Santa Fe: Native Treasures and Artistic Pleasures

Even with its long days, summer is a season that simply seems to fly by. But here in Santa Fe, our numerous arts events prove summer has yet to reach its peak. I’ll be taking my vacation off-season and enjoying the great weather at home, because August is an amazingly artful month of can’t-miss experiences.

Indian Market

SWAIA Indian Market is the largest Native Arts festival in the country.

Santa Fe has a centuries-old history of Native art and culture. Baskets and beads, paintings and pottery, jewelry and clothing — all are part of an artistic legacy that grew from usage. And over time, these items grew more beautiful and desirable to collectors. SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market has history, too, and Santa Fe is primed for its 93rd appearance Aug. 18-24.

The whole town dresses up for this party. And even after years of attending, I can’t wait to show up in my finery. Seeing the crowd decked out in its silvery best sends any style-hound hunting for a Concho belt or dangly turquoise earrings.

Turquoise earrings come in every shade.

Turquoise earrings come in every shade.

The Market hosts artists from coast to coast so you’ll find both Penobscot baskets and Pueblo pottery. Haida carvings find a home near Hopi katsinas, and Navajo rugs and colorful paintings are also part of the mix. Bring your collector’s eye and you won’t be disappointed.

Meet a Native Art Star on the Page and in Person

One of the West’s most celebrated painters makes a special trip to Santa Fe during Indian Market. Kevin Red Star, a Crow native from Lodge Grass, Mont., delves deep into family experience and heritage to create contemporary works prized by collectors. One of the first students of the Institute of American Indian Arts, Red Star also received a scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute.

Imagine seeing a painting like this on your wall – this one is available. “Dancers (The Red Star Brothers)” by Kevin Red Star (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

Imagine seeing a painting like this on your wall – this one is available.
“Dancers (The Red Star Brothers)” by Kevin Red Star (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

The experience provided exposure to political and social concerns that affect Native life and continue to inform his work. Red Star notes “I hope to accomplish something for the American Indian and at the same time achieve personal satisfaction in a creative statement through my art.”

Meet Red Star Aug. 20 at Collected Works Books where he will sign copies of the gorgeous new book Kevin Red Star Crow Indian Artist by Daniel Gibson and Kitty Leaken; all proceeds that day benefit SWAIA. An opening reception for Red Star’s new exhibit and another book signing are at Windsor Betts Gallery Aug. 22.

Get Familiar with IFAM

IFAM, the Indigenous Fine Art Market, sets down roots in the Santa Fe Railyard Aug. 21-23. This new festival runs concurrently with Indian Market, giving visitors double the reason to be in Santa Fe. IFAM’s mission is to provide exposure for artists whose work may not fit SWAIA categories or regulations. There are over 565 registered Native American nations and IFAM’s palette of participants includes a host of Canadian First Nations and indigenous Hawaiian artists. It’s no surprise that the artist list has grown quickly!

Kevin-Red-Star-by-Daniel-Gibson-Book-Cover

Between the historic pictures and the fascinating story, this is a book to cherish. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

And IFAM hosts a special event Aug. 21 called Red Star, Rising Star with — you guessed it — Kevin Red Star. Red Star is mentoring George Alexander, a young Muscogee artist, and together they’ll do a live paint accompanied by music from Brian Frejo. The resulting artwork will be raffled off and a book signing at the event both benefit IFAM. The Market runs both days 10 a.m.–5 p.m., with entertainment on the Railyard stage noon-10 p.m. Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams Are a Perfect Pair

Speaking of indigenous Hawaii, I heartily recommend the O’Keeffe Museum’s killer exhibit Georgia O’Keeffe & Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures Exhibit. Both artists had a special connection to New Mexico, so pairing them makes sense, especially as they also shared a natural ability to let native flora create an authentic sense of place.

Georgia O’Keeffe always had an eye for beautiful trees. “Papaya Tree, Oil on Canvas,” collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art; Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)

Georgia O’Keeffe always had an eye for beautiful trees. “Papaya Tree, Oil on Canvas,” collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art; Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)

It’s amazing to think of O’Keeffe as a hired art-hand for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which commissioned her to create ad illustrations in 1939. O’Keeffe’s compositional ability is always remarkable, and her tropical blossoms and landscapes offer a lushness that contrasts with her Southwestern works. Adams was also in Hawaii on commission; his 1948 government assignment was followed by a 1957 bank commission. Adams’ love of the outdoors and deep connection to the land are always at the forefront of his images and this stunning compendium is no exception. See this one before it closes Sept. 17.

Wrap Up Your Summer With Only-in-Santa-Fe Experiences

Summer’s beauty is far from over. And Santa Fe can prove it, with a bounty of treasures ripe for the picking. There’s no place like here to tuck an artistic rendering of colorful memories into your bag. When the arts of August arrive, just get here and let Santa Fe do the rest.

 

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Artful Adventuring Awaits in Santa Fe

Summer is in full bloom–flowers blossoming and bees buzzing on long days ripe for enjoyment. I’m buzzing too, with excitement about the artistic riches in our hive. Santa Fe is always top 10 for creative cities, so we don’t need to go looking. Art and artists abound here!

The New Mexico Museum of Art is blooming outside and in.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is blooming outside and in.

See Beyond the Flower to a Colorful Career in Santa Fe

After her 30 years in residence, it’s apt that the new Judy Chicago exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Art is titled Local Color: Judy Chicago in New Mexico 1984–2014. As the artist notes, New Mexico attracted her for the same reasons it draws so many:

“What I wanted was the freedom to work. And that’s what New Mexico has given me, far away from the centers of the art world where the international art market presses down on artists and makes it difficult to pursue a personal vision like my own.”

 

Judy Chicago: Return of the Butterfly, 2008 Lithograph from the Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art (Photo Credit: New Mexico Museum of Art)

Judy Chicago: Return of the Butterfly, 2008 Lithograph from the Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art (Photo Credit: New Mexico Museum of Art)

 

 

The exhibit focuses on works made in New Mexico, where Chicago shares studio space with her husband in an old hotel they renovated. A gamut of media is represented – cast bronze and needlework, stained and painted glass, works on paper and painted porcelain in themes both intimate and universal.

 

Far East Art Styles in a Southwest Setting

Our serene Santa Fe Botanical Garden provides seasonal color and form for plant-loving people. But those who love get an extra twist on the outdoors with Origami in the Garden. This large-scale installation of folded metal forms by artist Kevin Box is up until October. Each time I visit, I choose a different time of day, so the magic of light and weather always lets me experience these unique works anew.

Cranes come to life in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

Cranes come to life in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

The artist considers origami a “simple metaphor for life. We all begin with a blank page, what we choose to do with it is what matters and the possibilities are endless.” Though fascinated by this intricate Japanese art form, Box was struck by the natural impermanence of the paper traditionally used to create origami. His re-envisioning led to 15 evocative cast and fabricated sculptures thoughtfully situated throughout in the garden’s graceful setting. The garden has been a great addition to the City Different and installations like this prove it!

