Performing Arts on the Scene in Santa Fe’s Streets and Screens

Throughout the centuries, creative souls have sought out Santa Fe for the inspiration of its heavenly blue skies, its 300-plus annual days of sunshine, and the combination of mountain light and long shadows that makes the area so inviting to the imagination.

Let inspiration lead you to Santa Fe this fall.
Let inspiration lead you to Santa Fe this fall.

Santa Fe became the first U.S. city to be chosen by UNESCO as a Creative City, one of only nine in the world. Artists of all kinds ply their skills year-round, including those talented types who capture it all on film or canvas for us. Discover what they’ve been up to as the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and the Canyon Road Paint-Out bring our city to an artistic apex in October.

Independent Filmmakers Make a Splash in Santa Fe

The fifth annual Santa Fe Independent Film Festival arrives on Wednesday, October 16 to occupy and intrigue film buffs for five event-filled days through Sunday, October 20. This year’s extravaganza of 80 feature-length films is frosting on the cake with filmmakers’ workshops, panel discussions and parties galore. I’m looking for a celebrity sighting of Indie Spirit Awards Winner and filmmaking legend, John Waters!

According to the New Mexico Film Commission, close to half a billion dollars were spent by film production companies over the last 10 years in New Mexico, resulting in a financial impact of nearly $1.5 billion benefitting the state. That’s a lot of action, and it has attracted the attention of both filmmakers and committed filmgoers, sure to be here for this year’s screenings. 

The magnificent Lensic Center for the Performing Arts, one of the architectural jewels of Santa Fe, is a state-of-the-art venue.
The magnificent Lensic Center for the Performing Arts, one of the architectural jewels of Santa Fe, is a state-of-the-art venue.

Two downtown locations, the historic Lensic Center for the Performing Arts and the Center for Contemporary Arts, known locally as CCA, continue to act as festival venues. They are joined this year by the newly-reopened (thanks to George R.R. Martin and probably to Game of Thrones, too) Jean Cocteau Cinema in the Santa Fe Railyard. The Screen at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design on St. Michael’s Drive offers a fourth venue for experiencing the on-screen excitement.

Festival screenings kick off with 11 films beginning at 6:30 pm in the CCA Main Theater on Wednesday, October 16, and the Palace Restaurant & Saloon welcomes the sounds of Anthony Leon & the Chain in a celebratory party at 9 pm. On Thursday, October 17, CCA goes wild, with 45 different screenings between the main theater and the studio screen throughout the day 10 am to 7:00 pm. The Lensic hosts a 7 pm screening of Tapia, the compelling tale of New Mexico native Johnny Tapia, a five-time world champion boxer. At The Screen, the 7 pm screening of the documentary Pastriology will be followed by an 8:30 pm celebration of local organic foods in Studio C.  A vivacious 9:00 pm after-party takes place at Tanti Luce on Shelby Street. Two days down, three to go!

The Jean Cocteau Cinema gets into the act on Friday, October 18 with a 7 pm screening of The Suicide Shop, an amusing animated French comedy. Of course, there are 27 other films to choose from that day, beginning at 10:45 am at CCA. An hour-long writing lab with screenwriter Joan Torres (ever heard of Blacula?) at 11 am in the CCA Studio accommodates only 45 people, so sign up early. You can close out the day with a 10 pm dance party at The Rouge Cat lasting into the wee hours. 

Santa Fe Independent Film Festival Railyard
All signs point to entertainment at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival!

If you’ve gone the distance with a full pass, be sure to eat a hearty breakfast on Saturday, October 19, since you have 38 different films to select from that day. A live cast screenplay reading of a work-in-progress by Chris Eyre (known for his films Smoke Signals, Hideaway, and Skins) helps shape his new comedic film “Up the River” at 1 pm at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.  A 100-minute Writing for the Screen workshop takes place for 45 lucky folks at 2 pm in the CCA Studio. At 4:30 pm, the Eldorado Hotel, hosts Fashion Heat – Native Fashion as Art 2013, a fashion show that highlights Native American clothing designers. Taos Pueblo native and Project Runway contestant, Patricia Michaels, will introduce her 2013 collection.

If my plan for a casual sighting of John Waters’ doesn’t materialize, I know I can see him in person at his 7 pm one-man show, This Filthy World, on stage at the Lensic. A 9 pm after-party at San Francisco Street Bar and Grill gets rocking with Native American actor and local favorite Gary Farmer and his band, the Troublemakers.

The Film Fest closes with a bang on Sunday, October 20, and another 24 films still to enjoy, along with a few signature events. At 10:45 am in the CCA Main Theater, actors Wes Studi and Maria Dhu Studi host a workshop on the craft of cold reading. Noon brings master craftsman Lee Daniel to discuss cinematography in the CCA Studio, followed in the same space at 2 pm by Ron Blumberg in a take on comedy writing, but remember that 45-person limit. The Sunday feature special for locals will be Milagro Man, a biographical documentary about John Nichols, the Taos-based author of the beloved “New Mexico Trilogy” (The Milagro Beanfield War, The Magic Journey, and The Nirvana Blues), screening at the CCA Main Theater at 5:30 pm. The festival ends with a spirited round of toasts at an 8:30 pm final after-party in the recently-opened downtown Santa Fe Spirits Tasting Room.

Get into a film-festive spirit at Santa Fe Spirits new downtown tasting room.
Get into a film-festive spirit at Santa Fe Spirits new downtown tasting room.

Painters – and Printmakers and Sculptors, Too – Put On a Paint-Out

If you feel like you’ve spent a little too much time indoors watching movies, devote some of your weekend to head outdoors for an artistic adventure. Santa Fe’s renowned museums are clustered around the city, and while there’s more than one gallery district, Canyon Road resonates with anyone who’s ever parked an easel and picked up a brush to capture the summer’s morning beauty or the color of changing leaves on a crisp autumn afternoon. If this sounds like your kind of enjoyment, you’re in luck, since the Sixth Annual Canyon Road Paint-Out is waiting in the wings to enchant you.

Nestled along the Santa Fe River, Canyon Road stretches up to the mountains where the Dale Ball Trails take you into the Santa Fe National Forest, but the heart of the street is a stunning half-mile of restaurants, shops, galleries and artists’ studios brimming with magical creations. On October 18-19 this year, over 100 artists head to the street to make artistic fantasies come to brilliant life 11 am to 4 pm.

Canyon Road is as pretty as a picture being made.
Canyon Road is as pretty as a picture being made.

Galleries will have their doors wide open both days, and the talk of the town will be the new exhibitions, as you stroll in and out of opening receptions on Friday, October 18, from 5 -7 pm. Five Theories: Painters Reception at Canyon Road Contemporary Art hosts five artists participating in the Paint-Out, and Winterrowd Gallery welcomes painter Don Quade for an exhibit entitled Global Crossroads. Sage Creek Gallery artist Kevin Courter shows Sojourn, a series of works generated in the Big Sky Country of Montana, and Mark Yearwood has his second solo exhibition in Santa Fe, Progressive Rhythm, at InArt Gallery.

Karan Ruhlen Gallery exhibits Recent Landscapes: Near and Far, the work of Martha Mans, and at Longworth Gallery, you can catch Empowerment, Kimberly Webber’s new oil paintings. New Horizons, landscapes from the 19th to 21st centuries drawn from the collections of Matthews Gallery, will be on display there, and Turner Carroll Gallery gets vibrant with Rex Ray’s Colortopia. Silver Sun brings painter Lee McLeod and Navajo Jeweler Shane Hendren to the gallery, and Light, Action, Color at Alexandra Stevens Gallery will have all seven exhibiting artists on hand to talk about their work.

In a nod to the past, Adobe Gallery presents an exhibit/sale of art by early 20th century Native American artists who attended the Santa Fe Indian School in the 1930s and 40s under the tutelage of art teachers Dorothy Dunn and Geronima Cruz Montoya. And that’s just Friday!

On Saturday, the artists return for more “plein air” – a French term for working outdoors on the spot. At noon there’s a festival parade with marching bands, followed by performances by the talented students from the Santa Fe Public Schools Music Education Program. At 2 pm, New Concept Gallery hosts a round-table discussion on Abstract Art. Streetside happenings continue until 4 pm, and there are sure to be surprises … even we locals have to wait and see!

