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Posts Tagged ‘Events’



Collaborative Art Santa Fe: Part II

Interference, Wasteland Scene

If you caught Currents 2011, you likely remember the video installation Interference: a  rubble-strewn urban wasteland that shifted to lush forest when intersected with human presence. Interactives were a big draw at the Currents exhibition (I had particular fun playing with John Carpenter’s Dandelion Clock.) With Interference, cooperation yielded a greater payback: the more people clustered together, the more forest could be reclaimed.

That bonus-through-alliance was fitting for a piece that was itself a matrix of logistical, technical and professional harmony. The creation of three artists, Brian Bixby, Charles Buckingham and Mike Root, working cooperatively from three far-flung cities –Berlin, Portland, and Santa Fe—Interference is a monument to concord and methodical cooperation.  How the piece came together was nearly as fascinating to me as the result, so I pummeled Mike Root for answers he happily supplied.

What was your intention?

We wanted to make sure the interaction didn’t feel like a game. A lot of the best interactive work I’ve seen is basically a video game mechanic. I love video games but we didn’t want to create one. So we developed this concept of 3 layers in 3D space and began playing with the idea of allowing the audience to move around inside this augmented space of 3 dimensions. Our intention was to create an experience where the viewer’s presence immediately effected the scene, first mysteriously and abstractly, then as the viewer got closer the interaction became more concrete and a message emerged: “You effect your environment.”

How did you pick the team and choose your roles in the project?

The three of us share interests in similar digital art forms, musicians, film directors. We’ve known each other for about 10 years, in which time we’ve worked on video and music projects together, including collaborative work an online ambient video series (Snowflakes) as well as developing web applications, like the website for SITE Santa Fe’s 2010 Biennial, The Dissolve. To realize our idea for this piece was really a matter of matching what we know of each other’s strengths, both technically and creatively, to the tasks at hand.

Tell me about the mechanics of working together over a distance.  How did you communicate ideas and build the installation?

We held bi-monthly Skype meetings…during [which]…we critiqued each other’s work in the context of the direction of the overall piece. Much of the honing of the idea and execution happened during these exchanges… A great asset was the ability to share huge digital files via a shared server.  “Working” files in After Effects, Photoshop and Jitter were easy to view and “demo” once we each had the source footage and photography on our individual computers.

Who did What?

Charles and videographer Eric Macey shot several days of HD footage in scenic spots around Oregon. Charles also did the sound design, which fades between idyllic natural river sounds and haunting urban soundscapes.

The piece exploits infrared data captured by an Xbox Kinect unit.  Charles spent many hours exploring how to best interpret and utilize this three dimensional data to make the installation react in “human” ways to the viewers. He configured a Mac computer to access and control the Xbox Kinect, then created a Jitter patch which took infrared data from the Kinect and used it to manipulate the audio and video components of the installation.

Brian shot high resolution photography of urban rubble and construction sites in Berlin, which he assembled into large scale seamless panoramas in Photoshop.… Through careful and tedious use of effects he transformed the images into a post-apocalyptic scene, eventually adding animation of smoke and rain along with 3D lighting.

I sorted through the extensive Oregon footage, eventually settling on a panorama of a forest, with river foreground. [I then] stitched together a giant-scale video composite from six high definition camera angles, [and] added 3D lighting to bring out certain areas of the scene. Brian and I collaborated on fine-tuning the rain and lighting of the Berlin rubble heap.

I also coordinated and interfaced with Currents curators Frank Ragano and Mariannah Amster who really “got” the piece and afforded a perfect space within the exhibition for the piece.

How did it feel when you saw the installation on site?

What was most gratifying was seeing the people who attended the Currents exhibition react in unexpectedly profound ways with our piece. We witnessed people go through an experiential envelope from curiosity to puzzlement to elation after spending a few minutes interacting with our piece. The “take away” from this experience was a spark of inspiration to re-envision the polluted decay of urban landscape as something you can affect and reclaim.

People commented on it and interpreted it in very positive and inspiring ways. One of the highlights was watching viewers grab other people nearby and create a human wall, which reclaimed the entire scene from ruins to pure nature.

