IN THIS ISSUE WE GO behind the scenes into aspects of New Mexico culture that at first glance might seem to exist on different planets. In fact, I’m duty-bound to warn you that you could get whiplash by flipping from a story about an Old West–style chuck-wagon dinner show (“New Life in the Old West,”) to one about the costume department at the Santa Fe Opera (“Dressing the Parts,”), and then cruising up to garages and car shows in Chimayó and Española (“Lowriders: Riding High,”). But once you dig in to the articles, you’ll detect the common thread: an unstinting commitment to artistic expression through craftsmanship that cuts across useless high/low cultural distinctions.
Having seen the Flying J Wranglers perform once in Ruidoso, I knew that in musical terms alone, their Flying J Ranch Chuckwagon Supper and Western Show would be a quality attraction. When David Pike told me that he’s a connoisseur of the kind of yodeling that’s part of their repertoire, I knew the story was in good hands. He came away with an observation that rings true for all of the eclectic subject matter in this issue: “I was eager to look behind the scenes of the Flying J, but I came to find out there really is no ‘behind’ here. It’s all one big scene.”
I’ll take that a step further: It’s all New Mexico. The state has an enormous capacity for assimilating influences that add to its identity, rather than diluting it. Yes, we’re provincial in some ways, many of them distinctive and charming, but we’re also cosmopolitan. On the one hand we have traditional colcha embroidery, as practiced by Julia Gomez and her cohorts (“A Stitch Out of Time,”). And we also have a food culture that makes room for Korean barbecue and East African cuisine (see “NM’s Wide World of Forks,” Cheryl Alters Jamison’s roundup of her favorite international restaurants,).
We call this issue “Hidden NM,” but everything we cover is hiding in plain sight, ready for you to discover for yourself.