Performing Arts on the Scene in Santa Fe’s Streets and Screens

Throughout the centuries, creative souls have sought out Santa Fe for the inspiration of its heavenly blue skies, its 300-plus annual days of sunshine, and the combination of mountain light and long shadows that makes the area so inviting to the imagination.

Let inspiration lead you to Santa Fe this fall.
Let inspiration lead you to Santa Fe this fall.

Santa Fe became the first U.S. city to be chosen by UNESCO as a Creative City, one of only nine in the world. Artists of all kinds ply their skills year-round, including those talented types who capture it all on film or canvas for us. Discover what they’ve been up to as the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and the Canyon Road Paint-Out bring our city to an artistic apex in October.

Independent Filmmakers Make a Splash in Santa Fe

The fifth annual Santa Fe Independent Film Festival arrives on Wednesday, October 16 to occupy and intrigue film buffs for five event-filled days through Sunday, October 20. This year’s extravaganza of 80 feature-length films is frosting on the cake with filmmakers’ workshops, panel discussions and parties galore. I’m looking for a celebrity sighting of Indie Spirit Awards Winner and filmmaking legend, John Waters!

According to the New Mexico Film Commission, close to half a billion dollars were spent by film production companies over the last 10 years in New Mexico, resulting in a financial impact of nearly $1.5 billion benefitting the state. That’s a lot of action, and it has attracted the attention of both filmmakers and committed filmgoers, sure to be here for this year’s screenings. 

The magnificent Lensic Center for the Performing Arts, one of the architectural jewels of Santa Fe, is a state-of-the-art venue.
The magnificent Lensic Center for the Performing Arts, one of the architectural jewels of Santa Fe, is a state-of-the-art venue.

Two downtown locations, the historic Lensic Center for the Performing Arts and the Center for Contemporary Arts, known locally as CCA, continue to act as festival venues. They are joined this year by the newly-reopened (thanks to George R.R. Martin and probably to Game of Thrones, too) Jean Cocteau Cinema in the Santa Fe Railyard. The Screen at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design on St. Michael’s Drive offers a fourth venue for experiencing the on-screen excitement.

Festival screenings kick off with 11 films beginning at 6:30 pm in the CCA Main Theater on Wednesday, October 16, and the Palace Restaurant & Saloon welcomes the sounds of Anthony Leon & the Chain in a celebratory party at 9 pm. On Thursday, October 17, CCA goes wild, with 45 different screenings between the main theater and the studio screen throughout the day 10 am to 7:00 pm. The Lensic hosts a 7 pm screening of Tapia, the compelling tale of New Mexico native Johnny Tapia, a five-time world champion boxer. At The Screen, the 7 pm screening of the documentary Pastriology will be followed by an 8:30 pm celebration of local organic foods in Studio C.  A vivacious 9:00 pm after-party takes place at Tanti Luce on Shelby Street. Two days down, three to go!

The Jean Cocteau Cinema gets into the act on Friday, October 18 with a 7 pm screening of The Suicide Shop, an amusing animated French comedy. Of course, there are 27 other films to choose from that day, beginning at 10:45 am at CCA. An hour-long writing lab with screenwriter Joan Torres (ever heard of Blacula?) at 11 am in the CCA Studio accommodates only 45 people, so sign up early. You can close out the day with a 10 pm dance party at The Rouge Cat lasting into the wee hours. 

Santa Fe Independent Film Festival Railyard
All signs point to entertainment at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival!

If you’ve gone the distance with a full pass, be sure to eat a hearty breakfast on Saturday, October 19, since you have 38 different films to select from that day. A live cast screenplay reading of a work-in-progress by Chris Eyre (known for his films Smoke Signals, Hideaway, and Skins) helps shape his new comedic film “Up the River” at 1 pm at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.  A 100-minute Writing for the Screen workshop takes place for 45 lucky folks at 2 pm in the CCA Studio. At 4:30 pm, the Eldorado Hotel, hosts Fashion Heat – Native Fashion as Art 2013, a fashion show that highlights Native American clothing designers. Taos Pueblo native and Project Runway contestant, Patricia Michaels, will introduce her 2013 collection.

If my plan for a casual sighting of John Waters’ doesn’t materialize, I know I can see him in person at his 7 pm one-man show, This Filthy World, on stage at the Lensic. A 9 pm after-party at San Francisco Street Bar and Grill gets rocking with Native American actor and local favorite Gary Farmer and his band, the Troublemakers.

