Destination: Art - Santa Fe

Destination: Art - Santa Fe

If you listened to the podcast this week (hint-hint, click here) you'll know that we recently took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. While seeing lots of Georgia O'Keeffe sites was a priority, we still made time for other art-related activities. Here are some tips for visiting the area and a few stops we think you should make. 

On the way - Taos

If you're driving to Santa Fe why not stop by Taos? The town used to be an artist retreat with Mabel Dodge Luhan as host. Artist like Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams, and Arnold and Louise Emerson Ronnebeck stayed here and created art. More recently, Agnes Martin chose Taos as her retreat from the East Coast art scene. She lived here until her death in 2004. The Harwood Museum of Art has a gallery specifically built for seven of Martin's paintings. During her life, Martin visited the gallery frequently to sit on the four yellow Donald Judd benches and quietly look at her work in this unique setting.

While in Taos, also stop by the San Francisco de Assisi Mission church. It served as inspiration for many artists staying in town, make sure to walk around the back of the church to see the adobe buttresses.

Santa Fe

The Georgia O'Keeffe Trinity - If you're a fan of Georgia O'Keeffe then may I suggest this trio of sites? The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, O'Keeffe's home and studio in Abiquiú, and Ghost Ranch. You can take tours at all three locations so I'd suggest if (like us) you're on a budget to think about what you want. Would you rather pay for a walking tour of the landscape O'Keeffe painted (Ghost Ranch), see the inside of her winter/spring residence and studio (Abiquiú), or hear someone talk directly about the artwork (Museum in Santa Fe). Each place offers its own appeal. We decided to pay for the tour of O'Keeffe's home and studio in Abiquiú, then drove to Ghost Ranch where we explored the area on our own (sans tour), and ended at the Museum in Santa Fe (where again we walked around on our own). Together they provide you with a thorough look at the iconic artist and the way she lived and created her work.

Beyond O'Keeffe's work, you can see how the area inspired so many different artists. The colors, hills, and plant life are different from anything I've seen. 

If you want a different art fix - I'd recommend stopping by the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. They're dedicated to increasing the public's understanding and appreciation of contemporary Native Art, history, and culture. Another can't miss stop is SITE Santa Fe - a contemporary art museum experimenting with curatorial approaches and exhibition design to expand the traditional museum experience. You'll see both emerging and established contemporary artists on display.

For a different history lesson - stop by the San Miguel Mission, the oldest church in the country. This chapel is a good example of how early Spanish settlers (or invaders) were forced to adapt to the New Mexican landscape. Instead of constructing a Catholic church in the traditional architecture, they conformed to the adobe style. Inside, you'll see more artwork and decoration from the blending of two cultures. 

The hot ticket - You can't mention Santa Fe without mention Meow Wolf. The interactive space designed by artists has taken the country by storm. The group has expanded to a popup location in Las Vegas and plans to open a second permanent branch in Denver, Colorado. My most important word of advice - DO NOT GO ON A WEEKEND. Don't be a fool like we were. When we reserved our tickets online (do it, you don't want to wait in the long line) I thought it strange that they said we could go any day of the week and at any time of our choosing. Because there isn't a controlled entry, a lot of people can be in this interactive space at a time. So if you're claustrophobic, afraid of germs, don't like loud noises, or children running into you then maybe rethink your choice. 

If you have braced yourself for my above warning then enjoy the circus. The huge installation (70 rooms in total) is centered around a family's home. Inside each room of the home, you find clues as to why they have disappeared. In the psychedelic rooms beyond the house, you are meant to collect more clues to ultimately solve the mystery. The weekend is not a conducive environment for solving the mystery, so if that's your goal go on a weekday. There are a few rooms in particular that a very beautifully designed. It took us just over an hour and a half to go through the whole installation, but you could easily spend longer if you become immersed in interacting with the space.

General Advice - Santa Fe caters for a specific audience - generally older. This means that most restaurants start closing at 8 and EVERYTHING closes at 9. I'm not joking. I personally love being in a bathrobe and watching TV by 9:30, but I know that's not everyone's preference. Similarly, the only place you're going to find open before 9 am is Starbucks. Downtown is pretty walkable so I would suggest paying a little more and staying in the city center. You'll probably like that better than driving in from the outskirts of town.  


Have you been to Santa Fe? What was your favorite part? What did we miss in our recommendation list?

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