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‘The Journalism Racket’

SFR v. Martinez, Day 1

Local NewsWednesday, March 29, 2017 by Marisa Demarco

The SFR v. Gov. Susana Martinez trial began today in state District Court with the governor’s high-powered, contract defense lawyer attacking the credibility of the journalists who filed the lawsuit, suggesting they were not precise, not knowledgeable, not prepared and not invested in the profession.

“How long have you been in the journalism racket now?” lawyer Paul Kennedy asked former Santa Fe Reporter staff writer Joey Peters, prompting chuckles in the courtroom. It was the second time Kennedy had used the word "racket." 

Kennedy also pushed Peters to reveal where he was storing a recording he made of a brief 2013 phone call with the governor that’s been mentioned in the case. As part of a tense exchange, Peters said he was uncomfortable answering questions about where his notes and recordings are located. 

Kennedy jumped in, “I don’t care if you’re uncomfortable. Answer the question.” 

Judge Sarah Singleton eventually ruled that SFR's legal team must produce the recording tomorrow, “no matter where you get it from.” She did not compel Peters to reveal where he kept the recording.

During the call, Peters told Martinez that her spokesman wouldn’t reply to his requests for comment. She replied: “I wonder why.” The comment, Peters said, was sarcastic. And it could point to a deliberate stonewalling of SFR. 

The governor's recalcitrance and tone in the call signaled to SFR's staff that its increasingly frosty relationship with the Martinez administration—brought on, the newspaper contends in its lawsuit, by critical coverage of the administration—could not be salvaged. So the newspaper filed suit, alleging that the governor had committed serial violations of the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, and that her administration had violated SFR's free expression rights under the state Constitution.

In court today, Kennedy also successfully fought to exclude an audio recording of Martinez' chief of staff, Keith Gardner, saying he never used his state email because he didn’t want to "go to court or jail."

“I never email on my state email anything that can come back to bite me in the ass," Gardner said in the recorded conversation. "It’s all done offline. I never—shit, I never use my state email, because—it’s all done on different stuff, ‘cause I don’t want to go to court or jail.” 

SFR filed its lawsuit more than three years ago, saying the governor’s office blacklisted the paper after SFR covered the Martinez administration’s use of private email. 

Current and former SFR journalists testified today. Gardner and other Martinez staffers, past and present, are expected to take the stand tomorrow and Friday.

SFR was known as an investigative newspaper and aimed to get at the “why” behind a story, as opposed to simply covering the news of the day, former editor Alexa Schirtzinger said from the witness stand. The paper’s policy was to always ask for comment on any story that pertained to Gov. Martinez’ administration and officials’ activities. Journalists would ask by phone and by email, she said. 

Responses to those requests came consistently through the early part of Schirtzinger's term as editor, even if Martinez' officials got back to journalists with a “no comment.” But then the paper published a year-end cover story in 2012 under the headline “The Year In Closed Government,” emphasizing the hypocrisy of the administration’s secrecy. “Our purpose is to serve the governed, not the governor,” Schirtzinger said in court today.

After that article called out Martinez’ campaign-trail promises to run a transparent government, SFR stopped getting any response at all, Schirtzinger testified. “We certainly had the feeling that we were being completely cut off.” This not only contributed to an erosion of the paper’s credibility, but “readers weren’t able to get as full of a story that we wanted to get to them,” Schirtzinger said.

In his cross-examination of Schirtzinger, Kennedy opened by asking, “You’re out of the journalism racket now, right?” 

“I wouldn’t call it a racket, but yes, I’m out of it,” Schirtzinger replied. 

Justin Horwath, a former SFR staff writer who now works for The Santa Fe New Mexican, testifies in court.
Mark Woodward

Kennedy asked whether SFR is primarily an arts and culture publication. Schirtzinger replied that it’s a news publication. He asked whether she was sure of its circulation and quizzed her on the population of the larger Santa Fe County. 

He also eventually asked whether she had plotted with her staff to trap the governor into noncompliance with the state’s open records law by requesting emails SFR knew existed, simply to see if they would be provided. She said there were no plots or traps. 

Kennedy later asked reporter Justin Horwath, a former SFR staff writer, numerous times to recall comments the Governor’s Office gave other media outlets without providing similar information to SFR. Since it was three years ago, Horwath said, he couldn’t recall the specifics. 

Before he left the stand, Horwath testified that he’s expecting retaliation, and he’s experienced it before, during his time at the Santa Fe Reporter, and since.

