Everything’s Coming Up Roses in Santa Fe

 

The sun is hard at work in Santa Fe, coaxing bulbs to put out their colorful blossoms to sway in the spring breezes. We’ve had our final drift of snow, and day by day, the sun sticks around in the sky longer and longer. I say it’s time to take a leisurely tour to look around the colorful Santa Fe landscape and be assured the city is indeed in full bloom.

Capture the Colors at The Bishop’s Garden

Seeing Santa Fe’s spring color in the Bishop’s Garden makes a person feel in the pink!
Seeing Santa Fe’s spring color in the Bishop’s Garden makes a person feel in the pink!

The harbinger of spring in Santa Fe is the ubiquitous forsythia. The rich yellows of this hardy plant, followed swiftly by fragrant flowering fruit trees, call me to the Bishop’s Garden, designed by Bishop Lamy who built the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. A colorful real-life character, he is the famed subject of Willa Cather’s Santa Fe-centric novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop, a must-read for lovers of Santa Fe.

I love spending some quiet moments in our Cathedral before making a meditative circuit on the path under the beautiful blossoming trees. My next stop? A picnic on the Plaza, where the hanging baskets add color to the heart of our historic town.

Canyon Road, Painted in Mother Nature’s Hues

The Santa Fe Plaza is painted in nature’s colors in the blooming months of spring and summer.
The Santa Fe Plaza is painted in nature’s colors in the blooming months of spring and summer.

 

 

Any historic town deserves help sustaining special sites, and we’re fortunate the Historic Santa Fe Foundation is so firmly rooted in its commitment to preserving the gorgeous gardens at El Zaguan. Built in the 1840’s, the former Johnson family Canyon Road hacienda is named for its long interior hallway (the zaguan) and has served as an artists’ colony since the 1920’s when it was converted into a series of small apartments.  The Foundation continues this tradition by offering one-year residencies to artists and writers whose work benefits from the serene surroundings.

A quiet spot in the heart of Santa Fe, El Zaguan welcomes meditative moments. (Photo Credit: The Historic Santa Fe Foundation)
A quiet spot in the heart of Santa Fe, El Zaguan welcomes meditative moments. (Photo Credit: The Historic Santa Fe Foundation)

 

Some of the trees in the small but lush garden are well over 100 years old, and I love to lean against their trunks and listen to leaves murmur as they did in years gone by. Stands of lilac, lavender, and roses perfume the air from spring to fall. The Santa Fe Master Gardener Association partners with the Foundation, ensuring that the garden is a water-wise oasis retaining its historic origins and beauty. Open Monday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm, the Master Gardeners are on-site and happy to plant-talk on Thursdays and Saturdays.

A 400-plus Year-old City Has a Gardening History

A town as old as ours is bound to count dedicated gardeners amongst its citizenry. The Santa Fe Garden Club relies on many dedicated members, who planted the sculpture garden at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and maintain and support gardens at the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts.

Rocks, plants, adobe … what could be more Santa Fe than being behind adobe walls? (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Garden Club)
Rocks, plants, adobe … what could be more Santa Fe than being behind adobe walls? (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Garden Club)

If you think Santa Fe is all sagebrush and cottonwoods, you’re in for a delightful surprise! Mid-April through mid-October, the Garden Club’s Pequeno Tours (pequeno means little) offer intimate tours of three stunning homes and gardens, with a knowledgeable, plant-loving Garden Club member as guide. The tours run frequently, and are a one of a kind experience. Come July, Santa Fe is a riot of color, and the Garden Club’s Behind Adobe Walls Home and Garden Tour is too. Two successive Tuesdays take flora fanatics to eight fantastic gardens, located in private estates and historical sites.

Santa Fe Plants for the Future with a New Botanical Garden

The magnificent museum complex on Museum Hill gained a new partner across the road when the Santa Fe Botanical Garden arose amid the junipers and piñon trees. Celebrating our region’s biodiversity and plant heritage, the Botanical Garden began in 1987 with the seed of an idea planted in the minds of local gardeners. By 1993, the 35-acre Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve opened adjacent to El Rancho de las Golondrinas and cultivated the desire for a city site to host native plants and educational events. In 2006, with 11 acres of land leased long-term from the city, planning began in earnest. With the first phase completed, the Garden opened its gates for year-round viewing in 2013. I’m excited about Origami in the Garden, a large-scale outdoor sculpture exhibition with creations from Santa Fe artist Kevin Box. Kevin’s work is on display until October 25th, and the self-guided cell phone tour ensures a fully enlightened experience whenever I visit.

Blue skies and native plants tell the tale of Santa Fe’s botanical history. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Botanical Garden)
Blue skies and native plants tell the tale of Santa Fe’s botanical history. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Botanical Garden)

Plans are laid for the next phase, showcasing plants used by local cultures throughout Santa Fe’s ancient past. Clustered around a central plaza, the newest plots will include plants traditionally used for healing, cooking, weaving, and dyeing, along with outdoor classrooms to host programs for the whole family.

