Big day on the plaza


The Santa Fe His­tory Mu­seum has put on dis­play a stun­ning newly ac­quired art­work that doc­u­ments what hap­pened on our city’s Plaza on a re­mark­able af­ter­noon ex­actly 90 years ago. Pasatiempo Pa­rade Santa Fe 1926 is a large paint­ing by Gus­tave Bau­mann, the cen­tral fig­ure of the Santa Fe art com­mu­nity from his ar­rival in 1918 un­til his death in 1971. Many iden­ti­fi­able per­son­ages from the city’s his­tory pop­u­late his de­pic­tion of the pa­rade around the Plaza, an event that lo­cal artists de­vised as a ri­otous re­sponse to what they con­sid­ered an overly staid cel­e­bra­tion of Fi­esta a month ear­lier. One of their in­ven­tions that week­end was Zo­zo­bra, but the Pasatiempo Pa­rade pic­tured by Bau­mann also has a liv­ing de­scen­dant in the form of the an­nual His­tor­i­cal/Hys­ter­i­cal Pa­rade. On the cover is a de­tail of Bau­mann’s oil-on-board paint­ing, pho­tographed by John Eddy.

tom Leech could hardly be­lieve his eyes. One day last win­ter, re­turn­ing from lunch to his place of work, he hap­pened to cross paths with his old ac­quain­tance John Eddy, a film­maker and a mem­ber of the board of the Old Santa Fe As­so­ci­a­tion. Eddy said that his mother had passed away three years ear­lier and that he and his broth­ers had been go­ing through var­i­ous be­long­ings since then. They had a paint­ing that they felt ought to be given to a mu­seum. In fact, the fam­ily had been think­ing about do­nat­ing it just when his mother died and … well, maybe Tom would like to take a look at it.

Prob­a­bly no­body is on more in­ti­mate terms with the work of leg­endary Santa Fe artist Gus­tave Bau­mann than Leech, who is the di­rec­tor of the Palace Press at the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum. His of­fice in the Palace of the Gover­nors abuts the room that houses the print­ing press Bau­mann used to cre­ate his ac­claimed color wood­block prints. Bot­tles of Bau­mann’s own ink stand on shelves next to it. Leech, who is a printer him­self, walks past these ar­ti­facts a dozen times a day. He has used that very press to make new im­pres­sions from the blocks the artist carved, re­trac­ing the phys­i­cal act of Bau­mann’s own print­mak­ing. Now here he was, look­ing at a large Bau­mann paint­ing prac­ti­cally un­known to any­one out­side the Eddy house­hold. And yes, he knew of a mu­seum that would be happy to have it.

The do­na­tion was ar­ranged, and the paint­ing went on dis­play at the end of Au­gust, oc­cu­py­ing a wall all its own at the apex of the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum’s en­trance hall. It will re­main there un­til around the end of the year, after which it will be in­stalled as part of the mu­seum’s per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tion Telling New

Mex­ico. Bau­mann paint­ings are un­com­mon to be­gin with, but this one is ex­cep­tional in that it qual­i­fies as both a work of art and a his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment. A large oil-on-board paint­ing mea­sur­ing 35 inches wide and 27½ inches high and en­cased in an in­tri­cate frame carved by the artist him­self, it is ti­tled Pasatiempo

Pa­rade Santa Fe 1926, and it is a play­ful de­pic­tion of that event, which took place ex­actly 90 years ago, on Satur­day, Sept. 4, 1926.

Bau­mann, who was born in Magde­burg, Ger­many, in 1881, moved with his fam­ily to Chicago when he was ten. He took evening draw­ing classes at the Art In­sti­tute of Chicago, but most of his for­mal art in­struc­tion took place when he re­turned to Ger­many in 1905 for a year’s study at the Königliche Kun­st­gewerbeschule (Royal Arts and Crafts School) in Mu­nich. Back in Chicago, he found work as a com­mer­cial artist and gained no­tice when the Art In­sti­tute mounted an ex­hibit of his wood­carv­ings in late 1906. Wrote one critic of the show: “The whole thing sug­gests the work of some highly trained old Ger­man toy­maker, with a real Ger­man naivete and en­joy­ment of homely fun. It was al­most a dis­ap­point­ment to find that it came from the hand of a young Amer­i­can who was study­ing in the Vater­land.” In 1910, Bau­mann took up part-time res­i­dence in Brown County, In­di­ana, a mag­net for writ­ers and artists. In 1917, he be­gan a pe­riod of travel, spend­ing time in New York, Con­necti­cut, and Mas­sachusetts (mak­ing mem­o­rable prints of Province­town) be­fore fi­nally ar­riv­ing in Santa Fe in 1918. He be­came ac­knowl­edged as the cen­tral fig­ure of the lively Santa Fe art scene, and he re­mained both loved and revered in his adopted city un­til his death in 1971.

