Las Soleras Senior Living in New Mexico fits right into its picturesque location by embracing what makes Santa Fe the art mecca it is.
When you hear someone talk about Senior Living in Santa Fe, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably not the weather. Perhaps it’s the beautiful scenery and the unique architecture — Pueblo Indian-style adobe, sprinkled with Spanish, Italian and Victorian-inspired buildings — or the fact that it’s home to one of the oldest churches in the U.S. You’d be on the right track.
It’s those things — inspiring landscapes, eclectic architecture, and a storied history — that have sculpted (pun intended) the area into the thriving art mecca it is today. And when it comes to Senior Living in New Mexico, Las Soleras Senior Living fits right in.
Art at Its Center
A community for Senior Living in New Mexico just wouldn’t be complete without espousing the culture for which Santa Fe is so well-known. Las Soleras Senior Living is up for the challenge.
“We thought it would be appropriate to team up with local artists to demonstrate, display, and discuss their work with the general public and have it available for residents to enjoy,” says executive director Michael Swanson, who brings 22 years of Senior Living experience to the new Spectrum Community.
During the Grand Opening at Las Soleras Senior Living, the community got a taste of what to expect. Local artists partnered with the senior retirement community and displayed their artwork not only for current and potential residents but also for the general public to view and enjoy.
Among the artists who participated were painter Rick Stevens, well known for his pastels and oils, and the very talented sculptor, Kari Rives (sounds like Reeves). When Swanson first approached her, inviting her to participate in the grand opening, she was thrilled.
Rives demonstrated a technique she calls “throwing slabs.” The artist began with a slab of clay and, as guests looked on, methodically transformed the large piece. Rives likens the technique to hand-tossing a pizza crust, but rather than tossing it into the air, she tosses it against a board. “I use a canvas board, so it doesn’t stick,” she explains. “Each time I throw the slab, I hold a piece or an edge so the clay spirals and stretches, taking on sort of a natural feeling of movement.” Once the clay took on a shape she was happy with, Rives draped the piece over a pre-made round-form mold to dry. Using the kiln back at her studio, Rives says she’ll “fire glass in with the glazes” to create the final product: a birdbath.
Rives brought along her laptop to share images of what the final product looks like and, like Stevens, brought several examples of her work to display.
The displays were the first of what will become a permanent art installation at Las Soleras Senior Living. The goal is not to compete with the gallery an artist is affiliated with, but to work in partnership, providing a venue for artists to gain even more exposure. Swanson says that’s one of the challenges he’s faced while cultivating the art installation concept. “Artists are often tied to a gallery, so we have to create a working relationship not only with the artist but also with the gallery.”
Also proposed: A collaboration with the Institute of American Indian Arts. “Our goal is to have students, on a rotating basis, place their artwork on display at Las Soleras,” says Swanson. Details for the year-round display are still being discussed.
Fearlessness in Life and in Art
All Spectrum communities encourage seniors to live vibrant, active lifestyles. And what better way to BE Involved in a thriving cultural hub than to offer residents different ways to show off (or discover) their own creativity.
“We have art classes active now,” says Swanson. “And as our population grows, I feel strongly that there will be some very talented residents.” This is one of the things that makes Las Soleras Senior Living so unique, Swanson explains. Along with well-known local artists, resident’s artwork may also be displayed throughout the community.
And now, thanks to her love of art and desire to share her experience, Rives has inspired a clay and pottery studio.
“The feedback I got from the people who were considering moving [to Las Soleras] … they were excited. Excited about being able to make something for a grandchild or a child.” In fact, the interest was so overwhelming that Rives was asked “to help outfit a clay studio for the residents to make clay sculptures and to facilitate an art room for them,” she says.
This immediately jumped to the top of Swanson’s must-have list. Rives was so encouraged while participating at the grand opening that she wholeheartedly agreed to host weekly or bi-weekly clay and pottery classes for the residents.
“For the residents, there’s a little bit of fearlessness that’s appropriate for that age: ‘I’m just gonna have fun and see what happens’,” Rives says, “which is a great way to go about clay!”
Unique Senior Living in New Mexico
This art installation is the first of its kind in the nearly 50 Spectrum communities nationwide, and it’s a nice complement to the uniquely designed housing choices called casitas. The wow factor wasn’t lost on seniors looking for a great place to spend their retirement years. “As of the end of February, there’s only one casita still available,” says Swanson.
Surround yourself with art, amazing architecture and sweeping vistas, and make your new home at Las Soleras Senior Living. We can’t wait to meet you!