Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Comes Again

Polaroid Christmas Tree

We spent a couple of hours up in Santa Fe yesterday participating in the Annual Canyon Road Farolito Walk, a tradition we have adopted it would seem, just for the joy of it all. Tens of thousands of area residents and tourists fill narrow and often dark Canyon Road from adobe wall to adobe wall, making for some tricky maneuvering to get from place to place. Some of the galleries are open for the evening, serving biscochitos and hot cider, but many are only open for "private parties" -- parties that look to consist of no more than a handful of clients, each one hoping to be persuaded that this or that painting or sculpture is perfect for their abode or garden or to give as a gift to someone deeply loved.

Santa Fe has produced galleries on an industrial scale. I've overheard tourists complain that "there's nothing but galleries!" in the City Different's historic district, and if you expect to find anything but galleries along Canyon Road, you're probably going to be disappointed. Well, there are a few expensive restaurants where the movie stars and ricos eat out of an evening from time to time between galleries, so there is that.

Galleries mean artists and art-making on an industrial scale as well, and I've had more than a few misgivings about that. It means that much of what is in the galleries is essentially the same. Not just the same sorts of art, but done in the same styles, the same sizes, the same prices, the same display techniques, etc. Often enough, the galleries will even show the same artists. Meaning whoever is huge at the moment.

We do have our favorites, however, and even though most of the galleries in Santa Fe are practically indistinguishable from one another (as is the case in practically every art market) there are some that stand out.

Among those we visited last night are the Chalk Farm Gallery, Lone Dog Noise Cat, and Ed Larson's Art, as cheery a studio/gallery as I've ever seen.

Chalk Farm was showing "Polar Express," which was kind of fun. It is a supremely gorgeous place, unique in Santa Fe and probably among galleries anywhere, very welcoming, embracing you might say.

Lone Dog Noise Cat is a relatively new gallery on Delgado Street off Canyon Road, and it had to have been the hopping-est place of the night, people coming and going constantly and everyone enjoying the "neo-ab-Original" art and the glee and welcome of the gallery proprietors. The gallery dog Angus was having more fun than practically anyone, while I  had to pose for pictures with some of the gallery visitors due to my Santa-esque appearance. It was fun, and by golly if Ms Ché didn't find a piece she wanted as a Birthday present. Sure enough, she is now the happy owner of a genuine and beautiful hand-made work of Native American art. Heh. The artist himself, Todd (Lone Dog) Bordeaux, sold her the piece and made her day with a whole string of Indian jokes.

There was lots of food at Ed Larson's, tamales and biscochitos, lots of cider, and plenty of charming folk art, all of it done by himself, jamming the place from floor to rafters, and much of it less "folky" than one might expect.

There wasn't as much caroling along the walk this year but there was plenty of conviviality and good cheer,  while the farolitos burned joyfully. At one stop along the route, a stroller asked of the gallery proprietor about the "flying farolitos" which were banned by the fire department two weeks ago. The proprietor seemed to take it in stride, just one of those things, you know, that happens sometimes, he said as he lit his earthbound luminaria, one of several placed around the gallery grounds.

We left before the crowds got too dense, but not before the sky dazzled us once again with the brilliance of the late December heavens, and the smell of pinon wood fires penetrated our clothes and my Santa beard.

There was less caroling this year and no snow or flying farolitos, but as we headed back home, we passed through the little town of Galisteo. In front of the church, Nuestra Senora de los Remedios, burned a half dozen luminaria, as the Christmas Eve bonfires are called in this part of New Mexico, and the road leading to the church was lined for what seemed like hundreds of yards with glowing paper farolitos. The scene was charming and breathtaking at the same time...

Only in New Mexico.

Feliz Navidad!

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