View From the Plaza

Art Festivals Take Center Stage in Santa Fe

Of course, art festivals are the mainstage event in July and August, including the year’s splashiest. The tony Art Santa Fe is celebrating its 14th year of showcasing fine contemporary art from around the world (July 10-13). While there, check out the quirky new Art-o-Mart vending machine, one in a series of old cigarette machines converted to dispense miniature works of art. Objects of Art Santa Fe celebrates its fifth anniversary (Aug. 15-17) exhibiting an array of art objects from around the world , with an opening night gala Aug. 14.

Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market (July 11-13) is the world’s largest, with 150 artists from 60 countries turning Museum Hill into a colorful international bazaar, complete with food, music, performances, demonstrations, and general festivity for all ages. The opening-night party is sold out, but you can still beat the crowds by showing up for the Early Bird Market on Saturday.

The unique Hispanic folk art tradition of New Mexico has its biggest show of the year at the 63rd annual Spanish Market (July 25-27), alongside the newer contemporary market  taking over the downtown Plaza area.

The grandmama of them all is the annual Santa Fe Indian Market, which opens its 93rd year with a preview show Aug. 22 and a live-auction dinner and gala on Saturday, right here at La Fonda! If you’re a collector, the auction will offer an opportunity to grab one-of-a-kind pieces from market artists. And if you’re a newbie, be prepared to witness more than 175,000 people celebrating the City Different as a crossroads of Native culture. Collectors who get to town early come for the Whitehawk Antique Indian & Ethnographic At Show (Aug 16-18), with more than 150 dealers and a gala preview on Aug. 15. Right on its heels comes the new Antique American Indian Art Show (Aug. 20-21), with an opening Aug. 19.

Maybe it’s not festivals you’re after, but a quiet encounter with the visually sublime. Art-lovers often make the pilgrimage to Santa Fe, only to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of art galleries within its square-mile downtown. The weekly Pasatiempo supplement to the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper and free weekly Santa Fe Reporter list exhibition openings and closings, which provides an entry point into the vast world of Santa Fe’s private galleries. In general, if it’s traditional representational art you’re after, the best introduction is to wander the galleries on Canyon Road. For contemporary art, The Railyard District may be a better bet, though contemporary galleries are sprinkled around town. Start by visiting David Richard Gallery, Charlotte Jackson, Evoke Contemporary,  LewAllen Galleries, Turner-Carroll, and Zane Bennett Contemporary Art for a sample—as well as SITE Santa Fe, of course. Lovers of fine craft might want to check out Blue Rain, Patina Gallery, and Tansey Contemporary. Friday nights are a good time to wander both Canyon Road and The Railyard in search of opening receptions, especially the last Friday of the month, when many galleries stay open into the evening.

Speaking of SITE Santa Fe, the cutting-edge museum is opening its new biennial exhibition series SITElines, with opening festivities July 17-19 for this year’s show, Unsettled Landscapes.



The best thing about summer music in Santa Fe is how much of it is free! The Santa Fe Bandstand has a program of concerts in the Plaza most nights through the end of August, for a total of 100 shows including New Mexico Music Award winners Faith Amour (Aug 11), Zenobia (Aug 16), Andrew MacLauchlan (Aug 27), and Tiho Dimitrov (July 17)—a talented architect as well who worked on the Jenny and Robert Kimball residence. Free jazz concerts take place under the stars at St. John College as part of the Music on the Hill series (July 9, 16, 23), with picnicking encouraged and food vendors on site. At the Railyard, free movies screen every other Friday night, just after sunset, along with free concerts. Follow them on Facebook for updates on what’s showing.

The NM Jazz Festival splits shows between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the former including Bumble Bee’s Jazz All Stars (July 20), Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project (July 25), and NEA Jazz Master Jack De Johnette with Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garison (July 26).

In classical music, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival (Aug. 16-25) has a program of Schubert and Brahms; the Santa Fe Desert Chorale opens its summer 2014 season with The New World: Music of the Americas (July 10, 19, 25) followed by Spanish Mystics (July 17, 20, 24,29) and a Romantic Evening with Brahms (July 22, 26, 31). And the Santa Fe Opera has five programs in rotation through the end of August: the classic Carmen,  Italian romantic comedy Don Pasquale,  Beethoven’s sole opera Fidelio, a double billing of Mozart’s The Impresario and Stravinsky’s one-act Le Rossignol, and the historical Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.

