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.
Santa Fe is a multicultural city that has long been influenced by Native American, Hispanic, and Latino cultures. The Southwestern style’s distinct architecture is a prime example of this unique mix of cultures and ideas. The Southwestern-style dates back thousands of years to Native American architecture and Spanish colonial influences.
Pueblo Revival, or Santa Fe Style architecture, dates back to the early 1900s but reached the peak of its popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. It imitates the style of adobe Pueblo architecture but often uses different materials. You’ll find that the style features an overall boxy look with flat roofs, terraced facades, recessed windows, private courtyards, and of course, the iconic stucco exteriors. Log beams, called vigas, often bear the roof’s weight and may extend outside the home’s walls, acting as an additional design element. Santa Fe is the perfect place to find examples of this style as many of the buildings in and around the historic old town, including the Inn on the Alameda, showcase this style of architecture.
Southwestern interior design often matches the exterior design and incorporates natural, tactile materials such as those found in woven textiles. Upholstery, floor coverings, and bed linens are usually made from cotton or wool, along with other natural materials such as yucca.
Traditional Pueblo weaving techniques produce floral and nature motifs alongside thematic patterns and symbols. Artists create tapestries, rugs, and blankets in neutrals like gray, brown, black, and charcoal with red, green, and blue accents.
In most Santa Fe homes, traditional craftsmanship is always on display through woven baskets and furniture, and many similar motifs can also be found in the pottery from this area.
Experience Southwestern-style for yourself
Stay in a traditional room at the Inn on the Alameda to savor the Southwestern style. Our rooms feature local art, a warming, earthy color palette, and wooden furnishings. We’re conveniently located just a few blocks from the historic Plaza.
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.
Jaune Quick-to-see-Smith at Georgia O’Keeffe Museum 217 Johnson Street Santa Fe NM
It’s actually hard to remember back before the O’Keeffe Museum was here. Of course, the Santa Fe lightbulb joke asks how many Santa Feans it takes to change a lightbulb (Answer: three, one to do it and two to reminisce about how it used to be!). But, truly, a trip to the O’Keeffe is so ingrained in a Santa Fe visit now, that it seems like the museum has always been here….and for that we are very grateful.
Georgia On My Mind, Oil 1986, Collection of Yellowstone Art Museum
We are also grateful that the O’Keeffe continues to highlight the work of contemporary women artists, a commitment that one imagines O’Keeffe herself would approve. On January 26, the fourth exhibition of the Living Artists of Distinction series, entitled “Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Landscapes of an American Modernist,” opened in the rear galleries of the museum. How perfect that exhibit shows that Smith had Georgia on her mind!
The Great Divide, Oil 1987; Collection of St. Paul Travelers
A Native American artist from the Salish band of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai nation of the Northwest, Ms. Smith was born in 1940, received an M.A. at the University of New Mexico, and is a familiar presence to art-going public of the Southwest. Her modernist impulse is played out in active brushwork and expressive imagery, vastly different from O’Keeffe’s technique, but still posssessing that same sense of place found in the still landscapes painted by O’Keeffe.
Like O’Keeffe, Smith works in a variety of media, and the pastels and oils on display present a compelling demonstration of her abilities. The artist says, “My work comes from a visceral place – deep, deep…,” and the work says so.
Trees are Burning, Pastel 1991; Courtesy LewAllen Contemporary
No doubt, viewers will have favorites. The pastels appear more restrained, both in palette and and activity, while the large oil paintings feel agitated and full of color. I found myself in reverie by the Wallowa Water Hole pastels, with their more limited palette and simple lines. And I enjoyed the contrast of colors between two large canvases, Playground, which is painted in the primary, clear colors to which children most easily respond, juxtaposed against the lively Great Divide, soaked in the rich pinks and turqouise associated with our desert landscape.
