Miles and miles of blue sky, towering mesas, native plants, and the rocky desert landscape instantly inspired American painter Georgia O’Keefe when she first visited Abiquiu in the late 1920s. She came back time and again, and eventually moved to the area in 1949, where she lived until her death in 1986.
Abiquiu’s stark landscape, indigenous art, and unique adobe architecture prompted O’Keeffe to take her artwork in a new direction. She shifted from New York City cityscapes to the flowers, bones, natural landscapes, and colorful shapes of northern New Mexico. She referred to this imagery as “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.”
The beautiful, unique landscapes that inspired O’Keeffe’s world-renowned pieces of art can only be found in New Mexico, and you can come see the inspiration in person. The majestic, red-rock formations and rich history of the area will inspire you to take out your easel and paint your own masterpiece.
About an hour drive from Santa Fe, the Abiquiu village bridges the past and the present. Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic home and studio in the village is open seasonally from March to November for public tours with advance reservations. O’Keeffe purchased the home in 1945, and visitors can see how she lived and worked, and how her lifestyle inspired her art.
And, while you’re in Santa Fe, don’t forget to stop by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, featuring a vast permanent collection of her work and changing exhibitions of her work and work by her contemporaries.
But Georgia isn’t the only artist to call Abiquiu home. The Abiquiu Art Project features other artists who are living and working in the Abiquiu area. Teresa Toole has created this project to offer private or small group tours year-round to visit the private studios of 4 of Abiquiu’s most internationally known artists, offering you a feel for both this special area of New Mexico and also the art and artists that choose to call this area home.
Inspired to find your own inner artist? You can schedule an art lesson during your stay here at the Inn! We are a proud sponsor of local artist Lisa Flynn’s Inner Artist Workshop. Ask us about this local workshop.
The New Mexico Museum of Art
There is a building in downtown Santa Fe that houses a world class collection of contemporary art, a building that is itself an example of the cultural synthesis that defines Santa Fe style and New Mexico culture: The New Mexico Museum of Art. Located within an easy walk to the Inn on the Alameda, the Museum offers exciting and challenging exhibits of contemporary art coupled with a permanent collection featuring many of the artists and artworks that define New Mexico.
The structure housing this collection is itself a work of art. The incorporation of Santa Fe into the United States had brought architectural styles that were largely incongruous with the cultural surroundings. The exposure of modern trained architects in the early 20th century to the organic forms of Puebloan architecture resulted in a revolutionary synthesis of styles known as Pueblo Revival. Consciously building on the historical innovations of the Spanish Colonial era and the Pueblo peoples’ monumental structures, the Pueblo Revival movement helped define Santa Fe for the coming 20th century.
Martha Opdahl, “Arroyo Seco #3,” 2002 – showing in the exhibit
The New Mexico Museum of Art is a masterpiece of this movement. Designed by Isaac Rapp, the New York born architect called the “creator of the Santa Fe style”, the 1917 building has become an iconic example of the Santa Fe style, melding elements of all the defining cultural influences in New Mexican society into a cohesive and attractive whole.
The permanent holdings of the collection are devoted to the history of contemporary New Mexican art. They include the Cinco Pintores, Georgia O’Keefe, the Taos Society and Gustave Baumann. The museum also has an extensive collection of American photography and multimedia works.
It is a world class artistic institution that has been home to numerous travelling shows challenging exhibits on the nature and function of contemporary artistic representation and media, and a continuance of their mission to expand their holdings.
Few exhibits better represent the complex and continuing mission of the museum than that of their current show: “Hunting + Gathering: New Additions to the Museum’s Collection”. It is an illuminating exhibit designed to educate visitors to the complexity of the roles of “museum” and “observer”, the duty to challenge as well as curate, and the necessity to adapt and evolve to a very changing cultural and academic landscape. Encompassing multiple forms, the exhibit highlights works of sculpture, photography, prints, textiles, painting and mixed media, and displays them in a way as to challenge the viewer.
Joyce Neimanas, “Girl with Squirrel (from the series Dog Show),” 1999 – showing in the exhibit
“Classic” pieces such as Ansel Adam’s photographs and Gustave Baumann’s paintings are juxtaposed with more challenging items such as Barbara Diener’s hauntingly composed and staged photographs and Sarah Magnuson’s evocative structures made of butterfly wings preserved under glass. These contrasts help to define for the viewer the paradoxes and challenges apparent within the collection, and hopefully, present a cohesive whole greater than the sum of their parts. This cohesion is mirrored in the Pueblo Revival building that houses it.
