Sunday, October 19, 2008

Santa Fe: City of Art

I had mentioned in one of my previous posts that Santa Fe would be a city I wouldn't mind living in. So thought I'd do a post on this artistic city.

Raghav had a conference there last year and I went along because I had some time off. So while he was busy indoors, I explored on foot and visited several of the art galleries and small museums scattered all over the city center.

Pretty painted door

Walking around in Santa Fe is like wandering around in an art museum. The city exudes art. This is mainly due to a decision by the city planners to impose a unified building style in the city. All buildings have to have the Spanish Pueblo Revival look, with earth-toned, adobe walls, rounded corners, subdued lighting, and flat roofs.

Local cinema

A bonus was that it had snowed the day before we arrived, and the beautiful adobe buildings framed with fresh fallen snow made them look absolutely dreamy.

The pink and brown buildings have bright colored windows and there are interesting sculptures scattered all over the city.

There were little artistic touches everywhere. Murals on the walls ... even the arrows leading to the restrooms in the little mall in the city center were creative!

Mural on the wall inside a building

Arrows leading to the restroom!

There was a street market of local Native American artists and potters in the morning one day. They had just spread out their wares on the sidewalk, and were in business! I bought a small fridge magnet from one lady. The piece is very small (only about 2 inches long), with lovely, intricate brushwork. She collects the clay from her land and makes these pieces with natural dyes.

In the past, after harvest in the late summer and early fall large chile peppers were strung to dry so that chile would be available for cooking year round. These bunches of chile pepper pods are called ristras. Today they are also displayed in this manner for decoration, and can be found all over the city - looking bright and spicy.

Santa Fe is also home to the oldest church in the United States, the El San Miguel Mission. The church was built in 1610, the year the city of Santa Fe was founded.

We were there in January, and Christmas lights and decorations still adorned some homes and the big local church. It was beautifully lit at night.

A short drive from Santa Fe is the Bandelier National Monument. A pleasant, short walk here takes you into the Frijoles Canyon, which contains a number of ancestral pueblo homes and cave dwellings carved out of the soft rock cliffs. Very dramatic and beautiful site. Will save the story of that visit for another post! What I wanted to include here is the entrance sign to the monument. Even this sign deviates from the norm and is charmingly decorated with traditional little motifs!

On the drive back to the airport, we had some stunning views of snow covered open land.

And so by the end of this short visit, I had fallen completely in love with Santa Fe!


Jude said...

I can quite understand why you fell in love. What wonderful buildings. I love the fridge magnet, especially being able to dig the clay from your own land.

Srividya said...


Count me in to live in Santa Fe. In fact when we were there, I was drooling over this beautiful adobe house that was for sale. I bought one of those clay earrings from the indian market!

The Pueblo style construction is beautiful in the old city, but as you move past into the outskirts it looks tacky on some of the chain stores like walmart. What did you think?

pink dogwood said...

One more thing to add to my 'to visit' list.I can see why you loved the city - I love it too though I haven't been there yet :)

meb said...

Great pictures bindu... I would love to visit some day. It truly is a 'City of Art'!

bindu said...

Jude - the lady said they have inspectors who come by and confirm that they use the clay from their tribe's land, in order to make sure their art is traditional and authentic. It was interesting.

Vidya - I agree. Further out they construct any kind of building, but use some kind of stucco to have it looking like adobe at the end. That's strange looking.

Bhavana, Meb - hope you like it too, when you visit!

pRiyA said...

you are one lucky woman. awwwwrfggh...!!! this is a place i've wanted to go to all my life. it is also the home of one of my favourite artists, Georgia O'Keefe. i didn't know it snowed here until i read your post. i'd always presumed it was hot desert land.

megha punater said...

wow what a lovely post,i had once done a project of the pottery of this region you have written about.
i like your new look ,nice :)

pink dogwood said...

Since I would love to know more about you, I have tagged you on my blog - only if you feel like it :)

Chris' Shady Grove said...

I've always wanted to visit Santa Fe. Thanks for the tour!

Chris' Shady Grove said...

I've always wanted to visit Santa Fe. It sounds like such a wonderful place.

bindu said...

Priya - I like Georgia O'Keefe too! I'd like to go back again and spend some more time there. Our visit was too short!

Megha - how nice, to have studied this region's pottery. Thanks for noticing my new look - you're the only one to comment on it! :)

Bhavana - will respond to the tag soon.

Chris - glad you liked the tour!

Blu said...

Wow, what a wonderful place. I really enjoyed looking at the excellent pictures and reading all about this marvelous place.

seth said...

What a wondeful tour of Santa fe. It really captured a sense of the beauty of the town. Thanks too for some of the background and history that you included.