For ideas on places to nibble and sip while you promenade, see my recent post, The Art of Dining on Canyon Road.

See Santa Fe in sun and shade as you stroll the Canyon Road Paint-Out.
See Santa Fe in sun and shade as you stroll the Canyon Road Paint-Out.

October Is the Month to Rediscover Why You Love Santa Fe

Thought you’d seen and done it all on your last visit to Santa Fe? Perhaps you’ll realize it’s time for another trip to one of the world’s premier arts destinations. The hunger to see and share artistic endeavors in a variety of visual forms never seems to abate in Santa Fe, and the City Different offers two out-of-the-ordinary visual arts experiences to enchant October visitors. Words hardly do these two exciting events justice, but seeing will definitely be believing.

The Art of Dining on Canyon Road

Ambling up along the edge of the river, Santa Fe’s Canyon Road is renowned as one of the country’s premier arts destinations. While our world-class museums justifiably draw crowds year-round, there’s nothing quite like taking a stroll through one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods under the strikingly blue sky. Canyon Road has been a haven for artistic types since settlers first parked their wagons by the waters flowing down from the mountains through the canyon. And anywhere people set down roots, restaurants inevitably crop up. Artful wandering on Canyon Road is a memorable must-do for a Santa Fe visit, and dining there becomes an artistic experience in the hands of the fine chefs who answer the creative call.

Invite your feet to lead you to the flavors of Canyon Road.
Invite your feet to lead you to the flavors of Canyon Road.

A Creative Atmosphere Calls for a Cozy Cafe

You’ve probably heard that saying that begins with “Eat breakfast like a king.” So after I settle down to a breakfast burrito filled with green chile, eggs, and cheese, along with a cup of deep, dark Lavazza coffee at Caffe Greco, I leave feeling like a queen for the day. Perched at the base of Canyon Road, this colorful cafe is a great place to spend an hour noshing over a newspaper, surrounded by galleries and unique shopping.

Caffe Greco invites outdoor refreshment...
Caffe Greco invites outdoor refreshment…
...and offers a colorfully cozy interior.
…and offers a colorfully cozy interior.

The tree-shaded patio is perfect for an al fresco lunch of tacos, or that ubiquitous signature Santa Fe treat, the green chile cheeseburger. The interior of the cafe is jewel-toned, with quirky sculptures and paintings scattered in nooks and crannies of a space that feels truly Santa Fe, and a small fireplace to guard against winter’s chill. Friendly neighborhood camaraderie flows throughout, as visitors and locals converse convivially on how best to tap into the artistic scene that is Canyon Road.

Adding Beauty Compounds the Pleasure of a Great Meal

Landmark buildings create a lovely setting, and Canyon Road is rich with historic structures. Nowhere is this truer than at The Compound Restaurant, named for the building that was once the centerpiece of a residential family compound. Back in the early part of the 20th century, this quiet edifice, nestled on a verdant swath of land by the river, welcomed the weary movers and shakers of society, before morphing into a restaurant in the mid-1960’s. The wise decision to bring in noted designer Alexander Girard (he whose massive collection of folk art forms the basis of the world-class Museum of International Folk Art) created a memorably elegant space, largely unchanged through the years.

The Compound is a sweet place to celebrate a special occasion.
The Compound is a sweet place to celebrate a special occasion.

For as long as I have been in Santa Fe, the Compound has always at the top of the list for a celebratory occasion. While chef/owner Mark Kiffin has dispensed with the silver covers once timed to lift exquisitely off diners’ plates at the same moment, the standard has remained high. Kiffin assumed the helm in 2000 and brought to the table a seasonally-tuned menu of contemporary American cuisine fusing Old World flavors of the Mediterranean with the best of New World taste. It’s no wonder that the James Beard Foundation named him “Best Chef in the Southwest” in 2005. That fresh spring pea soup and the rack of lamb definitely get my vote every time.

Celebrity Spotting on the Menu at Geronimo

Santa Fe style is legendary, and Canyon Road has so many examples to prove it. After dining at the Compound, compound your enjoyment of signature architecture and fine food another night by heading further up Canyon Road to Geronimo. The Apache chief of that name is known to anyone who ever watched a Western, but the only fighting at the dinner table will be for the last morsel on the plate. The historic building that houses this elegant dining establishment was built in 1756 by one Geronimo Lopez, for whom the restaurant is named. Known to Santa Fe insiders as a great place for celebrity spotting, a dinner at Geronimo makes its popularity abundantly clear as one delicious dish follows another to the table.

A magnificent meal in a memorable setting like Geronimo is the essence of Santa Fe flavor.
A magnificent meal in a memorable setting like Geronimo is the essence of Santa Fe flavor.


Executive chef Eric de Stefano has a long culinary history in Santa Fe, and his penchant for what he denotes as “global eclectic” cuisine plays out nightly in palate-pleasing perfection. Loyal fans never permit the elk tenderloin to leave the menu, but I can’t pass up the grilled Mexican white prawns – that Yuzu basil aioli just keeps me coming back. Never fear, vegetarians, there’s a four-course tasting menu that takes care of you too. The graceful thick-walled adobe dining room is warm and welcoming, and the lounge in back is a happening place to be on a Saturday night in the City Different. And those signature cocktails are pretty happening too!

Tapas Are the Tune at a Truly Local Locale

Every town – in fact, every neighborhood – has its local cantina, and Canyon Road boasts El Farol. More than just an anchor for a meal, this is a restaurant, blues bar, jazz club, poetry space, art gallery, and a flamenco dance floor rolled up together under yet another historic roof. Built in 1835, with long-time owner David Salazar at the helm, El Farol is said to be the oldest continuously operating dining space in Santa Fe, and whether or not that’s true, there is no doubting its local appeal.

Take a trip to Spain via Santa Fe with tapas at El Farol.
Take a trip to Spain via Santa Fe with tapas at El Farol.

The broad porch on the corner of Canyon Road and Camino del Monte Sol offers great people-watching opportunities during the warmer seasons, and the interior feels archetypically Western, with dark wood chairs that push back easily for nights when feet are tapping. Tapas and a margarita, anyone? Or maybe paella and a glass of sangria is more your style. Either way, if you’re looking for a casual evening of eating and entertainment with a Santa Fe ambiance, look no further than El Farol.

Teatime Is Anytime at the Teahouse

Up at the point where Palace Avenue curves around to end at Canyon Road, you’ll find the hospitable haven of The Teahouse, a tastefully well-kept old home below street level at the end of a row of galleries. At the corner where Canyon Road turns mostly residential, this is an oasis of calm from morning to night. Charming garden seating welcomes you to linger, and the gracious white-walled adobe interior is spacious enough to find serenity with a cup of tea, or a glass of wine or a beer over dinner. Under new ownership since late 2012, the Teahouse has been a tranquil temptation for Santa Feans since it opened its doors 10 years ago.

A vegan burger at the Teahouse keeps you fueled for Santa Fe fun.
A vegan burger at the Teahouse keeps you fueled for Santa Fe fun.

Knowing that there are 150 different varieties of tea here might mask the fact that a person can get three squares a day here, should she choose. The gluten-free breadbasket is not something you often see on a breakfast menu, and gluten-free bread is available for sandwiches too. And I’m a sucker for wild mushrooms, so thanks, Teahouse, for that panini pick. And oh, the tea! You’ll have to use your own discerning taste to hone in on the one of many that suits you to a T.

Get Your Fill of the Flavors on Canyon Road

It’s a given that a day on Canyon Road really must be part of any Santa Fe getaway. Top to bottom on this historic road, richness, so much depth and discovery abound, that it’s worth visiting more than once. And sculpting three meals a day means you’ll have more than one opportunity to sample the delights for eyes and tummies along the way. Combine your hunger for the visual arts with your appetite for a great meal to create a satisfying Santa Fe art adventure surrounded by history and culture on Canyon Road.





Get Your Hands-On Santa Fe

Walking and talking, shopping and sunning. These activities definitely make up part of the itinerary when my friends and family come to visit. But there’s always at least one buddy who wants to get her hands covered with paint or dusted with flour. And I am always thrilled to oblige since it means I can re-discover Santa Fe through a hands-on experience that brings my hometown to artful life.

