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EL PAL THROUGH THE LENS copy

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EL PAL THROUGH THE LENS copy

  1. 1. 56 E l P a l a c i o ON EXHIBIT I mages selected from the collection of the Photo Archives at the Palace of the Governors and from contemporary photographers committed to an ongoing documentation of the city illuminate the multiple meanings of a place given to evolving landscapes and various inhabitants. Photography is the medium to provide a unique visual representation of a complex and challenging, open-ended environment that con- tinues to feel Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and other Euroamerican influences. The exhibition itself, which is divided into broad and overlapping themes of place, history, and identity, reveals visual existential experiences that come from shifting boundaries, differing patterns of cultural behavior, and changing perspectives of both natural and man-made symbolic surround- LEFT: Jesse L. Nusbaum (1887–1975), Santa Fe, 1912. Silver gelatin print, 5 x 7 in. Neg. No. 61510. TOP RIGHT: Postcard/Unknown, Ancient La Fonda Which Stood on Site of Present Hotel, Santa Fe, New Mexico, n. d. Postcard, 3½ x 5½ in. Neg. No. 13040. BOTTOM RIGHT: T. Harmon Parkhurst (1883–1952), Staab and Galisteo Buildings, West San Francisco Street at Galisteo Street, ca. 1933–34. Contemporary archival digital print from original film negative, 8 x 10in. Neg. No. 51463. All are courtesy of Photo Archives, Palace of the Governors (MNM/DCA). New Mexico is a photographer’s paradise: the incandescent quality of the light, dramatic cloud formations, and expansive landscape have attracted photographers to our state since nearly the beginning of photographic history. Santa Fe’s adobe architecture, meandering streets, and histori- cal place in the artistic, literary, and anthropological canons have brought distinguished artists and thinkers to the “City Different.” From roughly 1850 to the present, photography has been used effectively to document, create, and promote Santa Fe’s image. The exhibition Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe uses that photography to tell the city’s visual story as it celebrates its 400th anniversary as the oldest capital city in North America. Creating Santa Fe THROUGHtheLENS ings. While some of the photographs provide a broad perspective on cultural and social transformations and characteristics, the exhibition also contains photographs that reveal a more intimate side of the city’s history. Memories turn a site into a cultural landscape, and nothing can spark buried, hidden memories faster than photography. While Santa Fe is a city that thrives on history—sometimes superficially, sometimes profoundly, sometimes ponderously, but always with certain poignancy—it poses a particular challenge to the photographer. Image-makers have greatly influenced the perception of Santa Fe as a unique place, even elevating it to a near-magical international reputation and skewing much of the world’s “understanding” of what it was and is. As with all old photographs, Santa Fe on film can evoke a palpable nostalgia even in those who recognize nothing in them
  2. 2. Memory and imagination are important components in developing a sense of place. By showing how Santa Fe looked over the past 150 years, images provide a measure the circular rather than linear nature of time. P L A C E E l P a l a c i o 57
  3. 3. yet feel a sense of longing. At the same time, these same photo- graphs can dispel the illusion of authenticity offered by today’s well-meaning but frequently inaccurate imitations of the original city. Contemporary photographs of the street-level city snapped by a slick-postcard photographer compared to those taken by an analytically skilled artist-photographer can look very much the same. As a place, Santa Fe’s cityscapes are calmly dominant, hard to manipulate, superficially readable, and always opaque. Once past the ubiquitous quaintness of adobes and hollyhocks or bright blue doorways and the gold bloom of chamisa ever- present in postcards, the lure of Santa Fe’s omnipresent charm spreads to broader vistas and deeper appreciation. By showing what Santa Fe has looked like over the past century and a half, the images in Through the Lens provide a way to measure the circular rather than linear nature of time spent. They trace the changes and assess the visual impact of those who choose to visit or stay. Being a part of any place, whether for a week or a lifetime, means taking responsibility in some measure for how its image is projected to the greater world The Santa Fe mystique is a creation that has been supported by many differing interests over the years. Roughly one million visitors from around the world visit annually to experience the ON EXHIBIT The Santa Fe mystique is a creation supported by differing interests. Roughly a million visitors come to Santa Fe each year to experience the landscape, architecture, and cultural flavor the make the city one of the most success- ful tourist destinations in the country. I D E N T I T Y 58 E l P a l a c i o
  4. 4. landscape, architecture, and cultural flavor that make Santa Fe one of the most successful tourist destinations in the United States. Tourism plays a role in defining cultural identity since it is a motivating force for emphasizing certain cultural aspects of a place. Native American and Hispanic cultural identity is, therefore, unavoidably influenced by the fact that Santa Fe is a tourist town in which local culture and history have been made into commodities for sale by the tourism industry. A curious aspect of early photographs taken of Native peoples of the region was the staging of scenes and frequent use of inappropriate props. Many early photographers, includ- ing John Hillers, Ben Wittick, and, most famously, Edward S. Curtis, who borrowed costumes from the Smithsonian, posed their subjects with the same props and backdrops regardless of their authenticity or correctness. This practice often resulted in an odd blending of cultures that created an overly romanticized E l P a l a c i o 59 LEFT: Teresa Neptune (1958–), Santa Fe Rail, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2004. Ultra- chrome print, 12 x 18 in. Courtesy of the artist. ABOVE: J. R. Riddle (dates unknown), Bandstand, Plaza, Santa Fe, ca. 1888. Contem- porary archival digital print form copy negative, 5 x 7 in. Courtesy of Photo Archives, Palace of the Governors (MNM/DCA), Neg. No. 76049. Images by some of the ear- liest known photographers in Santa Fe established the core collections of what is now the Photo Archives at the Palace of the Governors. Photographers, anthropologists, and writers who visited New Mexico in the mid-to-late 1800s helped to shape the American image of the region through their inter- related bodies of work. H I S T O R Y
