I was saddened by the news that the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater in Santa Fe, NM, is scheduled to be razed.
Soleri received the commission in 1966 and it was built by him, his apprentices, and students from the Institute of American Indian Arts. New Mexicans considered it to be their state’s premiere venue to hear live music. Some of the performers who have graced its stage: Carlos Santana, David Byrne, Elvis Costello, Nas, Modest Mouse, King Sunny Ade. A pretty diverse bunch.
The Santa Fe Indian School and the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater are on land owned and operated by the 19 pueblo governors of New Mexico, and the leaders have claimed the theater is a money pit. It seems there was an attempt to get it landmark status, but the articles I read on that front suggest the effort was half-hearted at best. What will happen to this land hasn’t been revealed. I’ve read different things: a parking lot, a casino, a baseball stadium.
Many people don’t want this to happen and they write about their love for this theater with a passion that can only come from people who are part of the affected community, but their pleas seem to fall on deaf ears. Though I lived in Santa Fe briefly, I never saw a concert at the Soleri. In November 2006, though, after my first interview with Paolo Soleri, cinematographer Wolfgang Held and I drove to Santa Fe and shot the theater. Situated perfectly and respectfully in its environment, the theater filled me with the same feeling I have when I walk into a church or through a forest.
Here is a hastily edited (by my standards) tribute to the theater.
June 12, 2010 – News: The Paolo Soleri Amphitheater
July 6, 2010 – My Op-Ed on the Soleri Amphitheater