Spirit of the Wind, by Allan Houser. Photo by Arin McKenna

The late Allan Houser is one of the most renowned figures in Native art, but you can see from this magnificent sculpture that he should simply be known as one of the great American artists. You can find his smaller sculptural pieces at the downtown Allan Houser Gallery, but to truly appreciate his genius, schedule a tour of the Allan Houser Sculpture Garden, located about 20 miles south of Santa Fe by calling 505-982-4705. allanhouser.com/contact/sculpture-garden.


When a visitor asked legendary Yosemite National Park Ranger Carl Sharsmith, “If you had only one day in Yosemite, what would you do?” he replied “Madam, if I could only have one day in Yosemite I’d sit by the Merced River and cry.”

An art enthusiast might feel a similar sense of despair when trying to decide which of Santa Fe’s 250+ galleries to visit during a brief stay in our creative city. But rather than crying by the Santa Fe River (although it’s a lovely spot for a picnic lunch), plan ahead – and come back often.

These are my suggestions for making the most of your gallery time in Santa Fe.

If you only have one day to visit galleries, then Canyon Road is a must see. Three-quarters of a mile of galleries with world-class art would make this a draw in any city, but what other art district boasts galleries housed in 18th century adobe homes? Meandering through rambling structures that grew organically as families expanded and feeling the nurturing strength of those thick adobe walls makes for an unforgettable art experience.

For an even more memorable experience, enjoy one of Canyon Road’s Friday night art walks. On any given Friday from spring to fall, several galleries will host art openings, and a fair number will be open regardless of whether they are opening an exhibit. Strolling along this historic corridor with alpenglow gilding the adobe walls and giving lush gardens the veneer of expressionistic paintings will linger with you long after your visit.

The Railyard Art District is the hub of Santa Fe’s contemporary art scene. The tall-ceilinged former warehouses are perfect showcases for dramatically large artworks. The district is anchored by SITE Santa Fe, a museum featuring a world-renowned biennial and exhibits of cutting-edge art. Contemporary art galleries have been sprouting like mushrooms around it since its inception 24 years ago. Find information about the district at www.santaferailyardartsdistrict.com.

The galleries are more scattered in the Downtown Arts + Museum District, but exploring the heart of the City Different to locate these gems is a rewarding adventure. The district is also home to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, New Mexico Museum of Art, and Palace of the Governors/New Mexico History Museum. Native American pottery and jewelry vendors sell their creations under the portal of the Palace of the Governors.

One of the things that makes the Santa Fe art scene so exciting is the range of genres on display. But you might want to focus on galleries that feature genres that speak to you, particularly if you want to collect some art.

Three online resources can help with that. These websites feature links to numerous galleries, as well as updated events and gallery openings.

Santa Fe Art Experience lets you explore the gallery page or locate galleries by district. It also has information on the city’s museums and art events. https://www.santafeartexperience.com/
The Santa Fe Gallery Association website features its 70 member galleries. You can search by either genre or by art district, and members can post their exhibit openings. There is a downloadable map featuring member galleries. santafegalleryassociation.org

The Canyon Road Santa Fe website is fairly extensive, with listings not only for Canyon Road but for other Santa Fe galleries as well. It also offers event listings and links to Canyon Road restaurants – which you will want during your excursion to this historic district. http://visitcanyonroad.com

Make your visit easier by downloading the Santa Fe & Canyon Road Walking Map, the most complete map of Santa Fe galleries. www.santafewalkingmap.com

Cutline: Spirit of the Wind, by Allan Houser. Photo by Arin McKenna

@2019 Arin McKenna. All Rights reserved