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.

All the Fall You Need in Santa Fe

It always feels like the year begins anew in autumn, even if logic tells me the year is winding toward its wintry season end. When Santa Fe’s fall leaves begin to show red and gold hues, we locals are called to the outdoors, knowing it won’t be long before sunsets sparkle over a frosty landscape. I definitely have a full fall agenda to complete before Old Man Winter arrives for his annual visit to the City Different.

Be Uplifted when You See Fall’s Foliage from Above

Santa Fe gets all dressed up in autumn colors when the aspens covering our Sangre de Cristo Mountains stage their annual show. We locals watch eagerly as the mountainside turns from green to gold, and we try to pick the perfect time to go up and bask in the resulting glow. But seeing the trees change their hue from down here on the plateau isn’t the only way to catch their fleeting fall drama. Ski Santa Fe turns the last holiday of summer into an outdoor happening, with live music and a beer garden hosted by Santa Fe Brewing Company on Labor Day weekend. Their scenic lift service begins September 7, with the Super Quad Chair Lift running daily through October 13 to give you a bird’s eye view of the mountaintop. And along the way, you lovers of winter will likely be enticed by thoughts of the same hillsides covered with fluffy white powder. Lift tickets will be on sale beginning Labor Day Weekend. 

Climb aboard for a trip down the golden line of aspens at the Santa Fe Ski Basin.

Santa Fe Welcomes Lords and Ladies

Prithee, wilt thou lend eyes and ears to the entertainments of yore? Yesteryear’s amusements will ensue when thee and thine head for the Renaissance Fair at El Rancho de las Golondrinas September 21-22. This annual funfest is full of color, music, and dramatic feats fit for the whole family. The Fair is a community event, which originated in 2007 as a fund-raising partnership with a local nonprofit. It brings out colorful locals dressed to the nines as their Medieval alter egos — thou mayest address me as Milady of Mischief. It’s gratifying to know that the proceeds benefit the continuing educational mission of Golondrinas itself, as well as the homeless outreach programs of The Interfaith Community Shelter. Look for Clan Tynker, Santa Fe’s favorite family of street performers, who will be on hand to amuse and amaze the crowd with juggling feats and some fire-eating derring-do!

It wouldn’t be a Renaissance Fair without a pirate or two.

Prime Your Palate for Global Flavors at the Wine + Chile Fiesta

The gorgeous setting of the Santa Fe Opera definitely provides many a summer delight, but it’s also the action-packed venue for one of Santa Fe’s fall signature events, when the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta holds its Grand Tasting Event there September 28. And although it’s the Santa Fe apex of an appetite for wine, that event is just one among many. Vintners and chefs from around the world gather annually to pair the best of their vineyards and kitchens with the taste of our spicy world-renowned cuisine. Winemaker dinners, educational seminars, pairing suggestions, sipping, supping, it’s all here. There’s even a sommelier throw down — we sure love a challenge in this town, especially when food and wine are involved. 90 wineries join forces with 75 restaurants, creating a vintage and a flavor for every one of us. We locals will be cheek-by-jowl with our visitors scoping out both the new and the tried-and-true bottles to stock our wine cellars.

Pace your progress as you test your wine palate at the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta.

Harvesting the Season’s Best

El Rancho de las Golondrinas just keeps ‘em coming, with the annual Harvest Fest coming hot on the heels of the Renaissance Fair. Lots to love when grapes are crushed by hand — oops, excuse me — by foot! Built in 1972 on a site with some original structures dating back to the 1700’s, Golondrinas brings the past vibrantly to life, harvesting some of the same bounteous produce found at the Santa Fe Farmers Market at this time of year. And this particularly popular community celebration mirrors all the autumn traditions of Territorial New Mexico, as chile ristras are strung and the smell of bread and fresh tortillas wafts out over the 200 acres of this living history museum. Go back in time with a visit to this historic ranch setting October 5-6, and you’ll go away with a vastly enriched understanding of the Santa Fe of today.

Chile ristras – the long strands of chile traditionally strung up to last all winter – decorate many Santa Fe porches.

