Reflections from Santa Fe

Reflections on Santa Fe, 2005 and 2019

By Joyce Douglas

I started to write this article under the impression that at least half of the attendees had experienced the 2005 convention, but that wasn’t true.  Actually, only about a quarter of us were privileged to experience that first Land of Enchanted Nativities meeting.  However, I feel that no matter how often one returns to Santa Fe, they  fall under the spell of that magical city where history, culture, art, creativity and diversity present a unique opportunity to view the world with new perspective. 

In 2005, we experienced the convention site differently.  The historic rooms were as charming as ever but the mezzanine and convention venue has been transformed into a brighter, more welcoming space where we could view the Southwest Nativities exhibit at leisure and see the exquisite detail.  Also, this time the very special La Fonda Nativity was on view for everyone to enjoy on the main floor by the stairwell.  And I must mention that parking was $5.00 a day!

The convention schedule pretty much followed the 2005 pattern with updates that reflected the times.  Optional tours were available for the city, art work at La Fonda, walking tours of Santa Fe, and exploring the New Mexico State Capitol Building (The art work of the New Mexican artists was fabulous).  The opening reception was again held at The Museum of International Folk Art on Museum Hill where we had the opportunity to see what a wonderful collection Alexander Girard had bequeathed to the city.  Again, no matter how often one gets to view this fantastic museum, it is a thrill to walk the halls and see such diversity.  This was a very special occasion to renew old friendships, meet new friends, and enjoy a southwestern buffet.  

It seemed that we were given more time to explore the Southwest Nativities exhibit, the manger mart with its interesting artists and artwork, and venture out to other Santa Fe venues and sights.

At both meetings, conventioneers were introduced to Navajo, Pueblo, and Spanish artists who presented a variety of informational programs that enhanced their knowledge of cultural heritage.    Though the session on crèche repair carried the same title, improvement in products available and techniques made this a very valuable program.  Charlie Carrillo’s keynote address set the mood for the sessions to follow.

The Spanish Colonial Christmas Play this year was “Los Pastores” (the shepherds) performed by an amateur group from Belen.  In 2005, we saw another phase of the Christmas Story “Los Tres Reyes” (“The Three Kings”) this time presented by Los Caballos de Vargas who usually presented this play on Three Kings Day.  

The Sunday afternoon demonstrations by local New Mexican artists gave us a chance to get up close and personal with the creators of the beautiful retablos, carved wood, wheat straw applique, punched tin, and painted wood.  It was almost like a mini Spanish Market.  In 2005, at a similar event, we met more Pueblo artists as well.  Both experiences added so much to the convention.

Always a highlight of this event is the closing banquet bringing us all together for one last chance to be with each other and also to recognize those who have contributed to the appreciation of nativities.  Local recipients of awards were Charlie Carrillo and Alexander Girard (posthumously) and The Museum of International Folk Art.  Locally honoring those who promote the crèche tradition gives FOTC the chance to give special recognition in these areas where we meet.  In addition, FOTC recognized Father Johann Roten with the Award of Excellence for his contributions to our organization and the International organization.  The Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble closed out the evening with a beautiful choral concert.

Because the dances at Jemez Pueblo were not scheduled until the Tuesday after our meeting, a special bonus day was offered.  It gave us a day to tour five wonderful Santa Fe homes that featured the ambiance of the area as well as unique private collections.  What a treat it was to see Southwestern nativities in such authentic surroundings.  It was also a perfect day!  What a memorable gift.  This was certainly one of my most favorite parts of the convention, which will linger in my memory.  

Since we had to cut our trip short we missed the Jemez dances this year, but in 2005, it was a tremendous experience to share this important event in the life of the pueblo.  Santa Fe was truly an enchanting event!  Thanks to everyone who worked to make it so meaningful. 

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