Unquantifiability of a Place, Part 1: A Clip

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

4 Replies to “Unquantifiability of a Place, Part 1: A Clip”

  1. Dear Mr. David Licata,With the deepest appreciation for your article and clip on the Paolo Soleri on June 10, 2010. As I watch your clip, tears came rolling down on my cheeks. Yes it is a sad day, if they demolish the Paolo Soleri Its very sad indeed, that our Pueblo leaders have fell on deaf ears, What kind of message are they giving to the students who attend? . It wasn’t just a theather being built. It was a vision of one man who was inspired by what he saw there on the grounds of the Santa Fe Indian School, so many beautiful memories. We all have grown up with and have a special place in our hearts for. We believe very much that our creator sent this as a gift for all us to share, from many walks of life. I pray that perhaps you might give us support for saving our beloved Paolo Soleri. By the way, the butterfly was a messenger from our creator. Norma C. Romero

  2. Dear Norma,

    Thank you for leaving your moving comment.

    I’m not sure why anyone would want to tear down such a place. Weeks ago it was a rumor, and then when I read that it was not in fact a rumor, I was stunned. I felt helpless here in NYC, but I did have this footage, so I did what I could with what I had.

    I’m so glad that the footage spoke to you. And the butterfly seemed to me very special, even during shooting. We spent a lot of time shooting that guy, and it looked like he wasn’t going to get off the ground, but eventually he did. We should all have his unwavering will to soar; it seems like the Santa Feans who want to save this theater do. Godspeed to you, Norma, and to everyone who is trying to save the theater.

    Best wishes,

  3. Judah also saw Bob Dylan there. It’s very upsetting. Are there any recent updates? Anything people can do? I signed that petition, but I guess that was already too late.

    1. Hi Karen,

      The last I heard the petition was delivered, and NM senators Udall and Bingaman were on board with saving it and perhaps getting some government money to repair it. This was before the election. Not sure what the status is now. When I hear more, I’ll let you know, here or on the FB fan page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Lifes-Work/103075242180).

      Dylan, wow! That must have been something.

      And thanks for signing the petition!


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