Contemporary national acts coming to town include Ray La Montagne (Aug 5), The Hold Steady (Aug 6), and Lake Street Dive (Aug 10), presented by Heath Concerts.

In dance, the revamped Performance Santa Fe (formerly Santa Fe Concert Association) presents the Stars of American Ballet, featuring principals from the NYC Ballet and American Ballet Theatre (Aug. 13-14). And Aspen Santa Fe Ballet presents the authentic world of Flamenco with Juan Siddi Flamenco Santa Fe at Lensic Performing Arts (July 18, 27, Aug. 3, 9).

Out & about

Relive Territorial Days in the Wild West (Aug. 2-3) at El Rancho de las Golondrinas living history museum, which celebrates summer with demonstrations of the unique Peruvian Paso horses. Then practice your frontier survival skills as you learn to start fires, build shelters, and hunt with bow and arrow (Aug 16-17).

Lovers of all things Greek may be surprised to shout “Opa!” in Santa Fe at the annual Greek Festival (July 12-13), with food, music, and dancing.

Summer in Santa Fe

Summer is free-music season in Santa Fe, with concerts at the Plaza bandstand nearly every night starting June 23, featuring popular local acts in all flavors of the New Mexico music scene. Jazz fans can head to Music on the Hill at St. John’s College, now in its ninth year. Shows take place Wednesday nights from June 11 to July 25, with food and beverage available for purchase or picnicking on the field. Also free to the public is the third annual Make Music Manana, an outdoor festival at the Railyard that coincides with events taking place in 400 cities worldwide on the summer solstice (June 21).

Buy tickets now for the hottest national bands visiting Santa Fe this summer, including Xavier Rudd (June 11) performing the sounds and stories of the Australian aborigines; Grammy Award-winning songwriter Rodney Crowell follows on June 17. The global music sensation Playing for Change (June 24) is on a mission to connect the world through music, and the Greatful Dead-esque Chris Robinson Brotherhood (June 25) stops by on their Phosphorescent Harvest tour. Rounding out the midsummer dates are alt-country mavericks the Old 97s (June 29) and the iconic on-the-lawn festival Soulshine (July 5), featuring Michael Franti & Spearhead at The Downs.

The big jazz event of summer is the annual New Mexico Jazz Festival (July 11-17), with a lineup that includes NEA Jazz Master Jack DeJohnette with Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison, Tootie Heath, Ethan Iverson, the Ben Street Trio, Omar Sosa, Arrested Development, and a slate of events across two cities and six venues.

The big story in classical music is, of course, the Santa Fe Opera, which opens with everyone’s favorite, Carmen (June 27), and Don Pasquale (June 28) ushering in eight weeks of elegant tailgating and five productions that include a double billing. Check out the lineup and book your tickets now. Also for vocal music lovers, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale explores The New World, Spanish Mystics, the Mozart Requiem and Brahms in its summer program of select choral works (July 10-Aug 14). The Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble presents “Songs of the Spirit,” (June 7-8), featuring the world premiere of a commissioned work by composer Emma Lou Diemer.


Out & about

Santa Fe is known for its big summer art festivals, including Art Santa Fe (July 10-13), now in its 14th year of attracting contemporary art galleries from around the world, opening with a big gala party (July 10). The International Folk Art Market (July 11-13), already the largest event of its kind, grows larger every year. View and buy artwork from 150 master craftsmen from 62 countries, part of a week of events including a free community celebration July 10 and opening party July 11.

A relative newcomer, the growing Currents 2014 New Media Festival is in its fifth year of bringing multimedia, interactive, and video art to Santa Fe (June 13-29) in a series of free performances and programs. Also free is the annual self-guided Santa Fe Studio Tour (June 27-29), with a preview party at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design. Don’t forget the last Friday artwalk in the Railyard Arts District (June 27), where ten contemporary galleries and SITE Santa Fe open their doors for the evening. The Railyard is also the place to be on Saturday and Tuesday mornings for the Farmers Market and weekends for the Artisan Market.

Cowboys appreciate their own style of performance art at Rodeo de Santa Fe, in its 65th year (June 18-21). World Champion cowboys and classic rodeo entertainment compete with a carnival midway and annual kickoff parade in downtown Santa Fe (June 14). Rhinestone cowboys have the Santa Fe Pride parade (June 28), which has added reason to celebrate this year, thanks to a New Mexico Supreme Court decision opening the way for same-sex marriage in our state.


