NM History Museum and Partner Museums Win “Threads of Memory” Awards

The American Association for State and Local History has given The Threads of Memory: Spain and the United States a 2011 Award of Merit by the group’s Leadership in History Awards Committee. The awards are the nation’s most prestigious competition for recognition of achievement in state and local history.

The New Mexico History Museum, El Paso Museum of History, and The Historic New Orleans Collection collaborated on bringing the exhibition of rare documents, paintings and maps from Spain, developing a robust series of public programs, and publishing a bilingual companion catalogue. The exhibition made its U.S. debut at the New Mexico History Museum from Oct. 17, 2010 to Jan. 9, 2011. It then traveled to El Paso through April 24, and is on exhibit in New Orleans through July 10.

“This award means so much to all of us on our international team—in New Mexico, Texas, New Orleans, and Spain,” said Dr. Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History Museum. “I’m especially proud of the History Museum’s exhibition design team and the way our team members and partners at the University of New Mexico’s Spanish and Portuguese and Education departments melded their best efforts with those of our partners’ staffs. Such a collaboration was the only way that an exhibition of this caliber could have been accomplished. We are honored by the recognition.”

Besides the AALSH award, the American Association of Museums gave graphic designer Natalie Baca a second-place award for her invitation to the Threads of Memory opening gala.

Consisting of nearly 140 documents spanning Ponce de León’s first contact in Florida through New Mexico’s incorporation as a U.S. Territory, The Threads of Memory: Spain and the United States (El Hilo de la Memoria: España y los Estados Unidos) drew more than 20,000 visitors to the History Museum during its tenure. Visitors included numerous school groups focused on learning more about U.S. history and the Spanish language.

The exhibition, presented in Spanish and English, featured such documents as Pedro de Peralta’s orders to establish Santa Fe, a letter signed by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado detailing his travels through the Tiguex province, and documents that detailed the aid given by Spain to the United States during the American Revolution. A small illustration of a buffalo, drawn in 1598 by Vicente Zaldivar, introduced Europeans to an animal whose herds then covered hundreds of miles.

The U.S. partners also developed a Threads of Memory curriculum and computer interactive for use in classrooms. It remains available as a valuable teaching tool here.

In a letter supporting the museums’ nomination for the award, Dr. Light Cummins, state historian of Texas and Bryan Professor of History, wrote that “The Threads of Memory blends together the best of documentary history, material culture, and the judicious use of artifacts, documents, and images to present one of the most complete and cogent analyses that I have ever seen on the subject.”

Guillermo Corral Van Damme, cultural counselor for the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C., said: “This is a wonderful award that rightly recognizes the exceptional work of the three American museums involved in the project. Few times have I seen such an incredible amount of interest and attention to detail put into an exhibition. Working with them, one could feel how our common Spanish-American history is still very much alive today.”

The exhibition was sponsored by the Fundación Rafael del Pino and co-organized by the Archivo General de Indias (General Archive of the Indies) and the State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad (Sociedad Estatal para la Acción Cultural Exterior, or SEACEX), in collaboration with Spain’s Ministries for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Culture.

“I believe that for all of us who worked on El Hilo, this was a model of collaboration for North American and Spanish cultural institutions,” said Isabel Simo, director of the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, Spain.

The AASLH award will be presented at the group’s annual meeting on Sept. 16 in Richmond, Va.

History in the Faking

Here’s a tale of how the development of the upcoming Home Lands: How Women Made the West exhibit is mimicking history–in particular, an archival image taken by Russell Lee that’s become the cornerstone of our advertising for the exhibit.

First up, the historical image:

Spanish American Woman plastering, Chamisal, New Mexico, photograph by Russell Lee, 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress

Next, the modern-day image:

Plasterer Kathy Brennan checks the finish on her mud wall in the exhibit space for “Home Lands”


See the connection?

Exhibition designer Caroline Lajoie wanted visitors to Home Lands (opening June 19, btw) to be greeted by something elemental to the Rio Arriba section of the exhibit. At that heart is the role earth played in how women prevailed over often-daunting conditions. Whether they were using it to form cooking vessels and, eventually, fine-art pottery, or mudding the walls of their homes and churches, or wheeling, dealing and preserving the real estate of northern New Mexico, the dirt beneath of our feet has been a constant thread in the story of New Mexico women.

And now that story is on the wall, too, thanks to plasterer Kathy Brennan.

Brennan used American Clay Earth Plaster to mud the exhibit’s title wall in the style of how women have plastered the walls of adobe buildings for centuries. “It’s a type of veneer plaster,” she said, “that you can transfer to sheetrock.”

Although the precise recipe’s a secret, it includes clay, marble dust and natural pigments “straight out of the earth,” Brennan said.

She also added bits of straw and twigs for that old New Mexico look and used the Russell Lee image as an inspiration, though she didn’t don the overalls and straw hat of the photo’s plasterer.

“When Caroline called me, I thought it was really exciting–how to figure out how to come up with the color she was looking for and so on. I liked it, but it was a bit nerve-wracking at the same time. Still, I was really psyched. I love the photograph.”

This is her first experience mudding in a museum. Mostly, she works on home interiors, where people often ask her to include their handprints, their dogs’ pawprints, or their grandchildren’s footprints.

Home Lands focuses on the lives of women across the centuries in three regions–New Mexico’s Rio Arriba, Colorado’s Front Range, and Washington State’s Pugent Sound. Originally organized by the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, it features additional materials from the History Museum’s collections. It joins three smaller exhibitions–Ranch Women of New Mexico, New Mexico’s African American Legacy: Visible, Vital, Valuable, and Heart of the Home to put a spotlight on the unsung heroes of American history.

You can see Brennan’s mud wall in person June 19-Sept. 11, on the second floor of the History Museum, just north of the Santa Fe Plaza. Our grand opening, with refreshments in the Palace Courtyard, will be from 2-4 pm on Sunday, June 19. Admission is free on Sundays to NM residents.