Kevin Box’ Origami in the Garden started in one dimension and ended in three. (Photo Credit: Kevin Box)

Kevin Box’ Origami in the Garden started in one dimension and ended in three. (Photo Credit: Kevin Box)

The Artistic Landscape is Unlimited at SITE Santa Fe

A visit to the cutting-edge SITE Santa Fe is de rigueur. From the day it opened, the quality has remained sharp, with thought-provoking exhibitions that validate Santa Fe’s credentials as an arts capital. The project, SITElines: New Perspectives on Art of the Americas, is a six-year series of linked exhibitions showcasing contemporary art of the Americas, and the museum-scale SITE space kicks off the project with Unsettled Landscapes, opening on July 17.

SITELines uncovers the past with Pablo Helguera’s performance of Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano. (Photo Credit: SITE Santa Fe)

SITELines uncovers the past with Pablo Helguera’s performance of Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano. (Photo Credit: SITE Santa Fe)

Organized by a curatorial team from throughout the Western Hemisphere, Unsettled Landscapes is the first of three biennial exhibitions taking place. Sewing together the themes of landscape, territory, and trade, the exhibit is laced with political and historical narratives. With artists from Nunavut in the northernmost reaches of Canada to Chile’s Tierra del Fuego, the artistic spectrum covers a lot of territory. I’m ready to embark on this journey July 18 with Pablo Helguera’s Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano, a multi-disciplinary performance based on the forbidden card games of New Mexico’s Mexican era.

 

Bring On the Blues

Anyone who knows me knows that Turquoise, Water, Sky: the Stone and Its Meaning at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture has me enthralled. My turquoise fandom has me ooh-in and ahh-ing at this remarkable compendium of artifacts from the Museum’s collection. Not simply a semi-precious gem, turquoise has been honored as a sky and water stone, bringing blessings, good fortune, protection, good health and long life.

Cerrillos turquoise is stunning, even “in the rough.” (Photo Credit: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture)

Cerrillos turquoise is stunning, even “in the rough.” (Photo Credit: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture)

Cherished for its beauty and extensive range of hues, this “fallen sky stone” hidden in Mother Earth was a Southwestern adornment long before Columbus landed. Each individual stone’s color depends on the minerals in the area where it was mined. More copper means a bluer stone, more iron a greener one. Ancient mines dotted the Southwest, and the resulting variety of color and design is mesmerizing. And the history of turquoise in the Southwest is just as spellbinding. The museum has done a yeoman’s job of scouring the archives for examples, and an afternoon here means you’ll probably be shopping later to add to your own collection.

The sky stone comes to earth at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken, courtesy of MIAC)

The sky stone comes to earth at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken, courtesy of MIAC)

Santa Fe Creates an Especially Artistic Summer Experience

Having this rich mix of the traditional and the new means there is a pleasurable palette of experience for all. That’s why my adobe abode is summer visitors’ central! Creativity has been at the forefront of Santa Fe for centuries, so make your artistic pit stop here and you won’t go wrong.

 

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Take a Table Outdoors in Santa Fe

Al fresco! The words evoke the taste of what they promise. Dining outside is a welcome summer enjoyment, and we’re blessed with a bounty of options in Santa Fe. The temperate air beckons, so I’ve made it my business to see what’s cooking. Won’t you take a trip outside with me for patio pleasures?

Their Casa Is Your Casa

Old-World style courtyard construction styles brought beautiful open-air designs to the New World. Nowhere is this more evident than Sena Plaza, whose flower-laden courtyard hosts La Casa Sena. Tucked under 100-plus-year-old trees (look at the trunk size), Sena Plaza is one of the oldest surviving Santa Fe haciendas.

La Casa Sena’s patio is one of Santa Fe’s scenic beauties.

La Casa Sena’s patio is one of Santa Fe’s scenic beauties.

The building speaks volumes about Santa Fe history, and dining here is laden with taste and tradition. The menu hews to rich traditional New Mexico flavors (hello, chile and chimichurri) while crisp white tablecloths and seamless service lend a lovely air of elegance. Patio popularity means reservations suggested, but the 3–5 p.m. dinner gets you to the Plaza for 6 p.m. free music.

A Café Courtyard That’s Unforgettable

Love of historic buildings and fabulous food inevitably lead to SantaCafe. The kitchen never stumbles in the historic Padre Gallegos home north of the Plaza. The Padre himself had some mid-1800’s stumbles, having been defrocked for allegiance to the Bishop of Durango rather than New Mexico’s Bishop Lamy.

Head to SantaCafe for the spring rolls …

Head to SantaCafe for the spring rolls …

Gallegos’ gracious adobe home served as a boarding house, government offices and briefly, an Episcopal church. You can still look down into the home’s stone-lined well. I’m particularly fond of spending happy hour in the cool courtyard, noshing on vegetarian spring rolls that thankfully never leave the menu. I always hope the green-chile lobster roll is available for a gal-pal lunch, and supping on succulent lamb-chops is a divine beginning to nights ending at our outdoor Opera.

 … and enjoy summer dining on the SantaCafe patio.

… and enjoy summer dining on the SantaCafe patio.

 

Meet for a Meal by a Master

Fabulous things happen when a great chef finds a home of his own. And Restaurant Martín is the perfect illustration. The husband-and-wife Rios team has a recipe for success that shows on the plate, especially outdoors. The airy patio is a delight and the recent expansion upped the ante. Sunday Brunch was my Mother’s Day treat and was I glad! I’m a sucker for the smoked salmon eggs Benedict, a dish that never disappoints. James Beard-award winner Chef Martín’s focus on freshness is pointedly assured with this bill-of-fare note: “Menu is subject to change due to Chef’s creativity and the seasonality of ingredients.” Be sure to leave room for dessert, because nothing says summer like house-made sorbet.

Cool stones, warm wood, green leaves rustling, flowers blooming … the patio at Restaurant Martin has all the ingredients.

Cool stones, warm wood, green leaves rustling, flowers blooming … the patio at Restaurant Martin has all the ingredients.

A meal at Restaurant Martín always ends on a sweet note. (Photo Credit: Restaurant Martín)

A meal at Restaurant Martín always ends on a sweet note. (Photo Credit: Restaurant Martín)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Art Hotel for Artful Outdoor Dining

I’m lucky — I live here. But you’re lucky too when your hotel stay includes an ample patio and a terrific restaurant. You’ll find both at La Posada de Santa Fe, and I’m always ready to meet for a meal by the Fuego fire-pit. LaPo (its local moniker) may be best known for Julia Staab, the ghost who visits her former mansion, but for me, it’s the six acres surrounding this art-filled hotel that make mealtime memories.

Fire up Santa Fe memories on the patio at Fuego.

Fire up Santa Fe memories on the patio at Fuego.

Fresh handmade tamales appear on Fridays and Saturdays; other days, the grapefruit and jicama salad insistently begs to be ordered. The menu is a thoughtfully balanced mix of traditional, New Mexican dishes and classics like Filet mignon. And on live-music nights, the historic Staab House bar creates a lively backdrop that’s signature Santa Fe.

