Arts & Entertainment

Best of Santa Fe 2012

Santa Fe may be a small town, but it was recently named the nation's "most artistic city"—a distinction it surely deserves, if we're to judge by the percentage of people who love/talk/make/buy/support art in any of its multitudinous forms. And while Santa Fe's visual arts have long enjoyed (or suffered from) a reputation for desert landscapes and the like, its current identity is growing and changing in exciting ways (witness the four-way tie in the "Best Artist" category on page 78). Add to that performing arts groups, such as Wise Fool, with innovative interpretations of the definition of "art"; collectives like Meow Wolf that constantly reinvent themselves through creative projects and installations; and the hard-working musicians who make it fun to go to the same bar every night. Perhaps the only thing missing in these pages is the Santa Fe University of Art & Design, which deserves a shout-out for fostering the arts in one of the most practical ways: through education.

You're from Santa Fe if…
By Chicken Joe
…the Cowgirl is your music scene
…your idea of a buffet is "all you can art"
…your wild night out started at 6 pm and ended at 9 pm
…you don't know what a nightclub is
…everyone you know is a self-proclaimed artist
…you only need four letters to alphabetically list the clubs and bars

 Best Contemporary Art Gallery

1st: SITE Santa Fe
1606 Paseo De Peralta 989-1199

Its limited Yelp! reviews might be polarizing, but one thing is for sure, the past host of The Dissolve, SF's eighth annual International Biennale; current home to More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness; and future site of State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970 shines like a contemporary beacon amidst an art scene that still continues to churn out faux Native and Wild West stereotype-heavy imagery that makes sandal-wearing Plaza dwellers drool. Currently celebrating its landmark 17th year, this world-class institution is fully living up to its mission of seeking to "actively engage a diverse audience and serve as a nexus for contemporary art discourse." Ain't nothing abstract about that. (EL)

2nd: Center for Contemporary Arts
1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338

3rd: Chalk Farm Gallery
729 Canyon Road, 983-7125

 Best Local Artist

1st: Tony Abeyta

In his Palace Avenue studio, doing what he does best, Tony Abeyta feels serene. He’s recovering from a fracture in his right wrist—“my painting hand,” the artist of Navajo and Anglo descent points out—and with his artistic compass freshly calibrated, he’s in full Indian Market mode. “We’re in a transitional period in the local art market,” he muses as he drags an oil pastel across a monumental canvas. The Gallup native feels the town is “inundated” with galleries, but still remains hopeful. “I’m less interested in the market and more in what living in a creative Mecca like Santa Fe entails.” His future plans? “To paint and let my creative inspiration lead my next move’s direction.” (EL)

2nd: Nigel Conway

3rd: Four-way tie: Cannupa Hanska, Prakash, Dan Namingha and Darren Vigil Gray

 Best Local Performing Arts Group

1st: Wise Fool

2778 Agua Fria St., Ste. D 992-2588

Wise Fool’s warehouse space is bustling with activity. A New Mexico fixture since 1997 and now in its 12th year of official nonprofit status, Wise Fool has managed to strike a balance between operating a successful performance troupe and running a year-round educational program. “Most performance theaters pull their money in from grants,” WF Managing Director Devon Ludlow explains. “We’re different in the fact that we’re self-sufficient and subsist mostly from the revenue of our own programs,” which include instruction in fields like trapeze, unicycle and clowning. The result? “Kids love it!” says Ludlow—and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Handwritten notes by former alums with rave reviews like: “I food a new fen” and “It was the funniest thing evr, it wus funr then enething evr” corroborate it. (EL)

2nd: Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet

550 St. Michael’s Drive, 983-5591

3rd: NDI Santa Fe

1140 Alto St., 983-7646

 Best Local Museum

1st: Museum of International Folk Art
706 Camino Lejo 476-1200

On the verge of celebrating its Diamond Jubilee, the MIFA is the crown jewel of local cultural institutions. Housing 135,000 distinct items in its four wings, since 1953, the museum has dedicated itself to "documenting, collecting, preserving and interpreting the creative works of traditional artists from cultures around the world." A veritable trek across the globe, a single visit currently exposes attendees to the craftsmanship of 19th-century Andean silver sidesaddle stirrups; the intricacy of vintage embroidered Macedonian wedding gowns; and the all-around badassness of a collection of artistic artifacts made by Japanese Americans imprisoned in internment camps during World War II. Best part is, no passport or intrusive TSA pat-down is required. (EL)

2nd: Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson St., 946-1000

3rd: New Mexico History Museum
113 Lincoln Ave., 476-5200

 Best Music Venue

1st: Lensic Performing Arts Center

211 W San Francisco St. 988-1234

We’ve heard people talk about how The Lensic is a place for old people, but that’s bullshit. The theatre has hosted a staggering amount of musical variety (just in the last few years, acts like David Byrne, Andrew Bird and Alejandro Escovedo have performed in between any number of classical music performances, operatic vocalists and blues legends like Taj Mahal) and Santa Fe can consider itself lucky to count such a gorgeous space among its venues. “I think the Lensic experience is a unique one, particularly in regards to the intimacy and beauty of the theatre,” Marketing Director Emily Crawford says. “We really strive to provide something for everyone, and we’re so thrilled to have won this honor because it means we’re doing something right.” Damn straight, you are, Emily. Damn straight. (ADV)

