View From the Plaza

A La Fonda Love Story

Olga Chavez is a third generation Santa Fean and realtor with Barker Realty. She says she wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for a love story that began at La Fonda.

Olga’s grandfather, Jose Garcia was born in Durango, Mexico in 1907. His father brought the family to El Paso in 1912 so that they would be safe during the Mexican Revolution and returned to Mexico alone. Jose’s mother found a job as a housekeeper in El Paso. Her employer taught Jose to play the piano. By nine years old, Jose was playing piano in movie houses.

Olga Chavez' grandfather, Jose Garcia is on the far right.

Olga Chavez’ grandfather, Jose Garcia is on the far right.

When he was grown, Jose joined the Billy Palou Orchestra. Jose traveled all over the country with the orchestra, even playing for Bing Crosby in Los Angeles. But it was a stop at La Fonda in the late ‘20’s that changed his life. That’s where he met Rita Mares. Rita worked as an elevator operator here at La Fonda. She had been offered the opportunity to be a Harvey Girl, but her mother wouldn’t allow her to travel… so there she was at La Fonda! (Many of you may know that the Billy Palou Orchestra was a regular fixture at the hotel into the 40’s & 50’s). Jose later became the bandmaster at St. Michael’s High School.


Olga Chavez' grandmother, Rita Mares

Olga Chavez’ grandmother, Rita Mares. Photo courtesy of Olga Chavez.

Little did Jose know on that fateful day that he met Rita here, that his grand-daughter would one day have her own connection to La Fonda. Olga worked on the Buckeroo Ball with Ethel Ballen. She remembers Ethel as being grounded and so committed to the community. Olga says Ethel was a role model when it comes to community involvement – quietly committing to helping Santa Fe and doing so out of love.


Jose Garcia, Olga Chavez' grandfather is the third from the right. Photo courtesy of Olga Chavez.

Jose Garcia, Olga Chavez’ grandfather is the third from the right. Photo courtesy of Olga Chavez.

I love this story and hope you do, too! What are your personal connections to La Fonda? I’d love to hear them and have the opportunity to share them here.

Santa Fe Offers a Warm Welcome for the Holidays

Indulge your inner child by sipping cocoa at Plaza festivities such as Christmas at the Palace of the Governors with Santa (Dec 12) and the dramatic enactment of Las Posadas (Dec 14), plus the lovely Christmas Eve farolito walk on Canyon Road. Bring a relative, young or old, to revisit The Nutcracker in an updated version by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet that mixes in flamenco, Chinese silk dancing, and aerial performers (Dec. 20-21 at the Lensic). If you bring a child to Performance Santa Fe’s special Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve Family Concerts at the Lensic, admission is just $10 each.


Classical music

Baroque music lovers know this is their season. The Santa Fe Pro Musica Baroque Ensemble plays a week of Christmas concerts in the festively decorated Loretto Chapel (Dec 19-24) with Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and traditional carols sung by guest soloists. Virtuoso violinist Cármelo de los Santos joins the orchestra for a baroque concert (Telemann, Vivaldi, Handel) at the New Mexico Museum of Art’s St. Francis Auditorium (Dec 28-29). Pianist Benjamin Hochman, winner of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, performs Beethoven, Janacek, and Schumann at the auditorium Jan. 21, then weekend concerts (Jan 24-25) with the full orchestra playing Haydn, Stravinsky, and Mozart at the Lensic, preceded by a limited-seating dinner with Hochman on Saturday night. The Lensic hosts Santa Fe Symphony’s winter concert with Mahler, Handel, and Vivaldi on Jan. 18.


Contemporary music

Jose Valle “Chuscales” performs his annual Flamenco Holiday Concert at El Museo Cultural (Dec 18-20), while foot-stomping club jazz from the early 1900s comes to the Lensic with the Hot Sardines on their first U.S. tour (Jan 21). Banjo player Tony Furtado brings his furious picking and slide guitar skills to GiG Performance Space (Jan 14) accompanied by a drummer and bassist. And indie favorites Big Head Todd and the Monsters play the Lensic on Jan. 27.


Screen and stage

The young at heart can join the Clan Tynker Family Circus on their epic journey aboard the “Dream Train” (Dec 20-28) at the Armory for the Arts Theater. The Met Live in HD screens Lehar’s The Merry Widow in an Art Nouveau staging by Broadway director Susan Stroman (Jan 17), and Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman (Jan 31) for two shows each day at the Lensic.