When he moved to Santa Fe, he was nat­u­rally fas­ci­nated by its dis­tinc­tive cul­tural make-up. In an es­say pub­lished posthu­mously (in 1972) in the mag­a­zine

El Pala­cio, he re­calls: “The town as a whole gave one the feel­ing of a fairly well ad­justed mix­ture of Span­ish and An­glo cul­ture, with the In­di­ans as an un­in­ter­rupted civ­i­liza­tion still per­vad­ing it all. It made for a unique sit­u­a­tion not likely to be found any­where else. … Un­con­sciously I grav­i­tated to the plaza. It was a happy mix­ture of past and present with an in­con­gru­ous obelisk sit­ting in the mid­dle that made you won­der who it was that was buried there. You could sit on com­fort­able benches shaded by a roof of trees and look around. While three sides of the plaza were pre­empted by stores the other side was oc­cu­pied by a low build­ing ex­tend­ing the en­tire length with a por­tal, that some­how over­shad­owed the three com­mer­cial sides and looked as if our In­di­ans from Taos Pue­blo might have had some­thing to do with it.”

The most im­pos­ing event that took place on or around the Plaza was the Fi­esta, which is ad­ver­tised as the old­est com­mu­nity fes­ti­val in the coun­try. The event got a shot in the arm after a pause dur­ing World War I thanks to ar­chae­ol­o­gist Edgar Lee Hewett and es­pe­cially Colonel Ralph E. Twitchell, a his­to­rian, who set about in­fus­ing the pro­ceed­ings with ac­cu­racy. “[W]e got along fa­mously un­til the colonel was re­viv­ing the an­nual Santa Fe Fi­esta about 1919,” writes Bau­mann. “Be­ing a stick­ler for his­tor­i­cal ex­ac­ti­tude, he had talked the In­di­ans into con­sent­ing to be shot at — with blank car­tridges, of course, but for­get­ting that the pa­per wad in a car­tridge does not al­ways burn up. So it made for con­sid­er­able fric­tion be­tween art in fact and art in the­ory.”

Although such ef­forts did rein­vig­o­rate the cel­e­bra­tion of Fi­esta for a while, they also ended up some­what par­a­lyz­ing it through an­nual repet­i­tive­ness. In 1926, the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal In­sti­tute of Amer­ica pub­lished a 133-page vol­ume ti­tled The Fi­esta Book as part of its Pa­pers of the School of Amer­i­can Re­search (which was directed by Hewett). It in­cluded the lengthy play-script of the his­tor­i­cal pageant that was reen­acted an­nu­ally, eked out with de­tailed de­scrip­tions of all the In­dian dances pre­sented dur­ing that per­for­mance. Printed in­side the front cover is Hewett’s terse pref­ace: “The pur­pose of the Fi­esta Book is to as­sem­ble for fu­ture use the ma­te­rial that is pre­pared

for the cel­e­bra­tion of the Santa Fe Fi­esta from year to year. The com­pi­la­tion in­cludes only the es­sen­tial his­tor­i­cal and eth­no­log­i­cal ma­te­rial.” One senses that the event was al­ready be­com­ing cal­ci­fied.