Go To Burger Heaven Under the Blue Skies of Santa Fe

Are you surprised I haven’t mentioned our world-famous green chile cheeseburger yet? There’s a multitude of choices, but my go-to patio patty is the Santa Fe Bite. It was hard to score a seat at petite Bobcat Bite, its former incarnation, but its move into the heart of town easily accommodates new fans. Take time to work your way through this big burger, since no one makes you feel rushed as you watch the world stroll by.

The Santa Fe Bite does burgers right.

The Santa Fe Bite does burgers right.

 

The Bite grinds their own meat so honor that homemade ethic with their crunchy and delicious homemade chips. Veggie burgers are a hit, and New Mexico specialties round out the menu. Fish’n’chips appear on Fridays, and the beer and wine list is pleasingly well-rounded.

 

 

 

Include Dining Outside When You Dine Out in Santa Fe

There’s simply no better way to enjoy our superb climate than to dine in it. I’ve probably made you hungry so I’ll be kind and stop here, but Santa Fe’s outdoor dining scene deserves in-depth discovery on your part. Azure skies yielding to glorious sunsets, cool evening descending, a good wine and dear friends together for a great meal — this memorable mixture guarantees all the smiles of a summer night.

Take a delicious bite of outdoor dining in Santa Fe.

Take a delicious bite of outdoor dining in Santa Fe.

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Outdoor Adventure Awaits in Santa Fe

The view from Santa Fe’s back porch beckons you to explore.

The view from Santa Fe’s back porch beckons you to explore.

In addition to Santa Fe’s countless indoor wonders (transcendent performing arts theaters, sumptuous spas and jaw-dropping restaurants, just to name a few), the City Different’s pristine natural surroundings make it Mother Nature’s most beautiful theme park. Summer provides the ideal time to explore Santa Fe’s dozens of hiking paths for any level of experience and fitness level, river rafting and some of the best mountain biking trails in North America. Ski Santa Fe transforms into a mountain playground during summer, and the city center is a walkable, bikeable adventure, complete with live music on the Santa Fe Bandstand, al fresco dining and patio happy hour-ing. No visit to Santa Fe is complete without experiencing the natural beauty that’s everywhere you turn here. All you have to do is step outside.

The Travel Bug Will Have You Itching for Outdoor Exploration

The Travel Bug has all the resources to plan your outdoor escape.

The Travel Bug has all the resources to plan your outdoor escape.

Getting out and about is a breeze in Santa Fe. But sometimes, we adventurers need a little guidance. The Travel Bug is my go-to gear shop, with shelves brimming with travel guides and maps to make any Santa Fe excursion a success. And when you’re ready to go full Indiana Jones, they’ve got all the right apparel and cool travel accessories. Let’s be honest, we all feel a little more adventurous in a stylish safari hat. Seriously though, you won’t regret taking in the Travel Bug before happily taking in Santa Fe’s many outdoor treasures.

Fuel Your Appetite for Fresh Air at The Beestro

Grab a delectable picnic from Beestro and hit the trail running.

Grab a delectable picnic from Beestro and hit the trail running.

Before hiking or biking through the natural splendor of Santa Fe, make sure your journey includes a hearty picnic lunch from one of my favorite eateries, The Beestro. This quaint café is one of downtown Santa Fe’s hidden gems and makes it easy to grab some gourmet sustenance for your hike or ride. Their stacked homestyle sandwiches and hot-off-the-grill Panini (lamb and feta, anyone?) will conquer any appetite. And for the veggie inclined, Beestro’s farmers’ market salads burst with unexpected flavors ranging from quinoa tabouleh to red chile honey salmon. Best of all, you can pop in, gather up the goodness and head for foothills.

Anyone Can Be a Mountaineer in Santa Fe

Santa Fe makes it easy to get up close and personal with nature.

Santa Fe makes it easy to get up close and personal with nature.

In Santa Fe, you can get back to nature then get back to the middle of town in minutes. The Dale Ball Trails offer an idyllic starting point. This trail system winds through some of the area’s most beautiful natural landscapes in the area, and with several trail entrances around town, embarking on your hike is a breeze. With more than 22 miles of trails through the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, hiking Dale Ball is always a new experience. Even if you’re like me and low on the rugged adrenaline-junkie scale, one trek through Dale Ball will bring out your explorer. And don’t worry about high-end gear. The widely varied trail surfaces enable you to hike in anything from sneakers to sandals to hiking boots. So while you’re in Santa Fe, grab a hat, pack plenty of water and sunblock and head for out-of-this-world hikes that are just-down-the-street convenient.

Take Refuge With the Wild at Audubon Center

The serenity of Audubon’s gardens offers a soulful retreat.

The serenity of Audubon’s gardens offers a soulful retreat.

Even during an action-packed vacation, sometimes you have to stop and smell the lavender. The Randall Davey Audubon Center offers 135 acres of peaceful habitat for all manner of plants, animals and visitors. Located just ten minutes from the center of The Plaza, this sanctuary is home to Ponderosa Pine forests, picture-perfect meadows and bird walks led by local experts. (Be sure to bring your binoculars or rent a pair at the on-site shop.) Once you’ve found your bliss and want to step up the exercise a bit, do yourself a favor and hit the Spring Canyon loop. This easy-to-navigate trail makes for a relatively simple trek, but its small ascent doubles as a workout with views no gym can match.

For Instant Adventure, Just Add Water

Get your vacation off the ground with the rush of river rafting.

Get your vacation off the ground with the rush of river rafting.

Nothing says summer fun like riding the waves with the whole family. And when you’re in Santa Fe, all it takes is a half- or full-day excursion with Santa Fe Rafting Company. Just park at the boatyard right in the center of Santa Fe on Cerrillos Road and it’s a quick jaunt to the Rio Grande. I know whitewater rafting can seem an intimidating venture for the uninitiated, but Santa Fe Rafting’s trained and certified guides can show even a landlubber how to tame the river. Just choose your desired level of “OMG,” from slow flows to full-on whitewater rapids, and you’re in for an epic day on the legendary Rio Grande.

Canyon Road Makes the Morning Jog an Art Form

 

Exploring Santa Fe’s galleries on foot invigorates body and soul.

Exploring Santa Fe’s galleries on foot invigorates body and soul.

Canyon Road is famously known as Santa Fe’s premier art destination. But any Santa Fean will tell you that a brisk morning jog up Canyon Road offers visual delights of another order. Ascending the hill to this legendary artistic haven in the crisp morning air, then strolling the vibrant sidewalks and soaking in the creative energy, well, it makes for a morning that will make your whole week. Then you can head toward the city center via Alameda for a totally different vibe on your return. Art and exercise along Canyon Road offer just the prescription for an inspiring morning.

Leave No Stone Unturned on Your Trip to Santa Fe

A simple stroll downtown offers a breathtaking outdoor experience.

A simple stroll downtown offers a breathtaking outdoor experience.

There’s a world of art in Santa Fe that isn’t confined to gallery walls. You’ll find masterpieces everywhere you look among Santa Fe’s piñon forests, sweeping mountain vistas and winding canyons. The fact is, there are so many ways to explore the natural wonders of Santa Fe, you’ll want to develop a separate itinerary just for outdoor adventures. Whether you’re gazing at the skyline from the city’s numerous parks or hiking your way to a spectacular mountaintop overlook, a visit to Santa Fe is guaranteed to expand your horizons. And I guarantee the view is amazing.