Catch the sci-fi classic Alien, introduced by Santa Fe Institute fellow Eric Libby at the Center for Contemporary Arts (Dec 17) as part of the institute’s Science on Screen series. The winners of the New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase will be screened at the Jean Cocteau Cinema (Jan 24-25), with a reception on Saturday with the filmmakers and judges.



If you haven’t yet been to the Museum of International Folk Art’s exhibition of wooden toys from the Hispano animal-carving tradition, come for the panel discussion (Jan 25) before the show closes Feb. 15. Controversial and curvaceous rococo style is the topic of a lecture by independent curator Penelope Hunter-Stiebel at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art (Jan 12). St. John’s College offers free public lectures on Friday nights, on heady topics ranging from philosophy to the classics. And the Lannan Foundation’s literary speaker series pairs Swamplandia author Karen Russell with novelist Porochista Khakpour (Jan 28) at the Lensic.


Out and about

Celebrate the holidays New Mexico style by making ornaments, cards, and farolitos at the Geogia O’Keeffe Museum (Dec 30). The Santa Fe Botanical Garden is all lit up in a holiday glow for its second year of dazzling displays (Dec 4-Jan 3). The new El Museo Cultural Winter market, which you may not know about, runs all winter at El Museo Cultural alongside the Farmers Market and Artisan Market in the Railyard, weekends through March 29.

One of the favorite food events to warm the winter, Souper Bowl at the Santa Fe Convention Center (Jan 17) has top restaurants (including ours) competing to win your vote in a slurp fest, all to benefit the Food Depot. Vote early, vote often for La Plazuela!

Proud New Owners of La Fonda

My family at the La Fonda sale announcement.

My family at the La Fonda sale announcement.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be part owner of a hotel. Never. I’m still pinching myself. Yet, as of October 31, 2014 the sale of La Fonda is official. My brother, Phillip Wise, his company, Cienda Partners, a few impressive investors, and I are the proud new owners of La Fonda on the Plaza!

My brother Phillip and I celebrating after the closing

My brother Phillip and I celebrating after the closing

We purchased the hotel from Corporación de La Fonda, majority owned by members of Sam Ballen’s family. I have had the pleasure of serving as Chairman of the Board since Sam passed away in 2007, and I am thrilled to be carrying on the family-owned traditions he set forth when he first purchased the hotel from the Fred Harvey company in 1968.

Respect for employees, the culture of giving back to Santa Fe and the preservation of a unique, beloved hotel – all instilled by Sam and Ethel Ballen are the touchstones that have guided me over the many years that I have been overseeing the hotel. I have put my heart, soul and energy into it so it is nice now to actually be an owner!

Little did I know what a big part La Fonda would play in my life when I moved to Santa Fe 25 years ago. It was a difficult decision for me to leave Dallas, and especially difficult to leave my close-knit family. Sam and Ethel Ballen opened their home to me and my 100 pound dog while I studied for, and took the New Mexico Bar Exam. They were integral to my decision to move to Santa Fe from Dallas and they helped me land my first job as a lawyer here. Their generosity gave me a new home and set me on the path that has ultimately led me here… as one of the new owners of La Fonda.

Sam once said, “everyone in Santa Fe back in the ‘60’s felt that by birthright they owned a piece of La Fonda.” I think that is still true today. Our doors are always open and the community still gathers here. I am incredibly grateful to have my own chapter in La Fonda’s history and look forward to the story ahead.

Walk with me down memory lane:

Me with Ethel Ballen

Me with Ethel Ballen

Me and Sam Ballen climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

Me and Sam Ballen climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

Me with Sid & Ruth Schultz, long-time guests of La Fonda during Indian Market, standing in front of a painting of the hotel by Tony Abeyta

Me with Sid & Ruth Schultz, long-time guests of La Fonda during Indian Market, standing in front of a painting of the hotel by Tony Abeyta

Yes, I even moved furniture during our warehouse sale.

Yes, I even moved furniture during our warehouse sale.

Here I am taking a swing at the wall at the groundbreaking for last year’s renovation.

Here I am taking a swing at the wall at the groundbreaking for last year’s renovation.

Raul, Barbara and me in our official renovation team photo. ☺

Raul, Barbara and me in our official renovation team photo. ☺

Me, with my favorite author, Cormac McCarthy during our open house.

Me, with my favorite author, Cormac McCarthy during our open house.

GM John Rickey awarding me the game ball for 2013 awarded to the outstanding hotel employee.

