Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gruene, Texas

Gruene Mansion Inn"Gently resisting change since 1872."

That's the tagline for the village of Gruene, Texas. Located midway between Austin and San Antonio, it features a whole community of 19th century residences and businesses, which owe their survival to the Depression.

But before that, Henry Gruene built a home for himself and one for his foreman, a cotton gin, a "mercantile", and a dance hall/saloon. Business thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but after a major boll weevil attack and the sorrows of the Depression, the town was largely abandoned. As a result, 1970s restoration efforts had a treasure trove of original architecture to work with, and today the town evokes its origins in several streets of quaint shops, antique stores, and the original dance hall--Gruene Hall. (Unlike the rest of town, the dance hall/saloon never closed!)

Bill HearneOn a recent trip to San Antonio, we detoured to Gruene to listen to Santa Fe musician Bill Hearne in the dance hall, meet an Austin friend for lunch, and tour the town. One of the things I really enjoyed was the wordplay in the naming of the shops, restaurants, etc. Though the original German name would have been pronounced "Groon'eh", the locals pronounce it "Green"--and that's how you have to read the signs in this post.

Tavern in the Gruene
Gruene with Envy
Gruene Apple
Gruene Leaf
Gruene Door
Tickled Pink in Gruene

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Institute of American Indian Arts

Mountains near Santa FeLast week I had the opportunity to tour the campus of the Institute of American Indian Arts--a four-year tribal college in Santa Fe. IAIA is the only U.S. arts college dedicated to the traditions and culture of the American Indian, and is set on a stunning 140 acres just outside of the city limits. On the day we visited, the layers of mountains circling the campus were snow-covered and the sky was bright blue, creating a wonderful canvas.

The IAIA was founded in 1962, and was first located on the grounds of the Santa Fe Indian School. The Institute includes both the college, and the IAIA museum in downtown Santa Fe.
IAIA Campus, Santa Fe
IAIA Campus, Santa FeAbout 375 students are currently enrolled at the college and they represent roughly 100 different tribes from the mainland U.S. and Alaska.

Over the nearly 50 years of its existence, the IAIA has been home to students from about 90% of the recognized native American tribes. And about 15% of its students are non-natives who've come to IAIA to study native art traditions.

The IAIA's location is ideal for furthering its mission--in Santa Fe, which is the second largest art market in the U.S., and near the 19 native pueblos of New Mexico. In addition, the size and setting of the campus allowed it to be constructed in a way that references and respects native traditions (directions, solstices, etc.), and it is home to native plants and wildlife. On-campus housing includes residences for traditional-age students, as well as family housing units for older students. A new daycare center is expected to open soon.

IAIA Campus, Santa Fe
All facilities are full of native art, and our tour included views of studios and galleries, and art that included painting, metalwork, jewelry, glass, beading, and leatherwork.

Native American Last SupperThis painting by an IAIA student, a Native American version of the Last Supper, was hanging in the Administration building.

Wheel by Bob HaozousThis spinning wheel in the IAIA library is by Apache artist Bob Haozous, son of Allan Houser (whom I've written about in an earlier blog).

One of the highlights of our trip was the welcome our group received in the student learning support center, where we were treated to a snack of hot blue corn meal (in a form somewhere between oatmeal and hot drink); a note on the blackboard in the student lounge area indicated that it was a "blue corn morning". Thus warmed and fortified, we were able to venture back out into the cold to complete our tour of this impressive facility.