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Santa Fe’s Summer Magic

The Southwestern art capital heats up, with ultra-diverse offerings of art events.

Christopher Benson, Roswell #2, 2013.

Christopher Benson, Roswell #2, 2013.

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There is no place like Santa Fe, especially in the summer, when art buyers and collectors flock here to enjoy a sizzling palette of artworks presented by the more than 240 galleries, a dozen museums and numerous art fairs that have made The City Different the third largest art market in the U.S.

This stunningly beautiful high-desert hub, the country’s oldest capital city, has long been a cultural hot spot, boasting a vibrant and varied artistic tradition rooted in its centuries-old Native American, Spanish and Anglo heritage. Santa Fe, which means “holy faith” in Spanish, continues to attract legions of artists on the heels of Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Sloan and other notables who once called it home.

“Santa Fe has a certain mystique that draws visitors from all over the globe,” says Charlotte Jackson, who runs a contemporary art gallery in the city’s Railyard District. “They come here for its natural beauty, well-preserved history, and to see an incredible variety of high-quality art from around the world in diverse media at all price points. The intimate, accessible atmosphere of the city is part of its charm, and that carries over into the art world. People feel comfortable and at home here.”

A centerpiece of the Santa Fe summer art scene is Art Santa Fe, a boutique fair now in its 13th year that will take place at the Santa Fe Convention Center from July 12–14, with a vernissage on July 11. Organized by Jackson, the fair will showcase international modern and contemporary art from more than 30 galleries from the U.S. and abroad, many of them returning year after year from far-flung locales such as Japan, Korea and Nepal. Jackson says attendance continues to increase and attributes the fair’s success to its “smaller, more intimate size where visitors can intermingle with the dealers and artists and not feel overwhelmed.”

Among the gallery highlights at Art Santa Fe are elegant color photographs of Old World European hotel signage by French artist Alain Amiand and innovative glass-and-light works by New York artist Stephen Knapp, which cast an explosion of prism colors on the walls. New this year at the fair are special exhibitions of mostly large-scale sculptural works by juried solo artists such as Meg Carlson of New Mexico, whose massive fabric sculpture will be on display in the lobby, and fellow New Mexican Martin Spei, who will present an interactive bronze work that will incorporate Polaroids of participating visitors in a separate installation. Returning to the popular “How Things Are Made” section is a group of Korean artists, represented by Park Fine Art of Albuquerque and Seoul, who will be demonstrating paper-making techniques. Oehme Graphics, a print house from Steamboat Springs, Colo., will show visitors how lithographs and etchings are made. This year’s keynote speaker, Robert Wittman, former FBI Special Agent and founder of the bureau’s Art Crime Team, will share tales of his thrilling career on July 13 at the New Mexico History Museum.

Art Santa Fe is being marketed this year as part of an “Art Trifecta” of must-see events scheduled on the same July weekend. Included in this line-up is the Tenth Annual International Folk Art Market, the largest of its kind in the world, taking place under tents on scenic Museum Hill and accessible via shuttle buses from the Convention Center. The curated Market will bring together more than 190 artists from some 60 countries in a colorful, sprawling international bazaar appropriate for a city like Santa Fe, which was founded at the crossroads of the famous trade routes El Camino Real and the Santa Fe Trail. Artists will be selling hand-made artworks ranging from Afghan needle embroidery, traditional Japanese kites, Rwandan hand-woven baskets, Indigo-dyed textiles from Mali, and an eye-popping array of other exquisite textiles, jewelry, metalwork, ceramics, beadwork, paintings, sculpture and musical instruments. Ethnic cuisine and world music—including a kick-off concert by renowned Malian musicians—will round out this feast for the senses.

The Market has generated more than $16 million in sales over the past nine years, vastly improving the livelihoods of participating artists, many of whom come from developing countries. This 10th-anniversary celebration will include a screening of “The Silkies of Madagascar,” a new documentary about a collective of female silk weavers and the impact the Market has had on their lives.

