De ... ¡COLORES!

KNME’s long-run­ning doc­u­men­tary se­ries

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Paul Wei­de­man

KNME’s long-run­ning doc­u­men­tary se­ries

Va­ri­ety is the spice of life, which could be the motto of KNME Tele­vi­sion’s weekly se­ries ¡COLORES! The show’s cen­tral focus is art — paint­ing, sculp­ture, film, dance, theater, pho­tog­ra­phy, fic­tion and non­fic­tion writ­ing, dig­i­tal arts, and po­etry — but it also fea­tures sto­ries more gen­er­ally about cul­ture and history. Each episode usu­ally has mul­ti­ple pro­files packed into a half-hour. On April 2, the pro­gram fea­tured pro­files of Chir­ic­ahua Apache artist and ed­u­ca­tor Al­lan Houser (1914-1994), com­poser Danny Elf­man, video artist Cat Del Buono’s study of New York sub­way rid­ers, and per­sonal sto­ries about film icon Ce­cil B. DeMille (1881-1959) by his grand­daugh­ter, Ce­cilia DeMille Pres­ley.

On April 16, Santa Fe mu­si­cian David Berke­ley, who wrote an al­bum of songs about in­ter­sect­ing char­ac­ters taken from a com­pan­ion book, The Free Bron­tosaurus, dis­cussed the ways that sto­ries can con­nect peo­ple. The show also pro­filed Thomas Hart Ben­ton (1889-1975) and his cin­e­matic ap­proach to paint­ing; a pair of plays about the feel­ings that arise as we face mor­tal­ity, pre­sented by the Red­house Theater of Syra­cuse, New York; and wood­worker Den­nis DeVen­dra, whose work with power tools is es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous be­cause he is blind. But then, on April 24, the en­tire show was a pro­file of SITE Santa Fe. Hakim Bel­lamy, Albuquerque’s first poet lau­re­ate, con­ducted on-screen in­ter­views with the con­tem­po­rary art space’s Irene Hof­mann and Joanne Le­frak and artist Dario Robleto. “For that one, Hakim was ask­ing the ques­tions and kind of prompt­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, but if I’m do­ing the in­ter­view, I’m off-cam­era,” said ¡COLORES! pro­ducer/di­rec­tor Tara Walch. “I just like the doc­u­men­tary style, where the artist tells the story of the work.”

Other re­cent seg­ments fo­cused on Jes­sica Helen Lopez, Albuquerque’s cur­rent poet lau­re­ate, and writer Denise Chávez of Las Cruces. “Jes­sica Lopez had a won­der­ful piece. She per­formed,” Walch said dur­ing Pasatiempo’s visit to the KNME stu­dios. “She’s a slam poet, and we cre­ated a per­for­mance space for her. And Denise Chávez is a Chi­cano au­thor, very proud and very amaz­ing and out­spo­ken and hi­lar­i­ous.”

¡COLORES! orig­i­nated in 1989. That’s a lot of episodes, and many are avail­able on the show’s web­site. One of the ex­cel­lent in­stall­ments there is a 1996 por­trait of Katherine Stin­son Otero, a pilot who was a pi­o­neer­ing stunt flyer in the 1910s and then moved to Santa Fe, tak­ing up a se­cond ca­reer as an ar­chi­tect and home­builder. Also in the ar­chives are pro­grams on Lin­coln cow­boy painter Gary Mor­ton, pho­to­graphic his­to­rian Beau­mont Ne­whall (1908-1993), Santa Clara painter Pablita Velarde (1918-2006), the state’s his­toric high­way bridges, His­panic artists Eliseo Ro­driguez, Abad E. Lucero, and Ernesto Martinez,

and more than 80 other video pro­files — all view­able at www.newmex­i­

“For the last three years, we’ve been part of the Ma­jor Mar­ket Group, which is a PBS con­sor­tium of sta­tions that share con­tent,” said Michael Kamins, the show’s ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer. “They’ve got this great Andy Warhol piece and they throw it into the bin, and we take ours and throw them into the bin, and we share. The shows are also shared through the U.S. In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice, so they’re seen in em­bassies around the world.”

How do they scout out ma­te­rial? “We’re work­ing on a pretty quick sched­ule, be­cause we do a show ev­ery week, so I’m do­ing a lot of tele­phone work,” Walch said. “I try to do a pre-in­ter­view to get to know peo­ple and un­der­stand their mo­ti­va­tions a lit­tle bit, be­cause we try to tell a story of cre­ation and a story of how they’re in­spired — that New Mex­ico art spirit. For one show com­ing up, we’re talk­ing with Taos artist Sasha vom Dorp, who works with au­dio and light re­flec­tions.”

“The tagline for the show is ‘Fo­cus­ing on the creative spirit.’ That’s been the bot­tom line since the be­gin­ning,” Kamins added. “Our very first ¡COLORES! was with ex­per­i­men­tal film di­rec­tor God­frey Reg­gio, talk­ing about what mo­ti­vated and in­spired his films. We found that that ap­proach pro­vides for a great story to tell, be­cause we’re still sto­ry­tellers, ul­ti­mately.”

The May 7 pro­gram was a history piece on pho­tog­ra­pher Jesse Nus­baum (1887-1975) and the de­vel­op­ment of the Span­ish-Pue­blo Re­vival ar­chi­tec­tural style in Santa Fe; the guest pre­sen­ter was Khris­taan D. Vil­lela, pro­fes­sor of art history and scholar in res­i­dence at the Santa Fe Univer­sity of Art and De­sign. Also in that halfhour were seg­ments on re­pair­ing the or­gans of St. Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral in Man­hat­tan and on glass­blower Mark Sud­duth and black­smith John King.

