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Preview: Choosing Santa Fe

Choosing Santa Fe

Observations about Santa Fe life, art, culture, and history with occasional other musings.

Updated: 2018-01-20T07:55:55.740-05:00


Leaving Santa Fe


Last month I left Santa Fe and moved to Providence, Rhode Island. I'd spent almost five years in Santa Fe and loved a lot about the city--there were other things I liked less.  I loved the mountains and the sunsets and my friends in Santa Fe; the state government, the lack of customer service attitude, the problems with the educational system, the drought and thunderstorms--not so much.

A variety of reasons coalesced to persuade me to move back East--among them the fact that I turn out to be a city gal at heart.  I didn't think I missed the green and the ocean until I got back here and realized how much.  And there's an East Coast attitude that it's hard to define but, as Justice Potter Stewart famously said about pornography in 1964, "I know it when I see it."  In addition, I'm working on a book about Boston in 1905--you can read about my observations on that year in my Boston 1905 blog. You can find the link on the upper right of this page, along with a link to my new Providence blog.

Thanks for being my readers!!!

A Plethora of Chile


If you go into a grocery store in some other part of the country, you'll see a few linear feet of shelf space in the "ethnic foods" aisle dedicated to Hispanic foods.  A few kinds of chiles, salsa, taco shells, etc.  In the big chain groceries in Santa Fe, there is typically an entire aisle dedicated to Hispanic foods.  Of course, this ends up taking the space of other products--so there is usually a much smaller selection of canned mushrooms, chutney, water chestnuts, etc.

The Hispanic food aisle in the Santa Fe Albertson's makes me feel like Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson, where the Russian immigrant he plays faints in the coffee aisle--overcome by the sight and smell of so many different kinds of coffee.  No fainting here--but an overwhelming set of choices!!

New Mexico History Museum


I toured the new New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe this week--what a terrific museum!  Lots of interesting exhibits, clear and easy to follow history, and an established route through the museum that means you can pay attention to the displays instead of wondering where to go next.  I had seen a lot of the material when it was in the smaller exhibit space in the Palace of the Governors, but there is so much more to see in the new space.  It uses a lot of new thinking in museum design--audio and video displays, tactile exhibits, and comparative timelines.

There were many things I liked in this museum but the exhibit I wanted to share with you today is a sterling silver cigar humidor that's a model of the Taos Pueblo. It was manufactured in 1917 by Tiffany--part of a 56-piece set made for the ward room of the battleship USS New Mexico. It's just so beautiful!

The photo below, from 1919, shows the table and sideboard in the USS New Mexico ward room set with silver pieces from the collection.

And here is the ship itself, at the Panama Canal in 1919.

Illustration Credits and References

The wardroom photo was published in 1919 by A.M. Simon, 324 E. 23rd St., New York City, as one of ten photographs in a "Souvenir Folder" of views concerning New Mexico. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 105048. Donation of Edwin C. Finney, Jr., 2007, from the collection of J. Louise Finney.

The photo of the battleship USS New Mexico, Official U.S. Navy Photograph, USNHC # NH 75719, now in the collections of the National Archives.

The Harvey Girls


I just finished reading The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West by Lesley Poling-Kempes. It shed light for me on a whole aspect of Southwestern history that I didn't know very much about, and I thought some of the key points were worth mentioning here.After the Civil War, the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe laid railroad tracks from Kansas to Colorado (1872), through Raton Pass to New Mexico (1878), into Lamy (the nearest stop to Santa Fe, 1880), and finally to California (1887). As the trains began carrying passengers, the railroad built depots every 100 miles or so. There were no dining facilities on the trains and meals from home only lasted so long! Fred Harvey, a Londoner who had emigrated to the US at the age of 15, was a former café owner and a veteran clerk and agent for the railway, and was in the right place at the right time to start a train-oriented food business. The railroad he worked for (Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy) did not think much of his idea of restaurants at the various rail stops heading west, and they told him to go to the Atchison, Topeka, & SF because they "would try anything".It's the same old story of start-ups being hungrier and more creative than the old, established, and more complacent businesses, and saying "yes" to Harvey turned out to be a brilliant marketing move on the part of the new railroad. Under their agreement, the RR provided depot space, coal, ice, water, and transportation, and Harvey provided food and staff. Harvey opened his first restaurant in Topeka in 1876, and his businesses spread southwest and west in parallel with the expansion of the railroad. Harvey had exacting standards for his restaurants (and later the hotels that accompanied them). They provided elegant menus, an unparalleled choice of foods from all over the continent (brought in daily by train), white tablecloths and napkins, and split-second timing. (Telegrams would notify a restaurant of the precise time of the next train arrival, and of certain choices on the part of the passenger-diners.) Everybody had to be in and out--perfectly served and catered to--in 30 minutes. The restaurants gave the AT & SF a unique competitive advantage.In the beginning, Harvey used male waiters in the restaurants. But in 1883 he fired all the waiters at his Raton, NM Harvey House because of poor service the day after a midnight brawl. It was suggested to Harvey that women might do a better job because they were less likely "to get likkered up and go on tears." The new waitresses were so popular that Harvey decided to replace all of the waiters in his establishments with waitresses, and he advertised in midwestern and eastern newspapers for "young women 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent" to go west to work.Over 100,000 women served as Harvey Girls from 1883 until the 1960s. For many of these small-town girls and farmers' daughters, the Harvey establishments provided the college education they could not afford--a chance to travel, meet people they would never have had a chance to meet, broaden their horizons, live in a dorm with other young women, and find a husband in the male-dominated west. While many young women worked for a year or two and then returned home, many others moved from community to community over the years--sampling life in many different parts of the country. Thousands of Harvey Girls met and married Santa Fe railmen, cowboys, ranchers, and the occasional other Harvey employee (in spite of restrictions against dating within the business). They and their husbands became the founding mothers and fathers of many towns in the Southwest. (Will Rogers said of Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls that they had "kept the West supplied with food and wives.")The Harvey Girls had to adhere to a tough schedule and many rules governing their dress and behavior. They wore black uniforms and freshly starched white aprons and were thoroughly trained in service standards be[...]