“A big part of this Market’s ongoing appeal is the opportunity to meet and interact with the artists directly and hear their stories,” says executive director Shawn McQueen-Ruggeiro. “It’s a winning combination. You get to enjoy and buy masterful artworks knowing that your purchase can help to change lives and preserve culture around the globe. Folk art takes time and attention and patience to create and reconnects us to a peaceful place inside ourselves that we so often crave in our fast-paced world.”

Also participating in the “Art Trifecta” during the second weekend in July is the veteran SITE Santa Fe, a cutting-edge contemporary art space in the city’s burgeoning Historic Railyard District, which will launch its summer exhibition with a public opening on July 12. In “Enrique Martinez Celaya: The Pearl,” which runs through October 13, the Cuban-born artist will transform SITE’s 15,000 square-feet of gallery space into a multi-media installation incorporating large- and small-scale paintings, sculptures, video, waterworks and olfactory components. Celaya’s hallmark autobiographical/archetypal figures and landscapes combine to create a theatrical, multi-sensory experiential journey of psychological reflection. SITE Santa Fe has also created a new lobby gallery called SITElab for smaller projects, which debuted in June with a 3-D video collage of film clips by New York-based artist Marco Brambilla. Art lovers should be thrilled to hear that SITE’s venerable Biennial will be returning next year in a new three-part series through 2018 called SITElines, presenting new perspectives on art of the Americas.

Just down the road in the Railyard District, the Santa Fe Show: Objects of Art, now in its fourth year, returns to El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe from August 10–13 with 70 galleries, mostly from the U.S., offering a wide range of contemporary and historic artworks. You’ll find everything here from paintings, antiques, jewelry and textiles to tribal art, books, glass, and Asian art at a variety of price points. Highlights include a Japanese Art Deco-inspired kimono from the Taisho period (1912–26) and an early 20th-century ceremonial shoulder cloth with applied gold from Sumatra, Indonesia, both from Santa Fe dealer John Ruddy. A contemporary zebrawood and walnut orbicular desk and split chair by Santa Fe furniture designer Earl Nesbit is being offered by Taylor A. Dale of Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe Show runs concurrently with the longtime Antique Ethnographic Art Show and Antique Indian Art Show, both organized by Whitehawk Antique Shows at the Santa Fe Convention Center. The Antique Ethnographic Show, taking place August 9–10, will offer an enticing spread of African, Oceanic, Spanish Colonial, Asian and Pre-Columbian artworks, including furniture, paintings, pottery, baskets, jewelry and textiles. From August 12–13, the Antique Indian Art Show, the largest and longest running show of its kind, presents antiques ranging from Plains beadwork, Northwest Coast masks and California baskets to Southwestern pottery, jewelry and textiles. Gala Previews for each show will be held August 8 and 11, respectively. Special events include a Valuation Station, where experts from the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association will estimate current market values of Indian and tribal art brought by the public, and a workshop given by Zuni silversmith Tony Eriacho, who will discuss the differences between authentic and fake Zuni jewelry.

For art by living Native American artists, head to Santa Fe’s popular Indian Market, held each year during the third weekend in August around the historic Plaza, the heart of the city since its founding by the Spanish in 1610. Now in its 92nd year, this largest and most prestigious Native arts market in the world features 1,100 juried Native artists from the U.S. and Canada selling traditional and contemporary artworks in all media. Here you’ll find everything from pottery, kachina dolls, beadwork, baskets, drums, jewelry, textiles, paintings, sculpture and couture at prices ranging from less than $100 to $100,000 and higher.

Notable among this year’s participating artists are Alex Pena (Comanche), whose vibrant multi-media works are layered with rich colors and natural forms; award-winning potter Dominique Toya (Jemez Pueblo), known for her unique mica-slip swirl pots; and Isaac Dial (Lumbee/Navajo), whose imaginative jewelry draws inspiration from nature and his Native American heritage. The weeklong celebration of Native arts and culture prior to and surrounding Indian Market includes film screenings at the New Mexico History Museum, traditional Pueblo dances, a Native American clothing contest, a symposium on the state of Native art, and a live auction fundraiser on August 17 at the historic La Fonda Hotel on the Plaza. New this year is a kick-off party on August 15 at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Santa Fe, which is free and open to the public.

