, world percussionist, bring harmony and rhythm, and Zuleikha, of the Storydancer Project, contributes both dance and humor. This is always an evening collaboration that lingers in the mind!

 

Friday, December 3rd, offers first Friday gallery openings throughout the city. This will be an excellent night on which you can combine both galleries and museum-going, since the New Mexico Museum of Art is offering “Vintage Music and Homemade Cookies,” from 5:00 to 8:00PM, with holiday music spun on vintage LPs by the museum’s own DJ Prairie Dog and cookies baked by museum staff! And since it’s the first Friday of the month, that means the O’Keeffe Museum is free too!

Holiday season also means children’s theatre, and the Eldorado Children’s Theatre and Teen Players always put on an entertaining show. This year, the troupe presents the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic , The King and I.  Performances takes place at the James A. Little Theatre on Friday, December 3 and Friday, December 10 at 7:00 PM, and at 2:00PM on Saturday, December 4, Sunday December 5, Saturday, December 11, and Sunday, December 12. Tickets can be reserved on line at www.eldoradochildrenstheatre.org, or by calling 466-4656. Great theatre always has to start somewhere, and talent can be found everywhere!

Adult theatre can be found in From Broadway with Love at the Lensic at 7:30PM on Saturday, December 4th.  Kaye Ballard, Liliane Montevecchi, and Donna McKechnie will reunite to star in a one-night-only gala performance to benefit Animal Protection of New Mexico, a non-profit organization that has been challenging historic and widespread animal cruelty in New Mexico for more than 30 years.

Worldy theatre aficionados will thrill to know that there will be an HD simulcast of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as part of the second season of National Theatre Live (NT LIVE), a successful new initiative to broadcast live performances from the National’s stages to cinemas worldwide. The broadcast takes place at the Lensic Center on Friday, December 17 at 7:00PM.

Of course, there will be music and song aplenty! The Santa Fe Men’s Camerata and Zia Singers Holiday Concert takes place at the wonderful Scottish Rite Temple, a landmark in itself, on Saturday, December 4 at 8:00PM and Sunday, December 5 at 4:00PM. The Camerata and the Zia, both directed by Kenneth Knight will join forces for a concert of holiday music, including works from Mendelssohn and Grieg. The combined chorus, about 55 voices strong, will also perform “The Christmas Story According to St. Luke,” a medley of seven well-known Christmas carols arranged by Roger Wagner. The Santa Fe Concert Association brings The King’s Singers for a performance on Wednesday, December 8 at 7:30PM in the St. Francis Cathedral, the perfect spot for holiday chorale.

Not to be outdone by the men, the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble celebrates the holiday withtheir 30th consecutive Christmas Offering Concert. The Ensemble will sing seasonal music and a world premiere by internationally known composer Stephen Paulus, who will be present for the opening concert on Saturday, December 11th. There are several opportunities to attend with concerts on Saturday, December 11; Sunday, December 12; Friday, December 17;and Satueday, December 18, all in Loretto Chapel at 7:30PM.

Music made by the youthful talents of Santa Fe will be on parade at the Mozart y Mariachi Concert, taking place at the St. Francis Auditorium on Friday, December 10 at 6:30PM. This will be some fine mariachi music, performed with spirit and passion, regardless of the performers’ ages and early bedtimes! Classically-inclined youth musicians get their chance to shine on stage on Sunday, December 12 with a performance by the Youth  Philharmonia and Youth Symphony Orchestra in concert at 1:00PM also in the St. Francis auditorium.

Could the holidays be complete without the Nutcracker? Aspen Santa Fe Ballet does the honors with four performances of Tchaikovsky’s holiday treat, two on Saturday, December 11 at 2:00PM and 7:30 PM and two on Sunday, at 1:00PM and 5:00PM. This dance company gets better every year, and Santa Fe is very grateful to have them in our midst to sprinkle snowflakes and sugarplums!

