It’s easy to forget — in between work, errands, attempts at exercise and the many other obligations of daily life — just how much there is to do in Santa Fe. Much of it is either free or inexpensive, too. To take advantage, though, people have to remember to get out and soak up our city.
Today, for example, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum opens Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage, a series of photos by the famed photographer, shifting the focus from her usual portraits to objects. It’s the rare opportunity to see a photographer as she reassesses her work — whether in capturing the landscapes that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe, the darkroom where Ansel Adams worked or even photographing a gunshot television that Elvis Presley once owned.
This is a personal work, rather different from her early photos of rock ’n’ roll stars or the glamorous portrait shots the world has seen in Vanity Fair. She calls it her “notebook.” Fans of the photographer were able to listen to her lecture on Tuesday night at the Lensic, hearing in her own words how she developed this insightful project, and others were walked through the show Wednesday by Leibovitz. It’s part of a traveling exhibit, put together by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. And it’s right here, in Santa Fe, through May 5. (Also on exhibit is the ongoing Georgia O’Keeffe and the Faraway: Nature and Image, offering the opportunity to kill two shows with one visit, so to speak.)
The opening is just the start of a busy weekend — on Sunday, HBO star and satirist Bill Maher is playing the convention center. Usually, the closest the funny guy gets to Santa Fe is the occasional stop in Albuquerque. He is biting in his criticism of politicians and other cultural shibboleths, and expect plenty of pope jokes — if you watch his show, Real Time with Bill Maher, or have heard his jokes, you’ll remember that Maher detests organized religion. It might be offensive to some, but it likely will make them laugh, too.
Of course, you might be among the lucky ones who scored tickets to hear artist Shepard Fairey speak Sunday night. He’s at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design in a sold-out show — the lecture is free, but all the tickets have been handed out by the university, either to their students, high-school art students or the general public. Even better for Santa Fe, Fairey will be staying next week to work on a public art project at the school. Best known to the general public as the man who created the Obama Hope poster back in 2008, Fairey also is one of the more influential contemporary artists working today. He is appearing as part of the university’s Artists for Social Change series.
That he is coming to Santa Fe is another reminder of why keeping a vibrant university in town mattered — the conversations, the interactions between town and gown, all of the back and forth, help make Santa Fe a more interesting place. That, after Fairey leaves, the college will be richer — with a permanent outdoor mural — is exciting news for all of Santa Fe. What’s more, it will be a permanent reminder of the smart and interesting people who visit our town, making it a more enjoyable place for those of us blessed to call it home. As photographer Leibovitz put it so well earlier this week: “The problem with coming to Santa Fe is that you never want to leave.” We’re here, so we might as well make the most of it.