This year’s 62nd annual Traditional Spanish Market, taking place on and around the Plaza from July 26-28, is another perennial favorite. The oldest and largest juried market of its kind in the U.S. showcases handmade Spanish-colonial-inspired artworks by hundreds of local Hispanic artists, including basketry, straw appliqué, furniture, colcha embroidery, retablos (paintings of saints on wood or board that derive from religious folk art), and bultos (stylized wood-carved figures of saints).

Standouts include straw appliqué crosses and boxes by Albuquerque artist Jimmy Trujillo, recipient of this year’s Masters of Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as painted bultos by Santa Fe artist Marie Romero Cash and Joseph Ascension Lopez of Espanola, whose bulto of a Spanish bishop was chosen as this year’s logo. Spanish Market is the culmination of a weeklong celebration—complete with traditional live music and dance, art demonstrations and regional foods—of more than 400 years of continuous Hispanic culture in New Mexico.

Amid the bustling art fairs and markets is a vibrant summer gallery scene that heats up with its own share of great art. A number of the city’s top galleries are located in the hip Historic Railyard District, a thriving, 50-acre industrial area along the old train tracks adjacent to Guadalupe Street, which local art-world insiders say rivals cutting-edge art enclaves in New York City, London and other world capitals. From June 28–July 21 Charlotte Jackson Fine Art—an early Railyard pioneer specializing in contemporary American and European art with a focus on modernism as well as color-field, concrete and monochrome painting—will present a collaborative exhibition of Minimalist geometric sculptures by German artists Heiner Thiel and Michael Post. Hung on the walls, these works stretch the boundaries of both traditional painting and traditional sculpture, according to Jackson. From August 30–September 23, Jackson will host a solo show of abstract paintings by eminent California artist Ed Moses.

Another Railyard veteran is Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, offering a wide range of contemporary paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photography and video by both established and emerging artists, including such notables as Agnes Martin, Vik Muniz, Mark DiSuvero and Susan Rothenberg. “One of the great things about the Railyard District art scene—in addition to the extraordinary quality of art that you’ll find here—is the collaboration between the galleries,” says Sandy Zane. “We work together on advertising and projects like our monthly Friday-night art walks to create an inviting atmosphere.”

Zane Bennett’s super-charged summer schedule includes an exhibition from June 28-July 19 of exquisite glass works by the young California artist Matthew Szösz, who fuses and inflates sheets of glass to create pillow-like organic forms. From July 26–August 23, “Native Vanguard: Contemporary Masters” presents abstract contemporary art in a variety of media by 15 of the country’s top Native American artists. Included are works by M. Scott Momaday (Kiowa), also a noted poet; Bunky Echo-Hawk (Pawnee/Yakama), who will be creating a painting on site to music; Ramona Sakiestewa (Hopi), who contributed to the design of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.; and George Longfish (Seneca/Tuscarora), whose spiritually- and politically-inspired works draw from Native life and traditions. There will also be prints from the “Tribute” series by Robert Rauschenberg, who was part Cherokee. This exhibition will include a series of lectures and panels complementing Indian Market. Also at Zane Bennett during Indian Market will be a special showing on August 16 of innovative silver, gold and gemstone jewelry by the Native American artist couple Yazzie Johnson and Gail Bird.

TAI Gallery will lead off the summer with an exhibition from June 28–July 20 of new bamboo and mixed-media sculptures by Japanese artist Nagakura Kenichi, whose work references the archeological history of Japan with a contemporary sensibility. In the spotlight from July 26–August 24 are masterful bamboo and multi-hued, carved lacquer vases by Fujinuma Noboru, a Living National Treasure of Japan. Vessels and sculptures by contemporary bamboo artists from Oita prefecture in Japan, a traditional center of bamboo art and basket-making, will be on display from August 3–September 21. This fall, from September 27–October 10, TAI Gallery founder Robert Coffland will be leading a bamboo-art tour of Japan, complete with visits to artists’ studios and homes.