Puye Cliffs


Earlier this summer I toured the Puye Cliff Dwellings which are located near Los Alamos, about 35 miles northwest of Santa Fe.  Puye Cliffs was the ancestral home of the people of Santa Clara Pueblo from the 900s until about 1580, when they moved to the Rio Grande Valley.  According to pueblo legend, a black bear wandered through the village, harming no one, and led the people 10 miles away.  Historians say the move to the river was occasioned by drought.This site, now a National Historic Landmark, was closed from 2000-2009 due to flooding and erosion resulting from the Cerro Grande fire, which caused major damage to the Los Alamos area.  It has only recently reopened to the public, and it was exciting to finally have an opportunity to visit this beautiful site.We had a terrific tour by a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo who guided us up pathways and ladders from the bottom to the top of the mesa.The cliff dwellings are on two levels with the bottom row about a mile long and the top level about 2,100 feet in length.  Cliff marking are still visible like the one in the photo above.  Many of these markings were the equivalent of directional signs.  Paths and stairways connected the two levels and allowed residents to get to the top of the mesa where additional dwellings were located.  The mesa dwellings were in the form of a multi-story complex built around a central plaza, though only crumbling walls (like those shown to the left) remain.An interesting feature of the site is one of the original Harvey Houses.  These were a chain of restaurants/hotels that serviced train (and later auto) travelers to the Southwest.  There were more than a dozen Harvey Houses in New Mexico, though this one at Puye was the only one built on an Indian reservation.  The mother of a friend of mine recalls dining in the Harvey House in Santa Fe when they took the train from California to Maine in 1931.[...]

Gunfighting in New Mexico


(image) I'm currently reading a book about Victorian America (part of my 1905 research) and came across some interesting statistics about gunfights. From 1870-1874, New Mexico had the third largest number of gunfights in the U.S. (states and territories), behind Kansas and Texas. In the next five years, New Mexico was second only to Texas--with 23 gunfights in New Mexico in 1878 alone. In 1880-1884, New Mexico earned the dubious distinction of being #1 in the gunfighting derby.

The 1878-1881 period in NM was known for the Lincoln County War in 1878, and the Dodge City Gang which terrorized Las Vegas from 1879-1880. Several gunfighters from the gang headed out of town to Tombstone, Arizona after a vigilante party of townspeople was formed, though some returned to NM in the next few years. Billy the Kid, present for the Lincoln County War, was killed in Fort Sumner, NM by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881.

The number of gunfights in the US forms a neat bell curve--starting with 13 in the period from 1854-1859, peaking at 106 in 1875-1879, and dropping off to 9 by 1910-1914.

In 1908, for example, there were only four gunfights in the US--though two were in New Mexico. One of the remaining two was the fight between Bolivian soldiers and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (This was counted as a US gunfight since two of the protagonists were Americans.)

Still, I guess it's all in what you count as a gunfight. An 18-year-old boy was shot to death by a 16-year-old in the parking lot of the Santa Fe Place mall this week--a fight over a girl apparently. So it's not quite over yet.

Illustration Credits and References

Statistsics on gunfighting appeared in Almanacs of American Life: Victorian America 1876-1913 by Crandall Shifflett (1996); the author credits Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters by Bill O'Neal (1979) for this data.

Other information from the Legends of America website.