At the museums

Among the highlights are the Herb & Lavender Fair (June 21-22), Santa Fe Wine Festival (July 5-6), and ¡Viva Mexico! festival (July 19-20) at El Rancho de las Golondrinas living history museum; the folk art of Brazil and sculpted wooden animal toys at the Museum of International Folk Art; and a new exhibition exploring Images of Mary in the New World (June 29) at the New Mexico History Museum, with works from Peru, Mexico, and New Mexico. The history museum also hosts the Young Natives Arts & Crafts Sale (July 12-13), showcasing work from the children and grandchildren of the artists at the Palace of the Governors Portal.


Creative escapes

Plan a revitalizing retreat in the spectacular red-rock setting of Abiquiu, where Ghost Ranch offers a comprehensive selection of weeklong workshops, including stone carving, silversmithing, fused glass, drawing, mosaics, metal sculpture, weaving, clay, photography, poetry, and yoga, to name just a few.

The Santa Fe Culinary Academy is headed to the opera with the Foods of Classic Operas (June 26), where Chef Rocky will serve up a Basque-themed menu inspired by Carmen and Don Jose. Or join the chefs for Saturday morning Southwest cooking classes paired with local wines at Estrella del Norte Vineyard.

Inter ‘View’ from the Plaza: Murray Gell-Mann

Doctor Murray Gell-Mann is one of the world’s most prominent scientific minds and is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969 and is the author of The Quark and the Jaguar. The United Nations named him to The Global 500 (the UN Environmental Program’s Roll of Honor for Environmental Achievement) in 1988 and he was awarded the Albert Einstein Medal in 2005. Dr. Gell-Mann is currently heading up the Evolution of Languages Program at the Santa Fe Institute. It was an honor for me to have lunch with him and talk with him about some of the most pressing issues facing our society and planet… as well as have a little fun.

Q: What inspired you to co-found the Santa Fe Institute and why was Santa Fe chosen?

A: In 1956 I came to New Mexico from Cal Tech to work as a consultant at Los Alamos Lab. The goal of the institute was to study the most important questions in basic science.  The labs were too political so founding an independent institute allowed us to bring brilliant minds together in the wonderful atmosphere of northern New Mexico. The smartest people ask questions before they are answered. We do this at the institute.

Q: What is/are the most pressing question you feel we need answers for today?

A: Since the Big Bang theory is pretty well understood already, I’d have to say the predominance of dark matter. No one knows what it is – it is not made up of quarks or electrons – but it has been identified due to its gravitational effects/pull. We still do not know what it is made of though.

Q: Much of the headlines around climate change and environmental change are alarming. Here in New Mexico there is great concern about drought and wildfire. Can we turn the tide? And if so, what will it take?

A: Maybe we can turn the tide. It is certainly worth looking at and there are many bright minds trying to solve it. I consider myself a cynical optimist so I’d have to say that we may still be able to turn the tide with respect to climate change. The first time I heard people discussing climate change was in the ‘70’s when I served on the Presidential Science Committee during the Nixon years. John Erlichman – who of course served jail time due to the Watergate fiasco – mentioned that it was being discussed in various circles which is a bit ironic,  he was a Republican strategist and many of the Republicans are the naysayers to this day refusing to acknowledge the scientific facts about climate change.

Q: The digital age has most of us suffering from information overload. Is it too much? Could it be harmful to us in the long run?

A: This could happen that it would be harmful, but we have not yet reached that point. We need to look at critical thinking and conversation. Thinking could become less clear and conversation could become inhibited. Once people stop looking at interesting things to think about – then that would be harmful, but we have not yet reached that point.

Q: I understand you’ve been an avid birdwatcher. What are some of your favorite places around Santa Fe?

A: I love the Audubon Center and around Taos for birding. I have identified around 4500 species so far which sounds like a lot until you realize that the top birders have identified over 9800 species.

Q: Do you have a favorite bird?

A: I’d have to say the Atlantic puffin. Partly because the puffin played a role in my decision to marry my first wife, Margaret – by the way-a very smart person in her own right. I told her I was going to Scotland to see if I could spot a puffin and not only did she want to go with me, but she knew what a puffin was – and she even drew one for me. This impressed me greatly and was probably a factor in us marrying.

Q: I know you were close friends with Sam and Ethel Ballen. Any stories you want to share about them?