The Things They Gave (2010 Donations to the Museum)

Behind a secure door in the lower level of the History Museum sits a cavernous storehouse reminiscent of that final warehouse scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The museum’s collections storage area boasts some of the most state-of-the-art qualities for preserving everything from ancient Pueblo artifacts to the recently honored Centennial license plate. Despite the bounty the museum already owns, we still actively collect items for future exhibitions, for researchers, and to ensure we have representative samples of every era of our history.

Thanks to our devoted fans, we came into quite a few “new” items in 2010, and thought you’d enjoy perusing the full list–everything from WPA chairs to a printing press to a commemorative bottle of Jim Beam liquor with, yes, the liquor still intact. (By the way, if you have something you think might be of interest, slip an e-mail to our Collections Manager and Registrar, Wanda Edward at wanda.edwards@state.nm.us.)

Drumroll, please:

National Park Service hat and original storage box.

Dress, early 1970s.

Three framed artworks by unknown artists from the Santa Fe Indian School.

Portfolio:  When the Two Came to Their Father,  Princeton University, 1943, Princeton, NJ.

These are 18 serigraph plates (18 x 24 inches) in a portfolio, based on original works that were executed in cornmeal and pollen on buckskin. They document a ceremony that was revived at the outset of WWII to prepare young Navajo men for military service. Jeff King was a tribal religious leader who revived the ceremonial and celebrated it for Navajo soldiers leaving for war. Text and paintings were recorded by Maud Oakes. Introduction is by Joseph Campbell.  This was the very first publication issued in the distinguished Bollingen series issued by Princeton University.  This rare first edition is not listed in any Museum of New Mexico library collections. This original edition became available after the purchase of  a reprint portfolio, and includes the accompanying book by Oakes and Campbell.

Polaroid prints taken in the 1970s.

Artist H. Joe Waldrum first began taking SX-70 Polaroid prints to capture details for his paintings.  Over time the Polaroid prints began to take on an art form of their own.  The result is this collection of almost 8,000 prints of churches, flowers, fruit, architecture and people.  This priceless collection documents many of the churches of New Mexico.  The Polaroid prints are the first of several planned donations from the estate of H. Joe Waldrum. (They were recently featured in the museum’s exhibit A Passionate Light.)

Museum of New Mexico Film and Video Collection and equipment. Transferred from Museum Resources to Photo Archives.

Priest’s cassock and sash.

Brown Franciscan robe with white knotted cord.

Thirty- eight 8 x 10 silver gelatin prints.

Two 1930s photographs of the Alamogordo Dam project.

Seven 16 x 20 photographs by Anne Noggle.

Women’s clothing.

The donor’s family has lived in New Mexico for several generations.  The donation includes a wedding crown, pink dress (1962), sheer navy dress (1930-1940s), navy and blue mantilla (1950s?) and 1 digital copy of the donor wearing the wedding crown for her wedding in 1972.  It was worn by donor’s grandmother for her 1912 wedding.  This will be the second wedding crown in the museum’s collections.

Boy’s clothing and toy.

The donor was born in Las Cruces on July 20, 1940.  He wore this suit for his first birthday.  The donation also includes his hand-knitted sailor hat and toy dog.  We have a digital photo of Dodson wearing the suit and standing in front of a marshmallow bunny cake.  This donation will broaden our collection of WWII era children’s’ clothing.

Silver and turquoise business card holder.

This silver holder with a piece of turquoise was given to the Director on the opening of NMHM by Ben Lujan, Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Material associated with the issue of the Bill Mauldin stamp.

Bill Mauldin, well known cartoonist, was born in New Mexico.  The ceremony unveiling the stamp was held at the New Mexico History Museum.  Materials include first day of issue stamps and envelopes and a framed display of the stamps with Bill Mauldin’s image.

Four First day of Issue stamps on envelopes.

The stamps all relate to New Mexico: Georgia O’Keefe, Spanish Settlement, Palace of the Governors, and Dennis Chavez.   They will be added to the library’s growing collection of stamps honoring New Mexico.

Formed display of new Zia New Mexico Stamp.

The First Day of Issue ceremony was held at the New Mexico History Museum.


The uniforms are from the New Mexico Military Institute and the National Park Service, Bandelier.  They were worn by the donor and date from 1996-98 and 2000 respectively.

Photographs by Dimitri Baltermants.

Scrapbook created by Fray Angélico Chávez relating to Chávez family.

Scrapbook relating to the Paul A. F. Walter Jr. family.

Walter, son of Santa Fe newspaperman Paul A. F. Walter Sr., was assistant director of the Museum of New Mexico and the School of American Research. He became the first director of the University of New Mexico Press and was the longtime editor of El Palacio magazine.

Papers relating to Olivia Tsosie.

The 9 boxes of materials pertain to the Santa Fe River Project, Agua Fria Village, Spanish horses, and family materials.

Papers and one dress belonging to Jesusita Acosta Morales.

Morales was New Mexico Secretary of State in 1928.  The donation consists of 4 boxes of newspaper clippings, photos, letters, embroidery art work and a flapper–style dress.

Small NM flag and paper ephemera associated with the commissioning of the USS New Mexico submarine in 2010.

Cap with insignia of USS New Mexico submarine.

CDs of interviews of 40 individuals who served in the battleship USS New Mexico during WW II.

Commemorative objects relating to the newly commissioned submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779).

Cap, patch, poster, mug, and pin, all with the submarine’s logo.

Donation of two towels with the USS New Mexico (SSN 779) crest and two DVDs on the commissioning of the submarine.

Materials pertaining to John Stewart Harvey Sr. and the Fred Harvey Company.

Donation of papers associated with Fred Harvey and other family members.

Materials include date books, letter books, code books, clippings, photographs, and letters dating from the 1860s-1880s.

Donation of Fiesta clothing for men, women and children; also a black dress worn by Emma Dixon in the 1920s.

Book, Trail of an Artist Naturalist: the Autobiography of Ernest Thompson Seton.

Framed print of clay sparrow by Ernest Thompson Seton.

A framed letter from the director of the Office of Indian Affairs, dated February 24, 1923.