Photograph of Billy the Kid's death marker courtesy of

The White Sisters' Legacy


In April I was able to tour the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, a truly fabulous piece of property which houses this unique institution.SAR got its start in the early years of the 20th century as the School for Archaeological Research, and it was headed by anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewitt from 1907 until his death in 1946. (He simultaneously headed the Museum of New Mexico after it was established in 1909.) SAR's mission was to train students, conduct anthropological research on the American continent, and preserve and study Southwestern culture.Meanwhile, wealthy NY socialite sisters Martha Root White and Amelia Elizabeth White discovered Santa Fe in 1923. Both had graduated from Bryn Mawr, and served as Army nursing assistants during World War I. They found Santa Fe on a cross-country trip, and bought a large property here in the city. They built a home which they called El Delirio ("the madness"), and over the years the compound grew to include a kennel, guest houses, a swimming pool, and a variety of other structures.El Delirio became a gathering place for artists, writers, and intellectuals, and the White sisters are said to have thrown some stunning parties in the 20s and 30s. Their home was the setting for lavish dinners, concerts, poetry readings, pool parties, plays, and masquerade balls.Five women, including poet Alice Corbin Henderson, second from left, display their costumes at the swimming pool dedication ca. 1926.The sisters also bred and raised Irish wolfhounds, and a cemetery for their beloved dogs can be seen on the grounds today.Elizabeth helped to establish the Old Santa Fe Association, the Laboratory of Anthropology, the Wheelwright Museum, the Garcia Street Club, and the Santa Fe Animal Shelter--and all these organizations are still active. The sisters were patrons and promoters of Native American Art and they opened the first Native American art gallery in New York City. Elizabeth was a founding member of the Indian Arts Fund in 1925, an organization which focused on buying up Indian pottery and other handcrafts to preserve these artifacts for future generations. She also served on the SAR managing board for 25 years.Martha died in 1937, but Elizabeth lived to be 96 years old. And when she died, in 1972, she left El Delirio and its remaining acres to the School for Advanced Research, giving that institution its first permanent home. That same year, the Indian Arts Fund also disbanded and deeded its collections to SAR.The Resident Scholars' communal dining room--all set for delicious food and stimulating conversation.Today, SAR runs an advanced seminar series and a resident scholar program. The latter has provided over 160 pre- and postdoctoral scholars with nine-month residencies in which to read, reflect, and write up research results. A key part of the program is the unique intellectual interaction which takes place among scholars from different but related disciplines. Native artists have the opportunity to do residencies on site while they work on their art. SAR also houses the IAF collections and a state-of-the-art archaeological repository, and the SAR Press produces books on archaeology, anthropology, and Southwestern art and culture.The mausoleum for the White sisters.The grounds are beautiful, and a tour provides a look at SAR as it currently exists, and historical views of both SAR and the life of the White sisters. The cemetery for the White sisters' Irish wolfhounds--each dog is identified by name.Illustration Credits and ReferencesPhoto of the White sisters' party at El Delirio courtesy of the SAR website ( All other photographs by the author.[...]

Santa Fe Municipal Airport


When I first moved to Santa Fe, a couple of commercial flights were available from Santa Fe to Denver, but those were eventually discontinued. In June 2009, American Eagle instituted three flights a day--one to Los Angeles and two to Dallas. When a third flight to/from Dallas was added in February of this year, it became possible for eastbound passengers to make connections to and from Dallas, and I decided to give it a try.The Santa Fe Municipal Airport is a charming step back in time. It was designed by noted Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem, and constructed in 1957, in the southwest corner of the city. Its interior is full of southwestern accents. It has one counter, one security line, one restaurant (The Airport Grille), one waiting room, and one gate. Parking involves writing a check for $3 a day for the duration of your trip and sticking it in an envelope in a box inside the terminal. "The Eagle has landed" heralds the arrival of the plane, and the gate agent greets arriving customers with a cheerful "Welcome to Santa Fe!" Unfortunately, my travel experience was less than optimal due to weather-related interruptions at both ends (which caused me to miss my connection in Dallas and rerouted our return flight to Albuquerque due to wind, snow, and ice at the SF airport). But I am giving it another chance in May. It's so convenient--a 15 minute drive and no shuttle buses to the terminal required!Photo CreditsThe photograph of the terminal interior comes from the Veritas et Venustas blog by architect, urbanist, and author John Massengale. All other photos by Catherine Hurst.[...]

