Sampling Santa Fe’s colorful art and architecture

September 22, 2022

Santa Fe tops my list as one of the most beautiful cities in America. I love the warm adobe walls that blend with the earth and glow against a bright blue sky; an abundance of public art that speaks to nature and Indigenous culture found all around town; and the human, walkable scale of the city. You can easily stroll from your Airbnb or hotel to the plaza and find plenty of things to do, yet be back at your own place for an afternoon rest before dinner. And the temps at the end of August, when it’s the Endurance Phase of summer back in Austin, are joy-renewing, with highs around 80F, low humidity, and lows in the 50s. Ahhh.

Today I’ll share pics from our explorations around town, plus a couple of art exhibits we particularly enjoyed while we were there last month. Above is the vibrantly painted arcade along the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.

A Bill Worrell sculpture outside Worrell Gallery, with Scotch broom in flower

An epic rider seems to leap over pink hollyhocks.

Let’s have another look at those frilly beauties.

Chris Roberts-Antieau at Antieau Gallery

Exploring off the main plaza, a gray satin dress hanging in a gallery window stopped us in our tracks. Lavishly embroidered with detailed scenes of wildlife (and death), it had us wondering — is this a work of art or a fashion piece?

Maybe both! We stepped inside for a closer look.

The embroidery is the work of Michigan-based textile artist Chris Roberts-Antieau at Antieau Gallery.

Bird and Bee

Most of her works for sale at her namesake gallery (there’s another in New Orleans) are “fabric paintings,” a combination of embroidery and appliqué.


Jazz artists feature prominently in some of her works.

Artificial Flowers

In others, animals, plants, and a solitary woman dominate the dream-like, sometimes dark, sometimes whimsical imagery.

Painted Horse

Up close you see the thread textures and designs. I found them fascinating.

Phantom Limb II

Her work is very popular and fetches high prices. Larger pieces like this one (a limited series) are listed for $35K to $45K. We admired them and left with a new appreciation for fabric painting.

Street scenes

Paper flowers and ceramic peppers make a picturesque scene outside The Rainbow Man shop, where we picked up a few small souvenirs.

Dried chiles hang outside another shop. Ristras are popular decorations for garden gates, doors, and walls in Santa Fe.

Gustave Baumann at The Owings Gallery

Silver Sky

At The Owings Gallery on E. Marcy Street, I fell in love with Gustave Baumann‘s color woodblock prints. This one goes for $35,000, otherwise it would surely be mine.

Old Santa Fe

“Born in 1881 in Germany, Baumann immigrated to the US by the early 1900’s. After a brief time in Chicago, Baumann moved to Brown County, Indiana in 1910. Baumann first visited New Mexico in 1918 and moved to New Mexico full time in 1919. Baumann’s images of New Mexico have become iconic scenes of Santa Fe and are highly sought after by collectors. The images shown here represent our current inventory of Baumann prints and drawings.”

Cottonwood in Tassels

I settled for a pack of notecards with Baumann’s images, but if you have a chance, go and see his actual work.

New Mexico Museum of Art

One day we visited the New Mexico Museum of Art, housed in a century-old adobe structure off the main plaza. A central courtyard with flowering perennials and grasses, a small lawn, and a stone pillar fountain made a wonderful resting spot.

Everything seems to glow in Santa Fe. The light there really is beautiful.

The Voice of the Water

Four Will Shuster frescoes — where paint pigment is mixed with wet plaster, becoming part of the wall itself — adorn the courtyard walls. My favorite is The Voice of the Water.

Snake Dance, Oraibi

Among the collections inside the museum, several paintings portraying traditional Hopi snake dances caught my eye. This is Snake Dance, Oraibi by Joseph Imhof.

Snake Dancers

And here’s Snake Dancers by Tom Lea.

In the Patio II

While we didn’t make it to The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum this time, we did enjoy one of O’Keeffe’s works, In the Patio II, at the NMMA. We’d just seen the actual patio door represented here at her home in Abiquiu during a tour the previous day. I’ll be sharing about that soon.

Seated Najavo Woman

R.C. Gorman’s Seated Najavo Woman rests against an adobe wall in a small courtyard.

A natural work of art — an agave spotted on the walk back to our Airbnb.

One late afternoon we drove 30 minutes up the winding Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway for a sunset view from the Vista Grande Overlook Observation Site. Santa Fe glittered below us in the Rio Grande Valley like the jewel box it is.

Up next: A tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s home, studio, and garden at Abiquiu. For a look back at Part 2 of my visit to Santa Fe Botanical Garden, click here.

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All material © 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.


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