Stop by the Railyard’s popular Second Street Brewery or Station Coffee House for a regional snack and a handcrafted beer or cup of Italian java before heading off to LewAllen Galleries, with locations at both the Railyard and the Plaza (Palace Avenue). One of the city’s oldest and largest venues for contemporary and modern art, LewAllen expanded its presence last year with an outpost in Scottsdale, Ariz. “The Scottsdale gallery was a logical next step for us,” says Ken Marvel, director of LewAllen. “We wanted a year-round market. The art scene slows down in Santa Fe in the winter, when it heats up in Arizona.” He says the Scottsdale location will be showing on a selective basis what the gallery is known for in Santa Fe—works by key figures in contemporary art as well as by unsung heroes of post-1960s abstraction. Dan Christensen is one of the latter, whose luminescent orb paintings from the 1980s and ’90s will take center stage at LewAllen at the Santa Fe Railyard from June 14–July 14. The critic Clement Greenberg saw Christensen as an exemplar of “post-painterly abstraction” and called him “one of the painters on whom the course of American art depends.”

Also heating up LewAllen’s Railyard location is an exhibition, from July 19–September 1, of paintings and sculpture by the renowned, mid-to-late 20th-century Bay Area artist Nathan Oliveira, a member of the Bay Area figurative school known for fusing figuration and abstract expressionism in psychologically charged artworks exploring human conflict and existential angst. All works in the exhibition, including Oliveira’s bronze sculptures, come directly from the artist’s Estate. Also on view, from July 19–September 1, is “Holy Trinity,” an exhibition of paintings by Forest Moses, Woody Gwyn and John Fincher—three of the most important contemporary landscape painters working today in Santa Fe. From July 12–August 25, LewAllen Downtown Santa Fe will present “Self Portraits & Drunken Horses,” featuring abstract expressionist paintings of horses by Ron Ehrlich, noted for his kinetic method of blending paint, resins, lacquers, waxes and other materials on canvas with a blowtorch, creating a textured surface evocative of Japanese ceramics. LewAllen also operates a satellite gallery at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe, located in the foothills of the stunning Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where it showcases works from its extensive inventory.

Another top Santa Fe hotel has added art to its offerings. Earlier this year, the chic Eldorado Hotel & Spa opened a 4,000-square-foot Gallery on its premises to showcase and sell artworks by premier local artists from several Santa Fe galleries. Comfortable leather sofas and chairs throughout the Gallery invite intimate seating and conversation. The Gallery, which also hosts seasonal meet-and-greet artist events, receptions and dinners, aims to present the finest in new contemporary art in a range of media, including paintings, sculptures and photography, according to Bobby Beals of Santa Fe’s Beals & Abbate Fine Art, an Eldorado Gallery partner who is spearheading its artist events. Among the artists being exhibited in the new hotel Gallery are Cody Brothers, known for their infared photography of landscapes and wildlife; Amy Ringholz, noted for her oil- and ink-on canvas wildlife paintings; and Anthony Abbate, Beals’s gallery partner whose ink renderings of subjects from nature originate from his photographs.

Just steps away from the Eldorado Hotel, not far from the central Plaza, is the Andrew Smith Gallery, one of the top photography galleries in the country specializing in 19th- and 20th-century works by master photographers of the American West from Carleton Watkins to Ansel Adams, as well as works by contemporary photographers such as Annie Liebovitz, Lee Friedlander and Paul Caponigro. Throughout the summer, the gallery will continue its ongoing series of exhibitions devoted to various phases of the work of Ansel Adams, one of the most published photographers of the 20th century, noted for his iconic images of the American western landscape. On display will be the finest examples of his photographs from the David H. Arrington Collection of Midland, Tex., the world’s most important private collection of Adams’s work. Arrington is an oilman whose passion for Adams began when he was a young photographer studying the artist’s methodology and avidly reading his books.

Highlights include the earliest example of Adams’s famous Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, from 1941, and his first fine-art photo, an image of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, made at the age of 13 while attending the Panama Pacific Exposition there in 1915. Accompanying the exhibitions are video and audio presentations about Adams and his career. “The tide is turning in the photography market,” says Smith. “There’s a general optimism despite economic and political issues. People are less gun-shy and more interested in having fun and buying art that they love. Old buyers are coming back, and new buyers are coming in. It feels a bit like it did five years ago.”