Santa Fe School of Cooking


I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to attend a "bonus" class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. The School is a 20-year fixture in Santa Fe, and its bonus classes, aimed at the locals, are test classes where the School and its chefs have an opportunity to try out new themes and ideas, and practice for the more formal (and more expensive!) classes come tourist season.This was the third such class I've attended in the last couple of years--the first was a southwestern-themed brunch, and the second was a class featuring foods appropriate (by theme and portability) for tailgating at upcoming summer operas.Our recent class featured four different kinds of chiles rellenos (stuffed chiles): cream cheese stuffed jalapeños in escabeche, New Mexican tempura rellenos, ancho chile rellenos, and chiles en nogada.The last was my favorite. It featured a stuffing that included ground pork, garlic and onion, tomato puree, apples, peaches, plantains, dried apricots, raisins, and almonds. And as if that weren't enough, it was accompanied by a sauce made from pecans, almonds, queso fresco (or feta cheese), half and half, and sherry. The chiles were stuffed, lightly battered, fried, dipped in sauce, and topped with pomegranate seeds. Scrumptious!Our chef for the day was Danny Cohen, ably assisted by Noe Cano. And "class" is really not the right word for this experience--it's really a demonstration. The chef (who also teaches culinary classes at Santa Fe Community College) kept up an engaging patter while he cooked, and we could all see what he was doing in the reflection of the overhead mirror. We students drank coffee and wine, took notes, and ate--a very easy assigment!I even learned a couple of new cooking facts/tips. For example, fresh jalapeños become chipotles when dried, and poblanos become anchos. And Chef Danny prefers the use of grapeseed oil for cooking (as opposed to canola oil), with olive oil only used to finish.They do also offer hands-on classes, restaurant walks featuring private chef meetings and tastings in some of the best restaurants in Santa Fe, an onsite market for Southwestern foods and cooking tools, and one or two day team building seminars centered around the experience of cooking and eating together. I highly recommend the Santa Fe School of Cooking, in spite of the steep price-tag ($70 and up for most classes). Visit in February and enjoy a "bonus" class!Photo CreditsAll photos in this post were taken by my friend and fellow student Linda McIlroy.[...]

In Praise of the Sidecar, Part 2


Almost exactly two years ago in this blog, I wrote a paean to my favorite cocktail, the sidecar. I promised I would get to history (the sidecar's and mine) eventually. . . . In January I had a wonderful elderflower sidecar at McCormick & Schmick's in Boston which prompted me to get back to the rest of the story.Generally accepted bartending lore assigns the origin of the drink to a time period near the end of World War I. The place was either London or Paris, and the inventor was an American Army captain who was driven to and from his local watering hole in the sidecar of a motorcycle. The drink was first mentioned in a bartender's guide in 1922, and 1934 was the first recorded recipe with a sugared rim (my preferred presentation).Elizabeth Bowen, in The Death of the Heart (published in 1938), offers the cocktail to one of her characters:Indoors, among the mirrors and pillars, they found Mr. Bursely and Daphne, cozy over a drink. Reproaches and rather snooty laughs were exchanged, then Mr. Bursely, summoning the waiter, did what was right by everyone. Clara and Portia were given orangeade, with hygienic straws twisted up in paper; Daphne had another bronx, Evelyn a side-car. The men drank whisky. . .The cocktail was popular through the sixties, but faded in the seventies and eighties. Karen Kijewski, in her mystery novel Katwalk, published in 1989, laments their demise: "Hey, Kat." I turned. "What's in a sidecar?" "Huh? Oh. Brandy, Triple Sec, sweet and sour and lime--with a sugar rim and a cherry. Nobody drinks them anymore."He grinned and waved and I waved back, at him and at the memories.But by the 90s, cocktails in general were coming back in style; an article in the Boston Globe in 1994 describes the scene at a local lounge:At the bar, the young couple put down their drinks--he with a cubana (sugar syrup, lime juice, aproct brandy, rum), she with a sidecar (Cointreau, lemon juice, brandy)--and step out on the floor to tango.Another Globe article, six years later, is titled: "Sidecar cocktail rides again." A 2004 Boston Herald headline boasts that the "Sidecar takes back seat to no other cocktail."And the cocktail was sufficiently mainstream to appear in a NY Times crossword in 2007.I have been faithful to the sidecar since 1966, and in a future post I'll talk a bit about my history with the drink.In the meantime, you can watch this video of Rachel Maddow shaking up a sidecar in a New York bar.[...]

Gruene, Texas


"Gently resisting change since 1872."That's the tagline for the village of Gruene, Texas. Located midway between Austin and San Antonio, it features a whole community of 19th century residences and businesses, which owe their survival to the Depression.But before that, Henry Gruene built a home for himself and one for his foreman, a cotton gin, a "mercantile", and a dance hall/saloon. Business thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but after a major boll weevil attack and the sorrows of the Depression, the town was largely abandoned. As a result, 1970s restoration efforts had a treasure trove of original architecture to work with, and today the town evokes its origins in several streets of quaint shops, antique stores, and the original dance hall--Gruene Hall. (Unlike the rest of town, the dance hall/saloon never closed!)On a recent trip to San Antonio, we detoured to Gruene to listen to Santa Fe musician Bill Hearne in the dance hall, meet an Austin friend for lunch, and tour the town. One of the things I really enjoyed was the wordplay in the naming of the shops, restaurants, etc. Though the original German name would have been pronounced "Groon'eh", the locals pronounce it "Green"--and that's how you have to read the signs in this post.[...]