Pick Some Pretty Posies at the Santa Farmers’ Market

Growing Southwest beauty differs from planting in the moist Midwest or coastal rain-belts. Be it food for the table or flowers for the soul, those who live by hands in the soil bring their harvest to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Tuesdays and Saturdays. With spring’s arrival, the Market has moved back outside, and that means vendors are multiplying. Right now, I’m all about fresh greens to grace my plate, and beautiful bunches of flowers to make my dinner table festive only gets easier as spring turns to summer.

You can pick a basket of blossoms or a bushel of chiles at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Sage Inn)
You can pick a basket of blossoms or a bushel of chiles at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Sage Inn)

Make Yours a Colorful Journey to Santa Fe

A Colorful Journey … there’s more than one reason this phrase is the City Different’s calling card. The sun is painting long shadows to frame the bright hues tucked against adobe walls and lining garden walks all over town. I am nurturing the notion of adventures yet to come, but in the meantime, I invite you to share the blessings of colorful blossoms and leaves that whisper softly, “Come outdoors and celebrate spring’s return.”

Make Your Next Visit to Santa Fe a Tour de Force

Do you occasionally feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, pressed for time and harnessed to a big watch? Discover the spirit of Santa Fe! We take relaxing-into-the-moment seriously, so I think you should leave the planning to us. Making the most of limited time means doing only what’s necessary, then letting the professionals take over. Once you’ve made plane reservations or tuned up the truck, pick out a great hotel (a tough choice you’ll have to make for yourself), then take a break by touring with adventurous experts who make it their business to see that your getaway is grand.

Train, plane or automobile — just get yourself to Santa Fe and let the locals share the best!
Train, plane or automobile — just get yourself to Santa Fe and let the locals share the best!

Lose Yourself in a Legendary Landscape

The vistas here are so large and the possibilities so many that it takes a pro to know where to start. You can’t do better than Georges and Sue Mally of Santa Fe Walkabouts, ranked #1 for Santa Fe activities on TripAdvisor. This dynamic duo and their powerful Pinzgauer (not their dog, it’s their fun all-terrain vehicle) get you out of town and into nature in informative and entertaining style. Want to explore the otherworldly Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks? You can scramble to the top or gaze at the azure sky from the bottom of a slot canyon. Hiking can be an easy excursion past ancient petroglyphs or a challenging climb in Georgia O’Keeffe country.

Gaze at the gorgeous landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe with Santa Fe Walkabouts as your guide. (Photo credit: Santa Fe Walkabouts)
Gaze at the gorgeous landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe with Santa Fe Walkabouts as your guide. (Photo credit: Santa Fe Walkabouts)

Mountain biking your thing? Take a canyon-rim cruise or a strenuous trek straight up the mountain, as Georges paces you pedal for pedal. And then, there’s the Pinz … be it a rocky road to a remote area or a glorious sunset tour to say goodnight to Santa Fe, this is a one-of-a-kind ride you won’t forget in a hurry! You may lose yourself in wonder at what you see, but in the expert care of Walkabouts, you’ll never get lost in anything but dreams!

 

Feed Your Fantasies in Santa Fe

Fun in the sun makes for a delicious day, but you can combine seeing sights with scrumptious flavors in a foodie-style adventure with Food Tour New Mexico. Ranked as TripAdvisor’s #1 Santa Fe sightseeing tour, these rambles through regional specialties should not be missed. And there’s more than one recipe for a nosh through our noteworthy cuisine.

The green leafy courtyard at La Casa Sena is a thing of beauty — and so is the food.
The green leafy courtyard at La Casa Sena is a thing of beauty — and so is the food.

The Taste of Santa Fe includes such notable spots as La Casa Sena (tucked inside Santa Fe’s most beautiful courtyard), Taberna La Boca, James Campbell Caruso’s temple of tapas, and Kakawa Chocolate House, recognized as one of the country’s best places for hot chocolate. The Sample Santa Fe tour takes a similar tack, with stops at the San Francisco Street Bar & Grill (a locals’ favorite), Upper Crust Pizza, and Senor Murphy, Santa Fe’s historic chocolatier, tucked alongside the historic La Fonda Hotel. And for those who love a sippin’ sampler, there’s even a Culinary Cocktail Tour — that’s one with shaken or stirred skills to take home!

On the subject of testing the palate with pleasurable potions, be it wine, beer, or spirits, the City Different accommodates different drinking desires. Given that foodies like us like vino, it’s no surprise to learn that you can spend an awesome afternoon tasting local vintages at Estrella del Norte Vineyards.

Discover the vines in the oldest wine-growing state: New Mexico! (Photo credit: Estrella del Norte Vineyard)
Discover the vines in the oldest wine-growing state: New Mexico! (Photo credit: Estrella del Norte Vineyard)

A 15-mile drive north gives wine lovers the flavor of the northern New Mexico terroir and a scenic road trip. Throughout summer, there’s a smattering of wine dinners and classes, and there’s even an April 19th vineyard planting if you want to literally get into la tierra.

If beer’s a beloved buddy (I cherish my hoppy memories), there’s always plenty of brew bubbling. My recommendation is Small Batch Saturday at the Santa Fe Brewing Company. Originating with a local homebrew organization, these 10-gallon gatherings give local beer-loving club members a chance to brew with the experts and share the craft results. Brewery tours or tastings are every bit as tasty as you’d expect from Santa Fe’s oldest brewery, with 20 or so beers in rotation; favorites are always on tap!