GM John Rickey awarding me the game ball for 2013 awarded to the outstanding hotel employee.

Celebrate the Holidays in Santa Fe

Those who groan about seeing holiday décor too early in the season won’t mind so much when it heralds a trio of Southwest holidays. Winter marks a second high season in the Santa Fe Plaza, with such beloved festivities as tree lighting (nightly starting Nov 29) and menorah lighting (at sunset during Chanukah); Christmas at the Palace with caroling, cider, piñatas, and Santa Claus (Dec 12); Las Posadas candlelit procession (Dec 14); and Christmas Eve farolitos along Canyon Road. Winter Indian Market (Nov 29-30) offers a more intimate version of the summer extravaganza.

Skiers anticipate the season opening of Ski Santa Fe on Thanksgiving Day, while birdwatchers wait all year for the spectacle of migrating waterfowl flocking by the tens of thousands at the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge, especially during the Festival of Cranes (Nov 18-23)—well worth the 160-mile drive south.

Shopping is another great sport this time of year, at venues such as the New Mexico History Museum’s Book Arts Group flea market (Nov 8), Young Native Artists Holiday Show of works by children of the Palace Portal artisans (Dec 13), and high-quality volumes on Native culture and Southwest anthropology at the Laboratory of AnthropologyLibrary Book Sale (Nov 15-16). The annual Contemporary Clay Fair attracts local ceramic artists (Nov 22-23), while trash gets transformed into “upcycled” treasure at the Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival (Dec 5-7), the nation’s largest and oldest market of its kind. A piece from last year’s festival proudly hangs in the home of Jenny Kimball, La Fonda’s Chairman of the Board.


At the museums

In December, La Fonda is proud to be the sole sponsor of an exhibit of the Fred Harvey Company legacy at the New Mexico History Museum, with a talk by the curator of the new permanent exhibit and hourly screenings of the documentary The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound. Also on sitean exhibit of Gustave Baumann’s greeting cardsexchanged with friends opens on a free First Friday gallery night (Nov 7), hosted by the publishers of an upcoming companion volumeAll you wanted to know about Native hairstyles is explained at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (Nov 8).

Enjoy cozy winter celebrations at the Museum of Indian Art & Culture and Museum of International Folk Art on Dec 7, and on Dec 21 at the New Mexico Museum of Art. The half-dozen exhibits showing at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts include a traveling show by Spokane artist Ric Gendron and Andrea Geyer’s installation in collaboration with SITE Santa Fe (through Dec 31). Also in the cutting-edge category is the Center for Contemporary Arts new exhibitions on the life of art objects, in which dozens of local artists take part in a process-driven collaboration (Nov 15).



Get in the holiday spirit with a full symphony performance at Lensic Performing Arts of Handel’s Messiah (Nov 23) or the annual Christmas Treasures concert of holiday chestnuts (Dec 14). The Santa Fe Desert Chorale performs its annual “Carols + Lullabies” shows (Dec 16-23), many in the spectacular Cathedral Basilica. Performance Santa Fe will have special concerts on Christmas Eve (featuring 13-year-old pianist and composer Emily Bear…yes, you read that right—13!) and New Year’s Eve (with violinist Vadim Gluzman and soprano Ava Pine). At the Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe Pro Musica presents A Baroque Christmas (Dec 19-24) and the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble presents its Songs of Peace concert of multicultural works around the concept of shalom (Dec 12, 14, 18).

Outside the holiday theme, the female a cappella quartet Anonymous 4 performs  at the Cathedral Basilica on Dec 9, while Joseph Illick’s popular “Notes on Music” educational series explores the Waltz King Johann Strauss Jr. (Nov 16), with champagne and waltz lessons included. The Santa Fe Community Orchestra’s season of free concerts continues with a rehearsal of new work by finalists in the Composition Competition at New Mexico School for the Arts (Nov 14), as well as its annual Winter Concert at New Mexico Museum of the Arts (Dec 14). Santa Fe Pro Musica presents Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night with Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 (Nov 8-9), and Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks(Dec 28-29) with two concertos from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, both at St. Francis Auditorium.

In contemporary music, the Lensic presents jazz legends Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour performing from their Grammy-nominated album Two Worlds (Nov. 9), while the stage-filling Senegal Gospel Choir interprets a local polyphony in four Senegalese languages (Nov 11). Baby boomers might remember the folk singer Judy Collins, who will revisit moments from her five-decade career on Nov. 16. Another legend, Leo Kottke, brings his addictive blend of guitar mastery and comedic storytelling to town on Dec. 6. National acts brought by Heath Concerts include Americana songstress Patty Griffin at James A. Little theatre (Nov. 7) and Jamestown Revival with Nikki Lane at Skylight (Dec 3).