Institute of American Indian Arts


Last week I had the opportunity to tour the campus of the Institute of American Indian Arts--a four-year tribal college in Santa Fe. IAIA is the only U.S. arts college dedicated to the traditions and culture of the American Indian, and is set on a stunning 140 acres just outside of the city limits. On the day we visited, the layers of mountains circling the campus were snow-covered and the sky was bright blue, creating a wonderful canvas.The IAIA was founded in 1962, and was first located on the grounds of the Santa Fe Indian School. The Institute includes both the college, and the IAIA museum in downtown Santa Fe.About 375 students are currently enrolled at the college and they represent roughly 100 different tribes from the mainland U.S. and Alaska. Over the nearly 50 years of its existence, the IAIA has been home to students from about 90% of the recognized native American tribes. And about 15% of its students are non-natives who've come to IAIA to study native art traditions.The IAIA's location is ideal for furthering its mission--in Santa Fe, which is the second largest art market in the U.S., and near the 19 native pueblos of New Mexico. In addition, the size and setting of the campus allowed it to be constructed in a way that references and respects native traditions (directions, solstices, etc.), and it is home to native plants and wildlife. On-campus housing includes residences for traditional-age students, as well as family housing units for older students. A new daycare center is expected to open soon. All facilities are full of native art, and our tour included views of studios and galleries, and art that included painting, metalwork, jewelry, glass, beading, and leatherwork.This painting by an IAIA student, a Native American version of the Last Supper, was hanging in the Administration building.This spinning wheel in the IAIA library is by Apache artist Bob Haozous, son of Allan Houser (whom I've written about in an earlier blog).One of the highlights of our trip was the welcome our group received in the student learning support center, where we were treated to a snack of hot blue corn meal (in a form somewhere between oatmeal and hot drink); a note on the blackboard in the student lounge area indicated that it was a "blue corn morning". Thus warmed and fortified, we were able to venture back out into the cold to complete our tour of this impressive facility.[...]

Honoring the Navajo Code Talkers on Veterans Day


(image) Navajo Code Talker Lemuel Yazzie. AP Photo/Seth Wenig.

Today, 13 of the famed Navajo Code Talkers from World War II will participate for the first time in the New York City Veterans Day parade.

This Marine unit used Navajo language-encrypted military terms in a code that was never broken by the Japanese. One of the things that made it so hard to break was that different words could be used for exactly the same message. The Navajo were sworn to secrecy about the code, and kept their secret long after the code was declassified in 1968.

There were about 400 Code Talkers in all; it is believed that about 50 are still alive--most living in the Navajo Nation, which is located in northwestern New Mexico, northeastern Arizona, and southeastern Utah. (Navajoland, or Diné Bikéyah, covers 27,000 square miles, which makes it larger than many U.S. states.)

Recognition for these brave Marines was slow to come. In 2000, the Congressional Gold Medal was bestowed on the survivors of the original 29 Code Talkers, and silver medals on the rest. The Navajo Code Talkers Foundation is creating a museum in their honor which is expected to open in New Mexico, near the Navajo capital of Window Rock, Arizona in 2012.

(image) Navajo Code Talkers (from left) Lloyd Oliver, Bahe Ketchum, and Joe Vandever. AP Photo/Seth Wenig.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman has devoted part of his website to information about the Code Talkers; click here for more information.

Sun, Clouds, Mist, and Aspens


On October 8 we did our annual hike of the Aspen Vista Trail. In contrast to the blazing sun of the past two years, this was a cooler and less sunny walk, but beautiful still the same.We lucked into a wonderful window of reasonably bright weather combined with threatening skies--which made for some great shadows and colors. I would say that we were a few days past peak--good color on the lower and more protected slopes (at about 10,000 feet) but lots of lost leaves as we climbed higher.Moments before we left (the temperature had already dropped about five degrees) a heavy, cold mist blew in. The time between the first and last of the following photographs was no more than four minutes--in the first you can see the entire valley from the parking area; by the third. the valley has been totally obliterated.Time to hop in the car and go home! The mountain was covered in clouds the rest of the day, but the next morning we could see that the peak was clearly snow-covered.Click the links to read about our 2008 and 2007 walks, with lots more detail on the Aspen Vista Trail![...]

Real Silver Linings!