Four boxes of papers pertaining to La Herencia magazine; correspondence, essay drafts, photographs, and financial matters.

La Herencia began publication in 1994 in Santa Fe.  La Herencia, a quarterly publication, was founded by Santa Fe native Ana Pacheco, in response to the rapid decline of the Spanish language and Hispanic culture of New Mexico.   The magazine has ceased publication.

Papers pertaining to the Johnson family, collected by Dove Brown.

Abstract of Title, plat maps, legal and tax documents, correspondence, postcards, and miscellaneous documentary items for Colorado, Illinois and New Hampshire.

Three linear feet of papers from Tigges Planning Consultants.

Traffic, development and master plans.

Framed hand-painted photographs from the Ulibarri family in New Mexico; Ana Maria Montano and Jose Eluojio Ulibarri.

Four archival pigment prints of New Mexico scenes, 2006-2007.

Richard Wilder photograph of Laura Gilpin’s House, 1980.

Production photographs from the Santa Fe Opera, 1960-1980.

Commemorative Jim Beam bottle depicting the Palace of the Governors, 1610-1960.

Donation of 1960s clothing.

Donation of cap, photograph and La Fonda Hotel brochure dated 1954.

Two boxes of materials pertaining to the Santa Fe Historical Society, 1967-1990s.

Albuquerque aviation medal.

Materials related to Gustave Baumann.

Artwork, wood blocks, hand tools, books, personal items.

Eight Civil War era letters

Twenty six black and white glass slides of pre-revolutionary Mexico, mostly along the border.

Donation of two coins.

One coin is a Spanish silver 2 reales, minted 1775.  The other is an American copper one-cent coin, minted 1850.

Three silver 8 reales pieces.

Donation of papers from the 1960s pertaining to New Mexico and Arizona.

Materials include maps, Santa Fe Opera programs, and research materials on the Acequia Madre.

Donation  of 1960s clothing worn in New Mexico.

Donation of commemorative material associated with the 400th Anniversary of Santa Fe.

Items include drinking glasses, lapel pins, coins, CDs, books, and magazines.

Donation of memorabilia  associated with Governor and Mrs. Bill Richardson.

Items include invitations to the White House and the governor’s inaugurations, name tags and name plate, a scrapbook documenting the governors’ career from 1970-1980, a presentation piece from Mexico, and jackets and vests relating to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Rail Runner, and New Mexico Rodeo Council. Mrs. Richardson has donated the suit she wore to the swearing in ceremony and the gown she wore for the inaugural gala. Governor Richardson has donated the suit he wore for his inauguration.

Donation of furniture made in Mexico and New Mexico including a chest, table, mirror, two silver sconces and three New Mexican tin lamps.

Donation of a painted tin ex-voto of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Purchase of  a retablo with an image of Santa Barbara painted by Don Bernardo Miera y Pacheco (1714-1785).

Miera y Pacheco was one of the earliest Santeros in New Mexico to be known by name with documented works associated with him. The purchase was made possible through generous donations by Kay Harvey, Marilynn and Carl Thoma, Terra Foundation, Linda and Leroy Clark, and an anonymous donor.

Donation of a medallion commemorating Carlos V.

Presented to the director of the museum by SEACEX while she was in Spain.

Purchase of a Christmas ornament depicting the New Mexico Capitol Building.

Donation of  the Quentin Hulse Collection which includes books, artwork, photographs and personal items.

Quentin Hulse (1926-2002) was a well-known ranger, hunter, trapper, and guide who lived and worked at the bottom of Canyon Creek in the Gila River Wilderness for over 50 years.

Donation of a collection of books and periodicals on photography.

Donation of photographs of the mining town of Hagen, New Mexico.

Donation of photographs of New Mexico doors by Gustavo Castilla.

Donation of a collection of photographs including stereo views, cabinet cards, cyanotypes, and postcards of New Mexico scenes and pueblos.

Donation of a panorama photograph of Deming, New Mexico, 1917.

Donation of two home movies recording ceremonial dances at the Palace of the Governors with singing by Maria Martinez (1960s) and a Gallup Ceremonial.

Donation of a collection of photographs of the Santa Fe Opera, 1967-68.  Gift of Randall Bell.

Donation of a collection of photographs, papers from the Photographic Society of America and the Santa Fe Camera Club, 35mm slides, and cameras from the estate of Roy Elliott Barker (1911-2005).

Barker worked for the New Mexico Fish and Game Department from the 1930s until he retired in the 1960s.  He produced over 25, 000 slides of the Barker family in New Mexico, the vernacular architecture of the state, and scenes of landscapes and wild life.  His work was published in the New Mexico Magazine and Arizona Highways.

Donation of photographs of New Mexico, 1920s.

Donation of photographs of buildings in Santa Fe, 1918-1925.

Donation of photographs produced by Miguel Gandert and Anne Noggle.

Collection of clothing worn in New Mexico in the 1970s.

Donation of a Bobcat Press.

Gift of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System.

Donation of a rosary created by a prisoner in Central New Mexico Correctional Facility.

Donation of items from Diane Denish’s term as Lieutenant Governor.

Framed bill signed by her, 2 portraits, gavel, and a shovel used in the ground breaking for the Navajo Nation water project.

Donation of original and photocopied items pertaining to the history of the USS Santa Fe, 1940s-1990s.

Donation of 0.25 linear feet of materials pertaining to the St. James Hotel and Cimarron, NM, including photographs, scrapbook, and newspaper clippings

Donation of silver gelatin prints by Barbara Van Cleve.

Donation of original signed prints by Henry Tefft (12 binders, 3 boxes).

Donation of photographs taken between 1868 and 2008, including images produced by William Henry Jackson and Memphis Barbree.

Donation of bottle opener from the De Vargas Hotel (1920s).

Donation of materials pertaining to the SS Columbus (the German crew was held at Ft. Stanton during WW II).

Donation of silver gelatin prints (1930-1940) created by Jack Hull, editor of the Clovis Times and diaries (1941-1947) of Iretus D. Johnson, only dentist in Clovis at that time.

