New Mexico’s Amazing Art Scene: Something for Everyone

Nov 5, 2022 | Travel | 0 comments

There’s so much to do in Santa Fe and the surrounding areas! Since we three have different tastes, to ensure everyone had a fun trip we each picked a group activity.

Georgia O’Keefe and Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu (Carla)

True confession. Before visiting Santa Fe, I hadn’t particularly cared for Georgia O’Keefe’s art. So, when Carla reserved us spots on a tour of the artist’s home and studio, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic. You’d think I’d have learned by now that you can find inspiration in all sorts of places. And it’s always better to say “yes” instead of “no” when you’re traveling!

Abiquiu is a lovely hour’s drive from Santa Fe. At the Visitor Center, we boarded a van and drove to the O’Keefe house with our guide, artist Frank Shelton (http://franksheltonart.com/about). Turns out Georgia the down-to-earth person was just as amazing as Georgia the famous artist! Frank shared some wonderful stories about her home, career and personal routines.

Turns out she and I had more in common than I ever imagined! For example, we’re both motorcycle enthusiasts, dog lovers, campers, and gardeners. She made and kept friends, cherished and respected the land around her, and could be blunt and assertive when the occasion called for it. Her dedication to her art was unsurpassed so, when she developed macular degeneration in her nineties, she took up working with clay. After learning about her life as a strong, independent woman, I want to revisit her artwork and look at it with fresh eyes. I also bought a photographic essay book, Georgia O’Keefe: A Life Well Lived by photographer Malcolm Varon.

After the tour, we drove to Ghost Ranch, an artist’s haven. It’s a fascinating area, with many interesting things to do and see. There are hiking trails for all levels of fitness, a labyrinth and medicine wheel, a peaceful chapel, and two paleontology museums.

Meow Wolf (me)

My middle son discovered Meow Wolf first. He said The House of Eternal Return, was a unique attraction I should not miss and he was right! A collaboration of Santa Fe artists, the website describes it as a “mind-bending, explorable art experience”, but I’d call it seventy rooms of “imagination on steroids”! My first suggestion would be to spend at least two hours there. Walking in the door, I found myself in sensory overload-overwhelmed and self-conscious. As adults, we become more controlling of our emotions and less able to let our inhibitions go or play for plays sake. Worries about looking foolish or not acting our age can quickly crush our creative sides.

However, once I’d meandered through several rooms on the first floor and seen people of all ages investigating, calling out their discoveries to each other, and laughing at the sheer weirdness of it all, I relaxed. I walked through a refrigerator, squeezed through an extremely narrow passageway, inverted myself in a magic bus, and experimented with lights and sounds. It was as much fun watching other visitors as it was trying things out myself. Meow Wolf is the polar opposite of the “look don’t touch” philosophy of many museums and a refreshing change of pace.

On a personal note, another thing I appreciated about Meow Wolf was that it felt like a start to healing emotionally. Before 2020 I’d always loved surprises and seen them as a positive thing. But, after almost three years of unpleasant, shocking, and disruptive “surprises” bombarding us regularly in almost every aspect of our lives, I’d grown afraid of the unexpected. Visiting an immersive museum was a way to start opening myself up again, both creatively and emotionally, without fear. Seeing a multi-generation family group emerge from a fireplace one by one, laughing and calling to each other like it was the most ordinary way to enter a room, made me laugh out loud. If a place brings us joy-I’m all for it!

Canyon Road (Judi)

The best way to describe Canyon Road is as an artist’s (and art lovers!) paradise! With endless shops and galleries, fine arts and funky, you can find anything you need (and things you didn’t even know you needed) in every art form possible. If you’re on a budget, simply walking up and down the unevenly paved street window-shopping or sitting on a bench and people-watching is enough.

My favorite discovery was the Prescott Sculpture Garden and Gallery. With an indoor and outdoor component, the artwork is colorful and whimsical, guaranteed to bring a smile to your face! I also loved Ahmyo River Gallery and Ahmyo Wine Garden. Inside, I got a gorgeous pair of earrings to go with my new, dressy poncho. Outside the three of us enjoyed a glass of wine and live music in the gorgeously designed courtyard. The Chardonnay was from a local winery-Gruet-founded in 1984. Something I hadn’t known is that, for over 400 years, the rich fruit flavors, climate, and soil conditions found in the state have resulted in a long, illustrious history of winemaking. Looking around at the other patrons as we soaked up the sun, we suddenly realized we were in danger of becoming a demographic.

I’ll let you guess what kind!

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