It’s always “brewtastic” to taste what’s on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company. (Photo credit: Max Otwell)
It’s always “brewtastic” to taste what’s on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company. (Photo credit: Max Otwell)

Santa Fe is a spirited town, and the inroads made by Santa Fe Spirits are proof positive. In just a few short years, Colin Keegan, the don of distillers, has managed to put not only whisky, but vodka, gin, and an apple brandy into the mix. A short drive takes you to an artisan adventure in locally crafted spirits, and it’s enlightening to discover that what we enjoy at leisure commands so much expert attention. A distillery tour is my choice, because I like combining a sip with an education, but knowledge is on hand at the downtown tasting room if you’re afoot and footloose on a sunny Santa Fe afternoon.

It’s a barrel of fun to discover the spirits of Santa Fe and taste them too! (Photo credit: Santa Fe Spirits)
It’s a barrel of fun to discover the spirits of Santa Fe and taste them too! (Photo credit: Santa Fe Spirits)

Follow the Leader and Do It Yourself

If you’re one for marching to the beat of your own drum, make the most of Santa Fe by merely following a beaten path laid out by trail-blazers just like you. If you’re firmly convinced (I am) that a chocolate a day is the key to keeping the doctor away — it is a proven fact that chocolate is good for you – spend a sweet afternoon on a Chocolate Lovers’ Odyssey. You might want to pair that sweet tooth with a caffeine fix, in which case, a Coffee Tour will hit the spot.

One way or another, all paths lead to green chile in Santa Fe.
One way or another, all paths lead to green chile in Santa Fe.

And eventually, when it’s time to settle down for a real meal, a detour to hunt down your favorite version of our famed Green Chile Cheeseburger simply has to be on the agenda.

Leave the Driving to Us

Even if your trip is just a short hop, I commend you for coming … and I assure you, you’ll be back. The spell of Santa Fe is simply too magical. But if you only have a weekend, take a tram tour to plan for deeper exploration next time. Seeing the sights seated on your keister saves time and foot-power, because there’s just so much to see.

 

Custom Tours by Clarice shuttles the curious on daily tours of our historic downtown four times a day, seven days a week, and if Clarice herself is at the wheel, the friendly flow of conversation is wide-ranging. The Loretto Line Tour Company is Santa Fe’s oldest tram tour, but the enthusiasm and expertise of their guides is fresh as a daisy. Running three times a day every day of the week, Loretto tours cover all the legendary downtown spots, leaving you with a comprehensive overview and a plan for returning to places that piqued your interest.

There’s more than one way to ride in Santa Fe. (Photo Credit: Loretto Line Tours)
There’s more than one way to ride in Santa Fe. (Photo Credit: Loretto Line Tours)

 

Leave the Planning to Us

We’ll take good care of you once you get here; after all, we appreciate our renown as the cultural hotspot of the Southwest. And that means lots of locals make their living by welcoming with open arms and minds full of fascinating facts the visitors who want to enjoy our historic city. Why not leave the selections, explanations, and driving to us? You just kick back and enjoy the scenery, the flavor and the fun! My way of getting the best of the adventure is by spending the least amount of energy planning. Try seeing Santa Fe my way — I know you’ll like it!

No Place Does Spring Like Santa Fe

Santa Fe is so blessed with seasonally special sights and sounds that I never feel shortchanged at any time of year. But I admit that being on the cusp of spring has me in a fever of eager anticipation. As days grow longer, blossoming trees will begin to decorate the city and festive events will bloom all over town. Now is the moment to give in to the beauty and bounty of a colorful southwest spring, so I offer my primavera primer.

The first flowers of spring — forsythia — bloom in abundance in Bishop Lamy’s quiet garden adjacent to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis.
The first flowers of spring — forsythia — bloom in abundance in Bishop Lamy’s quiet garden adjacent to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis.

One Old Culture Honors Another

No country pays a more handsome homage to spring than Japan. Fragrant flowers, gusty winds sending kites aloft, a rich and ancient culture … Santa Fe has them too, though our early blossoms come from gorgeous old apricot trees. Delicious jam ensues later, so look for it at our Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. And Santa Fe also has a Japanese tradition, when we celebrate “equinoxically” on March 22 at the Japanese Cultural Festival.

The delicacy and depth of Japanese artistry is rooted in deliberate design and meaning, and I salute the 10th annual return of this spring event, known as a Matsuri. This year’s theme, good luck, is symbolized by “sho,” “chiku,” and bai,” which translate as pine (symbol of tenacity, here it’s our piñon tree), bamboo (beloved for flexibility, a vital attribute for the original New Mexico settlers) and plum (its early flowers evoking the optimism of spring). I plan to capture in full the flavor of this eloquent triad.

This Japanese kite can turn its frown upside down when it’s finally aloft!
This Japanese kite can turn its frown upside down when it’s finally aloft!

