Cowboys + O’Keeffe = A Big Win for the Palace Press

4-72PP_TomPrintingThorpCover-1When Tom Leech, director of the Palace Press, used native grama grass to create end papers for his recreation of Jack Thorp’s Songs of the Cowboys, we knew he was onto something special. Now, the University of Texas at El Paso’s Friends of the Library knows it, too. Along with Arlyn Nathan, a book designer and typography instructor at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Leech won UTEP’s 14th Carl Hertzog Award for Excellence in Book Design.

But that was just the start. Leech and J.B. Bryan also won an honorable mention for the design of Margaret Wood’s memoir, O’Keeffe Stories—the first time a single Press reached such heights in one year.

“It is tremendously gratifying that the judges noted the very qualities that we attempted to get into the book,” said Leech, who also picked up a 2013 Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.Arlyn and I are equally thrilled for everyone else who worked on the book. Mark Lee Gardner introduced the book, and Ronald Kil created beautiful illustrations. We also included a compact disc with the songs performed by Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout. My colleague James Bourland assisted with the printing, and Priscilla Spitler did the beautiful binding.”

How fitting is it to win for Songs of the Cowboys? Consider: The Press at the Palace of the Governors was established in 1970, when the museum acquired most of the contents of the Estancia News-Herald print shop, including the platen press that printed Thorp’s original Songs of the Cowboys in 1908. Continue reading

History Museum Director Frances Levine Takes the Santa Fe Trail … East

4-staff_72-FranLevine-2013Dr. Frances Levine, who became director of the Palace of the Governors in 2002 and led construction of the New Mexico History Museum into a world-class institution, has been named president and CEO of the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. She will remain at the New Mexico History Museum until March 15 and start her new job on April 15.

“Everything I have done with the help of our staff, donors and volunteers has prepared me for this next set of responsibilities and challenges,” Levine said. “It’s not a coincidence that I would be traveling to a museum that shares so much of our Mexican period and territorial period history. This new position will also introduce me to another perspective on the American story. I look forward to learning about the diverse cultures and historical experiences brought together here at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and made St. Louis a dynamic American city.

“New Mexico is fortunate to have a robust museum system capably administered by our Department of Cultural Affairs, Secretary Veronica Gonzales and Deputy Secretary Michael Delello, the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents, and the support of so many donors to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation.

“I will miss red and green chile. And of course I will miss New Mexico most of all.” Continue reading

The 2014 Brainpower & Brownbags Lecture Series … Part 1*

4-72-Brainpower_SanFranciscoDeAsisChurchHistory Museum conoscenti mark their calendars by our monthly Brainpower& Brownbags Lecture Series. Held at noon on weekdays, they’re a casual opportunity to hear from authors and historians on a mad variety of topics. The first half of the 2014 season has been scheduled, with the first lecture this Wednesday. (Details below.)

In all, the lectures range among pinhole photography, the Taos Mutiny of 1855, New Mexico’s Civil War slave code and more. Organized by Tomas Jaehn of the museum’s Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, the lectures are free and open to the public. And yes, you can bring a lunch.

Each lecture begins at noon in the Meem Community Room; enter through the museum’s Washington Avenue doors. Seating is limited. Do like those in the know do and mark your calendars. Continue reading

Art and Engineering in the World of Benjamin Franklin

4-72-Lecture_AndyBarron-1What do Benjamin Franklin, a beloved children’s author, a renowned Hollywood director and a Santa Fe paper engineer have in common? Find out at 1 pm on Sunday, January 19, when Andrew Baron talks about his restoration of an 18th-century Maillardet automaton. The mechanical device (at left with Baron) was a key inspiration for Brian Selznick’s Caldecott Award-winning book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which led, in turn, to Martin Scorsese’s 2011 Academy Award-winning movie, Hugo.

Baron’s lecture and a showing of the film are part of the annual commemoration of Benjamin Franklin’s birthday (January 17, 1706) by the Press at the Palace of the Governors. The event, in the History Museum auditorium, is free with admission; Sundays are free to NM residents.

Automata—mechanical marvels that mimic the movements of humans and animals—were all the rage in France during Franklin’s ambassadorship there. One can easily imagine the great inventor, writer, printer and statesman visiting exhibitions populated with mechanical acrobats, musicians, mice, caterpillars, and singing birds. Continue reading