IN THE SHADE OF THE PLAZA’S WEST SIDE, through an old wooden doorway and up a narrow, steep flight of stairs, you find the offices of Webster Enterprises. Here sits Christopher Webster III who, with his father, runs an advisory firm offering strategic planning, investment analysis, as well as sales and marketing consulting.
Christopher himself is an editor, a publisher, a musician, a gallerist, a real estate broker, and a shopkeeper. He’s also involved in multiple tech start-ups. “I’ve got a lot of passions and there’s a very interesting overlap between the things I’m working on,” he explains.
Most of all, Christopher is a curator. This office is the home of a revolving art collection, which has just been expanded to house his new fashion line.
He believes the curation of apparel is just as important as the curation of fine art. In fact, maybe the two are inextricably related. He also thinks curation – the mix of the Plaza and the Siler Rufina Nexus, the mix of industrial and adobe, the mix of historic cultures and newly arrived young people(!) – is what makes this town so interesting. Just avoid the old picture postcard adobe version of Santa Fe. Drink up what’s coming, because curation requires constant change. That’s what makes Santa Fe great.
In your gallery, you curate art. Why the jump into fashion?
It’s interesting to think about the intersection and the divide between art and design. Think about fine art and think about interior design or apparel – we specifically silo them from each other. There are totally different ways we think about both of those. I would say we see very little overlap. Why?
Because when you actually look at the difference between art and design, there’s just an artificial divide, when in fact, there’s actually a lot of overlap in that Venn diagram. When people come into the gallery to look at art, many wind up getting interested in the apparel. And vice versa. I realized pretty early on that that intersection in this hybrid model was more engaging and made people more excited.
Would your fashion collection look different if you lived in New York?
I don’t know that it would be that different in a large city than it is in Santa Fe. The people who come to Santa Fe also go to New York, and we’re trying to put together a unique collection of things – for the local market, but also globally at the end of the day.
Certainly your art or your fashion doesn’t look like classic “picture-postcard-adobe” Santa Fe.
Here’s the thing: the idea of picture-postcard-adobe Santa Fe is evolving at all times. One of the things that makes Santa Fe so fascinating is this long-standing history with profound, deep-rooted cultures that have co-existed here and have shaped the community and the aesthetics.
Along with that, you’ve got international influences that show up and interact with this history. There are continuous evolutions of how Santa Fe looks to the rest of the world. It could include the classic Pink Adobe past as well as the richness of all of the historical cultures. But how those things interact with the contemporary world is what’s truly fascinating.
Your art collection includes abstract art, portraits, and historic photos. It reflects what you’re talking about.
One hundred percent. That’s always been a bedrock of the curation I’m interested in. Contemporary art, folk art, ancient things, surprising things – I find so much beauty in all of them. And they’re even better when they’re together.
In Ivy Ross’s book, Your Brain On Art, she talks about how many indigenous cultures didn’t even have a word for art; it was just the way they lived. Their painting, their clothes, their pottery was all the same thing to them.
That’s so beautiful, right? That sentiment – art to life – should be built into our thinking.
One of my designers, Carla Fernandez, has as a core premise of her work the square shapes of primitive cultures. The evidence is that most all primitive clothing was made in squares or rectangles, because the fabrics were very difficult to cut and they couldn’t fit it to the body like we do. By the time of western design, the technology allowed us to start using round shapes.
But Carla takes her inspiration from and works in this very simple and primitive way, with these basic shapes. And she works closely with a lot of indigenous women’s groups in Mexico to create a unique clothing that is closely aligned to ancient, traditional Mexican or Central American aesthetic.
You get these amazing hand-tooled appliqué designs by these women on Carla’s primitive shapes. She pays them all a living wage and gives them equity in each garment. Typically these are coming from places where these skills are dying out within the cultures. So she’s keeping the traditions alive.
But I’m equally interested in Nicholas Daley from Edinburgh. His mother’s family was in the Scottish textile industry and his father is Jamaican. So his clothes have the vibe of the beautiful Scottish fabrics and also of the reggae clubs he frequented growing up. An incredible combination.
And there’s vintage apparel, just like vintage photos in the art collection. We have 90’s pieces from Maurizio Altieri that have always had archival interest from collectors. There aren’t very many of these left, but we were lucky to find some in Japan.
Yes, eclectic. Look, Santa Fe is the Plaza, but it’s also the Railyard and the Rufina Arts district and Meow Wolf and, man, all of this in a town of less than 80,000 people! That beautiful fusion is what gives us a unique voice.
Originally Published in Santa Fe Magazine