Muertos y Marigolds in Albuquerque’s South Valley

diadelosmuertos-diannawrightimg_0254Querencia. Rich with cultural and emotional connotations, the word is variously translated in Spanish-English dictionaries as fondness, homing instinct, homeland, haunt, and homesickness. But it means something more than any one English word expresses. Muertos y Marigolds volunteer organizer and altar artist Sofia Martinez describes querencia as a place that makes you who you are. Sofia’s helping me understand the theme of this year’s South Valley Día de los Muertos Celebration and Marigold Parade: “Sheep don’t vote, feed the Chupacabra. Reclamando nuestra querencia!” Reclaiming our querencia.

The celebration of Day of the Dead began in this country back in the ’70s as a reclamation of querencia as cultural heritage in the midst of the Chicano Movement—a 1960s civil rights movement encompassing voting, political and land rights, along with cultural awareness that inspired literary and visual creations. Most Chicanos, Nuevo Mexicanos, and American Latinos at that time had grown up Catholic, observing not Día de los Muertos but All Soul’s Day. According to Regina Marchi, a historian of religion with expertise in ritual studies, the intentional integration of Day of the Dead reflects the efforts of Chicano Movement activists “to reaffirm and celebrate the contributions and achievements of the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas.” Continue reading

Plants that Nourish

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To those of us who call northern New Mexico home—and to those of us who keep traveling back—the trees, flowers and brush that dapple and scent our high-desert landscape are as much a part of the atmosphere that defines this place as the vivid golden light and the soft, looming mountains. This is a place whose botanical traditions are as unique and vibrant as its culinary ones. For over 400 years, the northern New Mexican curanderos, Hispanic folk healers, have harvested and made use of the healing properties of local flora—and the Puebloans have done so for far longer than that, from ancient times.  Continue reading

Inn of the Governors

Photo by Gabriella Marks

Photo by Gabriella Marks

The Inn of the Governors, well placed on the corner of West Alameda and Don Gaspar in Santa Fe, is an exception to the transient nature of life, and is exceptional in that this year it celebrates its 50th anniversary. It’s encouraging to know that every once in a while our endeavors come together, that we can get it so right––it passes the test of time.

Walking into the lobby is like walking into the living room of your dreams, furnished with big cushy chairs and beautiful rugs, and in the colder months there will be a snapping fire in the fireplace. Right around 4 p.m., you’ll find complimentary tea and sherry served. Can it get better than this? Maybe, if you have one of the rooms with its own fireplace. Continue reading

Hotel Chaco

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 11.44.47 AMOn a summer afternoon in the not-too-distant future, a tourist—or local—might be strolling through the northern chunk of Albuquerque’s Old Town and catch a glimpse of a building that appears new and tall and sharply distinctive amongst the darker adobe all around. The five-story building’s clean exterior masonry lines exude centuries of staying power, the pale stone still feeling natural, despite the urban setting. This is Hotel Chaco, the first new hotel built in Old Town in over 40 years and a from-the-ground up project by Heritage Hotels and Resorts, a New Mexico company founded in 2005. The hotel’s marriage of new building techniques with old cultural sensibilities is like nothing the state has ever seen. Continue reading

Italian Film Festival 2015

italian fest photo

The other day, our 3-month-old son met our friend Paulie for the first time. I have honestly never seen this baby smile as big at a stranger as he did seeing Paulie. Then again, Paulie wasn’t just a new face, Paulie was an Italian face, and perhaps George sensed their shared heritage. With that said, these days, there’s not an event on the horizon that has me as excited as the 11-day New Mexico Italian Film and Cultural Festival, which opens on February 5th in Santa Fe and, after three days of film and food in the City Different, moves on to Albuquerque on February 8th. Continue reading

All in the Family

Terry, Pat and Evan Keene photo by: Stephen Lang

Terry, Pat and Evan Keene
photo by: Stephen Lang

Evan and Gavin Keene, brothers age 30 and 26 respectively, have been in the Albuquerque restaurant business since they were old enough to bus tables. They’re mellow and recognize that they have a lot going for them in their gigs at Farina Alto and Farina Pizzeria—Evan is part owner of Alto and Gavin cooks on the line at the pizzeria in East Downtown. All of this was something they grew into as a natural path through their family. Continue reading