After repeatedly visiting the killer kite exhibit (which I’m happy to report has been extended through July 27) at the Museum of International Folk Art, a kite-making demo strikes my fancy as fantastic fun. I also intend to learn to turn my homey tea party into an elegant tea ceremony. And getting into the beating heart of the whole shebang will be a rhythmic riot aided by the Smokin’ Bachi Taiko drums.

Sounds for Serenading Spring

If you’re like me, your life has its own soundtrack, so you’ll also be stoked that the City Different is inviting everyone to Tune into Santa Fe this year. As a die-hard fan of summer’s rich musical offerings, I’m grateful I don’t have to wait until then to get my music fix. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus season covers March with gold-medal violin work, and they’re serving up a big dose of symphonic music in April and May. My calendar is marked in pastels for Easter, obligating my attendance at Santa Fe Pro Musica’s Baroque Holy Week concerts, where the timeless setting of the Loretto Chapel and evocative musical excellence sweeps me back seamlessly back through the ages.

There couldn’t be a better place to tune into Santa Fe’s musical scene than the Loretto Chapel.
There couldn’t be a better place to tune into Santa Fe’s musical scene than the Loretto Chapel.

Spring brings Aspen Santa Fe Ballet back to the Lensic, and much as I delight in classic ballet repertoire, I cherish the chances that ASFB takes with more avant-garde programs. With a world premiere in the wings and a pair of striking works by contemporary choreographers, I’m relieved to know that if I miss the March performances at the Lensic, a one-night April encore guarantees my dance date.

No Passport Needed to Paint a Pretty Picture of Spring

While New Mexico Magazine features funny monthly tales in which New Mexico is confused with Old Mexico, the only passport required to visit Santa Fe is a Passport to the Arts. Thoughtfully timed with Mother’s Day weekend (by the way, Mom, it’s been way too long since you visited!), there’s much to love — and share — when we wander in and out of the Canyon Road galleries and watch artists ply talents in the open air. Beginning Friday night with openings and receptions, the weekend is rife with demonstrations, food, and music clustered behind adobe walls and in sculpture gardens of historic buildings.

Get a Passport to the Arts on Canyon Road – it’s the only way to travel! (Photo credit: Canyon Road Merchants)
Get a Passport to the Arts on Canyon Road – it’s the only way to travel! (Photo credit: Canyon Road Merchants)

I’m awed by the Artist QuickDraw on Saturday morning, a tour-de-force event when participants combine any and all media with individual talent and techniques to create original works of art under the constraints of time and an avid public audience. When time’s up, palette knives and brushes, carving tools and crayons are retired, as the artists prepare their finished pieces and hustle them over to the Live Art Auction. As for me, I relax while they work, but I’m prepared to bid right quick on a favorite piece!

May I Invite You to May … and June Too?

By Memorial Day, Santa Fe will be gussied up in spring finery, trees leafed out and stalks of blue flax bobbing. And El Rancho de las Golondrinas will be spinning the old mill’s water wheel as the New Mexico Fiber Arts Festival returns. I feel sheepish to confess I play favorites, but El Rancho really is one of my special places, especially when it’s time to shear sheep, dye their wool, and spin it into fine colorful yarns. My sister holds the family-knitting crown, and I’m the crochet queen, so I’ll wind up with some naturally hand-dyed yarn for both of us.

Maria had a little lamb – or two, or four. (Photo credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)
Maria had a little lamb – or two, or four. (Photo credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)

Memorial Day also showcases fine fiber handicrafts at the Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival. With 200-plus artists, there’s always an ample display of museum-quality wares to admire, and it’s a perfect appetizer for everything discovered later in summer at SWAIA Indian Market. Since I’ll be fiber-minded, maybe I’ll finally find that long-sought-after Navajo rug for my bedroom. And if not, I’ll still be coming home with a treasure or two.

Spring doesn’t truly end until mid-June, so kids and all, I’ll scoot back out to El Rancho for the Spring Festival and Children’s Fair as soon as school ends. Watching “settlers” baking outdoors in an horno (the traditional NM beehive-shaped oven) and herding livestock makes this re-enactment of New Mexico village life a history lesson disguised as a fun day in the sun for little ones. And with cute baby animals bleating and clucking, there’s an “awwwww” factor that’s hard to beat.

Be Impetuous and Spring into Action

Adobe walls offer the perfect backdrop for Santa Fe’s spring colors.
Adobe walls offer the perfect backdrop for Santa Fe’s spring colors. Photo Credit: Eric Swanson Photography

On the scale of awe factors, spring in Santa Fe is a hard-to-beat-the-pleasure time. Balmy weather, flowers blooming, people smiling, and blue skies make each day a precious chance to collect kindred souls and share with them the places I return to again and again. I’ve planted some seeds for spring adventures here in Santa Fe, so don’t wait for summer — have a spring fling of your own!

 

New Direction + New Year = Feeling Newly Santa Fe

One year leaves, another begins. Things change, and with the past gone, we have only the now. Einstein said “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” With the calendar’s turning, I’ve been ruminating on how to re-visit and renew my connection to myself, and to my mind, body, and soul via the revitalization of change. Be it known that I intend to “Be Here Now” in Santa Fe by shuffling my deck of experiences to become a more tuned-in, turned-on version of me … call it happiness 2.0(14)!