 

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Turn Santa Fe into Santa Free

A 1920s musical shared the time-honored notion that the best things in life are free. That rings especially true in the City Different. And though I love the stellar entertainment Santa Fe offers year-round, I’m extra-jazzed when the fun is free. So if you’re looking for the scoop on Santa Fe’s best summer freebies, I’m happy to share my two cents.

Give My Compliments to the Plaza

The heart of our historic town was, is and always shall be the Santa Fe Plaza. I love waving at brides whose limo is honking happily as they circle the Plaza post-ceremony. I appreciate wandering to window shop when family comes to town. And I’ve often stopped mid-stroll to whistle admiringly at a line of low-riders out for a car club cruise. After all, walking – the cardiologist’s wisest travel advice – doesn’t cost a cent.

abq low rider

Santa Fe scenery includes classics of the four-wheeled variety. (Photo Credit: Albuquerque Journal)

We’re free to be you and me when the Santa Fe Bandstand invites us to the Plaza to rock the night away. From June 23 to August 28, lucky locals and visiting friends will hear two full months of music completely gratis. The folding chairs are ready for loading and my pals are ready for the party. And it’s no problem if the munchies hit. We can snack on pizza and look down on the action from the Draft Station, or fuel up right on the Plaza on nights when the food trucks pull in!

bandstandcrowds

Follow the crowd to the historic Plaza for nightly entertainment.

 

And there’s still time to take in some Music on the Hill! St. John’s College makes the midweek blues disappear on Wednesdays through July 23 when you park your carcass there (not your car – parking is limited, so head for Museum Hill and the free shuttle, which runs every 15 minutes from 5-9pm). Spread your picnic blanket on the grassy lawn and let Walter Burke Catering handle food duties while you enjoy hot jazz in the cool mountain air.

A Trip to the Railyard is On the House

I love living in such a walkable town. The Plaza will always be my love but the Santa Fe Railyard has become a fabulous friend. With oodles of goodies now in season, the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market is open both Tuesday and Saturday mornings. Flowers decorate the stalls, live music floats on the air and as summer progresses, beautiful fresh produce will be joined by the scent of roasting chile. Even when the fridge is full, a walk to the Railyard is a morning-must. You just never know what you’ll find!

santa fe farmers market

The Santa Fe Farmers Market is so much more than food.

Axle Art parks the mobile art van at the Railyard most weekends, and this petite gallery on wheels is always a gas. The Santa Fe Artists Market is stretched alongside SITE Santa Fe on Saturdays and the Railyard Artisans Market pulls into the Farmers’ Market Pavilion on Sundays.

The Axle Gallery is art on four wheels.

The Axle Gallery is art on four wheels.

 

 

 

 

Last Friday Artwalks, free movies on the lawn, youth jam nights at Warehouse 21, slide lectures at Santa Fe Clay – these are only a few of the Railyard’s blessings. Not to mention just walking the dog (or your BFF) through 10-plus acres of sustainable landscaping. Everything blooms in thoughtfully planned succession, with a well-tended community garden, a working acequia in the trestle garden and bocce players out on the pitch. Railyard, I love you!

Claim Freedom for Artistic Adventure

Art to hang on your walls may cost, but looking before buying is no-charge amusement. Santa Fe deserves its reputation as the Southwest’s art capital. And with over 200 galleries, an afternoon of admiration is easy to create. A jaunt up Canyon Road or through the West Palace or Gala Arts Districts makes any day artful and free Friday evenings at the museum are great meet-and-greets.

shidoni-foundry

A “moo!” in metal at Shidoni. (Photo Credit: TripAdvisor)

A short drive leads to the Shidoni Sculpture Garden in Tesuque, open daily until the gates close at 5pm. Shidoni is a super spot for artistic selfies — just pose next to your favorite piece and click ‘til you have a masterpiece.The Foundry has been turning artists’ visions into bronze realities since 1971, and works created onsite are showcased in the gallery. Watching a Saturday bronze pouring isn’t free but it’s sure worth the $5.

Jonathan-Keeton-STUDIO-SHOT2-500x500

Meet Jonathan Keeton at Studio #7 on the Santa Fe Studio Tour. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Keeton)

The only cost involved in the Santa Fe Studio Tour is fuel for the car. I enjoy meeting Santa Fe’s up-and-coming art stars in situ, spying on their studios and picking their brains about their crafts. As I wander from one studio to the next, I find myself inspired, not just to put brush to canvas but to renovate my space for a fresh new look.

Dancing Through the Past

Keep the car fueled up because the countryside is calling. Since New Mexico didn’t become a state until 1912, the relative isolation served to keep our Pueblo culture beautifully intact. It’s no wonder that every August Santa Fe plays host to North America’s largest Native American arts festival, SWAIA Indian Market. I attend that talent-fest annually but I also never miss the chance to see a pueblo dance.

pueblo dances

Color and culture all come together in one place at a Pueblo Feast Day dance. (Photo Credit: newmexico.org)

Celebrating the patron saints assigned by Spanish friars, Pueblo Feast Day Dances are truly one-of-a-kind experiences. Summer means Corn Dances, honoring the vital importance of this Old World crop to the Pueblo people. On June 24, Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan Pueblo) and Taos celebrate their patron St. John, and Cochiti Pueblo honors St. Bonaventure on July 14. Santo Domingo feasts St. Dominic on August 4. On August 9, Picuris Pueblo pays tribute to St. Lawrence and Santa Clara Pueblo (honoring St. Clare) dances on August 12.

Cancellations can and do happen; it’s a good idea to call the individual pueblo a day or so before (no one answers on feast days). Pueblo dances are akin to church ceremonies, so it’s critical to observe Pueblo etiquette: No cameras, sketchbooks or notebooks. Stay off the dance plaza. Turn off cell phones. Do not applaud, ask questions or talk to dancers and never enter a home without being invited. If you’re lucky enough to score an invitation, eat modestly, thank the hosts and depart in timely fashion so others can dine.

 The Best Things in Life are Found in Santa Fe

Any vacation that has free entertainment in the mix is bound to be memorable and Santa Fe always has a surprise or two for those in the know. Charge up the enjoyment factor with these insider tips and you’ll get a full dose of fun at no extra charge. Santa Fe is rich in culture, history, tradition and adventure but believe me, you don’t have to be rich to enjoy it!

santa fe plaza

Seeing yourself here is complementary!

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Santa Fe and Photography Just Click

I firmly believe that no city in the world offers more wonder and inspiration for photography lovers than Santa Fe. Maybe it’s the way the rounded corners and angular lines of the adobe building bend the light. Or the way the Sangre de Cristo’s mountaintops invite themselves into every frame.

Cropping Not Needed: With Santa Fe’s distinctive light and iconic landscapes, there will be little you want to cut from the frame.

Cropping Not Needed: With Santa Fe’s distinctive light and iconic landscapes, there will be little you want to cut from the frame.

