Fe is an art-lover's paradise.
Art aficionado Mary Ann Hemphill tells you where to start looking,
where to stay, where to eat. Text and photos by Mary Ann Hemphill
features intricately beaded
tobacco bags made by the Plain Tribes craftsmen.
Santa Fe boasts of a million works of art within a square mile
and more than 250 art galleries. Mind boggling. What's the art-lover
After two days of exploring this bounty of treasures, I narrowed
my prospects. Given an unlimited budget, here's my fantasy shopping
spree would take me. These are the galleries whose works made me
Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery
is the only gallery of its kind anywhere. It handles just one medium--pueblo
pottery--and the very best of it. This well-organized, soothing
gallery has a very narrow focus of contemporary and historic pueblo
pottery, with works from 19 Rio Grande pueblos, plus Hopi and Zuni
pottery. Within this focus, the specialty is the black-on-black
work of the late Maria Martinez, the "grande dame of pueblo pottery."
Martinez was from the San Idlefonso Pueblo, 20 miles north of Santa
Fe. Four generations of her descendants, all represented here, have
At Andrea Fisher's I fell for the outstanding geometric patterns
of the Acoma pottery. One pot had mirrored images of its black on
white designs on opposite sides. When Fisher asked how this was
done, the artist replied, "I copy them - from my head."
The pottery artists at Robert F. Nichols
have pushed beyond the ordinary in contemporary Southwestern Indian
pottery. Take, for example, the figures by the Ortiz family from
Cochiti. They just made me grin: a chunky lady in a black bikini
with a heart tattoo on her ample bosom, hippie couples, a reggae
band, a 100-piece circus ensemble that includes clowns and a bearded
Given that I live in earthquake-prone Southern California, the
antique Indian baskets at the Kania-Ferrin
Gallery might be a more practical choice. These baskets
are marvels of patience and skill, the finest examples of a very
labor intensive, time-consuming, complex art form. My favorite was
a tiny Pomo basket, only an inch high. This tribe, renowned for
its exquisite, elaborate, finely woven baskets, lived in California's
The Morning Star Gallery is
a stellar collection of museum-quality Indian antiquities, most
of it from the 19th century. Plain tribes tobacco bags ($7,500 to
$25,000) hang on a deep blue wall. A Sioux woman's dress from South
Dakota, circa 1880, had a fully- beaded yoke ($22,000).
are found at The Rainbow Man.
However, Morning Star's distinction as the country's largest gallery
of antique Indian art has given the staff a bit of an attitude,
so if were to spend my money on Indian antiques, I'd prefer to do
so at the shopper-friendly Rainbow Man.
Here, owner Bob Kapoun has traded directly with the Indians for
more than 30 years. Specialities include old (pre-1940) pawn jewelry,
such as Concho belts, often made from melted coins, trade blankets
and Edward Curtis' vintage photos of American Indians. I was particularly
captivated by the two-inch-high Kachina dolls by Bess Yanez, a Hopi.
Good Hands Gallery is one of
the oldest and finest sources for Hispanic art, mostly by artists
from New Mexico. The proprietor, Ramón José López, is an artist
himself, self-taught, a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship
from the National Endowment for the Arts. López is also a santero,
an artist who makes images of saints. His are in the folk tradition
of New Mexico, often adorned with silver crowns.
Many of the works here are by members of the López family. One
of the sons is a painter. His twin does silver engraving. Ramón's
wife, Nance, is winding down the making of her "Treasure Necklaces"®
and moving into landscape painting. These multi- strand necklaces
are fascinating amalgams of glass beads, small hand-carved animals,
Victorian lockets, various hearts and bits of Ming Dynasty porcelain.
In an 1886-built Territorial style house on a shady side street,
Jackson-Kirkland is a collection
of fine arts and antiquities of 19th- and 20th-century Western America.
Here I got a sense of the spaciousness and people of early Western
America, a vast landscape without development. Jackson-Kirkland
features works by early members of the Cowboy Artists of America,
such as James Boren and Frank Tennei Johnson. These two were working
cowboys who captured the people, way of life and scenes of the late
19th and early 20th centuries.
