Four centuries of history remembered in annual event

April 28th, 2009 by admin

Four Centuries of History
Remembered in Annual Event
Santa Fe Fiestas commemorates the early interactions
between Native Americans and Spanish colonists

Welcome to the latest installment of our media-release series, “Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now.” See the links below for previous releases, along with information about obtaining photographs to accompany your coverage.

Po'Pay
Statue of Po’Pay

Zozobra
Zozobra puppet

DeVargas
Oil Painting of
Don Diego de Vargas

Every year in Santa Fe, on the weekend after Labor Day, the city comes alive with the sounds of the past. Mariachis perform on the Plaza, and the cries of “Que Vivá!” ring out.

The Fiestas de Santa Fe have been celebrated every autumn for 297 years to commemorate the Spanish reconquest of the City of Holy Faith in 1692. The stories behind the founding of Santa Fe, the Pueblo Revolt, and the Spanish reoccupation are just a shadow of the vibrant cultural history you’ll discover at the New Mexico History Museum, www.nmhistorymuseum.org, scheduled to open May 24, 2009.

In 1680, just 70 years after the founding of Santa Fe by Don Pedro de Peralta, the Pueblo peoples of New Mexico rose up under a religious leader called Po’Pay. After a six-day siege of Santa Fe, the Pueblo peoples managed to drive the Spanish colonists back to El Paso del Norte, in present-day Juarez, Mexico. Twelve years later, the Viceroy of New Spain appointed Don Diego de Vargas as Governor-in-exile of New Mexico. Vargas set forth with a small band of soldiers and colonists to re-settle Santa Fe. In September 1692, Vargas accomplished this feat without bloodshed.

Vargas returned to Mexico to recruit more colonists, and when he returned the following winter, the Pueblo peoples denied him reentry to the city. He then set up an altar for La Conquistadora, a 29-inch-tall statue of carved wood that had originally been brought to Santa Fe in 1625 and had returned with Vargas to Santa Fe. Vargas implored the Virgin Mary to intercede on behalf of the colonists, and before the end of December that year, he had gained re-entry to the city.

Crediting La Conquistadora with his success, Vargas was said to have vowed to restore the statue to her throne in the local church, which had been destroyed by fire in 1680. He was unable to accomplish this during his lifetime. Eight years after Vargas’ death, Governor Marquez de la Peñuela signed the 1712 Proclamation, which established the first Fiesta de Santa Fe.

The first Fiesta called for Mass, vespers, and a sermon, which began the religious tone of the Fiestas that continues today. There are, however, a number of non-religious traditions that have accumulated over the years. In 1924, local artist Will Shuster Jr. conceived and created the effigy of “Zozobra,” an old Spanish term that Vargas had used to describe “the adversities and perils of that government of New Mexico.” Today, locals are asked to write down their troubles on slips of paper weeks before Fiestas begin. The slips of paper are then stuffed into a 50-foot mannequin made of timber, muslin, and paper mache – Zozobra, or “Old Man Gloom.” The Kiwanis Club sponsors the annual event at Fort Marcy Park, complete with fire-dancers, fireworks, live music, and of course, the angry, deep-throated voice of Zozobra over the loudspeakers. It is said that all the troubles of the previous year go up in smoke with the burning of Zozobra.

Following the burning of Zozobra, the three-day celebration of the Fiestas continue with the selection of a “Don” (Vargas) and a “Queen,” mariachi music on the Plaza, a number of dances and balls, the always charming Desfile de los Niños (a children’s pet parade), the Desfile de la Fiesta (also known as the historical/hysterical parade), a historical fashion show, Mariachi Mass, and a candlelight procession to the Cross of the Martyrs atop a hill overlooking downtown Santa Fe.

The Fiestas de Santa Fe are a vibrant and living example of the cultures that have clashed and blended for over 400 years to make the people of New Mexico who they are today.

The New Mexico History Museum explores not only the lives of conquistadors like Vargas, but also of Po’pay and the Pueblo peoples, Santa Fe Trail riders and fur-trappers, railroad men and cowboys of the 1800s, veterans of WWII, the scientists who built the bomb and the counterculture movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Define your own place in history: Get into it! This all-encompassing, family-oriented, 96,000-square-foot annex to the 400-year-old Palace of the Governors uses interactive multi-media displays in conjunction with images and artifacts to tell the stories of real New Mexicans – the people who are the West.

For more information about the New Mexico History Museum, including a selection of user-ready high-resolution photographs, log onto http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/nmhm. More than 8,000 additional, high-resolution photographs illustrating the history of New Mexico are available by keyword search at www.palaceofthegovernors.org (click on “Photo Archives” then on “Digitized Collections”). Most requests for scans from this site can be delivered the same day, and usage is free for publicity purposes only.

