National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque
The National Hispanic Cultural Center, founded in 2000, is host to an impressive 20-acre campus that borders the Rio Grande Bosque in the South Valley of Albuquerque. This relatively new organization offers over 700 events a year, including music, performance, literary, visual arts, cuisine, and more. The NHCC serves thousands every year through educational programming, including all fourth graders in the Albuquerque Metro area who visit on field trips to learn about Hispanic culture and the ecology of the area. Edward Lujan, one of the founders and an Honorary Board Emeritus described it to me as the “Four-legged stool. Each leg represents one of the four tenets of culture; language, food, art, and history.” The NHCC has them all, in what has to be one of the most comprehensive cultural centers in the state of New Mexico.
The NHCC began with an initiative in the 1980s to help educate school children about Hispanic culture and curb racism. The programs were successful and grew exponentially, with the original vision to share Hispanic culture expanded to reach the broader populations and demographics of New Mexico. “If you want to promote understanding, you invite someone in to get to know you,” says Executive Director Josefa González Mariscal on the relevance of the NHCC in this particular moment of social and racial justice movements. Both González Mariscal and Lujan acknowledge the importance of cross-cultural dialogue in their organizational mission and that cultural gaps might be bridged through the two-way act of sharing.
Further, the new director aims to build on the regional successes of the NHCC and bring awareness of its offerings to the national stage. González Mariscal, who began work at NHCC only six weeks ago at the onset of the pandemic, says, “Everyone I speak to calls the NHCC Albuquerque’s best-kept secret. Great things shouldn’t be secret, and I intend to share the great things we are doing here on a national level.”
Santa Fe Workshops, Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Workshops was founded in 1990 by Reid Callanan as a western outpost for photography education. The residential program hosts students from around the world for seasonal sessions at their picturesque campus located near Museum Hill. In addition to their Santa Fe–based classes, they also host courses in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and Havana, Cuba. 2020 has brought great change to the residential and travel-based programs of the Workshops and they have quickly adapted some of their workshops to an online platform.
Callanan taught the first class in April to see if it could be a viable option. “It works. I had to try it out for myself first, and so now I can say with assurance that our online photography programs have a lot to offer,” says Callanan. Though it is not a replacement for in-person classes, distance-learning has its benefits, mainly accessibility. Those who may not have been able to travel to Santa Fe are now able to engage with high-level photography instructors through this online platform.
The Santa Fe Workshops has seen remarkable shifts at the beginning of each decade for the last thirty years. In 2000, the transition from film to digital photography rocked the industry and the Workshops was quick to embrace the new technology. In 2009-2010 the Great Recession and political turmoil in Mexico forced the Workshops to put a pause on their San Miguel de Allende program, which provided the opportunity to begin a new travel program in Cuba. Through all these obstacles the Workshops has embraced the opportunity to change and adapt, a quality that has surely contributed to their longevity and significance in the photography industry.
Turner Carroll Gallery, Santa Fe
Turner Carroll Gallery has been a mainstay of the Canyon Road arts district since 1991 when Michael Turner and Tonya Turner Carroll signed the lease on 725 Canyon Road. Two weeks later, they were married. The couple built the gallery from the floor up (figuratively and literally); they sanded the floors and walls and began the journey of establishing themselves as contemporary art gallerists. “By the end of our second week open, we had only $50. We decided that we would rather be a short-lived gallery that showed the work we loved than to show the work we knew would sell,” said Tonya Turner Carroll. Needless to say, good luck came to them with a few art purchases at the last minute, but since that moment of nearly closing, they vowed to each other that they would only show the work they loved.
Many of the artworks they show and personally collect are made by women, including Judy Chicago and Hung Liu. Tonya and Michael are deeply engaged with both artists, and this year they have several collaborations in the works with Chicago including the formation of a Judy Chicago Museum and for Liu, working with two major museum shows. Turner Carroll remarked, “We are dedicated to showing women artists and supporting their careers. It’s amazing to witness these artists get the recognition they deserve and to help them in that journey.”
When I asked Tonya what her vision for the next 30 years is for Turner Carroll, she replied, “I will be sitting in the same seat, in the same building, and will be working in exactly the same capacity as I am now. We have no plans to move, we love Santa Fe, it is our home.”
Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe
Founded in 1985, the Santa Fe Art Institute has attracted established contemporary artists such as Richard Diebenkorn and John Baldessari and provided emerging artists with an opportunity to work with internationally recognized artists. Like many long-running arts programs, each era is a reflection of its time. SFAI has shifted towards addressing social justice issues for the last twenty years and specifically anti-racism more recently. Their thematic residencies welcome local, national, and international artists in all stages of their careers to apply for one- to three-month residencies at their Midtown Santa Fe campus location. In addition to working on their proposed projects, the artists engage with the community in public programs such as open studios and SFAI 140, lightning-round style presentations.
Executive Director Jamie Blosser shared that 2020 was intended to be a year of extended public programming, including two international alumni trips which had to be canceled with short notice because of the pandemic. SFAI is adapting and responding to the crisis and current events with a podcast and other virtual programming that aims to continue discourse around social justice and will feature SFAI residents and alumni. “We like that the name implies looking at things from new angles and new perspectives,” explains Blosser. SFAI’s podcast Tilt launches at the end of July 2020.
SFAI helped to launch the Midtown Arts Alliance and has been advocating for art and culture to be a critical aspect of the upcoming Midtown development that will take place at the former Santa Fe College of Art and Design campus. “The idea of connectivity is what we are really focusing on,” Blosser says about the project. She aims for the development to physically and figuratively connect the surrounding neighborhood: “We want to celebrate these adjacent neighborhoods and make sure that the residents’ memories, stories, and hopes are a part of the Midtown project.” Her goal is to help make the Midtown development a gathering place for diverse communities in the heart of the city while reflecting Santa Fe’s and northern New Mexico’s Indigenous, Latinx, Hispanic, and Chicanx communities and cultures.
photo-eye, Santa Fe
Photo-eye was born out of Rixon Reed’s home in Austin, Texas, as a photobook mail-order business in 1979. He spent five years in the 1970s in New York City working at one of the first commercially successful photography galleries, Witkin Gallery, and realized that he could have a place in the niche market of photobooks. Having amassed a mailing list from his photobook business, Reed was able to smoothly expand into exhibiting and selling fine-art photography when he moved the business to Santa Fe in 1991 and opened the original Garcia Street location. Photo-eye now operates out of two locations in Santa Fe: a gallery in the Railyard district and a bookstore near Meow Wolf in Midtown (Rufina Circle).
Today, a large percentage of photo-eye’s business is done online despite their physical expansion, thanks in large part to the company’s catalogue legacy and partly because Reed built one of the first book e-commerce websites in 1995. Around the same time, Amazon was just coming on the scene and would become one of photo-eye’s biggest competitors. “Diversification has been our savior and continues to be. We had to figure out how to offer something that no one else could provide—a curated selection of signed photobooks from around the world which had more value than the discounts being offered at the large, online retailers,” Reed says. Coincidentally, that online business has not only been a lifeline during the pandemic but has allowed the photo-eye Gallery to flourish as one of the premier fine-art photography destinations. Reed continues to diversify his business while keeping his eye on virtual offerings. Later in 2020, photo-eye will roll out a new service specifically for building artists’ and photographers’ websites called VisualServer X, which aims to be the Squarespace or Wix for artists.