Common Threads – Fiber Arts in New Mexico

Quilt by Norma Koelm

Quilt by Norma Koelm

Anita McSorley has been making her own clothes since she was 10 years old. “My mother taught me how to crochet and how to embroider and how to sew,” she says. “I’d go shopping with [her], and I’d fall in love with something, and she’d say, ‘Well, you can make that.’ It was a cost-effective thing when I was growing up.” Today, that financial dynamic has changed, and handcrafting practical items has gone from necessity to a form of self-expression. “It’s definitely the reverse of what it used to be,” Anita says. “Anyone going out to make a garment now, you’re going to spend three to four times what you’d spend back then.”

Still, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed over the years: Anita’s love of the fiber arts and all the ways they can be used as vehicles for creativity. Anita’s talent has expanded to encompass many facets. “I’m interested in quilts—mostly art quilts—and I do polymer clay,” she says. “I do mixed-media, I paint fabric, and I dye fabric. I make mono-prints on fabric and paper.” She’s also a member of the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Council and the director of its 11th biennial Fiber Arts Fiesta.

The AFAC got its start in 1997, when seven local guilds began organizing to display their work to the wider community; it now comprises 20 guilds. According to Anita, the number of entries for this year’s event has surpassed those in the past, and a total of 670 works will be on display. The call for entries goes out nationwide, “as wide as we can get it.” The farthest away participant? “This year, it’s Brazil. There’s a young lady who does lace work,” Anita says. “One year, we had 12 entries from Taiwan: 10 quilts and two mixed-media [pieces].” Considering the size and scope of the event, it’s not surprising that it requires a fair amount of lead-time. “It takes about a year and a half to get the fiesta put together,” Anita says. “It’s kind of like herding cats.” Continue reading

Sound Bites: The Creative Path of Ehren Natay

Ehren Kee Natay

Ehren Kee Natay

Ehren Kee Natay, a 31 year-old Kewa/Dine´ artist from Santa Fe makes it clear his purpose, no matter his artistic mode, is always connection; to bring people together through the drum (his primary instrument), through dance, and through the arts.

While this article focuses on Natay as a musician, he is vastly talented in just about every creative arena imaginable.  In addition to being a singer and drummer, he is a dancer, painter, muralist, jewelry maker, he’s done multimedia collaborations with The Center for Contemporary Arts, as well as taught several semesters at The Institute of American Indian Arts as an adjunct professor.  By the time this article goes to press, Natay will have also participated in his first Albuquerque Comic Con.

When I ask him to choose from his vast list of inspirational musicians.  “I for sure have to tag my grandfather, Ed Lee Natay,” Ehren says with little hesitation. Ed Natay was a traditional singer, well known in Navajo country; often heard on the Gallup radio station in the 1950s, the first Native American to be recorded and played on the radio, the first artist to sign with Canyon Records in 1951 (which produces and distributes exclusively Native American music). “His voice—you can hear influence from Nat King Cole and Sinatra—you can hear those crooners, but he’s singing all traditional,” Ehren explains further. “I’ll always listen to my grandfather and his songs and try to match his skill.” Continue reading

Cannupa :Words of Protest as Poetry

Cannupa Hanska in his studio

Cannupa Hanska in his studio

Life as we knew it even a year ago seems to have all but up and vanished, such that it now, to many, feels as if we’re living in the eye of a hurricane. With this issue, Local Flavor introduces a new monthly series of in-depth stories exploring the depths below the surface, and making a public stand for those in our community who put their lives on the line for concerns they care passionately about. This first story is an interview with Native artist and activist Cannupa (pronounced Cha-NU-pa) Hanska Luger, who first graced our August 2012 cover.  

Despite a general media blackout of current events as they occur at Standing Rock, there are the activists’ videos, shot on their phones, and anyone who’s followed these news bulletins understands that something unique is unfolding along the Missouri River banks at Standing Rock. Feelings run fierce among the Lakota Sioux about the necessity of protecting their water source from a corporation that would bury its Dakota Access Pipe Line beneath it. The ancient stance the tribes continue to uphold is one we across America rarely witness, especially under such volatile circumstances: committed and powerful, prayerful and peaceful, dignified, resolute. Continue reading

La Fonda, Then and Now

tony-abeyta_la-fondaThe fabled La Fonda on the Plaza has a storied past interwoven with Santa Fe’s colorful history as the country’s oldest capital and as a world-class tourist destination. Launched in the late 1800s by Fred Harvey, and a real jewel in America’s first and most famous hotel chain, La Fonda opened in 1922 on the oldest hotel corner in the U.S., occupied by one inn or another since Spanish colonists established the city circa 1610.

The fascinating story of the famed hotel, which lives and breathes its history to this day, is chronicled in a gorgeous new coffee table book, La Fonda: Then and Now. The book includes essays by Jenny Kimball, chair of the board of the investment group that owns the hotel, among those by others familiar with and connected to the hotel. Page after page of glorious photography documents life at La Fonda across nearly a century, from its décor to its illustrious guests—presidents and princesses, movie stars, spies from the Manhattan Project era and well-known artists whose work fills every nook and cranny of this grand old dame. Continue reading

Art Buzz – November 2016

Albuquerque

Between the Lines and Where I’ve Been, Landscapes by Mary Sweet, are exhibits continuing through Nov. 19 at the New Mexico Art League. Between the Lines is an exhibit of mixed-media work incorporating the written word, and Where I’ve Been, Landscapes by Mary Sweet is an exhibit of woodblock prints and paintings depicting personal views of the beautiful landscapes discovered on Mary’s adventures across the world. More at newmexocoartleague.org.

The Second Annual Contemporary Hispanic Winter Market at Expo NM is Nov. 12 and 13, showcasing contemporary Hispanic and traditional artists who are at least one-quarter Hispanic descendant and New Mexico residents. New this year is a children’s component, with entertainment by Ancient Bones. Like its big summer sister in Santa Fe, this event features original work and individual expression in the mediums of painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, furniture, jewelry, ceramics, weaving and much more. The event is free, and details can be found at contemporaryhispanicmarketinc.com Continue reading

Whispirit Alpaca Fabric

Farm to Table Editorial - Whispering Spirit Alpaca for Local Flavor

The sign on the gate at Whispirit—“naturally luxurious” Alpaca Fabrics, Garments and Accessories—warns: “Ignore the Dogs. Beware of the Owners.” That’s your first clue that Sandra and Lee Liggett are having so much fun together, it might possibly be illegal.

Once upon a time, the two had serious careers. “We’re a couple of retreads,” Lee says happily. Several decades or so ago, both were long-time attorneys working as general counsel for colleges and universities. Midway through life at that point, divorced, the pair met at a professional conference, hit it off with gusto and became long-distance friends. As they spent more time together, it was strikingly apparent how much they had in common, including a mutual dream of one day living in New Mexico. “We’re the love of each other’s lives,” Lee says. They got married, Lee joining forces with Sandy’s family—Ben, who was 9 and Chris, 6—and, since both found jobs in Houston, they moved there. “But we took all our vacations in New Mexico!” Sandy says. “And as soon as our youngest was out of high school, we started looking for land and jobs here.” The land that chose them, 10 acres and a barn, in Sandia Park, was close enough to Albuquerque that Sandy could commute to her job at the University of New Mexico. But their real goal was to figure out a whole new venture they could work on together. Continue reading