Arts and Culture in New Mexico
New Mexico’s blend of indigenous Native American communities, its Spanish and Mexican influence, and its diverse Anglo-American settlement all combine to make the state an exceptionally diverse. It has been known for its art colonies and art movements for more than 100 years. Museums across the state showcase everything from art to anthropology, and meteorites to UFOs. Sante Fe museums showcase many local and global art movements: Spanish colonial, international folk, Navajo ceremonial, modern Native American, and other modern art.
The "Land of Enchantment" is intent on preserving its strong multicultural heritage—which includes Hispanic, Mexican, and Native American. Hundreds of art exhibitions and programs in the visual, performing, and literary arts take place every year. There are also countless art and cultural festivals in Taos, Albuquerque, and Sante Fe. The annual Even the decidedly esoteric Roswell UFO Festival draws people from all over the world.
When it comes to art and culture, it's not much of an exaggeration to say there is something for everyone in New Mexico.
One of America's leading opera companies, the Santa Fe Opera offers a number of education and community outreach programs, including its Pueblo Opera Program that caters to Native American children from 19 pueblos and three reservations.
Since 1957, the Santa Fe Opera has hosted a world-renowned summer opera festival in the award-winning, open-air Crosby Theater. More than half the 85,000 ticket buyers come from outside New Mexico. The Crosby encompasses a dramatic view of the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo mountains. Every seat and standing position has a digital screen with lyric translations in English and Spanish. The theater’s large roof collects approximately 60,000 gallons of rainwater annually that is used to maintain the opera grounds.
Opera Southwest, called the "Albuquerque Opera" when it opened in 1972, is a professional, regional company that presents two to three major operas every year. The company has produced 23 world premieres by local composers, including original operas written for Albuquerque’s children. The local operas emphasize community and educational themes and have been shown to more than 180,000 New Mexico children.
The New Mexico Ballet Company, the state’s oldest, was founded in 1972 by Suzanne and Sidney Johnston.
The New Mexico Symphony Orchestra (NMSO) began when approximately 2,000 people gathered at the University of New Mexico's Carlisle Gymnasium in November 1932 to hear the debut of what was then known as the Albuquerque Civic Symphony. Led by founding conductor Grace Thompson Edmister, the symphony was composed mostly of teachers, students, housewives, and businesspeople at first. Edmister was one of the first women in America to direct a city orchestra.
The NMSO's educational programs make it the largest non-government source of music education in the state. More than 50,000 children participate in the programs every year. The Symphony School program offers weekly private music lessons to lower income middle and high school students and also collaborates with the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico and several of the New Mexico pueblos.
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival began in 1972 and has grown into one of the world’s top music festivals. Both seasoned performers and newly discovered young musicians perform during its six-week season. The festival’s composer-in-residence program includes newly commissioned works, performances of the composer's previous works, and concerts with the performing composer. Past composers in-residence have included Aaron Copland, Ned Rorem, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and John Harbison.
The Department of Music at New Mexico State University was established in 1962. Its program is designed to prepare students for careers in music education, business, and/or performance as well as offer students opportunities to perform, study, and enjoy music.
Founded in 2005, the New Mexico Music Commission (NMMC) features some top musicians including New Mexico residents Randy Travis and Dr. Lee Berk. (The governor appoints all of the unpaid and volunteer commissioners.) The commission works to preserve New Mexico’s rich and varied musical traditions, which include everything from the music of New Mexico's Native Americans to Mariachi tunes to country and western music.
Since 2007, the NMMC has produced a television series called New Mexico Southwest Sounds, which promotes New Mexico music and tourism. It also hosts a weekly radio show featuring all sorts of New Mexican music on KBAC radio in Santa Fe. In 2009, the ommission made a documentary about New Mexico native Norman Petty. A musician and songwriter in his own right, Petty produced records for Roy Orbison, Buddy Knox, Waylon Jennings, Carolyn Hester, and Buddy Holly.
