A Hero’s Parade — Santa Fe Style

Posted in General, Who's Who with tags , , on August 2, 2011 by Jenny Kimball

Yesterday I had a bird’s eye view of an event that the entire nation was watching–the parade honoring Santa Fe’s hometown hero, Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry. President Obama awarded Petry the Medal of Honor for his valor in Afghanistan; he is only the second living person since Vietnam to receive this award—the  highest military honor our government bestows. Sergeant Petry attended Santa Fe High and graduated in 1998 from St. Catherine Indian School in Santa Fe. Thousands lined the plaza and the streets of downtown Santa Fe yesterday cheering our hero on as Santa Fe feted Petry in a colorful parade in his honor.

Click for larger photo

Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry waves from the front of the wagon that carried him during the parade in Santa Fe in his honor.


Innovation and Tradition Shine at 60th Anniversary Spanish Market

Posted in Art, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by Jenny Kimball

It’s always a treat to step outside the doors of La Fonda and wade into the crowd of Spanish Market artists and visitors.  This year was no exception and the market provided a surprise in the form of a new category – Innovation Within Tradition.  The new category allows traditional artists to introduce some contemporary themes into their work. The guidelines are stringent – requiring the techniques or processes the artist uses to remain traditional but allows exploration within the content of their work. Gustavo Victor Goler, a traditional bultos and retablos artist added some whimsy to his work this year to the delight of visitors and the Spanish Market judges. His San Cristóbal won first place in the Innovation within Tradition category depicting San Cristóbal on a surf board. San Cristóbal (Saint Christopher) is commonly known as the patron saint of travelers, but in digging deeper, Goler found that surfers claim him as the patron saint of surfing.

"San Cristóbal"

"San Cristóbal" by Gustavo Victor Goler

Another interesting phenomenon that many artists noticed this year was a change in crowd activity. Over the years, it was not uncommon for crowds to descend on the market at 8am on Saturday and buy up the most popular and/or award-winning artists’ work.  Over the last three years, however, the economy has influenced buyer behavior.  Collectors are being choosier and taking their time in buying pieces.  This has allowed many artists the ability to have inventory for the entire weekend, relax and enjoy talking and selling for the full two-days of the market instead of the frenzied and chaotic couple of hours at the market opening. Lorrie Aguilar-Sjoberg, an encrusted straw artist,  lowered her prices this year in response to the slow economy. Lorrie would rather have patrons be able to afford the piece they really want and take it home and enjoy it. She’s fortunate to have low overhead – buying the wood she uses for her crosses in bulk and growing her own straw.

Encrusted Straw Artist Lorrie Aguilar-Sjoberg

Just down the row from Lorrie, devotional artist Tim Lucero displayed his retablos. Tim showed his work for many years in the Youth Market and was mentored during that time by Lorrie’s father, santero Filimón Aguilar, now retired. The Youth Market is another fun element to Spanish Market and allows the youngest generation a way to not only learn from experienced artists, but also display their work – going through a similar jury process as their Traditional Spanish Market elders.  This is Tim’s second year showing as an adult. Last year Tim won third place in the Small Retablo category. This year he won an honorable mention in the that same category.  He’s inspired by the work being done by other artists in the Innovations Within Tradition category and looking forward to exploring it more in his work for next year.

Retablo Artist Tim Lucero

Retablo Artist, Tim Lucero

Spanish Market offers art lovers a chance to explore the evolution of an art form – from youth learning traditions to a new generation of artists expanding the definition of traditional Spanish art to the masters creating exquisite pieces of devotion. We are fortunate to have it all unfold right outside our door every summer.

Aspen – An Easy and Enjoyable Drive from Santa Fe

Posted in Hiking, Travel with tags , , on July 27, 2011 by Jenny Kimball

Living in Santa Fe, I have a great appreciation for cities and towns like the City Different – those special places that combine the beauty of nature with a sophisticated art and food scene.  This past weekend, my mom and I drove to Aspen, Colorado.  It’s about a 5 1/2 hour drive and we made a leisurely stop in Salida, Colorado to eat lunch beside the Arkansas River at the Boathouse Cantina. The river is currently roaring from winter snowmelt.   Decent food combined with the sound of the river beside you is magical.