  5. 5. 60 E l P a l a c i o ON EXHIBIT and often false view of what traditional Native life would have looked like in the last fifty years of the nineteenth century. The portrayal of the dominant Hispanic cultural was equally com- plex and convoluted. Photography and Santa Fe tourism remain inextricably linked as the photographic industry continues to pull people to Santa Fe for workshops of all kinds. There are more excellent photography galleries in Santa Fe than in any other city its size, several world renowned for their commitment to photographic excellence. Santa Fe’s current photographic community is inte- grated into the larger Santa Fe community, as were the early Santa Fe art circles, and its involvement with social issues is equally committed. The exhibition not only contains photographs made by one culture viewing another though a lens, but also many that photographers made of each other over the years. These images reveal close connections between the photographers, drawn to Santa Fe by what they saw in the light and a strong sense of kin- ship. While all of these photographs contribute to the romantic view of the charms of living in Santa Fe, they also reveal what’s real. When published and exhibited, such photographs become part of the photographic history of Santa Fe, part art-world com- modity, and part visual legacy of place. ■ Memories turn a site into a CULTURAL LANDSCAPE, and nothing can spark buried, HIDDEN MEMORIES faster than PHOTOGRAPHY. ABOVE: George Ben Wittick (1845–1903), Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico, April 1881. Contemporary archival digital print from original glass plate negative, 5 x 8 in. Photo Archives, Palace of the Governors (MNM/DCA), Neg. No.15854. From essays by Frances Levine, Lucy Lippard, Andrew Leo Lovato, Rina Swentzell, Krista Elrick, Mary Anne Redding, Siegfried Halus, and David Grant Noble for Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe, published by the Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, 2009. The exhibition Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe continues at the Palace of the Governors through October 25, 2009. The project received support from the Scanlan Family Foundation, New Mexico Council on Photography, Santa Fe Art Foundation, Museum of New Mexico Foundation, Palace Guard support group, Tourism Cares, and Palace of the Governors/New Mexico History Museum. ■ For further reading: Santa Fe: History of an Ancient City, edited by David Grant Noble, School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe, 2008.
  6. 6. E l P a l a c i o 6116 E l P a l a c i o NEWS & NOTES The New Mexico History Museum Welcomes Calligraphers As part of the new exhibitions Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible and Contemplative Landscape, calligraphers from Al- buquerque and Santa Fe will demonstrate a wide variety of book crafts in the History Museum’s second-floor Gathering Space, through Saturday, April 7. How do quills, ink and vellum work together? How delicate is gold leaf? How do you stitch a medieval book? How does your name look in calligraphic script? Come find out. The calligraphers and bookbinders belong to Escribiente, Albuquerque’s calligraphy guild, and the Santa Fe Book Arts Group. They plan to be available from 10 am to noon and 1-3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, though winter weather may oc- casionally interrupt those plans. Keep an eye open during the week, too: Calligraphers sometimes show up and set up shop for the love of it. Bring your curiosity and your questions. Not only are the volunteers good at what they do, but they love to talk about the book arts. The Museum of International Folk Art Welcomes the iPod Touch Visitors are often both delighted and astounded by Alexander Girard’s one-of-a-kind exhibition Multiple Visions: A Common Bond. The vastness of the exhibit space, the complexity of the design, the sheer quantity of objects on display can be over- powering and—without wall labels—initially confusing. This was all part of Girard’s design. He did not want text mediating the relationship between viewer and object. Girard carefully crafted vignettes of objects that he felt belonged together, mak- ing folk art accessible, without labels. But if Girard didn’t like wall text and object labels in his gallery, how would he have felt about the iPod? We think this innovator would have loved it. This month Multiple Visions: A Common Bond enters the iPod era, and you don’t have to bring your own. iPod Touch devices may be checked out at no charge from the museum’s front desk, enabling visitors to embark on a multimedia, self-guided tour. Twenty-two cases spring to life through audio and video of vibrant festivals from around the world, colorful dance scenes, and lively music. Art- ist interviews and video of artists at work are also available. Like the exhibition, which has no starting point, the elec- tronically guided voyage through 100 countries can begin any- where, as visitors select the tours (in English or Spanish) in any order. There are also three themed tours; Girard’s Vision (20 minutes), Watch the Artist (30 minutes), and Folk Art in Daily Life (45 minutes). The Girard multimedia project was developed by Museum of International Folk Art staff and consultants, Antenna In- ternational, and funded by the Folk Art Committee/Friends of Folk Art of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, The Bartlett Fund, and the International Folk Art Foundation. “Windows on History” at the Palace Building on their shared love for the Palace of the Governors, the members of Los Compadres have created a long-standing support group of the museum. Besides overseeing the popular Downtown Walking Tours, the group raises money, advocates for Palace causes, and lends a hand at numerous events. Most of that work is done so quietly that you might be un- aware of it. But their latest project—“Windows on History”— will soon appear before your very eyes. Last year, Los Com- padres adopted the Palace’s aging windows as a fund-raising cause, setting a goal of $40,000. They sold $5 raffle tickets, held private dinners with history experts as speakers, and more. In the end, they raised $54,000. Work has begun on replacing eight of the most seriously impaired windows. Long- horn Construction expects to complete the job in time for the December 9 Christmas at the Palace. The Aguilar Family, Christening, Ocotlán de Morelos, Oaxaca. Mexico. Museum of International Folk Art. Photograph by Michel Monteaux.

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