paolo soleri

V.19 No.52 | 12/30/2010
Raffaele Elba, courtesy of Arcosanti Foundation


The latest on the Paolo Soleri

In June, word leaked that the Santa Fe Indian School was planning to tear down Santa Fe’s landmark Amphitheatre. Alumni and locals protested, starting an online petition and a Facebook page. Paolo Soleri himself spoke out against his namesake’s demise. Architect Bart Prince penned an essay for the Alibi decrying the demolition of the nearly half century-old structure.

News reports died out by the end of August, but what was the final verdict for the Paolo Soleri?

Yesterday, I called Edward Calabaza, spokesperson for the Santa Fe Indian School. He says plans are “in a holding pattern.” The school met with representatives of Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman. They offered to find federal resources and work something out, according to Calabaza. “We agreed not to move forward with anything.”

The school understands that there’s a need for a venue like the Paolo Soleri, he adds. But it’s been detrimental to the learning environment, he says, in that the building is deteriorating and soaking up resources that could go to students. “It’s a money pit,” he says. “It’s just an aged facility.” It will cost $4 million to refurbish and put a roof over the Paolo Soleri, he says, and an additional $900,000 in labor and ongoing maintenance.

The school will hold off on tearing down the Paolo Soleri “as long as we feel they are putting in some kind of effort to help us find some kind of solution,” Calabaza says. But he understands that it might not be at the top of the senators’ priority lists, given the economic situation and the shakeup in Congress.

V.19 No.36 | 9/9/2010

Culture Shock

Burque, I Hardly Knew Ye

Sometimes life hands you lemons, and when that happens, you’re stuck squeezing the shit out of those lemons onto fried fish in hopes of extracting some flavor and thanking sweet baby Jesus you ordered the regular peas, not the mushy peas. Am I right? Or are you all wondering just how drunk I am, or if I’ve lost my mind and, in either case, what in God’s name I’m babbling about?

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V.19 No.28 | 7/15/2010


The twenty-teens turned out to be a pivot point for governmental, corporate and citizen attitudes and relationships on a variety of fronts but especially in regard to energy sources and most profoundly in the U.S. Events worldwide overtook the entrenched power bases and their ability to maintain a belief in the realities that sustained them.

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V.19 No.25 | 6/24/2010
Since 1965 the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater has been part of Santa Fe’s cultural scene. As of August, it will be no more than dust.
Raffaele Elba, courtesy of Arcosanti Foundation


Building Something out of Nothing

The Paolo Soleri is closing, and that totally sucks

After laboriously banging out 650 words about the closure of the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater in Santa Fe, I realized something that made me select all > delete.

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V.19 No.24 | 6/17/2010
A hippy haven on Indian land?

Demolition Derby

Paolo Soleri Amphitheater to be nuked

Pointless destruction of cool structures: a NM tradition?

Early last week the Santa Fe Indian School exhibited some bloody typical short-sightedness by announcing that the 45-year-old Paolo Soleri Amphitheater was to be demolished. This architectural landmark is not only a marvelous outdoor venue, but a groovy exemplification of Soleri’s synergistic design philosophy. Yesterday the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council and the All Indian Pueblo Council came down firmly on the side of the School, offering “blessings” for the demolition. Somehow, the Councils contend, the amphitheater is directly responsible for Native children going under-educated and the only solution is to destroy it before it can cause more harm.

Pardon me if I seem unconvinced. The School has exhibited a bad attitude about preservation in the past, having casually torn down historic buildings and old-growth trees without public notice or input. The School is an island of sovereign territory inside Santa Fe, so the usual requirements of notification and cooperation (conveniently) do not apply, but the attitude exhibited here is downright un-neighborly, even hostile. The short version could be: “Shut up, hippie.”

Maybe the pueblo leaders ought not to be quite so quick to bless destruction. Soleri himself nails the problem with a blistering quote:

“This American culture is bent on demolition in all fields. It is a deleterious way of making history and forfeiting memories, the very memories cutting the landscape of history for country in search of culture and civility.”

In Albuquerque, we only have to look to the wholesale destruction of many of the buildings in the downtown area, culminating in the ignominious razing of the Alvarado Hotel in 1970, which remained a vast parking lot until downtown redevelopment raised a sad simulacrum of the hotel in the same spot. If it all comes down to capitalism, to the pathetic fact that destroying and rebuilding yields more profit than preserving and appreciating, then we need some kind of cap-and-trade program to stop this gaming of the system, some kind of financial incentive to halt the business-as-usual of demolition. What demolition emphatically does not need is a “blessing.”

Unsurprisingly, a Save Our Soleri movement has sprung up with great ferocity, and if the Indian School has any neighborliness left in its sovereign bones, it will view these concerned citizens as potential partners who could raise money, awareness and public participation to correct whatever alleged negative impacts the amphitheater is having on Native education. To view them as enemies or as “hippies” who need to “shut up,” would be a colossal mistake.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.