Me & Mom with the Stones at Pine Creek Lodge

Once in Aspen, we stayed the first two nights with Don and Norma Stone, college friends of my late father. Don served as Vice Chairman of Federated Department Stores and is now on the board of the terrific watch company, Fossil.  He has been involved with many nonprofits including serving as Chairman of the Board for both the Cincinnati and Dallas Symphonies.  Norma has a doctorate in education so is no shrinking violet.  Exploring Aspen with two powerhouses such as the Stones was very entertaining. It reminded me that no matter where you live or where you vacation, it’s the people who can turn a nice place into a charming place, full of character.

View from condo the Stones have rented for the past 28 years. The dots in the sky are parasails.

Downtown Aspen

My mother and I started each morning with a walk through the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival grounds, and then hiked down to the Roaring Fork River which was true to its name this weekend, with whitewater rushing down the mountain.

Roaring Fork River

Another view of Roaring Fork

The wildflowers and gardens in Aspen are spectacular, with delphiniums, peonies, poppies, columbine, flax, and bunches of other flowers, more lush and taller than any I have ever seen before. A must stop for breakfast is Main Street Cafe and Bakery which bakes the most divine low-fat blueberry bran muffins I have ever eaten. I left a note requesting the recipe. We shall see if they’ll share it.  (If they do, and you’d like a copy, let me know in the comments.)

We attended a performance of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet  – a cultural treasure that we in Santa Fe are fortunate to share with our neighbors in Aspen and vice versa. Three dances were performed, all modern, intriguing and fun.  Afterwards, an ice cream cone and cookie is a must from the Paradise Bakery in the heart of downtown, which had more people lined up to get inside than a Lady Gaga concert.

If you’re in Aspen for more than a day, a worthwhile drive is to the Pine Creek Lodge for lunch. Thirty minutes from downtown is a lovely restaurant, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, but it is grand central station for road bikers in the summer and cross-country skiers in the winter. The road dead ends into the mountains just a bit farther than the lodge, and the road is dotted with hiking trails and fields flush with wildflowers as far as the eye can see.

Pine Creek Lodge

If you’re a runner like me, you’ll want to try the Rio Grande Trail, which follows the Roaring Fork River.  I started the run downtown and then ran towards Woody Creek, back via the Cemetery Lane Trail, which loops back into downtown Aspen. It is around a 7 mile, lovely loop, mostly along the white water of the Roaring Fork.

Looking for another enjoyable place for dinner? We spent one evening at Plato’s Restaurant, in the Meadows Resort, which is on the Aspen Institute Grounds.  As Plato said himself, and the restaurant enjoys quoting, “The first and greatest of necessities is food, which is the condition of life and existence.” The view from the deck, overlooking Buttermilk ski area, the river below and mountains in each direction, is awesome. And surprisingly, the food stands up to the view.

View of Buttermilk from Plato's

A new, interesting and clever casual restaurant in the heart of downtown is called Junk. It serves salads in Pyrex 4 cup measuring bowls, tacos served flat on a cutting board, and the Asian noodles I ordered were served in a Chinese takeout container. The food was delish and the restaurant design and service was fun, new and very inventive and the prices (for Aspen!) are not bad.

And of course, since I’m in the hotel business, we had to check out the historic Hotel Jerome, dubbed the “crown jewel” of Aspen. The service was gracious, warm and friendly. Our room was impeccable, beautifully furnished and like La Fonda, each room is individually decorated. If you enjoy historic hotels (and how could you be a fan of La Fonda and not love historic hotels?) Hotel Jerome is sure to delight you on your next trip to Aspen.

Hotel Jerome, Aspen

The Midnight Ride of Steve

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2011 by Jenny Kimball
Steve Wimmer

Steve Wimmer, La Fonda on the Plaza's Chef Concierge

Today’s post is written by guest blogger and La Fonda’s Chef Concierge,Steve Wimmer who has been with us for more than twenty years.