Scenery Comes to Life in Full Color

Sending home postcards and snapping pictures are certainly enjoyable ways to remember a getaway to somewhere as memorable as Santa Fe. But take the time to wrap your fingers around a pencil or get coated with pastel. This gives you a unique, creative reminder of your time in the City Different and it also imprints the destination in your mind’s eye in an indelible way. Jane Shoenfeld’s Sketching and Painting Santa Fe workshops offer an easy introduction to seeing Santa Fe with your hands and your eyes.

Sketching Santa Fe is a fun-filled family affair.
Sketching Santa Fe is a fun-filled family affair.

No experience is necessary, all materials are provided, and you’ll work in the forgiving and sensuous medium of pastel, perfect for capturing the bold colors and long shadows of Santa Fe. A 3-hour Friday morning session, at a spot close to the heart of downtown, is a golden opportunity to discover your hidden talent with the guidance of a working artist.

Santa Fe + Self-Expression = Santa Fe Creative Tourism

Sometimes I have to move beyond my daily routine to re-discover something I may already know, but have somehow forgotten. That’s when Santa Fe Creative Tourism steps in to fill the creative gap for me. A collection of intriguing artistic experiences is curated into a one-stop website for the creative-curious to browse. Digital filmmaking or encaustic painting, pastel sketching or Chimayo weaving, monotypes or Monday night swing dancing at the Odd Fellows Hall — it’s a deep and entertaining catalog of creative vacationing.

For moving past the familiar, I currently have my eye on a specific two-day workshop listed on the site: Beyond Knowing: An Intuitive Painting and Movement Experience, September 14-15. Co-facilitators Julie Claire and Josephina Santiago, designed the weekend to help participants break free of preconceptions about the creative impulse by means of playful exercises in movement and artistic expression.

Color in motion brings imagination to life.
Color in motion brings imagination to life.

Make Your Pictures Truly Worth a Thousand Words

The advent of the digital camera and smartphone makes my photos look better. But when I see what a little education can do for a picture, I want to learn as much as I can. Then it’s time for the expertise of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Celebrated for helping turn a good eye into great photos, the workshops boast a stable of professional instructors, who can guide you through the maze of information involved in creating a memorable image.

Autumn is a feast of light and color in Santa Fe. The Photographic Workshops take full advantage of the season, with a whole host of opportunities. Perhaps learning how to harness the qualities of light is what thrills you, so consider Marc Muench’s High Desert Light workshop September 30-October 3. If you want to get back to the basics, George DeWolfe’s The Black-and-White Master Print might be for you.


The sky's the limit when you shoot in Southwestern surroundings.
The sky’s the limit when you shoot in Southwestern surroundings.

The campus is located on the serene grounds of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Retreat and Conference Center. Classrooms, a studio, labs, housing, and the dining room are a mere 2 miles from the Santa Fe Plaza.

Get Your Hands into Some Masa Harina

Real creativity often comes out in the kitchen. You will get inspired here in Santa Fe, where time shared together with friends or strangers can be paired with the delicious ingredients that comprise our famed cuisine. The Santa Fe School of Cooking has been welcoming foodies to the table for over 25 years, and its 2012 move to a new and larger facility made the taste of a cooking class that much better.

This family-owned and -operated business, with founder Susan Curtis and director of operations Nicole Curtis Ammerman at the helm, offers a wide roster of classes. The classes start straightforward with the most-popular Traditional New Mexican demonstration class and go all the way to an utterly hands-on 3-day Southwest Culinary Bootcamp. Whatever your culinary pleasure, you can learn about the flavors that create the taste of Santa Fe and bring them home from the onsite or online market. I get hungry just thinking about all those different salsas!


Practice your celebrity chef skills while making salsa at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.
Practice your celebrity chef skills while making salsa at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.

Moving in Time to the Santa Fe Beat

Tap into Southwestern rhythms with a class at the NDI NM Dance Barns. The City Different got city-lucky in 1991 when renowned dancer Jacques d’Amboise introduced the National Dance Institute methodology to Santa Fe dance students. In 1994, NDI New Mexico was incorporated and the spacious Dance Barns facility has the dial turned to fabulous.

Visitors can don ballet slippers for a drop-in ballet class Monday through Thursday at 10 am. Tappers bring the noise Tuesday nights at 6 pm; Wednesday night at the same hour is dedicated to jazz. If your movement skews to the exercise end of the spectrum, head for cardio belly-dance Tuesdays at 4:45 pm. Friday 4:45 pm Zumba class will burn enough calories to let you enjoy a subsequent margarita without guilt.

Dancing feet are on display at the NDI Dance Barns in Santa Fe.
Dancing feet are on display at the NDI Dance Barns in Santa Fe.

The Write Way to Enjoy Santa Fe

Chances are you’ve read a novel or two set in Santa Fe before you got here – and at least one of them was by Tony Hillerman. The late author was so adept at distilling all the memorable parts of Southwest – the look, the feel, the flavor – and so beloved by anyone who ever wandered down to the Santa Fe Plaza to spend an hour with his gripping mysteries.

Talking books is serious business at the Tony Hillerman Writers' Conference. Anne Hillerman, Tony's daughter and cofounder of WORDHARVEST, signed books at a recent conference.
Talking books is serious business at the Tony Hillerman Writers’ Conference. Anne Hillerman, Tony’s daughter and cofounder of WORDHARVEST, signed books at a recent conference.

The annual Tony Hillerman Writer’s Conference, a 3-day workshop covering topics on all things writing, returns November 7-9. Hosted by WORDHARVEST, an organization founded in 2002 to “support authors and encourage great writing,” the conference offers time to learn how to publish an e-book or polish your skills in a word-rich atmosphere of like-minded souls. Opportunities to network with other writers, get feedback on a current project, and meet literary agents and editors can all be accomplished in one place. And no mystery about it: essayists, memoirists, fan fiction writers — you’re all invited!

Crafting a Hands-On Vacation Creates a Lasting Memory

When we take home a skill from vacation, somehow that moment in time is crystallized forever. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of laying out a complete enchilada dinner for 12 or hanging an iconic photograph taken with your own camera on the wall. Do both and more by planning your Santa Fe vacation calendar around some of these hands-on adventures. Expand your horizons and enrich your life back home with the results of your artistry.

Day-trip Down Santa Fe’s Artistic Studio Trails

I enjoy a museum or gallery day as much as any art-loving gal does, but when the fall Santa Fe Area Area Studio Tour season begins, I am one happy camper. The reason is simple: Not only can I admire unique and imaginative creations, but I can also see the spaces in which they’re crafted, and I can meet the artists who dreamed them into reality. Santa Fe is the perfect home base to explore the variety of artistic expression on any of the incredible tours that surround the City Different. To me, that’s a complete picture. If you feel the same way, then map one of these terrific art tours into your Santa Fe getaway.

Choose the High Road for an Artistic Adventure

The High Road to Taos Studio Tour is so full of talent that it runs two weekends. This stellar event, September 21-22 and 28-29, kicks off the autumn studio tour season in a big way, as befits an organization encompassing so many artistic villages. This all-day outing lets you experience great nearby galleries and eclectic studio spaces. You’ll also take in the pristine scenery of northern New Mexico, and the dramatic light that has called to artists throughout the centuries. The 2013 High Road Tour celebrates its 15th anniversary, and honestly, it gets better with every passing year.

Dive right into the flow of art by driving north from Chimayo to visit the historic Santuario. Then, come home a different route via the low road along the Rio Grande. Be sure to make a 360-degree scan of the stunning views as you choose which treasures will decorate your home with Santa Fe memories.

Sally Delap-John’s painting “Cordova” captures the essence of a trip on the High Road Tour.


Traditional northern New Mexico weaving is a tradition that lives on along the High Road through the work of artists like Jennette Vigil.

The Secret Heart of Art

My mother taught me to share, so I’ll let you in on my favorite unknown place, about an hour north of Santa Fe: El Rito. Don’t zip by the turnoff to this beautiful spot on your way to Abiquiu and O’Keeffe country or you’ll miss something special. If you head to the El Rito Studio Tour October 5-6, you’ll see the glory of fall’s golden colors in the north country, spread out over a green plateau ringed by mountains. While not as large as some of the other tours, this one is just as rich in artistic expression. El Rito hosts a branch of Northern New Mexico Community College, which has helped keep the traditional arts alive. You can think ahead and pick up lunch to go from a Santa Fe restaurant or head to El Farolito Restaurant right on El Rito’s Main Street for a home-cooked treat.