“Over the years we’ve been able to make some re­ally great part­ner­ships,” Kamins said. “The Nus­baum piece was kind of born of that part­ner­ship idea, be­cause the New Mex­ico History Mu­seum and Palace of the Gov­er­nors Photo Ar­chives have been such good friends. We did all the video in­stal­la­tions for the new History Mu­seum. [For­mer di­rec­tor of the Palace of the Gov­er­nors] Fran Levine and I were just putting our heads to­gether, be­cause she’s known

¡COLORES! for a long time. She was us­ing it when she was teach­ing. We came up with a way to pro­mote New Mex­ico history, and we got a grant for an on­line/ broad­cast se­ries called Mo­ments in Time.” That se­ries en­tailed the pro­duc­tion of 15 short videos about the state’s history, with top­ics in­clud­ing early film­mak­ing in New Mex­ico and the sto­ries of the Palace of the Gov­er­nors and the Rough Rid­ers. “It was re­ally great be­cause Fran got to have an ex­hibit out­side the mu­seum walls, and we got some great con­tent for our ed­u­ca­tional mis­sion.”

That col­lab­o­ra­tion led not only to the Nus­baum pro­file but to a pho­tog­ra­phy piece about lowrid­ers. “We talked with [pho­tog­ra­pher and writer] Don Us­ner, and he told us about the sort of holy land of lowrid­ing,” Walch said. “It’s so crazy and beau­ti­ful.” The

¡COLORES! piece on lowrid­ers aired in Novem­ber. The pro­duc­ers also doc­u­mented the May 22 Lowrider Day on the Plaza, staged in con­junc­tion with the New Mex­ico History Mu­seum ex­hibit Lowrid­ers, Hoppers, and Hot Rods: Car Cul­ture of North­ern New Mex­ico.

Of course, not all ¡COLORES! episodes are so cel­e­bra­tory. “We’re try­ing to tell good sto­ries, and some­times they don’t ap­peal to a gen­eral au­di­ence, but they’re still im­por­tant sto­ries to tell. I did a doc­u­men­tary on a spe­cial-needs dance group. Another was the piece we once did about grow­ing old. We talked to Wil­son Hur­ley, Fred­er­ick Ham­mer­s­ley, Ge­orge Pearl, and Florence Pierce.”

The KNME pro­gram finds sto­ries all over the state, but the cap­i­tal city’s focus on arts and cul­ture pro­vides a wealth of subject mat­ter. “We were just at the Len­sic ear­lier this month doc­u­ment­ing Nues­tra Música,” Kamins said. “I’m sur­prised we didn’t do it sooner. This was like the 20th time they did the pro­gram, and it was just the best evening. I mean, Roberto Mon­dragón kicked off the per­for­mance and had the au­di­ence in the palm of his hand, and it was non­stop right to the end with [nona­ge­nar­ian singer/ac­cor­dion­ist/ gui­tarist] An­to­nia Apo­daca just wow­ing ev­ery­body. She re­ally is a rock star. Tonie was in the first year of ¡COLORES! We went up to her house in Ro­ci­ada. That was one of my first doc­u­men­taries I ever pro­duced.”

The Nues­tra Música pro­gram will be fea­tured in an hour­long spe­cial; Walch was plan­ning to add an in­per­son in­ter­view with mu­si­cian Cipri­ano Vigil. “We’ll use this as a per­for­mance spe­cial to cel­e­brate New Mex­ico mu­sic, and then we’ll do ¡COLORES! break­out seg­ments out of that,” Kamins said. A sim­i­lar strat­egy was brought into play with

New Mex­ico Mas­ter­pieces, a se­ries that be­gan air­ing in De­cem­ber. “We did pro­files in pieces so we could air them on ¡COLORES!, but then we put them all to­gether as an hour­long doc,” Walch ex­plained. “There’s a piece about Ernest L. Blu­men­schein’s paint­ing Star Road and White Sun, and we shot at Pue­blo Bonito and in­ter­viewed Rina Swentzell (1939-2015). Also, we looked at Grey Cross With

Blue, a paint­ing Ge­or­gia O’Ke­effe did the first sum­mer she was in New Mex­ico.”

Other fea­tured mas­ter­pieces in­cluded Reg­gio’s film Koy­aanisqatsi, the Vic­tor Hig­gins paint­ing Win­ter Fu­neral, the John Ni­chols novel The Mi­la­gro Bean­field War, and T.C. Can­non’s paint­ing Col­lec­tor #5. “We also did Fred­erico Vigil’s tor­reón project [the 4,000-square-foot

Mun­dos de Mes­ti­zaje fresco] at the Na­tional His­panic Cul­tural Cen­ter — sthe sides and ceil­ing of this twos­tory tor­reón that tell sto­ries from the history of the peo­ple of New Mex­ico.”

¡COLORES! (which has won 20 Rocky Moun­tain EMMY Awards) is “de­voted to the creative spirit found in New Mex­ico,” Kamins said. The June 11 pro­gram fea­tures Amer­i­cans for the Arts pres­i­dent Robert Lynch, artist Sibylle Szag­gars Red­ford, il­lus­tra­tor Rachel Ig­notof­sky, and the Mi­ami City Bal­let. June 18 fea­turees are Tewa artist Ja­son Gar­cia, the Miss­ing Peace Art Space, and the “Dance — the Next Gen­er­a­tion” pro­gram. On June 25, look for pro­files on painter Jim Vo­gel, gui­tarist Larry Mitchell, and pho­tog­ra­pher Gu­ru­dar­shan Khalsa. The show airs at 4 p.m. Satur­days on KNME Chan­nel 5.

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