Among Bau­mann’s ef­fects when he died were three doc­u­ments he had writ­ten — 18 pages in all — in which he rem­i­nisces about what hap­pened just then. These doc­u­ments have been do­nated to the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum by the Ann Bau­mann Trust, named after the artist’s now-de­parted daugh­ter. The three texts par­al­lel one another to some de­gree, and we re­print one of them here (see page 34). In one of the oth­ers, Bau­mann writes:

“About that time the artists and writ­ers were be­com­ing a part of Santa Fe life. To them the Fi­esta aside from its re­li­gious sig­nif­i­cance seemed a lit­tle te­dious. As one of the group we all chafed un­der what we thought was scholas­tic dull­ness and in 1925, or was it ’26, we de­cided to have a Fi­esta of our own after the of­fi­cial ver­sion had taken place. Some­how ev­ery­body con­cerned in this ven­ture seemed to have the nec­es­sary time and en­thu­si­asm. It took four weeks of con­spir­ing in the storeroom of the old Span­ish and In­dian Trad­ing Com­pany and to work out the ideas that sprouted spon­ta­neously. What it re­sulted in mainly was the Pasatiempo Pa­rade and a gaily dec­o­rated plaza. Of this I did a fairly ac­cu­rate record in a paint­ing now owned by the Wal­ter Bark­ers in Po­joaque.”

It was 1926, in fact. The paint­ing had re­mained in the fam­ily, John Eddy and his broth­ers be­ing the grand­sons of “the Wal­ter Bark­ers.” It is telling that Bau­mann re­ferred to the event as “a Fi­esta of our own.” The of­fi­cial Fi­esta had been held a month ear­lier, run­ning from Aug. 4 through Aug. 7, 1926. It had in­cluded not only the re­li­gious cel­e­bra­tions and the his­tor­i­cal pageant, but also var­i­ous performances, one of which was a concert fea­tur­ing two Na­tive Amer­i­can singers — the Creek-Chero­kee Tsian­ina (a Fi­esta main­stay) and the “Mo­hawk soloist” Oskenon­ton. The printed Fi­esta pro­gram in­cludes this ob­ser­va­tion: “El Pasatiempo is the name given to the pas­time fea­ture of the Fi­esta. On Sun­day nights the peo­ple of Santa Fe unite in an evening of mu­sic in the old plaza. This is a reg­u­lar fea­ture of Santa Fe life that has come down with­out in­ter­rup­tion through the cen­turies.”

The Fi­esta there­fore had a Pasatiempo al­ready, and the artists co-opted it. Bau­mann writes, “Pasatiempo proved to be the right name for what we had in mind — not ed­u­ca­tional up­lift or his­tor­i­cal glory, but like a cup of coffee in the af­ter­noon of a busy day why not a Pasatiempo in the af­ter­noon of a busy year.” This was an anti-Fi­esta, a fringe fes­ti­val that charted its own chaotic path in im­me­di­ate re­sponse to the dull­ness of the of­fi­cial Fi­esta a month ear­lier. On Aug. 28, 1926, the Santa Fe New

ran a story that in­cluded a schedule that was “round­ing into fi­nal shape.” “While El Pasatiempo de la Gente has been or­ga­nized on the spur of the

“After the burn­ing of Zo­zo­bra ... the town will be ded­i­cated to jolly fun,” The New Mex­i­can pro­claimed. “Any Santa Fean who is sus­pected of har­bor­ing dull care after that hour, or even of think­ing a se­ri­ous thought, will be li­able to a fine.”

mo­ment this year, … there is ev­ery rea­son to be en­cour­aged over the prospect,” it stated, en­cour­ag­ing in­ter­ested par­ties not to de­lay in sig­nal­ing their in­ten­tion to par­tic­i­pate in what it called the Hys­ter­i­cal Pageant, an ob­vi­ous par­ody of the of­fi­cial Fi­esta’s “his­tor­i­cal pageant.”

The event took on a vi­brant life all its own, quickly oc­cu­py­ing the two-day span of Fri­day, Sept. 3, and Satur­day, Sept. 4. The Fri­day pro­ceed­ings be­gan di­rectly after the ves­pers ser­vice at the cathe­dral, and the evening in­cluded a nov­elty that would prove pop­u­lar. Again, to Bau­mann’s rem­i­nis­cence:

