By Bob Glaze
There is so much to do during the summer in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have been going there for many years and have had a house in Tesuque not far from the Santa Fe Opera for over ten years. Summer is the perfect time to visit, when you can experience all of the wonderful cultural offerings and festivals, explore the area and visit the incredible museums. It is only mid-July and there are still much left to do, so book your flights now!!
Santa Fe Summer Festivals
Santa Fe Opera: Located in a wonderful venue, north of Santa Fe near Tesuque, The Santa Fe Opera has grown to become recognized as one of the world’s leading cultural festivals. They usually produce five operas in the summer months. I have seen Carmen and La Bohème and enjoyed both. The remaining summer schedule through the end of August includes Madame Butterfly and Bernstein’s Candide. The views of the mountains are stunning.
Chamber Music Festival: This is one of the highlights of the summer cultural calendar that runs until August 20th.
Santa Fe Desert Chorale: This organization hosts a popular summer festival in July and August. In 2018, it starts on July 21st and ends August 9th.
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet: This is a great contemporary dance troupe that splits its time between Aspen and Santa Fe and other venues around the United States and the world. They are a world class company, with great reviews, so if they are in town at the Lensic Performing Art Center, don’t miss them. I have seen them in both Aspen and Santa Fe. There is a performance in early September that you can still get tickets for.
Indian Market: This is one of the summer highlights in August of each year. This year it is August 18th and 19th. There is a week of festivities culminating with the market in and around the Plaza. There are more than 1100 artists from 100 tribes and it is the largest cultural event in New Mexico. There is also a winter market in November. In addition to art there is film, music, lectures, museum events and a benefit auction.
Spanish Market: This is one of the highlights of the summer in Santa Fe. It celebrates the rich Hispanic culture of Northern New Mexico. While this market has focused on the traditional arts for 60 years, the Contemporary Hispanic Market during the same week features contemporary works by Hispanic artists. In 2018 it happens on July 28th and 29th.
The Museums of Santa Fe
Museum of International Folk Art, 706 Camino Lejo: This is one of my favorite museums anywhere, as I collect Mexican folk art. There is folk art from around the world. You have to see the huge room housing the Girard Foundation Collection which is wonderful and overwhelming at the same time!
This museum is located on Museum Hill which also features, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. You can spend certainly spend a day enjoying all four. There is also a Museum Hill Café which is a great spot for lunch. You will definitely need a break with so much to see!
New Mexico Museum of Art, 107 W. Palace Avenue. This has been a major art museum for over 100 years.
Georgia O’Keefe Museum, 217 Johnson St.: This is a wonderful small museum featuring O’Keefe’s works that is a must to visit when you are in town. You can also make a reservation through the museum to tour her home in Abiquiu, north of Santa Fe.
Museum of Contemporary Native Arts: The Institute of American Indian Arts at 108 Cathedral Place is well worth a visit. They have a nice museum shop also.
The Loretto Chapel with its famed spiral staircase and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi are beautiful churches to visit with stunning altars.
Railyard Arts District
This was a large tract of land along Guadalupe Street that has been redeveloped into nine galleries and Site Santa Fe. There is also the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and a monthly art walk on the last Friday of each month. Make sure to visit.
Tai Modern specializes in wonderful Japanese bamboo works and photography. I have started a small collection of bamboo works from them. It is one of my favorite galleries anywhere!!! 1601 Paseo de Peralta.
Site Santa Fe, 1606 Paseo de Peralta: This is a leading contemporary arts venue best known for its International Biennial.
William Siegal Gallery: This is a wonderful gallery specializing in Pre-Columbian art and textiles. 540 S. Guadalupe.
LewAllen Galleries: The Railyard location at 1613 Paseo de Peralta is a large two-level gallery featuring contemporary art, glass and sculpture.
Canyon Road Galleries
Don’t miss walking Canyon Road and visiting the Canyon Road Galleries. Here you will find excellent galleries with a focus of everything from contemporary, Native American, landscapes and traditional art in all mediums. There are over 100 galleries, boutiques and restaurants along the one-half mile street. Some of my top picks include:
Gallery 901: At 901 Canyon Rd.,they feature paintings and sculptures by a number of artists.
