Recently, Barbara Felix and I had the pleasure of taking art historian Dr. Jann Haynes Gilmore on a tour of La Fonda in search of evidence of artwork by critically acclaimed modernist artist Olive Rush. Dr. Gilmore has been spending time in Santa Fe this month finishing research and edits on her upcoming book, a full biography of female artist Olive Rush, 1873-1966.
Rush was one of the first women artists to come to Santa Fe and live permanently. She first visited in 1914 and then purchased a home on Canyon Road in 1920. Dr. Gilmore believes Olive Rush is one of the most under-studied artists working in Santa Fe during that time period and hopes that her book will place her on her due platform as a successful and nationally known painter in Santa Fe.
Olive Rush may best be known by the general public for her mural work with the WPA in Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico. But she came to New Mexico as an easel painter, working primarily in watercolor. She was given the first solo show for a woman artist in New Mexico at The Palace of the Governors in 1914, and she exhibited all over the United States.
So what, you may ask, is her connection to La Fonda? During the research phase for La Fonda’s recently completed renovations, Barbara Felix and I collected correspondence between Mary Jane Colter, Mr. Clarkson, and John Gaw Meem. In a letter dated January 28, 1929, Colter tells Mr. Clarkson that she has Olive Rush in mind for murals in La Fonda’s New Mexico room. Colter wanted the New Mexico room (one of the largest spaces for entertainment in New Mexico at the time) to be whimsical, fun and a wonderful space for dining. And so it was that Olive Rush was commissioned to paint the murals. She completed the murals in May 1929 and a large gala was held to debut the finished work, complete with entertainment by the La Fonda Orchestra and a veritable who’s who guest list of luminaries in the Land of Enchantment. After much investigation from every angle, Barbara and I came to the sad conclusion that the Olive Rush murals in the New Mexico room had been painted over at some point and subsequently, the walls they were on had been destroyed. There are rough sketches of her New Mexico room work in the Archives of American Art (part of the Smithsonian Institute) but they are pencil sketches that have dimmed over time so it’s hard to know exactly what they might have looked like.
There are some indications that Olive Rush may have painted some of the windows at La Fonda, too. The only one that remains that might be her work is lit and displayed in the New Mexico room. In Dr. Gilmore’s opinion, if they are her work, they have been sort of worked over and are not her originals.
Possibly the work of Olive Rush, but art historian Dr. Jann Haynes Gilmore believes that if they are, they were worked over by someone else and are not original.
Although her work is no longer at La Fonda, the opportunity that Mary Jane Colter afforded her here led to another lasting legacy. Chester Faris, the Superintendent of the Santa Fe Indian School 1931, saw Rush’s murals at La Fonda and asked her to paint murals on the dining walls of the SFIS. Rush told him that she would not paint the murals, but she would teach the Native American students to paint their own murals. Many young Native American artists at the time, including Pablita Velarde credit Olive Rush with being their first mentor. She taught some of the most successful Native artists of the early 20th century and between 1931-33, helped in showing their work in Washington DC, New York and Chicago’s Century of Progress Expo 1933.
There is one prominent place in New Mexico where you can see the work of Olive Rush and some of her students. If you stop by Skip Maisel’s on Central Avenue (Route 66) in downtown Albuquerque, you’ll see the murals John Gaw Meem commissioned for the building by Rush, Pablita Velarde and others. If you look closely, you can still see the signatures on their work.
Murals commissioned by John Gaw Meem at Skip Maisel’s in Albuquerque.
Dr. Gilmore plans to have her published book on Olive Rush available in 2016. If any of you have additional information about Olive Rush’s time here in New Mexico, please feel free to leave it in the comments here and I’ll be happy to pass it along to Dr. Gilmore.
I am incredibly fortunate to live in Santa Fe and my out-of-state girlfriends are lucky I live here, too. No matter what time of year they come to visit me, I have a plan! So if you’re planning a girls getaway to Santa Fe, here are some of my Santa Fe-vorites!
#1 Shop ‘til You Drop
There’s a reason Santa Fe was voted tops in shopping in the USA Today #10Best Readers Choice Awards. From southwestern flair, to the artistic and chic, you’ll find it in Santa Fe.