“After the Padres had done their part, it seemed to me that some dra­matic spot like a bonfire was nec­es­sary. But bon­fires are old stuff, so not why a fig­ure? ‘Call him Old Man Gloom,’ I said, ‘and let him burn up and from then on let joy be un­con­fined.’ … As only one in­ci­dent of many in an am­bi­tious pro­gram no one at that time fore­saw when Will Shus­ter was asked to of­fi­ci­ate that the first ver­sion of Old Man Gloom would evolve into the present Zo­zo­bra. I did have time to do a head for him out of cor­ru­gated board box which was jammed on a pole draped with cheese­cloth and stuffed to the shoul­ders with tum­ble­weeds. Not very con­vinc­ing, but it did make a hot fire to jump through after the pole had col­lapsed. … Hav­ing grown out of the co­op­er­a­tive ori­gin of the Pasatiempo Pa­rade days, Zo­zo­bra is prov­ing to be a tough old gen­tle­man who holds the se­cret of how to die ev­ery year and with a true spirit of co­op­er­a­tion man­ages to out­num­ber the many lives of in­nu­mer­able cats.” “El Pasatiempo is here,” pro­claimed

when the hotly an­tic­i­pated Fri­day ar­rived. “After the burn­ing of Zo­zo­bra this evening at 8 p.m., the town will be ded­i­cated to jolly fun. Any Santa Fean who is sus­pected of har­bor­ing dull care after that hour, or even of think­ing a se­ri­ous thought, will be li­able to a fine, not to ex­ceed five hun­dred dol­lars, same to be paid to the Pasatiempo com­mit­tee.”

The an­nual ap­pear­ance of Shus­ter’s and Bau­mann’s Zo­zo­bra is a vi­brant legacy of that Pasatiempo of 1926. Now Bau­mann’s paint­ing is avail­able to Santa Feans as wit­ness to what went on the suc­ceed­ing af­ter­noon. The scene is de­picted from a raised po­si­tion, not a dra­mat­i­cally high bird’s-eye view, but el­e­vated none­the­less. We view the Plaza from its south­west cor­ner. “That,” said Leech, “was the lo­ca­tion of the Claire Ho­tel. It was three sto­ries high, so it af­forded the high­est pos­si­ble per­spec­tive on the Plaza.”

A gap in the Plaza’s trees re­veals a band, its mem­bers bedecked with som­breros. The Pasatiempo Pa­rade en­cir­cles the square: a series of fan­ci­ful home­made floats pop­u­lated by imag­i­na­tively garbed par­tic­i­pants. On­look­ers are ranged mostly on logs that serve as benches, although In­di­ans sit on the ground in­stead, be­neath the por­tal of the Palace of the Gover­nors. The color scheme em­pha­sizes the fo­liage of the Plaza’s trees (echoed in cos­tume de­tails) and the browns, or­anges, and ochres of the par­tic­i­pants. The ground is sil­ver — sil­ver foil, in fact. This un­usual back­ground was a late al­ter­ation. There ex­ists a black-and-white pho­to­graph of this very paint­ing in which those ar­eas were pitch black. This caused some head-scratch­ing when Leech got in touch with Gala Cham­ber­lain, an art his­to­rian and gal­lerist who is trustee of the Ann Bau­mann Trust and who knew of the paint­ing only through the pho­to­graph of its black-back­ground state, which was in the ar­chives she over­sees. Cu­ri­ously, the ti­tle and the artist’s sig­na­ture on the pho­to­graph were in dif­fer­ent places from where they stood on the sil­ver-foil im­age Leech sent her. They fig­ured it out quickly enough. In 1938, long after he had fin­ished the paint­ing, Bau­mann de­cided to change the back­ground. He sur­rounded ev­ery fig­ure with an out­line

“The bizarre, the comic, the grotesque, the beau­ti­ful, had full sway and there were more laughs to the lin­eal foot in the long and col­or­ful pro­ces­sion than one could imag­ine pos­si­ble,” re­ported The New Mex­i­can the en­su­ing Tues­day.

of beige paint and then ap­plied a thin layer of sil­ver foil over ev­ery bit of the black back­ground. In so do­ing, he cov­ered up his orig­i­nal ti­tle and sig­na­ture, and so he re-in­scribed them over the newly af­fixed foil in dif­fer­ent places, now dat­ing his work 1938.