I never was as interested in clouds before I moved to Santa Fe! Sunset clouds, storm clouds, morning, afternoon, and evening--there's always something to look at when the sky isn't the pristine blue Santa Fe is famous for.

Here are some clouds from last night with a cold front moving in--real silver linings!

400th Anniversary Celebration Begins


On Labor Day weekend, Santa Fe officially kicked off its 400th birthday celebration with Viva! Santa Fe, a weekend of concerts and festivities.Historians and organizers have placed the origin of the city somewhere between 1607-1610, depending on who's looking and where. 1607 - Juan Martínez de Montoya testified before Acting Governor Cristobal Oñate that he had established the plaza of La Villa de Santa Fe.1609 - Spanish Viceroy Luis de Velasco signed an order to make Santa Fe the capital of New Mexico on March 30. He also named Pedro de Peralta as Governor.1610 - The new Governor arrived in Santa Fe to assume his office, and to let the residents know of their new status.Santa Fe thus lays claim to being the oldest capital city in the U.S.--and it's been a capital under three governments (Spain, Mexico, and the U.S.).Unfortunately, the weather was rainy off and on all weekend, but all events took place. At the Saturday night concert I attended it rained primarily before the performances began--and the dancers, singers, and musicians were all on a covered stage. Still, a lovely small-town evening! Photographs of performers throughout this post include Black Eagle (Grammy-winning Jemez Pueblo drummers and dancers), Blackfire (Navajo band), singer Lila Downs (whom I actually first saw perform in Massachusetts, at the Somerville Theatre), and the 13 women of the El Paso mariachi group Mariachi Femenil Flores Mexicanas.Other performances (no photos) were by Ozomatli and "The King of New Mexico Music" Tobias Rene.[...]

Roses and Apples


In my garden this morning: blue skies and healing sunshine.

New License Plate for New Mexico


(image) To celebrate the upcoming statehood centennial in 2012, New Mexico is introducing a new license plate design in January. According to the state's website, the Centennial plate features "a 'retro' design--a classic look, using red and yellow colors from the state flag and the Zia; and a bold turquoise background, reflecting the state gem."

The plate replaces the so-called "balloon plate", which has been around for the past 10 years.

(image) The question the Governor has for you is the following. Should this be the only standard (i.e. no extra charge) plate available to New Mexicans, or should they continue to be able to choose the other current standard plate, cleverly known as "the yellow plate"?

If you'd like to vote, click here to go the state's license plate survey website.

(image) Those who are willing to spend an extra $25 can forego the above choice(s) and instead acquire the new Santa Fe 400th anniversary license plate, which will be available after Labor Day. The extra $25 will go to offset the costs of the 400th anniversary celebration.

Otowi - Pueblo Canyon


A couple of weeks ago I joined Friends of Archaeology once again for a trip to Otowi in Pueblo Canyon. Our trip was led by Office of Archaeological Studies (OAS) archaeologist Steve Lakatos, accompanied by OAS archaeologist Chuck Hannaford, ceramicist Dean Wilson, archaeobotanist Pam McBride, and San Ildefonso Pueblo representatives Bryan and Clarice Montoya.Otowi or Potsuwi'i (gap where the water sinks) is an ancestral Tewa village, located along the north side of Pueblo Canyon. While many folks pass by this area on the way to Los Alamos, it has not been easy to visit. It was previously part of the lands appropriated by the Federal government for the Los Alamos National Laboratories, and then it was transferred to Los Alamos County. San Ildefonso expects the area to be restored to tribal governance later this year, and then it will most likely be closed to the public.So it was very exciting to have this chance to tour the site! It was, however, a very hot day, and we probably walked at least four miles. FOA is very good about making sure everyone carried enough water--2.5 litres (which is heavy!) Our lunches were made (including fresh-baked sandwich bread) by the Totavi Café and were excellent. (At least we didn't have to carry those!)For a general history of the area, check out my recent Tsankawi post. (Otowi is only about two miles away from Tsankawi.) The various ancestral sites within the canyon now consist primarily of semi-cleared areas, mounded dirt areas, and rocks that were used in construction. When these residences were built (some as early as the 13th century) they were likely not intended for permanent use, and once they were no longer lived in, they "melted" back into the ground pretty quickly. The Pajarito Plateau was abandoned by the Tewa as a residential area by 1550; most went to settle along the Rio Grande where they still live today. However, the area still continued to be used for hunting and worship.The first photo above shows a pile of volcanic rock that was used in construction; the second shows the rocks that were positioned for the corner of a dwelling--still in place. There is evidence on the site of hundreds of rooms, and 10 circular kivas.Although we did not explore the "cavates" at Otowi (as we did at Tsankawi), we got a good view of them from the canyon (see the photo above). And we saw the place where the water sinks--a running stream disappears underground (on the way to lunch, and too hot and tired to backtrack for a photo!).[...]