Donation of four chairs made by WPA artist Eliseo Rodriguez, circa 1938.

Donation of an iron hide scrapper and iron spoon.

Donation of 1970s iconic pins and badge












New Mexico’s African American Story

You can go all the way back to the 1527 exploration of Cabeza de Vaca and a Moor who accompanied him. Esteban de Dorantes was, by some accounts, the first African American to set foot in New Mexico, though other historians have traced the lineage as far back as 1050. Despite such a lengthy history, you don’t often hear the stories of New Mexico’s African Americans.

Enter The African American Legacy: Visible, Vital Valuable. The exhibition, produced by the African American Museum and Cultural Center of New Mexico took center stage at the History Museum today (May 15) and will be on display through Oct. 9.

The exhibition focuses on the African American experience from the Civil War into the 1950s and includes the communities of Las Cruces, Albuquerque, and Blackdom, a short-lived African American community near Roswell in the early 1900s.

Rita Powdrell, president of the African American Museum, which is still working toward a physical building, invoked a West African term, Sankofa in her remarks at the exhibit’s opening. Its meaning is simple: Go and fetch it. Retrieve the past that you might learn from it. In researching different communities’ African American experience in New Mexico, Powdrell said, members of the museum board learned that it differed, one place to the next.

“But the thread that runs through our culture in every community is we have grace in the face of adversity,” she said. “We have love in the face of hate. We have perseverance and a deep and abiding sense of joy. We hope when you see the faces in this exhibit, they will speak to you.”

Other speakers at the opening included retired NMSU Professor Clarence Fielder, the original curator of the exhibition’s Las Cruces section; Gary Williams from the state Office of African American Affairs; and Brenda Dabney, a board member of the African American Museum who paid tribute to the historians on whose shoulders today’s African American researchers stand.

Told on a series of panels, the exhibition focuses on migration, families, churches, social organizations and entrepreneurs, along with the struggles against segregation.

Among the people it features are Cedric and Merdest Billingsley Bradford (left), longtime operators of the U-Tote-Em Grocery Store in Las Cruces and community activists who devoted time to Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, and Las Cruces’ public schools.

Powdrell hopes other New Mexicans will come forward with tales of their family’s African American experience so that the exhibition can expand and, one day, cover every pocket of the state. A good place to bring those stories is to the two symposia that accompany the exhibition:

2-4 pm, Sunday, June 12: “The Journey of the African American North,” focusing on Santa Fe and other northern New Mexico communities.

2-4 pm, Sunday, September 25: “Entrepreneurship in the African American Community,” from gas stations to barber shops to restaurants and more.

The events are free and will be held in the History Museum Auditorium.

Today was a day for celebrating, and we’d like to share some glimpses of the event — while encouraging you to come to the museum and check out the show.

Dancers from Albuquerque’s Public Academy for the Performing Arts, accompanied by vocalist Josef Scott.

Poet Doris Fields shares a poem she wrote especially for the exhibition.

Clarence Fielder, a retired NMSU professor, who began the research for an exhibition about Las Cruces’ African Americans that, years later, grew into today’s version. His co-researcher, who couldn’t attend the event, was then-student Terry Moody, who today works for the state Historic Preservation Division.

Visitors enjoying the exhibition, which is in the museum’s second-floor Gathering Space.

The Gathering Space has plenty of comfy chairs, perfect for watching a 30-minute Colores program from KNME on Blackdom.


Sound of Silence

Barring an unlikely miracle or a last-minute angel, the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra will soon cease to exist. Years of debt and weakening ticket sales finally caught up to a reality all too familiar to orchestras around the nation.  Philadelphia, Detroit, Phoenix, Syracuse…the list goes on.

The loss of such a community treasure hits hard for all of us toiling in the various realms of culture and the arts.

The American Association of Museums recently released a report that said most U.S. museums experienced an uptick in attendance during 2010. While we don’t have an apples-to-apples comparison, we do know that from July 2010 to March 2011, New Mexico’s state-run museums saw an 8.6 percent drop in attendance.

4x5 lines outsideMind you, percentages tell a spongy story. The History Museum opened to blocks-long waiting lines in May 2009 and crossed off its 100,000th visitor before completing its fifth month of operation. You had to guess that, at some point, visitation would subside a tad.

Percentages also don’t tell the stories of those days when hundreds of schoolchildren fill our hallways, when the opening of an exhibit like Earth Now at the New Mexico Museum of Art attracts 1,200 people in one night, or when special events like Folk Art Market turn Museum Hill into a parking lot.

The upbeat news from the AAM report is balanced by this: A third of the museums surveyed reported a decrease in attendance from 2009 to 2010. And 52 percent of museums suffered a reduction in their government funding.

You can blame the attendance numbers on the price of gas, a slight dip in tourism (at least in New Mexico), fewer marketing dollars to promote exhibitions, the competition from 400-plus TV channels, the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and e-books, or a general sense of economic malaise.

Regardless the reason or reasons, there’s this:

No matter how much our current culture accommodates an isolationist lifestyle, institutions like museums, the symphony, live theater and community events still offer us an experience that Homo sapiens learned to treasure along with the first campfire–a place to gather together, to share stories, to experience emotions, and to work out an interpretation of who we are as a people.

Arianna Huffington may have done as much as anyone to promote the prospect of a life online, but in a speech late last year, she made a marvelous case for museums as an in-person experience. Among her comments:

(M)useums deliver what has become increasingly rare in our world: the opportunity to disconnect from our hyper-connected lives, and the possibility of wonder. As Maxwell Anderson, the CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, describes it, a museum’s mission is to provide visitors with “resonance and wonder… an intangible sense of elation — a feeling that a weight was lifted.” Or as my fellow countryman Aristotle put it: “catharsis.” …

In the mid-90s I wrote a book — The Fourth Instinct — about the instinct that compels us to go beyond our instincts for survival, sex, and power. It’s the instinct that drives us to find meaning in our lives — the instinct that drives us to art and religion. That instinct is just as vital as the other three but we rarely give it the same kind of attention.

