Skiers have their fingers crossed for a heavy snowpack, with resorts scheduled to open from Thanksgiving (Santa Fe and Taos) through Dec. 13 (Angel Fire). Downhill fans already know about Taos and Angel Fire, but less-crowded, economical options include not just Ski Santa Fe but also Pajarito, Red River, Sandia (in Albuquerque), Sipapu, and Ski Apache (near Ruidoso).
For cross-country skiers, groomed trails are plentiful at Angel Fire Nordic and Enchanted Forest, with backcountry trails throughout the Santa Fe National Forest, Carson National Forest, and Valles Caldera National Preserve. Santa Fe has a number of outfitters that will rent you the equipment to get your feet wet—so to speak—for a great winter excursion. Head toward Ski Santa Fe for the 4km Norski Trail. Near Los Alamos, 5km of groomed trails are similarly free to use at the Pajarito Nordic Ski Trail. Or try snowshoeing on the Aspen Vista Trail, a favorite with Santa Feans on full-moon nights.
Many nearby Indian Pueblos hold ceremonial dances on Christmas Eve and Day, including the much-studied Matachines, a fascinating hybrid of Catholic and Native American traditions. Check with our Concierge Desk for specifics, since the dances are not entertainment—they are ceremonies that call for solemnity on the part of visitors. On Dec. 24, Taos Pueblo has a sundown procession with bonfires, Acoma Pueblo is lit with luminarias, and San Felipe, Nambe, and Tesuque have dances after Midnight Mass. Look for Christmas Day dances all day at Tesuque, Taos, San Ildefonso, and Zia Pueblos.
Back in town…
If you’re lucky enough to be here, the Christmas Eve Canyon Road farolito walk is a time-honored tradition. From dusk into the evening, thousands of people stroll among the art galleries enjoying carols, cocoa, and biscochitos. Farolitos line the neighborhood streets and adobe walls. The event brings out thousands of holiday revelers who stroll the famous street admiring the lights and singing Christmas carols around the bonfires.
Musical enchantments are especially plentiful in Santa Fe this time of year. The Santa Fe Concert Association holds a Christmas Eve concert featuring young violinist Caroline Goulding, with a two-hour dress rehearsal option beginning at 2 p.m. for those who have later plans. The Baroque Christmas concert at Loretto Chapel is another holiday entertainment alternative (nightly Dec. 20-24).
The Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival hosts a double feature of Mel Brooks movies followed by Chinese food at the Center for Contemporary Arts.
Chorale music lovers will want to hear Polyphony performing Baroque Splendor (Dec. 27) at the Cathedral of St. John. Another Baroque treat, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos will be performed by Santa Fe Pro Musica (Dec. 28, 29). Santa Fe Desert Chorale presents its sister group Voasis, New Mexico’s first professional a cappella ensemble, performing a repertoire (Dec. 28, 29, 30) ranging from the Great American Songbook to radio hits.
On New Year’s Eve, the Santa Fe Concert Association features renowned pianist Claire Huangci and the SFCA’s own Joseph Illick, with a dress rehearsal option in the afternoon. You can book now for their Gala Dinner and Dance. In January the SFCA is performing Rossini’s The Barber of Seville free to the public (Jan. 10, 11, 12). And for Wagner fans, Joseph Illick will host a sing-along of the entire Ring Cycle, suitable for beginners and experts alike.
Later in the month the Santa Fe Symphony performs Bruckner and Mozart (Jan. 19) with guest conductor James Feddeck and opera apprentice Rachel Hall. Santa Fe Pro Musica performs a classical weekend (Jan. 25-26) with Carmelo de los Santos on violin.
In contemporary music, the versatile Pink Martini brings its multilingual orchestra to Santa Fe (Jan. 20) with vocalist Storm Large. Bluegrass fans will want to catch the farewell tour of Grammy Award-winning Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys (Jan. 30), the 86-year-old made famous by his hit “Man of Constant Sorrow” on the soundtrack Brother Where Art Thou. St. John’s College opens a pop-up jazz club for its Music on the Hill Elevated concert series (Jan. 25), with four dates planned through March, and small plates and drinks available for purchase.
