A Visit to my Old Home, the City Different, Santa Fe

My favorite statue of St. Francis in the royal city of his holy faith is the one near City Hall where he’s shown as a lean, bearded monk standing and looking down at a prairie dog, while the little creature looks up at him in that curious, fearless way they have, paws on belly, making eye contact. I spent a little time with this sculpture while waiting for the street party in front of City Hall that never materialized on June 28th—or maybe it did, but every time I wandered back in hopes of free music, there was still only a block of Marcy Street closed with orange cones, security people on the corners, and a lone man break dancing to recorded hip hop. I suppose the live music eventually showed up, but I went to Blue Rain to look at new works there, came back—no party—and wandered off and discovered the new RC Gorman gallery. Still a lovely evening, being a tourist where I used to live.

One of my goals on this trip—along with a workshop and classes at Yoga Source—was to see the Judy Chicago exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Chicago has lived in New Mexico for twenty years. With her husband, photographer Donald Woodman, she has created some powerful, thought-provoking images in Nuclear Wasted, and in the Holocaust Project, some portions of which are in the NMMA exhibit. http://www.judychicago.com/gallery.php?name=Holocaust+Project+Gallery

This article in New Mexico Magazine made me want to see it, and it describes the nature of her work so well, I won’t try to do it over. She’s astoundingly versatile, and  can shake you up, charm you, or touch your spirit.


After leaving the museum, I walked around town letting intuition guide me. The local artists’ show behind the bank downtown is always good. I acquired a tiny print by Joseph Comellas that is so radiant and deep I could fall into it. I’ve loved his work for years, and wish I could find images online to share. His style is unlike anyone else’s. I could try saying O’Keefe-like for colors and landscapes, but he uses shapes very differently. Each of his paintings is an experience, a moment in light and land so intense it’s like he found the true nature of the place in colors seen by the soul.  I kept turning around to look at the print as I wrote this. It makes my heart glow.

When I stopped by Whole Foods, the small one on St. Francis, I noticed a bookshelf on my way out. It was labeled Good Reads for a Good Cause. Donated books are sold to support something charitable—Whole Planet Foundation projects, I think. I felt compelled to put a copy of Shaman’s Blues on that shelf. (I happened to have books in my trunk.) If you’re in Santa Fe you can grab it for a very low price if it’s still there. When I donated the book I wasn’t thinking about the fact that a scene in it takes place in that store. I like to imagine the reaction of the reader who snags that bargain when they get to that part.

I ended the long weekend with Country Night at Bandstand on Monday. As the crowd warmed up, dancers of all ages and ethnicities and shapes and sizes gradually filled the dance space in front of the gazebo on the Plaza, partners’ arms weaving a pattern of twists and turns in time with the music. I got a kick out of three little girls in red cowgirl boots, and their mother who had apparently taught them how to dance. The children partnered with each other, or with Mom, who looked like the happiest woman on the planet that night. If I still lived in Santa Fe, I’d go to just about every Bandstand show all summer.

Check out these acts:



The YouTube video is last year’s performance by Sim Balky and the Honky Tonk Crew, and it’s the whole show. You can see the dancers, the Plaza, and of course one heck of a good band.

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Amber Foxx

Author of Mae Martin psychic mystery series.

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