View From the Plaza

September in Santa Fe Means Food, Fiesta and Exotic Cars

Eat and exercise in equal measure, and you have the formula for a relaxing, healthful, and indulgent getaway. Wine & Chile Fiesta will keep you busy on the dining end, and we offer a menu of outings to wear out your walking shoes.      

Gourmet restaurants showcase New Mexico’s top crops, chile and wine, at the luncheons, tastings, wine seminars, and cooking demos of Wine & Chile Fiesta(Sept 24-28), culminating in the Grand Tasting (Sept 27) at the Santa Fe Opera.

This coming weekend, the uniquely Santa Fe event known as Fiesta (Sept 5-7) commemorates the reoccupation of the city by the Spanish in 1692, with a focus on the region’s Catholic faith. Events include a procession of the sacred image of La Conquistadora, Pontifical Mass, and candlelight procession after evening Mass (Sept 7). All weekend the Plaza will have craft and food booths and free entertainment. Other highlights include the Pet Parade, featuring thousands of children in costume (Sept 6), and the Gran Baile (Sept 6). For those with special interest in New Mexico’s religious art, the New Mexico History Museum is hosting a free two-day seminar (Sept 27-28) exploring images of the Virgin Mary in the Americas, with art historians and scholars, as part of the ongoing exhibit Painting the Divine: Mary in the New World.

Rare and exotic cars gather in town for the annual Santa Fe Concorso (Sept 26-28), featuring the cars of Maserati and OSCA and legends of the Brickyard. Highlights include the VIP Friday Night gathering with luminaries from the automotive world amid vintage aircraft, a signature mountain car tour, and the chance to ogle more than 100 unique high-end rides.

Runners have been training for the Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon (Sept 14), a fast race that drops 1,000 feet into the Rio Grande Valley. For messier fun, join the first annual Super Spoke Cyclocross Race (Sept 20), with a kids’ event, costumed races, food trucks, bike vendors, and beer gardens. 

Costumed villagers joust, swashbuckle, juggle with fire, and drink out of large goblets at the Santa Fe Renaissance Faire (Sept 20-21) at El Rancho de las Golondrinas. It’s a renaissance fair “with a Spanish flair” at the outdoor living history museum. Come see villagers crush wine by foot, string chile ristras, and bake tortillas at the annual Harvest Festival (Oct 4-5).

It’s no exaggeration to say that you’ll eventually run into almost everyone in town at the Santa Fe Farmers Market (Sat and Tues), especially when it’s at its ripest, with New Mexico chiles, squash, and heritage beans among the mountains of fresh produce, not to mention artisan-made jams, salsas, condiments, and crafts. Help crown the champion chomp at the market (Sept 12) after weighing in online at the Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown website. 

Art

Fall art studio tours offer a good incentive to visit picturesque nearby communities, including the High Road Art Tour (Sept 20-21, 27-28) in the old villages south of Taos; the Pecos Studio Tour (Sept 27-28) just north of Santa Fe; El Rito Studio Tour (Oct 4-5) between Abiquiu and Ojo Caliente; and the Abiquiu Studio Tour (Oct 11-13) in red-rock country.

Here in town, the fourth annual AHA Festival of Progressive Arts (Sept 14) will showcase cutting-edge art, performance, and music on two stages, with food trucks, beer, and other eclectic offerings at the Railyard. Don’t forget to visit the Railyard for Last Friday Artwalk (Sept 26, Oct 31), when admission is free at SITE Santa Fe.

Painters of all levels are invited to join the 3rd annual Las Vegas Plein-air Paint Out (Oct 9-12) hosted by the Las Vegas Arts Council in this historic town an hour north of Santa Fe. This year a multi-day plein-air workshop will be offered for students with some painting experience. 

Music

The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra opens its season with a guest conductor and two distinguished soloists in a Showcase of the Stars (Sept 14). Santa Fe Pro Musica opens its 33rd season with pianist Melissa Marse playing Beethoven (Sept 20 & 21), followed on Sunday by a dinner with the artist; the St. Lawrence String Quartet (Oct 5) will dine with fans following an afternoon concert. And Performance Santa Fe presents the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet (Oct 12). 

Serenata of Santa Fe plays rare chamber music pieces in an informal atmosphere, this month featuring music from places of conflict (Sept 20). Call the box office at 505-988-1234 for more information. A free concert of 17th and 18th-century chamber music by the Albuquerque Baroque Players (Oct 5) is part of the exhibit Painting the Divine at the New Mexico History Museum, which is free to state residents on Sundays.