But whatever it is that gives Santa Fe its unique shadow and light—combine it with the totems of Santa Fe’s people, culture, and heritage—and photographic mastery is just a click away.

Santa Fe Photographic Workshops Fuel Creative Energies

Another Santa Fe Photographic Workshops student strikes photographic gold (and sepia) (Photo courtesy of Tina Miller.)

Another Santa Fe Photographic Workshops student strikes photographic gold (and sepia)
(Photo courtesy of Tina Miller.)

For the photographically inclined of any skill level, Santa Fe offers a smorgasbord of workshops ranging from the technical to the philosophical. One of my personal favorites is Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Offering classes year round, photographers engage their imaginations, rekindle their passion, and hone their craft, all while maintaining their personal style. Be sure to check out their expansive calendar of events. Upcoming workshops include  “A Natural Eye: The Summer Landscape,” and “Crafting Dramatic Light With Small Strobes.”

Developing Skills with Santa Fe Digital Darkroom Classes

Contrasting Images: Learn how to improve yours at Santa Fe’s Digital Darkroom (Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Digital Darkroom)

Contrasting Images: Learn how to improve yours at Santa Fe’s Digital Darkroom
(Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Digital Darkroom)

If you’re like me, you feel confident in your ability to capture stirring images through the lens, but are often left asking, “Now what?”. Personalized, intensive workshops and mentoring programs offered at the Santa Fe Digital Darkroom guide you step-by-step through Adobe Photoshop®, Lightroom®, and digital photography techniques. Photographers with decades of experience and those new to the form can raise their game with the experienced, nurturing instruction here.

In addition to hands-on instruction, Santa Fe Digital Darkroom also hosts photographic tours through the city’s most breathtaking, picture-taking locales.  For starters, there’s The City Different Tour that brings legendary and off-the-beaten-path Santa Fe landmarks into your viewfinder. You can also opt for the natural beauty of Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu and the Chama River Valley as part of the Landscape Tour. And if you’re ready for something otherworldly, the Tent Rocks Tour offers a photographer’s paradise of surreal landscapes with ancient rock spires, twisting canyons and unforgettable views that comprise Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. All told, Santa Fe Digital Darkroom offers more than a dozen photographic tours, any one of which is sure to move you.

Every Picture Tells a Story in Santa Fe

Farolitos make Santa Fe architecture even more picturesque. (Photo courtesy of Thad Roan.)

Farolitos make Santa Fe architecture even more picturesque.
(Photo courtesy of Thad Roan.)

A word of advice for any seasoned or wannabe photo buff planning a Santa Fe excursion: You better not blink, because you’ll find sources of visual inspiration at every turn.

St. Francis Cathedral is full of heavenly imagery.

St. Francis Cathedral is full of heavenly imagery.

If you’re looking for a good place to start, you can’t go wrong with the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, located right on The Plaza. You’ll wish you had faster shutter speed when visiting this gem that dates back to 1869. You also can’t miss (literally) the iconic Cross of the Martyrs. Located at the crest of the hill on Paseo de la Loma, this 25-foot-tall cross overlooking all of Santa Feoffers the ideal vantage point for breathtaking shots of the city.

The Loretto Chapel staircase doesn’t have a bad side

The Loretto Chapel staircase doesn’t have a bad side (Photo courtesy of Matt Payne)

 

 

The hand-carved wooden spiral staircase at Loretto Chapel is a photographer’s dream, too. This marvel of craftsmanship was created with no structural means of support, and its double 360-degree spirals of velvety wood grain bathed in cathedral light make for an indelible photographic image. And when the day is done in Santa Fe, photographic ecstasy is just beginning. The applause-worthy sunsets here elicit awe from even the most seasoned shutterbug.

Santa Fe offers photographic magic as far as the eye can see

Santa Fe offers photographic magic as far as the eye can see

Make Your Santa Fe Adventure Picture Perfect

We photography enthusiasts are a restless bunch. We’re not content with standard-issue “vacation photos.” We thrive on the story within the story that great photographs convey. That’s what makes Santa Fe such a wonderland for anyone who’s been bitten by the (shutter) bug: Everywhere you turn, there’s a story, a personal narrative and the poetry of light and shadow. The best part is, you don’t need any experience or gear to capture truly awe-inspiring images. Whether you use a camera phone or a Canon, in Santa Fe there’s no way to not get the picture.

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International Dining Santa Fe Style

I could eat my way around the world. Seriously. Fortunately for me and my tummy, there’s no place like home for a culinary adventure that lets me savor a bounty of global dining traditions. In New Mexico, we offer more than just chile.

Spice of a Different Flavor

Confession: I eat a lot of fiery Santa Fe cuisine. But some days I’d like more than just a capsaicin kick from New Mexico chile. When I crave a kick of a different sort, I picture India, where peppers meet the intricate blend of southern hemisphere spices. Seated under cool leafy trees at Raaga, I can get my fix with an Indian-style mix.

Raaga (translation: sweet melody) hits all the right notes on the plate.

Raaga (translation: sweet melody) hits all the right notes on the plate.

Paddy Rawal’s menu is simply enormous. His palate-pleasing path led from India to stints in Egypt, London and Dubai before creating his cozy Santa Fe café in an Agua Fria courtyard setting. The variety and complexity of choices means that vegetarians and vegans will be as delighted as those who crave an authentic chicken vindaloo.

The chicken palak is a palate-pleaser at Raaga.

The chicken palak is a palate-pleaser at Raaga.

An amazing number of delicacies can decorate a plate of rice, but discovering all the subtleties on the plate requires multiple returns. And of course there’s the naan — almost a dozen iterations in yummy bread choices. When ordering, it’s up to you to choose your heat index. Offered mild to medium to hell (yes, that’s what the menu says), my chicken palak was just perfect, thanks to waiter Dennis’ suggestion of medium-plus!

Andiamo! Immediatamente!

After years of dining out with Italian in-laws who know their pasta inside and out, I know that finding the right neighborhood trattoria means finding all the comfort foods of home.

Andiamo! is a light, bright and absolutely right spot to “Mangia Italiano!”

Andiamo! is a light, bright and absolutely right spot to “Mangia Italiano!”

A historic 1880s building gives Andiamo! its neighborly feel. The Mission-style bungalow on Garfield Street offers old-school ambiance and an up-to-the-minute kitchen. And proximity to the Santa Fe Farmers Market means local NM ingredients meld molto bene with authentic Italian imports.

Spicy linguine arrabiata meets its match with cool Peroni beer at Andiamo!

Spicy linguine arrabiata meets its match with cool Peroni beer at Andiamo!

Since I’m always on the hunt for hot, linguine arrabiatta is frequently in my sights but digging into the risotto with truffle oil is a tempting thought. Weekday lunch is a great deal due to its rotating cast of specials and with the Railyard Park across the street, al fresco take-out is a tasty option.

Antony, Take Me to Cleopatra

Okay, his name isn’t Antony, but my hero takes me to Cleopatra Café whenever I ask. With two locations, this Middle Eastern mecca makes a pita pit-stop an easy proposition. The original is in the downtown Design Center and you can’t beat the Zafarano outpost for scoring a quick table.