SFUAD SNAFU

Planned sale of Santa Fe University of Art and Design is scrapped as school stops enrolling new students

Local NewsWednesday, March 29, 2017 by Matt Grubs

The Santa Fe University of Art and Design, which leases the old College of Santa Fe campus from the city, will stop enrolling new students next semester. On Wednesday, the for-profit college announced to employees that an expected purchase agreement had fallen through and the university plans to suspend registration while its parent company, LEI Holdings, Inc. decides what to do next.


LEI, which has ties to Laureate Education, had planned to sell the school to Raffles Education, a Singapore-based company that would have claimed SFUAD as its first US school. A letter sent to faculty and staff by SFUAD Board of Directors Chairwoman Susan Fairbairn said the school would remain open and that it did not expect accreditation or financial aid eligibility to be impacted by the decision.


Depending on the courses they take, the school's 690 students pay between $14,000 and $20,000 each semester for tuition, room and board. SFUAD has not made any decision about layoffs.


Fairbairn's letter also said “Our students’ academic success is our first priority.” However, students contacted by SFR on Wednesday were not aware of the change.


In an emailed statement, university spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said, “We believe this is the most prudent and necessary step in order to now consider the best options for the university.


In a phone call Wednesday afternoon, Lighty tells SFR the decision to abandon the deal was made early this morning. The sale had been expected to close by now and the delay impacted the agreement, which contained an expected timeline for clearing the purchase with the Higher Learning Commission and the US Department of Education. "We are committed to our summer session and to staying open through the 2017-2018 school year," she says. The commission confirmed Wednesday that the university remains accredited.


Lighty says SFUAD began notifying students through email and social media on Wednesday afternoon and plans to have in-person talks with students. Roughly 100 seniors will graduate on May 13, leaving fewer than 600 students. Lighty says academic advisers will work with any students looking to transfer out of the university. 


City of Santa Fe spokesman Matt Ross tells SFR that the city's financial relationship with SFUAD remains in good standing. The university pays the city $2.23 million a year. Ross says the quarterly payments of $557,500 are current and Laureate has not notified the city that it plans to exercise a termination clause in the lease requiring seven months' notice. 


In a statement, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales said, "Eight years ago, we stepped in to save an educational center in the heart of our city, and in doing so we made a big investment in this community. It was a good investment then, and it is still a good investment today."


The city purchased the 91-acre property near St. Michael's Drive and Cerrillos Road for $19.5 million after the College of Santa Fe closed down in 2009. The loan used for the sale was much higher—$29.6 million. The city used the money to pay for deferred maintenance on the property. Since then, it's sold off roughly 30 acres. Santa Fe could pay off the loan today for $27.8 million, though Matt O'Reilly, director of the Office of Asset Development, says the property appraised in 2013 for $31 million. The city is in the process of reappraising the land and buildings, which sit at the west end of the planned Midtown Local Innovation Corridor.


This is a developing story and SFR will add information as it becomes available.

Morning Word: SF Pay Raise Plan Missing From Budget

Morning WordWednesday, March 29, 2017 by Matt Grubs

SF Budget Proposal is Lean on Raises
Very lean. Mayor Javier Gonzales proposed 5 percent pay hikes for city workers during his State of the City address, but the budget handed to the City Council by the administration focuses instead on funding more efficient government. Next year's proposed spending doesn't actually include raises for city employees, though it does provide some suggestions as to how the city council might pay for them. 

Extra Tobacco Cash Likely to Vanish
Not really in a puff of smoke, but after a judge ruled that Big Tobacco has been shortchanging New Mexico's payments from a decades-old settlement agreement, it seems likely the extra $14.5 million the state is owed will get siphoned off by a state government that's desperate for cash. The settlement money is supposed to pay for tobacco-cessation programs and other health-related costs, but the Legislature has long been spending it elsewhere in the annual budget.

Do It Again
The upcoming legislative special session—which so far has only been promised by the governor and not actually scheduled by her—may include another whack at reforming New Mexico's capital outlay system. The state's method of paying for infrastructure projects is byzantine and inefficient, leaving almost a billion dollars earmarked but unspent.

PNM Says Trump's Climate Rule Rollback Won't Impact Four Corners Deal
While President Trump is busy de-Obamaing the EPA and whatever else he can get his normal-sized hands on, the haze-limiting deal between New Mexico's largest electricity provider and state and federal regulators is still on. A spokesman says it will take some time to see how Trump's new rules impact the industry. That means two units at the San Juan Generating Station will be shuttered by the end of the year.