Previous releases:
Where ancient artifacts meet cutting-edge art

Fashioning New Mexico

The Tiffany Ties that Bind

The Railroad Wars

The New Face of History

The Tales that Made the American West

New Mexico History Museum’s Core Exhibits

Telling the People’s Stories: A Message from the Director

Creating a Place for Our Past, by Dr. Frances Levine, El Palacio, Summer 2006

Other Sites:

NM History Museum on Twitter

NM History Museum on Facebook

Media Contacts:
Kate Nelson
New Mexico History Museum
505 476 1141
Kate.Nelson@state.nm.us
www.nmhistorymuseum.org

Rachel Mason
Ballantines PR
Rachel@ballantinespr.com
505 216 0889
www.ballantinespr.com

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Where ancient artifacts meet cutting-edge art

April 23rd, 2009 by admin

Where ancient artifacts meet cutting-edge art

Welcome to the latest installment of our media-release series, “Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now.” See the links below for previous releases, along with information about obtaining photographs to accompany your coverage.


“Green Fragment” – Kumi Yamashita


Fragments, 40 Resin Casts
Kumi Yamashita



Kumi Yamashita At Her Studio


“Rio Grende Colcha” – Paula Castillo

Santa Fe, NM – A 20-foot metal sculpture crawls along an exterior wall, mimicking the life-giving Rio Grande. Inside, a magical mix of sculpted resin and strategic spotlights turns apparently mundane objects into an amazing array of shadows.

Cutting-edge contemporary art in the nation’s newest history museum? It could only happen in New Mexico, where artistic traditions have had millennia to grow deep roots and produce the sweetest of fruit.

Besides honoring more than 400 years of cultural interactions, the New Mexico History Museum, opening May 24, is delighted to include works by Kumi Yamashita and Paula Castillo in its permanent collection and on public display. Their intriguing creations come courtesy of the 1% for the Arts initiative, also called the Art in Public Places Program.

The artists began installing their works this week and are available for interviews and photographs.

Started in 1986 as a way to keep the arts alive and present, the Art in Public Places Program requires a 1 percent set-aside in every public building budget of more than $100,000 for cities, counties and the state. The money is used to acquire public art to display in, on, or around the building.

At a time when public funding for cultural endeavors is at risk, the program provides a stream of revenue that helps enrich our citizens’ lives while supporting artists and craftspeople. It echoes the WPA initiatives of the Depression era, when artists’ and craftspeople’s paintings, furniture and architecture achieved a pinnacle that stands today. The New Mexico History Museum is proud to continue in that tradition by working with artists who are crafting their own interpretations of what it means to be in New Mexico.

Kumi Yamashita works heavily with light and shadow in ways that defy description. (A video of her displaying a few of her pieces on a Japanese TV show, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulzyrV8IjE0, has been a regular You Tube sensation.) She’s crafting two pieces for the Museum’s second-floor interior:

  • Fragments consists of 40 cast-resin tiles arrayed in an oval shape. Though they appear to simply be colored blocks, when lit, they reveal the shadows of human faces – actual New Mexicans, whose photographs she took on a statewide tour.
  • Untitled begins with a simple frame in the shape of New Mexico. When lit, it casts the shadow of a man sitting on the southern border while gazing at the stars.

“One of the issues I focus on is the boundary we create within ourselves by categorizing the world,” Yamashita says. “Through my work, I wish to remind ourselves of how we preconceive what is around and inside us. Knowledge, ideas, and values are too often accepted without questioning. Can we find a way to evaporate ourselves from a pond and condensate over an ocean? Can we see a common thread that connects all things?”

Yamashita has been a visiting artist and guest lecturer at universities and academies in the United States, Turkey, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Japan, and has received residencies such as the Roswell Artist in Residence Program, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, the Millay Colony, the Aomori International Art Center and the Border Art Residency in New Mexico. Her work is on permanent display in public spaces in Seattle, Osaka, Hokkaido, and Tokyo and is a part of museum collections in Boise, Idaho and Shimane.

Paula Castillo is a well-known, native New Mexican artist, based in Cordova. She frequently works with discarded pieces from industrial metal fabrication processes and is preparing four works for the Museum’s exterior:

  • A set of benches sculpted to resemble the mountains of New Mexico, will be placed to the left of the Museum’s main entrance at 113 Lincoln Ave.
  • On the west face of the Museum, Dos Arboles, Dos Hermanas (Two Trees, Two Sisters) will begin at ground level, then climb 32 feet high, cresting the roofline of the Museum.
  • Rio Grande Colcha, an image of the Rio Grande and all of her tributaries in a colcha, or traditional Spanish embroidery, design, will span 20 feet across the west face of the museum.
  • On the wall of Museum’s second-story patio terrace, Castillo will craft an excerpt from the Nambe Pueblo Tewa poem, “My home over there, Now I remember it.”