My first stop is always Shiprock Santa Fe on the plaza. Their collection of historic and contemporary work by Native American Artists is top notch and there’s always something new. Next stop? Lucchese – because a girl can never have one too many pair of boots. If you’re going to buy a pair of boots, you’ll need some turquoise jewelry and Rocki Gorman’s “dare to be different” designs will help you stand out from the crowd. What’s a girlfriends’ getaway without sparkle? Things Finer has everything a girl could ask for when it comes to glitter – both antique and contemporary jewelry. A day of shopping downtown would not be complete without a visit to Street Feet. If you’re looking for the latest shoe styles, look no further, but beware, you just might walk out with a new pair for every day of the week!
In the summer time, I love checking out the The Flea at The Downs. The market boasts that you never know who you might run into there… everyone from Tom Ford to the set designer for A&E’s Longmire! The Flea is open May through September. But, if you don’t visit Santa Fe in the summer time, don’t fret. You’ll want to check out the Traveler’s Market open year-round at the DeVargas Mall featuring forty-three galleries of art, clothing and jewelry made by global artists.
Is art more your cup of tea? Then a walk up Canyon Road is in order. If you’re interested in paintings, stop in to McLarry Fine Art to see my friend Lael Weyenberg’s work. Downtown you’ll want to spend time at the Blue Rain Gallery gazing upon the work of some of the finest contemporary Native American artists in the country, including one of my favorites, Mateo Romero. (We have several of his paintings in the hotel collection).
#2 Food, Food, Food
I may be biased but you can’t go wrong with breakfast, lunch or dinner at La Plazuela. The Blue Corn pancakes at breakfast are to die for, the Heirloom Tomato Salad is perfect for lunch but will make you feel like you can cheat and order dessert, and the table-side guacamole at dinner is a sure crowd pleaser.
Tia Sophia’s is a sure bet if you’re in the mood for a breakfast burrito – it’s one of Giada de Laurentiis’ favorite stops for a hearty breakfast. The Shed processes its own chile, daily and you’re sure to have a lively discussion about which is better… the red or the green? The Santa Fe Bar and Grill is a top lunch spot featuring burgers, chicken and meatloaf with a southwestern flair and local ingredients. If you’re in the mood for fine dining at lunch, Santa Café is the place The New York Times called “a restaurant to love”.
#3 Get Some Air
After all that eating, you’ll definitely want some exercise. And, since Santa Fe is one of the top 10 cities with the cleanest air in America – what better way to work off those calories than in the great outdoors? My go-to hiking spots are either the Dale Ball Trails or the trails near the Santa Fe Ski basin. The Dale Ball Trails includes 22 miles of trail in the beautiful foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains and is appropriate for both beginner and advanced hikers. If you’re here when the aspens change color, you’ll want to drive up to the ski basin and walk the Aspen Vista Trail – easy and beautiful.
If you’d rather ride than walk… head out on horseback. The Stables at Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa offer guided rides.
Great sisters ride on Aspen Vista. Love being together and in such gorgeous scenery.
#4 An Afternoon on Museum Hill
You can make an entire day of it on Museum Hill. Take a morning tour of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden (in summer they open at 9am) when the light is just right for beautiful photos, enjoy lunch at the Museum Hill Café and spend the afternoon engrossed in the collections and special exhibitions at the Museum of International Folk Art and the Wheelright Museum of the American Indian.
If you’re thinking about a girlfriends’ getaway to Santa Fe, you’re in good company. Travel + Leisure says Santa Fe is one of the best cities for girlfriend getaways. Because of that, La Fonda offers a Girls Love La Fonda package. I hope you’ll stay with us and take advantage of all our beautiful city has to offer you and your friends!
Enjoy the revival of spoken-word entertainment this spring as a plethora of comedians, soliloquists, and nationally known speakers pay tribute to Santa Fe’s sophisticated tastes. Music also spans the globe in a wide-ranging menu of choices worthy of a much larger metropolis.
