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BACA RAILYARD ART AND DESIGN CENTER

SOLANGE SERQUIS

W

hen does a neighborhood become “a thing”? This organic cultural process, a combination of planning, accident, atmosphere, and buzz, is fascinating to watch and even more fun to participate in—especially if you are in the business of design. Until recently the southern portion of the Santa Fe Railyard development was overshadowed by the growing profile of the north, an established arts district. But lately this forgotten wedge-shaped section that once held coal storage for the railway is coming into its own, thanks to the gravitational pull of a handful of design businesses. Most significantly, when the long-delayed underpass on Saint Francis Drive is completed this fall, the two sections of the Railyard will finally be linked by a walking/biking trail, as originally planned, introducing the Baca district to the aesthetically voracious Santa Fe public. It doesn’t hurt that the 10-acre neighborhood sits across Baca Street from Counter Culture Café and the arts district that has grown up around it—and beyond that, as part

of the spreading Siler Road art phenom anchored by Meow Wolf. And like those neighborhoods, which share a more hip, urban vibe than downtown, Baca Railyard is still discovered mostly by accident once you’ve parked the car. It starts on the north side of Cerrillos Road, where you might have gone furniture shopping for something contemporary or cutting edge at Santa Fe Modern, Molecule Design, or The Raven. Behind this front lot sits the enclosed wedge of 17 parcels belonging to the city and leased to developers per the Railyard Master Plan. Until recently, nothing would have drawn you back to these quiet streets, but now they host a cluster of cool-looking modern buildings housing architecture, design, and art businesses—starting with the Santa Fe studio of internationally acclaimed artist Ricardo Mazal on Shoofly Street, which put the neighborhood on the map for the art cognoscenti. Jeff Littrell is the latest to jump in. He moved his antiques and interiors business here from downtown in late April “because

this center has more energy, is more vibrant, and I could design a much bigger showroom—three times as large as the old one.” Since the land is leased, developers have only to finance the building, making the cost per square foot highly appealing for a warehouse-style purpose. “And the foot traffic is amazing,” Littrell adds with surprise. At the other end is old-timer Adriana Siso, who moved Molecule Design here nearly seven years ago. The only other complex at the time was a live-work warehouse developed by Brett Chomer that now houses Caveman Coffee, Undisputed Fitness, Salon del Mar, and Justin’s Frame Designs. “We were innovative in that we were the first building made of shipping containers,” says Siso. The sprouting of colorful, contemporary buildings since then—several under construction, including a four-unit expansion of the live/work known as Twisted Cow Compound—is helping draw notice to businesses who recognized the area’s potential early on, such as Yares Art Projects and the architecture firm Needbased.

trendmagazineglobal.com 169


SHOOFLY PIE CONTEMPORARY RESIDENCES IN THE HEART OF SANTA FE’S BACA RAILYARD DISTRICT

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BACA RAILYARD ART AND DESIGN CENTER

SOLANGE SERQUIS

W

hen does a neighborhood become “a thing”? This organic cultural process, a combination of planning, accident, atmosphere, and buzz, is fascinating to watch and even more fun to participate in—especially if you are in the business of design. Until recently the southern portion of the Santa Fe Railyard development was overshadowed by the growing profile of the north, an established arts district. But lately this forgotten wedge-shaped section that once held coal storage for the railway is coming into its own, thanks to the gravitational pull of a handful of design businesses. Most significantly, when the long-delayed underpass on Saint Francis Drive is completed this fall, the two sections of the Railyard will finally be linked by a walking/biking trail, as originally planned, introducing the Baca district to the aesthetically voracious Santa Fe public. It doesn’t hurt that the 10-acre neighborhood sits across Baca Street from Counter Culture Café and the arts district that has grown up around it—and beyond that, as part

of the spreading Siler Road art phenom anchored by Meow Wolf. And like those neighborhoods, which share a more hip, urban vibe than downtown, Baca Railyard is still discovered mostly by accident once you’ve parked the car. It starts on the north side of Cerrillos Road, where you might have gone furniture shopping for something contemporary or cutting edge at Santa Fe Modern, Molecule Design, or The Raven. Behind this front lot sits the enclosed wedge of 17 parcels belonging to the city and leased to developers per the Railyard Master Plan. Until recently, nothing would have drawn you back to these quiet streets, but now they host a cluster of cool-looking modern buildings housing architecture, design, and art businesses—starting with the Santa Fe studio of internationally acclaimed artist Ricardo Mazal on Shoofly Street, which put the neighborhood on the map for the art cognoscenti. Jeff Littrell is the latest to jump in. He moved his antiques and interiors business here from downtown in late April “because