Divining A City Different Direction

“It’s in the cards” is one of those phrases I’ve heard bandied about over the years, and I decided it was high time I found out what that meant. Chances are you’ve seen a Tarot deck yourself and wondered what a reading might reveal. Not actually a predictor of the future, the Tarot is rather an aid to help one navigate through life’s present challenges. With so many pictorial designs, there is no one deck of cards used by all, but each set consists of cards known as the Major and Minor Arcana. The four suits of the Minor Arcana (wands, swords, cups, and pentacles), each with a king, queen, knight, and page, offer a specific meaningful approach to life’s practical daily ups and downs. By contrast, the Major Arcana is comprised of picture cards that represent principles, concepts and ideals reflecting powerful, long-term energy or big events in certain areas of life.

Let the cards talk to you through Tamara Janúz at BODY of Santa Fe.
Let the cards talk to you through Tamara Janúz at BODY of Santa Fe.

To move myself thoughtfully forward further into a new year, I turned to Tamara Janúz, who reads Tarot at BODY of Santa Fe every Wednesday, 9 am to noon, and Sundays 3 to 5 pm. Seated quietly, she lays out the cards without fuss and lets the story unfold before your eyes. You’ll excuse me if I don’t reveal the essence of my reading, but I will say that both the Angel and the Queen of Hearts made an appearance.

Turning Two Fitness Ideals into One with a Yoga Hike

I don’t need the cards to tell me to stay in shape (my doctor dad did that), and thanks to any number of yoga and fitness classes all over the city, I have a regular practice schedule flexible enough to keep me flexible. But I’ve been intrigued by the thought of combining two activities I enjoy — yoga and hiking — into one unique outing this year. Thanks to Stacy Kinsley and YogiHiker, it looks like I have an excellent plan to spring into action once winter says goodbye and warmer weather returns. The notion expressed in the YogiHiker tagline, “stillness in action,” embodies much of what I hope to achieve, a centered space for conducting another year on this planet.

Get a mountain high with a yoga hike in Santa Fe. (Photo credit: YogiHiker)
Get a mountain high with a yoga hike in Santa Fe. (Photo credit: YogiHiker)

Recognizing that any practice based on repetitive movements can easily become stale is the essence of the YogiHiker philosophy, which encourages curiosity about both outdoor environs and inner connections to the self in nature. Scheduled for an average 2.5 to 3 hour outing, each of the yogi-hikes takes place close to town, so just like me, you can engage in a centering experience in the morning and still have the rest of the day, as well as a newly-heightened appetite, to mosey back into town for a healthy and well-deserved lunch.

Get the Skinny on Santa Fe Skincare

Paying attention to feeling more blissful has been all well and good, but catching a glimpse of my skin in the mirror after the holidays was not exactly a blissful experience. Okay, it was a magnifying mirror, meaning this was a helpful but brutally honest friend. After that revelation, it hasn’t taken much convincing to steer me towards better skincare. And Living Bliss Skin Care and Botanicals is my new solution.

M-M-M-My skin says thank you, Living Bliss! (Photo credit: Living Bliss Skin Care and Botanicals)
M-M-M-My skin says thank you, Living Bliss! (Photo credit: Living Bliss Skin Care and Botanicals)

A home-grown small business, just the sort of operation I love to support, Living Bliss creates its products with vegan-friendly, non-GMO, organic ingredients, which in simple terms means “fear not, we’re good for you.” And as a dyed-in-the-wool Santa Fean, knowing they’re made according to the phases of the moon for potency makes me feel that’s there’s extra magic working to make me look my best. These goodies, tailor-made for our high-altitude living so close to the sun (not that I’m complaining about 300-plus days of sun, mind you) are available online, but I like to visit the tester samples right here at the Santa Fe Artisans Market in the Farmers’ Market Pavilion on Sundays. I’m even dancing around with the temptation of a personal consultation — nothing like getting advice on best practices in person.

Delight in a New Dance

My waltz with errands around town often includes a welcome stop at a building I once knew as a Piggy-Wiggly grocery, re-incarnated as a Safeway and then Alfalfa’s Natural Grocery before reaching an apex with its current occupant, BODY of Santa Fe. A many-things-to-many-people operation, BODY opened in 2004 and has morphed organically over time into a boutique, natural foods café, a yoga and exercise studio, and spa facility responsive to visitors in search of a health-conscious and sustainably-focused lifestyle. Count me in because you’ll see me there!

A Nia class at BODY is a joyous experience! (Photo credit: BODY of Santa Fe)
A Nia class at BODY is a joyous experience! (Photo credit: BODY of Santa Fe)

Thankfully, I awoke on January 1 with only a few extra pounds donated by holiday fun, but I did not wake up with zest for my usual exercise routine. I don’t know about you, but frankly, I’m a little tired of the same old squats to the same old music.  An inspiration to try Nia delivered a perfect aural and physical detour. A barefoot movement practice drawing equally from martial arts, dance arts and healing motivation, Nia teaches practitioners to cultivate a body-centered awareness through movement to music. Discovering this dance-centric technique at the hands — and feet — of a roster of masterful instructors who teach at BODY was a revelation. The playlists are electric and eclectic, and the dance aspect let me forget about exercising for health and just flow into the freedom and fun of moving. No, I’m not ready for the Nia School White Belt Training at BODY in February (if you are, pencil in Santa Fe for February 20-23), but I’m all set to dance my way into 2014 with a lighter heart.