This past weekend the New Mexico History Museum
hosted An Evening with the Harvey Girls -
a fundraiser featuring the new documentary film, The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound
and a reception here at La Fonda. There were over 200 people in attendance, buzzing with a handful of former Harvey Girls.
Hilda Velarde Salas was a Harvey Girl at the Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque. She traveled from Los Angeles to Santa Fe with 18 family members to attend the “Evening with the Harvey Girls” event.
As many of you already know, La Fonda was one of the famed Harvey Houses and it was as a Harvey House in the 1920’s that La Fonda originally expanded from an estimated 44-55 rooms to 156 rooms. The Harvey Girls were an integral part of Harvey’s vision of western hospitality and of the gentile and efficient service offered here at La Fonda. The last of our Harvey Girls retired in 2010 after 44 years of working at the hotel!
Twin sisters Bernette Jarvis and Beverly Ireland are joined by Gloria Jimenez. All three women were Harvey Girls at La Fonda in Santa Fe in the 1950s.
The reception at our La Terraza, featured Harvey House-inspired hors d’oeuvres designed by our own Chef Lane Warner and guests were given tours of our newly renovated rooms. Many of our staff members served as room ambassadors, pointing out the original artwork and answering questions about the history and design of La Fonda.
The reception at La Terraza, La Fonda on the Plaza. Photograph by Daniel Quat
The evening was a rare opportunity to watch the history of the Harvey Girls on the silver screen and meet some of them in person after!
The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound is Katrina Parks’ first full-length directorial debut. Katrina says that the film project was really about the right people coming together at the right time to preserve history and for her, the film is a living history – people can still come out west to visit and experience an amazing journey.
For those of you who were unable to attend, I have good news. The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound
will be broadcast by more than a dozen PBS stations. Check your local listings or check out the film’s website
for the schedule announcement.
Book your family feast at La Fonda to enjoy a gourmet buffet featuring the best of old and new traditions, from Roasted Turkey and Prime Rib au Jus to Baked Ham and Pan-seared Salmon, with zesty sides like Shredded Jicama Salad with Chile Poblano/Orange Vinaigrette, Caesar Salad with Cotijo Cheese dressing, and all the irresistible flaky offerings of the dessert table, from caramel apple to pumpkin pie, bread pudding, cookies, and mousse.
Revisit classic 35mm films in a weekend of screenings at Lensic Performing Arts, perfect for a long weekend. Start with the sci-fi classic 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea and musical The Band Wagon (Nov. 29), then sample the African adventure Hatari! followed by Hitchcock thriller North by Northwest (Nov. 30).
A smaller, cozier cousin of the summer extravaganza, Winter Indian Market (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) gathers 175 top artists from across Native America and includes film, fashion design, hoop dancers, and musicians to jump-start your art-buying season.
Most wonderful time of year
What would Christmas be without a rousing performance of Handel’s Messiah? The Santa Fe Symphony show (Nov. 24) includes the full orchestra and chorus, and features renowned guest soloists. For traditionalists, the symphony will play Christmas Treasures (Dec. 15) led by Phoenix Symphony conductor Joseph Young.
Another Christmas classic is The Nutcracker (Dec. 21,22), in four shows from the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.
A different sort of tradition stars in the Santa Fe Concert Association’s Celtic holiday concert by Donnell Leahy & Family (Dec. 2), featuring eight siblings from Canada who sing, dance, and play together. Christmas Eve has the orchestra backing young violinist Caroline Goulding (Dec. 24), and on New Year’s Eve, renowned pianist Claire Huangci, joined by the SFCA’s Joseph Illick.