Mutual Fund Magnate Offers $10M Challenge to Las Vegas School
Shelby Davis, who made his fortune managing mutual funds, has promised $10 million to the United World College in Las Vegas. The boarding school, which occupies the Montezuma Castle outside of town, has to raise $2 million a year for five years to leverage the money promised by Davis. It's quite the motivational tool.

Wilson's Air Force Hearing Takes Off Tomorrow
Former New Mexico congresswoman Heather Wilson will endure a confirmation hearing Thursday after being nominated by the president for Secretary of the Air Force. Wilson, who represented New Mexico's 1st Congressional District for years, is now a university president in South Dakota. She'll have to unload a bunch of defense-contractor stock if she's confirmed for the post.

A Good Spring for Silvery Minnows
If you haven't taken a gander at the Rio Grande lately, there's a lot of water in it. A reasonable winter and a warm March combined to send millions of gallons churning their muddy way toward Mexico. That's good news for the protected Rio Grande silvery minnow. The tiny fish spawns in conditions like these. It also means water managers on the river will have an easier time managing flows to protect the fish population. 

UNM Presidential Search Slows
Well, that didn't take long. Just a day after word surfaced that University of New Mexico regents wanted to get presidential finalists on campus before school let out, it now appears the beleaguered board can't get the job done until the fall. Maybe there should be a three-point shooting contest for the finalists; it's an open question whether the men's basketball team will have any players left by then.

Thanks for reading! The Word has some season tickets we could let go for a decent price. They're right behind the bench where the players s̶i̶t̶ used to sit.

Subscribe to the Morning Word at sfreporter.com/signup.

7 Days

03.29.17

7 DaysWednesday, March 29, 2017 by SFR
1

COMEDIAN WITH SEXIST/TRANSPHOBIC ACT MENTIONS SANTA FE IN HIS NEW NETFLIX SPECIAL

That banana guy was a jerk, too.

2

Santa Fe Public Schools SNOW DAY FOR ACTIVISM DRAWS CRITICISM FROM STATE

Skipping class for a better tomorrow.

3

SFR’s LAWSUIT OVER GOVERNOR’S CRAPPY RECORDS COMPLIANCE HEADS TO TRIAL

Because waiting three years for records is better than waiting for hell to freeze over.  

4

REPUBLICAN LAWYERS SUE Attorney General FOR WITHHOLDING RECORDS ON ‘POLITICAL GROUNDS’

It totally sucks when someone does it to you, huh?

5

OBAMACARE WAS NOT REPEALED

Bad news if you were hoping to just die already.

6

AND THAT GUY IN THE WHITE HOUSE SAYS HE’S MOVING ON TO THE NEXT BIG THING

Sometimes we’re grateful for his short attention span.

7

UBER SELF-DRIVING CAR CRASHES IN PHOENIX

Robocar probably still does a better job than half the human drivers on their cell phones.


'The Blackcoat’s Daughter' Review

Shipka shines, the rest feels flat

Movie ReviewsWednesday, March 29, 2017 by Alex De Vore

The introspective, perhaps more socially conscious “new wave horror” movement in cinema has achieved some pretty killer results (what’s up, It Follows?!), but generally speaking, the tone and pacing of such movies can err toward the tedious. Whether this is meant to convey a methodical or even clinical approach remains unclear, and though themes and inspiration from the heyday of 1980s horror are surely part of the equation, we’re often left with a lot of “atmospheric” quiet moments and little payoff. The Blackcoat’s Daughter (which is from 2015 but somehow opens now) falls someplace in there, though the closing few minutes kind of make it worth it … kind of.

Two teen girls are left stranded at their upstate New York boarding school over a break when their parents don’t arrive, and as things start to get creepy—y’know, because boarding schools are big and also creepy—young Rose (Lucy Boynton of Sing Street) begins to get the heebie-jeebies from Kiernan Shipka’s character, Kat. Meanwhile, another young woman, Joan (Emma Roberts), heads toward the school with an older couple facing the loss of a child. Roberts, in all of her not-talking, weird-face-making, not-responding-to-simple-questions glory, disappoints, though it seems she sincerely tried to bring her all.

