By Rani Molla and Zane Fischer

Santa Fe’s history as a center for arts and culture imbues the city with quirky character, bucket-loads of charm and an internationally recognized élan all its own. But the arts also are big business.

According to the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, 39 percent of the annual inflow into the local economy—well over a billion dollars in an average year—comes through arts-focused industries, organizations and businesses.

As much as traditional crafts and accepted fine art practices bulwark Santa Fe’s art scene, contemporary art that addresses the issues and concerns of the present and the future is a growing force within the community and the economy.

So it’s a big deal when three major exhibitors of contemporary art bring new directors on board as new guardians of the avant-garde.

This week, SFR interviews three personalities who will have major influences on Santa Fe’s contemporary art scene for years to come: Craig Anderson from the Center for Contemporary Arts, Irene Hofmann from SITE Santa Fe and Mary Kershaw from the New Mexico Museum of Art.

We also asked other major players in contemporary art—Robert Kret from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Patsy Phillips from the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and Diane R Karp from the Santa Fe Art Institute—to offer advice on operating in Santa Fe to these relative newcomers (Anderson just returned from Florida to take his position at CCA, but previously held several arts jobs in Santa Fe).

Each organization’s notable stats are included as well, offering quick glimpses of budgets, annual numbers of visitors and how many Santa Feans pony up to be members.

SFR also gives pop-culture ratings to each answer provided by the new directors.

Name

Craig Anderson

Gig

executive director of the Center for Contemporary Arts since July

Age

“Doesn’t matter. I’m in my 60s; everybody knows that.”

Place of Birth

Minnesota

Education

Hamline University in Minnesota; University of Colorado at Boulder, masters in fine arts in painting and video

Celebrity look-alike

Sam Shepard

Personal Question

Do you plan to reinstitute the artist softball league? “Yeah, I love softball.”

SFR: How is the art scene in Santa Fe really perceived from the outside?

CA:

I think it’s perceived as being vibrant, diverse, complex, the full spectrum of everything from pink coyotes to the SITE Santa Fe Biennial. I’m a little biased because I’ve had quite a bit of involvement in the arts here, but my sense, all the time I was in Miami, was ‘Man, you guys should be checking out what’s going on in Santa Fe.’

Snob Factor: Pancakes on the Plaza…come as you are

Choose one of the following to be a guest at a party you throw: President Barack Obama, Lady Gaga or advertising magnate/art collector Charles Saatchi.

I’d invite everybody, all three of ’em. They need to meet each other.

Fiesta Footwear: TOMS, for every pair you buy, a Third World child gets one, too

Multiple choice: Your new job is A. something you would have killed to get B. a means to an end C. kind of a favor for a friend D. a breath of fresh air.

I think it’s B and D. I came back from Miami because of the opportunity to return to Santa Fe to do something I thought was important. I just see a lot of potential at CCA, and I think that things are pretty well lined up.

Staying Power: 5 years

Were you fated for involvement with the arts since the day you were born, drawn by a profound encounter or pulled in by an accident of circumstance?

When I got to school, I went through a whole roster of majors. I was hanging out in the student union one day and, at the next table, there was a French lady there in her 70s and a bunch of art students sitting around. I was bored and eavesdropping, so they invited me over. I walked up with them later into the arts studios and, boom, I was like, ‘Alright, this is it.’ It was like, eureka!

Messiah Factor: L Ron Hubbard, a later conversion but with conviction

What’s your most embarrassing experience with art?

My first job in the art world, I was a preparator at the Minnesota Art Institute, and we had an exhibition of modernist paintings in the old Baroque gallery with a wood floor that squeaked when you walked on it. We had empty crates all lined up and the last crate tipped and the whole line went down like dominoes. The last one went down right next to the wall and the painting on the wall [wobbled], probably a $400,000 painting at the time. You never saw two guys move so fast. The registrar and the curator and everybody came running upstairs, and we had everything all lined up again. ‘What happened,’ they said. ‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘Joe dropped his watch.’

Privacy Restrictions: Anderson only allows certain people to view his profile

What is contemporary art, and why should anyone care?