Santa Fe boasts many opportunities to enjoy professional music. The Chamber Music Festival plays chamber pieces as well as modern pieces, jazz, world music, and more. The Santa Fe Concert Bandis the oldest musical group in the city. The band performs free public concerts including patriotic songs, marches, and unique-to-the-state songs of Mexican, Spanish, and New Mexican origin. The Santa Fe Desert Chorale is a 20-member chamber chorus that performs everything from ancient to modern songs.
Santa Fe Performing Arts is an educational and professional theater that uses the performing arts to educate Sante Fe youth. Its adult theatre program is a resident company that places an emphasis on new pieces. The Armory for the Arts Theatre, its performing arts center, gives the community a reasonably priced performing arts space and a place where residents can collaborate artistically. Santa Fe Performing Arts School offers wide-ranging, educational, onsite, and outreach programs for children and young adults.
The Center for Contemporary Arts Warehouse Theater in Santa Fe creates many kinds of media, including installation, film, video, new music, literature, and spoken word. The CCA also offers lectures, symposia, and educational opportunities.
Hollywood actress Greer Garson had a long, generous history with the College of Santa Fe. She donated money for the Greer Garson Theater, and, among other philanthropic efforts, funded a guest artist program that brings visiting teachers and performers to the college. The college's performing arts department stages four large productions annually. It also contains the 100-seat Weckesser Studio Theater where the college's collaborations music series takes place.
Originally a famous movie theater in Sante Fe, the Lensic Performing Arts Center had its grand opening in April 2001. It presents a diverse program of high-quality theater, music, dance, film, and lectures. Performers in 2009 included Kris Kristofferson, Perla Batalla, and Wynton Marsalis.
The state's largest city hosts its Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every fall. Known for its clear skies, autumn weather, and a weather phenomenon called the "Albuquerque Box," the city is a balloonist mecca. Balloonists come from across the globe to participate in the fiesta, and it is said to the most photographed event in the world.
Fiestas de Santa Fe is a nearly 300-year-old celebration commemorating the Spanish re-conquest of the city in 1692. A 50-foot (15-m) figure called "Zozobra," which symbolizes the people’s hardships and despair from the previous year, is burned on the first night. Residents are encouraged to write down their difficulties on pieces of paper and add them to the fire to become unburdened. The celebration includes historical reenactments, a pet parade, the Historical/Hysterical Parade, and more. Arts and crafts and food are sold at the Santa Fe Plaza, and mariachis play around the city.
The 70-year-old, historic Rio Grande Theatre has been the home of the Doña Ana Arts Council (DAAC) since it reopened in 2005. Located in downtown Las Cruces, the 422-seat state-of-the-art performing space is used for DAAC events and is rented out to other performance groups. The Rio Grande Theatre is the only remaining two-story adobe theatre in the United States.
The New Mexico film industry is expanding. The state aggressively offers financial incentives for filmmakers including a 25 percent tax rebate, film investment loans, and a 50 percent reimbursement of wages program for on-the-job training of New Mexico residents.
The Lensic Theater in Santa Fe (now the Lensic Performing Arts Center) was a cornerstone of Sante Fe film, vaudeville, and nightlife for decades. Rita Hayworth, Roy Rogers, Judy Garland and Yehudi Menuhin all performed there. The world premiere of the Warner Bros. film Santa Fe Trail—complete with appearances by stars Errol Flynn, Rudy Vallee, and Olivia de Havilland—was held there in 1941.
At least 100 films were shot in New Mexico in the last 50 years. Recent highlights include 2008'sSunshine Cleaning, which was set and filmed entirely in Albuquerque; 3:10 to Yuma, a 2007 Western remake with Russell Crowe; and the 1983 drama, Silkwood, which was shot in Albuquerque and Los Alamos.
The author more than 28 books, Tony Hillerman lives and writes in Albuquerque. His best-known works include a mystery series involving two Navajo police officers, Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn.
