Santa Fe In The Fall Is the Fabled City of Gold

With the sun shining daily in a bright blue sky and dramatic sunsets nightly, Santa Fe summers are simply the best. But as end-of-season beauties like tall, yellow native sunflowers bloom and wave in the breeze, it’s obvious that summer is about to give way to fall. And that’s fine with us, because it means the hillsides and valleys are about to turn daytime into glorious shades of autumn that rival our evening colors.

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Artful Adventuring Awaits in Santa Fe

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

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

See Beyond the Flower to a Colorful Career in Santa Fe

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Far East Art Styles in a Southwest Setting

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

Cranes come to life in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.
Cranes come to life in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

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

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

The Artistic Landscape is Unlimited at SITE Santa Fe

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

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

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

 

Bring On the Blues

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

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

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

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

Santa Fe Creates an Especially Artistic Summer Experience

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

 

Outdoor Adventure Awaits in Santa Fe

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

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

The Travel Bug Will Have You Itching for Outdoor Exploration

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

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

Fuel Your Appetite for Fresh Air at The Beestro

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

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

Anyone Can Be a Mountaineer in Santa Fe

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

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

Take Refuge With the Wild at Audubon Center

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

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

For Instant Adventure, Just Add Water

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

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

Canyon Road Makes the Morning Jog an Art Form

 

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

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

Leave No Stone Unturned on Your Trip to Santa Fe

A simple stroll downtown offers a breathtaking outdoor experience.
A simple stroll downtown offers a breathtaking outdoor experience.

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

 

Santa Fe and Photography Just Click

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

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

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

Santa Fe Photographic Workshops Fuel Creative Energies

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

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

Developing Skills with Santa Fe Digital Darkroom Classes

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

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

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

Every Picture Tells a Story in Santa Fe

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

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

St. Francis Cathedral is full of heavenly imagery.
St. Francis Cathedral is full of heavenly imagery.

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

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

 

 

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

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

Make Your Santa Fe Adventure Picture Perfect

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

Painted Skies are Perfectly Santa Fe

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

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

Rose-colored Glasses Not Needed Here

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

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

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

Howl for the Moon Not to Come Too Soon

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

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

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

The Santa Fe Sun Gives a Great Performance

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

Santa Fe Opera sunsets are music for the eyes.
Santa Fe Opera sunsets are music for the eyes.

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

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

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

 

Santa Fe Knows Sunsets…and Sunrises Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

Santa Fe: Sounds of Summer

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

Let’s Go Lensic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Set Your Sights on the Sounds of the Santa Fe Opera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strike Up the Santa Fe Bandstand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get in the Santa Fe Mood for Music and More

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

 

Santa Fe: The Perfect Playground

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

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

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

 

The Harrell House Is Crawling with Knowledge

Kids swarm to see the bugs at Harrell House.
Kids swarm to see the bugs at Harrell House.

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

 

Interactive Galleries will Make Art Aficionados of your Little Ones

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santa Fe Children’s Museum Leaves EVERYTHING to the Imagination

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

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

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

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

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

A Crafty Celebration Worthy of Your Scrapbook

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

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

Make This Vacation Your Kids’ Santa Fe-vorite

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

Santa Fe: Artful and Full of Art

Drawn to the artistic? I know the feeling well. Watching the talent on parade at Canyon Road’s Passport to the Arts last weekend left me with an appetite for more. Fortunately, Santa Fe delivers a mighty dose of the artistic every single month. There’s so much happening this summer that it’s taken me two weeks to share it all with you. (You read last week’s post, right?) Rest assured, my soul — and yours — won’t go hungry.

Let Your Eyeballs Lead You on an Artful Tour

Summer’s arrival brings long shadows. Around here, we call that time of day “legend light” and the magnificent landscape has been inviting paintbrushes, pastels, and photographers for centuries. Many artisans call Santa Fe home, and revelation arrives when these artistic residents open their doors to welcome us to the Santa Fe Studio Tour June 27-29.

Painter Jayne Levant plies her brushes with ease. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Studio Tour)
Painter Jayne Levant plies her brushes with ease. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Studio Tour)

A Friday night preview at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design kicks off the excitement. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s time to work the map. The Santa Fe Studio Tour offers the opportunity to visit with 58 artists in 37 studios across the city. Chatting with the artists and seeing their creative spaces always gives me more context, deeper insights into their work. Plus, I get to see whose space is the quirkiest.