The New Mexico Museum of Art is a quick 5-minute drive or 10-minute walk from the Inn via Paseo de Peralta, a main thoroughfare on the north side of town. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays 10am-5pm and welcomes visitors for free admission on Friday’s from 5-8pm, May through October, and the first Friday of the month, November through March.
Inn on the Alameda, That Enchanting Small Hotel in Old Santa Fe, proudly presents all historical blog posts written by Joe & Michael Schepps. Read about the authors here.
One of the most defining artistic and symbolic elements of the Southwest is turquoise, a stone that possesses a captivating quality to natives and passers-through alike. The name “Turquoise” is an iteration of “Turkey,” the country from which the first turquoise imports to Europe came. This greenish blue mineral, consisting of hydrous phosphate, copper and iron, first emerged in ancient Egypt, where it was placed in tombs around 3000 BC.
In both old and new world cultures, turquoise was/is considered a holy stone – used for protection against unnatural death and hailed as a symbol of healing for both the body and the sacred land.
In the Southwest in particular, its hue is reminiscent of rain, essential to life and rebirth in the Puebloan tradition.
The story of turquoise in Santa Fe dates back over a thousand years (perhaps further), and is a complex one. The evidence of vast trade networks, connecting thousands of miles of land through multiple states and diverse cultural groups, has been recently uncovered by new archaeological techniques. Sharon Hull, a noted archaeologist, has spearheaded this endeavor by identifying clear evidence of pre-Columbian trade, stretching all the way from Nevada to the Cerrillos hills of Santa Fe.
While turquoise can be acquired today much easier than our ancestors’ methods, purchasing a piece of turquoise in Santa Fe ties you to the deep tradition of the bartering system of times passed. Most new turquoise jewelry sold today comes from mines in Nevada or Arizona, but the modern manufacturing tradition derives largely from the work of Fred Harvey and his collaboration with native New Mexican artisans. One of the fathers of modern tourism, Harvey pioneered many aspects of modern-day tourism. His handshake deal with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad to build inns, restaurants, and shops with organized tours of native performers, along the various railway stops helped shape our conception of current cultural tourism. This led to what’s been called ‘the first chain restaurants,’ as well as helped define and create the modern demand for southwestern styled silver and turquoise jewelry. Examples of this antique jewelry can be found in galleries throughout town.
Buying turquoise jewelry can be rewarding and intimidating all at once. Buying jewelry directly from native artisans at the Palace of the Governors located on the Santa Fe Plaza is one option. You can meet the artisans first hand and discuss the quality and history of the jewelry directly with the Native Americans who crafted it, placing yourself in an historical continuum of hundreds of years. The difference in cost between two roughly similar shaped and sized pieces can be thousands of dollars depending on whether the stone is natural or reconstituted and stabilized. Other options are to visit many well known and established shops in town that can take out most of the guesswork, and if you wish to read up on determining the quality of turquoise yourself, read through this guide that the Santa Fe Reporter wrote.
In addition to the native artisans present at the plaza, there are several Canyon Road galleries, located close to the Inn on the Alameda, that sell wearable turquoise art. For authentic Fred Harvey wares, Canyon Road offers the buyer many opportunities, including The Adobe Gallery and the Medicine Man gallery. Sessels on San Francisco St. and Keshi on Paseo de Peralta are additional shopping venues located close to the hotel.
The Inn on the Alameda strives to be the perfect ‘base camp’ for any shopping expedition and we would be happy to point you in the right direction based on your shopping desires.
We know that many of you out there are celebrating the imminent arrival of warm weather with a spring break getaway. Thinking ahead of ways to make a Santa Fe vacation into a unique experience, the City Different has partnered with Santa Fe Creative Tourism to offer a whole month of artistic adventures.
Interested in photography? See the best of northern New Mexico with Craig Varjabedian, who will share secrets on how best to capture the Land and Light of Santa Fe.
If textiles are your thing, start with the basics and learn to spin with the help of Santa Fe Buffalo Designs.
Fused glass? We love it, and you will too, in a March 16 glass class with Erik Whittemore of Bullseye Glass. No experience is necessary, and beginners are welcome!
Heidi Loewen Porcelain Gallery will send you home much more educated about the art of ceramics, and all you need to bring is a sense of adventure and a smile.
There is tin-smithing with Sharon Candelario available daily, pysanky or what we locally call Southwestern egg-decorating with Elizabeth Mesh, Venetian plaster with Sandra Duran Wilson, and the list goes on and on and on.
Sound like fun? Then it’s about time you turned your hand and eye to making art in Santa Fe!