It’s what’s being done now, and the reason people should care is for the same reasons they should read the newspaper. Art is a language. Contemporary art is a contemporary language that artists use to describe their experience of the world, and there are as many artistic languages as there are artists, basically. Bankers, stock brokers—those are the folks that are raking in the cash, yet the more important work is done by creative people because they are giving us a short-term version of the future. They’re out on the edge, reporting back.

Game Face: alt.weekly

Where do art and politics meet?

On the street.

Fairey Factor: fairly Fairey

Where do art and money meet?

Art is in the center of the circle, and money is all around the periphery. It’s like a call and response. The artist sends out work and waits for the response. Money is one possible response to art.

Buying Power: Home Shopping Network

Tell us, in a nutshell, why your institution is important to you and what you’re hoping to bring to the table.

The programming at CCA has always been further out, closer to the edge than maybe any other institution in town. It’s essential to have that venue in the community. When an institution does that, you’re accepting a high level of risk. Not everything succeeds. There are failures; there are mistakes. That’s part of the CCA history. I accept that. I understand that. I think of what I bring as structure and chemistry. Structurally, I think the sphere of possibilities is really great. From the standpoint of chemistry, I want to get all the energy moving and keeping it all going forward. One of the things I’ve got to do is engage a younger audience. I look at the demographic of people coming through the door, and it’s a lot of people who were young, hip, exciting Bohemians when the place started.

Boilerplate Bonus: 7/10

What’s the ratio of stuff that’s alleged to be art versus stuff that’s any good?

When I was an art student, you had kingmakers like Leo Castelli and others in New York City, and there were people that were trying to break into the art world, so to speak. Then Steve Jobs put out the Macintosh software and Adobe put out Photoshop, and then there was Garage Band, and now suddenly there’s this plethora of different work. There’s still structure, there’s still tastemakers, but it’s a hell of a lot more complicated. 30-to-70?

Appetite for Cynicism: bulimic: eats it all, sends some back

If you weren’t an arts administrator, you’d probably be…

I was gonna coach football and be a history teacher, or I was gonna be an economist or a psychologist.

Secret Identity: Naomi Campbell testifying about Charles Taylor

What’s the most pressing story in Santa Fe’s news cycle: DWI, overdevelopment, Wi-Fi or corruption?

I have a 24-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old daughter, and I worry about them every time they get out on the highway. And not only DWI, whatever’s out there.

Social Conscious Calibration: MADD dad

Center for Contemporary Arts

1050 Old Pecos Trail

505-982-1338

Annual Budget:

$600,000

Membership:

300

Attendance:

36,000 (including cinema)

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Name Irene Hofmann

Gig

Phillips director and chief curator of SITE Santa Fe as of October 2010

Age

40

Place of Birth

New York

Education

Washington University in St. Louis; School of the Art Institute of Chicago, masters in modern art criticism

Celebrity look-alike

Bettie Page

Personal Question

Are you ready for Santa Fe? “Just recently, I’ve wrapped my head around the idea that this is really happening. At this point, I actually can’t wait to get to Santa Fe and jump in.”

SFR: How is the art scene in Santa Fe really perceived from the outside?

IH:

I’m not really sure but, as someone who hopes to make an impact within the community, I am actually more interested in finding out how the art scene is perceived in Santa Fe.

Snob Factor: pajama party

Choose one of the following to be a guest at a party you throw: President Barack Obama, Lady Gaga or advertising magnate/art collector Charles Saatchi.

Definitely Barack Obama, but I would hope that we would discuss Lady Gaga at some point. You know, she has more fans on Facebook than he does!

Fiesta Footwear: wedges, easy walking but calf-defining

Multiple choice: Your new job is A. something you would have killed to get B. a means to an end C. kind of a favor for a friend D. a breath of fresh air.

D. Fresh air…Remember, I am moving from Baltimore, where we don’t have much in the way of ‘fresh air’ most days!

Staying Power: 3 years

Were you fated for involvement with the arts since the day you were born, drawn by a profound encounter or pulled in by an accident of circumstance?

Not exactly fated but, even as a kid, I was fastidious about organizing and displaying my bookshelves and record albums. I didn’t know it at the time, but I suppose I was already curating the objects around me. My love of art came later when I discovered Marcel Duchamp, and was hooked by his notions about the integration of art and life and his challenges to artistic convention.

Messiah Factor: Dalai Lama, anointed as a child

What’s your most embarrassing experience with art?

