Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Museum Day in Santa Fe

I like to get to New Mexico at least once every year.  Unfortunately I had not been back for a few years.  But that situation was remedied by a visit earlier this month to the state I like to call The Holy Land.  It never disappoints and it was great catching up with friends, eating a lot of good food and seeing some awesome art. 
In spite of the touristy, over-turquoised side of Santa Fe, I always enjoy the place and the collection of art museums there are world class.  I started with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum where I learned something new – I had no idea she visited Hawaii and did some incredible work.  I began my day with those green lush landscapes and already knew it was worth the trip.   
The next stop was the New Mexico Museum of Art.  There’s a fine permanent collection and my personal “discovery” of the artist/printmaker Gustave Baumann. Delilah Montoya’s show Syncretism included an installation of photos depicting the desert landscape migrants cross to reach the United States with empty plastic water bottles dangling from the photos (see above).  A compelling installation but I am curious why the curator failed to label the work in Spanish as well as English.  It seems odd that in a place like the New Mexico Museum of Art the labels are not bilingual.  
The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts retrospective of Ric Gendron’s paintings was another show that asked me why we don’t get things like this in San Francisco?  Not that I regret travelling to Santa Fe, but one wonders about some of the curatorial choices made in the “big” city I call home.   One of the docents very correctly recommended I watch the video of the Bert Benally and Ai Weiwei installation. 
Lunch was up the hill and then visits to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and a perennial favorite – the Museum of International Folk Art. 
You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned any galleries?  Well, in 20 years of visiting Santa Fe, I still have not made it Canyon Road – maybe next time, well, probably not.  And I also missed SITE Santa Fe – just because the New York Times gushes, doesn’t mean we have to go.  Plus, it was also closed the day I was there.  When I got up the next morning, I left town instead of seeing SITE Santa Fe.  I headed south for the sublime experience of remote abandoned missions instead.  Plus there is plenty of contemporary “art” for me to see in San Francisco if I choose to. 

My museum day was a full day and a perfect day – finished off with green chili mac-n-cheese washed down with cold beer.

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