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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Governor’s Palace and Plaza in Santa Fe

Saturday March 1, 2014 Quality Inn Suite 108 Santa Fe, New Mexico 5 PM MST

The day started out overcast and gray—but this is good news for New Mexico—the drought has been terrible for at least three years now. Everyone we spoke to yesterday and today mentioned the weather with great happiness. We certainly are happy for them and because we’ve had such wonderful weather, if chilly, on this trip we did not begrudge them their joy. As a matter of fact, it was rather nice to walk in the rain, though I think the Native Americans on the patio of the Palace thought that smiling gringo woman in the Plaza was muy loco!

Last night, Bill mentioned that there were prints of O’Keeffe’s works-some of them at least- at her museum for only $10.  He had taken a particular delight in her Horse’s Skull with White Rose (1931). I’m always impressed when he singles out one work of art as one he particularly likes. He enjoys art museums, as a matter of fact, he took me to the Clarke in Williamstown, Ma as a special present one year. I’d not heard of it but a fellow teacher told him about it and that it has a large selection of Impressionists, whom he knows I love. When we go to museums, though, he likes a lot of the offerings but doesn’t usually have a favorite.  I urged him to make the OK our first stop this morning. There isn’t a parking lot for the museum and we paid $5 for two hours to explore it yesterday but I convinced him to part in the Courthouse lot, posted with several large signs threatening citation and towing for unofficial cars. Ah, I stayed in the car, no one even looked out a window or came near the lot—we took the last spot—and he ran in and got himself a print. I’ve included a picture of the post card of it as well as several other cards I purchased yesterday: Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory (1938), Winter Cottonwoods East V (1954) and Untitled ( Vase of Flowers ) (1903-1905).

We then moved down a couple of streets, as the rain began, and parked behind the bank for $5 for the day. I took a picture of the clock to record our time starting out and, though I sheltered in the arcade opposite the clock when we departed, I forgot to record that time, which was 2pm.

We looked at the big banner announcing an exhibit of Spanish works from the Renaissance through Goya at the New Mexico Museum of Art. While it appealed we decided to explore the Governor’s Palace and the New Mexico History Museum’s exhibit on the cowboy called Cowboys: Real and Imagined.

The Palace takes up one whole side of the Plaza, which was at the earliest history of Santa Fe (Holy or Sacred Faith ) the center of a walled fortress. The building is the oldest building in the US to have been in continuous governmental use. It has gone under numerous renovations and excavations, which I will allow you to read about with the labels I included interspersed with the photos.

It is interesting to note that the Martinez name and the Lamy names continue in Santa Fe. The stage coach can carry nine passengers—SIX within the carriage!!!!! Talk about lack of knee or elbow room! I absolutely love the 132 year old Broadside—Grand Neck-Tie Party, indeed.

The exhibit of Retablos and Bultos was very extensive. I loved seeing Santa Barbara—I seem to remember my sister Barbara wearing her hair in that super-upswept crown, though there were no feathered adornments. Michael the Archangel with bows at his knees and contemporary male attire with scales in one hand and dagger in the other is not the image with which I grew up. But, I like it! The retablo is more the way I saw him depicted. There were several retablos of the Trinity or Trinidad—no Holy Ghost dove in these.

I was particularly taken with the many manifestations of Nuestra Senora de la Dolores—Our Lady of Sorrows. Nuestra Senora de la Soledad was one I could not interpret. Asked the docent and he said he didn’t know but would find out. He brought a senior docent in who reached behind the kindling set up in a small fireplace and extracted a binder which he consulted. Pretty sneaky hiding place! But Soledad was not translated. I said don’t worry, I’ll google it or ask my friend Gianluigi for the meaning, but they were determined to find the information for me. The senior docent whipped out one of those smart devices that everyone but me seem to have grown as extensions of their bodies!

