Saturday, October 24, 2009

The city different evolves

Last night I went to a really interesting talk about the exhibition Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe at the History Museum. It's a show of photographs starting from early 19th c. ones to contemporary pictures. What I learned was that Santa Fe was really a construct almost from the start- by commercial interests like the railroads and Fred Harvey who established restaurants and later hotels along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railway. Interestingly, when the railroad was extended into New Mexico, it was determined that it was too difficult to go through the mountains into Santa Fe, and the tracks went through Lamy. The style of architecture was a deliberate amalgam of pueblo and Spanish architecture, and there was some reconstruction to bring existing buildings into this new vernacular.

The Palace of the Governors, at one end of the Plaza, which now houses the museum and where Indian artisans sell jewelry each day under its portal, was originally a kind of simple neo-classical building, but was restored to the now familiar style, using adobe and earth tones of the pueblos and vigas, the heavy roof rafters that extend out from the walls, a feature of Spanish architecture.



Because of the railroad bypassing the area, city fathers figured out ways to get people to come, by producing different pageants, mostly conquistador kind of stuff. In the 30's they used WPA money to give artists traveling expenses to come to the area. Eventually, the fake pageants became beloved community rituals. Due to political action groups, "Indian Fair" was established in 1922, and now Indian Market is a huge enterprise. It was always the intention to present the area as a layering of three cultures- Hispanic, Native American and Anglo- and I guess what surprised me was that this was such a contrived identity. By the way, I'm oversimplifying the history here. I didn't take notes.

This is a photo in the exhibit, by Norman Mauskopf, from 1992:

Notice the guy in the back with the shorts and tevo's. Reminds me of a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry is sitting next to a guy with shorts on in first class, and tells him he should wear pants, and an argument ensues.

The room was packed for the lecture and unfortunately in the middle of it there was suddenly a weird noise and people started jumping up and calling for a doctor. Then we all waited for the ENT's to come, but there was no drama. The lecture went on.

No comments: