Tuesday, May 8, 2012


My continuing journey into the tangles of Santa Fe community:
Saturday I went to a brunch sponsored by the New Mexico Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of the latest Alcove 12.0 exhibit. This is a new series curated by Merry Scully, of small shows of work by contemporary New Mexican artists. It's a breath of fresh air for the museum. My good friends
Jane Lackey and Linda Swanson were in the first group, so I was on the guest list. This was for the second group, which included Harmony Hammond and Terri Roland.

It was crowded at the brunch and I saw lots of people from afar but I ended up having a really interesting conversation with a writer, Kay Hagan. We talked about developing friendships in Santa Fe. She's from back east as well and she described the community here as "atomized." It seemed like a perfect word to describe the way people know each other but are sort of floating in the air in their own worlds. Not like New York, where everyone is on top of each other and you're forced to be involved. There's something nice, and comforting, about never being alone; but the freedom of roominess appeals as well. It's probably one of the things people move here for. And yet there are only something like 73,000 residents of Santa Fe. This makes it a small town, with small town occurrences.

Being atomized means you have to make a little more effort to catch the personalities. It also means true friendships take a while to develop. One woman told me not long ago, that if someone asks me how long I've been here, to say "two years." Not less than that. So many people come and go- this is probably why people don't automatically add you to their social circle. It actually has been about two years that I've lived here and I can honestly say it's starting to feel different.

Kay pointed out that this area is one of the only ones in America where you can be in the midst of settlements that are 900 years old, like the Taos pueblo. I had never thought of it quite like that. It's so steeped in history, in diverse cultures. And as much as we artists like to scoff at much of the work we see that's meant for the tourists, northern New Mexico has a very long history as an art colony, and serious work was made here.

Here's a painting by Marsden Hartley.

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