New Mexico CultureNet offers educational poetry programs in the state. It partners with Santa Fe public schools on the Poets-in-the-Schools program and recruits poets to work with students and teachers. It also funds one-on-one mentoring for exceptional students and programs for English-language learners.
"Poetry Jam" is a program for New Mexico high school students, teachers, and poets comprised of workshops, readings, panels, and public performances. Most of the funding comes from the Santa Fe Arts Commission's one percent Lodgers' Tax.
In 2004, CultureNet and Santa Fe Arts Commission's one percent Lodgers Tax published the bookShine On You Crazy Diamond, which contains 61 poems by talented New Mexico teens and the well-known poets who mentored them. The introductory poem is by Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States.
The Department of English Language and Literature is one of the largest departments at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Graduate and undergraduate students study creative writing, literary studies, medieval studies, and professional writing and rhetoric. The student-run literary magazine is called Blue Mesa Review.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe opened in July 1997, 11 years after the death of the artist. It is the most visited art museum in New Mexico, and it is the only museum in the world devoted to an internationally famous female artist. A longtime New Mexico resident, O’Keeffe is considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century. She was a pioneer in a field that until then had not been welcoming to women and was also important in helping introduce American modernism to Europe.
The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts hosts the Santa Fe Indian Market every August. Hundreds of related events, including gallery openings and art shows, take place around the same time. People come from around the world to buy and show Native American art.
European-trained visual artists drawn to the Taos Pueblo created the Taos Artists' Colony over 100 years ago, resulting in a major new school of American painting. (See Historic Art Movements below.)
New Mexico has many examples of architecture that illustrate its colorful history. The Dorsey Mansion Ranch is located just off the Santa Fe Trail and was completed in 1880. Built by Senator Stephen W. Dorsey, the log and masonry Victorian estate includes the faces of family members cut into the exterior stone, an eight-hole outhouse (followed by one of the first indoor bathrooms), and a 19th-century swimming pool.
The Blumenschein Home and Museum (Museum Association of Taos) was built in 1797 and was the home of Ernest L. Blumenschein and his family. Blumenschein and Bert G. Phillips were famous for founding the Taos Artists Colony.
La Hacienda de los Martinez (Museum Association of Taos) was built in 1804 by Severino Martin. It is a perfect example of the northern New Mexico style, late Spanish Colonial period.
The H.B. Ailman House is a restored 1881 Mansard/Italianate building. The Silver City Museum is located in the house and contains approximately 20,000 objects connected to the peoples and history of southwest New Mexico.
HANDICRAFT AND FOLK ART
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is responsible for safeguarding invaluable objects from New Mexico's 19 pueblos and other tribes of the greater Southwest. The center displays jewelry, textiles, baskets, photographs, prints, paintings, murals, and archaeological objects. Most of the collection iscontemporary and historic pottery. It features objects from famous New Mexico potters and artists like Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo), Lucy M. Lewis (Acoma Pueblo), and Pablita Velarde(Santa Clara Pueblo).
The Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos showcases historical collections of Native American jewelry, pottery, contemporary paintings, and weavings. It also displays collections of Hispanic textiles, metalwork, and sculpture, as well as modern southwestern art.
HISTORIC ART MOVEMENTS
Bert G. Phillips and Ernest L. Blumenschein founded the Taos Art Colony in 1898, as well as theTaos Society of Artists. Colony members were painters trained in Europe that spearheaded a major school of American painting. The colony artists had various aesthetics but they came together in appreciation of Taos’ natural landscape.
Along with Blumenschein and Phillips, Eanger Irving Couse, Herbert S. Dunton, Oscar Edmund Berninghaus, and Joseph Henry Sharp made up the "Founding Six" of the Taos Society of Artists. The society combined academic technique with native themes to invent a new school of painting. Although each artist had a unique style, they often drew from the same color palette.
New Mexico enjoyed a vibrant "Hispano" school of literature and learning written in English and Spanish in the middle of the 20th century. Some of the better-known writers in the school includedAngélico Chávez, Nina Otero-Warren, and Aurora Lucero-White Lea.
-World Trade Press