The wildfires near Santa Fe and Los Alamos are making me neurotic and have disturbed my sleep cycle, so what did I do? I took a midnight ride. But, to what purpose? I remembered my early years in New Mexico when I was studying to be a shaman. So I circled my beloved spaces, the Santa Fe Opera that was glowing brightly as there had been a dress rehearsal for kids; Angelika’s house just to the north-east of Black Mesa; Black Mesa and my friends at San Ildefonso Pueblo. Then I rode on to Santa Clara – who when they dance, can really make it rain. Why weren’t they out at midnight dancing? If anybody can save us surely they are the ones.

I completed my ride by driving by Angelina’s in Espanola -home of the best lamb burritos in New Mexico. Finally I stopped at McDonald’s to get an iced tea.

Then I rode past Chimayo Trading Post and our old friend Leo Trujillo. Did it do any good? I have to believe a bit.

Today the winds are blowing heavily as they were last night. During my drive I could see only a pale orange glow in the distance – nothing frightening and dramatic as the first night. Only one fire vehicle passed me on its way to the scene. There was very little traffic out, but boy, the casinos were busy.

The radio says it’s up to 60,000 acres. The road 502 is closed into Los Alamos. The fire is close to town burning on the Pajarito ski hill so it’s only a half a mile from a house. The great fear is it will get into the Los Alamos canyon that did not have fire in 2000.  Oddly no one says boop about the Pacheco Canyon fire.

I believe that Cochiti Pueblo is being evacuated. I am afraid to tell you the fire went into Dixon’s Apple Farm, home of the delicious and much-loved Champaign apple. News reports say the family lost the house and 150 of the trees.

Yet as I drove last night, the most frightening thing was all of the temporary tents selling fireworks. Is there any limit to man’s stupidity?

So there, that’s my tale.

Over and out.

Just Imagine!

Posted in General on June 21, 2011 by Jenny Kimball

Does imagination play a role in running a hotel? I hadn’t given much thought until I was invited to participate in a panel discussion put on by the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission, part of a nationwide series sponsored by the Lincoln Center Institute that looks at the importance of encouraging imaginative thinking in children. I was honored to be included with such distinguished academics as Eric Blinman, director of the state office of Archaeological Studies; Denise Johnston, associate superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools; conductor John Kennedy, artistic director of Santa Fe New Music; artist Dolly Naranjo Neikrug, principal of Santa Clara Day School; and Laura Mayo Rodriguez, a sixth-grade teacher at Nava Elementary School. The discussion was moderated by artist Peter Chapin, retired chairman of the Drew University art department and former director of the New York Art Semester.

I was happy to find that I had something to add to the conversation. Because it does take imagination to respond effectively to daily changes at La Fonda, and to keep the business of hospitality fun and engaging for both guests and employees. I find that the artistic environment of Santa Fe itself inspires me every day to think beyond the tried and true norms, to provide creative ideas to energize our staff. Rather than painting or playing music, I get a creative workout by gardening. Each plant I add contributes to a vision in my mind of how to add beauty to the world for all to enjoy. La Fonda is like that, too. Every solution or project contributes to a vision – but in this case it’s a shared vision. Our diverse staff, with their varied cultural backgrounds and experiences, contribute to collaborative solutions that really demonstrate the benefits of creative thinking. I believe this is the best example of how imagination is used in business: working together as a group to come up with creative solutions toward a shared goal. The Conversations, like the one I participated in, will culminate in America’s Imagination summit, to be held at Lincoln Center in July 21 and 22, 2011. The day-and-a-half-long conference will be attended by representatives from all 50 states, Imagination Conversations national sponsors and other elected officials, legislators, education experts, business leaders, artists, and scientists. The event’s centerpiece will be the presentation of an action plan for policy makers, educators, and community activists to put imagination at the forefront of our school curricula. To learn more about America’s Imagination Summit, visit the Lincoln Center’s website.

Why did God Make Aunts and Uncles?

Posted in General on May 25, 2011 by Jenny Kimball

One should have known, naming a baby Stephen (after his maternal uncle), Philip (after his father), Kinnaird (his mother’s maiden name) Wise that he would have to be all things to all people.

Born the first grandchild on his father’s side and the only grandson on either side, the pressure was on my nephew from the get-go. Thank goodness, he hasn’t let anyone down. He is graduating from high school this weekend, which has me thinking about what kind of aunt I have been.