New direction or never again?  

This piece was the first time for us to work on something interactive as a team, so the resulting work is something new and unexpected for all three of us. We’re applying to other exhibitions with this piece and hope to install it on a larger scale.  We’re curious to see how people in other places respond.

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Interference, River Scene

If you missed Currents 2011, or are nostalgic for a revisit, check out this video documentation. It’s no substitute for the full experience, but it’s a great commercial.

Collaborative Art Santa Fe, Pt. I

Michael Rohner/Gwen A.P.: Collaboration in Process

Collaborative Art: What springs to mind?  The Dadaists of Cabaret Voltaire? Andy Warhol’s Factory? Jeff Koon’s Studio? (or any number of less famous examples.) I’m used to the idea of collaboration in the workplace, or in improvisational theater, where good work can become great work when spontaneous sharing reigns and egos take a back seat. But co-production of an art piece opens the door to a crowd of questions: Who owns the work? Who’s the author (of particular concern where one talent has the idea which another talent executes)? Where is the work made?  Your place or mine?  Same time or consecutively?

Mark Dunhill and Tamiko O’Brien reflect thoughtfully on issues central to the process of artistic collaboration in their blog Collaborative Arts: Conversations on Collaborative Arts Practise  And truly, there are no static, definitive answers. There is, however, rich potential.  Two outstanding local examples are Meow Wolf’s Due Return, showing through August 21st at the CCA and Interference: an interactive video environment created by Brian Bixby, Charles Buckingham and Mike Root, featured at Currents 2011 in June. Watch for reviews of both productions in upcoming posts.

Bonnaroo Tree, Michael Rohner/Gwen A.P., On Site Collaboration

This weekend, delight yourself with a first hand look at spontaneous co-creation at the 39th Annual Girl’s Inc. Arts and Crafts Show on The Plaza. Look for Booth G-18, near the intersection of Old Santa Fe Trail and San Francisco. Santa Fe Emerging Artist, Mike Rohner will be painting with Gwen AP, of Pittsburg PA. The pair met in Tennessee, at the Bonnaroo music festival. “Our artistic vibes clicked,” says Michael,”and we began immediately collaborating on paintings, taking turns working at the canvas in front of the main stage and thousands of music fans.” After each went home, they started a long-distance venture, where one of them would begin painting a canvas and the other would finish it up. To the right is a sample of what happened in Tennessee, since sold. Below are the fruits of the pair’s long-distance efforts. You’ll have your chance to pick up a Santa Fe spawned collaboration tomorrow and meet the gracious and ever-amiable Rohner in the bargain.

Calvin Tree, Michael Rohner/Gwen A.P., via long distance collaboration

Santa Fe Daytripping: Taos

Taos is tiny.  The population of the entire county is well under half that of the city of Santa Fe. But like Santa Fe, Taos packs a powerful per capita punch of  character and appeal. People know Taos for the world class skiing, Taos Pueblo, and the famous Rio Grande Gorge. But you won’t taste the full flavor of Taos with your first sip. It’s a rural, rooted, art-centric intersection of Spanish, Native, counterculture hippies, recreationalists and ranchers: much too much to capture in a single draught.

For good, general information on what to see and do in Taos, consult the Taos Vacation Guide website. Following are a few tips from our recent visit.

Start your day at one of two standout breakfast spots. At Doc Martin’s, the coffee is strong and the fare filling at a reasonable price.  Locals recommend the Kit Carson (poached eggs on a yam biscuit with red chile.) Gutiz, with its Latin-French fusion cuisine, is an absolute “must-try.” I ordered the Tortilla: a Spanish Frittata with potatoes, onions, cucumber salad and savory tapenade. Excellent, though the tidy, tapas-sized portion might not sate a heartier appetite. Joshua picked the Taoseña (eggs, red beans, green chile, potatoes), also quite good. The orange-cinnamon battered French toast with strawberries and bananas is a reputed treat. Plus, the staff was over-the-top pleasant and welcoming.

