This year is a landmark year for many of New Mexico’s arts institutions, some of which are celebrating their centennials and other significant anniversaries.
Currents New Media, Santa Fe
Currents New Media’s mission is to champion new media arts and support artists in creating innovative work. Their annual festival, as well as educational programming and year-round exhibition space, offers the public unique opportunities to experience creative work at the forefront of art and technology.
Parallel Studios, the non-profit organization that produces the Currents New Media Festival, began designing and producing local exhibitions in 2002. They launched Currents New Media in 2010 as an annual, city-wide event.
Since then, the festival has grown into a local favorite. Artists, families, aficionados, and the creatively curious enjoy Currents’s presentation of technically fascinating, artistically captivating, and downright fun multimedia work. Convening established and emerging artists from Santa Fe and around the world, Currents New Media brings cutting-edge art and tech—including VR and AR immersive environments, 3D printing, robotics, video, animation, music, and performance to the community. The art is presented in traditional as well as public and outdoor spaces, promoting accessibility and engagement. In 2020, when production was at its most daunting, Currents was able to deliver its annual festival online to more than 6,500 global, virtual attendees in ninety-five countries and every U.S. state.
This year’s festival, Currents 2022: Circuits, marks the organization’s twentieth anniversary and the festival’s return to a full-scale, in-person model with happenings throughout Santa Fe. The event will feature work by more than seventy artists at multiple venues from June 17 to June 26, 2022.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe
In a letter from 1944, Georgia O’Keeffe wrote to Alfred Stieglitz, “I have a beautiful start on a beautiful painting. A start can be so beautiful when it is still partly in my head.” This moment is from one of the 600-plus letters that are included in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s collection, among hundreds of other personal items that it has acquired in its quarter-century history.
The museum itself is located in downtown Santa Fe, where exhibitions tell unexpected stories from O’Keeffe’s life. On view through October 2022 is Spotlight on Spring, featuring a large-scale work the museum recently had repaired and conserved. Accompanying the painting is correspondence between O’Keeffe and her personal expert conservator, Caroline Keck, as well as objects O’Keeffe painted.
Through these interactions with O’Keeffe’s own belongings, we catch a glimpse inside her world. More materials like this can be found at the Michael S. Engl Library and Archive, an educational space dedicated to the research and understanding of O’Keeffe and other artists. The library includes books from O’Keeffe’s home library as well as other personal property including rattlesnake skeletons, shells, and stones.
The future of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is as expansive as the skies O’Keeffe painted. In 2023 they are set to break ground on a new museum space with triple the gallery space, dedicated square footage for collection storage, increased capacity for visitors and educational programming, and a community green space.
Southwest Contemporary, Santa Fe
Despite Santa Fe’s status as one of the nation’s top art markets and the simple fact that some of the most interesting art in every medium is being created in New Mexico and the Southwest in general (as all of us who live here know), before Guy Cross established Southwest Contemporary (then THE Magazine), in 1992, there was precious little coverage of the goings-on here. Now with thirty years on the books, Southwest Contemporary is a more vital source of coverage and criticism on contemporary art in the Southwest than ever, with increasingly national distribution as coverage has expanded to include Arizona, Utah, Texas, northern Mexico, Southern California, Nevada, and Colorado.
Offering perspectives, analysis, news, and resources for artists, Southwest Contemporary is a touchpoint for expression—promoting the exchange of ideas, techniques, thoughts, and support. Publications like this are an important part of any thriving creative ecosystem, offering space for reflection and dialogues that evolve over time. Here’s to thirty more years of deepening the conversation.
The Ark, Santa Fe
The Ark is much more than just a bookstore—in the last forty years, this unassuming little spot has become a place for the community to meet and gather. Quietly tucked into the Railyard District on Romero Street, the Ark has spent the last decades curating a wide selection of books, particularly on all things esoteric. Spanning The Witches’ Almanac, how-to manuals for connecting with your guardian angels, memoirs of your favorite activists, and Paul Stamets’s treatises on fungi—the folks at the Ark have that title you thought might be too niche to pick up in town. “Santa Fe is a community of seekers,” says owner Joanie Aon, “and they have been like family all these years.”
What’s more, the Ark also has all the wares you need to support your practice—whether that’s your reading practice or your spiritual one. Gemstones, jewelry, candles, cards, bookmarks, textiles, and more are tucked into every nook—making the possibilities for cultivating your psychic gifts, connecting to the other side, or simply hitting your Goodreads goal seem limitless. Celebrate the Ark and its forty years of serving the curious minds of Santa Fe the proper way—by picking up a new book and spending some time with it. For their anniversary sale in May, Aon shared that the Ark will donate a percentage of profits to local non-profits. “The best way to celebrate is to give back to the community that has supported us all these years,” she says.