My energetic mother seemed to throw all her love and attention onto this first grandchild, so that my siblings and I quietly remarked that future grandchildren would never be able to measure up. Much to our relief, when my sister had Madeline, our mom poured just as much pride and love into helping to raise her and her younger sister Molly.

Those of you who live far from your nieces and nephews, like me, probably got invited at some point into the school competition “Where’s Stephen,” where a book gets circulated around the country and postcards are sent in from various states. Like any good aunt, I was bound and determined that Stephen should have the most postcards, so I bugged every person I knew to participate. Those are the silly things you do to make sure your nieces and nephews have the support they need.

An early drama related to Stephen was when I received a call from my mother, clearly holding back tears—which for this strong-minded woman did not happen often. My brother Phil had called and told her they had learned at Stephen’s annual medical checkup that he would not reach much taller than five feet. Given that I am barely five feet, it was hard to get overly upset, but I could envision that this handsome young boy with the gorgeous dark eyes and glowing Mediterranean skin reaching only five feet tall might not be ideal. My “glass is half full” mother choked out that he could at least be a jockey, and a great one! After many phone calls back and forth, we discovered a miscommunication between Stephen’s parents, so that his mother Melissa had no clue where anyone got the notion that Stephen would be short. Crises averted.

In fact, Stephen steadily grew and quickly surpassed me in height, and today towers almost a foot taller than me. I have many memories of watching him grow up, most of which involve sitting through innumerable soccer and football games, cheering on a team that usually lost. Living in another state, many times I had to watch him grow up from afar, but I tried never to miss being there for important occasions. Stephen and I always helped his mother bake and decorate her amazing plethora of Christmas cookies. How many boys are not only willing to help, but have fun doing it?

I think Stephen is also unique in that he always acted like he enjoyed going on trips with his aunt (me) and grandmother. Not many teenage boys are willing to travel with old fuddy-duddies like us, much less laugh through it all. My mother and I have taken him to see the Grand Canyon, where he acted like he enjoyed the hokey train holdup by bandits and cowboys on the way. He was such a good sport about laughing it off. He flew down the natural water slide at Sliderock, Arizona, with me until we were both so waterlogged we could hardly see. We dragged him to Acoma pueblo in the middle of another not, dry New Mexico summer, and watched a pathetic fireworks celebration at another pueblo one Fourth of July where he acted like he had never seen such stupendous fireworks. These are memories that my mother and I will never forget.

Last year, Stephen brought friends with him snowboarding in Santa Fe. Imagine four high school boys on spring break, all the trouble they can get into—my imagination ran wild at the thought. Not only were they total gentlemen, but Stephen’s snowboarding ability improved exponentially in just a few days. My husband Rob, brother Phil, and I skied through some tough slopes and hid behind trees to check on their big talk—and ended up amazed at how good those boys had gotten in such a short time. How wonderful to be young and athletic!

I know that through all of the good times I’ve had with my nephew, I have been nothing but an embarrassment to him most of the time, though he generally kept it to himself. How many aunts hand-carry a sharp iron warrior’s spear home from Africa for their preteen nephew? Yet it seemed to be a perfectly appropriate thing to do, much to his parents’ chagrin. However, the last time I was visiting Dallas with my new iPhone—my nephew had owned one for months already, of course—he was showing me his favorite apps when he started grinning wildly. “Aunt Jenny, what in the world are you doing texting like that? Everyone knows you just use your two thumbs. That is so lame!”

What do I know? I can only imagine, as I fly home to watch him receive his diploma this week, of the many things I will do in the next 48 hours that will mortify him. And yet he will smile and say nothing. Maybe that, after all, is why God made aunts and uncles.

Jenny with her nieces and nephew.

Due to Popular Demand

Posted in General, Hiking with tags , on May 3, 2011 by Jenny Kimball

Due to popular demand, I’ve acquired a picture of Kiara and Patrick before heading to St. Mike’s prom this past Saturday night.

Maybe now we all understand why in the world Patrick Rodriquez would hike 7 miles roundtrip, up 1780 feet in elevation, in order to ask Kiara to the prom.

She is darling and I already knew how handsome Patrick was from meeting him at the top of Atalaya!  Thank you both for sharing your special day with us.