Now is the perfect opportunity to visit the Coronado Historic Site, south of Santa Fe in the historic village of Bernalillo. Christmas at Kuaua (Dec. 8) presents a dazzling display of luminaria and Christmas lights, along with crafts for children, Pueblo dancing, and storytelling around the bonfire with hot cider and biscochitos.
Back at home in the Santa Fe Plaza, there is the beloved annual Christmas at the Palace (Dec. 13), an evening of entertainment and visits with Santa amid the magic of holiday lights. The truly New Mexican procession known as Las Posadas (Dec. 15) invites everyone to follow the Holy Family around the Plaza for a happy finale in the Palace Courtyard with carols and cookies.
Enjoy a holiday open house at the New Mexico Museum of Art (Dec. 22) with puppet plays, art making, photos with Santa, and other festivities for the young at heart.
At the museums
Opening at the New Mexico Museum of Art this month is a first-ever overview of prints and drawings from Spain, Renaissance to Goya (Dec. 14), covering the mid-1500s to mid-1800s. Many of these works are being exhibited for the first time in the only American show on the international tour.
Come join La Fonda for An Evening with the Harvey Girls (Nov. 17) as we explore the legacy of Fred Harvey and the birth of cultural tourism in the West. This fundraiser for the New Mexico History Museum begins with a screening of a new documentary on the Harvey Girls, followed by a private reception at La Fonda.
Of course there’s the can’t-miss Fuze SW (Nov. 8-10), a weekend celebration of the roots of New Mexico cuisine, with talks and demos from food experts, catered meals, tastings, and “art interludes” with poets and artists.
At the podium
Mexican novelist Luis Alberto Urrea will speak with Michael Silverblatt of the nationally syndicated radio show Bookworm (Nov. 20) as part of the Lannan Foundation’s literary speaker series.
Storyteller Mike Daisey performs his controversial new monologue The Secret War (Nov. 21, 23), which explores the motivations of three who told state secrets: Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and Daniel Ellsberg.
Historic New Mexican children’s toys are the topic of a free talk at the New Mexico History Museum (Dec. 6) during free-entry hours the first Friday evening of the month.
Carolyn Kastner of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum will speak on her recent study of Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Nov. 13), and how the Native artist has expanded the definitions of American and Modernist art. Also at the O’Keeffe, underground artist Nan Goldin is the subject of a talk Dec. 4.
On stage and screen
Five-time Grammy Award-winning blues guitarist Robert Cray brings his band to Santa Fe (Nov. 10), while the New Mexico Jazz Festival presents Charles Lloyd & Friends featuring Bill Frisell (Nov. 19).
The Center for Contemporary Arts opens Atomic Surplus (Oct. 11-Jan. 5), a multifaceted project that examines what it means to live in the birthplace of the atomic bomb, with exhibitions, films, lectures, and field trips. Also certain to raise eyebrows is an art exhibition by Dread Scott (Oct. 14-Nov. 22) and accompanying lecture (Oct. 14), part of the Santa Fe Art Institute’s yearlong project Contested Space. Scott gained notoriety in 1989 with his First Amendment challenges to prohibitions on desecrating the American flag.
Head to South America for two dance concerts: Te Amo, Argentina (Oct. 11), a multimedia show featuring the Grammy Award-winning Antonio Lysy in a pulsating and inspiring homage to Argentina; and the 38-member Bale Folclorico da Bahia, Brazil’s only professional folk dance company, which performs a fall dance concert at the Lensic (Nov. 13).
Virtual travel to the world’s great stages takes you to the National Theatre of London for a “Live in HD” performance of Othello (Oct. 15), with Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear; and then Kenneth Branagh’s electrifying new Macbeth (Nov.5), with Branagh in the title role. The National Theatre broadcasts a special 50th Anniversary show (Nov. 12) featuring many of the original actors from its stage history. From New York, the Met Opera Live in HD is performing Shostakovich’s The Nose (Oct. 30) and Puccini’s Tosca (Nov. 9). And back at home, the local Fusion Theatre Company is performing a play that brought praise and controversy to London and New York, The Mountaintop (Nov. 15-16), a reimagining of the night before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
As part of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, the documentary Tapia (Oct. 17) looks at the tortured life of the world championship boxer from New Mexico. And the German Expressionist classic Metropolis gets reimagined by the three-musician ensemble Alloy Orchestra (Oct. 29), which performs live to classic silent films using an outrageous assemblage of unlikely instruments.
