#ExploreNM: Discover Santa Fe and Taos Art

Santa Fe

Chiles that remind of Christmastime are everywhere in North New Mexico. They’re works of art too. (Photo Courtesy Of MarkKane.net)

From classic American artists and Native American gems, to contemporary works found in modern art galleries, the North New Mexico communities of Santa Fe and Taos are overflowing with arts. Here are five ways we plan to discover Santa Fe and Taos art.

Before planning this trip to North New Mexico, all I knew about the region’s art was the classic American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. But I began learning more about the Taos Society on a recent trip to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. And as I’ve been planning our approaching visit to New Mexico, I’ve discovered there is so much art and culture in Santa Fe and Taos.

We are beginning our week of exploring New Mexico with a quick visit to Albuquerque. That will be followed by a drive along the High Road to Taos, what appears to be a fabulous drive up the mountains between Santa Fe and Taos that I learned about from a great post from Maria at Santa Fe Selection.

After exploring Taos, we’ll drive back down to Santa Fe where we’ll spend a few days living the arts and culture there at the city’s many museums, galleries, the historic Plaza and maybe even enjoying the outdoors just a bit. Oh, and there will be plenty of great food. I can’t wait to explore the tastes of New Mexico and decide if I prefer green or red chile.

Here are five ways we plan to discover art in Santa Fe and Taos.

Georgia O’Keeffe

The classic painter’s work seems to be found everywhere in these parts. In Santa Fe, we’ll spend time exploring the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum where a new exhibit, “Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George,” has just gone on display. The museum has the single-largest collection of O’Keeffe’s work in the world.

New Mexico Museum of Art

New Mexico Museum of Art (Photo Courtesy Of Chris Corrie)

In addition to her namesake museum just west of the Santa Fe Plaza, just a quick walk east is the New Mexico Museum of Art. This museum displays an extensive permanent collection of Southwestern artists, including several major pieces from O’Keeffe. The museum has more than 20,000 works, many of which come from the Southwest.

And just outside Taos, we’ll stop by the San Francisco de Asis Church. This is one of the most photographed and painted churches in the world. O’Keeffe painted the church, but another legend, Ansel Adams, captured it on film. I just hope it has reopened by the time  we visit; the church is managed by the National Park Service, meaning with the current federal government shutdown, the church is closed.

Canyon Road

Santa Fe’s Canyon Road is an art lover’s dream. Located just southeast of the Historic Plaza, Canyon Road is a half-mile concentration of more than 100 art galleries, several boutiques and more than a few restaurants. This gathering of art is said to be the highest concentration of galleries in the United States. The iconic street was recently named a finalist for the Best Iconic American Streets by USA Today. I’m not sure how long our son will be able to tolerate popping in and out of art galleries, but I know Stacey will be happy to spend an afternoon there.

Santa Fe Canyon Road

Canyon Road’s adobe buildings are full of noteworthy art. (Photo Courtesy Of Douglas Merriam)

High Road to Taos

Taos is about 70 miles north of Santa Fe. There are two ways to get there, the first being along the Rio Grande, otherwise known as the Low Road. The other climbs the mountains along a couple of highways, the High Road to Taos.

This path into the mountains is filled with beautiful scenery, but it also has its own share of great art. Artists began arriving in this region in the late 1800s, mostly migrating to Taos and Santa Fe. But today, many artists have created their own creative homes along these quiet mountain highways. We’ll start on Highway 98 in Chimayo where we hope to have a great lunch at Rancho de Chimayo Restaurante. Following lunch, we’ll head northeast along HIghway 76 toward Truchas, where there are numerous galleries. We’ll probably spend much of our time at High Road MarketPlace, an artist’s co-op that features the work of more than 70 artists.  North of Truchas, there are more than 20 working studios and galleries on the way to Taos. I’m sure we could spend all day exploring this great art.

Discovering Native Cultures

In recent years I’ve been attempting to connect to my very deep Cherokee heritage. Maybe that’s why I’m really excited about all the Native American museums and art that we’ll find in Santa Fe and Taos. In Santa Fe that starts with the Museum of International Folk Art, where the diverse collection contains folk art from around the world. Located on Museum Hill, the museum is adjacent to the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, which houses exhibitions of contemporary and historic Native American Art, and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (Photo Courtesy Of Mark Kane.net)

This museum showcases classic and contemporary Southwestern Indian art. A temporary exhibit recently opened that should keep our music-loving son interested: “Heartbeat: Music of the Native Southwest.”

Of course there will be plenty of other opportunities to get into Native American arts and culture. We’ll visit the Taos Pueblo, but also the great art for sale at the Palace of the Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza.

Palace of the Governors

Palace of the Governors vendors (Photo Courtesy Of Chris Corrie)

Taos Society of Artists

The Taos Society of Artists was a group of painters who began migrating to the Taos area in the late 1800s. These artists came to New Mexico and just couldn’t escape its beauty. They told their friends. And from 1915 to 1927, the Taos Society of Artists was an active, thriving community of creatives.

There are several ways to discover the art of these greats, and it starts at The Harwood Museum of Art. This museum located just south of the Taos Plaza features more than 3,000 works of art and a photographic archive of 17,000 images. We also plan to explore the Taos Art Museum at the Fechin House, just north of the Plaza. This museum features works by more than 50 Taos artists, including paintings by all of the Taos Society founders.

I hope you’ll follow along as we look to #ExploreNM during the beautiful fall season. During the week of Oct. 6-12, follow along on Twitter and Instagram at #ExploreNM as we explore the great outdoors, arts, food and culture of New Mexico.

11 thoughts on “#ExploreNM: Discover Santa Fe and Taos Art

  1. Thank you Lance, for the mention of my High Road to Taos blog. And I’m certain you’ll have a terrific time here at all the great places and museums you’re planning to visit. Let me know if I can be of any help in your trip plans and accommodations etc. I’m glad you find SantaFeSelection.com Travel Guide helpful! Have fun! Maria

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing. We already LOVE New Mexico, but have spent almost no time in Santa Fe, and never (yet) made it up to Taos. There’s so much to explore. On previous visits to NM, our blog was in its infancy, and looking back now, I see we lack any posts of interest on the state. Thanks for the inspiration to revisit our time there, and to start planning a future trip.
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