The Plaza is a point of orientation and good for a sit or stroll, but less imaginative for shopping (though admittedly, we are not power shoppers.) One exception was the upscale consignment boutique, Re-Neux, at 126 B West Plaza Drive. With modest prices relative to quality, Re-Neux is a destination of merit for current women’s fashions, designer labels and vintage.  If you’re a book lover, don’t miss independent icon Moby Dickens Bookshop, on Bent Street, offering rare and out-of-print Western and New Mexico titles on site, and the willing ability to hunt down your desired treasure.

15 minutes north of Taos, on SR 150, is the tiny town of Arroyo Seco. The Taos Cow Ice Cream Scoop Shop, Cafe and Deli has creekside outdoor seating in clement weather. Across the street is our pick of the town’s shops, Rottenstone Pottery: an eclectic gathering of wood-fired pottery in an inviting studio/gallery.  There’s no website at present, so check out Scott Rutherford’s Facebook Page for up-to-date info on events and hours.

We ended our day at the luxe Anaconda Bar at El Monte Sagrado–easy walking distance from our outstanding VRBO rental, Artists Atelier. Anaconda’s Perfect Margarita was a little sweet for me, but pleasantly strong. We ballasted with a plate of Kessler Calamari served on a bed of Moroccan aioli, green olives and cilantro, rich enough to ruin us for dinner.  Before heading back to our digs, we took a quick walk around the hotel’s fragrant, lusciously humid atrium. I found and bruised a Bay Rum leaf. Its warm, spicy redolence is at once nothing and everything like Taos: sensuous, different, restorative and well-worth seeking out.

LocalMotion: Northern New Mexico’s November Art & Studio Tours

Painted fish swim across a ceramic celandon sea.  The spout has a jaunty arc and the clever lid has recessed wells for easy grasping.  It’s a marvelous teapot, bought over 25 years ago: a happy reminder of the rich vein of artistic talent that lies along and near the High Road from Santa Fe to Taos.  The teapot’s creator is ceramicist Nausika Richardson, founder of the annual Dixon Studio Tour.

Nausika Richardson, Square Ceramic Bowl

For 29 years, on the first full weekend of November, the artists, artisans and farmers of Dixon have been hosting one of the oldest and best known of New Mexico’s studio tours.  Locals and tourists alike flock annually to this tiny pastoral town, seated at the confluence of the Embudo River and the Rio Grande.  Dixon is rich in historic tradition, creative culture and easy charm, worth a visit for its physical beauty alone. The studio tour is an amiable opportunity to savor the town’s appeal, support local talents and get a jump on holiday shopping where the purchase process is itself a gift.

For one resident’s view of community life, check out the memoirs of Stanley G. Crawford– A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small Farm in New Mexico, and Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in Northern New Mexico. (Crawford’s books and garlic arrangements will be on sale during the tour.) Grab lunch or an early dinner at acclaimed restaurant Embudo Station off Highway 68 between Dixon and Velarde. (T: 505.852.4707.) Dixon is located about 50 miles northeast of Santa Fe, 25 miles southwest of Taos. For map, schedule and artist info, visit the tour’s website or follow Dixon Studio Tour on Facebook.

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In downtown Santa Fe, independent artist Mark Frossard moves his Cafe Tour to The Station Cafe in the Railyard District.  The exhibition, entitled “Pit Stops,” features 5 brand new paintings and several never-before-displayed older works, centered on the theme of transportation, relocation and expansion. Frossard shares his keen observation of human quirks and vulnerabilities with a cartoonist’s economy of line. In his subtle humor and depth of insight, he reminds me  a trace of author and illustrator James Thurber.  Opening reception takes place Friday, November 5th, from 5:00 – 7:00pm. The Station Cafe is located near the Santa Fe Train Depot at 530 S. Guadalupe. If you can’t make the opening, go back for breakfast.  The espresso drinks, made with illy coffee, are top-notch.

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Next weekend, November 13-14th, head out to Eldorado for annual Fall Show put on by The Eldorado Arts and Crafts Association. And be sure not to miss the 12th annual Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival (see Art + Green on the Santa Fe Creative Scene.)