this center has more energy, is more vibrant, and I could design a much bigger showroom—three times as large as the old one.” Since the land is leased, developers have only to finance the building, making the cost per square foot highly appealing for a warehouse-style purpose. “And the foot traffic is amazing,” Littrell adds with surprise. At the other end is old-timer Adriana Siso, who moved Molecule Design here nearly seven years ago. The only other complex at the time was a live-work warehouse developed by Brett Chomer that now houses Caveman Coffee, Undisputed Fitness, Salon del Mar, and Justin’s Frame Designs. “We were innovative in that we were the first building made of shipping containers,” says Siso. The sprouting of colorful, contemporary buildings since then—several under construction, including a four-unit expansion of the live/work known as Twisted Cow Compound—is helping draw notice to businesses who recognized the area’s potential early on, such as Yares Art Projects and the architecture firm Needbased.

trendmagazineglobal.com 169


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ART AND DESIGN CENTER

With the trail linkage under Saint Francis nearing completion, landscape architect Solange Serquis—who worked on the Railyard Master Plan—saw a perfect opportunity to offer retail refreshment near the trail entrance to Baca Railyard. The teahouse Opuntia Café, part of an office-lodging complex, is being designed around the concept of a glass house and gardens lush with plants, and is set to open on Shoofly Street this summer 2017. “I’m excited about the teahouse—it will bring more people,” notes Gabe Rippel, a fabricator of steel furniture and coowner of Santa Fe Modern, in the back of which he recently opened a showroom in response to growing foot traffic. Now the “cool little furniture row,” as he calls it, is starting to gain an awareness of itself that has spawned talk of branding it as Santa Fe’s first design center. 178 TREND Summer 2017

“The ‘design’ keyword I’ve had in my mind for a few years,” says Siso, one of several business owners taking credit for the push. “If you research design districts, they’re in cities that are growing. A design district is hip, cutting edge, with fresh ideas.” The labeling gets a nod from the nonprofit Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp. (SFCC), which leases and manages Railyard land, although they had not targeted any specific type of development other than local and mixed use. “The project has grown organically over time, based on the location’s attributes that led to a different kind of feel than the North Railyard,” says Richard Czoski, SFCC executive director. With lower-priced leases and smaller parcels—and the mandate to get a mix of local businesses—Baca has grown slowly and relationally by word of mouth. Home building has naturally followed. One of the

few remaining parcels is being developed into a four-unit residential complex by Devendra Contractor of DNCA Architects, a designer of galleries in the North Railyard. The detached homes with small gardens, which he has dubbed Shoofly Pie, metaphorically complete the neighborhood’s linkage to the North Railyard, as Contractor is also moving his offices to Baca. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me now, as a developer, to further the aesthetic and artistic balance that I started in the North Railyard,” he says, adding that he has always been “a huge believer” in the project, north and south, in the face of early skepticism. As an architect who also worked on the Master Plan—which explicitly prohibits buildings in Pueblo Revival style—he and other believers are glimpsing in the nascent “Baca Railyard Design Center” a long-awaited reinterpretation of Santa Fe style.

DANIEL QUAT (4)

Clockwise from top left: Rippel Metal and Santa Fe Modern interior with table by Rippel Metal; Circle Antiques exterior; Molecule interior; exterior of Santa Fe Modern.


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all around her.


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BACA RAILYARD

Clockwise from top left: A view through a sculpture from the Baca Arts District to the Baca Railyard; Jeff Littrell Antiques store exterior; rendering of the “Shoofly Pie” residential compound from Shoofly Street by DNC architects; sunset view from Cerrillos Road of The Raven Consignment and other Baca Railyard exteirors showcasing the unique architectural style of the neighborhood; Crow B Rising, shown in her Talis Fortuna shop where she uses her hand-poke tattoo talents and skills learned from an apprenticeship with Mark Vigil of Four Star Tattoo to create a different kind of tattoo experience. Talis Fortuna is an appointment-only tattoo studio in the heart of Baca Railyard and Twisted Cow Compound.