“Pines by the River” (oil transfer drawings on Japanese Rice Paper) floated up from the fertile imagination of El Rito artist Julie Wagner.

Going Galisteo Way?

The Galisteo Basin has been home to artists for literally thousands of years, as the numerous unexcavated Puebloan ruins in the area demonstrate. And the Galisteo Studio Tour October 19-20 gives you a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in the charm and history of this sweet village, 23 miles southwest of Santa Fe. Galisteo is home of many privacy-loving notables, including the late painter Agnes Martin and ‘50’s songsmith Burl Ives. This spot also packs a large punch of talent in current residents potter Priscilla Hoback, painter Woody Gwyn, art critic Lucy Lippard, and chef/food maven Deborah Madison. 25 stops encompass 33 artists’ work, and there’s food along the way — I love that!

Look for a Galisteo street-side sculpture by Candyce Garrett.

The Fabled Gold of Eldorado Is the Art

While the conquistadors’ determined search for gold was unfulfilled, the local community of Eldorado, named for the city they quested, is rich in artistic treasures. Originally developed as a retirement community with a bent for passive solar design, Eldorado quickly became a residential choice for artists and craftsmen of all persuasions. Not a surprise given its expansive views and the buried utility lines that allow for unobstructed  enjoyment of the fantastic sunsets.

The main studio event takes place in May with a tour throughout the community, and the artists of Eldorado also bring their work right into Santa Fe every autumn. The fall show is October 25-26 at St. John’s Methodist Church. Last fall, 58 artists participated, so you can get all of the beauty in one easy-access spot right in the heart of Santa Fe.

Evie Gaurhier is one of the artistic treasures you’ll find in Eldorado.

Doing It Artistically in Dixon

The first weekend in November heralds the arrival of the Dixon Studio Tour, now in its 32nd incarnation. Tucked along a canyon 26 miles south of Taos, Dixon not only includes 29 artists’ studios to visit, it’s also the only studio tour that boasts a winery built by two brothers and a garlic farm gardened by a writer. If you get the artistic bug yourself, you can take a creative workshop. Stopping into the Elementary School Mercado guarantees that you’ll meet some of the local families who have carved out a living in this scenic enclave perched along the Rio Grande.

La Cienega, a Hidden Haven of Talent

Late-autumn travelers wind up the studio tour season with a visit to La Cienega, a mere 10 miles or so south of Santa Fe. The name translates to “the swamp,” but all it signifies now is that the area is an oasis of old cottonwoods and poplar trees. This whole valley was once a Spanish land grant, and the water that makes it tree-laden is still part of the attraction. While the leaves may have dropped by Thanksgiving weekend, November 30-December 1, when the studio tour occurs, the timing means you can start your holiday shopping by buying direct from the artists of the La Cienega Studio Tour. This is one of the smaller tours, but most of the artists on it have lived out here on their acreage for many a long year, and their level of craft has been honed to perfection.

A radiant representation of the vivid La Cienega landscape, courtesy of LeRoy Thompson

Let a Tour Create Your Memories

You can see that Santa Fe comes by its artistic reputation honestly, and not just because of the many world-class museums and stellar galleries that you find all over this art-loving town. And since the studio tours are planned over different weekends throughout the year, you can always return for a whole new experience. If you venture out into the hidden haunts where the artists themselves find inspiration, you’ll be inspired too – and hopefully bring back something beautiful to remind you of your Santa Fe art adventures.

So Much To Sing (and Love) About at the Santa Fe Opera

Santa Fe Opera, how do I love thee? It’s your voices: mezzos, tenors, sopranos and basses, even a unique counter-tenor on the stage. It’s your treasure chest of marvels on a backstage tour, or a table of treats at the preview buffet. It’s your picturesque panorama of the mountains on a sublime summer night, as the sun sets slowly in the west. It’s the anticipation of your opening night at this world-class performing arts destination. Simply put, the Santa Fe Opera is a true love story.

Marvel in sunsets at the Santa Fe Opera through its open design

Harvesting Opera Season Year-Round

So much transpires before the first summer performance. Production schedules are planned years in advance, with singers’ and conductors’ schedules to be accommodated, musicians and apprentices to be hired, costumes and lighting and sets to be designed. This relatively small operation connects with big talents all year long to bring the opera repertoire to life. It begins with a holiday party each December, raising expectations for summer along with fund-raising for outreach educational programs, and ends with fond farewells until next season’s curtain goes up.

The Santa Fe Opera has made magic annually since 1957. The 2013 season, an intriguing blend of premieres and familiar favorites, is no exception to the Opera’s mix-it-up ethos. The season opens June 28 with Offenbach’s Grand Duchess of Gerolstein and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on June 29. July 13 brings Rossini’s La Donna del Lago to Santa Fe for the first time, and Verdi’s La Traviata returns July 20.

The Opera’s unwavering commitment to staging a world or U.S. premiere every season yields Oscar, Theodore Morrison’s tale of the trial and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde, opening July 27. Whether it’s opening night or mid-week at season’s end, you’ll see tuxes, stilettos, and sexy slits up to the thigh a la Angelina Jolie, but jeans and cowboy boots also pass muster. Dress as you like, but dress up the night with some special experiences to make the most of your visit to the Santa Fe Opera.

Dinner Is Not an Afterthought on Opera Night

I adore opera, but I need to be fortified before settling in to my seat. Avoiding the last-minute crush for parking and will-call is also on the menu, so I opt for the delights of dining right on the premises of the Santa Fe Opera.

Years ago, the Opera recognized that lingering on the gorgeous grounds is itself a treat, and the popular preview buffets were born. The Opera’s cantina, where staff and performers dine during the summer, becomes the delicious setting for enjoying a relaxed wine dinner and informative dessert-course lecture pre-performance. Dinners are on a space-limited basis, so reserve through the box office or make buffet reservations online from the performance calendar.

The Opera Preview Buffet is a lovely and lively space for gathering before the show. (Credit: Robert Godwin, Courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera) 

If you prefer a more casual outing, order a prepared picnic dinner through the Opera’s website. Order 48 hours ahead, and dinner will await you 2 hours before the performance. There are picnic tables on the grounds, but they fill fast, so bring a folding chair to ensure you get a seat.

Tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera can be fancy or casual

I have yet to see a big barbecue grill hauled off a flatbed truck, but tail-gating is not just for sporting events — it’s a long-standing tradition at the Santa Fe Opera. From two TV tables and take-out, all the way to a crisp white-clothed table with crystal and candlesticks, imagination is all it takes to create an onsite dining experience that fits your taste. If yours is a truly special occasion, there are reserved spaces available, but you need to confirm in advance with the box office.



Opera Opening Weekend in Santa Fe is a Thrill

Sun, shade and sculpture coexist in the garden at Nedra Matteucci Gallery

Consider a more expansive scale and get swept up in the excitement of the entire Opening Weekend Celebration. This insider’s experience encompasses three events that will create a lasting memory of this unique cultural adventure. Friday, June 28 welcomes you to a festive dinner on the grassy Opera grounds prior to opening night. On Saturday, June 29, daytime brings an exclusive backstage tour and lunch, and evening offers dinner in a signature Santa Fe home, followed by yet another opening performance. The weekend concludes Sunday, June 30, with a convivial brunch in the company of some of the season’s Opera stars, in the artistic setting of Nedra Matteucci’s sculpture garden.

If your summer escape can’t include a whole weekend, the thrill of opening night can be enjoyed at any of five opening night dinners. Three-course fine-dining experiences in a private setting on the Opera grounds are complemented a lecture by the director or designer of the evening’s production; remember that tickets to the performance itself are by separate purchase. 

Wondering If Your Kids Will Be Opera Fans?

It’s gratifying to help the little ones you love have early opera exposure to develop a lasting appreciation. You can make this happen for your young friends with backstage tours that set a lively backdrop. One-hour tours (literally behind the scenes) take place at 9 am, Monday-Friday, June 3-August 23. No reservations are needed, and tours begin at the box office, where tour tickets ($10 adults, $8 seniors, kids free) are sold. If you happen to be here on a Saturday in June, July or August (through the 24th), the Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera sponsors free Opera Insiders’ Days, beginning at 8:30 am with entertainment and refreshments, followed by the backstage backstory.