It’s also the instinct most undermined by our always-connected 24/7 media culture. In The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,Nicholas Carr writes that “there needs to be time for efficient data collection and time for inefficient contemplation, time to operate the machine and time to sit idly in the garden.”

There’s not a lot of garden left in the world. And this is what makes museums so important. …

It’s also, in its own way, what makes a symphony orchestra important. Sixteen years have passed since Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, warned that a “growing social-capital deficit threatens educational performance, safe neighborhoods, equitable tax collection, democratic responsiveness, everyday honesty, and even our health and happiness.”

Since the book’s publication, those distractions have only become more fierce, and our connections to one another less tight.

As we bid a reluctant farewell to the NMSO, we hope that its silence spreads no further, and we invite you to take advantage of the sense of wonder awaiting you beyond your computer’s screen and within our walls.

David Lance Goines: A Master of the Artful Poster Speaks

A 1983 poster by David Lance Goines. Produced for the Pacific Film Archive (Tom Schmidt), University of California Art Museum, Berkeley. Courtesy of the artist.

A 1983 poster by David Lance Goines. Produced for the Pacific Film Archive (Tom Schmidt), University of California Art Museum, Berkeley. Courtesy of the artist.

Since 1968, graphic artist David Lance Goines has blended whimsy and precision to produce posters for clients as far-ranging Chez Panisse restaurant, Ravenswood Wine, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, poetry readings and nurseries.

On Saturday, April 23, the airplane-shunning artist will arrive in Santa Fe by train for a combination lecture and exhibition, co-sponsored by the Press at the Palace of the Governors, Fisher Press and the New Mexico chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design.

His 2 pm lecture in the History Museum Auditorium, titled “David Lance Goines: A Life in Posters,” costs $10; $5 members of AIGA; free, students with ID. Seating is limited. A 4-6 pm reception at Fisher Press, 307 Camino Alire, in Santa Fe follows the lecture. Copies of his new book, The Poster Art of David Lance Goines, A 40-Year Retrospective (Dover Press, 2010), will be available for sale and signing. The gallery will display the exhibition David Lance Goines: A Life in Posters through May 14.

The book is stuffed full of his work, including 155 full-color posters promoting movies, galleries, restaurants, and concerts. You can get a sneak peek — and have a delightful time — wandering through an online assortment of his designs here.

Mixing influences of artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and J.C. Leyendecker, Goines proves that, contrary to some art historians’ claim, the “golden age” of the poster didn’t end with World War I but has continued through Rosie the Riveter, 1960s Fillmore concerts and more into the 21st century.

Goines has produced hundreds of designs for posters, books and exhibitions featuring his distinctive Arts & Crafts style. In 1968, he founded the Saint Hieronymus Press in Berkeley, California. One of the few graphic artists who designs and prints his own work, Goines uses both letterpress and photo-offset lithography. The Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art, and Louvre have collected his work.

As both a museum exhibition about the historic presses of New Mexico and a working print shop that produces award-winning books, posters and other materials, the Palace Press takes as part of its mission to “bring people who are at the top of their field in graphic arts and publishing to share their expertise with the community,” said curator Tom Leech.

The public is welcome to this special event, but come early. Like we said, seating is limited.

(Goines, by the way, is also a 17-gallon blood donor whose other publications include The Free Speech Movement: Coming of Age in the 1960s; and Punchlines: How to Start a Fight in Any Bar in the World.)

Here are two more examples of his fine work:

"Grow What You Eat," 2008, marking the 37th anniversary of Chez Panisse.

"Grow What You Eat," 2008, marking the 37th anniversary of Chez Panisse.

"Hillside Club," 2008, for the Hillside Club of Berkeley, Calif.

"Hillside Club," 2008, for the Hillside Club of Berkeley, Calif.

A Mary Colter Weekend, Part II

Noted Southwestern author Frank Waters once referred to Mary Colter as having “a tender heart and a caustic tongue.” She could write the sweetest notes to the child of her onetime mentee, and scathing ones to architect John Gaw Meem, with whom she worked on La Fonda. (In one of the notes, she asked him precisely where he thought he might end up when he died.)

BerkeBookThose were among the tidbits of a grand life shared this morning by Arnold Berke, the biographer of Mary Colter (Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest) at this morning’s continuation of A Mary Colter Weekend. During his research, he found few blueprints, which aren’t built for survival to begin with; few original documents revealing anything of her love life (if any); and, as the years pass, fewer and fewer examples of her iconic architecture and designer’s eye.

Those were signs, he said, of a woman who was not appreciated in her own time, nor after her own time. That’s all the more sad when you consider she was alive at the same time as Frank Lloyd Wright and Julia Morgan, William Randolph Heart’s architect. (And no, Berke said, he found no evidence that Colter ever met either of them. And yes, he’s asked that question every time he speaks.)

ArnoldSpeakingWebSizeOnly in recent years, Berke said, has interest in Colter risen, particularly among Grand Canyon aficionados. Colter’s buildings along the South Rim and Phantom Ranch at the canyon’s bottom pioneered a style of architecture now used by most national and state parks. It’s called National Park Service Rustic, and Colter was, Berke said, “truly a pioneer of this idiom.”

A master builder as well designer, Colter married rock, tile, timber, glass, and wrought iron, employed a keen eye for talent in hiring artists like a young Fred Kabotie, and brewed up buildings that grew out of rock ledges, or simply appeared on a forest floor, complete and natural, as if they had always been there. Take a gander at two strikingly different models. The Pueblo-meets-Spanish style of La Fonda on the Plaza’s softly stuccoed and stacked curves (Philosopher Simone de Beauvoir once called  La Fonda”The most beautiful hotel in America, perhaps the most beautiful hotel I’ve seen in my life.”):

La Fonda, Santa fe

La Fonda, Santa fe

And the seemingly haphazard collection of rocks that make up the very stable Hermit’s Rest at the Grand Canyon:

Hermit's Rest, Grand Canyon

Nothing about Colter’s designs was haphazard, Berke said. First-time visitors to her buildings would appreciate seemingly antique furniture that craftsmen had just built, along with soot marking the walls above brand-new fireplaces. “You can’t imagine how difficult it was to make that look old,” she once said.