That I actually watched episodes of Bravo’s

reality TV show.

Privacy Restrictions: overshare

What is contemporary art, and why should anyone care?

For me, contemporary art speaks of our time; it reflects our lives and our moment in history. It has the ability to move and inspire us, but it also can challenge our opinions and assumptions, open us up to new perspectives, and can agitate us in ways that can bring a greater understanding of the world we live in…Why wouldn’t

everyone care about that?

Game Face: Time Magazine

Where do art and politics meet?

Ask Shepard Fairey.

Fairey Factor: very Fairey

Where do art and money meet?

Ask Damien Hirst.

Buying Power: News Corp. spending spree

Tell us, in a nutshell, why your institution is important to you and what you’re hoping to bring to the table.

My work has been guided by a belief in the power of art to create inspiring personal experiences, to foster social progress and to enrich and engage a community. The mission of SITE Santa Fe is aligned with these aspirations. SITE is an artist-centered institution that supports innovation and creative risk-taking and embraces the vanguard of artistic practice. My hope at SITE is to expand the audience for contemporary art, to bring viewers into an artist’s creative process and to make contemporary art accessible and relevant to the community. Not too ambitious, right?

Boilerplate Bonus: 9/10

What’s the ratio of stuff that’s alleged to be art versus stuff that’s any good?

The ratio: Whether you are talking about athletes, musicians, writers or artists, there is probably a similar ratio between the few who rise to the level of truly exceptional, in relation to the many who engage in (and may very well still be talented at) these pursuits.

Appetite for Cynicism: starving artist

If you weren’t an arts administrator, you’d probably be…

I actually don’t consider myself an arts administrator; I prefer ‘cultural producer’—has a much better ring to it, don’t you think? But if I wasn’t doing this, I might have tried my hand at being a dog breeder (Bernese mountain dogs)…I guess that would have made me a ‘canine producer.’

Secret Identity: Cesar Millan

What’s the most pressing story in Santa Fe’s news cycle: DWI, overdevelopment, Wi-Fi or corruption?

*SFR did not ask Hofmann about pressing issues in the Santa Fe news cycle because we didn’t want to scare her. Yet.

Social Conscious Calibration: wild card

SITE Santa Fe

1606 Paseo de Peralta

505-989-1199

Annual Budget:

$2 million

Membership:

1,000

Attendance:

20,000-25,000

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Name Mary Kershaw

Gig

director of the New Mexico Museum of Art since Sept. 2009

Age

48

Place of Birth

Philadelphia

Education

University of Pennsylvania; University College London, masters in medieval archeology

Celebrity look-alike

Kathy Bates

Personal Question

Where is your accent from? “It’s a mixture of Philadelphia and Yorkshire.”

SFR: How is the art scene in Santa Fe really perceived from the outside?

MK:

Because I come from so far away, there is no conception…about the art scene or even Santa Fe…For me, [it’s] extremely active. I just can’t believe how much is going on here, both culturally and in terms of visual arts. And there’s a terrific range of things going on.

Snob Factor: state fair, everyone’s invited

Choose one of the following to be a guest at a party you throw: President Barack Obama, Lady Gaga or advertising magnate/art collector Charles Saatchi.

I’d have all of them at different parties but, if I could only have one, I think I’d have Charles Saatchi. I think Lady Gaga would demand too much attention, and I like a party to be lots of attention for lots of people. So I think it wouldn’t be a party if you had someone like that. And I think Barack Obama would probably be good fun at a party, but he probably has too much on his mind at the moment to relax and have fun. Charles Saatchi would have interesting conversation and, therefore, I would have an arts party.

Fiesta Footwear: flats with arch support—practical, thought-out, boring

Multiple choice: Your new job is A. something you would have killed to get B. a means to an end C. kind of a favor for a friend D. a breath of fresh air.

I’d have to go with D because you haven’t given me ‘none of the above.’ My new job is fun and adventure is how I would describe it. So I guess a breath of fresh air most closely fits that. I think the collections here are really fantastic; I think they’re an under-utilized resource, both for our museum and community. And I think to have an art museum situated in a vibrant arts community is such an interesting place to be.

Staying Power: ’til retirement

Were you fated for involvement with the arts since the day you were born, drawn by a profound encounter or pulled in by an accident of circumstance?