The costume shop backstage at the Opera is always busy. (Photo: Ken Howard, Courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera)

Youth Nights at the Opera are a terrific deal. These discounted dress rehearsal performances don’t require fancy clothes or break the bank if you have to take a sleepyhead home. The Santa Fe Opera exercises real forethought by providing a way to introduce the classics affordably, and, in the process, creating a future audience for this wonderful Santa Fe experience.

Porgy and Bess brought to life by Santa Fe Opera apprentices. (Credit: Ken Howard, Courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera)

And the Opera is in the business of creating future stars too, presenting two Sunday night performances August 11 and 18 to showcase the up-and-coming talents of the Santa Fe Opera apprentice singers and stagecrafters. Who knows whether the little one who roams your house singing to herself might catch the opera bug?



Have You Caught the Opera Fever?

My opening night tickets are secured, my fancy finery is lined up, and I have less than a month to wait until the house lights go down and the music comes up. I have laughed out loud as a scheming servant bests his pompous master, and wept silent tears on hearing a sweet voice fade to a whisper, but year after year, I return for yet another fantastic season at the Santa Fe Opera. Two months of opera go by quickly, but your memories of a night or a week or a summer season of music in Santa Fe will truly be unforgettable.

Summer in Santa Fe: Love at First Sound

Think of Santa Fe and you’re likely to conjure up visuals of dramatic sunsets, evergreen mountains, and earth-toned pueblo architecture. Well let me let you in on a little secret — Santa Fe is just as pleasing on the ears as it is on the eyes. You heard it here: Santa Fe is one heckuva music town, offering locals and visitors an awesome menu of musical attractions including pristine classical choral works, rootsy blues, and everything in between. And I do mean everything.

While music pulses through Santa Fe’s 400-year-old veins all year round, summer is the standout season to catch live music at a favorite venue, concert series, or dining spot, or to expand your musical horizons with something completely different. Summer is when laughter mingles with guitar strings in patios along Canyon Road, when drumbeats echo softly off the centuries-old buildings in the Plaza. Summer is when Santa Fe music is in full bloom.

Here are my liner notes on how to experience Santa Fe’s summer music smorgasbord. Post here to tell me about yours.

400 Years Old and Still Partying All Week

Throughout the summer Santa Fe’s stately 400-year-old Plaza takes center stage, literally, for our beloved summer concert series, Santa Fe Bandstand. The series revs up June 21, with free live music 4–5 nights a week, and at noon on Mondays and Wednesdays (now that’s my idea of a “working lunch”). Night or day, Santa Fe Bandstand faithfully delivers soul-shaking sounds and laughter-inducing times. Make no mistake, this is summer at it’s feel-good best. Hips will be shaken, and arms will be waved, as audiences revel Americana, country swing, R&B, rock, New Mexican folk, indie, and world music. The night I caught one of my faves, Band of Heathens from Austin, I danced so much I could barely move in yoga class the next day, but it was so worth it.

Image: Mike Hearn playing for a packed Plaza at the Santa Fe Bandstand, photo credit Nichael Dellheim

If I’m not wearing my dancing shoes, and want to spend some time relaxing with my friends, I take in the Bandstand sounds from what locals consider the “best seats in the house”: the quaint restaurant balconies overlooking the Plaza. Perched above the lively crowd, loungers, people-watchers, and nibblers (like moi) can enjoy a light dinner while sipping a margarita, a local microbrew, or a local wine.

Put Santa Fe Bandstand on your summer must-do list, and experience downtown Santa Fe’s greatest hits of sounds, sights, and flavors. Check out the awesome lineup to plan your summer concert playlist. 

Opera Opens Up in Santa Fe

Summer in Santa Fe means opera. And that means spine-chilling performance, spectacular staging, and fun — yes, fun. Founded in 1957, The Santa Fe Opera has garnered global acclaim for its artistic excellence, and local adoration for its engaging personality. Notions of the stuffy opera house with bejeweled aristocrats need not apply.  At The Santa Fe Opera works are often set in contemporary times, and digital librettos at each seat allow you to follow along in English or Spanish. Opera novices and veterans alike will find plenty to love in a five-opera season that offers a mix of works ranging from treasured classics to avant-garde world premiers.

Image: Another fab sunset at the Santa Fe Opera- stage set, Peter Grimes.” Photo credit: Ken Howard

The Santa Fe Opera is an experience that transcends classical music. The opera’s open-sided auditorium showcases Santa Fe sunsets and occasional lightning flashes as dramatic as anything in Puccini’s catalogue. Pre-opera tailgating, every bit as eclectic as it sounds, is an event unto itself. And dining at the opera’s gourmet buffet tops bucket lists far and wide (make reservations months in advance, tables are limited). Note: fret not about finding that perfect opera outfit, anything goes here — from jeans to black tie.

Put your opera hang-ups aside, and see how lively, romantic, and entertaining it can be. For tickets and information, visit the online box office.

Thank God It’s Wednesday

Forget the midweek slump as Wednesday oh-so-smoothly gets its groove back with what many consider the quintessential Santa Fe summer music experience: Music on the Hill. Wednesdays from mid-June to late July, these free outdoor concerts, sponsored by St. John’s College, are all jazz, all the time. The series boasts a potent mix of national and local musicians, and an equally eclectic audience of diehards, newbies, hipsters, families, and unabashed jazz dolls and daddy-o’s.

Image: Music on the Hill. Credit Corrie Ph

Set on a lovely mountainside meadow, Music on the Hill invites audiences to satisfy their appetites for great jazz and great food. It’s a BYO venue, which means you can feast on your favorite local delicacies while you listen. Truth be told, Music on the Hill not only cured my jazz-phobia, it introduced me to a fabulous subculture of power-picnickers, generous foodies eager to share artisan cheese, fresh baguettes, tempting chocolate, and local wine. No worries if you’re too busy to bring your own picnic. Just grab a delightful snack or savory dinner from the on-site catering stands. For a choice spot, arrive well before the 6 pm start time. Parking is limited, so do like the locals and take the convenient shuttle, which departs from Museum Hill every 15 minutes.

The Summer Classics

Image: A packed St. Francis Auditorium photo credit: InSightFoto Inc.

One of my first encounters with Santa Fe happened in New York, when I saw a Georgia O’Keefe poster promoting one of the early seasons of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. So naturally, when I moved to Santa Fe, I had to check it out.

During this 6-week festival running mid July through late August you can luxuriate in the gorgeous sounds of some of the world’s greatest musicians. The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival presents chamber music across a spectrum that ranges from legendary composers to classical music vanguards. Evening concerts at the intimate and historic St. Francis Auditorium or the fabulous New Mexico Art Museum offer a soothing summer breeze of sound. Insider tip: catch a show then meet a friend for tapas and wine. Festival concerts begin at 5 or 6 pm with one-hour concerts Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon.

The Best Seat in Santa Fe for Can’t-Miss Performances

Image: Blues musician, Eric Bibb, onstage at the Lensic photo credit: Kate Russell

While Santa Fe’s summer music festivals roll on, locals and visitors can often enjoy a 1-night-only concert by a national touring artist or must-see performance troupe at Santa Fe’s premier concert venue, the Lensic Performing Arts Center. In a city recognized for its adobe architecture, the Lensic does more than just stand out. This Deco building, built in 1931, offers marvelous acoustics and an intimate setting that makes audience members feel like they’re at a private show, with the likes of Darius Brubeck, a solo acoustic show from Grateful Dead co-founder guitarist and vocalist Bob Weir, and folk icon Arlo Guthrie. Peruse upcoming events, and then enjoy your favorite sounds in a fabulous setting steps from the Plaza.

If Your Grass Is Blue

Image: Band Scramble event onstage at the Bluegrass & Old Time Festival photo credit: Peter Escherick

Summer music season in Santa Fe winds down the weekend before Labor Day at the annual Bluegrass & Old Time Festival. Okay, I’ll admit it: I have been known to obsess over O Brother Where Art Thou, and it only had a little to do with George Clooney. You see, I grew up listening to my granddad’s Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe records; I’ve been a big fan of bluegrass forever. The festival, held every year since 1975 at the County Fairgrounds, is the perfect place for me to revisit my roots and dance like I’m in the holler — minus the overalls.

Enjoy a variety of folk music genres here, from traditional Appalachian to Celtic, from nationally known acts to artists playing the New Mexico scene. Or dive into classes, workshops, talent contests, and more.

