This interview series focuses on the people in Santa Fe’s real-estate industry. Philip Gudwin is an associate broker at Santa Fe Properties.
You were a co-owner of French & French Fine Properties with Michael and Pat French.
I was, and a few decades before that I was in your game, while I was going to art school. I worked for the New York Times sports department for two years as a clerk and I did freelance photography for them. I shot for magazines and newspapers around New York. Are you doing anything with all those photos? I just digitized about a thousand of them. I shot a lot of anti-war and women’s-lib stuff inWashington and all over the East Coast and some on theWest Coast. I had a press pass during one of theMay Day demonstrations. I putmy press pass away and got myself arrested and I snuck the Leica into jail. There were all these outcries about how they were dumping 15 or 20 kids into the jail cells, but no newspaper would print what I shot. At that point, before the Pentagon Papers, the Times and all of them were in cahoots with the government. Where were you born and raised? Brooklyn. I attended Erasmus [Hall High School], which at the time was the largest in the country. Then I went to Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Museum Art School for sculpture. What was fueling your idea of being a sculptor? I grew up in kind of an arty environment. My parents owned a paint and wallpaper/arts and crafts supply store, a little mom-and-pop shop, and my mom was a ceramicist. I was always good with my hands. I ran a small contracting company there; we built the first Pottery Barn stores in New York and Princeton and Connecticut. I showed my sculpture at a gallery in Soho, on Spring Street, for a while.
When I was 21, I got fired from the Times after the FBI called them because they were upset that I was visiting the Berrigan brothers in Ohio, although I was just hanging out and doing photography. I was reinstated, slapped on the wrist: “You can’t do that.” But the Times was a brilliant company to work for.
I followed the [Grateful] Dead in 1969-70 across the country, to Boulder, then I hitchhiked to Taos and lived there for six months in a commune. Where? Hondo? Yeah, Hondo. Then on to California for a couple years: Venice. I was up in Berekely doing some street theater and I did commercial tuna fishing off the California coast for a while. I was on a very small boat. It was just two of us on a 40-foot trawler out for a week or two at a time and we could handle about seven tons: hand-lining the tuna, pulling them over, and icing them down. Then you bought a house and became a Realtor. No, I went back to New York, I did the art thing, tried to make it. Then to Santa Fe. You know, Santa Fe, even back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, was in theNew York Times at least once a month. Something was happening here all the time. Amazing. You can go anywhere in the world and say “Santa Fe” and they’ll knowwhat you’re talking about. I was in Burma last month. I’d mention Santa Fe to people and they’d say, “Oh, yeah.” I’m walking down the street in Greece, in the middle of nowhere, and there’s a Santa Fe Café. So you’re back in New York, trying to make it. So anyway, it seemed like NewYorkwas just getting too pressed. Photography there was getting very aggressive. Competitive? Nasty competitive. I lived inWestbeth, an artist housing project that was developed by the feds and the Rockefellers. It was 360 studios and apartments all for the arts. I was hanging out with some amazing people. Photographers Diane Arbus and Leonard Freed. Bella Abzug was around. The guy living next to me was a black South African who got exiled because he did an exposé on apartheid. Was there jazz going on? Gil Evans. Gil Evans who worked withMiles Davis. Yeah. I used to repair some ofGil’s guitars. I met Miles through him. When did you get into real estate? I got my license in New York in 1976. I was doing leasing in the Soho/Noho area while I was doing everything else. Then I moved to Santa Fe in 1978 and I also moved my cabinet shop and sculpture studio here. By 1980 I was focusing on real estate.
You were settling down— and just getting going when rates were up to 16, even 17 percent.
Yeah, thewrong time to get into real estate. But you learned how to be creative. I loved Santa Fe. It was cultured and sophisticated in a lot of different ways and it was still outdoorsy. What did a city boy know about outdoorsy? Oh, we’d go camping up inHarriman State Park in the Catskills. At 12 or 13 years old, four or five of us would get on the bus and jump in a couple of cabs to the trailhead and we’d go in for four or five days. Did you marry? Yes, here. In 1980, I met my wife, Barbara. She was working for Santa Fe Mountain Center. She’s a river rat. She basically belayedme offmy first cliff and took me downmy first whitewater. On the Rio Grande? Yes. Barbara is my hero. She was the director of the Girls Club. She was apointed by Mayor Pick as the head of the children’s youth commission. She has chaired the Buckaroo Ball and served on the school board. Most importantly right now, she’s board president of Communities in Schools of New Mexico.
We have two daughters, 30 and 25. Sari is in South Carolina working in health and safety for GE andAriel is in grad school inArlington getting a master’s in conflict resolution. How is business? For the past eight years, I’ve been working mostly in commercial real estate. I’m proud to work in the real-estate community here. I’ve worked all over the country and I think Santa Fe unequivocally is one of the best, from an integrity standpoint, the honesty, and the sincerity. And it’s beenwonderful to grow up in an industry herewith allmy peers, who are still working. Are you doing volunteer work? I’m on the Citizens Review Committee for the School Board. I’m on the professional standards committes for both the Santa FeAssociation of Realtors and the Realtors Association of New Mexico. What do you like doing in your spare time? I love fishing and I like golf. Barbara and I go hiking. We travel. Arts. Theater. Food. This is a great town for food.