A city selection committee has recommended an Albuquerque-based organization called Artful Life to oversee Santa Fe's public discussions on controversial artwork and monuments such as the obelisk in the Plaza.

Dubbed the Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth process, the proposal went through a number of iterations before being approved by City Council in January. 

According to its website, Artful Life is dedicated to "transformational change through the beauty and power of creative collaboration." 

The group was founded in 2015 by Valerie Martinez, a Santa Fe native, educator and former Santa Fe poet laureate.

She has also served as director of history and literary arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and was involved in discussions surrounding Santa Fe's decision to end the divisive Entrada pageant.

If selected, the organization would start by gathering public input and forming a CHART team, Martinez said.

"We do understand that this also needs to be courageous," she said. "We are dealing with complex issues and we are at a critical juncture. The healing process needs to not only come from compassionate connections, but also address some of the complex issues the city is facing." 

The contract for the CHART facilitator must make its way through the committee process, first starting with the Finance Committee on Tuesday. The City Council is expected to vote on the contract July 14. 

According to a fact sheet provided by the city, surveys, one-on-one interviews and community dialogue sessions are slated to begin in October. The city has budgeted around $265,000 for the CHART process. 

For many, the discussions will focus on what to do with the remains of the obelisk, which was decried by some as racist for long-removed wording that referred to "savage Indians." The monument was toppled on Indigenous Peoples Day by a group of protesters.

The public discussions will also center on what to do with a statue of Don Diego de Vargas, a Spanish conquistador who is both honored and reviled.

The city removed the de Vargas statue from Cathedral Park last summer when monuments and historical markers were thrust to the forefront of the national dialogue. 

(8) comments

david cartwright

Another consultant? Just what is needed for "healing." What nonsense. Just restore the monument to its rightful place and put up, a statue of Pope (the revolt leader) and be done with it. Everyone can then get on with life.

Andrew Lucero

CHART is nothing but a hand picked committee made up of Webber lackeys who are there to rubber stamp his agenda.

Stefanie Beninato

You should educate yourself before you make these unfounded accusations. There will be a series of meeting/conversations. If you attend three, you will have a formal place in the CHART process is my understanding. The city staff reviewed the RFP and made the recommendation for this team. Webber and the council changed the process of appointment to CHART just to avoid your unfounded accusations. Try reading about this process instead of spewing your standard anti-Webber response.

Maria Bautista

Stefanie, anti-Webber response? Are you pro-Webber?

Stefanie Beninato

No So far i am not pro anyone who is running for mayor.

Maria Bautista


Stefanie Beninato

The CHART process is not just focusing on two monuments but all monuments in town. Why did you leave out the background on the facilitation team chosen? To me it is interesting that the lead was working until "July 2021" for the Hispanic Cultural Center. Is she still working there full time? How about the other named lead that I believe has some type of state job? This process is going to be time-consuming and will be very challenging. I understand their "collaborative art" facilitation group has been in existence for several years but if it is so successful why does it not provide a full time income? It should also be noted that it is just the leads that are being reviewed--the facilitation team has yet to be chosen--and I assume that will be the role of the principal facilitators--not something subject to more city approval. I think the process needs to be as transparent as possible to even begin to foster trust and participation by the community.

Maria Bautista

A little late to the party!

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