ART AND CULTURE
50 Years at The Pit
The University of New Mexico’s Legendary Venue
Gary Herron (University of New Mexico Press)
At least Half of the sports fans in New Mexico will treasure this dive into a 37-foot hole in the ground. The Pit, home of UNM basketball, duly earns a fearsome reputation. Sports Illustrated even named it 13th on its list of the Top 20 Venues of the 20th Century. Gary Herron covers its unique architecture and invites readers onto a nostalgia cruise with nearly 200 photos and names like Bob Knight, Petie Wilson, Marvin Johnson, and, yes, Norm Ellenberger and Dave Bliss. NMSU fans may prefer to add up how many NCAA sanctions certain years’ teams earned, but remember: The Pit also lures entire populations of small towns when it hosts the state’s high school tourneys. It’s been the home to the Gathering of Nations, once featured Bjorn Borg in a tennis exhibition, bucked countless cowboys at the Ty Murray Invitational, and has amped up a rocker or two. Give it to a sports fan of either persuasion, if only to watch the holiday fur fly.
The Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple
Freemasonry, Architecture, and Theatre
Edited by Wendy Waszut-Barrett and Jo Whaley (Museum of New Mexico Press)
People call the looming building at Lincoln and Paseo de Peralta, in Santa Fe, “the big pink church.” More correctly, it’s the Scottish Rite Temple, and it’s amazing. Performances and art shows within it give visitors a glimpse of ornate architecture, grand theatrical sets, and the 29 steps of its front entry (a number that bears Masonic significance). Now comes The Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple, a coffee-table-size book with serious meat between its covers. State Historian Rick Hendricks assesses the history of Freemasonry in New Mexico, which mimics a history of the state from the territorial period forward. Art historian Khristaan Villela details how the building’s design morphed from Pueblo Revival to Neoclassical to the Moorish Revival that adds to its oddball character. Wendy Waszut-Barrett holds forth on the storied theatricality of particular rites. Altogether, it’s tough to say whether bookstores should stock it in the art, history, or Masonic conspiracies section.
Historic Movie Theatres of New Mexico
Jeff Berg (History Press)
Ask any New Mexico native where they saw their first moving-picture show and watch their eyes go glassy as they recall the Hatch Drive-In, Truth or Consequences’ El Rio, Belén’s Oñate, or Tucumcari’s Odeon. Even teeny Wagon Mound once boasted a 130-seater. Jeff Berg ticks through these screens of the past and adds juicy details on celebrity sightings, architectural features, tragic fires, and gutsy renovations. For every weed-covered lot that once was a Sunset Drive-In, there’s a KiMo and a Lensic to spur the dreams of small-town revivalists and film buffs who believe that the show can go on. Berg’s engaging voice urges them forward, digital isolation be damned.
Albuquerque Museum History Collection
Only in Albuquerque
Deborah C. Slaney
Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives Collection
Images in Silver Compiled
Casa San Ysidro
The Gutiérrez/Minge House in Corrales, New Mexico
Ward Alan Minge (All Museum of New Mexico Press)
To commemorate its 50th anniversary in 2017, the Albuquerque Museum began releasing these three volumes, finishing this year with the Albuquerque Museum History Collection. The books are sold separately but make an unbeatable gift set for those of us who devour art, history, and culture. In this latest volume, curator Deborah C. Slaney takes visitors deep into the collections vault to conjure a visual history of Albuquerque and New Mexico. Thanks to her concise and descriptive language about artifacts like ancient pottery, Spanish documents, a territorial mail wagon, Route 66 iconography, and a Pimentel guitar, readers can breeze through an action-packed timeline that’s centuries old.
Anyone whose ears perk up at the word “daguerreotype” needs photo archivist Glenn Fye’s Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives Collection. Within the 180 images chosen from the museum’s vast archive, Fye found early aviators, diners, banks, baseball teams, and the sadly demolished Franciscan Hotel. Complete the set with Casa San Ysidro, about the museum’s largest artifact, the Corrales-based lovechild of Ward Alan Minge, who recounts its roots as a 19th-century rancho that evolved into his home and then a living-history museum.