This year for the first time I have grapes growing in my garden. My apple tree is also laden with beautiful fruit--hope the insects don't get them first! No peaches this year--a late frost killed my blossoms.

Somehow, with my limited knowledge of botany, it doesn't seem climatologically right that peaches, apples, and grapes would all coexist in my yard here in Santa Fe. (Take that Georgia, Washington, and Italy!)

Under the Rainbow


(image) More than half the time when it rains in Santa Fe, the sun doesn't stop shining right away, or it comes out immediately after (or during!) the rain, and we get the most incredible rainbows. I took these photos from my driveway a few days ago--it's all the same rainbow but I just wasn't far enough away to capture the whole thing.

See how dark the sky is--and at the same time how much sunlight is shining on my next door neighbor's house!

The Valles Caldera


Last week I traveled to the Valles Caldera (which literally means "cooking pot valleys") with a Southwest Seminars group in conjunction with the Santa Fe Newcomers' Club.Geologist Dr. Kirt Kempter (who has studied plate tectonics and volcanism around the world) was our guide for the day.About 1.25 million years ago, a volcanic eruption occurred in the Jemez Mountains. After the first phase, which spewed magma maybe 10-12 miles up into the stratosphere, crystals and ash (known as tephra) rained (or more descriptively, snowed) down on the area.After a few hours, waves of so-called pyroclastic flows (very hot and very fast--600-700 degrees in temperature, and moving at 100-200 mph) spread across the region, filling valleys, and forming plateaus such as the Pajarito Plateau (which was the subject of a recent post). The photo above shows a small part of the Plateau, which we passed on our way up to the Valles Caldera.Finally, after the magma was depleted, the earth's crust around the vents began to collapse. The east side of what is now known as the Valles Caldera collapsed nearly a mile--the west side only about a quarter of a mile.The area has had an interesting history. Pueblo Indians (from nine different pueblos along the Rio Grande) hunted, farmed, and collected tool-making rocks in the Caldera (such as the obsidian outcropping shown in the photo above which was used to make arrowheads) before the Spanish came. When the Spanish brought sheep, horses, and cattle, the lush summer grasslands provided ideal grazing.In 1860, 12 years after the US took over the area, a land-grant settlement was reached by awarding a grant of 100,000 acres (almost the entire Valles Caldera) to the heirs of Cabeza de Vaca (see my previous post on the Cabeza de Vacas). Four private owners held the land until 2000 when the US government purchased it and established the Valles Caldera National Preserve.Today, the Caldera is home to the second largest elkherd in the state (numbering about 3,000), and its beautiful meadows and slopes are also home to deer, golden eagles, mountain lions, bobcats, bears, 60 species of birds, and wild turkeys. Lottery-based fishing permits are available, and each fisherman gets about a mile of stream to him/herself for the day to fish for the native trout.In the winter, it is a fabulous location for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sleigh rides when the weather cooperates!The Preserve also hosts a number of special events including mountain bike rides, overnight birding events, fly fishing clinics, elk hunts, and night sky adventures. The number of visitors to the Preserve is controlled--so you really get a chance to experience nature and not crowds.Illustration Credits and ReferencesThanks to my friend Gloria Gordon for the wildlife photo.This post was informed by Valles Caldera: Map and Geologic History of the Southwest's Youngest Caldera, a High Desert Field Guide authored by Kirt Kempter and Dick Huelster, and by the website and brochures of the Valles Caldera National Preserve.[...]

OKeeffe and Fisk, Resolution?


(image) Photo courtesy of Fisk University

The wheels of justice may grind slowly, but this week they spit out a verdict that seems right to me.

Nearly a year and a half ago, I wrote a post on the latest saga of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum vs. Fisk University. If you want a refresher, or need to start at the beginning (!), click here to read my first post in this series, from November, 2007.

Basically, the struggling Fisk wanted to sell two pieces from the Stieglitz collection that O'Keeffe donated to the university in 1949. The historically black college was in danger of shutting down, could no longer afford the upkeep on their art museum (and therefore could no longer safely display the works), and wanted to sell only two of its 101-piece Stieglitz collection. The two pieces to be sold were O'Keeffe's Radiator Building and another painting by Marsden Hartley. The O'Keeffe had been valued at more than $20 million.

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe argued that Fisk was violating the terms of the bequest, and asked that the entire collection be turned over to the Museum (with, as far as I can tell, no money changing hands).

But on July 14, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that the O'Keeffe had no right to the work and no standing in court. This clears the way for a possible arrangement with the Crystal Bridges Museum described in a previous post. While the O'Keeffe has 60 days to appeal the decision, one hopes that they will have the grace to back down this time.