For more information on November Art Openings and Events in and around Santa Fe, consult the Calendar at Santa Fe Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s excellent website or check out the offerings at the Santa Fe Gallery Association.

Real estate agents Malissa Kullberg and Joshua Maes, AKA Changing Gallery, use their listings, where appropriate, to showcase the art, photography, sculpture and other creations of emerging and independent talents. Artists receive 100% of the proceeds from any sale. For up-to-date market info and full access to the MLS, visit: Santa Fe Real Estate Downtown.

Dia de Los Muertos & HalloWeekend in Santa Fe

From "Papel Picado": Axle Contemporary's Show of work by Catalina Delgado Trunk

Día de Los Muertos has nothing to do with Halloween, despite their proximate dates and common focus on death. The Meso-American festival was over 3,000 years old when the Spanish Conquistadors encountered it in what is now Mexico.  The celebration honored family members who had passed onto the other side of existence and reflected the belief that life was a dream, death, the time of awakening, a passage to be celebrated. The piled offerings on the colorful altars you’ll see represent the four elements. Food is earth, to attract and feed departed souls; water is provided to quench their thirst.  The tissue paper cutouts symbolize the wind (air); and candles, fire.

Halloween, on the other hand, is thought to have evolved from an old Gaelic festival known as “Samhain,” or Summer’s End, held between the 31st of October and November 1st. Samhain was a harvest festival rooted in Celtic polytheism. In this season of diminishing light and dying crops, the Gaels believed that the portal between the natural and the supernatural worlds was temporarily removed and the dead could walk freely among the living.  Masks and costumes were worn to impersonate or appease roaming spirits. The Romans eventually grafted their festivals of Feralia, commemorating the passage of the dead, and Pomona, honoring the goddess of fruit and trees, onto the Celtic celebrations. Halloween today is a pastiche of these past influences: acknowledging the terror of walking amongst the dead and exalting the harvest.

I’m a sucker for Halloween. As a kid, it was all about candy, filling a pillowcase, sorting and trading the spoils, then eating the bounty for days until the very thought of one more Sugar Baby made me slightly ill.  From my college years forward, it’s been about the costumes and the creativity: crafting my own and looking out for the clever interpretations of current events and wild bursts of extroverted identity play.  But whether by costumes and candy or altars and offerings, both holidays offer outlets for creative expression and celebration that make this weekend a great time to be in circulation.

Tonight, Friday, October 19th, head over to El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, 555 Camino de la Familia, downtown in the Railyard district. From  6-10 pm, enjoy an all-ages celebration of Dia de Los Muertos with food, sugar skull face painting, fire dancing, music and sundry delights. While you’re there, don’t miss Papel Picado the work of Catalina Delgado Trunk and Christopher Gibson in Axle Contemporary’s gallery on wheels. Watch Delgado Trunk share the story behind one piece in this brief, charming YouTube by Axle Contemporary.

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“..grotesque and messily visceral, purposefully perverse and imbued with a gruesome wit,” Katherine Lee’s exhibit, Animal Violence and Topless Women Eating Jam opens Friday at Eight Modern, 231 Delgado Street. Reception from 5-7 pm.  Don’t miss Inner Demons II “a group art show celebrating the macabre, the disconcordant and the uncanny” at Alahenia Studios, 1422 Second Street.

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On Saturday, whether your taste runs to dressing-up or just watching the show, there are plenty of venues for savoring the creative spirit of the holiday.  The Santa Fe Reporter hosts its 2010 Halloween Party at Milagro, with a raffle, music, and costume contest.  Donation proceeds benefit Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families.  Baca Street Studios hosts the Second Annual Halloween Hooha, from 6-12 pm at 926 Baca Street. Shops and Studios will be open late. You’ll have another chance to check out Axle Contemporary’s Papel Picado exhibit.  Plus “Music with RosS Hamlin and DJDirtgirl!, Fires and Fire dancer!s, Possible sighting of the White Dragon Noodle Bar! Bring a wish (or trouble) to burn in the Giant Cauldron!” Rumor has it that the Big Gay Halloween Party at RainbowVision’s Silver Starlight Lounge, 500 Rodeo Road, is the best costume party in town. A benefit for Santa Fe Pride.

