View From the Plaza

Get Ready for the Souper Bowl!

For the last twenty-one years, there has been a different kind of Super Bowl event in Santa Fe… it’s called the Souper Bowl. And the competition doesn’t take place on the grid iron. It takes place in the kitchen.  Our hometown chefs go mano a mano to help raise funds for The Food Depot.   Santa Fe is a foodie destination and it’s only fitting that we lend our vast culinary talent to a program that helps feed those in need.  Sadly, the need is great in New Mexico.   One in three children and one in five adults in New Mexico experience hunger. Nearly 40,000 New Mexicans seek food assistance.

The Food Depot serves nine counties in Northern New Mexico. In 2012, they provided enough food for five million meals… but it still wasn’t enough.  And that’s where all of us come in.  They can use your help year-round, but you can lend a hand this weekend by purchasing tickets to the Souper Bowl.  The tickets are $35 at the door on Saturday, January 17, 2014.  The event will be held from Noon -2:30pm at the Santa Fe Convention Center.

Chefs will be competing in the categories of Best Cream Soup, Best Savory Soup, Best Seafood Soup, Best Vegetarian Soup and of course, the overall Best Soup.

La Fonda's Chef Lane Warner and team are ready for this year's Souper Bowl!

La Fonda’s Chef Lane Warner and team are ready for this year’s Souper Bowl!

Our own Chef Lane Warner will be there serving up his Cream of Hatch Green Chile Chicken and Noodles.   If you can’t be there but would still like to help, please consider making a donation to The Food Depot. If you do, let me know here in the comments and I’ll email you Chef Lane’s recipe as our way of saying thank you!

Chase Away the Winter Blues in Santa Fe

Start making reservations now for Restaurant Week (Feb. 22-March 1), when Santa Fe’s top eateries offer prix-fixe menus (at $20, $30, or $40) so you can sample the best of the best. Of course it’s best to reserve – but that doesn’t mean you can’t pop in for a great deal at La Plazuela! The previous weekend, ARTfeast combines art and food for its 18th year (Feb. 20-22), starting with the Friday Night Event at Gerald Peters Gallery, followed by the Saturday Gala Dinner with art auctions, plus home tours all weekend in support of art education in the schools. Don’t forget Souper Bowl at the Santa Fe Convention Center (Jan. 17), and more slurping at the Fourth Annual Winter Brew (Jan. 23), where you can sample all the buzz around New Mexico’s craft beer revolution, inside the cozy Farmers Market Pavilion at the Railyard. The Cancer Foundation for New Mexico holds its 10th annual Sweetheart Auction at the Convention Center on Feb. 7. Enjoy a dinner and dessert buffet, raffles and auctions for some very unique items.

 

Classical music

The Lensic continues its run of midwinter concerts with the Santa Fe Symphony’s Winter Dreams, a program of Mahler, Handel and Vivaldi with guest conductor Guillermo Figueroa (Jan. 18) and Santa Fe Pro Musica performing Haydn, Stravinsky, and Mozart with award-winning pianist Benjamin Hochman (Jan. 24-25). The symphony pays a Shakespearean tribute to all things romantic, with guest conductor Sarah Hicks conducting Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Red Violin Concerto (Feb. 22). Renowned pianist Sir Andras Schiff visits town to perform late works by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven (Feb. 24), and superstar violinist Midori tackles Beethoven, Kernis, and Schumann with the Santa Fe Pro Musica orchestra (Feb. 28-March 1). The Szymanowski String Quartet, noted for its “genuine joyfulness” of “roving fiddlers,” performs at the St Francis Auditorium (Feb. 8).

 

Contemporary music

The Hot Sardines bring pulse-pounding jazz to the Lensic on their first U.S. tour. (Jan. 21), followed by alt rockers Big Head Todd & the Monsters (Jan. 27). Since it’s a slow time of year for touring acts, why not check out some local clubs? Down the street at the storied Evangelo’s bar, Fat Tuesday features Cajun music and free jambalaya while it lasts. Also within walking distance of La Fonda are dozens of clubs that offer everything from DJs to acoustic guitar to flamenco, such as Cowgirl BBQ, El Farol, and The Palace. Check out the Santa Fe Reporter’s weekly calendar for more clubs and music.

 

Performance

Duck into the Lensic for a cozy afternoon or evening of great opera. Met Live in HD is screening Lehar’s operetta The Merry Widow (Jan. 17) with the great Renee Fleming in an art nouveau staging by Broadway virtuoso director Susan Stroman; Offenbach’s operatic masterpiece Les Contes d’Hoffman gets a wild kaleidoscopic production (Jan. 31); and Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale Iolanta paired with Bartok’s erotic thriller Bluebeard’s Castle pay tribute to noir films of the 1940s (Feb. 14). Sample up-and-coming New Mexico filmmaking talent at the New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase(Jan. 24-25) at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.

 

Speakers

The Lannan Foundation’s popular literary speaker series at the Lensic presents a tribute to James Baldwin with poets Nikky Finney and Kevin Young plus novelist Randall Kenan (Feb 4); followed by Swamplandia author Karen Russell with novelist Porochista Khakpour (Feb 28). At St John’s College, the Friday Lecture Series includes a concert by Santa Fe Pro Musica (Jan 23), and talks on Euclid and Apollonius (Jan. 30), philosophy and forgiveness (Feb. 6), and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 20). Rococo style will be explored at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art (Jan. 12), while a talk at the New Mexico History Museum will explain the Grandmother Hypothesis, about longevity and human evolution (Feb. 19). El Rancho de las Golondrinas’ three-part winter lecture series on New Mexico traditions will begin with a talk on the Franciscans in Early New Mexico at the New Mexico Museum of Art’s St. Francis Auditorium (Feb. 25).

 

Out and about

If you’ve never experienced feast days at the Pueblos, Picuris and San Felipe will have dances open to the public on Feb. 2—ask at the Concierge Desk for more information. Don’t forget Fourth Friday Art Walk on Canyon Road and the Railyard (Jan. 23, Feb. 27), and if you need a reason to visit the Botanical Garden after the light show Glow ends (Jan. 3), the show Morphing Nature will be up through April, a series of site-specific sculptures made by local art and design students using plant materials cleared from the garden.

 

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.

 

Speakers

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).

 

Music

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)

 

Speakers

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).

 

Workshops

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).