Screen and stage                                                                             

Films are plentiful this month as the weather invites snuggling with a crowd. The Met Live in HD presents Rossini’s Barber of Seville (two shows Nov 22) and a marathon performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nurmberg (Dec 13)—for which Wagner enthusiasts will certainly want to train with the Wagner Society’s Meistersinger sing-along and themed dinner (Dec 6). The Lensic will host London’s National Theatre Live in HD, which will air the West End production of David Hare’s Skylight (Nov. 18), the hit Broadway production Of Mice and Men (Nov 19), and DV8 Physical Theatre’s powerful production John (Dec 9).

The Lensic continues a busy month with a variety of very Santa Fe happenings starting on Nov. 14, when the New Mexico Dance Coalition presents Sacred Body, an evening of multicultural art, performance, and music with optional VIP dinner beforehand. The local Wise Fool Circus performs its annual Circus Luminous, a Thanksgiving weekend tradition (Nov. 28-30). You can expand your consciousness nostalgically by revisiting the legacy of Ram Dass & Timothy Leary (Nov 20), then laugh it off ridiculously with a 40th anniversary screening of Blazing Saddles (Nov 21). Lunafest is a traveling festival of short films by and about women (Nov 8); the Wild & Scenic Film Festival showcases award-winning films about nature and the outdoors (Nov 8); and the Jean Cocteau Cinema celebrates the 20th anniversary of the first TV series shot in New Mexico, Earth 2 (Nov 8). Teatro Paraguas presents Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden (thru Nov 9)



Also at the Lensic this month, Lannan Foundation’s popular speaker series presents author Ann Jones in conversation with political essayist Andrew Bacevich (Nov. 12), and memoirists Gary Shteyngart with Mary Karr (Dec 10). Learn all about tea at Georgia O’Keefe Museum from American tea master Bruce Richardson, editor of the expanded Book of Tea (Nov 6). For socially conscious business owners, the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce brings Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s to speak on enlightened business practices and activism—with ice cream for all at the Santa Fe Convention Center (Nov 15). Albuquerque photographer Patrick Nagatani speaks with art critic Lucy Lippard at SITE Santa Fe (Nov 18), and Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes and psychologist Ginger Rhodes explore the reasons behind acts of violence in a free public lecture from the Santa Fe Institute (Nov 12).



Learn the principles of drawing caricatures at the O’Keeffe Museum (Nov 4); pine needle basketry (Nov 8-9) at the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center; or register for one-day classes at Santa Fe Community College on such seasonal topics as easy entertaining (Nov 8), chocolate truffles (Nov 15), making a tin tree-topper (Dec 2), tin ornaments (Dec 9), or last-minute gifts (Dec 11).


Food and drink

Pierogi-lovers, grab your napkins. Kielbasa and cabbage rolls highlight a benefit at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church (Nov 8), along with tours of interior church iconography. If holidays mean pie-making at your house, come watch the experts at the Holiday Pie Mania (Nov 15), and place bids on your favorite examples to take home. The Santa Fe Culinary Academy offers quick holiday classes on white sauces (Nov. 20), tamales and posole (Nov 24), holiday cookies for kids (Dec 6), cooking with wild game (Dec 11), and paella (Dec 17), along with pop-up dinners on the instructive themes of mole (Nov 6) and wild game (Dec 4).



Balloons and Art Tours Galore

Rise early to reach a Park & Ride lot in time to catch the Mass Ascension. If you follow the balloons in your car, you might well be on hand to help one land in a field or parking lot, as local residents enjoy doing. Afterward, make like the pilots and head towards a hearty breakfast. Balloons frequently land west of the river, so your dining options might include El Bruno’s or Sadie’s in the North Valley (or the tiny, beloved Sophia’s Place), Hannah & Nate’s or Indigo Crow in Corrales, or The Range Café in Bernalillo. This historic town is actually worth a stop on your way back north, including the neighboring Coronado Historic Site, which later this month holds its Fiesta of Cultures (Oct 18).

Many people like to spend the day in Albuquerque for the evening Balloon Glow, with fireworks and entertainment. Consider a fall hike in the Sandia mountains—Pino and La Luz are popular, easily accessed trails that climb high but start out easy. You can cheat and ride the world’s longest tram up, but be prepared for equally long lines during Balloon Fiesta.