 

 

 

 

From Cutting Edge to Classic at Weekend Warp Speed

The Downs at Santa Fe may have morphed from a racetrack into a flea market, but the City Different is way out ahead of the field with this summer’s Art Trifecta. From July 12-14, three stellar organizations join forces to create a winning triplet of artistic expression. Two are storied annual festivals, Art Santa Fe and the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, and they share this summer weekend with SITE Santa Fe. Santa Fe’s year-round destination for the avant-garde, SITE is revered by locals for showcasing radical re-evaluations of what art means in the 21st century.

Enrique Martinez Celaya pulls you into the world of The Pearl. (Photo Credit: Peter Kirby)
Enrique Martinez Celaya pulls you into the world of The Pearl. (Photo Credit: Peter Kirby)

The Friday, July 13 opening for The Pearl proves the point with a multi-media exhibition of works by Cuban artist Enrique Martinez Celaya (who also trained as a physicist – now that definitely piques my interest).

 

 

Art Santa Fe — Three Words That Say It All

While Santa Fe has a justifiable reputation as the art capital of the Southwest, the art is by no means all Western-style. We have our share of cowboy painters —and darn good ones, too — but cutting edge work shows up all the time. And nowhere is this more evident than at Art Santa Fe.

At Art Santa Fe, you can look at the art while it looks at you. (Photo Credit: Art Santa Fe)
At Art Santa Fe, you can look at the art while it looks at you. (Photo Credit: Art Santa Fe)

Kids rebelling against the idea of another museum? Turn their eye-rolling into the eye-opening with a trip to Art Santa Fe. The international, contemporary art fair July 10-13 brings the newest, boldest, most original works in its 14th show. My little artist anticipates seeing what’s new every summer and participating in a number of the event’s special sessions, like Korean papermaking I know where I’ll be spending a lot of the weekend.

 

 

 

 

Globally Yours in Santa Fe

You’re guaranteed to find the finest in folk art under the blue skies of Santa Fe.
You’re guaranteed to find the finest in folk art under the blue skies of Santa Fe.

Just as the quickly as Art Santa Fe has transported me to unimagined other worlds, a quick jaunt over to Museum Hill to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market sends me back to the past, to traditions, and to the far reaches of the globe.

Bertha Aquino works intricate designs onto a gourd at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.
Bertha Aquino works intricate designs onto a gourd at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With over 150 folk artists from more than 60 countries collected in the space (the expansive Milner Plaza), on same weekend (July 11-13), I can watch a Guatemalan master gourd carver at work, while munching on Indian samosa and listening to Kenyan music.  The best part? As I load up my new, handmade basket for Farmers Market shopping or adorn myself with some great new ethnic jewelry I’ve picked up at the market, I’ll do it in good conscience: Artists take home roughly 90% of all proceeds to support their families—and traditions– back home. I’ve already purchased my ticket!

Santa Fe’s Historic Art Heritage Hits the Plaza

It’s no surprise that Santa Fe boasts the deepest roster of traditional Spanish artists in the country. Many of the artisans who show at Spanish Market are direct descendants of the Spanish settlers who, when packing for their trip across the ocean into the new world, decided against packing easels and paint brushes. (No room on the burro!) Without any of the Old-World gold-leaf for decoration, the settlers turned instead to gold-colored straw, crafting intricate straw inlay to decorate their homes and churches.

Lawrence Cordova’s santos are altar-worthy.
Lawrence Cordova’s santos are altar-worthy.

And without any oils or paints, they mixed natural pigments still used by traditional retablo artist to depict and honor their favorite saints.

It’s not just the divine that’s sublime, though.  After popping into the St. Francis Basilica, I like to head over to the Contemporary Hispanic Market for some twists on tradition.

 

 

Pack Your Comfortable Walking Shoes for Indian Market

Santa Fe’s renowned SWAIA Indian Market turns 93 this year but hardly shows its age. In fact, it seems to get bigger and stronger every year. No wonder, since this is the country’s premiere Native American Arts Festival. (Note to self: Don’t forget the comfy footwear!)

Beautiful beadwork will blow your mind at SWAIA’s Indian Market.
Beautiful beadwork will blow your mind at SWAIA’s Indian Market.