But still, questions remain. What’s up at the school? Why is Joan heading there? Where the hell are everyone’s parents? And why would the school be like, “Sure, you guys can just stay here by yourselves, just maybe call once in awhile or something”?

The answers slowly (and we mean slowly) unfold and we start to think that maybe Kat’s, like, got a demon all up in her. Ultimately, Shipka’s performance becomes the film’s saving grace. She’s always carried a certain quiet intensity and, with very little dialogue, she brings a new twist to the horror trope of “creepy-ass little girl.”

You’ll probably need to be a horror fan to get the most out of this one, but The Blackcoat’s Daughter also has a funny way of sticking with you afterwards. It’s slightly rewarding to figure out the mild twist, but more exciting to revel in Shipka’s mastery of scary faces.

6

+ Kiernan Shipka
- Slow as hell; minimal payoff

The Blackcoat’s Daughter
Directed by Oz Perkins
With Shipka, Boynton and Roberts
Jean Cocteau Cinema,
R, 93 min.

MetroGlyphs

03.29.17

MetroGlyphsWednesday, March 29, 2017 by SFR
Russ Thornton is a Santa Fe local who has replaced his first passion, cooking, with a new love interest, the weekly SFR comic he's created called MetroGlyphs. Reach him at santafechef@hotmail.com

Siren Song

Paris Mancini loops the loop

Music FeaturesWednesday, March 29, 2017 by Alex De Vore

I’ve mentioned Paris Mancini’s bizarre looping musical project P S I R E N S before (and that’s gonna be the only time we format the name that way in this piece, but I thought y’all should know that’s the way it goes), but now you’ll have a chance to check her out for yourself at two upcoming shows here in town. And you really should, because goddamn if she hasn’t wormed her way into my mind. Which is odd, as generally projects that combine nonstop sampling and mostly-odd vocal work come across as self-indulgent or like cheating. But Mancini brings a hefty dose of earnestness to her performances. It’s actually quite hard to explain, but it’s like an eerie blend of art project and Bjork weirdness with the challenging musicality (or sometimes lack thereof) of a band like Oakland’s Clipd Beaks—though there absolutely is a more cohesive vision in Mancini’s work.

Hers is a familiar story: artsy type visits folks she knows in the desert; falls in love; never leaves. And though she spends a good chunk of the year styling hair in NYC to keep those bills paid, Santa Fe is home base or, at the very least, a sort of creative catalyst.

“I think, in the desert, you have to deal with yourself,” Mancini says. “New York is very transient. Here it’s not, and everyone knows who you are and you have to deal with the negative space of the open land.”

This idea of minimalism certainly informs PSIRENS’ sound, but with layers of samples, live instrumentation, vocals and sound effects, there’s a lot going on. Think of it as deceptively simple, and certainly not for everyone, but perfect for those looking to dabble with the consumption of something experimental yet still musical enough. Really, though, you’ve just kind of gotta see it for yourself.

It’s the natural evolution of a musician who played with bands for years then set out to make up for the loss of personnel with loops. And whereas a performer like Moldover (who we totally talked about a couple weeks ago) does this in an incredibly complicated yet decidedly solo way, Mancini’s knack for improvisation and love of collaboration drives her songs; it’s almost as enjoyable to mull over what her process might be like as to see it play out live, often with other musicians along for the ride.

This caught the attention of local imprint Matron Records, which has thus far released a split album with PSIRENS and Slow Proteo called Mountain Music based on a shared love of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. According to Mancini, Matron plans to put out two subsequent PSIRENS works: one called Others, containing collaborations from over the years, and another of stripped-down piano and vocal songs that has yet to be named.

“I think my strength is in hearing the melodies,” Mancini says. “Though I wish I could read music better because I’d love to be a composer … I just hear the arrangements.”

Trust me, though, she’s doing just fine either way. I might even recommend going in to either of the upcoming PSIRENS shows without hearing her first, as I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised—but if you’re the kind of person who just gots to know, you can visit psirensmusic.bandcamp.com.



P S I R E N S
5 pm Friday March 31. Free.
form & concept Gallery,
435 S Guadalupe St.,
982-8111


8 pm Tuesday April 4. $5-$10 suggested donation.
Zephyr,
1520 Center Drive #2


Existential Style

Georgia O’Keeffe, an artist and a style icon

Bed HeadWednesday, March 29, 2017 by Maria Egolf-Romero

As the mother of modern painting, Georgia O’Keeffe’s minimalist aesthetic influenced every part of her life. She built her house of vision on a strong sense of self, which fostered her artwork and her revolutionary persona, forever marking the world with her impression.