Playground, Oil 1987; Private Collection
When I viewed the show, I headed directly to the galleries, so as to see the work with fresh eyes, then wandered back through the O’Keeffe’s. One of the things that is so enjoyable about these exhibits is how they make one notice different O’Keeffe works that one my not have been pulled to previously. After spending time in the Smith exhibit, a deceptively simple O’Keeffe watercolor and graphite piece from 1918, House with Tree – Green, suddenly drew me to a halt. Fresh eyes are a good thing!
Go see the Jaune Quick-to-See Smith show…it’s up until April 29, so you can make more than one trip and discover for yourself the pleasures of this small museum and its big mission.
The Santa Fe Show takes place August 12-15 and August 18-21 at El Museo Cultural, 555 Camino de la Familia, Santa Fe, NM, 505-660-4701
Such a simple title for what is surely a much more complex endeavor! Adding another major art show to the summer, in a town already full of art, is a brave and worthy endeavor. We salute producers Kim Martindale and John Morris, the organizers of the The Santa Fe Show, Objects of Art, for mixing up another color on the palette of art oppportunities for Santa Fe art lovers to enjoy! A group of prestigious partners also deserves commendation for their vision and support, especially in times when wallets are so tight. And best of all, for those suffering a bit from a surfeit of visual stimulation over the last few artistic weeks, this show sticks around for two weekends rather than just one, so there’s no need to fret about the possibility of missing the experience!
Abundance, Image courtesy El Museo Cultural
Taking place at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, the rambling space that over the years has welcomed a panoply of local and regional arts organizations to the City Different, The Santa Fe Show brings a thoughtfully curated group of more than 60 vendors presenting unique arts and antiques, and in the process, serves as a handsome and informative complement to the City Different’s traditional Ethnographic Art and Indian Market weekends. This is truly an embarrassment of riches for us to enjoy! By casting a wide net to capture outstanding examples of work in a variety of media and eras, the show highlights the union of aesthetic importance and design significance of the participating galleries, artists and designers. And as befits a two-weekend show, there will be two opening events as well. The first is a preview party, taking place on Friday, August 12 from 6-9pm, and it benefits the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society, a cause dear to pet-lovers, be they local or out-of state. A special event for the second weekend will take place on Thursday, August 18, also from 6-9pm, benefitting El Museo Cultural itself, an institution venerated by local patrons for its support of art, theater and community events, all accomplished on a veritable shoestring budget.
Cowboys & Indians Booth
Theodore Casey Gallery Booth
Sissoko Tribal Arts Booth
Exhibitors at The Santa Fe Show have been vetted as specialists in their fields and encompass a broad swath of the USA, ranging from the urban coasts of New York and Florida to our Texas neighbors and out to the sunny western shores of California. Huber Primitive Art, specialists in pre-Columbian works will be on hand for those who like to look way back to a more primitive era, as will local favorite, Economos Works of Art, one of America’s most noted Native American galleries. The eyes can feast on museum-quality works from ancient civilizations presented by Cassera Premieres, and respected expert, Robert L. Parsons Fine Art will be showing antiques, textiles and jewelry, and furnishings and decorative arts from around the globe. And those are just a taste of the treats to be savored by or sold to discerning collectors!
Acoma Jar, Westside Trading Post
Bracelet: Antonio Pineda, Maestros de Taxco
Admission to The Santa Fe Show is $12 per person or $16 for the run of the show (a bargain for those who like to ruminate and return), with children under 16 admitted free. Visitors to downtown Santa Fe can ride the free “Santa Fe Pick-Up” shuttle service to The Santa Fe Show, and the New Mexico Rail Runner Express
train’s Santa Fe Depot stop is just a block from the venue. Ample parking is available
at the Railyard’s nearby underground garage, and refreshments will be available at The Santa Fe Show’s Café. The location of El Museo also offers a choice of many Santa Fe restaurant
options scattered throughout the Railyard area for those who want to turn the images they’ve just seen into a lively discussion over a leisurely dinner. Need a hint? Just contact the Inn’s concierge
and let us help you decide where to dine!
Riding the Railyard
You Know It by the Water-Tower!
