I write to express my disagreement and disappointment with Estevan Rael-Gálvez of the National Hispanic Cultural Center regarding comments he made in Joseph Baca's interview with him [Feature, “The Accidental Historian,” Aug. 19-25]. Specifically, I am astounded (although not surprised) to know that someone in Rael-Gálvez's position, as director of a center supposedly dedicated to preserving Hispanic culture, would say that the Spanish heritage of New Mexico is "fantasy" and "somewhat of a fabrication." If this is actually what Rael-Gálvez believes then I can only say that this guy should be fired because he is doing the Hispano people of New Mexico a great disservice of trying to suppress our history. Any historian knows that New Mexico was settled by the Spanish beginning in 1598 and that the Hispanos of today are the descendants of those Spanish families. This is not only historical fact but the Spanish culture is alive and well in New Mexico today, in the Hispano people of our state, our communities, our traditions, our values, language, customs, in our state of mind and cultural consciousness.
Rael-Gálvez, as NHCC director, is unfortunately in a position to try and influence people but he cannot change history and he certainly will not succeed in denying the Hispano people of New Mexico our heritage and history. The only fantasy and fabrication I got from the interview with him were with his beliefs, which go against the historical record, both written and oral. I suppose Rael-Gálvez also believes the pilgrims were from Germany rather than England or that John Adams was the first president of the United States and not George Washington. It is truly unfortunate that the director of the NHCC is someone who tries to deny the history of his own people. But this type of thing has happened before with other cultures having a sort of propagandist who tries to change a people's history for whatever reasons they may have. Despite his academic credentials, Rael-Gálvez proves that having a bunch of college degrees does not automatically equate intelligence or sound reasoning. It seems the NHCC truly has left the fox in charge of the hen house.
Was anyone else as dismayed by the recent Alibi interview of National Hispanic Cultural Center Executive Director Estevan Rael-Gálvez as I was [Feature, “The Accidental Historian,” Aug. 19-25]? Really? It is if Fray Angelico Chavez had never lived! A "mere" two centuries of Spanish occupation? 1598 to 1846, a mere blink of the eye! One must take into account that the Alibi is politically and culturally left-leaning, i.e., it misses no opportunity to advance Leyenda Negra, anti-Spanish themes and denigrate Catholicism. But I would have thought the Executive Director of the NHCC would have done his part to set some of the historical inaccuracies about the Spanish heritage of New Mexico straight. I was mistaken.
Now one of the straw men advanced by certain people is that some New Mexico Hispanos claim to be of "pure Spanish blood" (whatever that may mean). There is no doubt we carry the genes of our Native American "abuelitas." I am very proud of them.
No, we are not European but neither is a Yankee New Englander British. Why is [it] perfectly acceptable for them to acknowledge their English heritage but we are not allowed to acknowledge and claim our Spanish heritage?
My ancestors were Catholic in culture and religion—Hispanos, whose roots and heritage were deeply embedded in the Iberian Peninsula. There is no shame in that. We do not have to deny that nor claim that we are of "pure Spanish blood" to acknowledge and accept that.
Does anyone expect better from the executive director of the NHCC? I think I do.
Interviewer Joseph Baca responds: Both letters decrying Dr. Rael-Gálvez’ statement ignore that his viewpoint is based on years of research as state historian, not just his opinion as head of the NHCC. At no point in the interview did Rael-Gálvez deny the heritage of New Mexico Hispanos. It is important for readers to know that this excerpt was part of a much longer interview that occurred over days, in which he noted explicitly that Spain was critical to our understanding of New Mexico, but it was only a part of what shaped our heritage—and only a part. The larger point made by Rael-Gálvez was that identity is extremely complex, an inclusion of all histories, a "converging streams," as he says, and not an elitist notion of a Shangri-La-like Spanish homeland.
Regarding Patricia Sauthoff's article and interview with the alleged "rainbow artist" [Arts Feature, “Rainbow Warrior,” Aug. 12-18]: Is it art or vandalism? It doesn't matter if it's art. If it is permanently painted on someone else's property, private or public, and without the owner's permission, it's vandalism. No excuses. It's vandalism.
That the city should indeed be paying more attention to other cleanup jobs or other crimes is irrelevant and a spurious argument. If it's on somebody else's property without permission, it's still vandalism.
It doesn't matter that the (in my opinion) pathetic monstrosity at Sixth Street and Central is abandoned, and taken over by the city. The property still belongs to someone else who did not give permission to have this done to it, therefore it is vandalism.
The wall at Union Square and Central, on the other hand, is part of a building that is not abandoned and is private property. And the wall seems to be made of well-kept vintage brick. Now it's ruined. That is vandalism.
And, just for the discussion, are these rainbow paintings art? One of the definitions of kitsch is something which puts itself forward as art by attempting to generate a positive emotional response it does not deserve. I believe these rainbow paintings could fit that definition. Actually, they look like advertising for a house paint manufacturer, or maybe illustrations for a greeting card. By the way, art must also be well-crafted. At Union Square and Central it is sloppy and spattered down below.
Besides, even if this person had painted on these walls a Sistine-caliber art work, if it's on someone else's property without permission, it's still vandalism.
The real challenge to an artist would be to have displayed the rainbow without damaging the property in any way. Perhaps unfurling wide weighted ribbons or something, which could quite easily be removed. Of course, then we still have to address the fact that getting up on the roof without permission is trespassing.
The Fractal Foundation has put up rather large banners (that are easily removed) of interesting and colorful artwork by students and others on the sides of buildings with full permission. Why can't this person? Involving students, it would then be a welcome creative service to others.
I think the thing I dislike most is this person's dewy-eyed self- justifications. There are lots of ways for any artist to offer good feelings and creativity and beauty to others that do not include vandalism. The same sort of justifications are used by the graffiti taggers. Occasionally some of that is quite good, although most of it is terrible. But once again, it doesn't matter if it's good or not. If it's on someone else's property without permission, it is vandalism.
[Re: Arts Feature, “Rainbow Warrior,” Aug. 12-18] Yes, Yes, YES! In one elegant gesture the Rainbow Warrior illustrates, celebrates and personifies two of our world’s, no, our universe’s, basic elements: gravity and light. Bravo to whoever created them. Additionally the rainbow streaks bring joyful color and thoughtful contrast to slabs of otherwise nondescript, derelict buildings. If the U.S. Supreme Court can deem the burning of our American flag to be an expression of free speech and, therefore, protected under the Constitution itself, how could this be any less? Instead of protest it celebrates, instead of a violent expression it is a positive message and improves the urban landscape. Really! Shouldn’t the First Amendment apply equally to protesters and artists alike? If I were to sit on a jury judging the individual responsible, I don’t believe there could be any evidence to dissuade me from my view.
[Letters, “Responses to Last Week’s ‘ Rainbow Warrior’ Arts Feature,” Aug. 19-25] Alright, the city should fine the artist for not getting a permit, then turn around, hire him, buy the paint and let him at the other eyesores. This could be a great signature for Albuquerque!
[Re: News, “Blueprint for a Dream,” Aug. 12-18] This story isn’t about drug cartels, lawsuits or putting hits on government officials. How do you hold a 7-year-old accountable to “breaking the law” being brought to this country and staying? The Dream Act is NOT a way for all the people that commit or bring crime into this country to gain citizenship. If for STUDENTS with good character and a good record to have a chance to live the American Dream in the only country they know and love. What kind of crime is Maria, a graduate student, committing by trying to excel in her field of choice and be willing to contribute to our economy? Doesn’t the U.S. already grant legal residency and citizenship to well-educated immigrants that come from all over the world and contribute to our economy already? What is the difference here? Is it the fact that Maria isn’t from France, India or China? Is it that she is a Mexican and this country has grown to hate “fence hoppers”?