Appreciating the Appeal of a Young Year

You probably read it here already: the entrance into a new year should be a source of adventure not agonizing. And finding and embracing new experiences is a joyous way to live in the now. If you’ve penciled in joy on your calendar, then follow your bliss to Santa Fe. You’ll find delight in discovering so many pleasurable ways for self-revelation and renewal as a living, breathing being in this still-young century.

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.

Ancient Art and the Search For Modern Understanding at Santa Fe’s Museum Hill

Museum Hill is Santa Fe’s very own internationally recognized art and history destination. To wander and explore the offerings at these museums is to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the three cultures that have merged to form a rich heritage, which is the union of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo traditions. The exploration of a fantastic museum is an immersion in history and stories. A magnificent exhibit leaves me changed somehow (and admittedly, smarter). Museum Hill provides ample opportunities to ignite inspiration, and deepen your appreciation of art and the cultures that bring it to life in its many forms, and to come away with a new way of looking at the world.

See Cultural Evolution at the Museum of International Folk Art

One of my all-time favorite museums is the Museum of International Folk Art. The permanent Girard Collection, from famed textile designer Alexander Girard, is a hearty explosion of color, cultural diversity, and sheer whimsy. There are more than 120,000 objects on display ranging from primitive puppets, elaborately carved dolls, and animal figures, strange otherworldly masks, and fantastic tableaus that depict birth, death, nature, religion, saints, and sinners. It is a fascinating glimpse into a way of storytelling through the use of tangible objects.

Carved dolls whimsically highlight history at the Museum of International Folk Art.

The seeds for this stunning folk art collection were sown during Girard’s honeymoon to Mexico, when he and his wife returned to the United States with their car loaded down with treasures. The Girards settled in Santa Fe in 1953, and in 1978 made the gift of more than 100,000 objects to establish the Girard Foundation. Girard personally installed the exhibit, and his love of design and object placement is truly a sight to behold.

I wandered this exhibit for nearly two hours before finding my way to the “New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Mate’ Y Mas” exhibit. The results of the melting pot (pun intended) of cultures and flavors are evident today. It’s eye opening to examine ancient kitchen tools and dishware, silverware and copper pots, and realize how far we’ve come, yet how true to form our modern kitchens still are. I was struck with the genius of the utilitarian pieces, and the simple beauty of the decorative displays. Williams-Sonoma has some serious competition here!

These cool artifacts also show the progression of fusing America’s traditional crops like beans, squash and corn, with new and exotic spices, vegetables, and meats brought by the Spanish and other settlers. Santa Fe has long been heralded as a go-to culinary destination, and most foodies know the region for hearty ingredients like native chile, corn and squash. But, surprisingly, chocolate has been a coveted New Mexico delicacy for more than a century. (Check out my previous post to find out how to savor your own indulgent chocolate tour.) Archaeologists have found traces of theobroma (chocolate’s scientific name; it means “food of the gods”) in Chaco Canyon pottery shards.

The New World Cuisine exhibit at Museum of International Folk Art showcases the influence ancient culinary tools and dishware on our modern kitchens

It’s been said that when Don Diego DeVargas marched north for the re-conquest of Santa Fe, each of his soldiers carried a wedge of chocolate all the way up the Camino Real, enticing his enemies into chocolate-fueled negotiations. Chocolate has been winning wars and wooing lovers for centuries. It’s history, from Mezo-America to China is a fascinating one, and this exhibit illustrates how chocolate has become a staple in many cuisines.

Refuel at Museum Hill Café

If the wandering and culinary displays leave you hungry, be sure to stop by the Museum Hill Café, which sits amidst the common courtyard shared by several of the museums. There, you can refuel with a fantastic variety of fresh food, ranging from Asian shrimp or steak tacos, nachos, yummy soups salads, to a great selection of sandwiches and quiches. This lunch spot is airy and welcoming with a spectacular view and patio, and also boasts homemade desserts, coffee, beer, and wine.

The Café offers a delicious New World Cuisine Cafe Sampler Plate to accompany the New World Cuisine exhibit. The plate is $14 for one or $24 for two, with a fabulous $9 wine pairing. Delectable offerings include sweet corn custard, Jalisco sopes, nopal salad, poblano mole, and a divine dark chocolate truffle gram tart. I love the concept of tying in a feast for my eyes at the museum, with a feast for my taste buds at the café.

Refuel with tacos, salads, wine, or coffee — with a spectacular view — in between exhibits at the Museum of International Folk Art at the café.

Past Meets Present at Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

Just across the courtyard is the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, whose mission is “to inspire appreciation for and knowledge of the diverse native arts, histories, languages, and cultures of the Greater Southwest.” For a relatively small museum, the scope of this vision is great, but the mix of ancient artifacts with modern components brings the mission to reality.

