Discover Native American arts, crafts and traditions in New Mexico’s capital.
Santa Fe is the oldest capital along the famous Route 66 highway in the US. It’s where you’ll find the country’s oldest pueblo, Navajo inhabitants and traditional Native American crafts and culture. It’s not a well-known vacation spot, yet it has plenty of tourist attractions and activities.
As an art fanatic I was pleased to find a plethora of museums and galleries and discover incredible western artists such as Georgia O’Keefe, whose works can be seen at her gallery in Santa Fe. Famous for her popular landscapes and portraits, O’Keefe spent countless years dedicating herself to her work. She made Ghost Ranch, just outside of Santa Fe, her permanent home that served as an inspiration for her artistic landscapes. She was captivated by the scenic views, which she’d draw with pencil and paint in oil and watercolour. She aimed to capture the beauty of New Mexico: from its forest hills to its plains and deserts. And she made clay sculptures, working on her art until her death in her late 90s. Among her paintings, those of sunsets in Santa Fe are the ones you should definitely see.
Santa Fe’s Canyon Road is renowned for its world-famous art galleries. New Mexican art tells the story of Native Americans and their history. At the Adobe Gallery on Canyon Road, I admired different southwest Indian pottery, art, and artefacts. The gallery also has unique hand-woven baskets and jewellery, and a selection of Hopi and Zuni Katsina dolls also displayed, dating from the 1920s to the 1950s.
At the Michael Smith Gallery, I step into another adobe home (almost every building or home is made from adobe brick and clay) and am immediately immersed in Native American culture. There are stacks of Navajo and Pueblo rugs woven to perfection and southwest portraits, paintings and photography. And there is so much more in Santa Fe. Every art gallery offers something different. Santa Fe mixes Hispanic and Native American culture, which is rare and won’t be found as prominently anywhere else. Make your way to El Museo Cultural, which showcases and preserves Hispanic art and culture. The museum tends to have many mixed cultural shows and holds various performances. The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, located in the Institute of American Indian Arts, has more than 7,500 pieces of Native American art, books and jewellery as well as textiles, works on paper, ceramics, photography and apparel by artists including Tony Abeyta, Fritz Scholder, Truman Lowe, and Helen Hardin, to name a few.
The flea markets and shops in Santa Fe are tagged with a cultural experience. It’s a shopper’s paradise because throughout the summer and spring, it hosts many regional flea markets that offer goods from all over the world. Most importantly, discover Native American goods that are so sought after by art connoisseurs. Santa Fe is popular for its turquoise jewellery, Navajo artefacts and rustic furniture. You can even find unique concho belts, velvet skirts and ponchos. The authentic items are mostly handmade in the southwest and all furniture, wall art and even kitchen and brassware are unique to Santa Fe style.
The Santa Fe Opera House is one of the finest in the country. The venue always showcases the nation’s best singers and performers – it holds seasonal festivals every year. The theatre has many productions and an apprentice programme that showcases individual talent. At the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival you can enjoy classical concertos and some of the world’s best violinists, instrumentalists and conductors. At the many resorts and hotels in Santa Fe, locals and tourists spend their nights at venues including the La Posada, which often has special guests and musical entertainment. For anyone who loves to saunter through a city and discover its unique crafts, Santa Fe is one for your 2015 travel bucket list.
Need to know
British Airways flies to Santa Fe via London and Dallas from QR6,190 return. www.britishairways.com