Whether your recipient is new to the state, a longtimer, or just longing to live here, these books will deepen their emotional connection to the Land of Enchantment.
New Mexico Historical Chronology
From the Beginning
Don Bullis (Rio Grande Books)
Don Bullis consumes 1,014 pages covering nearly everything that ever happened in New Mexico, starting with a 200-million-year-old dinosaur, the Tawa hallae, found in 2009 at Ghost Ranch. And his almanac-busting page count only gets him to the year 2017. As daunting a doorstop as the tome seems, the longest entries fill just a page, and once you start dipping in, it’s tough to stop. Ancestral Pueblo migrations, Spanish explorers, Wild West outlaws, scalawag politicians, union bosses, artist colonies, and a few unsolved mysteries keep readers plowing through. Consider it a jumbo bag of potato chips: short on context and literary polish but an addictive way to trip across a storied landscape.
Master Carver of Zuni Pueblo
Deborah C. Slaney (Fresco Press)
Those of us charmed by Zuni fetishes have Leekya Deyuse to thank. In the first half of the 20th century, the artist carried the craft of carving wemawe, the traditional name for bird and animal fetishes, into a puckish style that won enough admirers to kindle customer demand and woo other artists into the medium. Today, trading posts on Zuni Pueblo and art shows like the Santa Fe Indian Market and Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial feature numerous artists’ versions of fetishes as standalone objects and clustered on necklaces. Deborah C. Slaney fell for Leekya’s pieces when she worked at the Heard Museum, in Phoenix, and celebrated them in a 2017 exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum. This book caps her quest with a biography of Leekya, a critique of his work, and page upon page of his swoon-worthy creations in turquoise, conch shell, and abalone.
Into the Great White Sands
Craig Varjabedian (University of New Mexico Press)
White Sands National Monument knows how to pose for a photo. Even a rank amateur can snap a decent image of it. Put professional equipment into the hands of a master like Craig Varjabedian and he’ll find stunning beauty, great recreation, and a few surprises. Varjabedian shows the sensual dunes in all seasons, naturally, but also turns his lens on the unexpected: a windmill’s ruins, beetle tracks, a mammoth print. A handful of essays provide just the right amount of context, because the pictures truly are the thing. And they are gorgeous.
The Continental Divide Trail
Exploring America’s Ridgeline Trail
Barney Scout Mann (Rizzoli New York)
Our national backbone lags behind the Appalachian and Pacific Coast Trails in popularity—which only heightens its appeal to fans. In The Continental Divide Trail, Barney Scout Mann traces 3,100 miles of history, ecology, caretakers, and backpackers, from New Mexico’s bootheel to north of Glacier National Park. Mann through-hiked the CDT in 2015 and shares tons of important info, but let’s face it: You came for the 250 photos, and you’ll probably start on page 148, with the “New Mexico Divide” chapter. That’s cool. Whichever part of the CDT gets you jazzed, you’ll find it here—and likely discover a few new loves as well. Maybe enough to support one of the many trail stewards highlighted within the book.
Pueblos of New Mexico
Ana Pacheco (Arcadia Publishing)
Arcadia’s books rely more on historical photography than incisive text. Know that going into Pueblos of New Mexico and you’ll walk out knowing more about the state’s 19 pueblos as photographers saw them from the mid-1800s into the early 1900s. The images are lovely, particularly the portraits. The book provides enough information to entice readers to learn more about the pueblos in the best way possible: by visiting them.
Skiing New Mexico
A Guide to Snow Sports in the Land of Enchantment
Daniel Gibson (University of New Mexico Press)
Released in late 2017, this guide by Daniel Gibson, who also writes for New Mexico Magazine, fits into a backpack and covers all the essentials you need to know from every ski area in the state. Is there daycare? Can they tune my skis? Are the bumps bad? Ask and he shall answer. Gibson knows his stuff. He grew up flying down New Mexico’s slopes and writes a ski column for The Santa Fe New Mexican. A committed booster for skiing New Mexico style, he also directs readers to the best après-ski joints for a local brew and a plate of red or green.