Adobe Gallery, Santa Fe
At the foot of Canyon Road sits the small but mighty Adobe Gallery. Specializing in Native American work from the late-19th and early-20th centuries, the gallery’s collection is in constant flux, with new pieces being delivered daily. On a recent visit, a water bowl from Acoma Pueblo circa 1880 had just arrived.
Adobe Gallery is owned by Alexander E. Anthony, Jr., spry in all of his eighty-nine years of age. A former nuclear engineer in the U.S. Airforce, Anthony fell in love with the richness and breadth of New Mexican culture when he arrived here in 1957. He opened Adobe Gallery’s physical space in Albuquerque in 1978, eventually moving it to Canyon Road in 2001.
Anthony knows the collection inside and out and is quick to relay the origin story of each object in the gallery. In addition to rain bowls, the gallery features dough-mixing bowls, weavings, kachina dolls, jewelry, and paintings. The painting collection includes work by students who studied at the Santa Fe Indian School in the 1930s under Dorothy Dunn and other pivotal artists such as Tonita Vigil Peña, who was one of the first Native American women to be recognized as a painter.
Visiting Adobe Gallery feels like opening a treasure chest. The atmosphere is teeming with stories of artists, traditions, and provenance. The gallery celebrates its forty-fifth anniversary this summer, with the hopes of an Indian Market-adjacent opening and a party in the works.
Nedra Matteucci Galleries, Santa Fe
Before the pond in the sculpture garden in the Nedra Matteucci Galleries’ compound was a beautifully landscaped haven, it was where art dealer Forrest Fenn kept his alligators, Elvis and Beowulf. Before Fenn kept his alligators there, it was an orchard and farm that provided produce for the neighboring (and still present) Kaune’s Neighborhood Market.
Fast forward to 2022—Nedra Matteucci, who with her husband Richard bought the space from Fenn in 1988, has spent the last three decades fostering the gallery with great reverence to its history and commitment to 19th- and 20th-century American art. The sprawling building itself feels like a (very) nice, classic Santa Fe home, with foot-wide adobe walls, sloping floors, curiously short entryways, fireplaces in almost every room, and incredible artworks.
A mentee of Fenn, Matteucci began her art career traveling throughout the Southwest, selling work as a private dealer, and later working with Fenn at his gallery. Today, the gallery exhibits a stunning collection of work that represents the iconic artists who have found their way to New Mexico, including members of the Taos Society of Artists and Los Cinco Pintores. Matteucci has also curated a beautiful selection of contemporary American artists, many of whom pay homage to the American Southwest in their work. The sculpture garden is considered a Santa Fe must-see and features work by both contemporary and historical artists.
The gallery will celebrate its anniversary on July 15, 2022, with an opening featuring around thirty of the living artists they represent.
IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe
The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts celebrates its fiftieth anniversary of presenting and elevating contemporary Indigenous art this year. “It’s a big deal,” says director Patsy Phillips (Cherokee Nation). “We are the only museum that only showcases contemporary Indigenous art. People come here for exhibitions, to work with our collections, or they go to the [Institute of American Indian Arts] campus for research to learn about what is happening in the field.”
MoCNA’s unique perspective promotes intercultural dialogue, scholarship, and creativity. “For example, our current exhibition, Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology, features work from Indigenous artists from Greenland, Australia, Canada, the U.S., and Japan responding to uranium mining or nuclear waste in their communities,” says Phillips. “It brings attention to that major and current environmental issue.”
The museum also provides invaluable education opportunities to IAIA students, offering mentorships, internships, curatorial experience, and chances to professionally present. “Every spring, we show the graduating seniors’ art and work with student curators,” says Phillips.
IAIA is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary this year. Together, the institutions are honoring this milestone with a “Making History” initiative. This includes a documentary film, a stunning book, a multigenerational commemorative portrait of IAIA artists, video vignettes with artists and students, and much more.
Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe
The Institute of American Indian Arts has transformed Santa Fe. Over the course of the last sixty years, the college has brought thousands of the brightest Indigenous creatives and thinkers to Santa Fe to study or teach in a broad range of programs—creative writing, filmmaking, studio arts, per- forming arts, museum studies, and more. Offering associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, three MFA programs (in creative writing, studio arts, and, announced earlier this year, a new program in cultural administration), and certificate programs, the Institute has versatile educational tracks that have shepherded a massive list of notable alumni toward the realization of their work. Tommy Orange, for example, wrote much of the PEN/Hemingway Award–nominated There, There during his tenure in the MFA program. Other alumni include U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and incomparable poet Layli Long Soldier, as well as genius textile artist Marie Watt, groundbreaking printmaker T.C. Cannon, and the dynamo educator-photographer-curator that is Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie. That’s already a long list and it’s still a very abbreviated one.
In addition to its degree programs, the Institute hosts a breadth of community programming on its 140-acre campus and around Santa Fe—from workshops and movie screenings to panel talks and open studios with artists in residence. To mark sixty years, IAIA will explore the theme “Making History” throughout the year with events that look to the Institute’s past and its bright future.