Spoken-word talent coming to the Lensic this spring includes Dan Hoyle with his new monologue Each and Every Thing (March 21), veteran actress Linda Purl performing Joan Didion’s memoir The Year of Magical Thinking (March 28), rising stand-up star John Mulaney (April 12), and Albuquerque’s Fusion Theatre Company presenting The New Electric Ballroom by Tony Award winner Enda Walsh (April 26). Also, American flamenco artist Jesus Muñoz introduces a fresh blend of American and Spanish influences with his new show ERA (March 8).
Teatro Paraguas opens the upbeat family comedy Not Quite Right by Elaine Jarvik and Los Alamos playwright Robert F. Benjamin (March 1, 6-8), then offers a celebration of the poetry and prose of Walt Whitman and Pablo Neruda (March 20-29).
A new Live in HD series comes to the Lensic with King Lear broadcast from the Stratford Festival in Ontario (March 7), followed by King John (April 11). Meanwhile, the Met Live in HD offers Rossini’s La Donna del Lago (March 14, two shows), and the classic double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (April 25, two shows).
Outdoor enthusiasts can catch the Banff Mountain Film Festival, outdoor action films from the 2014 Canadian festival, at the Lensic (March 9-10). The Santa Fe Farmers Market 10th annual “Movies That Matter” series screens a story of seeds (March 21, 25) and the Lunch Hour (April 18, 22), followed by discussion and Q&A.
The Lannan Foundation has a quartet of provocative conversations coming up at the Lensic: Noam Chomsky with Alternative Radio founder David Barsamian (March 18); journalists Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic with Michele Norris of All Things Considered (April 8); playwright Wallace Shawn with Bookworm host Michael Silverblatt (April 15); and author-journalist Naomi Klein with The Guardian editor Katharine Viner (April 29). Separately, nationally known speaker Father Greg Boyle will speak about gang prevention and his organization Homeboy Industries in a presentation by Santa Fe İYouthWorks! (April 22).
Fans of the radio show This American Life might not mind trekking to Albuquerque to hear Ira Glass talk about the reinvention of radio at Popejoy Hall (March 8). Data scientist Alex Pentland talks about “The Goodness of Social Networks” in a free talk at the James A. Little Theater from the Santa Fe Institute (March 11). And you can learn what it takes to be an opera singer in a program from the Santa Fe Opera Guild (March 19).
Opera star Susan Graham performs Schumann, Mahler and more (March 12) at Lensic Performing Arts, where Van Cliburn winner Sean Chen will join the Santa Fe Symphony in a celebration of Beethoven (March 15) and the symphony will honor Sibelius, Brahms, and Dvorak (April 12). Les Violons du Roy, a chamber orchestra from Canada, performs an evening of Lully and Haydn (March 22).
Shakespeare is the theme of an operatic concert to benefit the New Mexico Performing Arts Society (March 7). Explore the world of the Celtic harp at a concert at Unity Santa Fe (March 7). Performance Santa Fe presents musical friends Wu Han, David Finckel, Daniel Hope, and Paul Neubauer playing Schumann, Brahms, and Mahler at the Lensic (April 6), and the internationally known Takacs Quartet from Colorado playing Haydn and Beethoven (April 16) at St. Francis Auditorium. Also at St. Francis, the Brentano String Quartet will perform a program of Haydn, MacMillan, and Schubert (March 8) from Santa Fe Pro Musica, which also plans a Baroque Holy Week concert at Loretto Chapel (April 2-4).
At Temple Beth Shalom, conductor Joseph Illick will explore the work of Leonard Bernstein (March 17) in one of his popular piano talks.
Music from around the continent comes to the Lensic this spring, from the Santa Fe multi-musical pair Round Mountain, playing with local students (March 13); to folk singer Martin Sexton (March 16); the high-energy country-rock fusion band The Mavericks (March 23); Jeff Tweedy of Wilco with his 18-year old son (March 26); Hawaiian fusion band Hapa (March 29); and folk icon Arlo Guthrie (March 31).
In April, Grammy Award winner Mary Chapin Carpenter plays a benefit show at the Lensic for the Espanola Valley Humane Society (April 1); the 1980s L.A. punk band X plays a special acoustic showcase (April 7); the 15th annual Nuestra Musica celebrates New Mexico folk music (April 10); and Le Vent du Nord brings interpretations of music from French Quebec (April 24), all at the Lensic.