Each basket’s unique pattern and artistry tells a story at the “Woven Identities” exhibit at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

The ties to the past are evident throughout the museum, and I was aware of a deeper respect growing in me. Seeing the handiwork of the tools, stoneware, baskets, beading, and leatherwork truly commands a reverence for what the times and landscape (literal and socioeconomic) must have been. The current exhibit, “Woven Identities,” features baskets woven by artists representing 60 cultural groups in six culture areas of Western North America. Each basket, with its unique patterns and artistry, tells a story. Although the names of the weavers are largely unknown, it’s easy to imagine the person who constructed these beautiful pieces. I left feeling humbled and enlightened of the fortitude and inherent skills that these artists incorporated into their work. The expression of their individuality is revealed in each fiber.

The Personal Pursuit of Navajo Heritage at Wheelwright Museum

Another smaller museum that houses an impressive collection of Native American artifacts is the Wheelwright Museum. The current exhibit, “A Certain Fire: Mary Cabott Wheelwright Collects the Southwest,” showcases the museum’s namesake and her unyielding passion for preserving native culture. Her purpose in opening the museum (celebrating its 75th year) was to create a home for items that supported the study and practice of Navajo ceremonialism.

Eventually, her collection came to encompass a wider range of tribes throughout the Southwest. With the assistance of scholars, artists, and collectors, Wheelwright filled her museum with weaving, artworks, archives, and other items, helping to preserve one of the world’s great religious traditions. I loved seeing these exquisite pieces, and Wheelwright’s own writings and photographs give the exhibit intimacy and a personal touch. Be sure to check out the gift shop, the rustic and authentic Case Trading Post. There you will find fair trade baskets, weavings, jewelry, books, and pottery from local artists.

Mary Cabott Wheelwright’s unyielding passion for preserving Native culture is felt throughout the Wheelwright Museum

See New Peruvian Works at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society recently opened to the public its largest permanent gift of Peruvian art in its 88-year history. The “Window on Lima: the Beltrán-Kropp Collection from Peru” exhibit includes 40 objects from Peru, as well as a number of objects from other countries collected by Pedro Gerardo Beltrán Espantoso and his wife Miriam Kropp Beltrán. Pedro was a descendent of a Spanish conquistador and a member of the Peruvian aristocracy who served as Peru’s ambassador to the United States in the 1940s. Dignitaries and royalty were often entertained at their lavish home, and this exhibit allows us modern day civilians to see for ourselves how this family lived.

I am buzzing to everyone about this exhibit, which includes a rare reverse-painted glass frame from Cajamarca, Peru, an exquisite silver panel of Abraham, Isaac and the Angel, and a table with marquetry of incised ivory and tortoise shell. There’s also an entire set of Beltrán custom-made and engraved cobalt blue and gold dinner service for 46 people. I’d love to be invited to that dinner party! Tinwork, silver, gilded gold, carvings, and etchings all comprise this ornate style. I also love an excuse to admire the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, located in a historic, Pueblo Revival-style building, on the north side of Museum Hill. Check my past post all about exploring this exquisite museum. [Link: http://santafe.org/blog/?p=194]

Get Enlightened at Museum Hill

Santa Fe is truly fortunate to be the home to these unique museums that give other art destinations a run for their money. You will come away with an enriched appreciation for this distinct part of the world that combines preservation of the past with modern artistry, all atop a magical hill.

Santa Fe Railyard

Get On Board Santa Fe’s Newest Old Hot-Spot: The Railyard District

In a city known for its high altitude, elevated spirits, and glorious skies, one might understandably overlook Santa Fe’s most down-to-earth cultural icon: the Santa Fe Railyard District.

Santa Fe Railyard
Santa Fe Railyard. All Rights Reserved. 2013 Santa Fe CVB.

The Railyard District is Santa Fe’s newest old neighborhood, offering an ever-evolving version of the authentic Southwestern experience. While Santa Fe’s historic Plaza may be the heart of town, the Railyard is its new cultural lifeline, serving up a casual — dare-I-say hipper — side of Santa Fe, while tipping its hat to traditional and time-honored activities just blocks away, and living side by side with one of Santa Fe’s oldest neighborhoods. Here locals and visitors converge in an eclectic mecca of contemporary art, fresh food, unique shopping, and old-fashioned relaxation.

Long before it became a “district,” however (more than a hundred years ago, for you history buffs), the Santa Fe Railyard served as the official gateway to the City Different. Tourists, artists, businessmen, and more than a few adventure seekers discovered a magical frontier beyond their wildest dreams, courtesy of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Strolling the picturesque district on a coffee-fueled spring morning, I learned that the Santa Fe Railyard District once supported a booming railroad economy, bringing laborers and materials vital to the development of our distinctive central neighborhoods and landmarks. Decades of economic glory faded into memory, however, as new generations of travelers found Santa Fe by car and eventually airplane. And the once-bustling Railyard fell to neglect and abandon.

Thankfully, Santa Fe’s past and future got back on track, so to speak, when the city pledged to revitalize the Santa Fe Railyard District, restoring the cultural hub’s historic elements, and reinventing a lively network of colorful, open-air community spaces. The district’s revitalization included the establishment of the Railyard Park, which is the “green heart” of the district. The park includes an outdoor performance space for movies and concerts, picnic areas in shady groves and gardens, and 5,000 feet of walk-bike trails that will link to a citywide trail network.