The visual arts will not be neglected as fabulous holiday gifts handcrafted by more than 100 traditional and acclaimed Hispanic artists can be found at the Winter Spanish Market taking place Saturday and Sunday, December 4 and 5 from 10:00AM to 5:00PM at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. And Museum Hill gets into the act on Sunday, December 5th from 10:00AM to 5:00PM with a Winter Festival to celebrate the season, with fun for all ages! There will be  hands-on art making in the Atrium, a performance by the Sangre de Christo Chorale, Creative Writings and Readings from the Santa Fe Community College Creative Writing Program, and a Doña Adelina puppet performance by Los Titiriteros. Now that’s a roster! The 4th Annual Holiday Market at Institute of American Indian Arts takes place on Sunday, December 12 from 9:00AM TO 3:00PM at the Institute, with fun and fantastic creations by IAIA faculty, staff, students, alumni, student clubs and other Native American artists. The school itself is a marvel, surrounded by the glorious New Mexico landscape, where it offers a refuge for young Native artists to discover their roots and culture.

Talk about art is always on tap in Santa Fe, and the Santa Fe Art Institute brings art critic Lucy Lippard as the final lecturer in their program, Elemental: Earth Air Fire Water – Art and Environment. Lippard is the author of over 20 books on contemporary art and has written art criticism for Art in America and The Village Voice.  She has also curated over 50 exhibitions, participated in guerrilla theater, and edited a number of independent publications, including “La Puente de Galisteo” in her home community of Galisteo, New Mexico. The lecture takes place on Thursday, December 9 at 6:00Pm at the Santa Fe Art Institute.

If you won’t be here for Christmas, you can still capture the unique flavor of New Mexico with Las Posadas, an annual re-enactment of the Nativity search for shelter. You can join this tradition on the beautiful Santa Fe Plaza at 5:30PM on Saturday, December 11, as this annual candle-lit procession wends it way around the Plaza, concluding in the courtyard of the  Palace of the Governors’ courtyard with carols, cookies and refreshments.

All this and holiday shopping of the unique brand found in our special destination; the flavor of Christmas and the flavor of Santa Fe combine to make pre-holiday travel a joy, regardless of the weather!

Please feel free to contact our friendly staff to find out more about events that interest you or to make reservations for any Santa Fe December happenings!

One on One in Santa Fe

SITE Santa Fe continues to open the minds and the eyes of the City Different with its new exhibition, “One on One,” which runs through May 9 of this year. A suite of works by five artists, this expansive show utilizes a diversity of applications, with 21st century media such as installation, video, and photography, as well as the more ancient arts of drawing and painting. Each of these works endeavor to draw the viewer into a profound examination of the relationships between artist, subject and viewer.

Terry Allen: The Momo Chronicles II: Angels

Terry Allen: The Momo Chronicles II: Angels

Artist Terry Allen is familiar to Santa Feans, having breezed in and out of our city over his forty-year career. His broad reach as a visual artist is enriched by his parallel adventures as a musician and playwright. In this exhibition, he is represented by his work, Ghost Ship Rodez, a multi-media assemblage inspired by an episode in the life of French writer and artist, Antonin Artaud. Allen’s exploration of this visionary personality is based on his belief that Artaud embodied three characteristics Allen considers to be evident in all artists: innocence, rule-breaking and insanity. What a triad! Over the course of his life, Artaud suffered repeated psychological crises resulting in institutionalization, furthering the deterioration of his mental health. At one point, he was chained to a cot in the hold of the ship Washington on a journey back to Rodez, the French mental institution, hence the title of Allen’s work. A macabre and unsettling vision of mental precariousness, this massive multi-media installation invites the viewer to explore the desperation that accompanies the flash of creativity in the production of meaningful art. In addition, Allen presents a suite of works on paper entitled The Momo Chronicles, which is a reverie on Artaud, who referred to himself as Le Momo (the Fool) and his 1936 journey to Mexico to partake in a Tarahumara Indian ceremony. Allen’s work reveals his interest in the way that narrative can be constructed from fragments of memory and artistic vision. He puts it into words by saying of Artaud that no other artist has “ever taken the terrible desperation of their life and created a body of work as profoundly productive from that turmoil.” This work inspires one to head straight for the library or the internet to further study this fascinating character and his work. From desperation and turmoil to artistic productivity – isn’t that a wonderful goal for any artist? Certainly better than just desperate turmoil alone, and particularly if Allen’s thesis about the three characteristics of all artists is true!