Traditional Spanish Market, Santa Fe
Traditional Spanish Market, marking its seventieth appearance in the Plaza this year, provides a deep dive into the Hispanic arts and crafts scene of New Mexico and southern Colorado. More than 200 artists working in dozens of categories, including retablos, ironwork, bone carving, straw applique, and hide painting, showcase their work during the last weekend of July when booths line Santa Fe’s Plaza and surrounding streets. The volume and breadth of the work, showing techniques that are passed down by generation, are indicative of how art and crafts are not just popular in Santa Fe but are part of the city’s DNA.
The market creates an opportunity to experience traditional Hispanic culture in a broad sense. Every day, musicians and dancers perform on the Plaza stage, and food trucks abound. The phrase “¡viva la cultura!” echoes throughout the market. On Sunday, artists can take their work to Mass at the Saint Francis Cathedral where it will be blessed by a priest. Depictions of Christian devotion are common in the work seen at Traditional Spanish Market, illuminating a prominent element of Santa Fe’s history.
Traditional Spanish Market is organized by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, founded in 1925 by writer Mary Austin, to preserve regional Hispanic traditional arts. The society’s headquarters in an old adobe building designed by John Gaw Meem house both exhibitions and an in-depth library of Hispanic arts. They traditionally purchase work from the market, imprinting their collection with work from today’s Hispanic artists.
Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe
The mission of the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, celebrating its eighty-fifth anniversary this year, is “to respect and support, and to record and present, the living traditions and creative expressions of Native American people.”
This statement originates in the Wheelwright’s founding collaboration between Mary Cabot Wheelwright, a wealthy Bostonian with an interest in cultures and religions, and Hastiin Klah, a respected Navajo medicine man and singer. The two were introduced and became friends in 1921, a time of brutal assimilationist policies that threatened the survival of Navajo religious knowledge and practice. Klah and Wheelwright set out to create a record of Navajo ritual knowledge, including stories, ceremonial sandpaintings, and weavings. The museum opened in 1937 as the Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art.
In the 1970s, the museum repatriated and donated much of its original collection to the Navajo Nation and changed its name to the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. It now presents a unique combination of traditional and contemporary Indigenous art with a focus on living artists.
For example, a powerful recent exhibition, Indigenous Women: Border Matters, presented multimedia work by four Indigenous artists exploring concepts of identity, memory, land, heritage, and politics on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Currently on view in the museum, Abeyta | To’Hajiilee K’é visually documents a cross-generational, cross-genre dialogue on art and storytelling through the work of the celebrated Abeyta family of master artists.
Santa Fe Indian Market, Santa Fe
The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Santa Fe Indian Market celebrates its 100th anniversary this summer with a milestone event. “This market has been a part of our lives for generations, and it speaks to resilience,” says executive director Kim Peone (Colville Confederated Tribes/Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians). “This culture was thought to be heading towards extinction 100 years ago. Here we are, coming out of a pandemic, vibrant and celebrating.”
For the last century, SWAIA’s Indian Market has transformed downtown Santa Fe on a yearly basis, convening artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts in the world’s most esteemed Native American art show. The market is estimated to bring more than 115,000 people and $160 million dollars to the area.
“One of our objectives,” says Peone, “is to support all Native art—traditional and contemporary—as fine art. How can we as an organization create opportunities for artists in all spaces? How can we do 365 days of art each year?”
To that end, 2022’s market is launching exciting new initiatives. Arts Indigenous invites top-tier galleries from around the country to present work by Indigenous artists. Indigenous Collections, a 21st-century e-commerce platform, will allow vetted artists to sell work year-round online.
“We are bringing back a full-force Indian Market this summer!” exclaims Peone. Indian Market 2022 will take place between August 17 and 21, with a full schedule of events, including a stunning fashion show and live entertainment.
Santa Fe Playhouse, Santa Fe
As theater picks up again in the wake of two largely quiet years, the Santa Fe Playhouse has opened the curtains on their 100th season, kicking it off with a production of British playwright Lucy Prebble’s fast-paced and funny love story with many a moral quandary, The Effect.
Established by writer and activist Mary Austin in 1919 as the Santa Fe Players, the theater wasn’t formally incorporated until 1922. Then a transient operation, the players officially took up residence in the building where the Santa Fe Playhouse now operates in 1964. The original inspiration for the organization was to present intimate, cutting-edge theater, and the Santa Fe Playhouse remains true to their origins. The centennial season includes Pulitzer Prize–nominated dramas, the magical realism of American playwright Katori Hall, and the Fiesta Melodrama, a Santa Fe Playhouse tradition.
With six shows running throughout the year and select previews offering name-your-own-price ticketing, celebrating 100 years with the Santa Fe Playhouse is more than easy—it’s edifying and fun.