A: They were very close friends of mine. I think it was very important that they saved La Fonda from being torn down. It was critical to preserve La Fonda – they saved all of the guest room balconies and preserved the hotel instead of altering it – which is very important. That is one of their legacies.

At the end of my fascinating lunch with Dr. Gell-Man, I asked if he’d allow me to take a picture with him and he swiftly answered, only if it’s a selfie!  I must admit I was taken aback. How this brilliant man not only stays current in knowing what a selfie is but insisting on one – pretty amazing. So, please enjoy the attached selfie of me with Dr. Gell-Man.

Nobel Laureate Professor Murray Gell-Man and La Fonda's Chairman of the  Board, Jennifer Kimball.

Nobel Laureate Professor Murray Gell-Man and La Fonda’s Chairman of the Board, Jennifer Kimball.

Congratulations to La Fonda’s Marie Munoz and Katy Balleau

On Monday, May 19, 2014 the New Mexico Lodging Association Stars of the Industry Banquet honored members of  our La Fonda family with two first place and one Employee of the Year awards.

Congratulations to Katy Balleau, First Place winner of Front Office and to Marie Munoz, First Place winner in Housekeeping!

Marie also brought home the GOLD as overall Employee of the Year in all categories.


Marie Munoz with La Fonda’s General Manager, John Rickey

Marie started her career here at La Fonda in August 1975. She has always been a housekeeping staff member from the day she started to work. Marie is such an inspiration, not only to the housekeeping department, but to all the staff who know and work with her. Marie continues to outperform her peers, and after 38 loyal years at the hotel, is still a hard worker. She’s accurate, thorough, and well organized. Marie completes her tasks thoroughly and in a timely manner. She does not need close supervision, is self-motivated and self-disciplined. Marie reports to work on time and has an excellent attendance record. She is confident, takes pride in her work and always goes beyond the call of duty. Marie has a positive and pleasant attitude. She communicates and works well with all her peers and with guests. Marie is loyal, faithful and dedicated to La Fonda.

Congratulations Marie and thank you for your many years of loyalty.
La Fonda's General Manager John Rickey with Katy Balleau

La Fonda’s General Manager John Rickey with Katy Balleau

It is a very high honor to receive these awards and we are very proud of both Marie and Katy.

Time to Get Outside in Santa Fe

Out & about

Beer and bicycles are natural brothers, according to Outside Magazine and Cycle Santa Fe, which have created the inaugural Bike & Brew Festival (May 16-18), a celebration of craft beer and cycling on or off road. Bicyclists of all levels are invited to sample anything from the challenging Santa Fe Century Ride (with 20- and 50-mile routes) to an easy cruise to the brewpub.

Spring brings an abundance of eye-catching produce to the twice-weekly Farmers’ Market at the Railyard. Vegetables, arts and crafts, and live music and events give you plenty of incentives to check out the Railyard and its surrounding galleries, shops, and pubs, with free entertainment like the Wise Fool circus performing their show Flexion (May 16-17).

Learn about the local flora and fauna on two easy hikes in Santa Fe Canyon led by a naturalist from The Nature Conservancy (April 23, May 15). This thriving river valley only a few miles from the Plaza has been preserved for the enjoyment of birds, beavers, and other wildlife.

Here’s something you probably didn’t expect to do in Santa Fe: Cheer on the city’s own professional baseball team! The Santa Fe Fuego play other New Mexico teams starting May 12 at Fort Marcy Park, complete with hot dogs and McGee the mascot.

Trace New Mexico textiles from sheep to loom at the annual Fiber Arts Festival at El Rancho de las Golondrinas living history museum (May 24-25), with demonstrations of herding and shearing, dyeing and weaving. Add costumed villagers, bread baking, and other non-sheep activities for the annual Spring Festival and Children’s Fair (June 7-8).

Estrella del Norte Vineyard offers cooking classes, wine dinners, regular tastings, and a low-cost beginning photography workshop (May 16), with tasting included.

Art events

Hurry on over to Canyon Road for this year’s Passport to the Arts (May 9-11), the perfect outing for Mother’s Day. Pick up an instant masterpiece in the Artist’s Quick Draw auction, or bid less impulsively in a silent auction. The famous arts district will feature exhibits, demonstrations, live music, and trunk shows all weekend for strolling, sipping, and shopping.