Indian Market is a sell-out occasion, so make hotel reservations in advance. That way, you can hit the stalls early before the best pieces are whisked away by proud new owners.

I appreciate how the entire town–locals and visitors alike–turns out in their finery for Indian Market. No doubt, we’re stimulated by the variety of colors and textures on display. And if you mosey over to the Bandstand, you might see how all the elements of a Native costume work in unison when the person on stage does a hoop dance.

Indian Market covers not only the entirety of Santa Fe’s Plaza but the gamut of native art as well. And it’s not all pottery and turquoise.

Painter Ryan Singer poses with his self-portrait.
Painter Ryan Singer poses with his self-portrait.

Artistic traditions vary from region to region, with Pima baskets and Haida carvings, Pueblo pottery or Navajo weaving. Contemporary artists are also on display, giving us a generous peek at the next generation of tradition. Simply put, Indian Market is on my Must List!

From Far and Near, the Art Comes Here

I know, lucky me, I live here. Sorry if I’ve made it hard for you to choose. That’s why my own visitors come back again and again … and again. All these wonderfully artistic events return annually, too, so pick what you’ll be doing in Santa Fe this summer and next summer — I know you’ll be back!

Santa Fe: It’s Summer-Sensational

Seven weeks of spring, and already I’m yearning for the next season. Impatient, I know. That’s part of spring, though, that anticipatory feeling that bids you to hop out of bed every morning, brain bursting with ideas. I’m grateful the days are getting longer, because my list of this year’s what-to-do is getting longer too!

St. John’s Music on the Hill is a Santa Fe thrill. (Photo credit: St. John’s College)
St. John’s Music on the Hill is a Santa Fe thrill. (Photo credit: St. John’s College)

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

It’s possible – Rodgers and Hammerstein might get jazzed up or Latin-inflected, but you’ll have to set aside Wednesday evenings to find out. From 6-8pm, June 11 through July 25, St. John’s College’s hosts Music on the Hill, and this ever-so-pleasant way to enjoy Santa Fe skies with a musical backdrop is an ever-so-popular midweek outing.

Six concerts (none on July 2) in this ninth season offer great sounds on the grassy lawn, and you can either bring a picnic or feed the family via Walter Burke Catering at the venue. Parking is limited, so take the free shuttle and settle without a hassle.

 

 

 

Strike Up the Band (Stand)

Carve a spot in the crowd at a Santa Fe Bandstand Concert.
Carve a spot in the crowd at a Santa Fe Bandstand Concert.

I’m an aficionado of public spaces like our beautiful Plaza, and when free entertainment is part of the scene, I am so there, especially for the Santa Fe Bandstand Concerts. What could be better than totally free music in the heart of town as the City Different invites us all to Tune into Santa Fe? Nightly performances June 23–August 28 bring time-tested favorites such as Joe King Carrasco and local legends like the Santa Fe Chiles Dixie Jazz Band; some of the 2014 New Mexico Music Awards finalists are also on the bill.

Picnic blanket or a pair of chairs; choose your seating on the Santa Fe Plaza for a Bandstand Concert.
Picnic blanket or a pair of chairs; choose your seating on the Santa Fe Plaza for a Bandstand Concert.

Absolutely my favorite summer party, the Bandstand concerts let locals mingle with neighbors who hibernate in winter, and visitors get that insider’s intro to Santa Fe’s resident talents. All you need is a picnic blanket, a nosh, and a swing partner.

Sultry Singing, Stravinsky, and Sun Yat-Sen

It could only be the Santa Fe Opera! Anyone who knows me knows I can’t wait to see the sun set over the stunning Crosby Theatre. Although each two-month season presents repeat pleasures, there’s always a thoughtful new repertoire. It’s true again, with six all-new productions, including one double-the-treat double-bill.

Sit, settle, and let the sun set before you’re swept away by the music at the Santa Fe Opera.
Sit, settle, and let the sun set before you’re swept away by the music at the Santa Fe Opera.

Seductive solos start June 27 with Bizet’s Carmen, a sell-out whenever the sets go up and the lights go down. Laughter follows tragedy with Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, sure to offer stupendous comic relief. Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, a mighty tale employing a ton of talent, brings new Chief Conductor Harry Bicket to the podium. The aforementioned double-header pairs Mozart’s witty opera, The Impresario, with Stravinsky’s exquisite one-act Le Rossignol. SFO’s annual mission of presenting premieres is completed with the U.S. debut of Huang Ro’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, a mix of classical and folk styles from East and West.

The Strings are the Thing

Classical music has deep roots in Santa Fe, and I assure you it doesn’t stop with opera. Now in its 42nd season, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival is the epitome of a summer music must-do. Brahms, Handel, Mozart – you’ll hear music from all the masters, with concerts almost nightly from July 22 through August 25. And the weekly noon-time offerings are my special secret for a musical lunchtime escape.

Sit, settle, and let the sun set before you’re swept away by the music at the Santa Fe Opera.
Bravura “bowmanship” is at its best at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Reporter)

Performers are top of the line, with a mix of professional chamber ensembles like the Orion String Quartet, and a gathering of talents brought together to play specific concerts. Faithful piano lovers are rewarded with Yefim Bronfman and Joseph Kalichstein taking to the keys. And personally, I’m psyched that new music is on the scene at a concert of new works by young composers, performed by the Flux Quartet.

Get the Scents and Sights of the Santa Fe Scenery

Whew, let me catch my breath from singing Santa Fe’s musical praises and head outdoors! Santa Feans spend mucho tiempo en el campo, meaning we cherish summer outside. My choice for country charm is El Rancho de las Golondrinas, the 200-acre history museum south of town. From May through October, weekend events reveal the unique culture and traditions of New Mexico. Golondrinas embraces its educational mission seriously, but always makes it fun and fascinating.

El Rancho de las Golondrinas is the essence of all things New Mexico.
El Rancho de las Golondrinas is the essence of all things New Mexico.

Once summer is officially here, fresh herbs grace the stalls at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, and summer scents rule at Golondrinas’ June 21–22 Herb and Lavender Fair.  You’ll come away with fresh ideas for a home herb garden via tips from professional cultivators. Just walking the grounds is a distinct pleasure; you can discover how an acequia (New Mexico’s fabled watering system) works or learn about traditional village life. An integral part of my summer activities, a jaunt to El Rancho is my way of re-visiting New Mexico’s historic heritage.

In New Mexico, where water is precious, an acequia gate controls the flow.
In New Mexico, where water is precious, an acequia gate controls the flow.

Taking Pride in Santa Fe

Santa Fe is known for warmth and welcome, extended to the LGBTQ community long before there was an acronym. Many global cultures are home to individuals with diverse gender identities, and New Mexico is no exception. Santa Fe is doing a brisk business in gay weddings, and that’s a source of pride for the City Different.

Santa Fe shows its pride of place at the June Pride parade.
Santa Fe shows its pride of place at the June Pride parade.

 

 

 

 

 

We celebrate our equality activists at Santa Fe Pride on June 28. This annual event, organized by the Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance, opens with a colorful parade from the Roundhouse, our State Capitol building, to the Railyard, ending with food, fun, and all-day entertainment. I’m planning on breakfast at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, before grabbing curbside space for parade viewing. Bring a parasol or wear a hat and sunscreen if you plan to stay all day.

Why Wine? Why Not?

If you crave the whisper of terroir from wine, note that New Mexico is the nation’s oldest wine-growing region. Long before the union of states, settlers tended vines and crushed grapes in the Land of Enchantment. When summer ends, we welcome fall at the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Festival, but we also save a slice of the July 4th weekend for the Santa Fe Wine Festival.

Get a taste of Santa Fe and New Mexico wines this summer. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Wine Festival)
Get a taste of Santa Fe and New Mexico wines this summer. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Wine Festival)

At 21 years, the Wine Festival is “old enough to drink,” as the organizers cleverly put it, and there’s plenty to sniff before sampling. Vintners from all over the state will pour their best for our appraisal, and there will be food – look for me at Roque’s Carnitas. The roster of arts, crafts and unique products is too long to list; suffice it to say, there will be no lack of entertainment!

 

Read It Here Now, Relax Here Later

So what ARE you doing this summer? If you’re craving a unique summer adventure, then Santa Fe should surely be on your itinerary. Slip some of our signature events into your vacation, and you won’t be disappointed. And check back next week for the rest of my round-up … you didn’t think this was everything, did you? Oh, no, the fun here lasts all summer!

 

 

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.”