"The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Detail from The Santa Fe Almanac 1943 (Santa Fe: Green Oak, 1942) by Agnes C. Sims.

Agnes C. Sims, The Santa Fe Almanac 1943 (Santa Fe: Green Oak, 1942).


This item from the David and Carol Farmer archive is titled The Santa Fe Almanac 1943 and was published in Santa Fe by Green Oak in 1942. Artist Agnes Sims compiled the material for and illustrated the almanac using silkscreen methods taught to her by fellow artist Louie Ewing.


Born in Pennsylvania in 1910, Agnes “Agi” C. Sims attended both the Philadelphia School of Design for Women as well as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.[1] After her artistic education, Sims managed a traveling marionette theater for a period before she established a reputation as a needlework and textile designer in Philadelphia. In 1938, however, following a visit to New Mexico, Sims became so enthralled with the state that she moved to Santa Fe permanently.[2] Once in Santa Fe, she opened a classical record store located on Canyon Road in a 1700s farmhouse. However, the shellac shortage during World War II soon put her out of business. Following this venture, Sims moved on to “flipping” historic homes around Santa Fe as a building contractor—a profession that built upon skills taught to her by her own contractor father. Later on, these skills proved exceedingly useful when she purchased and renovated a nineteenth-century house on Canyon Road with her life partner, Mary Louise Aswell, an editor for Harper’s Bazaar.[3]


Quickly after her move to Santa Fe, Sims was introduced to the ancient ruins and petroglyphs created by the ancestors of Puebloan people throughout the Galisteo Basin.[4] After viewing the rock art, Sims became captivated with the artform and drew upon them heavily as artist inspiration for the rest of her career. Throughout her life, Sims recorded over three thousand petroglyphs through drawings and thousands more through photographs. Following a grant received in 1949, she was able to publish her research in 1950 as San Cristobal Petroglyphs, “a portfolio of selected rock drawings.”[5] In addition to this research, Sims collaborated with Bertha Dutton, an anthropologist studying the Kuaua Pueblo ruins and kiva murals at the Coronado Historic Site. Additionally, Sims’s interest in forms of Native American cultural expression extended to Native ceremonies and dances being performed while she lived in New Mexico, including the Deer Dance. As a result, her artwork blends numerous influences from New Mexico’s cultures such as Hispanic woodcarving practices, imagery from Native ceremonies and dances, and modern artistic movements present in the state at that time.[6]


In contrast to her faithful records of petroglyphs, however, Sims’s own artwork was not documentary in nature or literal copies of her inspirations. Rather, her work engaged with two-dimensional animals and people through mid-century modernist techniques. Furthermore, with her “simple, idiosyncratic figures,” Sims manufactured her own symbolism, the meaning of which is still not entirely apparent.[7] With her oil paintings, she often mixed her paint with “an earthen medium,” a technique that gave her paintings rough textures. Beyond painting, Sims also created large, un-stretched wall hangings through “a batik-like resist process for painting on cloth,” and was a prolific sculptor of fiberglass, stone, wood, bronze, and polyester.[8]


While Sims was well known for her “generous encouragement of younger artists,” she did not offer formal instruction outright. This encouragement ensued, in part, through the public dance, theater, and music performances that Sims hosted at her Canyon Road home. Aside from her artistic prowess, scholarly interests, and support of the arts, Sims was also known for “living strictly on her own terms” and her passion for “good food and scotch.” Shortly before her death from Alzheimer’s in 1990, Sims was awarded the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievements in the Arts.[9] Her artwork has been shown in institutions across the country and globe, including the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the U. S. Embassy in London, England.[10]

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 Recto to the cover of "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943" (Santa Fe: Green Oak, 1942). 

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 Verso to the cover of "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943" (Santa Fe: Green Oak, 1942). 

For the Santa Fe Almanac, Sims utilized the silkscreen process of printing. To do so, she was advised by Louie Ewing, an artist described as “a link between the early artists of New Mexico and the [contemporary] art scene in Santa Fe.” Ewing, whose life and work as an influential print maker is described elsewhere in this exhibit, also worked through watercolors, oil paints, gouaches, and silkscreen prints to create images of the “romantic” Southwestern landscape.[11]


The front cover of the Santa Fe Almanac 1943 reads, “THE SANTA FE ALMANAC 1943 / Profusely Illustrated. Containing the principal dates of Fiestas, Processions, Indian dances also Tax dates, Changes of the moon, Astrological information as well as a variety of useful notes on housekeeping and husbandry by the foremost authorities, the language of flowers, riddles, proverbs etc. / ENTERTAINING AND IMPROVING FOR ALL THE FAMILY / PUBLISHED BY GREEN OAK, SANTA FE, N.M. COPYRIGHT APPLIED FOR”[12]


On the backside of the front cover, Sims has written, “The Santa Fe Almanac. Compiled and Illustrated by Agnes C. Sims. Printed with the silkscreen process under the direction of Louie Ewing. Roble Verde de Santa Fe. First Edition. 500 copies,” and lists the “principal tax dates” for 1943.[13] No information appears to be published about Green Oak Publishing or Roble Verde de Santa Fe. The relatively small edition number and intensive printing process of silkscreen indicate that this almanac would not have been widely produced and distributed, but rather, treated akin to a work of art.