Tune In to Summer in Santa Fe

Music rules Santa Fe all summer, and you never have to go far to find it. Sounds from across the globe fill the air from the Plaza to the Railyard to the museum district and beyond. Come drink in Santa Fe summer goodness with vibrant performances, funky festivals, and classical delights. We’re saving a seat for you.

Santa Fe + Summer + You = The Bucket List Best

As the sun moves higher and higher into the azure sky, bringing with it the gift of longer days, Santa Fe starts to glow with all the possibilities that summer offers. The welcoming small-town feeling of this 403-year-old capital city mixes with a treasure trove of world-class art and music to make a winning combination for cultural adventure.

Pristine mornings sparkle with anticipation as gallery doors open, beckoning the wanderer to enter and explore the beauty of every art form imaginable. The rhythmic strum of a flamenco guitar echoes on the Plaza, and tranquility flows from legend light stretching out the shadows at day’s end – Santa Fe blesses its locals and visitors alike. How can you capture that feeling? From Verdi to vino, from fine art and folk music to dining al fresco, there are so many ways to pair perfect weather with unique experiences to make Santa Fe your own this summer!

We Built This City….with Music

Not many opera companies can boast that they run in the black on a two-month season, but the Santa Fe Opera can. From a humble 1957 beginning, with audiences seated on wooden benches open to a glorious sunset or a sudden summer shower, this haven of heavenly vocal music has grown into a top-drawer affair with a stunning outdoor theater to match.

The Santa Fe Opera Theater, designed for sunsets and song

It’s not exactly a cast of thousands, but from its year-round staff of 72, the Opera population swells to around 600-plus by the time the sun goes down and the music comes up.

Every season offers five different productions, a creative blend of audience favorites and forgotten classics. One of the hallmarks of the Opera is its consistent staging of both world and national premieres – pretty bold stuff on a hillside in the Southwest.

And it’s not only the music that makes the magic; it’s the mountains in the distance, the tuxedos and gowns, and dinner or a tailgating party. You can enjoy a preview buffet, complete with wine, and linger over dessert while listening to a lecture by an opera maven in the Opera’s dining pavilion. Or make it simple by ordering a tailgate picnic supper and bringing a pair of folding chairs. You can even go native and borrow a pickup to bring in a table for twenty, complete with candlesticks, white tablecloths and champagne. The sky’s the limit for a personal opera party, and the New Mexico sky itself becomes even more beautiful as the stars start to twinkle above.

The 2013 SFO season opens June 28th with New Mexico native Susan Graham in the title role of Offenbach’s comic Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, followed on June 29th by Mozart’s perennial crowd-pleaser, The Marriage of Figaro. Super-star Joyce Di Donato appears in Rossini’s rarely-heard La  Donna del Lago, coming to the Opera stage for the first time beginning July 13. Tragic romance, anyone? Hear it in spades with Verdi’s heart-breaking La Traviata, opening July 20th. The repertoire completes with the world premiere of Theodore Morrison’s Oscar, opening July 27th with renowned counter-tenor David Daniels bringing Oscar Wilde to life. Fan-girl? Totally!

As much as I love dressing up to hear a beautiful baritone, sometimes my mood runs to something a little less formal. That’s when I head downtown to the Santa Fe Plaza for the Santa Fe Bandstand summer music series. All you need is a blanket and a picnic basket for a great date; just remember that no alcohol is allowed on the Plaza. This locally-sponsored annual music extravaganza starts rockin’ and rollin’ June 21st at 6pm, with two different bands each performance night, intermingling local favorites and nationally touring groups. And beginning July 1st, noon performances let us locals escape from the office for a musical hour. Sexy belly-dancers will shake it, hip-hoppers will break it, and tribal music will make it global over nine weeks until the series ends August 23rd. Every year I vow I’ll be brave enough to join the swing dance crowd – maybe this summer, I’ll keep that promise!

Many musical styles to be found on the Santa Fe Bandstand

There’s jazz on the Bandstand too, and diehards get to groove to the sounds of the New Mexico Jazz Festival. The cachet of Santa Fe’s vibrant performing arts scene attracts name-brand musicians to venues split between the Lensic Performing Arts Center and the Santa Fe Plaza. From July 21 through July 27, Stanley Clarke, Terence Blanchard and the hot, hot, hot Eddie Palmieri are a few of the jazz masters who will pull out all the stops on the stage of the Lensic.

The Great Books program at St. John’s College makes this scholarly institution a valued guardian of the classics in Santa Fe. And there’s more on offer, since summer brings St. John’s Music on the Hill, a Wednesday night series of outdoor musical performances, now in its eighth season, taking place from June 12th through July 24from 6 to 8pm on the green expanse of the college’s lovely grass field. Concertgoers can hang out on the lawn with a picnic dinner obtained on premises from Walter Burke Catering or you and your gang can just bring a basket of goodies and a blanket. Self-parking is at a premium (read “get here early if you want your own car”), but a shuttle van runs every 15 minutes from the ample parking lots at Museum Hill, thanks to City of Santa Fe Rapid Transit.

Feeling all heated up with ideas now? Cool down with a Chopin nocturne or go for baroque with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, now in its 41st year. From July 14 to August 19, you can dine out before delighting to Dvorak or spend an hour at a daytime rehearsal. Most concerts take place at the St. Francis Auditorium with an occasional outing at the Lensic, and the thrilling roster of artists includes the Orion String Quartet, Garrick Ohlsson, Felix Fan, and a host of guest vocalists taking a break from their roles at the Santa Fe Opera.

Art, Artisans, Artistry…Wherever You Turn

I’m talking art, and I’m talking Santa Fe! Nobody does art like the City Different, and there is more than one way to get outdoors for your art fix. Whether you’re strolling down Canyon Road, cruising the Railyard, or exploring the Plaza and its narrow byways, you’ll discover exciting and inspiring galleries and studios…over 250 of them.  Throughout the summer, there are art walks and gallery openings on Friday evenings, and the artistry on display in Santa Fe 365 days a year will boggle your mind.

Now let’s talk world-class markets! While the Native American artisans kindly oblige us by sitting out under the portal regardless of the weather, summer is the season when Santa Fe goes all out to show off the diversity of its visual art markets.

I can hardly believe that the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is ten years old! Who could have imagined that this great little idea would grow into a major attraction for lovers of unique folk art from around the world? Not only do I get to decorate my Santa Fe adobe with treasures from Africa or Bolivia, I also get the satisfaction of knowing that the dollars I exchange for a lovingly handmade piece help sustain a village cooperative and ensure the continuity of artistic and tribal traditions. Milner Plaza on Museum Hill will be humming with the sights, sounds and scents of a global culture July 12-14.

La Villa Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assis – our official name is indeed a mouthful – has its own traditional heritage to show off when Spanish Market hits the Plaza on July 26-28. I always enjoy watching the Plaza getting dolled up as the City readies itself for the annual display of artistic traditions that came to the New World from the Old World. Colcha embroidery and weaving, straw applique and tinsmithing, silver and santos, all these unique traditional crafts are kept alive and expressive by dedicated artisans who work all year long for this one summer weekend. If your tastes run to the modern, a Contemporary Hispanic Market reveals a more edgy take on the artistic heritage. This is art worth having, full of meaning and history – just keep enough in your pocket to hit the carnita stand for lunch!

La Herencia, alive at Spanish Market
Big, bold beadwork on display at the Santa Fe Indian Market

Having an artistic adventure in Santa Fe goes way, way back, when you consider how old the Santa Fe Indian Market is – almost 100! But old does not mean tired, because there is something fresh every year. I never miss an opportunity to put on my concho belt and a big sun hat and head to the Plaza to see who won Best of Show. Now in its 92nd year, Indian Market is legendary, the largest Native American arts market of its kind, welcoming pueblos and tribes from all over the continent. Doubt me? I saw Penobscot basket makers, Haida carvers, Navajo silversmiths and Sioux hoop dancers all in one day, and that is only a small taste of this rich and satisfying experience. With the work of over 1000 artists to choose from, no one seems to go away empty-handed, and yes, there is a booth that will pack it up and ship it home for you.


Or Maybe You Just Want a Glass of Wine in a Pristine Setting

El Rancho de las Golondrinas – this mill really grinds flour!

