Envision the spirited festivals of the small villages that dot Eastern Africa. Red dirt under dancing bare feet. Brightly-colored clothing clad in beads, shells and feathers. Drums and songs and bright smiles from everyone.
Now imagine you didn’t have to take a 16-hour flight to see all this. If dinner and a movie are becoming too commonplace for your Valentine’s weekend, or if you need to travel to forget about the holiday, consider a trip to Santa Fe’s Greer Garson Theater (1600 St. Michaels Dr.) to experience international performing troupe the Spirit of Uganda.
The show, which is tomorrow at 7pm, is a 2-hour folkloric musical and dance performance featuring the group’s 21 performers, all 12 to 20 years old. The performance is produced by Empower African Children, a nonprofit that benefits the youth of Uganda.
The cast and some of the crew have benefited from the organization as either orphans or at-risk youth; these include Santa Fe University alumni Peter Kasule. “I have always wanted to leave a mark in every community, and this is a great opportunity for me to be back in Santa Fe,” Kasule said. “Long live the arts.” Tickets, available at ticketssantafe.org, are $25 and benefit Empower African Children. Greer Garson Theater, Santa Fe • Sat Feb 15 • 7-9pm • $25 • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar
Everyone has that friend or family member. The one who unabashedly maneuvers around trick-or-treaters to string up their Christmas lights on Halloween. The one who has been humming Christmas carols for weeks—humming only, because singing aloud can have harsh repercussions. The one who already assembled most of their Christmas presents and will soon wrap them, probably while watching their well-worn Elf DVD.
In my circles, that friend or family member is me. Loved ones recently informed me that Dec. 1 is a more reasonable time to begin decking one's halls with boughs of holly. In my defense, it seems there are more early-bird holiday hounds than ever. To wit, Starbucks released their red cup on Nov. 1, Christmas displays in big-box retailers went up the same day, and I've begun spotting Christmas trees on my Facebook news feed.
Why not engage in early Christmas merriment? Here are a triptych of ho-ho-holiday events that even the Ebenezer Scrooges of your life can dig.
Have you ridden at Uncle Cliff’s for decades, hoping there was a way to make the amusement park even more exhilarating? There is; just add Christmas. Cliff’s Amusement Park hosts Joy to the Whirled, a holiday celebration wherein they decorate the park, sell holiday snacks and invite Old St. Nick to ride the Rattler with other guests. The event begins on Nov. 29 and runs through Dec. 23, from 6pm to 9pm daily. Tickets are $10.
The River of Lights tops my list of fave winter treats, along with spending time with family ... and biscochitos. The gardens abound with Christmas lights as you sip hot chocolate. This light show never fails to delight. If you’ve never been, this is a must-do; if you have, you know that walking into the Botanical Gardens this time of year is about as close as you'll ever get to the land of Oz. The River of Lights opens Nov. 30 and runs through Dec. 19, from 6pm to 9pm daily. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. The show continues Dec. 20 through Jan. 5, but tickets will cost you $12 for adults and $6 for children. The River of Lights is closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31 and Jan. 1.
The New Mexico Ballet Company and the New Mexico Philharmonic inhabit Popejoy for two consecutive weekends to proffer a balletic holiday indulgence, The Nutcracker. While I've never actually seen it, the fact that it's a commonplace holiday topic and is often associated with words like “elegance” and “excellence” leads me to believe even those friends who've been grumbling about your holiday cheer may enjoy this show. The performance series begins Nov. 30 at 7pm and runs through Dec. 8 at 2pm. Tickets start at $11 for adults.
For more info on these events, visit the above-linked websites. If you know of other awesome community events—
Bright red cheeks. Cool November. Bike racing, costumes and helping those in need. These are the ingredients in Albuquerque’s first annual ABQ Cranksgiving bike ride through the city. The ABQ Cranksgiving food drive and “alley cat”-type race happens on Sunday. The event has individuals (as well as teams of two to four), equipped with $15 and a knowledge of the city, racing to previously mapped out locations and collecting food for Joy Junction and the Roadrunner Food Bank. Participants will try to be the first rider(s) to the downtown finish line in addition to the one(s) with the most items checked off their shopping list. Cranksgiving, which is 9am to 2pm and begins at UNM’s Johnson Field, will kick off with the junior costume bike ride around the Nob Hill area. At the finish line, Tractor Brewing Company will host an awards party at their new location with food trucks and face painting on site. “ABQ Cranksgiving was born out of the idea of giving back to our community,” says ABQ Cranksgiving’s website. “We are building a team with the intent of gathering enough food to help feed the homeless and the hungry during the Thanksgiving holiday.” Participants will need $5 to register and $15 for food. For more information or to register, visit abqcranksgiving.net. UNM Johnson Field • Sun Nov 10 • 9am-2pm • $5 entry, $15 for food • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar
In the mood for something a bit artsy and altogether local?
Kamiomedia recently released a short media production titled “UNM @ Night.” The short spotlights a variety of beautiful scenes on Albuquerque’s favorite campus—sorry CNM Suncats, but I’m a Lobo—from within the mantle of midnight.