Cleopatra’s Gyro for my hero and the Nile Plate for me.

Cleopatra’s Gyro for my hero and the Nile Plate for me.

Service at both spots is fast and friendly, and affordable. Even with a beer, you’ll leave full and your wallet won’t suffer. The menu is a Middle-Eastern mash-up and boasts two different falafels: Lebanese-style with garbanzos or Egyptian with fava beans. Hummus is a staple for any homey feast and though a gyro works lunch-wise, the extra hungry should opt for the Nile Plate, laden with luscious lamb and a generous Greek salad. The Design Center is a fun backdrop for a visit since I can browse the shops after browsing the menu.

The Saltanah Dancers add some sultry spice to a meal at Cleopatra Café. (Photo Credit: Saltanah Dancers)

The Saltanah Dancers add some sultry spice to a meal at Cleopatra Café. (Photo Credit: Saltanah Dancers)

 

 

At the Zafarano location, I love the Middle Eastern soap operas murmuring from two corner screens and the Saltanah Belly Dancers add their sensuous gyrations at Thursday night performances. And at both spots there’s a mound of soft fresh pita bread.

The Far East is Nearer to The Plaza Than You Think

The multicultural mix of Santa Fe teaches its landlocked youngsters to look out to the world and my little one’s lessons generally lead to dinner decisions that revolve around sushi. I’m grateful her palate picks Shohko Cafe. The dining room’s window-side tables and sushi bar offer a serene oasis for delving into the culinary spectrum of Japan. The family owners of Shoko are always happy to provide a hijiki-to-handroll education.

Smiles come with the sushi at Shohko. (Photo Credit: Shohko Café)

Smiles come with the sushi at Shohko. (Photo Credit: Shohko Café)

 

Pursuing their interest in George Ohsawa’s macrobiotic philosophy, Shohko and Hiro Fukuda began a 40-year legacy with their original Oriental Natural Foods store. Over the years, three beautiful daughters and a detour into the restaurant kitchen resulted in this much-loved and frequently-visited Santa Fe spot.

Where’s the wasabi? At Shohko, of course. (Photo Credit: Eric Swanson)

Where’s the wasabi? At Shohko, of course. (Photo Credit: Eric Swanson)

We always start with seaweed salad and frankly, it’s so good I could eat it daily.. Enoki mushrooms sautéed in sake and butter on the Izakaya Menu (read “Japanese tapas”) are like no mushroom dish you’ve ever eaten. Green chile makes a welcome appearance in the tempura selection, and I love the bento box lunches. The sushi menu? Superb, and by the way, so is the sake menu!

Give the French Their Due

A classic like steak and fries sounds and tastes so much more chic when one orders Steak Frites, don’t you think? And nothing is as quite as classy as the dishes at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar.

315: It’s the name, the address and the place for finding food a la francaise.

315: It’s the name, the address and the place for finding food a la francaise.

Since 1995, 315 has been serving classic French culinary experiences to savvy diners at its Old Santa Fe Trail location. The flavors bring a French twist to fresh local ingredients and the wine list is one of the area’s largest and most thoughtfully-chosen. Combine those elements with a bar menu crafted for casual nights on the patio and you won’t be disappointed.

Pair the basil-wrapped shrimp with one of the 250+ wine selections at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar. (Photo Credit: Joy Godfrey)

Pair the basil-wrapped shrimp with one of the 250+ wine selections at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar. (Photo Credit: Joy Godfrey)

The menu is based on the best available in-season, along with some standards that loyal locals have refused to relinquish. It’s hard for me to resist fresh pea shoots and mais oui, no one makes confit like a French-trained chef.

Santa Fe: Serving the World on a Platter

We have it all here! Great weather, beautiful sunsets, world-class art and an array of cuisine in almost every accent. Even our world-famous green chile cheeseburger goes global on occasion. I’ve merely opened the menu, so take it from here and dig in.

 

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Painted Skies are Perfectly Santa Fe

Santa Fe skies make a remarkable canvas for Mother Nature’s artistry.

Santa Fe skies make a remarkable canvas for Mother Nature’s artistry.

I’ve watched color fill the skies overhead wherever I’ve traveled but I believe Santa Fe’s palette rivals them all. Our low-profile, adobe architecture offers the ideal skyline for the celestial creations in our clean, mountain air. With no humidity or bugs, we can linger outside to our hearts content. The sun’s dawn through dusk performances make life in Santa Fe feel just about perfect.

Rose-colored Glasses Not Needed Here

Ever notice that historic cities all have one place that’s been welcoming travelers for ages? In Santa Fe that place is La Fonda on the Plaza. With its Harvey girl history, dedicated, local ownership, and storied Plaza location, La Fonda has hosted starlets, diplomats, family reunions and everything in between. And as soon as weather permits, it’s time to ride the elevator up to the Bell Tower Bar.

Bidding the sun adiós from La Fonda is a Santa Fe tradition.

Bidding the sun adiós from La Fonda is a Santa Fe tradition.

Meeting atop La Fonda’s Pueblo-style edifice means you can admire the western sky from one of Santa Fe’s most spot-on sunset perches. It’s heavenly to sip a Bell Ringer Margarita, nibble on Hatch green chile sliders and watch the sun slip slowly beyond the city’s horizon.

Howl for the Moon Not to Come Too Soon

Rooftop roundups are a tradition wherever weather is wonderful and Santa Fe meets the climate requirement with ease. So it’s no surprise the Coyote Cantina is a summer go-to for locals. Fantastic food? Check! Creative cocktails? Check! Convivial crowd?  Of course! Add in streaks of magenta and gold across the sky and, well, you get the picture.

Colors linger in the southwest where our sunsets are the best.

Colors linger in the southwest where our sunsets are the best.

You can pair jalapeno shooters or a cool cerveza with Baja-style fish tacos. The black sesame, honey white shrimp act as the perfect accomplice for a Señorita Margarita. I have yet to try the $100 margarita but a 100-year-old Grand Marnier sounds worthy of sunset’s extravagantly rich hues.

The Santa Fe Sun Gives a Great Performance

The multitude of colors in a Santa Fe sunset meets its match with the multitude of voices at the Santa Fe Opera. There’s nothing like combining nature’s glorious handiwork with that of Handel or Hindemith. And there’s nothing like the state-of-the-art outdoor theatre where you can catch the best of both. I recommend getting to the opera early to avoid that I’m-afraid-we’ll-miss-the-overture feeling, since once the music begins patrons aren’t seated until the first real break.

Santa Fe Opera sunsets are music for the eyes.

Santa Fe Opera sunsets are music for the eyes.

If you’re an early bird, relax over a tailgate party. Pick up a picnic to go (I‘m partial to ample salads from Vinaigrette paired with a bottle of New Mexico’s own Gruet Brut) or order a picnic in advance from the Opera’s catering partner, Bon Appetit. You can also opt for a preview dinner, which comes with wine and an informative dessert course talk about the performance. As you settle into your seat, nature’s skyscape solo welcomes the conductor to the podium. The sunsets are guaranteed to be just as dramatic as any final act.

