Pearly White to Chocolate Brown: The Color of Mud

SOC-SantaFe-colorWhen Museum Hill properties banded together to create the “Summer of Color,” they asked downtown museums and galleries to mount their own color-based shows. But our galleries were already filled with exhibits (colorful ones, no less), so we were initially stumped.

Then the National Trust for Historic Preservation declared the Palace of the Governors a National Treasure, and a brainstorm erupted. Why not capitalize on the attention being given to the Palace’s maintenance needs by hosting programs about the building and other adobe structures? Thus was born “Adobe Summer,” a series of free events dedicated that most basic of building materials, mud.

The Palace of the Governors, ca. 1915, by Jesse Nusbaum. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives 013045.

The Palace of the Governors, ca. 1915, by Jesse Nusbaum. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives 013045.

If all goes well, contractors will begin replastering the Palace Courtyard this summer, giving everyone an intimate glimpse into how adobe works. Beyond new plaster and, likely, a few new adobe bricks, the building needs new hardwood floors, a new roof, improved electrical systems, and some type of fire-suppression equipment that won’t imperil the adobe walls. After the structural work is done, we aim to re-do the exhibits to more fully tell the story of the building itself.

Join us for Adobe Summer, including these events:

  • Sunday, May 31, 2–3 pm: “Restoring the 1785 Roque Lobato House in Santa Fe.” A panel discussion and book signing with author Chris Wilson, architect Beverly Spears, and Alan “Mac” Watson, vice chairman of the Historic Santa Fe Foundation, on the successful renovation of this historic home.
  • Sunday, June 28, 1:30–3:30 pm: Make sand casts of your hands for a family keepsake.
  • Saturday, July 25, 1–3 pm:“Earthen Architecture—Past, Present and Future.” Get a multicultural perspective of how communities preserve adobe structures, featuring Jake Barrow, program director for Cornerstones Community Partnerships; Tomacita Duran, executive director of the Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority; and artist Nicasio Romero of the Villanueva Valley.
  • Friday, Aug. 7, 6 pm: “Wars, Revolts, and Defining Collective Memory in the Context of the Great Pueblo Revolt,” a talk by archaeologist and author Jason Shapiro.
  • Friday, Aug. 28, 6 pm: “El Presidio de Santa Barbara: Its Founding, Heyday, Decline, and Rebirth.” Jarrell Jackman, executive director of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, speaks on the renovation of that city’s 1782 Spanish presidio.

Any day, everyday: Wander the Palace and try to hear the whispers of its past, from its massive walls to its thick vigas to the floor hatches revealing its earliest foundations. Pilar Cannizzaro, preservation planning manager for the state Historic Preservation Division, said she fell in love with the building the first time she walked through in 1984.

“The rich history, the monumental architecture, the fact that it faces the plaza and is such a part of it,” she said. “Every part of it is magical.”