The appreciation of art is not a luxury, not in any economy…it feeds our souls and our imaginations and makes this world a better place. So make your Santa Fe vacation a better memory – and maybe even go home with an actual memento – by taking time to enrich your sensibilities at The Santa Fe Show.
Images courtesy of The Santa Fe Show and the Railyard Corporation, and all usage rights are reserved.
Santa Fe richly deserves its artistic reputation, and summer is a season that brings many opportunities to learn why. Free Friday evenings at the museums, First Friday Artwalks at the Railyard and Last Friday Artwalks in the West Palace and GALA Arts District, right off the historic Santa Fe Plaza, may be at the end of the week, but they are just the beginning of an arts experience!
The Santa Fe Plaza: Green Heart of our Town
ART Santa Fe
Now in its eleventh year, ART Santa Fe brings contemporary artists from around the nation and the world to the attractive and welcoming Santa Fe Community Convention Center. At 72,000 square feet, with state-of-the-art amenities, what a change this venue has brought to this particular art scene! Taking place from July 7-10, the broad schedule of events includes a gala opening night Vernissage, as well as the informative and entertaining Art Santa Fe Presents lecture series that features noted art-world critics and cognoscenti.
Art Santa Fe Returns to the City Different
International Folk Art Market
Santa Fe is already renowned for the fantastic collection at the Museum of International Folk Art, and the weekend of July 9-10 brings the International Folk Art Market to the Milner Plaza on Museum Hill. The goals of economic stability and cultural sustainability for global folk arts combine to create a positive inter-cultural exchange that unites artisans and aficianados from around the world. During this festive two-day event, more than 120 select folk artists from more than 45 countries will travel to Santa Fe, where fortunate fans can peruse and purchase unique folk art direct from these diverse artisans.
Santa Fe International Folk Art Market from David Moore on Vimeo.
No summer in La Ciudad Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis (Santa Fe’s official moniker) would be complete without this annual celebration of traditional and contemporary Spanish arts. Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Spanish Market has grown to include far more than the beautiful retablos and straw applique of yester-year; today, collectors can encounter La Guadalupana rendered in computer circuitry or find a pair of far-out bottle-cap earrings. Held on July 30-31, this event is a consistent contributor to the lively Plaza scene.
Santa Fe’s Spanish Heritage
Many art-lovers are already aware of the annual SOFA (Scultpure Objects & Functional Art) shows that take place in New York and Chicago, and three years ago, SOFA arrived in Santa Fe seeking western exposure. Taking place from August 4-7, SOFA West brings international, gallery-curated exhibitions of work that present the very best in contemporary fine art and design. This year, the Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art will come along for the ride with SOFA West, adding the leading dealers of outsider and non-traditional folk art to this exciting artistic mix.
If you haven’t already made your reservations, attendance at the 89th annual Santa Fe Indian Market will require some timely effort on your part and could even necessitate a stay in Albuquerque, as Santa Fe hotels frequently sell out! There is nothing quite like seeing the diverse Native faces from around the nation, all gathered in one place to celebrate their arts and culture. Silver jewelry flashes, beads jingle, and lots and lots of wampum changes hands in a very short period of time. This year’s market takes place on the weekend of August 20-21, and if you already have all your travel plans in place, include making advance dinner reservations as part of your planning – we can help!
The Many Faces of Indian Market: Photo SWAIA
The Houser Compound
If you have a car, we encourage a visit to the Houser Compound, the home of the noted Apache artist, Allan Houser. Located about 20 minutes south of downtown Santa Fe, this pristine plot showcases a treasure trove of works by the late sculptor in a gorgeous landscape setting. And it can even be reserved for private events, such as weddings and birthdays!
We Sing the Praises of the Houser Compound
For sculpture closer to town, just seven miles north in Tesuque, you’ll find the Shidoni Sculpture Garden, which holds work by many local and national artists, all arrayed in a petite river valley just minutes from the Plaza. The Shidoni Foundry also invites visitors to observe bronze pourings, typically on Saturdays, although the schedule is not always firmed up until the Friday before.
We invite you to enjoy an artistically engaging stay in the City Different!