Cham­ber­lain is work­ing on a cat­a­logue raisonné of Bau­mann’s prints. She is struck that, strange though Bau­mann’s re­vi­sion to the paint­ing may seem, it is not out of line with what print­mak­ers are known to do, some­times re­fin­ing prints through mul­ti­ple al­ter­ations to print­ing plates. “Re­mem­ber that when he went to Ger­many,” she told Pasatiempo, “he stud­ied at a school for arts and crafts rather than fine arts. He was not re­ally learn­ing the tech­nique of paint­ing. That be­ing the case, I am as­tounded by the qual­ity of his paint­ings. Some are a lit­tle folk­ish, like

Pasatiempo Pa­rade.” Leech finds that its style re­minds him of the boisterous crowd scenes of Pi­eter Bruegel the Elder. “The bizarre, the comic, the grotesque, the beau­ti­ful, had full sway and there were more laughs to the lin­eal foot in the long and col­or­ful pro­ces­sion than one could imag­ine pos­si­ble,” re­ported The New Mex­i­can the en­su­ing Tues­day. For this paint­ing, we know that the artist worked to some ex­tent from pho­to­graphs he snapped with a Brownie cam­era while the pa­rade was go­ing on. The pho­tos cap­tured the floats and the par­tic­i­pants in ac­tion, some of them in the very poses Bau­mann would use in his paint­ing. The Ann Bau­mann Trust has also trans­ferred the pho­to­graphs to the mu­seum, so the com­plete col­lec­tion of prepara­tory pho­to­graphs, fi­nal paint­ing, and prose de­scrip­tions will re­main to­gether.

Just as an im­age, Pasatiempo Pa­rade would be a fas­ci­nat­ing his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment; but it gets bet­ter. A card af­fixed to the re­verse serves as a key to the paint­ing. Bau­mann has sketched the prin­ci­pal floats and par­tic­i­pants and has iden­ti­fied the play­ers. Many are names of leg­endary artists and writ­ers in Santa Fe his­tory, in­clud­ing poet Wit­ter Byn­ner and artists Will Shus­ter, John Sloan, and Shel­don Par­sons. Cul­tural grandee Leonora Curtin ap­pears with a group of dancers mod­eled after Isadora Dun­can. A black-robed fig­ure watches from the side­lines. The card iden­ti­fies him as “Pi­ti­val”; it must be John Bap­tist Pi­taval, who had re­tired as Arch­bishop of Santa Fe eight years ear­lier. Bau­mann seems not to have painted him­self in the pic­ture, but he did in­clude his wife, Jane. She ap­pears as half of an “act” with screen­writer Ted Steven­son, por­tray­ing the In­dian singers Tsian­ina and Oskenon­ton. One of Bau­mann’s prose rem­i­nis­cences states that “Jane and Ted” in­evitably sang the faux-In­dian par­lor clas­sic “From the Land of the Sky-Blue Wa­ter” as they made their way around the Plaza.

“I view this al­most as a 20th-cen­tury equiv­a­lent to the Segesser Hides,” said Leech, al­lud­ing to the two paint­ings (on leather hides) car­ried out in per­haps the early 18th cen­tury and now among the his­tory mu­seum’s chief trea­sures. “Like them, this is an eye­wit­ness ac­count of a great mo­ment in our his­tory.”

Like the orig­i­nal Zo­zo­bra, the Pasatiempo Pa­rade of 1926 also had de­scen­dants. To this day, the His­tor­i­cal/Hys­ter­i­cal Pa­rade con­tin­ues as an el­e­ment in the of­fi­cial Fi­esta pro­ceed­ings. As an in­de­pen­dent in­cen­tive, how­ever, it could not re­ally be re­peated. “I still re­mem­ber the up­roar of laugh­ter as the pa­rade cir­cled the plaza,” wrote Bau­mann. “What Col. Twitchell and Dr. He­witt [sic] thought about that up­roar we don’t know. I think Dr. He­witt re­signed from any fur­ther Fi­esta re­spon­si­bil­ity and or­ga­nized busi­ness in­ter­ests took over. Pasatiempo in name was in­cor­po­rated in the Fi­esta and grad­u­ally died there — it was an in­tan­gi­ble that had no cash value.” But it was great for the cou­ple of hours it lasted.

Above: the re­verse of Gus­tave Bau­mann’s

Pasatiempo Pa­rade Santa Fe 1926 (1938); left, black-and-white photo of the orig­i­nal paint­ing; far left, Pasatiempo Pa­rade Santa Fe

1926; images cour­tesy New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum/Palace of the Gover­nors

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