There’s something for everyone on the music calendar this fall, as Health Concerts brings to Santa Fe Steve Earle and the Dukes (Oct. 15), Michael Franti and Spearhead (Oct. 23), Steve Vai (Oct. 24), and The Robert Cray Band (Nov. 10). Diehard Americana fans will even trek to Albuquerque to spend an evening with songwriters Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt (Nov. 5). For old school blues, Taj Mahal’s World Blues Tour (Oct. 13) includes the legendary bluesman himself, plus recording partners Vusi Mahlasela of South Africa and Taj Mahal’s daughter Deva Mahal of New Zealand. The New Mexico Jazz Festival is offering a slate of fall shows, including the ACS Trio—Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Esperanza Spalding (Oct. 20)—plus Charles Lloyd & Friends featuring Bill Frisell (Nov. 19).
In classical music, the Santa Fe Symphony goes galactic this season with Voyages of Discovery IV (Nov. 2), exploring “the majesty of music and mathematics” with an evening of music plus mathematical theorems. Take an autobiographical multimedia journey with pianist Peter Buffett in Life Is What You Make It (Nov. 7), a concert and conversation following the release of his eponymous autobiographical book. And the latest in the popular performance series Notes on Music has the Santa Fe Concert Association’s Joseph Illick looking at the operatic genius of Giuseppe Verdi (Oct. 15).
West Indian novelist Jamaica Kincaid speaks with biographer Robert Faggen (Oct. 16) as part of the Lannan Foundation’s literary speaker series. For its Cultural Freedom series, Lannan brings war correspondent Jeremy Scahill together with fellow Nation Institute journalist Tom Engelhardt (Oct. 30). Also, longtime National Geographic photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols will talk and sign his latest book, Earth to Sky: Among Africa’s Elephants, A Species in Crisis (Oct. 22), about the threat to African elephants from the ivory trade.
Programs offered at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum include poetry writing with Miriam Sagan (Oct. 15); an exploration of O’Keeffe’s still-lifes (Oct. 28), and a three-day still-life painting workshop (Oct. 31-Nov. 2). Explore O’Keeffe’s approach to abstraction (Nov. 5), or bring the kids for a morning of watercolor (Nov. 16). Budding artists will want to check Santa Fe Creative Tourism for dozens of other workshops in the arts, many just a half day, including painting, printmaking, encaustic, ceramics, tinsmithing, glass bead making, weaving, filmmaking, and dance!
If the kitchen is your palette, join Chef Rocky Durham in a seasonal survey of Sausage, Kraut & Brews at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy (Oct. 15). Or master the apple pie in a quick evening class (Oct. 16). The academy also has a Dia de los Muertos lesson in making sugar skulls (Oct. 30). The first Thursday of every month, the Pop-up Dinner with wines (Nov. 7) focuses on the coming of winter in France.
For interests further afield, try an architectural pilgrimage to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Abiquiu (Oct. 14) with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Porsche fans are planning a major automotive pow-wow when the 356 Registry West Coast Holiday comes to town (Oct. 9-13), with headquarters at La Fonda. They will be followed by serious beekeepers attending the Western Apicultural Society Conference at La Fonda (Oct. 16-19). Check the schedule online for subjects of interest to backyard beekeepers, and a chance to meet the local experts.
