By Charlotte Jusinski
When I look at the table of contents of this issue of El Pal, one word immediately comes to mind: “Finally!”
This issue, broad in its scope and hefty in its page count, is also the result great anticipation; a number of the stories herein have been on my radar for over a year. Thanks to writers’ schedules, COVID-era complications, and other delays, we had to wait quite a while for many of these pieces.
Our cover feature this time around was originally scheduled to make its splash in Summer 2020, but… well, we all know what happened there. Author Carmella Padilla and photographer Addison Doty needed access to the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s campus and archives to craft the piece, and when it became clear that setting foot in brick-and-mortar structures was going to have to wait, this story’s can just kept getting kicked, issue after issue. At long last, it now makes its debut.
Almah LaVon Rice, a new name in El Palacio, has also been waiting in the wings; her seamless, elegant prose caught my eye in the summer of 2020, and we corresponded over the last year in hopes that a story just right for her would come across my desk. I finally found one, and she offers a unique woven portrait of two artists in the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture’s Clearly Indigenous exhibition.
Last spring, I approached Dr. Alysia L. Abbott about writing a story about Santa Fe’s “lost” graveyards for our Fall 2020 issue. Right as her writing would have ramped up, however, her work as an archaeologist also kicked into high gear with new projects, and we bumped the story. I delayed it one year (because I think a story about graveyards is ideal for fall, don’t you?), and I’m thrilled that it has come to fruition.
Writer Emily Withnall presented a profile of Cochiti ceramicist Diego Romero in Winter 2019, and at that time, Withnall asked if I might also be interested in a profile of Romero’s wife Cara, a renowned photographer. I said yes, soon—and upon hearing that one of Cara’s photographs was recently accepted into the Museum of Modern Art’s collection, I knew it was the perfect time to offer her profile. I pinged Withnall and pulled the trigger on her pitch. Perfect timing.
Fall 2020 was the most-requested issue of El Pal from my tenure as editor, and I credit Dr. Larry Crumpler’s cover feature about the geology of New Mexico as the reason for its popularity. As it were, Jayne C. Aubele had penned a sidebar piece for that article that simply didn’t fit in the issue, offering a geodiversity road trip map of sorts. I tucked the piece in the back of my mind and promised Aubele I’d circle back to it. It may have taken me a year, but I kept my word. Get out your GPS and click here to get exploring.
The last bits of the magazine have come about on more normal timelines; Michelle Gallagher Roberts’s account of “lost” Gerald Cassidy murals piqued my interest only a few months ago, and I’m happy to present it to you now. Poets (and spouses) Scott Wiggerman and David Meischen appeared on my radar in spring 2021 and I fast-tracked them into an issue to showcase their breathtaking work. And kudos to J.C. Gonzo, whose Framework feature this issue swept in like a deus ex machina to add a perfect capstone to this issue. Making a magazine can often be a slow burn, and that was definitely the case for the one you are about to enjoy. Thank you to all my intrepid writers for keeping the faith.