Zaplin Lampert Gallery: This gallery features early artists and artists of Taos, Santa Fe and the American West. 651 Canyon Rd.
Gebert Contemporary, 558 Canyon Rd.: With a large building in front and smaller in the rear, it is a beautiful space and features paintings, sculpture, works on paper and photography.
Chiaroscuro: At 702 and 708 Canyon Rd., it is known for contemporary art from over 40 artists.
Canyon Road Contemporary for sculptures and contemporary paintings and glass. 403 Canyon Rd.
Robert Nichols Gallery for Native American pottery and photography at 419 Canyon Rd.
Giacobbe- Fritz Fine Art: At 702 Canyon Rd in an 1880s adobe building, they feature works by over 25 artists.
Acosta Strong: I like the wonderful landscapes by Jim Jennings which remind me a lot of Georgia O’Keeffe. 640 Canyon Rd.
Bittersweet Designs: This is a fun jewelry store featuring works by Laurie Lenfestey at 667 Canyon Rd.
Leslie Flynt: At 225 Canyon Rd., this is a great shop featuring furniture, folk art, decorative accessories, gifts and jewelry. She also has some wonderful Mexican folk art pieces.
The Tea House, 821 Canyon Rd.: Open daily at the corner of E. Palace Ave., I love it for tea, but they also have food and coffee drinks.
El Farrol: 808 Canyon Rd.: This is Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant and Cantina that is the perfect spot for lunch with their great tapas menu.
Geronimo Restaurant, 724 Canyon Rd.: One of the top dining spots in Santa Fe that I have enjoyed several times.
The Compound Restaurant: At 653 Canyon Rd., it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. Chef Mark Kiffin was a past James Beard Award winner for Best Chef Southwest.
The Turquoise Trail
Perfect for a day trip, is this 50 mile highway from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. You will find beautiful vistas, art galleries, museums and fun restaurants. You will also see artist studios along the road that you can visit. Just look for the signs. It is perfect to make this trip on the way to or from the airport in Albuquerque.
North of Cerrillos is the Turquoise Trail Sculpture Garden and Studio. It is the home of the Kevin Box Studio, a professional, fine art sculpture studio. The grounds have a walking trail where you can view the sculptures on display. 33453 St Hwy 14 N. in Cerillos. Tours are available by appointment.
Make sure to drive through the small town of Cerrillos, north of Madrid, where you can see some wonderful old buildings and homes in the New Mexico territorial architecture style. The area’s turquoise and lead deposits were important to the prehistoric Indians and influenced Spanish settlement. The mining district was one of the oldest in the Southwest. In the 1880’s there were many lead, silver, gold, zinc and turquoise mines in operation. There were 21 saloons and 4 hotels. Today there are a few bars, shops and a Turquoise Mining Museum and Petting Zoo.
East of Cerillos is the small town of Galisteo with some interesting territorial architecture. The drive is really outstanding. You might check out the Galisteo Fall Studio Tour, in October, where you can visit the studios of several local artists.
Madrid has been transformed from a coal mining town in the 1800’s to an artist community today. There are many old houses, hotels and buildings that have been transformed into retail shops, galleries, studios and restaurants. I always stop in a Java Junction which is a great spot for coffee and dessert. They also sell a large number of New Mexico produced goods from salsas and jellies to gift items.
San Marcos Feed Store and Cafe: A short drive from Santa Fe, on the Turquoise Trail, is the highly recommended San Marcos Cafe. It is next to a feed store and grounds where you can see peacocks, turkeys and hens. The cafe is one of my favorite new finds. It is cozy and charming with great Southwestern breakfasts. There is a bright enclosed porch with kiva fireplace. It is popular on weekends so reservations are recommended. They also offer live music which really enhances the experience. 3877 State Road 14. They are open for breakfast and lunch from 8 am to 2 pm and for Sunday brunch from 8 am to 2 pm.
Chimayo and the High Road to Taos
Chimayo is located at the beginning of the High Road to Taos and not to be missed when you are in the area.