That can be arranged…in fact, it already is, thanks to El Rancho de las Golondrinas graciously hosting the annual Santa Fe Wine Festival July 6-7. Twenty years have not dimmed the appeal of sipping and sampling at this living history museum on the outskirts of town. Sixteen New Mexico wineries will be presenting varietals to try or take home, and there’s food to pair with your vino and live music too. Golondrinas, with its active traditional farming and crafts demonstrations, is one of my favorite places to experience both the authenticity and natural beauty of Santa Fe and New Mexico, and summer is not complete without a visit to see the ancient cottonwoods sway and hear the old mill sing its creaky song.


Go Ahead…Make Santa Fe Yours

Opera to scat singing, mariachis to Mendelssohn, contemporary art masterpieces to traditional silver bracelets and African baskets…do you see what I mean? It’s not so much a question of what there is to do, it’s a question of choosing which adventures you’ll savor the next time you return – that’s why people come back to visit Santa Fe again and again. Immerse yourself in the magic of music and art, be inspired by the culture and timeless traditions, and paint your summer with colorful memories of the City Different!


Santa Fe – Spring Must Do’s

Make the Most of Your Post–Hibernation this Spring in Santa Fe








Abandon your cozy seat by the fire and finish up your gourmet hot chocolate, because spring has arrived in the City Different! It’s time to go out, get active, and explore more of what makes Santa Fe so magical. Let the city’s creative spirit awaken yours from hibernation and explore the rich traditions of Santa Fe’s many cultures. Here are some ways to make the most out of a springtime trip to this wondrous and surprising city.

DIY Month

At a modest size of 37.4 square miles, and internationally recognized as a premier art market, Santa Fe packs in more creativity per square foot than anywhere else in the country. Get inspired by more than 250 art galleries, museums, and centers, and five art schools.

You’ll need those creative juices flowing as Santa Fe celebrates DIY Month in March, a creative tourism journey that gives you the chance to spend all or part of a trip taking workshops from experienced artists and artisans. It’s okay if you’re not an O’Keeffe. Classes cater to all artistic explorers, from beginners to aficionados. Fulfill a dream, refine a skill, or fall into something completely different. Want to tap into your inner artist? Take an expressive painting workshop with artist Cathy Carey. In this five-day class, limited to a small enrollment, you’ll learn techniques to loosen up your drawing and painting, capturing the feeling and fluid movement of Matisse and Van Gogh, and build a new connection to your work.

The Land and Light photography workshop teaches you the skills you’ll need to capture the majesty of Santa Fe with a lens. Walk this enchanted land with photographer Craig Varjabedian, photographing unique environments in an atmosphere of adventure and discovery. It’s a great way to explore the diverse culture, architecture, and landscape of northern New Mexico while upping your shutterbug game.

Personally, I can’t wait for the Glass Ristra workshop, a luxurious creative workshop brought to you by Bridges to Santa Fe. Held in a gorgeous home gallery, you assemble your own red, green, or Christmas glass ristra, while dining on red and green chile appetizers served on artisan-rendered glass platters.

That’s just a small sampling of the exciting do-it-yourself offerings. Transforming photographs with beeswax, traditional tinwork, Japanese papermaking, spinning wool, and many more possibilities await.

Bead Fest Santa Fe

Align the do-it-yourself spirit with do-it-for-yourself results at Bead Fest Santa Fe. Perfectly suited for both jewelry making novices and experts, Bead Fest is four days of discovering the latest techniques, tools, and tips. Take one of the 95 different workshops offered by jewelry artists from around the country, or shop at more than 150 booths and tables with everything you need to craft your own amazing creations. I’ll be going to behold the beautiful work on display, and, just maybe, end up with an amazing piece of my own design.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

Photo: Rosalie O’Connor









After all that making and creating, make sure you’re getting a balanced cultural intake. Along with the visual arts, Santa Fe is also a vibrant city of the performing arts. At the end of March, you can catch the dual-city Aspen Santa Fe Ballet as they return home for a program featuring Jiri Kylián’s poignant Return to a Strange Land, Alejandro Cerrudo’s striking new ballet Last, and Trey McIntyre’s seductive Like a Samba. Not sure if ballet is for you? Give this group a chance. Just don’t be surprised if you spend the entire performance at the edge of your seat. I asked ASFB’s director of marketing Jennica Lundin about the upcoming shows. “It’s not traditional ballet but way more contemporary,” said Jessica. She also told me that two of the three pieces would be performed on pointe, where the dancers perform entirely on their tiptoes. “Performing on pointe shows that our dancers’ technique is rooted in classical style.”

Santa Fe Japanese Cultural Festival

Go from nimble dancers to nimble swordsmen at the sixth Santa Fe Japanese Cultural Festival. Nothing feeds creativity like knowledge and experience, and I can’t think of a more exciting mental meal than a large serving of Samurai culture. Witness master swordsmen demonstrating their skills, Taiko drumming from Grammy winner Koji Nakamura, and a Grand Samurai Performance from Japan’s Nobuyuki Sato. You can also feast on Japanese food (yum), enjoy workshops (this city is workshop crazy), a silent auction, and – you guessed it – arts and crafts. It wouldn’t be a Santa Fe event if it didn’t involve creating something.








Santa Fe in Bloom

All of this culture can wear a person out. Make sure you leave yourself some time to enjoy and relax in Santa Fe’s natural beauty. Spring is a time when the outdoor world of Santa Fe turns into a collage of blooming plants. Why not try out some of those newly acquired photography skills on the blooming Aspens, tulips, poppies, and more. If you want a peek at some gorgeous gardens, the Santa Fe Garden Club is offering Pequeno Tours, private tours of some of Santa Fe’s finest homes and gardens. The Pequeno Tours start in mid-April and with spring temperatures in the 50s and 60s and plenty of sunshine, being outside in the fresh air of Santa Fe — named cleanest in the country by the American Lung Association — just feels great.

Start your Creative Season

Spring in Santa Fe is truly an inspiring time. Whether you want to jumpstart your own artistic renaissance or just recharge, there’s more than enough to wake your sense of adventure from its winter slumber. With all the opportunities to create and explore, there’s no time like spring to experience all the creative energy, diverse culture, and natural beauty that Santa Fe has to offer.

Santa Fe Women’s History – Nothing Boring About It

With its formidable, winding alleys, stately adobe facades, and love of all things chile, Santa Fe could justifiably be accused of exuding a somewhat manly – dare I say macho –air.  But hold it right there, bro-meisters. Being Women’s History Month and all, I not so humbly draw your attention to just a few of the women who shaped Santa Fe. I’m talking about genre-defying artists, social advocates, nationally recognized preservationists, and legendary rabble-rousers who left their indelible footprints in our beloved city.

Santa Fe women embody the best of both frontier spirit and cultural élan-presiding proudly in that place where local color meets Louboutin. Let’s celebrate their cultural legacy by proudly sharing their stories, and inspiring the next generation of history makers.

Confession moment: not too long ago my grasp of women’s cultural history went about as far back as Mary Tyler Moore. A coffee-talk with Dorothy Massy of Santa Fe’s Collected Works Bookstore encouraged me to dig deeper. “Santa Fe has a long history of nurturing creative thinking,” she says. “To this day Santa Fe is a mecca of creative expression not only for women, but for all individuals.” I was intrigued. And burrowing into a stack of non-Kindle volumes in our surprisingly charming public library, founded by the Women’s Club and Library Association 1896, I quickly discovered an inspiring truth: the legacy of Santa Fe’s most influential women is alive and permanently on display all across the city I love.

With a few fascinating field trips under my belt, I offer you this nonacademic guide to doing Santa Fe right – that is, enjoying this colorful city through the lens of landmarks and icons Santa Fe’s monument-worthy women literally put on the map. Much like Santa Fe women’s history itself, this guide is a work in progress. Read it, share it, add to it. Before you know it, you’ll be that interesting dinner party guest who starts a conversation about Santa Fe County’s first living history museum–hint: founded by a woman. Or the colorful character who invokes the name of Santa Fe’s most notorious gambler at your next game night–fyi: she charmed priests and judges alike.


