Christian Saiia tells the tales over walks, coffee or both
Though hobbyist historian Christian Saiia was forced into an early retirement from his executive position with Comcast after a health scare left him legally blind, he’s made the most of his days in recent years by diving deep into Santa Fe history.
Saiia, who originally hails from Buffalo, New York, has called the city home since 2006 following a decades-long stint in Colorado. And though most retirees seem to phase into, shall we say, less busy existences, Saiia has transformed his love of history into a pair of ongoing events dubbed Coffee with a Historian and Afternoons with Christian. The difference between his tours and talks and other local options, Saiia says, centers on how he -relates the broader global stage, particularly Europe, to Santa Fe’s evolution.
“I’m a ravenous reader,” Saiia says of his pursuit of historical knowledge. “I did take history classes in college at the University of Colorado, but it was mostly the classics; that kind of got me into the state of mind, but I have a sticky memory, too.”
For Coffee and Conversation, Saiia holds court at downtown’s 35 Degrees North coffeeshop. It’s a low-pressure conversation he hosts each Wednesday for any and all takers. Though free, tips are gladly welcomed and you’re sure to leave with information you didn’t have before. At the more ambulatory Afternoons with Christian (which you can book at afternoonswithchristian.com and starting at $35 per person), find a more rigorous experience, with Saiia playing tour guide downtown and spreading knowledge on things like colonization, the Pueblo Revolt and key players in New Mexico’s contributions to America’s greater histories. A lot has happened here, and Saiia’s got the inside scoop in a way even the most ardent local knowitall can enjoy.
“You can always pick up a tour in the lobby of La Fonda, there are people who do that every day,” Saiia tells SFR. “My thing is that Santa Fe has been involved with not only the development of the US, but the world—for literally thousands of years. It’s really cool once you start to connect the dots.” (Alex De Vore)
Coffee and Conversation with Christian: Noon-2 pm Wednesday, May 24 (and every Wednesday). 35 Degrees North, 60 E San Francisco St., (505) 629-3538
Head of the Class
People around Santa Fe probably know Eliza Lutz as the leader of post-rock act Future Scars, but did you know Lutz has also become an accomplished designer and visual artist when they’ve not been busy writing killer tunes? True story, and Lutz is poised for their first solo show of prints at Canyon Road’s Hecho a Mano. In a nutshell, All in Your Head finds the artist using the self-portrait as a gateway to shared experiences often unseen; think monoprint, cotton thread, embossing and embroidery. At its core, Lutz’s new body of work is meant to evoke what it’s like for chronically sick and disabled folks to navigate in the world. Brass tacks? It’s more difficult than you might imagine, and Lutz’s new prints are thus cause for self-reflection and, perhaps, even empathy.
Eliza Lutz: All in Your Head Opening: 5 pm Friday, May 26. Free. Hecho a Mano, 830 Canyon Road, (505) 916-1341
Needle in the Hay
Famed collage artist Lance Letscher gets in the emo game courtesy of deceased but impactful songsmith Elliott Smith. If we’re getting specific, Letscher has been particularly inspired by Smith’s Figure 8. Like Smith, Letscher hits a lush and dense balance of colors and textures in a deceptively simple milieu. Collage is, of course, a tricky one, sort of like a visual arts remix. With his background in printmaking and sculpture, however, he’s just the guy to make something leap out from the page. You’re not required to check out Smith beforehand, though highly encouraged, and don’t sleep on the doc about Letscher screening at Violet Crown Cinema the night before at 6 pm. (ADV)
Figure 8: New Works by Lance Letscher: 5-7 pm Friday, May 26. Free. Tai Modern, 1601 Paseo de Peralta, (505) 984-1387
The Empress and the High Priestess
Tarot as a divination practice tends to be a love it or hate it affair. But if you put aside the idea that the 15th(ish) century set of major and minor arcana contains truths of the future and instead treat its archetypes as a framework for exploring the present, the resonances are easily accessible. That’s the principle guiding Pomegranate Studios belly dance maestra Myra Krien and deck illustrator Alexandra Eldridge’s new collaboration: a performance (preceded, of course, by card readings) which narrates the maturation journey of tarot’s Fool through dance. And whether you swear by the cards or snicker at them, we think all our inner fools will find something to relate to in that tale. Plus, there’s the dancing. (Siena Sofia Bergt)
Invaders of the Heart 2023: The Radiant Tarot: Reading at 6 pm, show at 7:30 pm Friday, May 26 and Saturday, May 27. $25-$30. National Dance Institute of New Mexico, 1140 Alto St., (505) 983-7646