THE GENERAL AND THE MADAM


kearny

Stephen Watts Kearny was promoted to Brigadier General when the Mexican-American War broke out. He had been serving as military governor in California for a few months, but upon his promotion he gathered a force of 2,500 men and led them from Fort Leavenworth in the Kansas territory to the town of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Kearny was a handsome,serious and youthful 52 years old at the time. He had been well-liked during his governorship, and Kearny Street in San Francisco was named for him.

The Mexican soldiers stationed in Santa Fe scattered when they heard he was coming leaving Kearny to take control of the territory. He appointed Charles Bent, an American trader living in Taos, as governor, and left for California with 300 men. He left 800 soldiers in Santa Few and sent another 800 to capture El Paso

However there was a minor problem. The payroll for the U.S. soldiers was late in arriving in Santa fe, and the soldiers weren’t getting paid.

At the same time, there was in Santa Fe a successful madam, who ran a gambling house that the American soldiers patronized. Maria Gertrudis Barcelo realized that Santa Fe under the Americans would be very good for her business.

madam 2

Her saloon, with sparkling crystal chandeliers and floors covered with European carpets, was described as running the length of a block in the center of town. Barcelo, known as La Tules, was very good at gambling. According to reports, she was always richly dressed and covered with jewelry. Some said she was beautiful, others reported that she was not so good looking, but everyone agreed there was no one better at the card game monte than she was, dealing night after night often until dawn.

She was well-known and politically connected in Santa Fe, and it was said that Kearny gave her a military escort to the Victory Ball at La Fonda Hotel. It was also said that she was the one who persuaded the Mexican governor of Santa Fe to leave and let the Americans take over the place.

When La Tules heard that the American soldiers weren’t getting paid, she lent the U.S. Army the money to take care of the payroll.

Because she heard gossip in her saloon by highly placed political figures of every make, she could also pass valuable information on to the U.S. Army. In December, 1846, she warned the Army of a Mexican-Indian conspiracy that threatened the Americans.

La Tules died a very wealthy woman and left a good part of her fortune to the church, ensuring an impressive funeral presided over by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, whom you will remember from Willa Cather’s fine book “Death Comes To the Archbishop.”

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A few years later, in the 1960’s, Dr. Advice with a group of colleagues, stayed at the La Fonda for two or three weeks. Twenty years later, on another visit to Santa Fe, he asked if the owner was still living, and was assured that she was on the premises and would be glad to see him. A very elderly lady emerged from the back office, and after being introduced she smiled and said “Oh you’re part of those troublemakers who stayed here twenty years ago! Of course I remember you.” She graciously paid our room tab and supplied a delicious dinner. The La Fonda is still a fine historic hotel in the middle of the Plaza. I never found out exactly what that group of youngish “troublemakers’ had done to warrant her remembrance.

INNER FIRE


Alan Hauser
hauser 3 I first saw Allan Hauser’s art when I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for the first time in 1966. I saw then that what I did and what I was teaching was only a first step toward the sculpture I wanted to make. Allan’s iconic style, avoiding unnecessary iconography, filled me with a great sense of peace. His Native American mothers holding their children were not just literal pictures of people, but solid mass forms filled with life which invited you to touch them. I had been working for years, but for the first time, I realized that everything is simply “forms” with a certain solidity, not just sculpture. Our eye does not take in everything which is there; in painting a tree we don’t paint each leaf, or each hair on a head, rather we try to convey the feeling of the entire form. So what Allan taught me throughout that summer, was how to “feel” a sculpture, and how to convey that feeling in the finished piece.

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Born in Oklahoma in 1914, Allan Hauser was the first member of his family from the Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache to be born outside captivity since Geronimo’s 1886 surrender after the tribe’s imprisonment by the United States. His father, Sam Haozous, was the grand-nephew of Geronimo, and served as his translator after the release.

Allan went to study at the Santa Fe Indian School in 1934, where he first formed his distinctive style in both painting and sculpture. It was there he met and married his wife Anna Maria Gallegos, and they were married for fifty-five years. They moved to Los Angeles in the second World War and he worked at the shipyards there. Through friends at the Pasadena Art Institute, he became familiar with the art of Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, and Henry Moore, as well as Barbara Hepworth, from whom he learned the importance of open spaces within the sculpture. When Allan explained Hepworth’s monumental pieces to me, he stressed the importance of letting your mind supply what was missing in the void.

In my own study of Japanese art and floral arranging, that “absence of the unimportant” gave meaning to the piece which would not have been there with too much explanation. In the case of floral arrangements, it would be too many flowers.

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Allan Joined the faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 1962. It was there I met him in the summer of 1966, when I went with my Isleta-Laguna friend Georgia Abeita Oliver. He was a soft-spoken and generous man who graciously gave his knowledge and advice to a visiting stranger and fellow art teacher. There was no indication that this self-effacing man was one of the most renowned Native American artists in the 20th century.

When he died at the age of 80, he left behind thousands of paintings and drawings as well as his amazing public sculptures as a visual lexicon.

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In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Albert Schweitzer

Apache

“Apache Man” white carrara marble Allan Hauser

HAVE BIRTHDAY, WILL TRAVEL


287Today is my 85th birthday, which is a nice sturdy, confident number don’t you think? Eighty-five has a certain panache to it. You have gone past the years of indecision, people credit you with a certain amount of wisdom whether it’s true or not. You have accumulated a lot of memories, and if you can’t remember them precisely, it doesn’t matter, because no one will ever know anyway because they weren’t there.

You no longer have to worry if you’re hair is ‘just right’, or if you are wearing the ‘right’ shoes. You can authentically be the person you really are. Shopkeepers know you and give you better service than when you were 35 or 50. You are likely one of the oldest people in your family, and if you don’t push your weight around, you collect a lot of respect. All in all, it is a comfortable time of life.

There are three places in the world in which I am most at home and invigorated; Paris,France, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Carmel, California. They are all “painters” cities, and I am quite comfortable in them. I celebrated this year’s birthday twice in Carmel, which is the closest to my home in Fremont. My two daughters wined and dined me, and we spent a fabulous girl’s weekend there, doing all the things girls love to do; shop, shop, shop, and eat!

This weekend Dr. Advice, my dear husband of 66 years, took me down again and we had a delightful and romantic “real” birthday (and repeated most of the fun we had last weekend, but with more art gallery visits and trips to the Carmel Bakery.) We drove around and smelled the pine trees and the ocean, and wondered why we don’t wake up each morning with the same view.

Birthdays are wonderful occasions for celebration. No matter what country you are from, they have a version of the “Happy Birthday” song. It doesn’t matter whose birthday it is, it is an affirmation that we are still here, and no matter where we come from, it’s nice to convey our good wishes to those who have achieved another milestone.