The iconic artist wasn’t like her female contemporaries; the largest space in her home was her studio, not the living room. She didn’t wear high heels or much jewelry. She made her own kimono-like robes and dressed mostly in black.

As we speak, the Brooklyn Museum has an entire exhibit dedicated to O’Keeffe’s life and style. Featuring pieces from her wardrobe, photographs of her from different eras throughout her life and some of her work, the exhibit, Living Modern, shares a title with the book on the same subject written by exhibit curator and professor emerita of art history at Stanford Univeristy, Wanda M Corn.

Living Modern wouldn’t be complete without the collection of clothing Corn borrowed from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, as well as the help of curator Carolyn Kastner, who worked organizing items and piecing outfits together. Both curators see the consistent stylized thread in O’Keeffe’s world as an inseparable part of her legacy.

“Amazing continuity. That’s Wanda’s phrase, and I love that, because this amazing continuity is throughout her life and across all parts of her life,” Kastner says. “This is how she lives, this is how she sees, this is how she thinks.”

The collection includes pieces from every O’Keeffe era. Some are instantly recognizable from photos of her taken by the likes of Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol and the love of her life, Alfred Stieglitz: dark, layered menswear-inspired ensembles and a black-and-white wrap dress.

“You think there’s one black suit and you see her looking the same over time, but there are actually parts of four black suits when we got her closet sorted out. So, when one wore thin—and they did—she would have another one made,” Kastner tells SFR, “and the labels inside are dated to a specific time when she had that look remade.”

One could line up the years of O’Keeffe’s black suits, dated with passing time, and realize that when she found something she liked, she stuck to it. “That wrap dress with the belt—we have 23 of those,” Kastner says. “You think you’re seeing her in one dress, but you’re seeing her in one style of a dress. You get the sense that this is a longevity of one look, and there are lots of editorial decisions around the frame of that.”

The clothes in O’Keeffe’s closet show signs of wear and repair, hinting that she treasured certain pieces, and that she wasn’t delicate with them. They weren’t things she only wore in photographs. “She’s always being fluid and in motion, and her clothes show that. They have pockets and they have patches on them because something happened and she wanted to continue wearing them,” Kastner says. Some items in her closet were so finely made, they sustained wear to perfection; like her cape by New York designer Zoe, who also made Stieglitz’s famous cape. Kastner jokes that it’s fabricated so finely, it could survive a nuclear event. “It’s so beautiful it breaks my heart, seriously,” she says.

But the collection includes examples from less affluent times in O’Keeffe’s life, including some she may have designed and made herself. And some of the pieces in the collection have artistic statements hidden in their folds, like a kimono wrap that features a hidden band of hand shibori dyed silk, made by a delicate process of dip-dying. “That’s a very interesting piece and it goes to a very early date,” Kastner says. “It’s common that she would be dressed in black, but there would be a detail that maybe only she would know, like this rainbow of color on the inside.”

Founder of modernism and minimalist fashion aside, O’Keeffe was an artist, and she wore things she could paint and move in; things that were comfortable, livable, and in line with her aesthetic. Her tendency toward menswear and robes, wrap dresses and kimonos mirror the current trends so closely, we should honor her foresight and influence.

Kastner asserts that the key ingredient to O’Keeffe’s style was simplicity. “Whether it has stripes or plaids or flowers—which are in her wardrobe—they all create a beautiful silhouette. That, I think, is what gives us the sense of style, it’s really a simplified sense of dressing.”

If you want to hear more about the Claire McCardell dresses, Ferragamo shoes and Hector Aguilar turquoise belts that remain behind as relics of the iconic painter, attend Kastner’s upcoming lecture on the very subject as part of the Breakfast With O’Keeffe series.



Carolyn Kastner: Modern Style and O’Keeffe’s Closet
9 am Wednesday May 3. $15.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Education Annex,
123 Grant Ave.,
946-1039


The Cosmopolitans

New art blog unites up-and-coming artists in Santa Fe—and across the world

Art FeaturesWednesday, March 29, 2017 by Jordan Eddy

Is the internet strengthening human connections or degrading civil society? In an era of “fake news” and presidential Twitter tirades, the debate seems all but settled. Santa Fe art world denizen LE Brown presents a more optimistic answer at the top of her new blog. The URL—descent-of-man.com, a nod to Charles Darwin’s seminal text on evolution—conflicts with the header at the top of the site, which reads: “Ascent of Man.” Brown’s reason for the switch becomes clearer as you scroll down the page, clicking through interviews with young artists who have fresh and powerful messages for the world.