Creativity Comes to Life on Canyon Road

Snaking along on the south side of the Santa Fe River, Canyon Road has been the heart of the arts for so many of the creative souls who pass through the City Different and decide to stay. You can see some of these colorful characters in action October 18-19, when the Canyon Road Association paints a picture of Santa Fe at the Sixth Annual Canyon Road Paint-out. The “plein air” technique, which is simply a French term for “in the open air,” gives the artists an opportunity to respond directly to ambient conditions and capture not only the visuals but also the sensations of the moment. And it won’t be just painters in the mix; there’ll be sculptors and jewelers and craft demonstrations and even an appearance of the high school marching band in a noontime parade. This comprehensive street side art exhibition turns Canyon Road into one big outdoor gallery, as paper, pens and paint become art before your eyes.

Art happens on the spot at the Canyon Road Paint-out.

Don’t Let Autumn in Santa Fe Escape Your Gaze

The months of September and October are my favorite time to travel anywhere, but it’s always hard for me to make vacation plans when I realize what I might be missing right here in my hometown. Whether it’s family fun, or fine wines and fine art that tickle your fancy, Santa Fe is a memorable autumn travel adventure.

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.

The Santa Fe Farmers Market Lives (and Grows) at the Railyard

There is energy in the air at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. It’s a sensory explosion of color, scents, music, and pride in community that is nearly impossible to put into words. The cross section of locals and visitors happily strolling, sipping coffee, and filling baskets with local produce, fresh breads, seasonal herbs, free range eggs, aromatic fresh and dried chiles, local honey and jams, luxurious body products, and homemade tamales, will transform your mood and test your bliss endurance.

Even produce basics like lettuce are a sight to admire at the Santa Fe Farmers Market

The Santa Fe Farmers Market began as a loose-knit group of farmers selling produce on Saturdays, from the back of their trucks, in the late 1960s. By the mid 70’s, the organization grew stronger, added more vendors, and outgrew the Alto Recreation Center and the Sanbusco Market Center. It was moved to its current home at the Railyard in 1999 where it thrives year round. Sherman’s Travel recently included it in “9 of America’s Best Farmers Markets”, and it made the cut of the coveted Sunset Magazine’s “Top 10 Farmers’ Markets”.

Strict standards require all food and products be made with local ingredients, which means you buy directly from the source, and I love the idea of meeting the farmer who grew my food. If you’re not sure how to get your beautiful yellow cauliflower and radish greens to the table, keep an eye for Santa Fe chefs at the market talking about recipes, providing tips for local food sources, and answering your foodie questions as part of the Cook with the Chef series.

Supporting my local farming community gives me extreme satisfaction. The knowledge that I am consuming products directly from my neighbors brings me peace of mind. Knowing exactly where my food comes from is something that is important to me in this fast food culture. My Saturday morning adventure to the Farmers Market is a spirit lifter as well, and sets me right for the rest of my day.

The Bounty of Fall Meets the People’s Passion

If you are fortunate enough to be visiting during the fall, you will be rewarded handsomely. You will be reaping the benefits of the busiest and most luscious season for produce in Santa Fe. Fall harvest in Santa Fe translates to copious crops of healthy greens, pumpkins, apples, squash, and legumes. It’s the peak season for the Patron Saint of New Mexican Cuisine, the beloved green chile. The glorious aroma of roasting chile fills the market. Tasty samples, recipes, and new ways of honoring the state’s coveted culinary mascot will keep your mouth watering, and your chile cravings in effect long after you return home.

Mouth-watering smells are in the air when Romero Farms roasts fresh green chile during fall harvest at the Farmers Market

One Shopping Bag Might Not Be Enough

There are more than 40 vendors at the market, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a new addition for even more treasures. The Farmers Market Shops are located within the pavilion and next to the new Cafe Fresh. The cafe sources most of its ingredients from the market, so you can expect garden-fresh soups, salads, wraps, organic coffee, and pastries. Strolling around the Farmers Market Shops, you’ll find Vivac Winery, Artful Tea, ChocolateSmith, Gardens, and the Farmers Market Gift Shop. Income generated by the Shops and Cafe Fresh helps to keep vendor fees low. Win/win for all! The shops are open during regular market and Artisan Market hours.