At Skylight Santa Fe, visiting national acts include singer-songwriter Jackie Greene touring with his band (March 15); the multicultural Nahko with his band Medicine for the People (March 20); Hurray for the Riff Raff from New Orleans (March 30); and Latin Funk sensation Orgone (April 4).
World music coming to GiG Performance Space includes the Leni Stern African Trio, combining West African sounds with contemporary jazz (March 7); the Celtic fusion band Runa (March 12); and the multicultural Taraf de Locos (March 20). Check out the intriguing schedule of visiting bands at the GiG website, from jazz-funk to Nuevo Tango to Latino-Carribean neo-folk.
At the museums
A visit to the New Mexico History Museum’s new permanent exhibit, “Setting the Standard: The Fred Harvey Company and Its Legacy,” is a great way to understand the place of La Fonda and Santa Fe in the development of Southwest tourism, as the hotel donated a fair number of pieces in the exhibit. The museum runs a seminal series of free (with admission) lectures on topics like black tourism on Route 66 (March 11), a discussion of 18th-century harpsichord music (March 15), a film about African American women in World War II (March 29), the history of the Santuario de Chimayo (April 1), and Fred Harvey and American Indian Art (April 19).
At the New Mexico Museum of Art, celebrate the 330th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach (March 21), then learn about the Real Housewives of the Santa Fe Trail (March 25).
At the Museum of International Folk Art, the cultures of New Mexico share a musical showcase (March 15), free with admission. Face jugs of the American South are the subject of a lecture and demonstration (March 22), and a critical look at the state of traditional Southern pottery with critic Garth Clark (April 19). The use and significance of turquoise is the topic April 6.
At the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Tina Modotti’s Mexican photographs are explored March 11, and the education annex offers a workshop in landscape painting (March 25).
Out & about
Enjoy the last of the snow at the 10th Annual Tessa Horan Ascension Race, an endurance event at Ski Santa Fe (March 21). If the snow has melted, the renovated Glorieta Camps offers overnight adventures (zip line, four-story rappel, etc.) and a concert from Josh Garrels (March 21). Bead Fest 2015 comes to the Santa Fe Convention Center (March 19-22) with workshops and an expo. Billed as the largest of its kind, the Southwest Chocolate & Coffee Fest comes to the state fairgrounds (Expo New Mexico) in Albuquerque (March 21-22). And the Japanese cultural festival takes over the Santa Fe Convention Center (March 28) with food, music, art, and ceremonies.
UPDATED: Want to tour the Scottish Rite Temple? Saturday, March 7th is your chance. The Masons Montezuma Lodge #1 will host an open house with tours at 10:30am, 11:30am and 12:30pm starting in the auditorium. For more info, check out this article by Ann Constable in the Santa Fe New Mexican.
The Scottish Rite Temple at the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Washington Avenue is one of the most distinctive buildings in Santa Fe. Its architectural style, pink exterior and the fact that it was built by Free Masons all add to its mystique. How many times have you driven by it and wondered what tales it could tell? Me too! Which is why I was thrilled to be invited by Cornerstones to take a private tour of the inside!
Photo by Antonio Lopez.
The building is considered Moorish revival and was designed by the Hunt & Burns architectural firm out of Los Angeles. It’s said that they modeled it loosely on the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain. In fact, the entrance tower looks like the Alhambra’s Gates of Justice. Construction began in 1911 and was completed in November 1912 – the same year New Mexico became a state. When I think about what the downtown area in Santa Fe must have looked like at that time, I imagine how much the outline of it changed with the addition of both the Scottish Rite Temple in 1912 and La Fonda in 1922!
Photo by Jayne Weiske.
George Watson, a mason and member of the lodge served as our tour guide and shared some fun facts about both the inside and outside of the Temple. The backdrops in the auditorium used by the fraternity for scripted rituals (complete with costumes & props), were made by a group in Chicago and were only designed to last a few years. However, because of Santa Fe’s climate and the fact that they are stored upright above the stage… they have lasted for 90 years! There are no hydraulics, just old-fashioned ropes and pulleys to change the stage scenery.