The Kamiomedia video team—Kyle Maier, Amie Gibson and Rico Ramirez—captured images reminiscent of a light show. In some instances, the filmmakers demonstrate their creative expertise by highlighting the glowing colors of campus with special effects like a fisheye lens and slow motion. And nearly all Kamiomedia productions feature original music by the trio themselves. This brief cinematic outing is only one example among many works by the visual and musical artistic collective.
Sometimes I fail to fully appreciate the beauty of my own campus, and this short film gave me a fresh appreciation for UNM's eclectic visual landscape—natural fall color juxtaposed with bright neon. If you have three minutes to spare, check it out below.
Speaking of UNM and short films, swing by the Southwest Film Center—located in the Student Union Building—on Nov. 9 for the second annual UNM Student Film Festival—where more sublime cinematic treats await you.
They say that good deals and great ideas happen over food, which is why a professional lunch can have many opportunities. FemCity Albuquerque will host author Jessica Eaves Mathews at a connection luncheon tomorrow at Savoy Bar and Grill (10601 Montgomery). At the event, Matthews will discuss her book, Wonder Women: How Western Women will Save the World, with the public and, true to the book’s mission, aims to empower and motivate local women. The book frankly discusses politics, the national debt and economic issues rooted in the customary approach to business. After a drawn out government shutdown and an only increasing national debt problem, maybe some practical local solutions and a change of mind would do the community a little good. The connection lunch begins at 11:30am. FemCity Albuquerque members can buy tickets for $45 and others can purchase them for $55. Tickets include an elegant lunch—complete with a glass of wine—and a raffle. For more information on the event or Femfessionals Albuquerque, visit femfessionals.com or FemCity Albuquerque's Facebook page. Savoy Bar and Grill • Fri Nov 1 • 11:30am • $45 for FemCity members, $55 for non-members • View on Alibi calendar
Last June, a book sat in front of me that, honestly, I was not inclined to read. Consuming a great deal of nonfiction in my college courses, I browsed the web for favorite bloggers or settled in with F. Scott Fitzgerald during the lazy summer months. But my summer job entailed urging incoming UNM freshmen to read this book, and a pesky voice in my head persuaded me to practice what I preached.
David Shipler’s The Working Poor: Invisible in America is a well-rounded, nonpartisan account of the poverty plight in the US; while that summary did not necessarily entice me, the personal anecdotes did. I was intrigued by Claudio, an illegal immigrant living fearfully between farmhand jobs, and I was a little heartbroken by Peaches, a homeless, working woman who had been abused countless times. After doing some research on the author—a Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist fascinated with society—I was admittedly a little star-struck as I sat across from him a couple weeks ago.
“My mother raised me to be comfortable in an embassy or in a hut,” said Shipler, who is now 70 years old, with kind eyes and his trademark white beard. “My mother brought me up to believe you can learn something from everyone. And I believe that’s true.”
Shipler, who visited UNM campus as part of the Lobo Reading Experience event from Oct. 15 to 16, shared stories about his beginnings in journalistic digging, his thoughts on the value of the human story and a peek into his most recent work in progress.
Shipler was raised in Chatham, N.J. and received a bachelor’s in sociology from Dartmouth. Then a policy-minded student, he was also actively involved in his college radio station, had interviewed Martin Luther King, Jr. and attended the March on Washington before graduating in 1964. Late in his college career, a creative writing professor counseled him to consider journalism after graduation. Shipler needed to serve two years with the Navy, but he took the advisement to heart.
“The idea kind of kept percolating and midway through my Navy time, I went around and asked to see some editors to find out how you got into journalism,” Shipler said. “I started literally as a copy boy. … running around the floor, getting coffee for editors and stuff like that.”
Beginning as a news clerk at the New York Times, Shipler eventually reported for the city desk on New York housing before moving on to the Washington Bureau and work as a foreign correspondent in Russia and the Middle East. In these nations, he wrote his first books, among which was “Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in the Promised Land.” A still-thrilled Shipler recalled learning that this investigation won a 1987 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.
“I can tell you that I had no inkling that this was a possibility,” the storyteller said.
He recollected the moment he learned he had won, having called in to the Times from an airport to check on a story he had written. “Joe [Lelyveld, the foreign news editor], got on the phone and he said, ‘You won a Pulitzer for your book.’ I said ‘What? My gosh.’ I never expected that to happen and it was just a tremendous honor.”
The practiced newsman said his interest fundamentally stems from a fascination and appreciation for people.
“There are a lot of interesting human stories here, and it’s not just about abstractions, it’s about real people who want to say certain things and are either stymied or are able to, depending on how they navigate their way through the labyrinth of inhibitions and impediments,” Shipler said. “I [find these] stories compelling and moving and powerful.”
Having explored the territories of American poverty, unrest abroad and civil liberties, Shipler continues to examine the human faces of political issues within his new book on free speech. Owing to his own tried-and-true First Amendment rights, he said he is curious primarily about cultural restraints on free speech.
“I’m hoping to do this book about individual people who run up against these limits and are confronted by others who want to close them down,” Shipler said. The author wants to explore diverse free speech issues, such as censorship, electronic speech and political speech.