Gerald Peters Gallery, one of the world’s leading dealers in 19th- and 20th-century American art with a sprawling gallery and sculpture garden on Paseo de Peralta, is another not-to-be missed stop on the Santa Fe gallery circuit. Highlighting its summer offerings is “The Royal Road: Artistic Impressions of El Camino Real,” an exhibition of original woodblock prints and accompanying broadsides and a limited edition book by the Colorado printmaker and woodblock artist Leon Loughbridge as well as poetry by New Mexico poet John Macker. The subject of these expressions is the famous trade route, El Camino Real, which from 1598 to 1882 extended from Mexico City to San Juan Pueblo in New Mexico, passing through Santa Fe.

Peters continues to expand his contemporary art offerings, having signed on more than a dozen new mid-career artists over the last year. Two of them—California artist Tom Birkner, known for his Realist paintings of suburban America, and New Yorker Peri Schwartz, whose new paintings of her studio interior express her ongoing investigation of the dynamics of composition—are the focus of “Dwellings,” a summer exhibition of oil paintings, which runs from July 26–August 24 and also includes cityscapes of southern New Mexico by Christopher Benson of Santa Fe. “Lines of Liminality,” on view from August 30–October 5, will feature metalpoint drawings by New York artist Susan Schwalb and seascapes by New Hampshire artist Clifford Smith, both of whom explore the border between abstraction and representation. On November 16, Peters will host the annual Santa Fe Art Auction, taking place at his gallery and not at the Santa Fe Convention Center as in years past. This year, contemporary Western art will join the classic auction lineup of 19th- and 20th-century Western and Southwestern art.

On historic, adobe gallery-studded Canyon Road, Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art, which specializes in contemporary abstract paintings, photography and works by Native American and Aboriginal artists, will offer three exhibitions this summer. A solo show of abstract landscapes by longtime New Mexico artist Chris Richter will take place from July 12–August 10. Richter’s minimalist oils on canvas are layered with paint then sanded to reveal the forms, which often appear as clusters of tree trunks. From July 12–August 11, Seattle artist Peter Millett takes center stage with bright monochromatic geometric wood sculptures, displayed either on the wall or on pedestals—a departure from the large-scale metal sculptures for which he is known. On display from August 16–September 14 will be a group show devoted to new works in a variety of media by eight established and emerging contemporary Native American artists, including such well-known names as Emmi Whitehorse, Rose B. Simpson and Rick Bartow.

Also on Canyon, Morning Star Gallery, one of the nation’s premier galleries for Native American art, will present throughout August “Plains Pipe Bags: Emblems of Leadership and Diplomacy,” an exhibition of 30 Plains Indian pipe bags from the most comprehensive private collection of its kind (also see page 22). Morning Star’s director Henry Monahan says, “The finest Native American material continues to sell well across the board, whether beadwork, textiles, pottery or basketry. Economic volatility doesn’t affect the high end of the market.”

Art of Russia Gallery, which recently moved to new quarters on Canyon, specializes in Soviet-era and contemporary Russian Impressionism, Soviet Realism and propaganda art. This summer owner Dianna Lennon will be showing photography for the first time, in a solo show titled “Another Side of Life,” featuring work in black and white and color by Russian photographer Natasha Bulgakova, who closely observes the world around her and finds meaning in the fleeting moment.

Nedra Matteucci Galleries, one of the city’s oldest and finest galleries specializing in historic and contemporary American art, will hold two exhibitions of Southwestern plein-air painters. From June 22-July 13, “Works from My Wishlist” showcases new impressionistic paintings by Sedona-based artist Curt Walters of landscapes and scenes painted on his travels to Prague, Petra, Niagara Falls, Italy and England, as well as to the Grand Canyon and the Santa Fe area. The exhibition “Freedom of Expression,” on view from September 21-October 12, will feature a new selection of brightly colored landscapes by German-born Santa Fe artist Evelyne Boren.

“Santa Fe is seeing an increase in visitors and art-related events and shows, and establishing itself more than ever in contemporary and modern art,” says Matteucci. “The roots of the Santa Fe art market run deep, however, and the significance and influence of the original art colony and artists who followed continues to grow in value and importance in American art.” An important historical retrospective of paintings by noted early 20th-centruy Russian artist Leon Gaspard, who settled in Taos, site of another famous New Mexico art colony, will be on view from November 16 through December at Nedra Matteucci Galleries.

