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

Room at the Table – Diverse New Mexico Cookbooks

It’s perhaps no coincidence that Thanksgiving arrives just as the last brown leaves of autumn fall to earth, shrivel and dry, then grow soggy with the wet of winter snow. After the golden light of fall, it can be hard not to harbor a slight resentment, a not-so-grateful-for attitude toward the fading colors that harken winter. Still, we inevitably make room at the table for the invisible life that ultimately blooms from winter’s decay. For Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for it all—the death that brings life, this earth of ours, our warm homes, our full tables. What we have, no matter the season, is a thriving, diverse culture, rich with history, tradition, and earth, and the life these continually yield. 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


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

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 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

Shi.han Fine Knives

shihan_dsc8537“That feeling of a knife going effortlessly through a bell pepper under its own weight is truly addictive. Once I got used to a supremely sharp knife edge, it was hard for me to go back,” blacksmith Shehan Prull says. The gleam in his eyes reveals that, while it may not be the only reason Shehan loves hand-forging knives, crafting this level of perfection is a driving force behind what has been a 20-year journey to create Shi.han Fine Knives.  

Shehan has established a blacksmith shop on Santa Fe’s south side where he creates a limited—for now —line of kitchen knives that has earned quick attention from local chefs like Rocky Durham of Santa Fe Culinary Academy; Joel Coleman of Fire and Hops; and Mark Connell of State Capital Kitchen. Most of Shehan’s customers, however, are serious amateur chefs who have run their courses through standard kitchen tools and are looking for unique and artisanal implements for their collections. “For a lot of people drawn to these hand-forged knives, there’s a relationship with the tool that’s meaningful. It’s like an old friend,” he says.

Shehan, now 32, is one of the rare—perhaps supremely lucky—individuals who discovered early on his life’s passion. “It’s the only thing I’ve ever done,” he says of metalwork. At age 12, he began hanging around the studio of his blacksmithing neighbor who—Santa Fe being what it is—happened to be MacArthur Foundation Fellowship artist Tom Joyce. Joyce, who now fashions grand sculptures, is known for a contemporary style, though he uses traditional techniques that Shehan found alluring.

Shehan began doing chores around the shop and learning those techniques, though applied in an artistic form. “Something about metalwork attracted. Now it’s very hard for me to say what’s part of my original intrinsic connection with the material and what’s a connection that we’ve built all these years. I can’t imagine working in glass or stone or even precious metals…Iron and steel are still completely captivating,” he says. “The energy of something being made from a very rough, raw material to a very refined state was mesmerizing, and I just knew I wanted to be able to do that.” Continue reading