The Care & Feeding of Santa Fe’s Creative Class

the Reciprocal Value of Supporting the Local Alt/Indie Creative Scene

Places that succeed in attracting and retaining creative class people prosper; those that fail don’t. –Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class

A thriving music and nightlife scene is critical to attracting and retaining the young, brilliant, awesome people that Santa Fe needs. –After Hours Alliance

Musical Expression, Josh Gallegos

Last Wednesday, Joshua and I sat in on a meeting of the After Hours Alliance (AHA), a volunteer consortium of local music and art promoters dedicated to supporting and sustaining a vibrant, dimensional night scene for the younger set in Santa Fe. Even if you’re neither young, nor interested in the city’s nightlife, here are a few things you should know about the group. AHA supports all-ages access to night time events.  It is dedicated to promoting responsible alcohol consumption at the events it sponsors and has concrete ideas as to how to make this happen (read more on this topic at Activate or Deteriorate).

Its backbone support players are hardworking, resourceful actioneers: people like Shannon Murphy, Dan Werwath, and the folks behind High Mayhem, Meow Wolf, Little Wing, Team Everything and The Process, among others.  All are people who consistently make art and music events happen with or without time, money or a dedicated home.

This weekend, help make Santa Fe a friendly incubator of creative young talent by going where you’ve never gone before: get off the Canyon Road/Santa Fe Plaza art circuit and check out a new venue.  See the list below for alt/indie art and music options worth investigating. Good for you; good for them; good for the city.

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This Friday evening, from 4-7 PM, head over to the Railyard Arts District for a double axle delight from Axle Contemporary. If you haven’t seen this marvelously creative mobile gallery, make the detour. Axle Contemporary (the shiny, tricked-out van) will showcase ongoing exhibit, Transmissions.  Axle Annex will be featuring  Sun, Flower, Seed a vehicular installation by Matthew Chase-Daniel.  Transmissions will continue to roll its way around Santa Fe through October 14th, but you have just three days to see Sun, Flower Seed.

Axle Art's Gallery on Wheels

Also on Friday the 24th, from 6-9 PM, for ONE night only, view Conglomerate Perception, at popup gallery, Symphonic Soul, located at 1012 Marquez Place, Unit #108B in Santa Fe (next to Valdez Glass.)  Show features the work of emerging and independent artists Josh Gallegos, Cotton Miller, Mike Rohner, David Hyams, Anne Kelly, Carolyn Wright and Michael Webb. Swing by for food, music and a chance to meet and mingle with artists.

Wish Santa Fe had a better music scene? Then show your support for still young performance and educational space, Little Wing, with a weekend lineup that spans a variety of tastes.

Tomorrow night, check out THE NEXT REVOLUTION Hip Hop Art/Music show presented by TNR Crew with Casuno, DJ Meshak, Galley Cat, DJ Shakedown, Perish and more TBA :::6:30-9pm :::cost TBA

And on Sunday the 26th, don’t miss Pillars & Tongues, Aaron Martin, Secret Spells presented by Red Cell’s, The Process :::8pm $5

Little Wing is located next to the CandyMan, at 851 St. Michael’s Drive. 505.983.5906.

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If your musical taste runs avant garde, don’t miss Saturday’s full banquet concert at High Mayhem, 2811 Siler Lane, 505.501.3333  Get an advance-rundown on the show at The Santa Fe Reporter

** Congratulations to Axle Contemporary for today’s write up in the culture section of the New York Times.  “We’re blending the high and the low, the exclusive and the democratic, and taking those boundaries and crossing them,” says Axle’s co-founder Matthew Chase-Daniel of the old Hostess delivery truck — refashioned with track lighting, plastered walls and skylights — that serves as his gallery. Read the full article at Let It Roll: Santa Fe’s Art A Go-Go

I loved hearing the NYT refer to Santa Fe’s art scene as “robust,” referencing last year’s piece, The Art of Being Santa Fe.  There are certainly many working to make the Santa Fe art world ever more broad and vigorous.