Collectively, the pieces reference mountains, trees, rivers and homes – a simple yet profound way to understand the connection between the natural world and the cultural history of New Mexico. Castillo says she intends to introduce visitors to the always contingent, personal and human-scaled history of New Mexico.

“For me, form is complex and adaptable with all of its hundreds of fluid and solid systems: regional watersheds, train sounds, star flows, off the interstate, waving at someone,” she says. ”Like hydrogen attaching to oxygen in a flowing hexagonal movement or a group of people laughing at an absent minded gesture, I see form as alive and emerging from itself in an easy flash.”

Using art to help tell the story of the people who were and are the fabric of New Mexico was only natural. Dr. Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History Museum, notes that art has been, and continues to be, a vital part of the state’s culture.

“Artistic expression has played an important role in New Mexico’s culture from its earliest days,” Dr. Levine says. “From Native American pottery and weavings through Spanish devotional objects of colonial life, to the Taos Artists and WPA craftspeople. Our collections at the New Mexico History Museum celebrate those traditions, and their roots continue to bear fruit today. The works of Paula and Kumi help us connect the Museum to this longer artistic history. We are pleased that these works relate to our history and to the present.”

Loie Fecteau, executive director of New Mexico Arts, the agency that oversees the 1 Percent for the Arts program, calls public art “the most democratic of all the art forms because it really does belong to all of us.”

“New Mexico has long been recognized as having one of the strongest and most innovative public art programs in the country, which I think is really fitting given the historical importance of the arts in our state and the way the arts are treasured and embedded in our many diverse cultures,” Fecteau says. “Our Legislature is really to be commended for having the foresight to create our state 1 percent for public art program more than 40 years ago,” Fecteau said.

Fecteau notes that the program has placed more than 2,200 pieces across New Mexico in each of the state’s 33 counties.

Art is a subjective media; it allows the viewer to take what they will from it, to draw their own conclusions. In the same way, the New Mexico History Museum sets out to allow visitors the opportunity to decide for themselves what “really” happened. Create your own place in history. Get into it! Join us at the grand opening of the New Mexico History Museum, www.nmhistorymuseum.org/, on May 24, 2009.

For more information about the New Mexico History Museum, including a selection of user-ready high-resolution photographs, log onto http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/nmhm. More than 8,000 additional, high-resolution photographs illustrating the history of New Mexico are available by keyword search at www.palaceofthegovernors.org (click on “Photo Archives” then on “Digitized Collections”). Most requests for scans from this site can be delivered the same day, and usage is free for publicity purposes only.

Previous releases:

The Tiffany Ties that Bind

The Railroad Wars

The New Face of History

The Tales that Made the American West

New Mexico History Museum’s Core Exhibits

Telling the People’s Stories: A Message from the Director

Creating a Place for Our Past, by Dr. Frances Levine, El Palacio, Summer 2006

Other Sites:

NM History Museum on Twitter

NM History Museum on Facebook

For media inquiries, please contact:
Kate Nelson
New Mexico History Museum
505 476 1141
Kate.Nelson@state.nm.us
www.nmhistorymuseum.org

Rachel Mason
Ballantines PR
Rachel@ballantinespr.com
505 216 0889
www.ballantinespr.com

“Fashioning New Mexico”

April 22nd, 2009 by admin

“Fashioning New Mexico”
New museum’s premiere exhibition reveals
the history of the clothes we wore

Welcome to the latest installment of our media-release series, “Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now.” See the links below for previous releases, along with information about obtaining photographs to accompany your coverage.

Flamenco
Flamenco Dress


Estella Bestero (Moore) with her mother,
Florence (Wreford) Bestero, undated

Wedding Dress
Wedding Dress


Unidentified boy in a cowboy
outfit, undated

Flappers
Flapper Dresses

San Juan Pueblo Child
San Juan Pueblo child
in ceremonial dress, undated

Santa Fe – Life’s passages carry layers of meaning and memory – the foods we eat, the songs we sing, the clothes we wear. The ways in which our predecessors chose to clothe themselves – for a baptism, a prom, a war, or an opera opening – have been collected by the New Mexico History Museum for 100 years. As part of the Museum’s grand opening May 24, many of those outfits are, shall we say, coming out of the closet.

Fashioning New Mexico, the premiere exhibition in the Museum’s Changing Gallery, explores what our clothes say about us and what they mean to us. Some of the celebratory events depicted in it are singular to New Mexico, such as fiestas and Native American ceremonies. Others are the classic passages that form the basis of our lives and of the tales we have told since the earliest campfire was lit: a child’s birth, coming of age, marriage, anniversaries, ascents to power and going to war.

