Last August, hot off of the heels of the 91st annual Indian Market, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts announced that it wouldn’t renew longtime executive director Bruce Bernstein’s contract. Shortly thereafter, Ray Valdez, who oversaw the burning of Zozobra for 22 years, resigned amidst a host of complaints—chiefly, the rise in ticket prices ($20 at the door) and the apparent lack of family atmosphere.
“I think that the theme this year is, ‘What’s old is new again,’” new Zozobra Chair Raymond G Sandoval tells SFR. He says tradition will play a strong role in this year’s installment, including the use of a 1955 script. “Of course, we’re gonna have some surprises up our sleeves to modernize it for a 2013 audience,” he adds.
Sandoval advances that changes include a formal, public invitation from Mayor David Coss and the Fiesta Council at the beginning of August to get Zozo “out of hiding,” and open community involvement, including a two-day fest a week prior to the effigy’s burning—where, contrary to previous years, the gloomy one will be on view for all to see.
“People have always wanted to participate in Zozobra—they want to touch him; they want to get close to him,” Sandoval says. He explains that “by not being so secretive about his construction and having a little fun with it,” attendees will be able to “take a photograph with Zozobra’s head, just like you would with the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.”
This month has brought major directorial shakeups in cultural institutions ranging from the Center for Contemporary Arts to the city’s Arts Commission and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. SFR spoke with these new faces, as well as John Torres-Nez—COO of SWAIA, who this year helms his first Indian Market—to see what they’re looking forward to the most this festival season.
“Like everybody else in Santa Fe, I’m just looking forward to seeing what all the organizations are up to and what they offer us this year,” says Debra Garcia y Griego, director of the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission since April 1. The commission plans to continue supporting of the major summer markets; the Santa Fe Opera; the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival; the Juan Siddi Theater Company; and performances at the Lensic, she says. “We fund most of the major cultural institutions, so we are proud to say that we have a role in almost everything that will be going on this summer in terms of arts and culture in Santa Fe.”
She thinks the local arts scene “has lots of energy and vitality, and has for centuries,” and says she’s looking forward to interdisciplinary events like Currents, to be held in the Railyard in June.
“I’m really excited about those new organizations that are crossing the line between private/public, inside/outside, old media/new media and breaking some boundaries,” she says.
Candace Tangorra Matelic, CCA executive director since April 8, agrees. Along with getting familiar with her board, staff and supporters, the institution’s upcoming 35th anniversary is at the top of her list. “[We’re] meeting with lots of folks in the arts community to talk about partnerships and collaborations,” she says. One such collab is an exhibition titled Atomic Surplus. Slated for mid-October, Surplus is a joint effort among CCA, the Los Alamos Historical Society and the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. The interdisciplinary show, along with its satellite programs, will help cement the CCA’s reputation as a community “gathering place,” Matelic says.
“That is the purpose of CCA, in terms of contemporary arts in its broadest guise—from architecture and design to performing arts to visual arts, to our amazing Cinematheque,” she says.
The freshest face of the lot, Cody Hartley, takes over his role as director of curatorial affairs at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum on April 29.
“One of the things I find very attractive about Santa Fe is just how dynamic and vibrant the cultural scene is, and when you have a series of events like this that make that all evident, it brings out the richness of the existing community as well as the nonstop flow of visitors,” he enthuses.
Hartley says his mission is to bring “creative, adventurous programming” to the table. He plans to build on the town’s strength and history, and “pull in new and fresh thoughts from across the country and across the globe,” prompting “an exciting process of discovery and rediscovery.”
Finally, John Torres-Nez is in charge of the granddaddy of them all, Indian Market. “In general, I’m looking forward to the whole market event itself,” he says. “I’m usually working so much during the summer that I don’t event think about the other festivities.”
Asked what events like his need in order to reenergize, his answer is swift. “I guess I didn’t realize it needed any reenergizing. Indian Market is healthy, and its audience has grown,” he says. “If some of the others aren’t growing, I was unaware of that.”