100 Things To Do In Albuquerque Before You Die
Ashley M. Biggers (Reedy Press)
This 2015 book sold so well that a 2018 second edition had to follow. New Mexico Magazine contributing writer Ashley M. Biggers, a Duke City native, added updates, but she couldn’t forsake only-in-NM experiences like the American International Rattlesnake Museum, an Old Town Ghost Tour, zipping on two wheels down the Paseo del Bosque Trail, and 97 other faves.
No More Bingo, Comrade!
Nasario García (University of New Mexico Press)
While we’re pitching this to young adult readers, regular adult readers ought to clamber aboard, too. Nasario García writes delightful remembrances of his boyhood (see “Ghosts of the Río Puerco,” January 2018), with an inventory of published books that reach people of all ages. The 13 chapters in No More Bingo, Comadre! stand as a series of vignettes encompassing everything from a spooky midnight light to a certain comadre who becomes addicted to the “slut machines” at nearby casinos (hence, the book’s title), and the gente who strive to help her change her ways. Suffused with Hispanic wisdom, tall tales, and slang, the stories enchanted us. Our best recommendation: Make a pillow fort with the kids, bundle in, and read them aloud. Don’t forget to use silly voices.
Mis Crismes 1956
Christmas in La Puente, New Mexico
Gloria L. Mora (authorglorialopez mora.com)
The northern New Mexico tradition of Mis Crismes—essentially, trick-or-treating on Christmas morning—died out decades ago. Gloria L. Mora’s concern for that and other cherished memories of her childhood inspired her to write this gem of a book, which includes chapters on “Los Abuelitos,” “Christmas Vacation,” and “Víspera del Año Nuevo.” Linguists will adore how she presents each page in English, modern Spanish, and the Colonial Spanish dialect of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado—a style of the Spanish language that more closely resembles what was spoken in 18th-century Spain than modern-day Mexico. Mora self-published the book, available only on her website. She hopes to use the proceeds to further document the norteño region of her youth.
The Farolitos of Christmas
Rudolfo Anaya (Museum of New Mexico Press)
Hardly a new release, this 1987 book by Rudolfo Anaya earns a raft of new fans every December. Anaya, the lion of Chicano literature, has a soft spot for children’s stories, and The Farolitos of Christmas reaches out to them with a tale of biscochitos, piñon fires, and farolitos that stay lit long enough for a father to come home from war. Amy Córdova’s colorful illustrations carry the tale forward, and a glossary helps with the Spanish words. The 2015 edition of the book contains two additional treats for adults: an essay about mid-20th-century holidays in New Mexico and an achingly beautiful poem about a Christmas too far past. No matter your age, you’ll keep this book forever.
Tom Max in the Wild West
True American Cowboy Stories
Tomás Maximilano Benavídez (Lectura Books)
This English-Spanish book finds young Max spending his summer in Hatch, where he helps his father with ranch chores, saves his brother from drowning, learns to make chile verde, and encounters a scary rattlesnake. Lectura’s bilingual books aim to foster family literacy. Hop onto Max’s big adventure and learn how to tell it in more than one way.
Down by the River
Andrew Weiner (Abrams Books)
Andrew Weiner’s writing charms, but April Chu’s illustrations star in Down by the River. Fly-fishing moms and dads will adore reading it to their littlest ones. The story? Grandpa takes his daughter and grandson fishing. That’s about it. Oh, but they’re also outdoors together and it’s beautiful and the little guy learns how to cast and he and Grandpa build a memory that lasts and lasts. Those doses of sweet simplicity—along with drawings of 79 intricate fly-fishing lures on the endpapers—earn it repeat readings.