Sunday Brings the Santa Fe Artisan Market

The vivid colors at the Artisan Market are one of my favorite parts of visiting on Sundays.

The Santa Fe Artisan Market, housed inside the Farmers Market Pavilion, boasts fine handmade crafts and artwork from more than 30 artists. The range of creative goodies spans from knitted scarves and hats, to watercolor landscapes, to artisanal teas and body products. Check out the selection of fun retro aprons, imported clothing from India, felt handbags, hand blown glassware, and a treasure-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.


Meet at the Farmers Market for Special Summer Events at the Railyard Park

Along with the regular markets, the adjoining community space of the Railyard Park hosts many fun and family-friendly events throughout the summer. Summer in Santa Fe is a great time to check out swing dancing, reggae bands, gardening classes, art openings, and simply meeting with neighbors over coffee and burritos. All you need to do to have an essential Santa Fe experience is show up. Check the jam-packed schedule on the Santa Fe Railyard District website for information.

Locals and visitors gather at the Railyard to shop the Farmers Market, attend the free movie series, and attend family-friendly events throughout the summer

Don’t forget to gather your friends for the free Railyard Park Movie Series, which features movies every other Friday. From the Sound of Music to Willy Wonka to Stop Making Sense, there’s an entertaining movie for everyone.

See the Heart of Santa Fe at The Farmers Market

Enjoy the spirit of the lively vendors, the quality of every product laid out before you, and the energy of excited visitors. It’s a magical and lush experience that makes an impression on every guest. A day spent at The Farmer’s Market is a day immersed in the best that Santa Fe has to offer — fresh food, fine arts, diverse music, and a vibrant community.

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:]

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 + 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 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 …


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.

Santa Fe Arts Neighborhoods Elevate Art Appreciation

If your heart beats for the arts, then plan an escape to Santa Fe. With a vibrant and growing gallery scene, Santa Fe has become one of the world’s major arts centers without sacrificing its small town warmth. The art-tropolis of Santa Fe is divided into neighborhoods, making it easy for you to jump from gallery to gallery. Lovers of all genres and movements — from contemporary and abstract, to super realism and Western — will find something to love.

I asked Kathrine Erickson, president of the Santa Fe Gallery Association, what sets Santa Fe apart. “Santa Fe is the only city in the world that can boast over 200 galleries in two square miles,” she said. “Art collectors can travel to biennial art fairs in Berlin, Miami, New York, or they can come to Santa Fe 365 days a year to experience our unique year-round art fair, and view an unlimited selection of artwork by international and regional artists alike.”

Santa Fe’s rise as an art market can be traced back to the opening years of the 20th century, when artists began to discover the charm of the landscape and the beauty of the native people’s craftsmanship. By the time the Museum of New Mexico opened its Museum of Fine Arts in 1917, there was no stopping the love affair between artists and Santa Fe — a love that has blossomed into a full fledged city of the arts, with creativity, craftsmanship, and individual expression pretty much everywhere you look.

With so much to see where does one start? Katherine prudently advises you start with “ … comfortable shoes, dressing in layers, and a good handbag.” She also recommends the guides found on the Gallery Association’s website. Karla Winterowd, owner of Winterowd Fine Art Gallery on Canyon Road, says that a Santa Fe art excursion is an awakening experience for a first time art collector. “If you are a first time buyer of art, truly, Santa Fe is the place to come because you can walk around, take a couple of days, and go with yourself, your partner, or your designer.

For those with a little more experience, you can discover new artists as well as new work from artists you might already be following. It’s an inspiring trip whether you are new to buying art, a savvy veteran collector, or just interested in seeing some amazing work.

And, of course, in-between visiting galleries and studios, you can experience some of Santa Fe’s other charms. Shop at unique specialty stores, eat at world-renowned restaurants, and enjoy the historic adobe architecture that defines Santa Fe. And if you need a lift, just take the free Santa Fe Pick-up shuttle. Art appreciation has never just been about acquiring, so enjoy the gorgeous downtime and culture.

The Never Ending Canyon Road Art Galleries

Canyon Road is a great place to start your visual arts voyage. This neighborhood is the bustling heart of the gallery scene with more than a hundred art galleries in a mile-long stretch. The Canyon Road galleries have a wide selection of modern, contemporary, Native American, and Russian art.