Georgia O’Keeffe

Santa Fe’s most famous visual artist was actually born and educated in the Midwest. Early in her career, however, O’Keeffe discovered the spiritual allure of Santa Fe and the surrounding landscape. For more than 20 years she visited the area to work, explore and seek inspiration. Today, Santa Fe proudly boasts the only museum in the world dedicated to an internationally known American woman artist–The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Stroll to the eponymous Museum, just steps from the historic Plaza to enjoy the single largest repository of O’Keeffe’s work in the world. The Museum is open 7 days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM, and on Friday evenings until 7 PM.              

Pablita Velarde

Born at Santa Clara Pueblo, Velarde is an internationally acclaimed painter considered one of the founding mothers of Native American art.

Experience Velarde’s iconic depiction of Pueblo life by visiting the Pablita Velarde Museum of Indian Women in the Arts, just three blocks from the plaza. For a full immersion into the landscape and legacy that shaped Velarde’s vision, trek nearby Bandelier National Monument, where a young Velarde completed murals and paintings commissioned by the Work Projects Administration.              

Laura Gilpin

Ansel Adams called Gilpin, “one of the most important photographers of our time.” Dramatically capturing photographic images of Southwestern cultures and landscapes, her pioneering use of platinum and palladium printing earned international recognition.

Let Gilpin inspire your Santa Fe journey. Awaken your creative spirit, and enhance your photographic or printmaking skills at one of Santa Fe Photographic Workshops’ weekly instructional seminars. Novices welcome. (Take it from a novice.)              

Maria Gertrudis Barceló – AKA Doña Tules

A noted gambler and courtesan, Barceló operated a gambling house and saloon on Burro alley. She traveled up El Camino Real from Sonora, Mexico in 1815, and ruled the social set with a golden fist.

Burro Alley

Trace Barceló’s adventurous footsteps in downtown’s Burro Alley, a charming, European-flavored walkway just three blocks West of the Plaza. Grab what many locals (including me) consider Santa Fe’s most decadent pastries in Burro Alley Café, and imagine yourself in untamed 19th century Santa Fe.              

Mary Cabot Wheelwright

Transcending barriers of class and culture, Boston art heiress Mary Cabot Wheelwright adopted Santa Fe as her home, and devoted her life to the preservation of Navajo spirituality. In honor of southwestern native culture, Wheelwright created the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

Wheelwright Museum

Wander just 2 miles South of the Plaza for a cultural journey unmatched in authenticity and quiet power. Experience what the Museum describes as “…an opportunity to sense the beauty, dignity, and profound logic of Navajo religion.”              

Mother Magdalen and the Sisters of Loretto

The Sisters of Loretto arrived in Santa Fe in 1852. In January, 1853 they established Our Lady of Light Academy, later known as the Loretto, the first school for young women in the Territory of New Mexico.

Do the Sisters proud by thinking global and reading local. Visit Collected Works, Santa Fe’s oldest independent, woman-owned bookstore, located just blocks from the plaza on the corner of Galisteo & Water Streets. Browse an extensive collection of books on local travel, Southwest and Native American culture and much more, then relax Santa Fe style in the local-is-better coffeehouse featuring organic, locally-roasted coffee and tempting treats.              

Sisters of Charity

Enduring a hardscrabble environment and unstable living conditions, the first Sisters of Charity arrived in New Mexico Territory in 1865 with the mission of serving all peoples regardless of race, religion or ability to pay. Today’s St. Vincent Hospital and Orphanage and St. Elizabeth Shelter for the Homeless endure in testimony to the power of their spirit.

Live the Sisters’ mission in Santa Fe by embracing our multicultural roots. Visit Museum Hill, a cultural “neighborhood” housing the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Museum of International Folk Art, and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

Celebrate Santa Fe Women Every Month of the Year

Santa Fe celebrates our most prominent women’s cultural contributions every day of the year. Discovering the deep-down influence Santa Fe’s notable women have had on our city, I am humbled by their ingenuity, dedication, heart and love of Santa Fe, a town that’s never been afraid to show its feminine side.

Mom, Abuela, Daughter, Sister, Girlfriend, we celebrate YOU this Women’s History Month. And for all you who happen to be in this colorful corner of the world, I hope you’ll let the richness that is Santa Fe inspire your journeys – near and far.

Keep Santa Fe Colorful With ARTfeast February 22-24

Call it bravery, call it creativity, call it crazy, but once a year Santa Fe pours our heart and soul into a three-day weekend extravaganza of visual arts, cuisine, wine, home design, fashion, and good old-fashioned people watching. Right brain, this is your wakeup call.

ARTfeast is one of my absolute favorite weekends of the year because it combines two things I adore: Santa Fe art and Santa Fe food. Also on the menu, a fashion show and several silent and live auctions, all benefiting art programs in Santa Fe public school — another reason to love this event.

ARTfeast is Santa Fe’s spirited carnival of the senses, a movable feast of what we love most about our colorful city, and what we can’t wait to share with visitors. If you’re looking for stuffy white-glove galleries or an exclusive cufflink crowd, look elsewhere. Santa Fe’s ARTfeast is where locals and temporary locals roll up our sleeves, unbutton our collars, and maybe even loosen our belts a notch or two as we dive into pure creative and food indulgence.

Friday, Feb. 22 kicks off the weekend with Art of Fashion, a runway show and luncheon featuring the latest jewelry and clothing from local designers and boutiques like Cicada Collection, Tsosie-Gaussoin, and Queen’s Ransom. This is your opportunity to get a runway-side view of an eclectic fashion show, glittering with artisan-made jewelry and designer creations amidst a sea of fashionistas. Browse only-in-Santa-Fe silent auction items including a set of animal-themed plates while you nosh on a local farm-to-table luncheon. Both live and silent auctions will serve up offerings from participating designers. This year I’ll be bidding on an original handcrafted ring from Golden Eye.

If that doesn’t satisfy your appetite for dazzle, join us for the tony Gourmet Dinner and Auction, where you can pair your eye for style with your appetite for a multi-course gourmet feast coupled with vintage wines. You’ll have the opportunity to vie for exciting packages, including an original sculpture by Star York, when you’re not busy sampling the tasty food.

ARTfeast’s Edible Art Tour  Friday night (are you sensing a theme here?) sends adventurous spirits through 35 art galleries, paired tastings from local restaurants. Amazing food and exceptional art share the stage as you bounce from gallery to gallery. While you can’t literally eat the work hanging on gallery walls, you can indulge in gastronomic masterpieces served up a la carte from some of Santa Fe’s top culinary artists as you treasure hunt for new pieces to add to your collection. The mingling of local and international art stirs your soul with vibrant paintings, sculptures and installations, while the infusion of culinary greatness ignites your senses — and tests the limits of your stretchy waistband.

My favorite items from previous Edible Art Tours include the glass-plated loo sculpture at the David Richard Contemporary Gallery in 2011, and the Moroccan lentil soup from Jambo Cafe and wild mushroom tamales from La Casa Sena in 2012. But this is the year I’m really going to indulge, gaze and graze, as I look to expand my culinary palate seeking out new items from my favorite local restaurants. I’m looking forward to stopping by the Heidi Loewen Porcelain Gallery to see her line of porcelain stilettos and unique porcelain platters; the fact that her gallery is paired with the Santa Fe School of Cooking makes it all the more alluring.

If you’ve ever wanted to sneak a peek inside some of the city’s most incredible homes and dream about the Santa Fe home you’d love to live in, then head to Saturday’s Art of Home Tour. You’ll never have a better opportunity to tour some of the city’s most exquisite homes and art collections. You can even purchase local artwork showcased throughout the homes.

ARTfeast caps off the lively weekend on Sunday with the rousing Artist’s Champagne Brunch and Auction. This event allows you to meet and mingle with some of Santa Fe’s most influential artists and provides you the opportunity to take home a special treasure.

As if the much-needed mood enhancement isn’t enough reason to love ARTfeast, you’ll feel even better knowing this event benefits art programs for Santa Fe’s youth. So feast on! You’re keeping Santa Fe colorful, and paving the way for the next generation of Santa Fe’s visual, culinary, and performance artists.

The 16th-Annual ARTfeast promises to be an unforgettable weekend. Whether you choose to attend every event, or only pick your favorites, your right brain and your taste buds will be beyond delighted. Check out these photos from last year’s ARTfeast, and gear up to enjoy a full plate of cuisine, art, and socializing at this year’s extravaganza. For a complete listing of 2013 ARTfeast events and ticket prices, visit

Highlights from ARTfeast 2013:

By Gabe Trujillo 2/21/13