The spirt of Georgia O’Keeffe in Galisteo, New Mexico

One of the great joys of the autumn season in Northern New Mexico is the annual round of village studio tours. Artists open their homes and studios to wandering aficionados of the arts in many of the picturesque small towns around Santa Fe over the weekend, beginning in late summer, with the first hint of fall in the high country, and ending in mid-November, when winter is starting to show on the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Over the years these events have become remarkably well organized, with flyers and websites, welcoming stations with friendly folks passing out maps (surrounded by the inevitable bake sale), large and colorful signs guiding you along the obscure calles, and groups selling traditional meals and snacks  somewhere in a village gathering spot.

The village of Galisteo hosts one of my favorite tours. This old town, about half an hour’s drive southeast of Santa Fe, always picks a mid-October weekend to host, basking in autumn light and the golden glow of the cottonwoods along Galisteo Creek.

Crossing little Galisteo Creek on the village bridge

As always, the local Catholic Church is a good place to stop and plot your afternoon.

The church in Galisteo

The gnarled old roots of old New Mexico poke up from the earth here, as they do in every village:

A crumbling adobe, returning to the land

If you really want to see how an artist works, and find out what inspires him or her, a visit to the studio will go far to satisfy your curiosity.

Catherine Ferguson’s sign hanging outside her house and studio

Everyone seems to be happy to talk to you, and to show you the tools of their trade. You’ll probably be offered a snack from the kitchen and the privilege of wandering around the house and yard – and if you see a work you can’t live without, you’ll very likely be able to purchase it on the spot.

A yard full of art

Well over half the fun of making a studio tour is peeking into people’s normally private homes and gardens, seeing how they arrange their creative lives, and enjoying the rich intermingling of art, landscape, and livelihood that might well cause a twinge of envy as well as admiration.

An illuminated wall

Behind adobe walls. Paintings were hung all along this box of light.

A questionable invitation

So if you’re planning a visit out our way next year around this time – and what could be more delightful than the Southern Rockies in September and October? – take a moment to look into the local studio tours and make some time for a day trip. I think you’ll discover then, for yourself, why the arts and New Mexico are so firmly joined.

Looking toward Galisteo from the house of the chocolate artist