2nd: Sol Santa Fe Stage & Grill

37 Fire Place,

3rd: Santa Fe Opera

301 Opera Drive, 986-5955

 Best Place to Dance

1st: Rouge Cat
101 W Marcy St. 983-6603

When Rouge Cat opened its doors two years ago, all you dancin' fools out there took notice. There's apparently something just so unavoidable about the club's never-ending supply of local and international DJ talent, and the Marcy Street hotspot has steadily grown into the kind of venue where people know without a doubt they're going to be shaking their booties. "Rouge Cat was designed to be a dance club," partner Oona Bender says. "We have invested the most time, money and expertise into our sound system and light show, and it shows."  With resident DJ nights featuring Oona and King George, monthly Team Everything and Meow Wolf parties and sporadic performances from good old-fashioned live bands, it's no wonder Rouge Cat made the top of y'all's dance jam list. That place is a party and a half! (ADV)

2nd: Santa Fe Bandstand
Santa Fe Plaza,

3rd: El Farol
808 Canyon Road, 983-9912

 Best New Band

1st: Thieves & Gypsys

Thieves & Gypsys (Jared Garcia, Dave Vigil, Aaron Jones and Kirsten Estelle Poe) has been around for less than a year, but the quartet's '60s-rock-meets-indie-rock sound is clearly delighting local music fans. "We are extremely excited and thankful for everyone that voted," Garcia says. "We honestly can't believe it, [but] we think being voted is a big step for the upcoming indie scene in Santa Fe." The band's guitar-driven, psychedelic sound is the perfect trailblazer for a local rock 'n' roll renaissance, and with tunes that recall the likes of The Kinks or Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs—but y'know…modern—Thieves & Gypsys will no doubt be one local band with staying power. The fearsome foursome is currently in the studio working on its debut album, and if the songs we've heard thus far are any indication of the direction in which Thieves & Gyspys is headed, whatever they release will be nothing short of must-own. (ADV)

2nd: The Sticky

3rd: Todd & The Fox

 Best Local Rock Band

1st: La Junta

Upon learning of his band’s win, La Junta frontman Nick Peña had this to say: “It’s hard to stay committed in such a tough industry with so little breaks, so it’s amazing to get a new sense of love from the people that know us best.” That’s you, Santa Fe! But no matter how well you think you know La Junta, your favorite hip-hop meets rock meets reggae act continues to evolve. “The band has never been better, and the songs have never been stronger,” Peña says. “The tracks we’re currently working on are a lot more rock-based, [and] we hope to get it out in the fall.” In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for sporadic local shows, the stellar recordings already in existence and La Junta’s first-ever headline appearance at Zozobra. Trust us, Santa Fe—when it comes to settling, you could do a hell of a lot worse. Plus, La Junta’s got horn lines…who doesn’t love horn lines? (ADV)

2nd: Stephanie Hatfield and Hot Mess

3rd: Tie: Anthony Leon and the Chain; As In We

 Best Local Country or Alt-Country Band

1st: Bill Hearne

We don't think we've ever met anybody who didn't have something fantastic to say about flat-pickin' country music champion Bill Hearne. Hell, the man has been playing Santa Fe shows for four decades now (33 of those years found Hearne performing alongside his wife) and, like a fine wine, he just seems to get better and better. "It's a real honor to be back at number one," Hearne says. "I do believe it's happened before, but that was years ago, so I really do appreciate all the fans and everybody who voted." Hearne notes that he didn't solicit a single vote, and maintains the honor is even more special because of it. Currently putting together a new album at Jono Manson's Kitchen Sink Studio that he's hoping to release by the end of the year, Hearne can be found every Wednesday and Thursday at La Fonda hotel. (ADV)

2nd: Joe West

3rd: Anthony Leon and the Chain

 Best Club/Live DJ


DJ Dirt Girl and DJ Dynamite Sol

You might expect a tie for such a prestigious award to breed at least a little bit of resentment, but not in the case of these fine deck-smiths (that’s a thing, right?). As Dirt Girl puts it, “I am incredibly psyched to receive the honor and to share the title with Dynamite Sol. We can preside over the city like twin Batmans or something.” Ka-Boosh! Of course, we all know Dirt Girl for her one-of-a-kind, Asian pop-inspired mixes and futuristic persona. Sol is every bit as gracious as his counterpart, adding, “Mad props to Dirt Girl!” Best-known for Sol’s Jukebox and The Reggae Party, Dynamite Sol has been spinning tracks and kicking out jams for well over a decade now, and his recent hard work with local radio station Blu 102.9 has been nothing short of inspiring. “I don’t know if I’m the best DJ, but I’m definitely the hardest working,” he says. “I am honored by the title…much love, Santa Fe!” So there you have it, Santa Fe. You voted for ’em; make sure you keep showing Dirt Girl and Sol the admiration they deserve. (ADV)

2nd: DJ Oona

3rd: DJ Automatic

 Best Bar

1st: Del Charro Saloon
101 W Alameda St. 954-0320

Del Charro's convenient location, just downstairs in the popular Inn of the Governors, allows patrons to enjoy a beverage or five before weaving their way back up to their rooms with relative convenience. Those who book a room at the Inn online also receive a $25 Del Charro certificate per night's stay. That equals four of the $6 house margaritas, which come complete with glistening, ice-cold shakers, or five of the daily food specials (that is, if you're into repeatedly stuffing yourself with the same meal without leaving a tip). Speaking to the appeal of the bar, chef José Guzman explains that "it's a great place to meet the locals, and I think we have the best prices downtown." Guzman also highlights Del Charro's outdoor patio, friendly staff and high-quality food as factors that entice tourists and native Santa Feans again and again. (KF)

2nd: Cowgirl BBQ
319 South Guadalupe St., 982-2565

3rd: Tie: Matador, 116 W San Francisco St.
Second Street Brewery
1814 Second St., 982-3030
1607 Paseo de Peralta, 989-3278

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