Join the local community for the quirky Fantase Dome Fest (May 9), a multimedia interactive festival composed of four lighted domes, art happenings, live music, and a beer garden. It’s billed as a demonstration of how downtown can be transformed into a global magnet for the young and young at heart.

One of the largest art studio tours in New Mexico takes place in Eldorado (May 17-18), just north of Santa Fe, featuring the work of 90 artists in all media and a preview show at the La Tienda exhibition space.

Indian art collectors set aside Memorial Day weekend for the annual Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival (May 24-25), selling museum-quality Native art from 200+ invited artists. The event benefits the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

Coming up in June is the fifth annual Currents New Media Festival (June 13-29), presenting emerging artists in new media in venues around the city.


At the museums

The New Mexico Museum of Art looks at the development of the Santa Fe Art Colony (through July 27). Filigree and Finery at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art (through May 31) exhibits some of the luxurious adornments worn in New Spain, from silk and filigree to shawls and rebozos. Also from New Spain, a menagerie of Hispano wood animal carvings has taken up residence at the Museum of International Folk Art, featuring early 20th-century examples of this whimsical art form. The feminist artist Judy Chicago who is associated with her namesake city actually has lived for three decades in New Mexico. An exhibit of her recent work opens June 6 at the New Mexico Museum of Art, including collaborations with husband Donald Woodman, whose photographs are currently on display at the New Mexico History Museum (through Oct. 12).

Be sure to catch the final weeks of Feast: Radical Hospitality at SITE Santa Fe (closing May 18), including the free exhibit Ice Cream Social (May 10), a response by high school students to a curatorial assignment.



Fascinating opera prodigy, Spanish guitarist, and intelligence officer AnnaMaria Cardinalli performs Legado y Leyenda, stories about the people of Northern New Mexico, every Friday night through June 20 in a benefit for San Miguel Mission to restore its historic bell tower.

Jazz legend, composer, and part-time Santa Fe resident Dave Grusin plays a benefit show (May 22) for the Santa Fe Waldorf School with some jazzy friends. Catch the rootsy folk trio Cave Singers (May 13) with Todd and the Fox at Santa Fe Sol. And there’s still classical music to be heard from the Santa Fe Symphony as Tom Hall conducts Beethoven’s Ninth (May 17-8), with renowned soloists and the Symphony Chorus.

Touring Space from New Mexico: Spaceport America

Much has been written about Spaceport America and Richard Branson’s plans for Virgin Galactic to take travelers into space from the facility located just west of US Army White Sands Missile Range in Sierra County, New Mexico…  but I had yet to visit it myself.


I had my chance last week to tour the Gateway to Space and it’s a pretty amazing experience to see such a beautiful building surrounded by nothing but New Mexico desert as far as the eye can see. Spaceport America is owned by the State of New Mexico and the Gateway to Space was built to be the headquarters of the world’s first ‘commercial passenger spaceline’, Virgin Galactic.  The building contains 110,000 square feet of space with room for astronaut training rooms, lounges, and a central super hangar. Designed by an international team that included the famous British architect, Norman Foster, the building is LEED Gold certified and has already won many awards.

Spaceport America, New Mexico. Photo by Jordan Guenther

Spaceport America, New Mexico. Photo by Jordan Guenther


The runway is 200 feet by 12,000 feet and can accommodate the largest planes in the world. It contains 10 acres of concrete, 4.5 feet thick. The largest tenant is Virgin Galactic, but Elon Musk’s SpaceX signed a lease at Spaceport America last spring and hopes to begin test launching rockets.


Photo by Jordan Guenther

Photo by Jordan Guenther

Interested in buying a ticket to space? Virgin Galactic has already sold 700 tickets and there are 86,000 people on the waiting list.  What will those lucky 700 ticket holders get to experience? Something very few people ever have. “Space” is defined as 62 miles above earth’s sea level – the Karman line represents the boundary line between earth’s atmosphere and space.  Flights will travel 70 miles above the earth and travelers will get to see the earth’s curvature from that distance. The body will experience 3.5 g’s of force going up and 6 g’s coming down.

Group photo of our tour of Spaceport America.

Group photo of our tour of Spaceport America.


Virgin Galactic hopes to launch its first flight at the end of this year. Richard Branson and his two children will be the first passengers on that flight.  I am terrified of heights and do not even like to fly in an airplane so the very thought of space travel gives me heart palpitations – and not in a good way but bravo to those 86,000 brave souls on the waiting list who are more intrepid than I.