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Recto to "January" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Verso to "January" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

For the month of January, Sims has chosen a print titled “La Paroquia [sic], Santa Fe N.M. 1846.” La Parroquia, or the Parroquia, was the principle Catholic church in Santa Fe. Yet, Sims does not provide any context for the prints included in her almanac. Instead, the backsides of the monthly pages list holidays and important events. For example, for January, Sims records the dates for New Year’s Day, the Feast of San Ildefonso, and dates for dances at the pueblo. Furthermore, she mentions that New Mexico became a state in January of 1912, that new dog licenses should be obtained at Santa Fe’s City Hall, and that residents should knock down icicles of canales to prevent leaks.[14]

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 Recto to "February" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943" 

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 Verso to "February" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943" 

The print for the month of February reflects strongly Sims’s interests in dances and other forms of Native cultural expression; the print included shows a Puebloan Deer Dancer, described on the back of the monthly spread as a “Winter Dancer.” Specifically, the backside of February’s layout lists upcoming holidays such as Candlemas and St. Valentine’s Day. Additionally, Sims provides recipes for both chile con carne and frijoles, and she notes that the “Winter Dancer on the other side of this page was adapted from a painting by Julian Martinez [San Ildefonso Pueblo] in the collection of D. N. Stewart.”[15] Martinez was the husband and artistic collaborator of ceramicist Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo) and, despite his proliferation of painted works on paper, is most commonly known for the black-on-black pottery that he created with Maria.

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Recto to "March" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943" 

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Verso to "March" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943" 

For March, Sims shifts back to the settler-colonial history of Santa Fe with a print captioned, “Arrival of caravan in Santa Fe. In the spring of 1822, William Becknell, ‘Father of The Santa Fe Trail’ brought the first wagons from the east across to Santa Fe.” On the reverse side of the calendar, Sims has recorded the dates for significant events such as Ash Wednesday and the Vernal Equinox. She has also provided a note about how, in March of 1862, Confederate forces occupied Santa Fe. Following this, she has penned a riddle about New Mexico, a recipe for tacos, and a note on how to get rid of the odor of onions after cooking or eating.[16]

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Recto to "April" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Verso to "April" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

Above the April calendar, there is an untitled print of a church with a goat walking up its path. On the back of the monthly layout, Sims lists the dates for holidays such as April Fools’ Day and Easter Sunday, with accompanying dances at the pueblos recorded. She follows this with a note about Juan de Oñate’s taking “formal possession” of New Mexico on April 30, 1598, and the reoccupation of Santa Fe by Union forces in April of 1862. After these notes, there is an old weather proverb, a recommendation for prevented chinchas, and an idea for keeping bread and lemons fresh.[17]

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Recto to "May" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Verso to "May" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

Sims includes a print of San Ysidro Labrador, or Saint Isidore the Laborer, for May’s monthly spread. The reverse side of the layout has the dates for holidays such as the San Filipe, Santa Cruz, and San Ysidro feast days as well as Memorial Day. Furthermore, Sims includes a note about May being the month of the Virgin Mary and explains that the explorer Fray Marcos de Niza and Estevan, a former slave, discovered the seven cities of Cibola—the loosely defined historical region thought to be in present-day northern New Mexio—in May of 1539. Sims also mentions the proclamation of war between the United States in Mexico in May 1846 and provides a recipe for blue corn meal muffins.[18]

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Recto to "June" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Verso to "June" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

Aesthetically different than the other prints in The Santa Fe Almanac, the artwork for June is a diagram of “A Bouquet of Sentiment” made from flowers such as heliotrope, cactus, sunflower, marigold, poppy, red carnation, columbine folly, rose, tulip, and violet. Sims provide such blooms’ designated “meanings,” when included in bouquets, as well. The print is labeled “Flora’s Garden in New Mexico. Culled from the Language of Flowers. Founded upon the French.” On the reverse of the layout, Sims provides dates for June holidays such as Ascension Day, Feast Days of San Antonio and San Juan Bautista, and Corpus Cristis Sunday. Sims ends the section with another new Mexican riddle.[19]

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Recto to "July" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Verso to "July" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

