Fray Angélico Chávez: The Painting Poet

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The Painting Poet

I plucked a feather with a cactus drill
From the gray wing of a thrush;
One side I sharpened to a poet’s quill,
The other end, a painter’s brush.

I paint the sage upon the shady ground
With pigment-words of silver-jades,
And then I turn my wonder-pen around
And with it add the purple shades.

–Fray Angelico Chavez
Cantares: Canticles and Poems of Youth, 1925-1932

Cantares and Poems of Youth, published by Arte Publico Press

The Generosity of Friends

Artist Gustave Baumann created this autumn-toned color wheel in 1930.

Artist Gustave Baumann created this autumn-toned color wheel in 1930.

Not all of Santa’s presents end up underneath someone’s Christmas tree. Quite a few of them landed in our collections.

Generous donors surprised and delighted us with some remarkable year-end gifts. We’re still sorting through the record-keeping details, but here’s a peek at a few donations that will help us better tell the story of New Mexico.

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Volunteer Profile: Audrey Hinsman

AudreyHinsmanAfter artist Audrey Hinsman and her husband retired to Santa Fe six years ago, she began looking for a volunteering opportunity. She enjoyed being a docent at the Museum of International Folk Art, but three years ago, her love of books drew her off Museum Hill and into the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library.

“I love history. I love books, and there was a need for somebody to sort things out,” she said.

The “need” was significant. More than five years ago, folklorist and aural historian Jack Loeffler donated a bounty of his taped interviews and music performances to the library, but the collection needed an online search tool to help people know what they might find. Working for two to three hours a week, Hinsman combined Loeffler’s spread sheet of each reel-to-reel tape’s contents with what he had long ago written on the box holding each one.

How big a task was that? The collection had 902 tapes that fill an entire bookcase inside the library.

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Mapping Out a New Curriculum

 

72-MieraYPacheco_MapGroups of New Mexico educators found their way to the New Mexico History Museum this summer for a free, one-day workshop focused on teaching with historic maps. Led by educators Dennis and Judy Reinhartz, with assistance from Patricia Hewitt of the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, the sessions drew from the museum’s extensive map collection. Attendees received extra insights on a number of maps through slideshow presentation, hands-on access to a few print maps, and a gallery walk-through with museum docents, who shared information on some of the maps with museum exhibits.

“They all have different reasons for coming here today,” Judy Reinhartz said. “Some are teachers, others are in the general field of education and some are rangers or tour guides.”

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An Evening with William deBuys

4-Lecture_William deBuys_author photo_THE LAST UNICORNAward-winning author and conservationist William deBuys speaks on and signs copies of his latest book and joins us for a reception honoring the museum’s acquisition of his papers. The Fray Angélico Chávez History Library hosts this free event on Friday, June 19, 5:30–7:30 pm, in the museum auditorium, with light refreshments in the lobby.

In 1992, in a remote mountain range, a team of scientists discovered the remains of an unusual animal with beautiful long horns. It turned out to be a living species new to Western science—a saola, the first large land mammal discovered in 50 years. Rare then and rarer now, a live saola had never been glimpsed by Westerners in the wild whendeBuys and conservation biologist William Robichaud set off to search for the animal in the wilds of central Laos. They endured a punishing trek, whitewater rivers and mountainous terrain ribboned with snare lines set by armed poachers.

The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Rarest Creatures (Little, Brown and Company, 2015) is deBuys’ look deep into one of the world’s most remote places. His journey becomes a quest for the essence of wildness in nature and an encounter with beauty.

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By George: A Letter from Our First President

The Fray Angélico Chávez History Library recently acquired something you’d more likely expect at an East Coast institution. The Aug. 25, 1784, letter written by George Washington was donated by two Albuquerque men who said it had been in their family since 1937.

While it doesn’t reveal any state secrets or military stratagems, it is written in the hand of the man who presumably slept in no shortage of hotels and inns. Five years shy of becoming the nation’s first president, he was fresh off his American Revolution victories. He had been touring his considerable land holdings, some of which came his way courtesy of Robert Dinwiddie, who is referenced in the letter and served as governor of colonial Virginia from 1751-1758.

Librarian Tomas Jaehn said the Chavez Library has letters from other presidents, including Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, plus a letter that Jacqueline Kennedy wrote to Fray Angélico.

Materials in the library are available to researchers and other members of the public, Tuesday-Friday, 1-5 pm. (Enter through the New Mexico History Museum’s east doors.)

Here’s a transcript of the letter, sent to James Mercer and written at Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. (Mercer was a member of the Continental Congress and later a jurist; his brother, George, was Washington’s aide-de-camp during the war.)

Dear Sir,
My Sister handed me your favor of the 18th. I thank you for the advice respecting the mode of conveying a title for the Lands I purchased at your Brother’s Sale, & will pursue it; but necessity will oblige me to postpone the matter until I return from my Western jaunt; as, from Company & other circumstances, no leizure is left me to rummage for papers before.

My letter to your Brother John Mercer, would have informed you, that I apprehended there were omissions in the account I transmitted, to my prejudice, as I had not been able to make any statemt of my Books, or to assort my Papers (wch by frequent removals to get them out of the enemy’s way, were in sad disorder) since my return. I am much obliged to you for the Memm taken from your journal, especially as I am in a way to be a considerable sufferer from my advances to obtain, & Survey the Grant of 20,000 Acres of Land under Dinwiddies proclamation. Many of the Grantees never having paid me a Shilling.

The enclosed letter will give you every information in my power respecting Vanbraam–when you have read it please return it to me, as it has received no acknowledgement yet. With very great esteem & regard I am–Dr Sir Yr most obt Servt
Go Washington