This week on Santa Fe’s Creative Scene

On some nights, creative options spew like a leaking dike in Santa Fe.  However determined, I can’t catch them all.  Friday, July 30th is such a night.  One friend has an art opening  Another is playing music.  Meow Wolf is having a dance party. And then there’s the SushiNMTweetup.

Start your evening at Victoria Price Art & Design, 1512 Pacheco Street.  The Opening Reception for Alexandra EldridgeInvite for We Are Here So Lightly‘s Multi-media exhibition “We are Here So Lightly” kicks off at 5 PM. Come see how salvaged Chinese scrolls transform in the hands of this seasoned talent whose work is a record of layered journeys, both internal and worldly.

Emerging photographer, Carlo Armedariz, will be showing work at Femininity Art Show at Au Boudoir, 1005 St. Francis Drive, #115 from 6-8 PM.

Next, head over to Little Wing, the new performance space at the Candyman, for Electric Miles 2: Yesternow, starting at 8 PM. Musician, teacher and multifarious talent, Peter Breslin, passed over a few rain soaked miles to pull this one together. Bound to be excellent.

Cap your evening at the VFW where the creative forces behind Meow Wolf are hosting Super-Powered Dance Destroyer: the “best dance party in town.”  Starts at 9 PM.

Me? I’ll be in Albuquerque, braiding threads of connection into human bridges between two of the State’s leading creative centers. Or just eating sushi, and hoping I plugged the right hole in the dike.

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Real estate agents Malissa Kullberg and Joshua Maes, AKA Changing Gallery, use their listings, where appropriate, to showcase the art, photography, sculpture and other creations of emerging and independent talents.

Santa Fe International Folk Market

Despite my passion for travel, curiosity about world cultures and love of art, I had never managed to make it to the world-renowned Santa Fe International Folk Market.  I’d always been working.  This year, I hit the ground running as a volunteer. Joshua Maes and I spent a few hours working the cashier’s station.  It was a high speed intro to market attendees and a fun opportunity to raise money for the Artists Travel Fund, which subsidizes travel expenses for first time artists.  Volunteering enabled us to get in free and even more, to be a part of the Great Dance.  I highly recommend the experience.

Check out the Market’s Facebook fan page to get a feel for the enthusiasm that fuels the event.   Read the Market Wrap Up, which reports on this year’s financial successes and encouraging firsts. “The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is 501(c)3 organization that provides opportunities for folk artists to succeed in the global marketplace and can make a substantive difference in the life of a participating artist.”

Santa Fe Artist’s Boot Camp + Art Scene Updates

Emerging and independent artists have a low cost opportunity to step up their game with the Artist’s Boot Camp series starting Thursday, May 6th at Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort and Spa.   Sponsored by the Santa Fe Small Business Development Center and Creative Santa Fe, the weekly workshops focus on issues central to successful sales.  The courses run from 8:15 to noon.  The $25 fee covers tuition and a continental breakfast, courtesy of the City of Santa Fe and Bishop’s Lodge. Register online, or call: 505. 428.1343

This week on the Emerging and Independent Art Scene….

Friday, May 7th is the LAST night to catch Brittany Linkenheimer’s installation, Class, at the MOV-iN Gallery, 1600 Saint Michael’s Drive
on the College of Santa Fe campus. Class, an interactive installation, “provides the viewer with an experience that goes beyond the visual realm to include tactile and auditory components…a world of uncertainty and attempted self-reassurance [where] the only comfort comes in the form of consistency and repetition.” Produced by Andrew Dawson. Call: 505.982.0389 for more info.

On May 8th, from 7:00-9:00 PM, The College of Santa Fe Art Department presents “¡OINK!” a collaborative event featuring the sculpture, performance art, light installation, video art, sound sculpture and site-specific installation art of 16 CSF students including the man we fan, Red Cell.  Look for  “installations/objects [that] can be probed by the public as well as performances both staged and interactive.” ¡OINK! takes place at the Thaw Art Building on the CSF campus, 1600 St. Michael’s Drive. Call 505.471.2554 for more info.