The Museum’s collection of nearly 4,000 costumes and accessories, with many pieces dating from the 1830s to the 1970s, has long lacked the space it takes for a proper exhibit. The opening of the Museum’s second-floor, 5,700-square-foot Changing Gallery finally makes it possible.

To senior curator Louise Stiver, it’s both a celebration and a swan song, as she unveils her final exhibition.

“This is the first time for the Museum to focus on our collection of costumes and accessories,” she said. “A number of the items in the collection represent celebrations that occurred here in New Mexico – from weddings to going to the opera to entering military service. There’s a little bit of everything for people to see.”

But, she cautions, “this is not a fashion show.”

“Rather, it will focus on how people fashioned their lives. Some clothing might stand alone, while others will be part of a vignette that might include furniture, portraits, weaponry, accessories, historical documents and other props to tell the story.”

Other features include a high-seated “penny farthing” bicycle, and interactive features where a visitor can practice tying a corset, using the secret language of fans or virtually “trying on” some of the outfits in the exhibit. Student-interns from New Mexico Highlands University are preparing a station that uses computerized images on a mirror that let visitors virtually “try on” some of the outfits in the exhibition.

What’s coming out of the closet? Plenty – about 350 items, including a dozen 19th– and 20th-century wedding gowns, flapper dresses, flamenco outfits, WWI uniforms, inaugural ballgowns and an assortment of underwear through the centuries. Thirty of the Museum’s classic fans will reveal a time when delicate painting and embroidery turned a utilitarian item into art.

Donors through the years have included the heirs of the Harroun, Manderfield and Armijo families of Santa Fe, the McMillans of Socorro, the Jaramillos from northern New Mexico, and the McDonalds of Carrizozo, to name a few.

The pieces cover modern history as well, including a turquoise outfit recalling the grandeur of Dangerous Liaisons-era France. The outfit, worn by Santa Fe artist Paul Stephen Valdez to the Equality New Mexico Gala in 2008, was loaned by him for this special exhibition.

Conservator Rebecca Tinkham has worked on every costume in the exhibition, painstakingly repairing the rips and frays of time, a task that prior to now also made displaying the items problematic. With the Museum’s climate-controlled galleries, fragile fabrics can withstand the rigors of exhibition.

Besides mending seams, Tinkham has found herself working on corsets, hoops, bustles, pantaloons and petticoats.

“These days, the clothes fit the body,” she said. “But for a good part of history, the body was made to fit the clothes with bustles, hoops, metal bust improvers.”

One of the things that most impressed her about the collection was how well New Mexicans dressed.

“A lot of the clothes are just so pretty to look at,” Tinkham said. “There were a lot of people in New Mexico who did dress to style. They were definitely stylish for the period.”

Those period-specific styles are also revealed in the Museum’s archival photos accompanying the exhibit, which buttress the notion of these being the clothes New Mexicans lived, worked and played in.

As they have for the last century, the collection of artifacts and photographs detailing our stylish ways would have continued. But without the new exhibition gallery, the wait to see them would have been even longer.

“The New Mexico History Museum opens a new chapter in the life of the Palace of the Governors,” Stiver said. “This new gallery allows us to expand our Museum’s mission and display exceptional examples from the Palace’s collections never before seen by the public.”

The New Mexico History Museum includes interactive multimedia displays, hands-on exhibits, and vivid stories of real New Mexicans. As a 96,000-square-foot extension of the Palace of the Governors – itself a story of New Mexico’s past and present in a 400-year-old building – the New Mexico History Museum anchors itself in the historic Santa Fe Plaza and offers a sampling of the people and the legends to be found throughout the state. Get into it – define your place in history and in fashion.

For more information about the New Mexico History Museum, including a selection of user-ready high-resolution photographs, log onto http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/nmhm. More than 8,000 additional, high-resolution photographs illustrating the history of New Mexico are available by keyword search at www.palaceofthegovernors.org (click on “Photo Archives” then on “Digitized Collections”). Most requests for scans from this site can be delivered the same day, and usage is free for publicity purposes only.

Grand Opening: May 24, 2009!

April 15th, 2009 by admin

Some people say that “history is written by the winners.” The New Mexico History Museum, opening May 24, 2009, sets out to challenge that notion by taking a new approach, engaging visitors in the craft of history. Rather than staidly reporting what “happened,” the New Mexico History Museum presents a theatrical environment and the powerful stories of the many cultures that have called the Land of Enchantment home. Sometimes those cultures blended. Sometimes they clashed. Always, they added new stitches to a tapestry of life that’s among the oldest in the nation. Whether those stitches were for good or ill is up to visitors to decide. The museum allows them to reach their own conclusions about what “really” happened.


Kit Carson