Contemporary national acts coming to town include Violent Femmes (Sept 11) at the convention center; Lyle Lovett at The Downs, featuring a friendly Texas vs New Mexico chile cookoff (Sept 13); the Cajun band Steve Riley & Mamou Playboys (Sept 13); the young songwriting duo Foxygen (Sept 25), and the L.A. sextet Fitz and the Tantrums (Sept 29). Santa Fe’s own Grammy nominee Jerry Lopez plays a benefit concert (Sept 12) to raise funds for Latinos pursuing a degree in behavioral health. 

Screen & stage

Revisit one of America’s first families in a free preview screening of the 14-hour documentary The Roosevelts at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, followed by a panel discussion with the film producer (Sept 10). The National Theatre Live in HD presents Medea in a new version of Euripedes’ tragedy (Sept 11), also at the Lensic, followed by the American classic A Streetcar Named Desire, with Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois (Sept 16). For theater close to home, the one-man show Cabaret & The Spirit of Montmartre by Charles Tichenor (Sept 12-14) runs at the historic Santa Fe Playhouse, preceded by Santa Fe Fiesta Melodrama 2014 (through Sept 7), a send-up of the city’s villains and ingénues. 

The impossible contortions of the National Acrobats of China have been known stateside since the company’s 1972 visit as part of Nixon’s détente with the PRC. Their 2014 tour includes brand new material (Oct 1). 

You know Santa Fe is New Mexico’s City Different when tickets regularly sell out to scholarly talks such as the series put on by the Lannan Foundation. Coming to the Lensic Performing Arts Center are journalist Alfredo Corchado (Midnight in Mexico) with Melissa del Bosque (Sept 17), and (from another local institution), Leading by Being, a conversation with Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung, and Aaron Stern (Oct 11).

Santa Fe Indian Market Gala at La Fonda is THE black-tie event of summer!

The 93rd annual Santa Fe Indian Market opens with a preview show Aug. 22 and a live-auction dinner and gala on Saturday at La Fonda that is the black-tie event of summer. The gala will feature Virgil Ortiz, an internationally acclaimed Pueblo artist, potter, fashion designer, and photographer, who will be recreating his stunning motifs onto live models during an exciting “Live Paint” during dinner. Limited editions of the motifs will auctioned off—though not the ones on the models! Indian Market offers something for everyone, from films to concerts to fashion shows; check the website for a full schedule.

Practically every gallery in town breaks out its finest Native art this time of year, and there are a plethora of opportunities for collectors. Art objects from around the world star at the Objects of Art Santa Fe (Aug. 15-17), produced by the same folks behind the Antique American Indian Art Show (Aug. 20-21). The opening night gala of the Antique American Indian Art Show will be held at La Fonda as a benefit for IAIA (Aug.19). Also in antiques, there’s the venerable Whitehawk Antique Indian & Ethnographic At Show (Aug. 16-18). The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian has its annual benefit silent auction (Aug. 21) and live auction (Aug. 22) of antique and contemporary Native art.

Contemporary art-lovers can get their Native fix at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, right across the street from La Fonda, which opens its fall exhibitions Aug. 21.

MUSIC

The revamped Santa Fe Concert Association, now known as Performance Santa Fe, continues its operatic offerings this summer with soprano Corinne Winters (Aug. 3), tenor Paul Groves (Aug. 8), and soprano Brenda Rae (Aug. 10). At Lensic Performing Arts, they present the Stars of American Ballet, made up of principals and soloists of the New York City Ballet  and American Ballet Theatre (Aug. 13-14). The 2014 season opens with an orchestral concert (Aug. 31) that includes a world premiere of operatic highlights. See the full 78th season in their online brochure.

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival continues its six-week program of concerts through Aug. 25, from piano to strings, Mozart to Martinu. Check the website for the program.

The Santa Fe Desert Chorale’s summer festival runs through Aug. 17 with a wide variety of choral music, from the Mozart Requiem to Spanish mystics to a pop series with VOASIS, known for its vocal pyrotechnics and snazzy arrangements (Aug. 15-17); the band will also entertain at the Chorale’s “You only Sing Twice” black-tie gala benefit (Aug. 14).

The Santa Fe Opera continues its summer lineup of five shows in rotation through the end of August: Carmen, Don Pasquale, Beethoven’s Fidelio, a double billing of Mozart’s The Impresario and Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol, and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. For something a little different, enjoy the spectacular setting sans sopranos when Tony Bennett (Aug. 24), the Avett Brothers (Aug. 27) and Dwight Yoakam (Aug. 28) take the world-renowned Opera stage.

