One of the things we did in Santa Fe last week was visit some of the galleries and studios we have liked, and eat at some of the restaurants we found in the past. Because we were with the Michalaks–who LOVE museums–we also revisited the “Big Four” museums on Museum Hill in southeast Santa Fe:
Those museums are the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian; the Museum of International Folk Art; the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture). As well, we took in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum just a couple of blocks from the Plaza and the Governors Palace (which has the Palace of the Governors at the New Mexico History Museum located in it). Hell, you can’t walk two blocks without tripping over another museum!
A Discovery While Touring La Fonda Hotel Just Off the Plaza
One day, I drove us into Santa Fe and down close to the Plaza in order for us to do a little sight seeing around the Plaza. I parked just to the north of the famous St. Francis Cathedral, on East Palace Street, a street that isn’t as heavily traveled by tourists and has free handicapped parking (I was carrying my Oklahoma handicapped placard in the Sorento, hanging it from the front mirror, and as I suspected, no one ever looked at it carefully to see that it had actually lapsed in May of this year).
At any rate, after visiting the cathedral, we walked down to La Fonda.
Marla Allison–A Klimt Piece on the Lobby Walls of La Fonda!
I had–a few years ago–finished reading a super book about the famous characters (musicians, physicians, artists) in and around Vienna at the turn of the 20th century: Eric Kandel’s book, The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present, March, 2012. Random House. And here on the left is the image that Amazon uses to advertise Kandel’s book:
So, now back to my story.
I was sitting in the lobby of La Fonda last week as Claudia escorted our visiting guests, Tom and Jo-Ann, through the two major spokes of entrances into the lobby from the streets that surround La Fonda (East San Francisco and Shelby Street: see second map above).
The ground floor feature of La Fonda is its square, centrally-situated courtyard restaurant, La Plazuela:
There are two entrances to the lobby hallways that lead into the center of the La Fonda from the face-to-the-Plaza streets that surround La Fonda, each of the hallways filled with shops–expensive shops–for the clientele who stay at La Fonda (an expensive hotel, with its small one bed rooms starting at $200 . . . and up from there):
While sitting in one of the very comfortable leather armchairs in the lobby, just outside the central restaurant space that La Fonda has, I saw on the wall a painting that looked to have the same gold-leaf treatment, and the same mosaic “fracturing” of one or another representative or figurative image into hundreds of geometric pieces. In other words, it looked like the artist who did the work had Klimt’s famous oil, “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” in mind. In fact, here below is a recent shot of part of the La Fonda lobby area, facing that equally famous La Plazuela fountain-courtyard restaurant at the center of the La Fonda layout on the first and second floors:
If you notice through the second opening on the right, behind some leather easy arm chairs arranged in a circle, there is a painting on the wall with a small legend to its right, next to the corner of the wall. THAT is Marla’s Klimt-derived painting! And I was looking at it from the arm chair that is facing it in this recent image below:
Unfortunately, I was not able to zoom in on this photo which I found on the web in order to get you a better, non-fuzzy image of the acrylic work she had done back in 20011. So here is the only image I have of the painting, taken on my own (obviously shaking) smartphone (I apologize that it was a fuzzy cell phone photo):
You see the similarity, though, of course, to Klimt’s work on his Woman in Gold. But in this case, Marla Allison has used small geometric Pueblo pottery shapes to replace Klimt’s technique, still working in gold leaf and silver leaf, though, and substituting acrylic for oil-based pigment. And indeed, read the information that is on the legend that hangs next to this acrylic painting:
I found a YouTube video of Marla giving a presentation to the docents at La Fonda in 2016 in which she talked about (and displayed images of) her art work, both work that hangs in La Fonda as well as her other work. Here is a complete 40 minute presentation (YouTube) that was made of Marla giving a presentation to the docents at La Fonda about her art work, and making mention of two works she had done a few years ago that paid homage to Gustav Klimt. Her “A Hint of Blue” work she talks about specifically at 21 minutes and 40 seconds into the video (Youtube video 21:40)
Here is a better (but still not the best resolution!) image of her “blue” homage to Klimt:
I must have done Google searched until I was blue in the face for more information on the artist, Marla Allison, after seeing this work just staring back at me from La Fonda’s lobby walls. And . . . finally . . . I got a handle on her.
As she says in the plaque next to the La Fonda painting in the lobby, she is a member of the Laguna Pueblo, a pueblo that is located west of Albuquerque off of I-40 some 45 miles, out close to the much more famous, touristy mesa-dwelling of the Acoma Pueblo.
Over some time now I have located several standard web sites about Marla:
And I also located several La Fonda documents and pages (see bullets below) that talk about her art work the hotel has hanging in its public areas:
- La Fonda Gallery
- In Every Room: a Story of the Art, La Fonda.
- John O’Hern, “The Inn at the End of the Trail: the colorful social and artistic history of Santa Fe meets the present and the future at La Fonda Hotel,” Western Art Insights, December, 2011.
Other sites featuring Marla Allison work
- Marla Allison, at Shumakolowa Native Arts, Albuquerque
- Interview at Heard Museum about acrylics of Allison’s parents: (YouTube video)
Tony Abeyta, A More Famous Indian Artist (Navajo-Anglo) Shown at La Fonda
Along the way of documenting Marla Allison’s work on the walls of La Fonda, I discovered that an old artistic Santa Fe acquaintance of ours was also hanging there: Tony Abeyta. In fact, I’m been in love with his work for several years now, remembering that I first saw it as a huge wall in the lobby of the Hilton Buffalo Thunder Resort out north of the Santa Fe Opera. Here is a screen shot from a short video about the art in the Resort’s lobby, showing the time at which Tony Abeyta’s work is featured:
And here is a link to this short YouTube video (YouTube 3:43)
As you can see from the work below, that Buffalo Thunder Resort Lobby painting is fairly typical of Abeyta’s work:
As my blog post mentions (see below), Abeyta uses a lot of Navajo symbology in his work, and makes no attempt at three-dimensional perspective. Just really, really decomposed objects broken down into combinations of geometric shapes and a small color palate. He, like Marla Allison after him, studied at the Santa Fe Institute of American Indian Art (it is located on the campus of the College of Santa Fe).
He has work hanging in La Fonda, and here is a photo of Jenny Kimball, the long time Chairman of the Board of La Fonda with Tony standing in front of one of his works:
“Tony Abeyta, Navajo-Anglo from Santa Fe,” January 2017, Bob’s Favorite Artists.
It was a busy, busy week in the Santa Fe area, but I had time to sit for a while as the other three scurried around shopping to enjoy the art and architecture of La Fonda on that one day!
Around 2 p.m. that day (I think), we toddled into one of the two courtyard restaurants on East Palace Avenue for some lunch. Had to point it out to Claudia, but we were seated next to Molly and David (Molly goes for the summer and stays in Santa Fe, in their house up by the SFO), who entered and left by a less-used back entrance to the courtyard. Didn’t bother our lunch, though, expensive as it was.