One of the original stage scenery backdrops. Photo by Jayne Weiske.
The systems of ropes and pulleys to change the scenery backdrops. Photo by Jayne Weiske.
I enjoyed seeing the cabinets used to store costumes. They were donated by Tom Moore who owned Moore’s on the Plaza and happens to stop into La Fonda for coffee frequently!
Photo by Antonio Lopez.
One of the other facts that sparks the imagination is that there are bodies under the steps in a special crypt. Harper Samuel Cunningham and his wife, Evaline as well as Martin Ferguson are interred there. Cunningham was a Mason and helped raise funds for the Temple as well as the Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie, Oklahoma. He was supposed to be buried in the Temple in Guthrie but health officials there refused to allow a body to be interred within the city limits. Ferguson was also a Mason and an artist best known for the design of Bacardi rum’s classic label.
Entry to the crypt. Photo by Jayne Weiske.
But now for the big question… and one I just had to ask… why was it painted pink? It was not originally that color. When built, the exterior was more of an ox-blood red or earthy terra cotta color. George told us that when the aging exterior was repainted, it was supposed to match the original. But after the first coat was applied, the manager of the local Wellborn Paint store came down to take a look at it, and saw that it had dried to a pink color instead. He offered to replace it, but passed away before he could make good on the offer. The members did not want to bother his widow with the issue and so the pink remained.
The building had been for sale but was recently taken off the market. The Hall of Honor continues to be the setting for private and civic events. If you are lucky enough to attend an event at the Temple you’ll be in for a treat. The stained glass chandeliers are said to be attributed to none other than Louis Comfort Tiffany!
Jenny Kimball and The Bachelor, Chris Soules. “He was built like a brick. I could tell when we hugged each other. And that smile!”
The Geek Bowl bills itself as the nation’s largest live trivia event (Feb. 7), with teams from Geeks Who Drink clubs across the country competing in an irreverent spectacle at Isleta Resort and Casino. Closer to home, the Council for International Relations will hold its fourth WorldQuest (Feb. 20), a team trivia contest of international affairs, complete with Persian dinner buffet and no-host wine bar at Santa Fe Community College.
Don’t forget ARTSmart’s 18th Annual ARTfeast (Feb. 20-22), with the It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere Friday night cocktail party at Gerald Peters Gallery, and Step Up to the Plate Gala Dinner at the Santa Fe Convention Center. All weekend the Art of Home Tour lets you snoop around 12 remarkable residences staged with artwork from Santa Fe galleries, all in support of art education in the schools. Beadmania takes over the Santa Fe Convention Center during Bead Fest 2015 (March 19-22), with workshops and finds from around the world. If you passion runs more toward beans, head to the Southwest Chocolate & Coffee Fest (March 21-22) at Expo New Mexico (the state fairgrounds), billed as the nation’s largest consumer marketplace for coffee and chocolate. As cherry blossoms come into bloom, the Japanese cultural festival comes to the Santa Fe Convention Center (March 28) with food, music, art, and ceremonies.
The Lensic Performing Arts Center calendar is packed with classical concerts this month, from the Santa Fe Symphony’s tribute to Shakespearean romance (Feb. 22) to pianist Sir Andras Schiff (Feb. 24), and superstar violinist Midori performing with the Santa Fe Pro Musica orchestra (Feb. 28-Mar. 1). Opera star Susan Graham will sing from Schumann, Mahler and more (March 12), and the Santa Fe Symphony brings Van Cliburn winner Sean Chen for a celebration of Beethoven (March 15). The acclaimed Canadian chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy performs an evening of Lully and Haydn (March 22).
Elsewhere, the Szymanowski String Quartet performs at St. Francis Auditorium (Feb. 8), followed by the Brentano String Quartet playing Haydn, MacMillan, and Schubert (March 8). Conductor Joseph Illick focuses his popular piano talk on Jean Sibelius (Feb. 10) at the United Church of Santa Fe, and Leonard Bernstein (March 17) at Temple Beth Shalom. At the New Mexico History Museum, musician and professor Susan Patrick will perform and discuss 18th-century harpsichord music (March 15).
