This weekend I did something all too rare for an Albuquerque resident: I hung out in Santa Fe... just for fun. No out of town guests, no real agenda, no schedule. It turned out to be the best Saturday I've had in ages.
Our first stop was the plaza (of course), where a big art show made me wish my art-loving mom was there to navigate the tents with me. We saw some really great art, lots of tourist families in newly-purchased hats, and a bunch of cute dogs. I salivated over a Patricia Wyatt painting and oohed and aahed at an owl at a nature talk, then realized how hungry I was.
My companion and I have a major thing for the El Molero tamale and fajita truck that's always parked on the plaza; we hit it every time we're there. You know, the pink one with the cursive writing on it? For $2.50 I had two yummy red chile and pork tamales, eaten on some steps with perfect people-watching positioning. Best lunch in town.
Next up was the Museum of Fine Arts, a building I've long admired but a museum I'd never had a chance to visit. We were drawn there because of the Mexican Modern exhibit, for tradition's sake. Three years ago, we spent two weeks as voracious art-lovers in Mexico, floored by Diego Rivera's murals all over Mexico City and touched by the whimsical warmth with which Frida Kahlo painted the kitchen walls of her home. This exhibit, then, was seemingly made for us: touches of Diego and Frida, sure, but also plenty of Orozco, Siquieros, Izquierdo, and Tamayo. And all of it presented with great analysis on the emergence of Mexican art in the wake of the Mexican revolution and the implicit politics in everything created at the time. Both of us fell in love with a Rufino Tamayo piece - a large red and blue painting of a happily drunk figure with bottles lying at his feet. I wondered about revolutionary art being created now, in Mexico, here in the States, all over the world.
In the sculpture garden, we stopped to honor Luis A. Jiménez, the Hondo sculptor who died in a studio accident earlier this summer. Jimenez is best known around town for his sculpture of flamenco dancers at UNM. His piece "Border Crossing" - a man carrying a woman on his shoulders as they cross the river - stands in the Museum of Fine Art, and it's instantly recognizable as his. Admired against a brilliantly blue New Mexican sky, seeing it Saturday was a fitting way to mark the late artist's achievements.
Back inside the museum, I found the Marsden Hartley: American Modern exhibit to be amazing. I'm intrigued by people who come from one place, make a home in another, then another, and carry each of those experiences with them. After fantasizing about how perfect his painting of bright swirls and flowers would look in my bedroom, I moved onto the woodblock prints of Gustave Baumann: A Santa Fe Legend. Last spring I discovered these in Taos, and long a fan of woodblocks and etchings, they've stuck in my head ever since. It's a fascinating process, and impressive to see the blocks that create his beautifully simple prints.
Lucky for us, the museum had its best treat upstairs, where we were completely charmed and amused and in awe of Frederico Vigil's Dichos, an amazingly fun collection of drawings based on traditional Northern New Mexican dichos that are as true as they are wise. It's not very often that we encounter art that makes us grin, and Vigil's images do that. A really fun treat to check them out. My favorite? "To each monkey his own playground."
After hours of museum-ing we felt books calling us. I holed myself up in Collected Works (a spot where Marjorie, Mikaela, and I have to been known to spend major moolah during girls' weekends), and my co-traveler immersed himself in Allá, the Latin American bookstore/mecca for Latin American academics. I'm pumped about my purchase: the second book by local economic development rockstar guru Michael Shuman - The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses are Beating the Global Competition. Shuman's first book, Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age, is one of my all-time favorites, a classic for local economic development nerds like me and perhaps to the chagrin of my former students, something I consider required reading for all prospective planners.
After a day of driving, walking, art-looking, museum-going, book-browsing, and people-watching, a beer was definitely in order. We happily settled in upstairs at the Blue Corn Cafe for hearty grub and some End of the Trail Brown Ales, watched the street scene from above, and toasted a day in the City Different.
And the drive back to Albuquerque? The most shockingly green landscapes I've ever seen between here and there. With storms far off in the distance and the mountains dramatically rising above green fields, I felt like I was in a land of magical color and mystery. Actually, I know I was.