2013 was a year for the books in Santa Fe’s arts and culture scene. Anything but stagnant, the nation’s oldest capital was reenergized with a barrage of new faces, ideas and alternative art spaces that again confirm our city’s place on the national art scene.
Here’s a look back at some of the more memorable Arts Valve faces:
Operating outside the conventional gallery system, airbrush artist Grant Kosh [AV, Jan. 30: “Brush With Fame”] opted to exhibit his intricately detailed portraits at Atomic Grill.
“The airbrush is really an amazing tool, because you can paint on really anything,” Kosh explained, adding that he’s painted on everything from refrigerator doors to car hoods. “You’re mixing two things that should never mix: air and paint. It’s like oil and water,” he said of the medium’s punk rock element.
When Atomic’s doors closed in September, Kosh moved his one-man operation to Marble Brewery and hung his work there. Now, with the Tap Room’s future uncertain, Kosh is aiming higher. “I’m gonna try to pump up my online existence a bit more,” Kosh says, adding that commissions that have come in through his website and word of mouth have been keeping him busy. “Trying to find a new gallery is definitely at the top of my list,” Kosh says of his expectations for 2014. “I’m not panicking yet, but I’m definitely on the look-out.”
“The children; their faces; their huge smiles,” John Duke said about his favorite part of his job over the summer [AV, Sept. 4: “Blow Hard”]. The so-called “Balloon Man” was in murky territory as he didn’t fit within a standard, musician category and soon became the accidental poster boy for what he called “selective enforcement” of the city’s busking guidelines. A proposed ordinance change fell flat and, for the time being, Plaza performers stand their ground. “They were trying to make more of a flap about it but then they realized they were up for a fight,” Duke tells SFR.
“The Plaza’s had entertainment in it for over a hundred years,” he continues. “I wish the city could figure out who are the panhandlers and who are the performers—breathalyze them or something. At this point, I’ll just go take my ball and play somewhere else.”
Duke says his living situation has bettered and his bills are taken care of. He continues to lace every other word with a Pee-wee Herman-style chuckle and focuses on cranking out as many swords, crowns, and his signature, pregnant monkeys on Harleys, as he can.
The second floor of the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts got temporarily transformed into a bunker, when Cherokee/Seneca-Cayuga artist-in-residence Jamison Chas Banks took over and presented an experimental performance piece titled Terrortories: The Frontier [AV, March 20: “War Paint”]. “There are multiple levels of discourse, not just one,” the interdisciplinary artist said, dressed in full camo, sitting at a desk and surrounded by military paraphernalia. A commentary on consumerism and Native American rights, the stint, along with subsequent works, put Banks on SITE Santa Fe’s radar.
Earlier this month, it was announced he would join a cast of international artists in SITElines, the institution’s refreshed biennial. “The themes I’m exploring are unsettled territory, population and economy,” Banks says, adding that he’ll be using the Louisiana Purchase—and the effect it had on his people—as a vessel for dialogue. “I’m using it not as negative thing, but a building block,” he says. The “self-aware” installation, Banks says, shies away from the “dichotomy” of the Spanish conquest and offers a “personal feel.” Another idea the work broaches on is borders. “Where does one empire end and another begin—that’s a recurring theme in my work,” he says. “It poses a ripple effect, that is still felt.”
The year brought with it new blood when it came to top-tier positions in some of the city’s cultural powerhouses [AV, April 24: “New Kids on the Art Block”]. John Torres-Nez took over the stewardship of SWAIA and its ever-popular Indian Market; Candace Tangorra Matelic left the Children’s Museum to take executive director title at the Center for Contemporary Arts on the heels of its 35th anniversary; longtime Santa Fe Art Institute director Diane Karp stepped down after 12 years [AV, May 22: “Heart to Karp”] and new director of curatorial affairs at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Cody Hartley, alongside The Hyde Collection, knocked it out of the park with Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George [AV, Oct 9: “Bloomin’ Group”]
Another recent appointee, Zozobra chairman Ray Sandoval, brought the annual burning of Old Man Gloom back to the people. Festivities included ZozoFest, a marionette mitzvah held at El Museo Cultural prior to the fire, lowered price of admission, and a straight-to-the-point script penned by Will Shuster in 1953. Approaching the big 9-0, Sandoval says Zozobra’s surprises haven’t stopped yet.
“It’s gonna be completely different because we’re doing our ‘Decades Project,’” Sandoval teases. An homage to Zozos past, 2014’s program is designed to be a nod to the 1920s. Keeping true to the vintage script, Sandoval says, Zozo will take on a whole new look. “He’s going to be bare-chested and sporting legs,” the chairman says. “He looks much more like a person.” Mad flappers will be at hand to “relive history,” and the star of the show will be sporting a cigar. “Big, big changes in store for next year,” Sandoval advances. “It’s gonna be awesome!”
Last winter, the weather was ripe for a project that combined both literary arts and the frosty weather: Snow Poems. SFR was there when the first frosty haiku appeared on the windows outside the Teen Court building on W Palace Avenue [AV, Jan. 2: “Let It Snow”]. The maiden message, “Floating from the heavens, wildly dancing round,” was written by Mateo Martinez, a 12th grader at Santa Fe High School. Soon, many a storefront and public building would be adorned with poems—60 altogether—forcing passerby to engage with public spaces. “It’s the dead of winter, and we need something to carry us through it,” Edie Tsong of the Cut+Paste Society, principal on the project said.
On Sunday, Jan. 12 Tsong and the society present a special post card book and “poetry storm” at Collected Works. “The whole idea is bringing this intimacy to our public spaces,” Tsong mused. “We’re always running to work, running errands. This is actually where we spend our lives, and we want to have it be beautiful.”