( I had looked around the bar at Applebees last night and told Bill to look at everyone there. The young fellow from Los Alamos noticed my scanning the people and he laughed since he knew what I was observing. The young guy at the end of the bar to our right was talking on a phone, the two girls down from him were somehow communicating with each other or playing a game together on their two devices, the man next to Bill had his phone on the bar close at hand and the four young guys in town for the birthday of a buddy each had a device out on which they were doing who knows what. No body but Bill and I were conversing and had no device at all. Tragic)

Well, Soledad appears to mean solitude. The younger man said that it may not be a Spanish word but rather a Mexican word. Oh, yes, I said, like Quebecois vs Parisian French. Yes, he responded, exactly. The floor of the Mexican period capilla or little chapel is made in the traditional way utilizing clay, dirt, water, straw and animal blood, as a natural hardener and sealant. There are many depictions of Our Lady of Guadalupe within these museums and shrines we visit. it was in this form that Mary, Mother of Christ, is said to have appeared to a poor Mexican Indian farmer. The story is interesting and it resulted in the building of a magnificent cathedral in Mexico City dedicated to her.


The Segessa Hide paintings which date back to the earliest period of European colonization of New Mexico and the West but their exact date of origin is not known. There is a rather large detailed book in the gift shop but it looked deadly boring as some history books tend to be. It is known, however, that a Jesuit priest—of course—sent them to Lucerne, Switzerland in the 18th century—probably to one of their Fatherhouses. They were rediscovered after WWII but not returned to New Mexico until 1988.

Bill hopped into his trusty pick-up and transported us across the courtyard and into the modern New Mexico Museum of History where we thoroughly enjoyed the extensive Cowboy exhibit. As is often the case with special exhibits no photography was allowed. I was amazed that there was no retrospective in the gift shop, but I’ve found a distinct lack of aggressive commercialism both here and in Taos. So refreshing. Everyone is legitimately welcoming and warm and seem to have no problem with the browsing customer.

As a matter of fact, in the Palace gift store we had an extensive conversation with the salesman about glasses and contacts and the experiences each of the three of us have had with them through the years. The topic originated with the saleslady who wore two sets of glasses simultaneously. As he escorted us to the courtyard, the topic turned to the galleries explaining the history of New Mexico, where he told us the story of some of the bigger political crooks and their embezzlement of government money was conveniently excluded. We laughed and said not a unique situation—perhaps, he’d like to vie with Louisiana for most corrupt State.

In the Museum gift shop I learned that the salesman used to summer at Lake St Catherine and absolutely loved the area, though he hasn’t been there in years. I bought No Life for a Lady to go with my copy of Vanished Arizona which I’d purchased in Yuma several years back. Vanished Arizona is about an Eastern young woman who marries a cavalry officer post Civil War who is stationed in Yuma. She describes the trip to the posting and her years living in the Arizona desert and the changes it underwent through the early 20th Century. This author’s father was one of the prominent engineers for the Santa Fe Railroad. I read the first chapter before I realized that and it brought to mind the book I read about the building of that Railroad and its competition with others trying to build railroads to open the West. Born in 1874, she died in 1958 and saw the West undergo an even greater change than the Arizona lady.

By the time we left the museums the rain was coming down in earnest and it was 2:30. Wandered around the Plaza a little bit taking photos and enjoying the Spring-like feel of the air. By this time we were hungry and tired so returned to the Hotel. Bill turned on the Syracuse game and I read for awhile with some cheese and crackers.

While I blogged and organized pictures Bill went next door to the Chinese restaurant. Brought me back a huge package of Pork fried rice and I opened a pinot grigio to go with it. Going to google the San Miguel Mission and Loretto Chapel to see if they are open tomorrow—it is Sunday again. I’d like to see them—San Miguel is the considered to oldest church in the US and Loretto is the site of the spiral staircase that has no nails in it—it is considered an engineering “ miracle” and the legends of its building are myriad. Lilies of the Field was, I believe, loosely based on one of the legends.

If they are open we may stay another night and take in the Goya exhibit also. If they are not,we will move out tomorrow and head for Bernalillo and the Coronado State Monument and continue westward to Grants. With all this rain, it may be that Chaco is out of the question once more but Bill said we could take a full day’s tour of de Chelley if I’d like. All in all, the next day is not yet planned but we are heading farther west soon.

For now, it is time to file purchases, read a little of Billy the Kid and maybe take in an episode of House of Cards. Stay tuned—more to come tomorrow. Oh,yes, isn't that a wonderful picture of Georgia O'Keeffe and Clifford Cox at Canyon de Chelley? I think it shows her humor and sense of fun--more than the usual somber pictures usually published. This is by Ansel Adams. KandB

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