Much like the rail lines of old, the Santa Fe Railyard District offers refreshing, surprising, and unforgettable stops. Indulge in Santa Fe’s emerging performance events, dining destinations, and to-die-for shops. Or just set off on a local journey defined only by the district’s enchanting rhythm. So let’s roll down the tracks …

Tomasita’s

Swirl margaritas and abuela-approved chile at Tomasita’s

Tomasita’s proudly holds court among Santa Fe’s chile royalty. But there’s nothing stodgy about this local landmark. Open since 1974, the lively restaurant is considered by many the epicenter of the Railyard. Drop in to begin or end your day, to see and be seen, or to soak up the Railyard’s good vibes and creative energy. Authentic — as in, “abuela’s in the kitchen” — New Mexican food is the specialty. That means mouthwatering traditional chiles rellenos, enchiladas, and stuffed sopaipillas. (I confess the smell of fresh tortillas sustained me as I waited in the quick-moving line of hungry patrons.) Diners are encouraged to fearlessly dive into local red and green chile, and then toast the culinary adventure with a famous sangria swirl margarita.

 SITE Santa Fe

Listening to ice melting at SITE Santa Fe

Visit SITE Santa Fe to experience full-throttle visual and performance art in the Railyard District. Here video, photography, large-scale sculpture, and painting coexist in harmony, as internationally recognized artists make full use of this modern space. SITE’s fantastic, flexible gallery space and groundbreaking contemporary art exhibitions provide an intoxicating yang to the yin of Santa Fe’s beloved traditional arts. I can proudly say I expanded my artistic horizons by simply wandering through each of the current exhibitions. A video installation by performance artist Linda Montano entitled “Art/Life Counseling” really called to me (though I’m not exactly sure what it said). The video monitor is draped in a disheveled red wig and the face of the artist speaks directly to viewers. Comical, endearing, and, mildly unsettling. Bravo, SITE.

Santa Fe Clay

Santa Fe Clay

If observing isn’t enough for your artistic endeavors, there is no finer way to get your hands dirty than with a visit to Santa Fe Clay.  This is a dream facility for diehard DIY-ers, or anyone craving an enlightening hands-on experience. At a sprawling 10,000 square feet, the fantastic space offers endless hours of creativity via its gallery, artist studios, retail store, wheels and kilns, and massive workshop and teaching space with expert staff. Santa Fe Clay hosts classes year-round for adults and children, and exhibits some of the finest clay artists working in the medium today. I’m not talking pinch pots and light switch covers here. Santa Fe Clay is a dynamic, forward thinking studio. Inspired by the shelves of creations set out to dry, the fresh-out-of-the-kiln pots, and the sheer joy on the faces of workshop participants, I have officially pledged to get my clay groove on.

Railyard Artisan Market

Local paintings at the Artisans Market

Saturdays and Sundays bring the Santa Fe Artists Market and the Railyard Artisan Market. Prepare to be surprised. Housed alongside the east walkway of SITE Santa Fe on Saturdays or inside the Farmers Market Pavilion on Sundays, the respected markets boast fine handmade crafts and artworks ranging from knitted scarves and hats to watercolor landscapes to artisanal teas and body products. My credit card limit flashed before my eyes as I beheld a gasp-worthy selection of fun retro aprons, imported clothing from India, felt handbags, hand blown glassware, and a virtual trove of jewelry. Pick up one-of-a-kind gifts here, or self-gifts — my favorites. Several crafters work while you stroll, offering unfiltered glimpses of their works-in-progress.

Farmers Market

Fresh greens at Santa Fe Farmer’s Market

Perhaps the unifying event in the Railyard is the renowned Farmers Market. This market prides itself on strict standards requiring that all food and products be made with local ingredients, and prohibiting reselling. That means you buy directly from the source. I love the idea of paying the farmer who grew my food. The market is alive with energy, color, and happy shoppers. Fresh breads, seasonal herbs, overflowing baskets of greens and veggies, free range eggs, aromatic fresh and dried chiles, local honey and jams, luxurious body products, organic coffee, and homemade tamales transform moods and test your bliss-endurance. Meanwhile, strolling musicians and kid friendly activities keep young shoppers smiling. The market is open 8 am-1pm Saturdays (year-round) and Tuesdays (May through Thanksgiving week). June-September the hours shift forward an hour: 7 am-noon.

Beyond the food scene, a true feeling of community pervades this burgeoning creative space. Whether you want to swing dance or catch a reggae band, see a thought-provoking film, visit with neighbors over coffee and burritos, even witness a dynamic aerial acrobatic performance held right on site, all you need to do is show up. Check the jam-packed schedule on the Santa Fe Railyard District website for information. Or take my advice and gather your friends for the Free Railyard Park Movie Series, which features movies every other Friday night all summer. Meet me at “The Princess Bride” July 27 or “… prepare to die!

Balancing history, authenticity, adventure, art, food, and performance, the Santa Fe Railyard District sparkles with timeless appeal and youthful. Find your favorite stop, as you get on board with a cultural treasure that is definitely moving in the right direction.