Contemporary national acts coming to town this summer include Ray La Montagne (Aug. 5), The Hold Steady (Aug. 6), Lake Street Dive (Aug. 10), Eric Johnson (Aug. 17), and Lila Downs (Aug. 27), all presented by Heath Concerts.

Southwest Pickers will hold their 40th annual Santa Fe and Old Time Music Festival (Aug. 22-24), featuring local and national acts on three stages, plus a barn dance and other alcohol-free, family fun at the County Fairground annex.

The Santa Fe Bandstand continues its program of free shows at the Plaza, including national acts The Greencards (Aug. 12) and Severo y Grupo Fuego (Aug. 23). And the Railyard continues its free movies and concerts, along with the Saturday and Tuesday markets and Last Friday Artwalk (Aug. 29). Check the website for upcoming shows.

 

AT THE MUSEUMS

The New Mexico History Museum’s exhibit Painting the Divine: Images of Mary in the New World is the inspiration for performances of “Echoes of Mary” by Schola Cantorum Santa Fe (Aug. 3, 10, 17) at locations around town. Also at the museum, the artistic couple Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman discuss partnership and collaboration (Aug. 6) in conjunction with their twin shows at the museums of art and of history. La Fonda is offering a special “Judy Chicago”package that includes tickets, accommodations and dinner. Also at the museum, a California pinhole artist explains the process (Aug. 8) in conjunction with the exhibit Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is holding a series of gallery conversations every Monday at 12:15 this month with local luminaries, free with admission. Docents offer tours spotlighting specific topics on Wednesdays at the same time, including Agnes Martin (Aug. 6), Georgia O’Keeffe (Aug. 13), Gustave Naumann (Aug. 20) and Judy Chicago (Aug. 27).

Admission to the Museum of International Folk Art will be free all weekend Aug. 9-10 to support the 11th Annual Rag Rug Festival and Gift Show, featuring handmade items from around the state that help women develop economic independence. All proceeds go directly to the artisans. And the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture offers the helpful free seminar buying turquoise (Aug. 9)

 

FOOD

Our good friend, the irrepressible Chef Johnny Vee, offers half-day cooking classes at Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe, including grilling fish (Aug. 5), summer Thai (Aug. 8), green chile fest (Aug. 9), chilies old and new (Aug. 22), food-truck cookery (Aug. 23), and fresh pasta (Aug. 26). Moroccan cuisine may be the last thing you expected to explore in Santa Fe, but this international city offers up a talk and family-style dinner with Sephardic influences (Aug. 3), a workshop on Indian biryanis and kebabs (Aug. 13), and Japanese cuisine (Aug. 15) at Santa Fe Culinary Academy.

 

PERFORMANCE

The St. John’s College Film Institute wraps up its series of great art films with Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev (Aug. 2-4). The documentary Kill Team, about an infantryman in Afghanistan who blew the whistle on war crimes, will be screened with a Skype introduction from the director, followed by a panel discussion (Aug. 23), with additional screenings earlier in the month (Aug. 3-7). These are all part of the eclectic offerings at the Center for Contemporary Arts, which always has intriguing works in its gallery, free on Fridays.

Experience a piece of Santa Fe history at the Santa Fe Playhouse, incorporated by Mary Austin in 1922. The theater is showing Sylvia, by A.R. Gurney, a debut by the newly formed New Mexico Actors Lab (through Aug. 17).

 

OUT & ABOUT

Come hear from three santeras—Marie Romero Cash, Arlene Cisneros-Sena, and Lorrie Garcia—at a breakfast and panel discussion, “The Art of Inspiration: Three New Mexican Santeras” (Aug. 12) at the Spanish Colonial Art Museum. If pottery is your passion, a visit to Santa Fe Clay is a must. Their summer workshop series with visiting artists includes free Wednesday night slide lectures to learn about their work.

Fiber fanatics will want to visit the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center, north of Santa Fe. One-day classes in traditional New Mexico arts include weaving, colcha embroidery, and the upcoming “Everything Tapestry” for anyone who knows the basics of weaving (Aug.11). Check the Facebook page for other classes.

If you’re headed to Taos, our progenitor Fred Harvey is the subject of an exhibit at the Millicent Rogers Museum (through Jan. 31), which includes Fred Harvey jewelry from private collections and for sale in the gift shop.

Fiestas de Santa Fe, the largest Hispanic celebration of the year, takes place Aug. 29-Sept. 7 around town and includes religious processions, a mariachi extravaganza, and classic Spanish arts to mark the reoccupation of the city in 1692. Check the website for events, which include the ever-popular annual Burning of Zozobra in Fort Marcy Park (Aug. 29).

 

 

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.

 

Music

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

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.