She designed the interiors of Kansas City’s, Chicago’s and Los Angeles’ Union Stations and created the Mimbres-influenced dishes once used on the Santa Fe Railway and now sold for hundreds of dollars per teacup. She did so at a time when women were not architects, or if they were, they didn’t climb rock monuments to study their composition. Berke said her success was likely due to a combination of nature and nurture — a naturally strong-willed person with an artistic bent, she was raised in the heartland of America at a time when “going West” was the place to go.

By the time she died in 1958, Colter had seen her time come and go. El Ortiz in Lamy, NM, was torn down in 1943. El Navajo in Gallup was destroyed in 1957, along with the monumental sand paintings Colter had persuaded Navajo artisans to create. She outlived Albuquerque’s Alvarado, but only barely. Torn down in 1970, it’s still mourned by lovers of architecture.

The resurgence of interest in her inspired Berke to propose what some might consider a fool’s quest. He referenced the exquisite collection of Native jewelry she had amassed and eventually bequeathed to Mesa Verde Museum, where most of it, like most museum collections, is in storage. Maybe, he said, some enterprising museum type could work out a loan and put the jewelry on exhibit?

To the hearty applause of Berke’s audience, New Mexico History Museum Director Fran Levine said that, yes, she would be that person.

A Mary Colter Weekend, Part I

What could inspire some 150 people to travel from Arizona, Pennsylvania and other parts to Santa Fe? Well, plenty of things, when you think about. Mountains, art, great food, a unique mix of cultures. But this weekend, for these particular 150-some people, it was the memory of Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter.

An 1893 portrait of Mary Jane Colter by Arthur Mathews,  one of her professors. Photo by Tom Alexander, courtesy of the Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff, and the Arizona Historical Society.

An 1893 portrait of Mary Jane Colter by Arthur Mathews, one of her professors. Photo by Tom Alexander, courtesy of the Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff, and the Arizona Historical Society.

Starting Friday evening and continuing through Saturday, experts on the life and times of the Fred Harvey Co.’s “starchitect” are rubbing shoulders and ideas with railroad buffs, fans of history and an admirably large number of Harvey family members.

The event is co-sponsored by the New Mexico History Museum and La Fonda on the Plaza, one of the hotels where Colter left her design mark — along the way developing a version of Southwest style that lives today. The event is a fund-raiser for the History Museum, and we’re gratified to say, we’re sold out.

We began with a reception in the New Mexico room of La Fonda, where margaritas, tortillas and guacamole held court and folks started getting acquainted. A few glimpses:




Beyond food and conversation, we took note of the exquisite architectural details, like this eagle carved into a viga:


And this ceiling lamp:


Our generous sponsors then retired to the Santa Fe Room — the one room in La Fonda that retains about 90 percent of Colter’s original arts-and-crafts-meets-Native-American style — for dinner. Architect Barbara Felix delivered an amuse bouche of what participants will learn when our speakers hold court on Saturday. A Santa Fe architect, Felix oversaw the renovation of La Fonda’s restaurant, La Plazuela, taking care to restore what she could of Colter’s original intent for a room that, in her time, was an open-air plaza.

fireplaceAmong the difficulties that Felix encountered was the discovery that not all of Colter’s efforts were as solid and lasting as the sculpted terra-cotta mantels of German artist Arnold Ronnebeck, from whom she commissioned several pieces still inside the hotel.

Instead, some were piled in a storage room, where more than a few La Fonda honchos think they should stay. Not quite as well-made, they nevertheless held the charm of hand-crafted items, like the hanging lamp with hand-painted glass panels and an iron ashtray shaped like an antelope.

“It’s a little crude,” Felix said of the lamp. “It’s a little whimsical. It’s a little folk-arty.”


And then there was…this metal palm tree to the right of Felix.

Before the event, as a worker wheeled it into the banquet room, one hotel employee sighed in apparent disappointment. But for those of us who troll eBay and Craigslist, it was a find like no other.

Kind of like Mary Colter.

Starting at 10:30 am Saturday, we’ll learn more about her many legacies, which include the magical buildings along the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch at its bottom, and the onetime grand interior of Los Angeles’ Union Station. Speakers include Colter biographer Arnold Berke; Harvey biographer Stephen Fried; and Felix.

We’ll keep you posted with updates throughout the day. If you can’t attend, don’t despair. In honor of the event, we added items from the Fred Harvey legacy to our display in the museum’s Mezzanine level, including a Collier magazine ad urging readers “Let’s eat with the Harvey boys”; a meal ticket; and a poster of the Harvey Co.’s Indian detours.

We hope you’ll come visit.

Beyond the Marlboro Man

When we think of the American West, our minds tend to conjure images of gunfighters, Indian wars and cattle barons. If we think of women at all, it’s most likely a saloon girl or Calamity Jane.

Historians know that’s hardly the distaff story of the West. From Native women who oversaw corn production and the building of adobe homes to Hispanic weavers, artists and property owners, to Anglo businesswomen, physicians and environmental stewards, the female side of the story of the West too often seems to fade into the Victorian wallpaper.

Up to now, that is.

Spanish American Woman plastering, Chamisal, New Mexico, photograph by Russel Lee, 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USF33-012823-M5

Spanish American Woman plastering, Chamisal, New Mexico, photograph by Russel Lee, 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USF33-012823-M5

This summer, the New Mexico History Museum begins filling in the historical gaps with four exhibitions focused on women past and present. Let’s round ’em up:

1. Home Lands: How Women Made the West, June 19-Sept. 11, a traveling exhibition from the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, features additional materials from the History Museum’s collections. The largest of the summer’s four exhibits, it sweeps across the centuries in three regions: the Rio Arriba of northern New Mexico; Colorado’s Front Rage; and the Puget Sound.