Santa Fe’s museums are also stirring the summer mix with several inspiring exhibitions. At the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, through September 8, is “Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land,” a traveling exhibition featuring the artist’s paintings, created between 1929 and 1953, of New Mexico’s churches, crosses, folk art, landscape and Native American subjects, created between 1929 and 1953. Katsinam refers to the dolls, or kachinas, made by the Hopi peoples and which O’Keeffe collected and depicted. This exhibition marks the first time her kachina paintings are being shown. Highlights include Kachina (1934), Ranchos Church No. 1 (1929), and Ghost Ranch Landscape (1935). Abstract interpretations of katsinam by contemporary Hopi artists Ramona Sakiestewa and Dan Namingha will also be included. The exhibition will travel to the Heard Museum in Phoenix from September 27–January 12, 2014.

In the summer of 1929, O’Keeffe made the first of many trips to northern New Mexico, and the southwestern landscape and culture inspired a significant shift in her art. Many of the more than 20 paintings she made that year will be in the exhibition, including Black Cross with Stars and Blue and At the Rodeo, New Mexico, showing her explorations of a new environment and experiments with new colors, forms and compositions. Such iconic images of the Southwest became O’Keeffe’s enduring contribution to American Modernism.

O’Keeffe was honored earlier this year by the U.S. Postal Service, who issued a new stamp depicting her painting, “Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie’s II,” from 1930, which is in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum collection and will be on display all summer. The painting was selected as part of a new series of stamps featuring the work of 12 important American modern artists.

Taking flight this summer at the Museum of International Folk Art is “Tako Kichi: Kite Crazy in Japan,” an exhibition of more than 200 handcrafted kites from various regions of Japan that will be on display from June 9–March 23, 2014. Created by Japanese kite artists and dating mostly from the 1960s to the present, with a few examples from the 19th to early 20th centuries, these traditional kites are made from a split bamboo framework and sheets of handmade washi paper (made from Mulberry tree bark). The paper is brightly painted in the ukiyo-e print style with colorful images of legendary heroes and other subjects from Japanese folklore. Kites were originally flown in Japan to ward off evil spirits and promote prosperity and good fortune. Kite festivals around Japan celebrate traditions such as the New Year, the birth of a son, or a good harvest. The majority of kites are from the collection of David M. Kahn, an avid kite collector and connoisseur. As part of the exhibition, visitors can participate in kite-making events and workshops.

Other noteworthy museum exhibitions include “Cowboys Real and Imagined,” on view at the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors through March 16, 2014, which presents artifacts and photographs chronicling the history of Southwestern cowboys and the rise of a manufactured cowboy mystique. Highlights include cowboy clothing from the 1700s to contemporary times; ephemera from former New Mexico dude ranches; sculpture by Frederic Remington; and personal items belonging to Fern Sawyer, the legendary cowgirl rancher from southern New Mexico. At the New Mexico Museum of Art, through September 8, is an exhibition devoted to longtime Santa Fe photographer William Clift, showcasing more than 70 of his evocative photographs from 1973 to the present of two monolithic sites: Shiprock, an eroded volcanic landform, which rises above the northwestern New Mexico desert and is sacred to the Navajo, and Mont St. Michel, an island off the north coast of France famous for its Romanesque-Gothic church and monastery. With so much to see and do, stay awhile, enjoy and soak up another art-hot summer in Santa Fe.

“There is a magical, timeless allure about this city,” says Ken Marvel of LewAllen Galleries. “It’s a place unto itself where the energy of the visual arts is so immediate, personally engaging and transcendent. People are inspired and uplifted by the diversity and richness of the art and history, the astonishing beauty of the landscape, and the purity of the light. Weaving through all this is an ineffable, spiritual quality that makes Santa Fe truly extraordinary.”

This article originally appeared in the Summer issue of Art & Antiques Magazine as “Santa Fe’s Summer Magic”


By Dana Micucci

Author: Art & Antiques Magazine | Publish Date: June 2013

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