For the July calendar, Sims returns to imagery typical of the majority of The Santa Fe Almanac with a print titled, “Don Diego de Vargas Ponce de Leon Zapata y Lujan, Marques de Pa Nova de Bracimas y Capitan General del Nuevo Mexico,” a former seventeenth-century Spanish Governor in the Kingdom of New Spain. On the page’s reverse, Sims records the dates for Independence Day as well as the Feast Days of San Buenaventura, Santiago, and Santa Ana. She follows these dates with notes about the “Dog Days” of summer and how to keep horses healthy. In the throes of World War II by this point, Sims also urges readers to buy defense stamps and bonds.[20]

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Recto to "August" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Verso to "August" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

A portrait of another military leader, August’s print features “Genl. Kearney of the bloodless victory of Santa Fe, August 18th 1846,” a frontier officer in the U. S. Army and instrumental force in the Mexican-American War. The backside of the monthly layout provides a list of holidays such as the Feast Days of Nuestra Señora de los Angeles, Santo Domingo, San Lorenzo, Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, and San Augustin, as well as the dates for the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremony. After this dates, Sims offers a not about looking for shooting stars, one about the Pueblo Revolt—which began in New Mexico on August 10th, 1680—and further information about General Kearney’s occupation of Santa Fe, which began on August 18th, 1846.[21]

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Recto to "September" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Verso to "September" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

Another religious work, the print for September features San Miguel, or Saint Michael the Archangel. On the reverse of the calendar, Sims has listed holidays for the month of September, including Labor Day, the Autumn Equinox, and the Feast Days of San Esteban, San Miguel, and San Geronimo. These dates are followed by notes about the venues for the San Geronimo feast day, a note about the first Fiesta Season for Santa Fe on September 16th of 1712, and a note about the independence of Mexico from Spain on September 27, 1821.[22]

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Recto to "October" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Verso to "October" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

For the month of October, Sims created a print of a processional from a church. The backside of the layout records the dates for holidays such as Columbus day and the Feast Days of San Francisco and Cristo Rey. Along with these dates, Sims includes notes about the Palace of the Governor’s windows, the best method for washing fruit, a good way of cleaning greasy pans, and the process of ripening green tomatoes.[23]

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Recto to "November" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Verso to "November" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

The November calendar is accompanied by an untitled print of a man in a cowboy costume. The monthly spread’s reverse side provides the dates for holidays such as All Saints Day, All Souls Day, the Feast Day of San Diego, and Thanksgiving. Following this list, Sims offers notes about the Shalako ceremonies, the Yei-be-chi dances, and that the upcoming December print “shows the principal characters in the centuries-old Christmas Folk Tale ‘Coloquios de Los Pastores’ as performed in Santa Fe and many Spanish-American villages and ranches during the fortnight before and after Christmas.” In addition, Sims advertises the next year’s almanac, on sale for $1.50 at local stores or directly from Green Oak.[24]

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Recto to "December" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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Verso to "December" from "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

Lastly, the spread for December features the colorful Coloquio de Los Pastores print. The final listing of monthly holidays includes those such as the “first” anniversary of Pearl Harbor (in actuality, 1943 was the event’s second anniversary), the Feast Day of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, the Winter Solstice, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. She wraps up the monthly listing with a note about traveling by wagon and states, “Adios, que vaya usted con dios.”[25]

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Astrology signs backboard to "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

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"Horoscopes" backboard to "The Santa Fe Almanac 1943"

The backboard for the almanac, which is bound by twine, has a print of a semi-nude man surrounded by astrological signs on its front. On its reverse, the board delves into the details of each astrological sign under the heading, “Horoscopes From ‘The Works of Marius.’”


Overall, The Santa Fe Almanac presents more of a sampling in Agnes Sims’ artistic and historic influences rather than a comprehensive image of city life at the time. That being said, the almanac is informative and provides a miniature, quasi-history of sorts for the town and the state.

[1] “Agnes Sims (1910-1990),” The Owings Gallery, accessed July 1, 2022, https://www.owingsgallery.com/artists/agnes-sims/biography.

[2] “Agnes C. Sims Biography,” Medicine Man Gallery, accessed July 1, 2022, https://www.medicinemangallery.com/agnes-sims-biography.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Agnes Sims (1910-1990),” The Owings Gallery.

[6] “Agnes C. Sims,” New Mexico Museum of Art, accessed July 1, 2022, http://sam.nmartmuseum.org/people/93/agnes-c-sims;jsessionid=EC68B970C1159E736394844815A76848.

[7] “Agnes Sims (1910-1990),” The Owings Gallery.

[8] Ibid.

[9] “Agnes C. Sims Biography,” Medicine Man Gallery.

[10] “Agnes Sims (1910-1990),” The Owings Gallery.

[11] “Louie Ewing,” artcloud, accessed July 1, 2022, https://artcloud.com/artist/louie-ewing-i.

[12] Agnes C. Sims, The Santa Fe Almanac 1943 (Santa Fe: Green Oak, 1942).

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.