Santuario de Chimayo: A wonderful adobe chapel located on the spot that was a healing place for the Pueblo Indians. Hispanic villagers from the area felt that the dirt from a certain spot in the chapel floor had healing powers. The painted altar is wonderful and in the side chapel, where you can obtain some of your own dirt from the hole in the floor, there are many crutches and braces hung to show that the healing powers really work.
Rancho de Chimayo: A short drive from the Santuario is a great restaurant in a ranch house that has been in the Jaramillo family since the 1880’s. Opened in 1965, the food is based on old family recipes and is Northern New Mexican cuisine. I have enjoyed it several times!!
The High Road to Taos: In the past I had been as far as Truchas, which was the location for the movie, The Milagro Beanfield War. But there is a lot to see and do further north as I saw on my last trip. The scenery is wonderful and you will find many art galleries and artisans in ceramics, wood and weaving throughout the area. Truchas is by far the nicest town, but make sure to stop in Penasco at Sugar Nymph’s Bistro. What a great find!! I had a great lunch and loved the grilled peach salad and best nectarine and raspberry cobbler.
Exploring Georgia O’Keeffe Country
To explore Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu and experience the landscapes made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe is a wonderful day trip from Santa Fe.
Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center: Set in stunning surroundings north of Abiquiu, this former dude ranch is where Georgia O’Keeffe lived and painted. She bought a small piece of land and the house that she had rented from the owner, Arthur Pack, and used it as her summer residence after moving to New Mexico full-time in 1949, after her husband Alfred Stieglitz died. Today, it is a retreat center run by the Presbyterian Church. They offer classes in painting, drawing, calligraphy, jewelry making, pottery, weaving and photography. There are also classes in spirituality and self-reflection, astronomy, geography, paleontology, archaeology and writing.
You can stay on-site and have all your meals in the cafe. You can stay for a week or for a night or two and enjoy the property and the museums. There is hiking, river rafting and horseback riding.
I highly recommend the O’Keeffe Landscape Tour where you will tour the landscape, made famous by her paintings over a 50 year period, by small motor bus. You can see the same trees, cliffs and mountains that she did. There is a walking tour on Fridays. Though her house is private, you can see it from the road and see the views that she made famous over many years. Pedernal, the flat-topped mountain to the south, was probably her favorite subject.
In the garage, she painted Sky Above Clouds IV in 1965, which you have probably seen in the stairwell of the Art Institute of Chicago. She saw the clouds from an airplane window while flying. I thought of the painting as I flew home to Chicago yesterday and saw a similar pattern of clouds in the sky!!
Abiquiu: The small town of Abiquiu is centered around the historic church of Santo Tomas. The town was established by the Spanish in 1754. The church was a mission of the Franciscans. Make sure to visit this adobe church with its beautiful altar.
Bode’s General Store: Bodes was originally located in the small village across from Georgia O’Keefe’s House and Studio and behind the church. It started as Grants Mercantile in 1890 as a general store, post office, stage coach stop and jail. Martin Bode ended up the owner in 1919. The store was moved down the hill when the highway bypass was created. The current owners took over in 1994.
The store carries a full selection of liquor, beer, wine, gifts, snacks, outdoor gear, and other food items. They have a restaurant which carries a large selection of sandwiches, salads, pastries, pies, muffins and cookies. They are known for their breakfast burritos and chili. I highly recommend eating there before you explore the area, for a real local’s experience.
If you want to stay in the area, there is the Abiquiu Inn with 25 casitas under large cottonwood trees. There is an attractive restaurant and gift shop. It is also the headquarters for the Georgia O’Keeffe Home & Studio Tour Office. 21120 Highway 84.
Georgia O’Keeffe Home & Studio: I really loved this tour of O’Keeffe’s home and studio which is currently owned by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. She bought the house as a ruin in 1945. It took her four years to restore it. In 1949 she moved to New Mexico from New York and made it her permanent home. She lived between Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch, until 1984, when she moved to Santa Fe. On the tour you can visit the gardens, see the views and see the kitchen, living room, dining room, studio and bedroom. I would book your spot online before going to make sure you get the time slot you want.
Enjoy your trip. In part two of this article, I will share my favorite restaurants and hotel options.
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