“Modern modes of communication are really freeing,” says Brown. “You can literally talk to anyone, and that’s a big reason I think the internet is great.” Brown, who works as an associate art director at Nedra Matteuci Galleries by day, has styled herself as a 21st-century salonniere with infinite walls in her digital living room.

Descent of Man (the blog’s official title) sheds light on a cosmopolitan community of creatives in Santa Fe and across the world. Our national borders might be tightening in a political sense, but these artists are building virtual bridges that will be much harder to dismantle.

On Brown’s first day in New Mexico, she drove from Albuquerque to White Sands National Monument. “I had to pull off to the side of the road, I was sobbing so hard,” she says. “It was so beautiful and intense.” Brown had recently graduated from the Universty of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in art history, and she was on a road trip across the country. She grew up in Ventura, California, and knew she wanted to move away from the Golden State. When she passed through Santa Fe, Brown printed a stack of resumes and passed them out on a gallery walk.

Nedra Matteucci called her not long after she got back to California. They wanted an in-person interview. “That’s when I packed up and drove back, and decided that even if I didn’t get the job I would just stay. And I did get the job,” Brown says. Two weeks after that first drive through New Mexico, she was unpacking in her adobe apartment. That was over a year ago, in February 2016.

Brown studied art of the Middle East and North Africa at UC Santa Cruz, and spent her last year of college on exchange in Turkey. Matteucci was her first real exposure to historic and contemporary American art. The sprawling gallery space on Paseo de Peralta was overwhelming at first. “It’s more like an institution than a gallery. I remember my whole first week there I couldn’t find the bathroom, and I was wandering around endlessly,” she says.

As Brown’s knowledge of local art history grew, she also mounted expeditions through Santa Fe’s contemporary arts community. A few weeks after her arrival, she sought out a music performance at a DIY venue in the Siler District, though she can’t recall if it was Ghost or Zephyr. “It was a girl screaming into a trumpet,” she says. “It was so weird, and I loved it.” Brown kept pursuing strands of avant-garde energy in Santa Fe until she fell in with a group of contemporary artists that inspired her. They would become her first interview subjects on Descent of Man, which she launched in December 2016.

“Every community has a young art scene, but this is just so intrinsically New Mexican,” says Brown. “It’s a really diverse group of young people doing things without restraints.”

Local artists Nathan Usher and Lars Jacquemetton were her first guests. Usher is a collage artist who explores political issues and social theory by weaving queer figures and narratives into his work. Jacquemetton, a software developer, uses 3D printers to create swirling abstract sculptures. “A lot of people argue that new media is not a valid art form. How would you respond to those criticisms?” Brown asked.

“New medias can iterate themselves and copy freely distributed material and completely change how art can be created,” Jacquemetton responded. “Can you discount new media as being not artistic? That’s hard to argue.”

Brown’s next round of posts featured artists and arts professionals from Santa Fe and across the nation. Max Baseman, owner and curator of 5. Gallery off Rufina Street, discussed the joys and difficulties of founding a DIY art space. Portland dancer Juliet Paramor talked about postmodernism and improvisational dance. Cynthia Laureen Vogt, who works with Brown at Nedra Matteucci, discussed the artist books that she’s exhibiting in New York this spring. Descent of Man resolutely breaks the boundaries between regional art scenes, drawing links between them by revealing the genre-defying attitudes of artists across the nation.

Brown often connects with interview subjects by surfing Tumblr or Instagram and boldly reaching out. “An online forum can be a melting pot in very literal terms,” Brown says. “I see a lot of young artists talking about their identities in different ways, and working through that in art. It’s hard to make sense of the world right now, and using creativity to come to terms with that is really powerful.” Her list of contacts is constantly expanding, as her interview subjects recommend far-flung artists. Brown has international plans for the blog’s next phase: She’s lining up interviews with artists in the Middle East and South America. New material typically appears on Descent of Man once every few weeks, but Brown plans to increase the frequency of posts.

Brown’s confidence grows as she reaches out to bigger names in the art world, but she still gets nervous for interviews. “I do have one or two drinks before I do these interviews. It makes me a little more interesting with my questions,” she says.