Back in town, explore the shops and restaurants of funky Nob Hill, visit the Albuquerque Museum within walking distance of Old Town, or stroll the themed gardens at the Abq Biopark. If you’d rather get to know the local flora and fauna, try the serene Rio Grande Nature Center. Get a jump on holiday gifts at the huge annual Balloon Fiesta crafts show (Oct 3-5, 10-12), which has moved to the state fairgrounds. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is holding its own Arts Festival the first weekend (Oct 4-5), with 100+ artists, food, and entertainment. The museum’s Pueblo Harvest Cafe gets high marks for its Native-themed menu.


Art and about

The seventh annual Canyon Road Paint Out (Oct. 17-19) attracts more than 150 artists in all media celebrating New Mexico’s plein-air tradition along historic Canyon Road. Visitors can enjoy receptions, demos, flash-mob collaborations, performances, and a parade, with plentiful food and refreshments.

Art studio tours in lovely places this month include old Galisteo (Oct 18-19), 25 miles south of Santa Fe, and historic Las Vegas (Oct 25-26). Up in Taos, the Fall Arts Festival (through Oct 5) features 250+ artists at venues around town, running simultaneously with the Paseo festival of installation art, performance, and video. Just north of Santa Fe, the Artists Materials Expo 2014 (Oct 16-19) will offer discounted art supplies from 68 vendors, plus workshops in a range of media.

Fiction writers might plan to attend the 2014 Tony Hillerman Writers Conference (Nov. 6-8), three days of workshops for all genres at Hilton Santa Fe. Check the website for this year’s faculty. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the conference will screen movie clips adapted from the mystery writer’s work (Nov. 6).



The Lensic Performing Arts Center features a variety of exciting performances this month. The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra plays a program of favorites featuring classical guitarist Jason Vieaux (Oct 19).Santa Fe Pro Musica’s orchestra led by conductor Thomas O’Connor will accompany mezzo-soprano Deborah Domanski singing Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night (Nov 8- 9). And Performance Santa Fe presents the Atrium String Quartet from Russia in a return engagement at St. Johns College (Oct 24).Serenata of Santa Fe offers a program of dramatic, rarely heard chamber music pieces in “Temporal Light” (Oct 17) at their new venue, First Presbyterian Church.

Contemporary acts coming to town include JD McPherson (Oct 25) and the pop/hip-hop duo Kalin & Myles (Nov 7) at the new Skylight Santa Fe Bar and Grill and Ziggy Marley will be at the Santa Fe Community Convention center (Oct 29). A can’t-miss for world music fans, the African blues band Tinariwen is on tour away from its homeland, Mali and performing at Skylight (Nov 3), and the Senegal Gospel Choir brings 15 singers and four drummers from Dakar interpret a local polyphony in four Senegalese languages at the Lensic (Nov 11).


Screen & stage

The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (Oct. 15-19) screens indie films at four venues around town to help connect the arts community with the growing New Mexico filmmaking industry. Met Live in HD presents Verdi’s Macbeth (Oct 11) and a new production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (Oct 18, 21), followed by Bizet’s Carmen (Nov 1), while King Lear (Oct 30) will be staged live by the Globe Theatre itself.

Dance concerts at the Lensic this month include the Royal Ballet of Cambodia (Oct 28) presenting a classical dance tradition more than 1,000 years old, and the thoroughly contemporary Body Traffic, an internationally acclaimed company out of Los Angeles (Nov 7-8).


At the museums

Come learn about Robert Oppenheimer and the early Atomic Age in a talk at the New Mexico History Museum (Oct 3), with free admission 5 to 8 pm. Or learn about our muse Fred Harvey at a lunchtime talk by his biographer Stephen Fried (Oct 29). The Museum of International Folk Art opens a show oftraditional stoneware from North Carolina and northern Georgia (Oct 24). Explore Georgia O’Keeffe’s ideas about food and cooking as the chefs at the Santa Fe School of Cooking guide you through recipes featured in A Painter’s Kitchen (Oct 14); her biographer and former companion Margaret Wood will share stories. Check the website for a writing workshop (Oct 21), panel discussion of Miguel Covarrubias (Oct 14) and of The Book of Tea (Nov 6), an exploration of the still-life (Oct 22), and a workshop on drawing caricatures (Nov 4).

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. 


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. 


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).