Evelyn Fite Tune, a longtime rancher outside Socorro, NM. Photo by Ann Bromberg, courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives.

Evelyn Fite Tune, a longtime rancher outside Socorro, NM. Photo by Ann Bromberg, courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives.

2. Ranch Women of New Mexico, April 15-Oct. 30 in the Mezzanine Gallery, highlights 11 women in this excerpt from an exhibit originally prepared by photographer Ann Bromberg and writer Sharon Niederman.

3. New Mexico’s African American Legacy: Visible, Vital, Valuable, May 15-Oct. 9 in the second-floor Gathering Space, tells the stories of the families who planted their roots and created a home in the Land of Enchantment following the Civil War.

4. Heart of the Home, May 27-Nov. 20 in La Ventana Gallery, spotlights historic kitchen items from the History Museum’s collections.

(Yes, they open at different times; that’s a reality of what it takes to mount an exhibition.)

“Since its opening in 2009, the New Mexico History Museum’s exhibits have included the stories of men, women and children – a conscious effort on our part to broaden the telling of history,” said museum director Frances Levine. “This summer’s exhibits highlight that commitment by focusing squarely on the contributions made by women that don’t begin and end with popular Western stereotypes.”

So you won’t find Miss Kitty or Calamity Jane or even Santa Fe’s own legendary madame, Dona Tules, in any of the exhibits. Instead, their shared focus is the universal desire to set down roots and create that place called “home.” That seemingly simple act is “a potent way of changing the world,” say Home Lands curators Virginia Scharff and Carolyn Brucken. Home Lands puts women at the center of that focus for a simple reason, the women write in their companion book: “Seeing women in history makes history look different.”

Among the women you will see in the exhibits:

Fabiola Cabeza de Baca in front of New Mexican schoolhouse, photographer and date unknown. Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert Photograph Collectioon, Center for the Southwest Research, University of New Mexico

Fabiola Cabeza de Baca in front of New Mexican schoolhouse, photographer and date unknown. Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert Photograph Collectioon, Center for the Southwest Research, University of New Mexico

Fabiola Cabeza de Baca. A Las Vegas, NM, native, this teacher and writer elevated both the art and science of homemaking from the Depression forward, blending traditional practices with modern-day conveniences. Beginning in the 1950s, her expertise went global when she started home-economics programs in Central and South America for the United Nations and became a trainer for the Peace Corps. Her story is included in Home Lands.

Legendary cowgirl Fern Sawyer. Photo by Ann Bromberg, courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives.

Legendary cowgirl Fern Sawyer. Photo by Ann Bromberg, courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives.

Fern Sawyer. New Mexico’s best-known cowgirl spent 77 years living up to her motto: “Do all you can as fast as you can.” An inductee into the Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, Cowgirl Hall of Fame and National Cutting Horse Hall of Fame, Sawyer passed away in 1993, still with her boots on, still in the saddle. Ranch Women of New Mexico includes her story.

Clara Belle Drisdale. Photo courtesy New Mexico State University Archives.

Clara Belle Drisdale. Photo courtesy New Mexico State University Archives.

Clara Belle Drisdale Williams. In 1937, she became the first African American to graduate from New Mexico State University. After a career of teaching others, she received an honorary law degree from NMSU in 1980, along with an apology for how she was treated as a student. You’ll find her story in New Mexico’s African American Legacy.

Other New Mexico women in Home Lands: Pueblo potter Maria Martinez; painter Pablita Velarde; photographer Laura Gilpin; archaeologist Bertha Dutton; santera Gloria Lopez Cordova; Santa Clara Pueblo artist Nora Naranjo Morse; and poet and playwright Joy Harjo.

The Autry drew on its extensive collections to organize the exhibit, but also purchased must-have items, including Pablita Velarde’s monumental mural, Green Corn Dance. It’s impressive even in a computer-screen’s small scale:


Artifacts range from a 1,200-year-old Mogollon metate to a 20th-century station wagon, textiles, clothing, pottery, paintings, photographs, sculpture, books, and an art piece made of computer components by contemporary artist Marion Martinez.

To kick things off, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation is holding a $200-a-person party called Celebrate on Saturday, June 18. Put on your fancy Western wear and enjoy fine wines and creative cuisine in the Palace Courtyard. Learn more, including how to buy tickets by clicking here.

Throughout the summer, we’ll have special lectures, workshops and symposiums to further deepen your knowledge of women in the West. All these events are free and in the History Museum auditorium unless otherwise noted:

Sunday, June 12, 2 pm: Symposium on “The Journey of the African American North,” including stories from Santa Fe and Española.

Sunday, June 26, 2 pm: “Captive Women in the Slave System of the Southwest Borderland.” Lecture by James F. Brooks, president of the School for Advanced Research and prize-winning author of Captives & Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands.

Sunday, July 10, 2 pm: “Fabiola Cabeza de Baca and The Good Life.” Lecture by Tey Diana Rebolledo, regents professor at the University of New Mexico.

Sunday, July 17, 2 pm: “Moving Around to Settle In: Women of the Plains and Range.” Lecture by Virginia Scharff, co-curator of Home Lands and director of UNM’s Center for the Southwest.

Monday, 9 am to 4:30 pm, and Tuesday, 9 am to 12 pm: “Planting Seeds:  Home, Healing and Horticulture.” Conference in collaboration with the New Mexico Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. $25.  (Details pending.)

Sunday, Aug. 7, 2-5 pm: “Homespun: Northern New Mexico Spinning and Weaving Techniques.” Members of the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center demonstrate Pueblo, Navajo and Spanish techniques in the Palace Courtyard.

Friday, Aug. 12, 6 pm: “Through Her Eyes: An American Indian Woman’s Perspective.” Lecture by Eunice Petramala, park ranger at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2 pm: Symposium on “Entrepreneurship in the African American Community,” from barbers to caterers, mechanics to artists.