Pulled in by an accident of circumstance. Because that’s been the progress of my life, accidents of circumstance. So it’s not just working in the arts. My marriage, my education, it’s all been accidents of circumstance. I have been very fortunate.

Messiah Factor: Job

What’s your most embarrassing experience with art?

We were opening a show and it was a retrospective, the first retrospective of this artist who was deceased. We had a VIP tour, and we had a guest happily leading them through. We heard this sound from the back of the gallery, and one of the paintings had fallen off the wall. Now, that may not sound embarrassing to you but, with a group of VIPs in an art museum, it was embarrassing. Luckily, it was undamaged and we could hang it back up.

Privacy Restrictions: strictly professional

What is contemporary art, and why should anyone care?

Contemporary art is, I think A. art being made now and B. speaks to our current situation in some way. Why should anyone care? I think good contemporary art should engage both our aesthetic senses and our intellectual senses and, consequently, it makes us think harder about who were are and what we do and what we might be.

Game Face: Webster’s Dictionary

Where do art and politics meet?

I haven’t really come across the meeting of art and politics so far. I don’t think that’s an issue; I expected it to cross my horizon more quickly.

Fairey Factor: barely Fairey

Where do art and money meet?

Santa Fe [laughs].

Buying Power: Indian Market

Tell us, in a nutshell, why your institution is important to you and what you’re hoping to bring to the table.

There is a really strong sense that people feel that this is an important place, has a historical moment when it was founded, has a wonderful building and a lovely location. Museums are seen as important institutions, but that’s kind of where the consensus ends. The idea of what the museum should become is as varied as the number of people I speak to. So, as director, it’s a really liberating position.

Boilerplate Bonus: 2/10

What’s the ratio of stuff that’s alleged to be art versus stuff that’s any good?

I think there are varieties of good, and there’s obviously the art-world-acknowledged good. There’s something that someone themselves does that may not be superb, but actually enhances their life and that has a goodness about it. So it depends what you mean by good and to what purpose that good is put.

Appetite for Cynicism: distended belly

If you weren’t an arts administrator, you’d probably be…

A lot richer [laughs].

Secret Identity: Richard Branson

What’s the most pressing story in Santa Fe’s news cycle: DWI, overdevelopment, Wi-Fi or corruption?

I sense DWI because that kills people, and it’s a big problem here.

Social Conscious Calibration: PTA

New Mexico Museum of Art

107 W. Palace Ave.

505-476-5072

Annual Budget:

$1,686,900

Membership:

Museum of New Mexico membership more than 9,000

Attendance:

60,109

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Tips from Santa Fe Arts Veterans

What’s the most important consideration for a new leader of a Santa Fe arts organization? SFR queried current leaders for their takes:

Santa Fe Art Institute

1600 St. Michael’s Drive

505-424-5050

Annual Budget:

approximately $700,000

Membership:

approximately 200

Attendance:

8,000 to 9,000 a year

Executive Director:

Diane R Karp

Began:

September 2001

“Ultimately, a new executive director or director is responsible for being true to the mission of the institution and making it possible for programs of that institution to meet that mission…that means inspiring not only staff but inspiring the community around you. It means connecting institutions to the larger community and, hopefully, in a way that is collaborative so that…the arts and broader community are best-served.”

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

217 Johnson St.

505-946-1000

Annual Budget:

$6.2 million

Membership:

2,000

Attendance:

160,017

Director:

Robert Kret

Began:

October 2009

“It’s important to understand not only the art institution you are leading but, also, the uniqueness of this community. I’ve spent a lot of time reaching out and getting to know leaders in the community, both in and out of the arts, to try and learn how the O’Keeffe Museum can create a positive impact for economic impact and quality of life in Santa Fe, as well as all of New Mexico.”

Museum of Contemporary Native Art

108 Cathedral Place

505-983-8900

Annual Budget:

nearly $1 million

Membership:

1,200

Attendance:

approximately 50,000 a year

Director:

Patsy Phillips

Began:

August 2008

“I think what’s most important as a director is staying true to representing the art you’re in charge of, the art itself. Because it best represents not only institutions in Santa Fe, but also nationally. Because that’s how institutions are really judged in the end.”