SFR Picks

SFR Picks—Week of Feb. 21

Artes de Cuba celebrates, Free Range Buddhas meditate, Museum of International Folk Art staffers contemplate and Foto Forum propogates

Cuba Libre

Artes de Cuba gallery celebrates its second birthday

Most people know Stuart Ashman from big titles he held in the institutional and nonprofit arts sector, including as state Department of Cultural Affairs secretary and as director of the New Mexico History Museum, as well as head of the Center for Contemporary Arts and the International Folk Art Market. Yet these days, Ashman, along with his wife Peggy Gaustad, has a certified banger gallery on his hands with Artes de Cuba, a Midtown bastion for artists who hail from Cuba and a space that hits its second year this week.

“I worked in museums and for nonprofit organizations and…I had a job in California as the president of the Museum of Latin American Art, so I was always involved in arts and galleries, but it was inside museums,” Ashman tells SFR. “As my interest in Cuban art grew, I thought it was time to do something of my own.”

That growing love has roots in Ashman’s heritage. He’s American-born but spent the first 12 years of his life in Cuba before his folks relocated to the states. His Santa Fe story is a familiar one, too—that of a post-college artist who happens through for one reason or another and falls in love with the light, the art, the way of life. Like so many, he left the city only to be pulled back in. Ashman returned for the executive director job at CCA in 2016 and has been here full-time since.

“When I came back, I really thought that was going to be my last job, then I’d retire,” he says with a laugh.

Instead, he worked for the International Folk Art Market from 2019 to 2021, then launched the gallery the next year.

Ashman has sojourned to the island nation numerous times over the years in efforts to discover new artists. The gallery functions, of course, as a business, but Ashman says he uses his nonprofit background as a guide when it comes to helping up-and-comers. In short, much of what he shows in the gallery comes down to a gut feeling about the work. And though names like José Manuel Fors, Liudmila y Nelson and Desbel Alvarez might not be widely known in the US, they—and many others at Artes de Cuba—present fascinating views of their homeland across a variety of media such as stripped veneer, colored pencil shavings, sculpture, painting, photography and more.

If you’ve never been to Artes de Cuba, consider this week’s anniversary party the perfect opportunity. Ashman promises food, music, mojitos and revelry. Plus, there’s all that beautiful art.

Artes de Cuba Second Anniversary: 4-7 pm Thursday, Feb. 22. Free. Artes de Cuba, 1700 A Lena St., (505) 303-3138


Sometimes the local Americana thing wears a little thin in Santa Fe—there are just so many freaking acoustic guitars—but then a band like Free Range Buddhas comes along and what starts as a begrudging listen for professional reasons turns into genuine enjoyment. The project led by vocalist Francesca Jozette has been keeping it pretty real since its 2016 inception, but on new track “End of the Story,” a teaser track pulled from the band’s next record scheduled to release later this year, the Buddhas have come together in a way they’d not quite reached before. It’s a little bit hippie-ish in its ‘60s-like psychedelic throwback tunes, but moments of almost ‘90s Blind Melon-esque guitar emphasize what must have been a fun bit of experimentation during the writing process. To find out what else the band has been up to, trek to Madrid this weekend.

Free Range Buddhas: 8 pm Friday, Feb. 23. Free. The Mine Shaft Tavern, 2846 Hwy. 14, Madrid. (505) 473-0743

Staff Infection (In a Good Way!)

Obviously there’s something to be said for museum curators who dedicate their entire lives to putting together shows from institutional collections. But sometimes that gives everyday people the impression their own tastes aren’t up to snuff. At the Museum of International Folk Art’s Staff Picks: Favorites from the Collection show opening this week, however, staffers make the calls. In other words, MoIFA staff have culled from the museum’s extensive collection of pieces for a show encompassing eras, previous exhibits, location, etc. It’s the first such show in the museum’s 71-year history and should, by all accounts, be a rather whimsical event. MoIFA’s collection includes something like 162,000 objects, too, so there’s no telling what made the cut. Way to go, staff!

Staff Picks: Favorites From the Collection: 10 am-5 pm Sunday, Feb. 25-Sunday, Aug. 18. By admission. Museum of International Folk Art, 706 Camino Lejo, (505) 476-1204

Foto Fracas

If SFR’s annual Photo Show at Violet Crown Cinema at 6 pm on Feb. 22 isn’t enough photography action for you this week, perhaps set your adorable little eyes on Foto Forum Santa Fe’s Annual Members Show between now and April 24. The project of local photographer Sage Paisner, the nonprofit’s annual affair finds a jury selecting the very best shots from Foto Forum’s roster of mighty members for exhibit. One ultimate winner receives $500 at Visions Photo Lab for any of its services. “I think we offer a unique thing for the art world in Santa Fe and people are taking advantage of it,” Paisner tells SFR. “Our memberships start at $25 for students and $35 for individuals—and with that…you’re able to apply to the juried membership show for free.” The winner will be announced at the end of the run.

Foto Forum Annual Members Show: Noon-5 pm Tuesday-Friday. Free. Foto Forum Santa Fe, 1714 Paseo de Peralta, (505) 470-2582

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