A stroll down the historic Canyon Road — the oldest adobe houses on Canyon Road date at least to the 1750s — leads you to unique fashions, sculptures, photography, dazzling Navajo jewelry, and stunning handmade embellishments. In the fall, I love watching artists at work at the gallery’s “paint outs.” Anytime I have winter visitors, one of their favorite experiences is walking the famous Christmas Eve Farolito Walk. For Santa Fe newbies, Farolitos are small, sand-filled, paper bags illuminated with votive candles, which line the historic neighborhood streets and adobe walls. The effect is nothing short of magical. Luckily, the picturesque beauty of Canyon Road can be enjoyed any season of the year.

Canyon Road in full effect – photo courtesy of Essential Guide












Railyard Arts Neighborhood

If your artistic tastes lead you to modern work, follow the tracks to the Railyard Arts District to find the best in contemporary art. This neighborhood houses 10 must-see galleries in new warehouse-style buildings. Besides avant-garde painting, you’ll also find jewelry, exquisite furnishings, textiles, and bamboo pieces. Go international with a visit to the Railyard’s standout gallery, SITE Santa Fe. SITE Santa Fe is a dynamic art space, featuring contemporary photography, painting, sculpture, installations, and its signature international exhibition. The last Friday of each month is the perfect time to stop by as the Railyard features Last Friday Art walks. Galleries hold opening exhibitions and stay open late. If you need a little energy during the course of your art appreciation, the Railyard’s Flying Star Cafe serves tasty plates and a menagerie of delicious baked goods.

Santa Fe Railyard District

West Palace Arts Neighborhood

Located between the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum on West Palace Avenue and Johnson Street, the West Palace Arts Neighborhood has the best of both worlds: museums and galleries. Dive into the rich history of New Mexico’s art at the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Then head over to the galleries to work on your collection, or to just pretend like you’re a jet-setting art buyer.

The galleries here are outstanding. The LewAllen, Manitou, Peterson-Cody, and Wadle galleries combine to represent more than 350 nationally recognized artists. Plus, every first Friday of the month, the West Palace galleries offer an assortment of openings and exhibitions featuring the work of exceptional contemporary artists. A perfect opportunity for some high-culture mingling.

Manitou Gallery in the West Palace Art District

Studio Tours

Taking a studio tour provides an unforgettable way to see new work from a large section of artists. The Eldorado Arts and Crafts Association opens its studios May 18-19 for the Eldorado Studio Tour. 110 artists in 72 studios will showcase work in a variety of media and genres including painting, ceramic, glass, jewelry, oil, photography, printmaking, sculpture, digital, wearable, and recycled art. If you want to get a sneak peak of what’s going to be on the tour, the tour’s Preview Gallery will open for early viewing May 4-17.

Looking for a fun day trip in the fall? The first weekend in November, the Dixon Studios offers its annual studio tour. A 45-minute drive through the scenic Embudo Valley will bring you to Dixon, home sweet home to more than 50 artists. Walk from studio to studio while you enjoy the beautiful village and discover gorgeous paintings, outstanding photography, fine sculptural jewelry, stoneware, wearable art, herbal bath and beauty products, handmade chocolates, local wines, and traveling musicians. With so many studios and amazing pieces of art to choose from you’ll be glad you made the short trip – just make sure you clear some trunk space before you go. Some of the studios are open year-round, but call ahead before you hit the road.

Your Art Is Waiting for You

Santa Fe has a huge crush on the visual arts, and a massive appreciation for visitors who share that passion. If this preview has you eager to explore, as Karla recommended, The Santa Fe Gallery Association is a handy resource for learning about the galleries before you arrive. The Association’s website lists upcoming events and maps to help you plot your own individualized tour based on your tastes.

Katherine also has a one final tip for a perfect ending to any art-filled day. “Be sure to scope out your restaurant selections in advance and make reservations when possible — especially during the busy summer months. There are many great restaurants to choose from, and after a long day of gallery hopping you want to reward yourself with an equally artful meal.”

With so many artists, galleries, and opportunities to explore this amazing city, your new favorite piece of art is sure to be waiting for you in Santa Fe.

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