Sometimes the sun’s parting note is best relayed through a messenger. That’s when I turn to Santa Fe Walkabouts for a sunset tour. Weather permitting, Walkabouts’ open-air off-road Pinzgauer vehicle winds up a scenic dirt road and deposits you in a green mountain grove. From there an easy hike takes you to memorable vistas, with fresh mountain breezes and rustling aspens creating a beautiful backdrop. This three-hour adventure will linger in your mind long after the sun’s lengthy farewell.

When Walkabouts take you to the top, the colors never seem to stop. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Walkabouts)

When Walkabouts take you to the top, the colors never seem to stop. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Walkabouts)

 

Santa Fe Knows Sunsets…and Sunrises Too

I love it when the birds start chirping early because they wake me up with enough time to admire the morning’s colors. Early-to-rise days find me watching the sun peek over the Sangre de Cristo range at the Cross of the Martyrs. Erected in 1920 to commemorate 21 Franciscan friars slain during the 1680 Pueblo revolt, the Cross also provides a bit of early morning exercise via a climb up the steps to the hilltop.

These stunning Santa Fe hues will make anyone a morning person. (Photo credit: Alex Sneiders)

These stunning Santa Fe hues will make anyone a morning person. (Photo credit: Alex Sneiders)

I feel close to history and fortunate to live here as I survey the city awakening below. And the easy access means I can end the day with sunset views in the exact same spot.

The Frank Ortiz Dog Park is one of my secret haunts for greeting the sun early or late.

My dog is not a morning person. We missed the early colors but we still got the views!

My dog is not a morning person. We missed the early colors but we still got the views!

The dog-lovers are a friendly bunch and it’s a snap to get there in time to watch the sky change color. The dog-less are just as welcome to see the sun come up or go down in this 360-degree location. A car to get there and two legs for an easy stroll do the trick.

 

 

 

Don’t Let the Sun Rise or Set without a Visit to Santa Fe

If you want to escape to nature’s wonders, just look up.

If you want to escape to nature’s wonders, just look up.

The sun has been a generous friend to Santa Fe, giving us a gorgeous setting for centuries. With more than 300 days of sun per year, days of sun, sunrises and sunsets galore are guaranteed.

Make tracks for the City Different but make sure your camera is fully charged – I promise your Santa Fe picture album will be colored in every hue.

 

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Santa Fe: Sounds of Summer

Standing, clapping, dancing and cheering — there’s more than one way to appreciate a terrific performance. Once you’re in-the-know, you’ll have more than one historic Santa Fe spot for discovering the musical pleasures of the season. Since I’m totally Tuned Into Santa Fe, I’ve written your summer score, complete with notes on the scene.

Let’s Go Lensic

The Lensic Theater in its youth, circa 1934. (Photo Credit: Palace of the Governors Photo Archives)

The Lensic Theater in its youth, circa 1934. (Photo Credit: Palace of the Governors Photo Archives)

Santa Fe’s outpost origins meant foresight and originality were necessities. Nowhere is this more evident than the place that mixes mariachi music with 100-piece orchestras: The Lensic Center for the Performing Arts.

Built in 1930 by immigrant merchant Nathan Salmon and son-in-law E. John Greer, the Lensic quickly became a Depression-era social hub for inexpensive escape. Named through a contest requiring either a Spanish-sounding name or one incorporating the initials of Salmon’s grandchildren, the Lensic awarded Mrs. P. J. Smithwick a $25 prize for combining all six initials into a clever acronym alluding to a movie projector lens.

Performers come in all sizes at the Lensic. (Photo Credit: The Lensic Center for the Performing Arts)

Performers come in all sizes at the Lensic. (Photo Credit: The Lensic Center for the Performing Arts)

Recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of Save America’s Treasures, the Lensic hosts 200-plus events every year. Best-of-Broadway stars, local youth dance companies, professional ballet and flamenco troupes, and a host of comedians all wind their way into the wings.

The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus fills the stage at the Lensic. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus)

The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus fills the stage at the Lensic. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus)

Summer welcomes the renowned Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the New Mexico Jazz Workshop hits the boards in July. So as we say in Santa Fe, meet me at the Lensic!

Set Your Sights on the Sounds of the Santa Fe Opera

My two most perfect months of summer started for me with a back-when stint ushering in the old theater.

From humble beginnings, the mighty Santa Fe Opera company grew to world-class renown. (Photo Credit: The Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera)

From humble beginnings, the mighty Santa Fe Opera company grew to world-class renown. (Photo Credit: The Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera)

Old theater, you ask? This pioneering company began with one man’s notion of a site for singers to don new roles and enhance existing ones with ample rehearsal time in a secluded setting; the close-knit family atmosphere continues. His mission included a program to nurture young talents transitioning from academic life to professional opera. Today, founder/conductor John Crosby’s vision has become one of the world’s most unique opera venues, a place where careers begin, break-out roles are created, and premieres are the norm.

But back to the theater … Early patrons watched from open-air wooden benches on the grounds of a former guest ranch. A Time magazine article on the 1957 Madame Butterfly opening noted: “… traffic on the big four-lane Santa Fe–Taos highway was fin to fender.” Such enthusiastic support was critical 10 years later, when early morning flames engulfed the theater. Scheduled performances took place in a school gym and a national campaign to rebuild was launched. One year later a new, improved theater opened with a comeback performance of Puccini’s Butterfly.

With a new theater in 1967, the Santa Fe Opera came back to life. (Photo Credit: Eduardo Fuss, Archives Center for Southwest Research at UNM University Library)

With a new theater in 1967, the Santa Fe Opera came back to life. (Photo Credit: Eduardo Fuss, Archives Center for Southwest Research at UNM University Library)

Despite the magical outdoor setting, the new theater was still open to the elements and patrons beat a retreat during summer showers. In 1994, SFO decided the swift sell-out of rain ponchos had to end and plans were made for a full roof. The 1998 opening night unveiled the company’s third house with — you guessed it — Madame Butterfly.

Third time’s a charm and now patrons marvel at the architectural artistry as well as the artistry onstage. And there’s artistry in the time-honored tailgate tradition. White tablecloths, candles and champagne flutes delight, but a pair of chairs works perfectly with a pre-ordered Opera picnic.

All it takes to tailgate at the Santa Fe is a chair but the sky’s the limit!

All it takes to tailgate at the Santa Fe is a chair but the sky’s the limit!

For deeper understanding, I recommend the preview dinner with wine and an informative lecture over dessert. If you’re like me, indulge in an opening night dinner, an elegant experience for dressing in your evening finery.

BTW, opera attire runs the gamut from jeans to Jean Paul Gaultier, so all fashionistas are welcome to strut their stuff at any of the six new productions opening June 27 with Bizet’s Carmen. Watch the sun setting in all its glory, and no matter your fashion, food or favorite aria, I promise a night you’ll never forget!

Strike Up the Santa Fe Bandstand

My summer budget includes the aforementioned experiences, so I’m super-psyched when the goodness is gratis, thanks to the Santa Fe Bandstand. I can’t think of a better place than the leafy, historic Santa Fe Plaza to mix and mingle over music. The Bandstand brings two months of amazing almost-nightly performances, all genres and all absolutely free. Imagine that! On second thought, don’t imagine, just do it!

The Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand is where the summer action is!

The Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand is where the summer action is!

Local bands let loose for loyal fans and you’ll see me June 23 for opening night with the Mil-Tones Brass Band. The Mil-Tones are followed by Zydeco master Terence Simien, and the bontemps will definitely roulez. I’ve been practicing my cumbia and samba for the mix of dance-worthy Latin bands on tap, so I’ll be rhythmically ready when Son Como Con takes the stage.

The series is decked with dance delights and the crowd shifts happily to make space for newcomers. Feet will fly for the Agalu African drummers; I’ve tuned up with Saturday classes at the Railyard Performance Center. I’m still honing my swing-dance steps but I have the future in mind. And if you simply want to watch, traditional New Mexico folkloric dance comes alive with Baile Espanol as does flamenco via the Maria Benitez Youth Dance Troupe. You’ll find the likes of Joe King Carrasco, crowned a perennial favorite in these parts for righteous rockin’, occasionally pairing with up-and-coming Santa Fe Opera stars.

Joe King Carrasco rules the Santa Fe Plaza with a guitar, not a scepter.

Joe King Carrasco rules the Santa Fe Plaza with a guitar, not a scepter.

Rockers, blues singers, jazzmen, and bluegrass pickers, they’re all here. There’s simply something for everyone, with circus acts like Wise Fool and Clan Tynker and even some noontime concerts. No foolin’, be wise and dip into this summer treat. Grab the family and a picnic blanket, mucho fun awaits. After all, I did say almost nightly.

Get in the Santa Fe Mood for Music and More

Summer comes just once a year, and when it does, you’ll find me here. I’ll be home, home on the range in Santa Fe, taking part in all the sounds of the City Different. Let our city-full slate of live performances set the musical mood for your getaway. Santa Fe is definitely the place to find a summer seat waiting just for you!

 

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Santa Fe: The Perfect Playground

Not to brag, but I surprised my sister and brother-in-law with the ultimate gift last weekend: A break from their kids during their Santa Fe stay. While they toured art galleries and sipped top-shelf margaritas, I introduced my 7-year-old niece and 9-year-old nephew to the kid-friendly wonders of Santa Fe.

Pieces like this animal-eyed work from the Andes Exhibit at the International Folk Art Museum expand kids’ world vision.

Pieces like this animal-eyed work from the Andes Exhibit at the International Folk Art Museum expand kids’ world vision.

With an abundance of hands-on arts exhibits, miles of free biking and hiking, and scores of open-air festivals, I heard plenty of oohs and ahhs, but not one, “I’m booooored.”

 

The Harrell House Is Crawling with Knowledge

Kids swarm to see the bugs at Harrell House.

Kids swarm to see the bugs at Harrell House.

Tarantulas, millipedes, and scorpions, oh my! The Harrell House of Natural Oddities & Bug Museum offers a scientific adventure for nature lovers big and small. With 2,400 specimens on display and scores of live insects children can hold in their hands (under the watchful eyes of the Harrell House pest pros, of course), children are drawn to this locale like moths to flames. The gift shop offers toys, fossils and science projects. Luckily for me, the tarantulas aren’t for sale.

 

Interactive Galleries will Make Art Aficionados of your Little Ones

At any one of the museum’s kid-centric events, kids are encouraged to touch the art.

At any one of the museum’s kid-centric events, kids are encouraged to touch the art.

Each year, the Santa Fe Arts Institute hosts Arts Alive! events at museums across the city. Spur your little traveler’s creative side with sessions like Japanese kite-making, crafting animal masks, and creating Brazilian dolls, happening Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-2pm. Arts Alive! proved to be so popular that programs like Tako Kichi: Kite Crazy in Japan, has just been extended through July 27. And the breathtaking hand-carved animals featured in the Wooden Menagerie: Made in New Mexico, will be on display through next February.

If an Arts Alive! visit doesn’t fit into your travel plans, not to worry. My niece, nephew and I devised our own ideal itinerary. We started by peddling along to the Santa Fe Botanic Gardens along its scenic bike path before cutting over to Museum Hill. The Hill features four of Santa Fe’s premier museums—the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the Spanish Colonial Museum, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art—in one walkable location (even for the shortest of strides).

We made our last stop at the folk art museum, with more than 150,000 cultural artifacts captivating my niece and nephew. Besides the traditional masks and dolls from around the world, interactive galleries—complete with hands-on art stations and a Tree of Life-theme play area—transfixed my pint-sized tourists.

Panoramic views from the Museum Hill Café patio thrill adults and kids alike.

Panoramic views from the Museum Hill Café patio thrill adults and kids alike.

After all the oohing and ahhing, we were a little famished. So we grabbed a quick, tasty bite at Museum Hill Café. The outdoor bistro boasts stunning mountain vistas and a broad menu perfect for every palate.

Santa Fe Children’s Museum Leaves EVERYTHING to the Imagination

The Santa Fe Children’s Museum offers the ultimate playground for a child’s mind. And if you’re like me, you can’t help but rediscover your inner child within its walls. This place brims with fun activities for the kids: A dress-up area, cozy story space, water table, wooden blocks, giant bubbles, and much more.

Space Station: The Santa Fe Children’s Museum offers an entire floor for interactive activities.

Space Station: The Santa Fe Children’s Museum offers an entire floor for interactive activities.

My nephew couldn’t get over the rope chairlift…yep, only in Santa Fe. Outside, the kids tore into a digging area, live music space, a working garden, and more.

But the real hit was Makerspace: An 800 square-foot workshop full of cool tools and technology, from soldering irons to sewing machines to a computer lab. Just sign your kid up for their workshops and classes and let your little ones craft their perfect day.

Their calendar of upcoming events includes an open art studio, watercolor exploration, and even a jewelry-making class on Sundays!

A Crafty Celebration Worthy of Your Scrapbook

The Spring Festival and Children’s Fair makes any kid a happy camper.  (Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor)

The Spring Festival and Children’s Fair makes any kid a happy camper.
(Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor)

Planning a Santa Fe visit June 2-3? Don’t miss the annual Spring Festival & Children’s Fair. This weekend celebration will be held at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum set on 200 rolling acres. Kids love the sheep shearing, weaving, and blacksmithing demonstrations, and can try their hand at archery, arts & crafts, face painting, and lots more. Factor in wagon rides, music, dancing, live animals that include mini-horses, a rare white buffalo, and a wolf, and you’ve got a memory that can only be made in Santa Fe. Kids 12 and under get in free, so pack a family picnic and get ready for a weekend adventure.

Make This Vacation Your Kids’ Santa Fe-vorite

When my niece and nephew reconnected with their Mom and Dad after all of our explorations, they could barely get the words out fast enough to describe the experience. These sights and sounds had them truly inspired, as well as really tired. (I got major thumbs up from both parents and kids on this outing!) The fact is, the adventures we adult Santa Fe enthusiasts can discover here are darn near equaled by the thrills that await the kiddos. So don’t forget the camera. Your kids will want to relive this adventure over and over.

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