Home Lands is generously supported by Cam and Peter Starret, Ernst & Young, Eastman Kodak Company, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Unified Grocers, Wells Fargo, KCET and the Friends of the Autry. Local support is provided by Stanley S. and Karen Hubbard, Dr. Ezekiel and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, the Palace Guard and the Montezuma Ball.

Mary Jane Colter’s Legacy of Southwestern Style

An 1893 portrait of Mary Jane Colter by Arthur Mathews,  one of her professors. Photo by Tom Alexander, courtesy of the Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff, and the Arizona Historical Society.

An 1893 portrait of Mary Jane Colter by Arthur Mathews, one of her professors. Photo by Tom Alexander, courtesy of the Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff, and the Arizona Historical Society.

In 1910, a young architect named Mary Jane Colter was hired by the Fred Harvey Co. and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Over the decades that followed, she created some of the most iconic buildings along the railway and at the Grand Canyon.

Today, 11 of her buildings are on the National Registry of Historic Places; five are designated National Historic Landmarks. A maverick and a visionary, she broke with European architectural tradition, blending Mission Revival, Spanish Colonial and Native American elements. She embraced the Arts & Crafts Movement’s simple but sophisticated designs and exquisite craftsmanship. She methodically researched indigenous art, architecture and building techniques. As one writer observed: “She could teach masons how to lay adobe bricks, plasterers how to mix washes, and carpenters how to fix viga joints.”

On April 1 and 2, the New Mexico History Museum joins with La Fonda on the Plaza — itself housed in a building she elevated with her interior designs — to explore Colter’s life and legacy. “A Mary Jane Colter Weekend: The Shaping of Southwest Style” is an exclusive event featuring lectures by noted experts and special dinners prepared by La Fonda’s Executive Chef Lane Warner.

Tickets start at $100 ($50 tax-deductible); $200 for the events plus an April 1 sponsor dinner ($100 tax-deductible). The Museum of New Mexico Foundation is co-hosting the event with La Fonda on the Plaza. Proceeds benefit the New Mexico History Museum. Call 505-988-1234 or log onto www.TicketsSantaFe.org for tickets. Act now: Space is limited.

Once called “the best-known unknown architect in the national parks,” Colter is nearly revered for her buildings at the Grand Canyon, including Phantom Ranch, the Watchtower, and Bright Angel Lodge, among others. In 2008, the magazine of the National Parks Conservation Association published a lovely biography of her. (Find it here.)

The Mary Jane Colter Weekend begins with a wine-and-appetizers reception at La Fonda on the Plaza, one of the most iconic buildings on the Santa Fe Plaza. Sponsor-level participants will then enjoy an exclusive dinner in La Fonda’s Santa Fe Room, an old-world setting that most distinctively captures Colter’s design aesthetic. Large terracotta tiles surround the entry door. A fireplace Colter commissioned by Arnold Ronnebeck promises to keep you warm. Elsewhere, you’ll see a beautiful latilla ceiling and paintings by Gerald Cassidy. You’ll have a chance to meet our weekend’s presenters—Arnold Berke, Stephen Fried and Barbara Felix, and hear Felix speak about what she learned of Colter during her own renovation of La Fonda. (We’ll also have a special bag of goodies for each of our sponsors, including a pair of New Mexico CulturePasses and a book of Harvey House recipes compiled by Stephen Fried.)

On April 2, all participants will take in a series of lectures, a La Fonda dinner and an Actors Studio-style discussion of Colter’s legacy led by Dr. Frances Levine, director of the museum.

“Mary Colter’s vision of the Southwest created a style that was simple and yet grand,” Levine said. “She left a magnificent legacy in regional architecture and interior design that we cherish today as much as in the past.”

South Portal of La Fonda Hotel (1925-45?), designed by Mary Jane Colter. Photo by T. Harmon Parkhurst. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, No. 054316.

South Portal of La Fonda Hotel (1925-45?), designed by Mary Jane Colter. Photo by T. Harmon Parkhurst. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, No. 054316.

The weekend’s speakers:

Arnold Berke, award-winning author of Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest (Princeton Architectural Press), will bring his meticulously researched book to life, revealing Colter in the social and historical context of her time.  “By steeping her buildings in the culture, history, and landscape of the Southwest,” Berke said, “Colter both charmed American travelers and taught them about the region she loved. Her pioneering works delighted the eye and engaged the mind.”

Stephen Fried, author of Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire that Civilized the Wild West, will  present the colorful Harvey House history of La Fonda on the Plaza. “The opportunity to spend a weekend exploring Mary Colter’s contributions to life in the Southwest – as design guru for the Fred Harvey Company – will be a rare treat,” Fried said. “I’m also looking forward to discussing the Harvey family women of that era who were vital supporters of Colter’s pioneering work.”

Santa Fe architect Barbara Felix, who was instrumental in the 2009 renovation of La Plazuela, La Fonda’s dining room, on “Preserving the Architectural Fabric of a Santa Fe Icon.” “Colter’s work has inspired me to be passionate about craftsmanship, the use of natural light, regional materials and the transformation of the ordinary into the magical,” Felix said.

The schedule:

Friday, April 1

6 pm: La Fonda, Welcome reception with hosted wine and light hors d’oeuvres.

7 pm: Santa Fe Room, La Fonda, Sponsor dinner

Saturday, April 2

Breakfast on own

10:30 am: NM History Museum, lecture by author Arnold Berke

Lunch on your own

2 pm: La Fonda, lecture by architect Barbara Felix

4 pm: La Fonda, lecture by Stephen Fried, author

7 pm: La Fonda, dinner and Colter discussion with Frances Levine, Arnold Berke and Stephen Fried

“This will be a wonderful weekend for anyone who has visited any of Mary Jane Colter’s extraordinary buildings or been fascinated by this profoundly talented woman who was so ahead of her time,” says Jennifer Kimball, chairman of the board of La Fonda on the Plaza. “We are so proud to be part of the Mary Jane Colter legacy and to share in the sponsorship of this vibrant weekend with the New Mexico History Museum.”

A limited number of special room rate of $109 a night is available for out-of-town guests. Call (800) 523-5002, ext. 1, or (505) 954-3500.