Sadly, this has been an expensive victory for Fisk. President Hazel O'Leary said she was pleased by the ruling, but "the expense the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum has forced Fisk to incur in its effort to gain ownership of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern Art could have been committed to scholarships for our students."

In other O'Keeffe news this week, the Museum was considering action against the Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary School in Albuquerque for abbreviating her name on a sign as GOK. The Museum contends that the only acceptable abbreviation is G.OK, because O'Keeffe would not have liked the way GOK sounded when it was pronounced. Seriously.

International Folk Art Market - 2009


Ali MacGraw, just another red-shirted volunteer.Last weekend was the 6th annual Santa Fe International Folk Art Market--two days of a bazaar with folk artists from all over the world. It was a VERY hot weekend for Santa Fe (93-94 degrees), and with somewhat reduced tourism and the economic climate, the sponsors were worried that revenues would be down significantly. But head count at the market was actually up nearly 13% over last year, with about 23,000 attendees. And sales were only off a few percentage points. The average artist took home about $13,500, and when you consider that 97% of the artists come from countries where the annual per capita income is less than $750, this is a significant piece of their incomes.Over 400 applications came in for this year's market, which were winnowed down to 147 using a complicated weighting system. About 21 artists from among those selected were unable to attend due to visa or other issues.This year for the first time I worked as one of 1,500 volunteers at the market. In an effort to become greener, and also to save money, the market (for the first time) did not sell bottled water. I worked at a water station where we gave away free water (Santa Fe water chilled and filtered on the spot by The Good Water Company) to refill customers' own bottles, or paper cones of water for those who did not have bottles. Lots of customers in that heat!A first for the market this year: former President Bill Clinton, a folk art fan, commissioned three Folk Art Market artists to make the prizes that will be presented in September to the winners of the Clinton Global Citizen Awards. The award honors individuals and organizations for their contributions to solving global challenges. All three artists — Serge Jolimeau and Michée Ramil Remy of Haiti and Toyin Folorunso of Nigeria — work with recycled metals. [...]



On June 13, I had the opportunity to go on a hike with the New Mexico Museum's Friends of Archaeology to Tsankawi. This area is a detached part of the Bandelier National Monument, and an ancestral home of the San Ildefonso Pueblo. (This was my second hike with FOE; click on the link to read about my 2008 FOA trip to the Zia Pueblo.)Our group, led by archaeologist Chuck Hannaford and ceramicist Dean Wilson, toured the trails and settlement spaces of Tsankawi. This day trip was one of three envisioned by the Friends of Archaeology for the summer of 2009 to commemorate the founding of the Museum of New Mexico 100 years earlier. Edgar Lee Hewett, an ardent explorer and champion of the Pajarito Plateau area, of which Tsankawi forms a part, would go on to serve for 40 years as Museum Director (1909-1949). This hike also echoes the anniversary of a 1909 National Geographic article describing the beautiful remote location, with its trails and cavates. (In those days, it would have taken four arduous hours to get to the Pajarito Plateau from Santa Fe!)Tsankawi (saikewikwaje onwikege) means “village between two canyons at the clump of sharp, round cacti” in Tewa, the language of the San Ildefonso Pueblo. Settlers had first come to the plateau during the “Coalition Period” in about 1150, and lived in small family structures of 1-20 rooms. By 1250 or so, there was a pueblo with a big plaza, and by about 1325, larger villages. The area was abandoned in the middle of the 16th century (about the time of first contact by the Spanish) with its residents moving towards Cochiti and Puye. Archaeologist Hannaford noted three major influences on the area. First, years of volcanic eruption formed the beautiful eerie landscape. Secondly, the Ancestral Pueblo people, who lived here for 400 years, modified the land to their purposes: climbing, cultivating, building pueblos, cutting cavates (man-made caves in the soft volcanic rock), and creating petroglyph “rock art” in the cavates and on the public viewing surfaces. Finally, the coming of the scientists to Los Alamos saw further change happen--Hannaford remarked on the two vastly different realms of experience represented by the celebration of the deer dance and the splitting of the atom!We walked up trails cut deep into the volcanic rock by years of footprints, down ladders, in and out of cavates, and through the settlement areas where room block wall bases, water capture pond outlines, and numerous pottery sherds were clearly visible. We tried to imagine that the Ancestral Pueblo people were still there to watch us. A highlight of the day featured ceramicist Wilson on his knees among the plentiful pottery sherds, pointing out the differences between the biscuit and glazed wares, and the likelihood of particular pieces of pottery being made locally or imported from other areas. He observed that some were finished with a tempera made of anthill sand, actually bits of quartz “mined” by the ants. We returned to our vehicles more knowledgeable about the vast Pajarito Plateau, and more conscious of the need to preserve and protect these prehistoric treasures.[...]