A ton of contemporary concerts is coming to town as well, starting with singer/songwriter Todd Snider telling musical stories from his release Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables (Feb. 10) at the Lensic, followed by Grammy-nominated bluesman Eric Bibb (Feb. 15). Lucinda Williams is touring with her release Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone (Feb. 18), and Santa Fe favorite Lyle Lovett introduces the Acoustic Group—members of his Large Band playing new arrangements from his songbook (Feb. 25). Blues revivalist Robert Cray returns to the Lensic (March 3) with a new band in support of his release In My Soul. “New folk” singer Martin Sexton brings us the soulful originals on his new Mixtape of the Open Road (March 16). Wilco band leader Jeff Tweedy introduces a collaboration with his 18-year old son on Sukierae (March 26), and the popular duo Hapa performs contemporary Hawaiian music at the Lensic (March 29). To close out the month, folk icon Arlo Guthrie returns (March 31) to mark the 50th anniversary of his classic “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre.” At the Skylight, the New Orleans Americana band Hurray for the Riff Raff performs (March 30) with a special guest.
The 8th Annual Italian Film & Culture Festival comes to the Jean Cocteau Cinema (Feb. 5-7). Albuquerque’s Desert Darlings will perform their belly-dance version of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas at Warehouse 21 (Feb. 6). Teatro Paraguas presents the one-man show Confessions of a Mexpatriate (Feb. 6-8), tracing the misadventures of a Mexican-American who travels Mexico in search of his life’s meaning. The film series Reel New Mexico will screen Red Sky at Morning (Feb. 12), shot around Santa Fe, at the Performance Space in Eldorado. Met Live in HD screens Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle in a tribute to noir (Feb. 14, 17). Then Rossini’s La Donna del Lago is the marathon viewing program at the Lensic (March 14) in day and evening showings. Albuquerque’s Fusion Theatre Company brings the off-Broadway hit Annapurna to the Lensic (Feb. 21).
Environmental warrior Dave Foreman will speak about his book The Great Conservation Divide at the Travel Bug store downtown (Feb. 7). The World Affairs Discussion Committee will commemorate the Battle of Iwo Jima with Marine Corps veteran Bill Hudson (Feb. 19), who will show the video Uncommon Valor: The Battle of Iwo Jima at the Santa Fe Woman’s Club. The Lannan Foundation speaker series presents Irish writer Kevin Barry with editor Ethan Nosowsky (March 4) at the Lensic. On March 18, Noam Chomsky speaks with David Barsamian, founder of the series Alternative Radio.
At the museums
Create your own old-timey Valentines at a Free First Friday event at the New Mexico History Museum (Feb. 6) as part of the exhibit Gustave Baumann and Friends: Artist Cards from Holidays Past. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture opens the exhibit Indian Country: The Art of David Bradley with buffalo dancers, a panel discussion, book signing, and reception (Feb. 15). Also at the museum, native stereotypes are the subject of a lecture (Feb. 22) that draws from the Hirschfelder-Molin Native American Stereotypes Collection at the University Of Arkansas. The New Mexico History Museum offers a brownbag talk from Park Service historian Frank Norris on the experience of black tourists on Route 66 in the Jim Crow era (March 11). El Rancho de las Golondrinas concludes its free Winter Lecture Series with the “Real Housewives of the Santa Fe Trail” (March 25) at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Stay and check out the new exhibit Colors of the Southwest, opening March 6, or come back later to celebrate the 330th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach (March 21). At the Museum of International Folk Art, face jugs of the American South will be explored in a look at the history of this Southern tradition, followed by a pottery face jug demonstration (March 22) to accompany the museum’s exhibit Pottery of the U.S. South.
Food and drink
Explore foods known to stimulate the senses at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy (Feb. 13). Or bring your valentine to learn luscious lobster cookery at Las Cosas Cooking School (Feb. 14)—just two of the many cooking classes offered at the two schools this winter. If you prefer devoting your energies to dining, restaurants are offering specially priced menus during Santa Fe Restaurant Week (Feb. 22-March 1)—including La Plazuela. Wine-lovers can head to Estrella del Norte Vineyard for a blind tasting party (Feb. 22) with games and prizes.