What’s her drink of choice? “Whatever is closest.”

Now that’s a good salon.


¡Pour Vida!

Reinas de la Vid

Food WritingWednesday, March 29, 2017 by Mary Francis Cheeseman

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the world of wine, in all its vastness and diversity, is still a man’s world. In industry publication The Wine Economist, writer Mike Veseth noted how many women fall into a specific category of wine drinker (which he calls “Satisfied Sippers”) and, according to the 2005 Constellation Brands’ “Project Genome” survey:

“Satisfied Sippers actually represents the smallest market segment. This predominantly female group knows what to buy and buys it, often in 1.5-liter bottles. ... Although they are 14 percent of all wine buyers, Satisfied Sippers buy just 8 percent of all wine and generate 7 percent of the profits.”

It’s like Constellation Brands codified the stereotype of the female wine drinker. Women buy things like “cougar crack” (chardonnay) or “sweet wine,” or they go out and split the bill six ways for a bottle of Gruet. And if the group with the highest percentage of women only buys 8 percent of all the wine out there, why write an article appealing to them to explore their place in the wine world?

To close out this Women’s History Month, I want to ask both women and men who are allies of women to change that. I think wine can be empowering to women on all levels: as consumers, as makers and as professionals in the industry. For example, out of 149 Master Sommeliers listed on the Court of Master Sommeliers’ website, only 24 are women. To change that statistic, the contributions of women to the world of wine have to be recognized and celebrated. Specifically, as consumers, we can embrace how wine is uniquely tied to the people who make it, and seek out wine made by a woman.

One of the things I am always going to ask in this column is to stop looking at wine as a “brand” and start connecting to the people serving it, selling it and making it. People come into the La Casa Sena Wine Shop and ask about Grand Cru Burgundy with an expectation of high quality. But if you ask about the wines of Anne Gros, you will get something much more specific and personal—the work of one artist versus the general categorization of their art. It will be a step towards affirming that womens’ taste is an important and valued contribution to the wine world. The following list, by no means exhaustive, is merely an introduction.

Heidi Schröck
After taking over her family’s vineyards in 1983, Schröck went on to be named the Falstaff Vintner of the Year in 2003, becoming one of only a handful of women to acheive the award. All of her vineyards are situated near the village of Rust, in the province of Burgenland, five miles from Austria’s border with Hungary. Her south-facing, lakeside vines lie on beds of calcareous clay mixed with sand, and see more hours of sunshine than most in Austria. The results are undeniably impressive. Every year Shröck puts out a rose called Biscaya. It’s inexpensive (last year it was $17) and the current vintage is due in a few weeks. It’s also a strong and dry style of rose that is perfect for summertime red wine drinkers.

Domaine Weinbach
Not only one of the most prominent estates in Alsace, Domaine Weinbach has been in the hands of women since 1979, when winemaker Théo Faller passed away and left the estate in the hands of his widow Colette, who managed the winemaking alongside her two daughters, Laurence and Catherine. They would go on to make some of the most powerful and beautiful wines in all of Alsace, if not all of France. It was under Laurence Faller that the winery began and completed the conversion to biodynamics, a uniquely sustainable method of winemaking. Tragically, Laurence died at age 47 from a heart attack in 2014, and in 2015 Colette passed away at age 87. Catherine Faller now manages the estate with her two sons. The legacy of one of the most powerful female-run wineries in the world lives on to this day. Domaine Weinbach possesses 27 hectares of some of the most enviable vineyard land in Alsace, including several Grand Cru holdings, the very best vineyards. Their wines run the gamut of a wide range of price points.

Cathy Corison
I probably couldn’t write a better love letter to Cathy Corison’s endeavors than Eric Asimov did two years ago in the New York Times (just an excerpt: “… It was clear to me in tasting these wines that Corison is among the greatest producers of cabernet sauvignon in Napa Valley today”), but I can add to the sentiment. She’s been making wine in Napa for over 40 years under her Corison label, and makes two cabernets that are hard to put into words—they’re so good. They are also very, very different from anything else in Napa Valley, a vast departure from the big, almost slightly sweet, fruity and ripe style that is characteristic of the region. Both are expensive; the cheaper of the two is around $90 retail (still kind of a deal to me, though, as a bottle of Caymus is $85). These wines age remarkably well, so if you’re looking to store wine long-term, Corison is the perfect place to start.


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