A journalist who has confronted race issues, poverty and war, Shipler emphasized that people of any career—in any domain—can make a difference for good.
“Human dignity is a universal need,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you are on the socioeconomic spectrum. You crave it and you deserve it, and that is a lesson that [everyone] can learn. You don’t have to be working for an anti-poverty organization to have an impact and make change.”
Keep your eyes peeled for Shipler’s new book or check out his blog, The Shipler Report, for more of the author’s work.
Sugar skulls and pan de muerto, face paint and papeles picados—it's that time of year again. Dia de los Muertos will be here soon, and Masks y Mas invites the Duke City to come out and celebrate.
Albuquerque’s own Day of the Dead-themed shop at 3106 Central SE will hold their annual fiesta Friday, Oct. 25 so as to “beat everybody else by one week,” says store manager Kenny Chavez.
The event will include art demonstrations—such as the making of papeles picados (colorful paper banners)—as well as a muerte dessert show, sugar skull decorating and a reception featuring 40 local artists. Muerte face paint is available during the event by prior appointment (call the store at 256-4183) and The Cool Arrows, a Latino punk band, will provide live festival tunes.
Chavez says that the event, which has been held in the shop for over a decade, is a time to celebrate and honor lost loved ones. There will be a community altar for photos and keepsakes of those who have passed.
“It is driven by life and death,” Chavez says. “It's all part of the cycle, and it is becoming more a part of the culture in the United States. People have been so fearful of it … but it's a memorial day. And we've turned it into an art form. It's not a mourning thing, it's a celebration.”
Banksy has hit Broadway.
Today marks the tenth day of British street artist Banksy’s “residency on the streets of New York.” The artist’s website proudly declares that his famous—some might say infamous—work will be surfacing on the streets of the city that never sleeps for the month of October. The exhibit is titled Better Out Than In.
So far, there has been a new piece on a wall or vehicle every day—with the exception of the day when Banksy posted an ambiguous but clearly opinionated YouTube video on the Syrian War to his site. Among the street art is an intricately detailed rainforest scene in the back of an old delivery truck, the addition of the words “The Musical” to random graffiti around the city (ex. “Occupy! The Musical”) and the popular “THIS IS MY NEW YORK ACCENT … normally I write like this” spray-painting (below) on the Westside. All pieces are viewable on the street artist’s website and are now accompanied by a numbered tag, and a tongue-in-cheek audio component accessible by Banksy’s 800 number, 1-800-656-4271.
More than a week in, and it seems as if the city of New York hasn't yet decided how to respond to Banksy’s pieces. While the first was painted over within 24 hours—as the satirical American voice at the other end of the 800 number predicted—others are rapidly being removed from their original locations to auction. This presents an interesting dilemma; some wonder if—in such a cultured city—removing the murals is preservation of art or its destruction. According to The Guardian, Bristol's City Council polled citizens a few years ago about Banksy's art, and 97 percent voted that when a Banksy image appeared in public domain, it should remain.
While this conundrum is certainly one to mull over, this may be a good time to recognize some of Albuquerque’s own great street art, sanctioned and otherwise. Albuquerque, another city rich in art and culture, has long integrated street art into the urban landscape. Three years ago, 516 Arts hosted an event called STREET ART: A Celebration of Hip-Hop Culture and Free Expression, which left street murals around downtown Albuquerque. Participating artists included Chris Stain, who left a large painting of a solemn, silhouetted working man at Second and Central. Native Burqueño Ernest Doty was charged as the controversial, anonymous Rainbow Warrior, a street artist who spilled smile-inducing spectrums over buildings across the city. At least one of these rainbows remain untouched; whether that's due to cultural appreciation or inability to cover them up, I couldn’t say.
For more street works around the Duke City, check out the Street Art Albuquerque Facebook Page, which includes photos of acrylic and spray-painted works and the streets where they’re located. And to keep up with Banksy’s exhibit from the Duke City, visit the site or check out the #banskyny tag on Instagram.(Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to motivate all artistic adolescents to begin scribbling property that is not your own; some things are best left to the, er, more experienced.)
Attention all 5k fiends and fanatics: Looking for something more organic than the Color Run or more local than the Dirty Dash? Check out Rio Grande Community Farm Fall Fest 5k. Beginning Saturday at 8am, runners, rookie and veteran, will take off through Los Poblanos Open Space farm (1701 Montano NW), complete with beautiful views and wildlife sightings. The trail is almost entirely straight-ahead, and the venue describes it as “a very fast course that will encourage the novice and keep the quick on their toes.” A 1-mile kid's run, a corn labyrinth, food trucks and several opportunities for the family to learn about creatures and crops are included in the event. All participants also receive admission for a family of four to the RGCF Fall Fest on October 26, as well as a RGCF tote—and who couldn't use another tote bag? Tickets are $30 for adults, $10 for children. Proceeds go to Rio Grande Community Farm which provides produce for Albuquerque Public Schools, donates to shelters and maintains a wildlife habitat and a two acre community garden. To register go to riograndefarm.org. See you down on the farm! Los Poblanos Open Space • Sat Oct 12 • 8am • $10-$30 • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar