Santa Fe has always been known for creative innovation in art, craftsmanship, and design. Since its founding in 1609, art has always characterized this colorful city. The city’s art history is a diverse blend of styles from Pueblo ancestors in 1050 A.D. to its current inhabitants. There are many traditional art forms to experience here.
Replete with natural materials, such as wool and plant fibers like yucca, Santa Fe and its surrounding areas were conducive to woven works. Ancestors fashioned blankets, sandals, baskets, and other goods. Traditional pottery featured painted motifs and optical illusions that fascinate archaeologists today. Potters applied readily available plant or ground mineral pigments to clay, wielding frayed twigs or yucca brushes to create various effects. Pueblo dwellers used vessels for storing or serving food and water. These days, artisans take the pottery tradition to fine art heights with delicately painted motifs.
As more Spanish settlers made their way to Santa Fe in the 1600s, the more word spread about this mysterious, remote land. Spanish colonists brought Catholicism, and religious motifs became common themes for artwork. They introduced embroidery, furniture-making, wood carving, painted flourishes, tinwork, and jewelry making to the local art traditions.
Around the 1920s, Santa Fe’s bustling art scene and natural environs beckoned creatives from across the country. Among these aspiring newcomers was Georgia O’Keefe, whose life’s work is on display at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe.
Current Ways to Experience Art in Santa Fe
Today, you can find artistic works in every corner of Santa Fe, but Canyon Road is a cultural mecca, boasting countless galleries, outdoor exhibits, museums, and restaurants along the mile-long meandering road.
Regular events such as the weekly Road Art Stroll help preserve Santa Fe’s prominent standing in the art world and bolster local artists. But it is also easy to spend time exploring on your own. Browse the collections, dine at a cafe or restaurant, and spend an afternoon at any of the 80 galleries found there.
Aside from conventional art forms like pottery and weaving, Canyon Road is home to contemporary art forms like glassworks, abstract paintings, and digital media. Boutiques deliver a range of jewelry, bespoke footwear, leather outerwear, and handmade wooden furniture. No matter what artistic styles you prefer or your budget, there is something on Canyon Road for everyone.
Find your inner artist
Are you more of a hands-on type of traveler? Unleash your creative side with the help of Lisa Flynn’s Inner Artist Workshop as she takes you on a tour of historic Santa Fe and helps you create watercolor postcards of what you find along the way. The customizable session accommodates both individuals and groups of all ages and levels. Just bring an open, curious mind—Lisa Flynn provides the art supplies needed for the class.
Are you looking for a place to stay during your artistic explorations of Santa Fe? The Inn on the Alameda is the perfect place for your Santa Fe getaway. To learn more about the Santa Fe area, or for help planning your trip to Inn on the Alameda, visit our website.
World Class Art in Santa Fe
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.
The New Mexico Museum of Art is a masterpiece of this movement. Designed by New York-born architect Isaac Rapp, known as the “creator of the Santa Fe style,” this 1917 building has become an iconic example of Santa Fe architecture, 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 past show: “Hunting + Gathering: New Additions to the Museum’s Collection” that exhibited in 2015. It was 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.
“Classic” pieces such as Ansel Adams’ 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.
Anasazi Cliff Dwellings in Banadalier National Monument
Just 45 minutes away from the Inn on the Alameda is the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Located high on the Pajarito Plateau, Los Alamos is a secluded mountain town named after the Spanish word for cottonwood trees. But before the Spanish, the Pueblo Indians, and the Atomic Bomb made their mark, the area was inhabited by Anasazi Indians, a.k.a. “the ancient ones.” The Anasazi occupied the area in 1300 AD, but their restored cliff dwellings can still be seen from Bandalier National Monument.
Los Alamos’ transformation from ranch town to scientific hot spot began in 1917 with the creation of the Los Alamos Ranch School. The school was founded by one of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous Rough Riders, the volunteer cavalry who participated in the Cuban Invasion of the Spanish-American war. Nestled in the heart of the Jemez Mountains, the school was built to “toughen up” Easy Coast boys by exposing them to a vigorous, outdoor life-style.
22 years later, during the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein learned of Germany’s efforts to build an atomic bomb. Encouraged by his fellow scientists, Einstein informed President Roosevelt of Germany’s intentions, and the Manhattan Project was born. With assistance from Britain and Canada, the US Department of War began work in various areas throughout the country, but when it came time to bring the research together, secrecy was of the utmost importance. As a boy, Robert Oppenheimer, the eventual director of the Manhattan Project, spent time in a family cabin on the Pajarito Plateau. Years later, Oppenheimer suggested Los Alamos for the creation of the atomic bomb, and in 1942, the US government purchased the Los Alamos Ranch School.
Jemez Mountains Wilderness
In 1943, scientists, families, and military personnel descended upon Los Alamos (a.k.a. “The Hill”) under the control of General Leslie Groves. While the scientists and their families originally occupied the school’s dormitories, they eventually moved into new army barracks. It’s said that when you arrived, you were told was where to hang up your coat and the time of the next meeting. The area shocked many wives and mothers who moved from university communities to a top-secret location in the Jemez Mountains complete with dirt streets. After arriving in Santa Fe, families were told to stop at a small office on Palace Avenue, whose only address was P.O. Box 1663. At the time, all Los Alamos mail was delivered to that address. The address was even listed as the birthplace of all Los Alamos children born during the War.
Los Alamos proved to be well suited for the construction of the first atomic bomb, or the “the gadget” to use its code name. It’s said that the secret of the Manhattan Project was so well kept that Harry Truman didn’t know about it when became President. Russian spies, however, were able to learn the secrets of the Manhattan Project. In 1955, the Rosenburgs were executed for passing atomic secrets to Russian agents. The Rosenburgs delivered their information underneath the bridge at Alameda and Delgado, 100 yards away from the Inn on the Alameda. Ironically, the US government mistakenly spent significant resources to prove that Oppenheimer was the spy.
General Leslie Groves & Robert Oppenheimer
On July 16th, 1945, the gadget was successfully tested at the Trinity Site near Alamogordo, NM. The explosion occurred in the early morning, and its light could be seen across many parts of the state. Awed at the results of the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer quoted the Bhagavad Vida. “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.“ Shortly thereafter, the US dropped its remaining atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and August 9th. Japan surrendered almost immediately thereafter. Los Alamos and its fascinating history was the beginning of our WWII victory in the Pacific as well as the subsequent arms race between the US and Russia.
To see all that Los Alamos has to offer, start your day trip after breakfast. After your midmorning arrival, we recommend a tour of Bandelier National Monument and the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings. Then after lunch, visit the Bradbury Museum of Science and the History Museum in Los Alamos. If you’re new to northern New Mexico, Los Alamos offers you a look at prehistoric dwellings as well as the birthplace of the atomic age.
THE CONFEDERATE FLAG FLIES OVER SANTA FE
Canby (Left); Sibley (Right) – sourced from The Library of Congress
Sibley reached Santa Fe on March 13, 1862 (having set out from Texas on February 23, but not before the Union had destroyed the town’s supplies). The Confederate’s New Mexico campaign that was meant to rely on speed and captured provisions was finding itself bogged down and low on supplies.
Sibley and his forces were now caught between Canby in the south and fresh Union reinforcements to the north.
Taking the offensive, Sibley went out from Santa Fe to attack the Union forces in a fierce battle. Unfortunately for Old Dixie, the Confederates had left behind their remaining military provisions for safekeeping.
Alvin Jewett Johnson’s map of Texas and a portion of NM at the height of the Civil War
Following a small skirmish on March 26, both sides waited for reinforcements to arrive and they joined in battle once again on the 28th. Fierce fighting and aggressive maneuvering led the Confederate forces to advance further than expected. The Confederates took the Union positions in heavy fighting. Thankfully for the Yankees, a New Mexican scout by the name of Anastasio Duran led a small force of scouts behind Confederate lines. While the larger battle was taking place, Duran discovered the Confederate supply train. Returning to the Union lines with the news, US troops led by Duran, attacked the Rebel supply train.
It was this attack that turned the tide of battle.
The supplies were captured with little resistance. Eighty wagons, loaded with provisions and ammunition with which the Rebels still intended to fuel their campaign, were looted then sent ablaze. The auxiliary artillery was spiked and over 500 of the Confederate horses and mules were either killed or driven off. Alerted by the smoke of the burning wagon train, the Confederates were forced to return to Santa Fe. The loss of these supplies and material would prove devastating to the Confederates. Sibley pulled the remaining troops back to Albuquerque, in the hopes of reinforcements arriving from Texas.
Image of Glorieta Pass taken in 1990 by a National Park Service employee
By mid-April the Union forces had begun to converge and Sibley decided to retreat.
Confederate control of the northern part of New Mexico had lasted a mere two months. Union soldiers were dispatched throughout the New Mexico territory and the New Mexico Campaign and the Confederate attempt on the West came to an end. A simple accounting of the Battle of Glorieta Pass belies its importance in the American Civil War. By closing the door to the West and halting the Confederate advance, The United States was able to concentrate on the war in the South and East, while the rich resources of the Western Territories helped bankroll the delayed, yet successful victory 3 years later.
Many civil war elements remain in Santa Fe today. The New Mexico History Museum is a few minutes’ walk from the Inn and provides many resources to assist in understanding the campaign. Glorieta Pass is only 40 minutes from the Inn along a scenic drive, and the battlefield includes an interpretative center as well as a bounty of historical information.
This beautiful rural and rustic museum to the south of Santa Fe is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Anyone interested in livestock, farming, culture and living conditions during the early Southwest’s history will find this restored one-time caravanserai (from the Persian kārvānsarā, or Resting Place of Caravans), an accurate depiction of what historical life was like at this ranch. This camping or resting place, built in 1710 by Miguel Vega de Coca, was located just one final day’s journey from Santa Fe on the famous El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (The Royal Road to the Interior Land) – the original route from Mexico City to San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico. This is where our story about Rancho Los Golondrinas must begin.
In an earlier blog about New Mexico Statehood, I described the establishment of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro by the Spanish Conquistador, Onate, who traveled north in the last years of the 16th Century from Mexico City to the interior lands. He and his small group of settlers followed ancient Native American trade routes towards present day New Mexico to colonize the unexplored land north of the Rio Bravo (present day Rio Grande River). Over the 2 centuries that followed, until the opening of the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri in the early 19th Century, El Camino Real was the sole trade and military route to the new Province of Nuevo Mexico. The route began in Mexico City, passing through the Mexican mining towns of Zacatecas and Durango up to El Paso, and finally Santa Fe.
Imagine the excitement of finally nearing Santa Fe – your final destination following a 6-month difficult, dusty and certainly uncomfortable trip! Here, one day away, was a place with water, feed for stock, food for weary travelers, and a place to bathe and pull out and clean your best clothes for your arrival the next day at the capital city of Santa Fe. Rancho Los Golondrinas was a true traveler’s paradise set among the cool cottonwoods of Caja del Rio.
If it were not for the Curtin-Paloheimo family, there would be no museum. This was the far sighted family which, in the 1930’s, bought the ranch with a preservationist’s vision. As part of that vision, The Museum was created to reconstruct and recreate what life was like in the 1700’s on a colonial Spanish ranch. Comparing it to its more famous cousin of Colonial Williamsburg is interesting. While both are “living museums,” I naturally preferred the relaxed Southwestern style of Los Golondrinas that embodies New Mexico. The historical recreation is done with more familiarity and approachability, and offers an informal view towards the past. The tradition of preservation continues today under the auspices of the Los Golandinas Foundation.
Many activities and exhibits embody the feel and look of the early New Mexico years, including: the restored acequias (irrigation ditches), the small flocks of sheep and their shepherds, the flour and corn grinding mills, the stables and outbuildings, barns and corals, original clothing and other activities of the early Spanish settlers. Be sure and visit the Museum during its annual Spring or Fall Festivals for the best experience. Canyon Road, near the Inn, shares the distinction of both the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and Camino del Canon (Canyon Road) being originally Native American trails that the Spanish turned into their own routes.
While in the neighborhood, please stop in and spend the night refreshing yourself from your journeys at the peaceful and relaxing Inn on the Alameda, nestled in a beautiful, cottonwood-lined setting. No matter what time of year it is, a stay at the Inn is always a treasured experience – winter, spring, summer and fall.
-Joe and Michael Schepps
Most of us think of Benjamin Franklin when we think of the first kites. His famous experiment in 1752 “discovered” electricity by capturing negative charges from static electricity passing overhead while he flew a kite with a metal key attached. Mr. Franklin was one of our country’s greatest minds, creating everything from the first public library and volunteer fire department, to drafting the original constitution of the United States. But like many Western minds, his proficiency was foremost in the sciences, so when he thought kite, he thought scientific experiment.
The Japanese, however, thought art and beauty as well when they thought kites, and the current exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art Museum here in Santa Fe traces the exquisite history of kite making in Japan. The Inn on the Alameda is delighted to offer a special 3-night package in partnership with the Museum in honor of this exhibit.
It is believed that the kite was originally introduced to Japan by Chinese Buddhist Monks in the 7th and 8th Century AD. These kites were used in celebrations of giving thanks and other spiritual expressions. One can imagine the excitement among the early Japanese who saw for the first time elaborately colored creations that soared seemingly effortlessly in the wind.
In the 10th Century AD, the characters for “Kami Tobi” first appear in written Japanese history, and these translate into paper hawk – which leads us to speculate that either the first kites looked like or certainly sailed through the air like birds of prey. While primarily a decorative and visual experience, kites soon were adapted in Japan as construction tools, used to raise loads of roof tiles high aloft to the workers at the many beautiful shrines and temples. It is recorded that one of the largest kites had a wingspan of 75 feet.
By the 12th century, reports emerge of kites carrying people, one such incident resulting in the violent death at the hands of the authorities of a thief who used a large kite to steal the golden scales of an ornamental dolphin high atop the Castle of Nagoya. Another story tells of an exiled Warrior named Minamotot-no-Tametomo who constructed a large kite to use the winds to carry him and his son back to the mainland.
However, the greatest period of advancement in the design and decoration of Japanese kites occurred in the Edon period from 1603 until 1867, a time when Japan closed its doors to all outside influences. This isolation created an opportunity for Japan to perfect its own interpretation of the kite, when there were created over 130 different regional styles, representing various colorful folkloric, mythological and spiritual themes. The kites were made with light-weight bamboo or cypress woods and covered in hand made papers brightly colored with natural dies and figures defined by black ink.
Today, many festivals celebrate the kite in Japan. On the 5th day of the 5th month, ( Boy’s Day ), kites are flown throughout the country , as well as for various festivals, the New Year and public holidays. Some kites have the face of the devil to ward off evil spirits. The kite festival known as Hamamatsu, where kite teams do battle in the skies, is viewed by as many as 2,000,000 spectators. Kites are also flown at times of birth, with various good luck symbols purporting good wishes and desired traits to the newborn in a family. These include the carp, the crane and the tortoise.
Therefore, it would seem impossible to not sail over to Museum Hill here in Santa Fe to experience this unique and special exhibit of Japanese kites currently on display at the Museum of International Folk Art. This unique and stunning show lasts through July 2014 and is not to be missed. In addition to our special Tako Kichi package offering, the Inn on the Alameda provides a courtesy shuttle service to the Folk Art Museum for our guests. We are the closest hotel to both Canyon Road and Museum Hill where the following incredible museums are to be found just up the road: Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian; Museum of Indian Arts and Culture; Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Museum of International Folk Art. Also, if time allows, be sure and visit the new Santa Fe Botanical Garden, also located at Museum Hill.
In closing I wanted to share some of my own memories of kite flying as a kid on blustery spring days in North Texas, watching my simple store bought wood and paper kite ascending with roll after roll of twine into the warm and windy skies of Dallas. I certainly never envisioned for a second the images of Chinese Buddhists or Japanese artisans raising high the kites of the Far East; however, I believe I shared that same mysterious magic moment when the tiny spec of my kite disappeared into the clouds following a break of the twine when I could imagine my kite ascending all the way to the heavens like a hawk set free.
From all of us at the Inn on the Alameda, “Go fly a kite!”