Darren Vigil Gray is an acclaimed contemporary artist who has called Santa Fe home since he was a boy. He attended IAIA at age 15 through their high school program and was once described as the “Golden boy of the third generation of Native American modernists”. He is a golden boy with staying power. His work is in major permanent and private collections around the world including the Heard Museum and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American Art and National Museum of the American Indian. In 2002, the Wheelwright Museum held a major retrospective exhibition of his work. He was awarded the Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2010 and received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts from Governor Susana Martinez at a ceremony on Friday and his work is currently on display in the State Capitol Building exhibit hall with his fellow honorees. In Santa Fe, he is represented by Kristin Johnson Fine Art. I had the pleasure of meeting with Darren to talk life, art, and Santa Fe.
Artist Darren Vigil Gray with Jenny Kimball
Q: You are married to Jill Momaday, daughter of Pulitzer prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday. What is it like having such a famous, iconic, father-in-law?
A: I met him in 1981, before I met Jill. Natives love jokes and we use humor to break the ice. I can remember laughing with him right away. I met Jill in 1987. She had just come back from Paris and I saw her walking past my studio heading for the Coyote Café for several days in a row. I just thought, I really have to paint her. So I followed her one day and asked her if she would model for me. I was really nervous but she said yes.
Q: Jill is also famous in her own right, having modeled and acted. Is it challenging as a couple?
A: I think it’s challenging with couples who are both dynamic and want to make a mark – nothing’s going to stop you. Sometimes friction does arise. But if you overcome an obstacle and realize there’s a lot of love there, you create a common bond.
Q: Where does the name Gray come from in your name?
A: I made it up. Early in my career I kept being asked if I was related to this Vigil or that Vigil. Gray is an element. White and black make gray. They aren’t colors. You use black and white to shade or tint colors. White, black and gray are the catalyst. I added it to my name to differentiate myself.
Q: It’s said that you incorporate mythological symbols into your paintings. What are some of your favorites and why?
A: There are so many and I don’t know what I’ve painted sometimes until I go back and look at it sometimes years later. When I paint, I don’t conceive anything. It’s just like channeling. That’s where the mythological stuff happens. You can’t create it. It’s like divine intervention. I like working fast and spontaneity is the key. I do like the image of a deer. They’re graceful, poised, instinctive. I did a series Instincts Keep Me Running Like a Deer. They are a symbol of love. My dad taught me that.
Q: Knowing all that you know now, what would you tell your 15 year old self if you could go back and have a chat?
A: That’s the age I left home. I came from Dulce to Santa Fe to attend the IAIA high school program. I guess I would say. Get ready to be an artist. Get ready to discover your creativity. Get ready to overcome the tragedies of your youth and art will be the tool, the catalyst to do that. Art saved my life.
Q: Can you tell us some of the famous people who have collected your work?
A: Sylvester Stallone, Steve Miller, Sir Ben Kingsley.
Q: What exhibition are you most proud of?
A: The Wheelwright Show was a twenty year retrospective of my work. It had a great catalog and a documentary film to go with it.
Q: You’ve been all over the world. You could live anywhere. Why Santa Fe?
A: There’s something about this area. A vortex. There’s a centralized energy in Santa Fe. It’s in the land.
Q: What’s one thing you would change about Santa Fe? One thing you wouldn’t change?
A: I would keep the tri-cultural aspects. That’s unique to Santa Fe and everyone here tries their very best. But I would want less people and a more diverse population from an income standpoint.
Q: What song gets stuck in your head most often?
A: Master Blaster by Stevie Wonder
The chair lift at the Santa Fe Ski basin is open to take you on a tour of fall mountain beauty. Every weekend from now until the end of September, the lift runs 10am – 3:30pm (last chair leaves at 3pm). And, it will run every day during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, October 5-13, 2013.
It is a brisk, 20 minute or so ride from the bottom of the ski basin to the mid-mountain point. You can purchase a round-trip ticket or just purchase a one way up and hike down. This time of year, the aspen are beginning to turn bright yellow, the wild flowers are spectacular, and the creeks are still flowing. I even saw wild strawberries along the hike down.
What a great way to welcome fall!