Hasan Elahi: Altitude v2.O C-print

Hasan Elahi: Altitude v2.O C-print

Hasan Elahi is represented by a work generated by a 2002 incident in which he was detained at an airport in Detroit and subsequently became the subject of an FBI investigation after a false accusation of involvement in the 9/11 acts of terrorism. As an artist with an international career, Elahi’s life was naturally marked by extensive travel to a variety of locales around the globe. This ordeal provoked the work on display, Tracking Transience: The Orwell Project. Elahi has used technology to track his physical presence in even the most mundane of situations, resulting in an integrative installation utilizing video and still photography to demonstrate his interest in surveillance, borders and geopolitical conditions. Both real-time and historical moments in his life are on display, representing an accumulation of details that compel the viewer to examine how one’s own life might be displayed by means of the same methodology. Additional works investigate similar issues, such as Flow Wet Feet (Dry Feet), a 1999-2006 multichannel video installation screening footage of an incident involving the U.S. Coast Guard and a group of Cubans attempting to cross over.

The husband and wife creative team of McCallum and Tarry have involved themselves with issues of social justice since 1998, frequently using themselves as the subjects of their work. With a focus on the individual, they aim to create work that highlights the personal in the midst of the universal, with respect to important issues such as civil disobedience, war and homelessness. In this exhibition, SITE is showing three intimate poetic video works from 2006 and 2007.  Their piece, Topsy-Turvy, originally created in 2006, is a multi-media presentation that explores the “topsy-turvy” dolls of early 19th and 20th century America. These dual-headed dolls frequently featured both a black and a white girl joined at the waist, with a skirt that alternately concealed one of the two identities. In addition to sculptural and historical items, the video component of the work features McCallum and Tarry engaged in the act of the flipping. The work in its entirety explores the complex legacy of race relations in the U.S., of particular interest to these artists as an interracial couple. Their work Cut (2006) is a video piece that accompanies photographs of the two artists and was influenced by photos of Nazi collaborators in post-WW2 France.Based on the emblem of shorn hair as an undeniably public signal, this work encompasses notions of guilt, submission, compliance and control.

McCallum & Tarry: Exchange Video Still

McCallum & Tarry: Exchange Video Still

In the third piece, Exchange (2007), dressed in matching outfits, the pair performs a mutual blood transfusion, possibly an examination of the intimate bond  existing between couples. All  the work of this creative duo queries the nature of relationships between people juxtaposed with their relationships to the world, a question always worth asking.

Los Angeles-based artist Kaari Upson has been at work for a number of years on The Larry Project, a multi-disciplinary investigation based on a person from her neighborhood whom she had never met. When a fire destroyed the house in which this stranger, Larry, once lived, Upson received access to some of his personal effects. Having heard stories of this enigmatic figure from family members and friends, she embarked on a quest to discover more about his history. The work explores the ways in which we get to know someone, from something as straight-forward as reading a person’s diary to the more decidedly new age method of commissioning an astrology chart.

Kaari Upson: The Larry Project

Kaari Upson: The Larry Project

Portions of the project on display include Chapter One, the get-to-know-him phase of Upson’s intial involvement with Larry, full of drawings and meditations. In addition to the works on paper, Upson also created a life-size “Larry” doll and then had the doll figure prominently in a series of videos in which her performing persona explores the development of this unusual relationship. Chapter Two is a video and sculpture installation called The Grotto, invoking Playboy kingpin Hugh Hefner’s grotto, which came to the fore when Upson discovered that Larry had spent time at the Hefner mansion. With eerie sotto-voce vocalizations and mirror placements, the work travels through the unconscious of the artist and her subject. The final visitation, Chapter Three, examines the fire that brought Upson into Larry’s life and then allows her to leave him behind after an exhaustive exploration. This installation really makes one wonder what a stranger would make of one’s own life! Scary…but intriguing!

Taken as a whole, this show brings into sharp focus ideas of the world both close and far, the nature of relationships both personal and universal. Once again, SITE Santa Fe offers the Santa Fe gallery visitor the opportunity to be challenged by questions of self and other, with works that could only be displayed and enjoyed in this valued and valuable institution.