Arts for the future

Jan. 19—Well, Happy New Year!

I'm only 19 days late to the party, partially due to the fact I've been using my spare Editor's Note writing time to partake in some of these arts and culture experiences we're so richly endowed with here and also partly to consider how I might go about setting some loose resolutions to experience more of them.

I'm proud of the fact that I left the office and/or house often enough to enjoy some cool stuff. I caught Secret Byrd in November and was transported to a time when some composers had to work undercover just so they wouldn't get beheaded for their religious beliefs. As I wandered through the Scottish Rite (a perfect setting for such meandering musical experiences), the harmonies bounced all around me as I sipped broth and wine by candlelight and looked over the shoulders of the violin players. That was cool.

Visual art? Yep, covered some of that, too, boning up on a few key New Mexico contemporary artists when the Vladem opened in September. One particularly spectacular late-summer Saturday afternoon, I wandered through a sampling of Canyon Road galleries. I even got caught up with the happenings at the New Mexico History Museum and tried to roll up for as many concerts on the Plaza as I could (missed Shakey Graves but caught James McMurtry).

Another highlight was witnessing the National Dance Institute's May Gala performance. If you don't care for dance — or children doing dance — this event will change your mind about both. (Side note: I semi-forced my then 6-year-old son to take a hip-hop class offered by his afterschool program one year, and while he still holds it against me, he's got moves. I take full credit.) Anyway, dance isn't my comfort zone, but watching a performance stirs a part of my emotion response zone that is just different from the movie-watching or concert-going brain hemisphere.

Do I have more to do and see and experience and learn about? Obviously, yes. I'd like to attend more artist openings and see concerts by performers I know nothing about (Meow Wolf, I'm talking to your lineup). I want to test my love for classical music and learn how to correctly pronounce and spell the names of composers without benefit of Google.

And what do I ask in return? I'm glad you asked. Santa Fe, you have a lot to offer, but you have so much more you can do.

Here's my pitch (which, I know, is fraught with all sorts of obstacles, but here goes, nonetheless): Let's convert the old Santa Fe Downs into a sprawling entertainment complex, complete with a full-sized indoor theater (bring it, Hamilton) and outdoor theater that Taylor Swift would swoon for and that will blow the nonexistent roof off both Denver's Red Rocks and the Hollywood Bowl.

Nearby, let's construct a small outdoor performance area for a bonafide Shakespeare festival that has grapevines and a formal English garden (and shade). And because nature is key, I'd also vote for a reflecting pond for all those outdoor sculptures and yes, why not: A butterfly pavilion to encourage pollination — now and well into the future.

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