The Film Fest closes with a bang on Sunday, October 20, and another 24 films still to enjoy, along with a few signature events. At 10:45 am in the CCA Main Theater, actors Wes Studi and Maria Dhu Studi host a workshop on the craft of cold reading. Noon brings master craftsman Lee Daniel to discuss cinematography in the CCA Studio, followed in the same space at 2 pm by Ron Blumberg in a take on comedy writing, but remember that 45-person limit. The Sunday feature special for locals will be Milagro Man, a biographical documentary about John Nichols, the Taos-based author of the beloved “New Mexico Trilogy” (The Milagro Beanfield War, The Magic Journey, and The Nirvana Blues), screening at the CCA Main Theater at 5:30 pm. The festival ends with a spirited round of toasts at an 8:30 pm final after-party in the recently-opened downtown Santa Fe Spirits Tasting Room.

Get into a film-festive spirit at Santa Fe Spirits new downtown tasting room.
Get into a film-festive spirit at Santa Fe Spirits new downtown tasting room.

Painters – and Printmakers and Sculptors, Too – Put On a Paint-Out

If you feel like you’ve spent a little too much time indoors watching movies, devote some of your weekend to head outdoors for an artistic adventure. Santa Fe’s renowned museums are clustered around the city, and while there’s more than one gallery district, Canyon Road resonates with anyone who’s ever parked an easel and picked up a brush to capture the summer’s morning beauty or the color of changing leaves on a crisp autumn afternoon. If this sounds like your kind of enjoyment, you’re in luck, since the Sixth Annual Canyon Road Paint-Out is waiting in the wings to enchant you.

Nestled along the Santa Fe River, Canyon Road stretches up to the mountains where the Dale Ball Trails take you into the Santa Fe National Forest, but the heart of the street is a stunning half-mile of restaurants, shops, galleries and artists’ studios brimming with magical creations. On October 18-19 this year, over 100 artists head to the street to make artistic fantasies come to brilliant life 11 am to 4 pm.

Canyon Road is as pretty as a picture being made.
Canyon Road is as pretty as a picture being made.

Galleries will have their doors wide open both days, and the talk of the town will be the new exhibitions, as you stroll in and out of opening receptions on Friday, October 18, from 5 -7 pm. Five Theories: Painters Reception at Canyon Road Contemporary Art hosts five artists participating in the Paint-Out, and Winterrowd Gallery welcomes painter Don Quade for an exhibit entitled Global Crossroads. Sage Creek Gallery artist Kevin Courter shows Sojourn, a series of works generated in the Big Sky Country of Montana, and Mark Yearwood has his second solo exhibition in Santa Fe, Progressive Rhythm, at InArt Gallery.

Karan Ruhlen Gallery exhibits Recent Landscapes: Near and Far, the work of Martha Mans, and at Longworth Gallery, you can catch Empowerment, Kimberly Webber’s new oil paintings. New Horizons, landscapes from the 19th to 21st centuries drawn from the collections of Matthews Gallery, will be on display there, and Turner Carroll Gallery gets vibrant with Rex Ray’s Colortopia. Silver Sun brings painter Lee McLeod and Navajo Jeweler Shane Hendren to the gallery, and Light, Action, Color at Alexandra Stevens Gallery will have all seven exhibiting artists on hand to talk about their work.

In a nod to the past, Adobe Gallery presents an exhibit/sale of art by early 20th century Native American artists who attended the Santa Fe Indian School in the 1930s and 40s under the tutelage of art teachers Dorothy Dunn and Geronima Cruz Montoya. And that’s just Friday!

On Saturday, the artists return for more “plein air” – a French term for working outdoors on the spot. At noon there’s a festival parade with marching bands, followed by performances by the talented students from the Santa Fe Public Schools Music Education Program. At 2 pm, New Concept Gallery hosts a round-table discussion on Abstract Art. Streetside happenings continue until 4 pm, and there are sure to be surprises … even we locals have to wait and see!

For ideas on places to nibble and sip while you promenade, see my recent post, The Art of Dining on Canyon Road.

See Santa Fe in sun and shade as you stroll the Canyon Road Paint-Out.
See Santa Fe in sun and shade as you stroll the Canyon Road Paint-Out.

October Is the Month to Rediscover Why You Love Santa Fe

Thought you’d seen and done it all on your last visit to Santa Fe? Perhaps you’ll realize it’s time for another trip to one of the world’s premier arts destinations. The hunger to see and share artistic endeavors in a variety of visual forms never seems to abate in Santa Fe, and the City Different offers two out-of-the-ordinary visual arts experiences to enchant October visitors. Words hardly do these two exciting events justice, but seeing will definitely be believing.

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