180 TREND Summer 2017

DANIEL QUAT(3); SADAF RASSOUL CAMERON (1)

ART AND DESIGN CENTER


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BACA ARTS DISTRICT

I

n many cities, “revitalization” means out with the old and in with the new. That’s not so in the Baca Street Arts District, where neighborhood stalwarts like Natural Stones, Counter Culture Café, Liquid Light Glass studio, Donna Nova/Girasole Glass, Reflective Jewelry, and sculptor Mike Masse share space with relative newcomers Art.i.fact, Hyperclash, and Gray Matter. The combination of upstarts and elders contributes to a vibrancy that even Brooklynites would find enviable. “I moved in when there were no other storefronts,” says Garrick Beck, who has owned Natural Stones for 23 years. “I bet my bottom dollar on this place coming to life, and, lo and behold, it has.” Baca Street merchants and artists don’t simply co-exist; the neighborhood is steeped in a strong sense of community that comes through in myriad ways. For example, in May, business owners joined forces to raise money for La Familia Medical Center, which provides health care to Santa Feans with limited means. In July, they pull out the stops for the Baca Street Bash, a block party that attracts locals and tourists alike. They also host a Halloween party in October, and two months later, they celebrate local artists with the annual Baca Street Arts Tour.

Baca Street and the adjacent Baca Railyard district—which encompasses the railyard property south of Saint Francis Drive—have long been magnets for artists. Aesthetically, the area couldn’t be further from the pretty adobe galleries that line Canyon Road. Mike Masse, who has had the same studio space since 1990, remembers when the neighborhood was mostly rough-and-tumble industrial buildings. “Counter Culture was just a vacant building surrounded by a chain-link fence when I moved in,” he recalls. The neighborhood retains—and embraces—some of that industrial feeling. Many of the businesses feature loft-like interiors that utilize cement floors and high, exposed ceilings. In a bit of poetic legacy, Masse’s son Nate has contributed to the artsy vibe with murals he recently painted on 930 and 931 Baca Street. The quadrant that includes Counter Culture, Natural Stones, and Art.i.fact is covered with eccentric images that call to mind bills posted on New York City walls. On the other side of the parking lot, which is anchored by Liquid Light Glass Studio, Nate created a swarm of bees against a bold blue backdrop. There’s plenty of art inside those buildings, too. Art.i.fact, a high-end consignment clothing boutique, offers up the ART.i.factory,

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an art space that features regular exhibitions of emerging local artists. Counter Culture also hosts a rotation of Santa Fe talent. Natural Stones may not exhibit art, but they supply a huge contingent of local artists with beautiful gemstones. Hyperclash sells hip handmade clothing and accessories crafted from reclaimed materials. Liquid Light Glass Studio is expanding its gallery space to showcase owner Elodie Holmes’s work, as well as that of other local glass artists. (Holmes, it should be noted, was awarded the 2016 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.) Donna Nova/Girasole Glass offers stunning hand-crafted glass beads, and next door at Gray Matter, you’ll find intricate, quirky egg tempera paintings by Miranda Gray alongside her husband Bruce’s fascinating collection of vintage tools. A short walk down the street delivers you to Reflective Jewelry, which opened in 1995. The store features original designs and ethically sourced materials. In addition to being brilliant craftspeople, the owners are strong neighborhood supporters who participate in all the Baca Street events and projects. The Baca Street community embraces locals and visitors with the same gusto. Grab a cup of coffee at Counter Culture Café and wander west. You’re sure to find a treasure.

DANIEL QUAT(2), KATE RUSSELL (1)

Santa Fe’s Entrepreneurial Epicenter


ELODIE HOLMES

Photo: Wendy McEahern

Liquid Light Glass

Gallery & Studio • Demos

926 Baca Street • Suite 3 • Santa Fe, NM 87505 • 505.820.2222 www.liquidlightglass.com • sales@liquidlightglass.com


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BACA ARTS DISTRICT

Dispatch opening at the ART.i.factory in ART.i.fact; Right: Owner Paloma Navarrete of HYPERCLASH.

business profile

restaurants

Counter Culture Cafe and Pizza Centro

S

ome restaurants aspire to be world-renowned destinations; others find pride in being discovered by visitors as “the place where locals eat.” Jason Aufrichtig, trained at the New York Restaurant School in Manhattan and owner of Counter Culture Cafe for the past 20 years, is more interested in knowing his customers’ names than being known around the globe. With his brother, Nathan, he also owns Pizza Centro, whose three Santa Fe locations specialize in hand-tossed New York–style pizzas made with handcrafted dough. Nathan apprenticed with three top pizzerias in New York City and New England before the Aufrichtig brothers opened Pizza Centro seven years ago. The key to the brothers’ success, Jason says, lies in “ingredients, consistency, passion, and drive.” Counter Culture Cafe | 930 Baca Street #1 | Santa Fe, NM | (505) 995-1105 Owners and brothers Jason and Nathan Aufrichtig CREDIT

Pizza Centro | Santa Fe, NM | pizzacentronys.com Santa Fe Design Center | (505) 988-8825 Eldorado Agora Center | (505) 466-3161 3470 Zafarano Drive | (505) 471-6200

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