On Sunday, May 9th, head to The Screen to see Late Bloomer, Go Shibata’s award-winning cult horror hit. Late Bloomer, is the first film in The Asia Now Film Series, presented by The Process and Tidepoint Pictures. The series runs the Second Sunday of Each Month at The Screen, 1600 St. Michael’s Dr. Film begins at 8:00 PM.  Call 505.473.6494 for details. A short Q & A session follows the film.

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Last Saturday, we found ourselves shivering in the blustery winds blowing around the St. Francis Cathedral-Basilica near the Plaza in downtown Santa Fe.  May 1st was World Labyrinth Day . We were there to support independent musician, Michael Tait Tafoya, who froze his digits supplying the sonorous soundtrack for the labyrinth meditative walk. Read more about last weekend’s observation in the Santa Fe New Mexican piece Taos Celebrates World Labyrinth Day May 1 And check out Mike’s new, independently produced album, Beyond the Horizon, a multi-layered, all instrumental guitar album.  Mike’s both a terrific talent and a fine guy whose smile and pacific spirit run soul deep.

For a tangential, but very cool blogbit on Labyrinths in architecture, read this picture-rich post,  The Switching Labyrinth.

Santa Fe Neighborhood Quick Sketch: Acequia Madre

The very phrase Acequia Madre–Mother Ditch–suggests something rough and elemental: a primordial slash in the earth from which life springs.  Yet Acequia Madre is one of the priciest streets in Santa Fe.  But then that’s Santa Fe, where mud homes on dirt roads are prime real estate. A few minutes’ stroll will convince you of the neighborhood’s charm. Softly curved walls, aged Mexican doors with weathered paint, cascades of wisteria and drowsy willows: this road that run along the eponymous  waterway—and parallels famed Canyon Road– is iconic Eastside Santa Fe.  Romantic and time bound.

Acequias have an extensive and proud history in New Mexico. Check out the website for the New Mexico Acequia Association to learn more about this cooperative tradition of water use. Area residents, and other lovers of the nationally registered historic Mother Ditch, gather each year to dredge out natural and civilization-generated debris.  The New Mexican’s article, Annual Acequia Madre cleaning celebrates four centuries tells the story of the 2010 Spring clean.

The neighborhood school, Acequia Madre Elementary,  has a reputation for solid academics, good teachers and strong parent involvement. Read up on Acequia Madre at GreatSchools.org. Due to Santa Fe Public School budget cuts, however, Acequia Madre is slated to be closed and its students relocated to nearby Atalaya Elementary. Read the Santa Fe New Mexican story at Board Approves Consolidation Plan; Acequia Madre Gets One Year Reprieve

While I depend on the City-Data.com websites for quality, statistic-based info on city neighborhoods, their classification of the Acequia Madre neighborhood is a head scratcher. According to City-Data, Gonzales marks the western boundary of the Acequie [sic] Madre neighborhood, Cerro Gordo, the northern, and Alameda, the southern.  The eastern boundary might be Camino Pequeno, but is unclearly defined. Acequia Madre itself falls partly in the so-called Historic neighborhood , partly in Los Vecinos de Calle San Antonio

To my mind, the neighborhood runs the length of Acequia Madre from Paseo de Peralta to Camino del Monte Sol.  Streets that spur off Acequia Madre are, in some cases, their own communities.  More on those in another post.

The largest cluster of amenities near the neighborhood are found in the small complex of businesses at the intersection of Garcia, Acequia Madre and Arroyo Tenorio.  Downtown Subscription the local coffee hangout, sits between the excellent Photo-Eye Bookstore and Gallery and the intelligently stocked independent bookstore, Garcia Street Books.  We have found incredible treasures browsing their shelves and tables of these two bastions of local culture.  Read the Garcia Street Books Newsletter for word on booksignings and benefit events. Visit the Photo-Eye website for info on new arrivals, auctions, gallery shows and more.

Years ago, I traded my plant knowledge and landscaping labor for voice lessons from a woman who coached opera singers and hopefuls and whose husband had been Dean and a tutor at St. John’s College.  That experiential cluster of garden, song and education remains for me a fair poetic representation of the spirit of the Acequia Madre neighborhood.

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