Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Santa Fe

 (Above:  Santa Fe Farmer's Market at the Railyard.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Before frequent flier miles expired, Steve booked a trip for us to visit Santa Fe in New Mexico.  We left early last Friday morning and arrived in time for a holiday craft fair.  When we travel, we always stay in inexpensive accommodations booked through AirBnb, making sure we have a full kitchen.  Cooking-in saves high restaurant tabs but also allows us to "eat like a local" by purchasing fresh from the farmer's market.  We even brought back Southwestern spices from this nice guy!

 (Above:  Photo op for a local quinceañera celebration.)

Walking around Santa Fe is fun and easy. The historic downtown plaza bustles with activity, including local families taking photos of their quinceañera celebrations.  (It's a traditional fifteenth birthday party for every Mexican girl, a rite of passage that is sort of like "Sweet Sixteen".)  The Plaza was also the place where we saw the Jewish Community light a giant menorah for Hanukkah and where Native Americans sold stunning jewelry and other fine crafts.  

The city is known for its art galleries.  In fact, the concentration of art galleries along Canyon Road is denser in Santa Fe than any place else on earth!  It was amazing (and, no, we didn't manage to visit even 10% of them!  There are over one-hundred on this mile long street!)

(Above:  World-renowned Joyce Yang, a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition silver medalist, with Aspen Santa Fe dancer Seia Rassenti.)

Instead of spending all our time looking at visual arts, we came to see Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's Nutcracker.  Why? Well, we've watched Seia Rassenti dance since she was fourteen years old.  She was in our son's grade at the Kirov Academy of Ballet.  She used to dance for Charlotte Ballet, just 90 miles from us.  That's where she met her husband Joseph Watson.  We haven't seen them since they joined Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.  We knew we were in for a treat when we saw the program's cover (above) and only wish we could return for the contemporary spring performances it advertised!  The Nutcracker was great ... but this upcoming show would truly be AWESOME!

(The Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi, exterior.)

Steve and I always try to hit all the tourist destinations in every city we visit.  It's impossible in Santa Fe.  There's so much to do!  We did visit the Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assissi ...

(Above:  Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi, interior including baptismal fountain.)

... and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (where we didn't take any photos). We bought the "Cultural Pass", a more affordable ticket which included the Governor's Palace, New Mexico History Museum, and the International Folk Art Museum.

 (Above:  Artifact from the Governor's Palace.)

In each location we were exposed to a mix of cultures through the ages.  Native American, Colonial Spanish, and western expansion blends in so many unique ways.  Around every corner, we were treated to artistic treasures ...

... a fabulous printing facility ...

... and special exhibitions including Voices of the Counter-Culture in the Southwest.

(Above:  Counter-culture crocheted garments by Birgitta Bjerke, including vintage "Hand Dress", ca. 1967.)

Ordinarily, I'm rather wishy-washy when it comes to counter-cultural documentaries, smoking pot, and embracing everything associated with San Francisco's Haight Ashbury and the "Summer of Love".  My husband Steve, on the other hand, is fascinated in all ways young people protested Vietnam, lived off-the-grid, and found alternative lifestyles from the ones in which we grew up.  So, I knew he'd really like this exhibition, but I didn't expect to be so completely wrapped up in every display area.

We must have spent more than two hours reading placards and talking about our childhood memories of this era.  It was great!

I even decided to pose with the rather too new looking VW bus.

(Above:  Loretto Chapel, exterior.)

It was almost sunset when we arrived at Loretto Chapel.  Every place we went was decorated for the holidays.

The famous spiral staircase at Loretto Chapel was no exception ...

... but I found the exterior tree just as appealing.  People have hung all sorts of plastic rosaries from every branch.  By the time we ended up at the oldest church in the entire country, the San Miguel Mission Chapel, a mass was about to start.  What a wonderful way to spend a holiday!  Unfortunately, photography is taboo in such instances.

(Above:  Our docent at the International Folk Art Museum.)

On another day, we took a docent led tour of the International Folk Art Museum.  I'm glad we took the tour.  It kept us on track through the four exhibition areas.  This museum is ENORMOUS.

The Girard wing is simply overwhelming.  Special display cases, dioramas, and built-in viewing area were all crammed with the vast collection of the donor.  More than 10,000 objects from the over 100,000 collection are on display.  They come from six continents and were carefully arranged by donor Alexander Girard ... with instructions that no permanent signage mars the viewing field.  (There are a few galley guides tucked in out-of-the-way wall pockets).  It was Mr. Girard's intention to showcase his vast collection through his singular vision and intuitive understanding of the multiplicity of cultures and artistic genres exists side-by-side and without academic labels.  It was a wonderful way to explore the artifacts.

Of course, I really, really liked the Mexican folk life figures that focused on activities from the traditional Día de los Muertos. (Day of the Dead).

Yet, there were enormous scenes from just about every country and every folkloric tradition.

As outstanding as Alexander Girard's permanent exhibition is, I liked No Idle Hands: Myths and Meanings of Tramp Art even better!  It was great!

No trip out West is complete without some time spent in nature!  On Monday (a day museums are all closed), Steve and I ventured to nearby Bandelier National Monument.

It was a great day to explore the archeological site ...

... climb ladders into ...

... cave-like dug dwellings ...

... and see several mule deer!  Our drive also took us through Georgia O'Keeffe's landscape.  Unfortunately, her former residence closes for the winter but the views were spectacular.

(Above:  Steve's and my shadows in front of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.)

We had plenty of time to walk across the entire Rio Grande Gorge Bridge outside of Taos, New Mexico.

The view directly down was scary!

Fortunately, there wasn't much traffic as the sidewalk is right beside the driving lanes!

(Above:  Two "lovers' locks" attached to the railing.)

It was nice to see a couple locks attached to the railing ... signs of love ... and hopes to return to New Mexico.  It was a great time!


Norma Schlager said...

You have brought back some good memories. I went to Santa Fe a few years ago and absolutely loved it . We visited most of the same places and it was great seeing them again. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

Linda Laird said...

Dear Susan,
You went to some of my favorite places in Santa Fe! There's a new interactive gallery
called "Meow Wolf", that is described as "Pee Wee's Playhouse on steroids", and I can't wait to visit. Did you see it? More info at .


Margaret said...

Ah...memories of my short visit to Santa Fe for the SAQA Conference in 2013...Thank you -- and blessings for Christmas and the New Year!

Yael said...

Thank you for this lovely show and tell post Susan. Happy holidays and a wonderful creative new year ahead! :-)