But it's not all just Southwestern art in Santa Fe.
At the Munson Gallery the highest
quality contemporary American art, most of it representational,
shines in a light, spacious, airy setting. This, the second oldest
family-owned gallery in the country, also features ceramics, sculptures
and "assemblages." Eddie Dominguez's "Black Velvet Fish Dinner"
is the most intriguing assemblage. It's literally framed dinner
ware. Just take the components out of the cabinet, use the brightly
colored ceramics, then put it all back together, following the re-assembly
directions! Outside is Beverly Magennis' "Garden Art," mosaic seats
and footstools made from the tiles she manufactures.
|Robert Nichols Gallery
is known for pottery by
the Ortiz family who live in the Cochiti Pueblo.
Nedra Matteucci Galleries (formerly
the Fenn Gallery) specializes in 19th- and 20th- century American
art, encompassing a broad range of works, from Native American artifacts
to sculptures by Glenna Goodacre, who fashioned the Women's Vietnam
Memorial in Washington, D.C. Here, in a spacious, inviting adobe,
are works by the Taos Society of Artists, who used European techniques
to depict American subject matter, contemporary works (even some
Russian realist paintings) and Indian antiquities, such as a Blackfeet
beaded vest ($9,500). Outside, the one-acre sculpture garden, with
a pond and the lushest greenery I saw in Santa Fe, is worth at least
an hour's contemplation.
My pick here? American impressionist Theodore Butler's, "Schoolhouse
under Snow," for $175,000. (I can dream, can't I?). It would hang
in the same room with my choice from the Munson Gallery, James Cook's
large scenic oil, "Hayspur Green and Gold," ($12,000).
If my budget could accommodate such purchases, I might be invited
to stay in the Nedra Mateucci Galleries' guest quarters, where serious
clients and VIPs savor their own art-filled habitat. One gallery
owner described the Nedra Matteucci Galleries as the "master example
of everything Santa Fe represents--the best in architecture, the
Taos school, New Mexico, contemporary, Indian. It's the best all
round experience of the Southwest." In Santa Fe, that's saying a
The zip code for Santa Fe, New Mexico is 87501
For online information on Santa Fe's galleries, go to: http://www.collectorsguide.com/sf/sfall.html
ANDREA FISHER FINE POTTERY
221 West San Francisco St.
GOOD HANDS GALLERY
700 Paseo de Peralta
222 Shelby St.,
662 Canyon Rd.
NEDRA MATTEUCCI GALLERIES
1075 Paseo de Peralta
MORNING STAR GALLERY
513 Canyon Road 505-982-8187
THE MUNSON GALLERY
225 Canyon Road 505-983-1657
ROBERT F. NICHOLS
419 Canyon Road
107 E. Palace
While gallery hopping, stay in a hotel that is a work of art.
The Inn of the Anasazi takes
its architectural inspiration from the area's ancient Anasazi pueblos,
evident in details such as sandstone walls and kiva fireplaces.
Works of local art, from blankets to carvings adorn the public rooms
and 59 guest rooms. Room amenities include 100 percent cotton sheets
on the four-poster beds, fireplaces, cedar-scented toiletries, coffee
makers (with your choice of whole beans), TVs and VCRs. You can
request an in-room massage or an in-room exercise bike. Rates: $
259 to $429 Inn of the Anasazi
113 Washington Ave.
1-800-688-8100 or 505-988-3030
La Fonda: Right on the Plaza in the heart of town, La Fonda has
antiques and Indian art in the lobby, and guest rooms have hand-decorated
wood furniture. A classic: the hotel has hosted both Kit Carson
and John F. Kennedy. Rates: $189 to $500. La Fonda
100 E. San Francisco St.
1-800-523-5002 or 505-982-5511
Water Street Inn: A bed and breakfast in a restored abode, just
a couple of blocks from the Plaza. All rooms have private baths
and four poster and antique beds, some have fireplaces. Decor is
a mixture of cowboy, Hispanic and Indian. Rates: $155 to $215.
Water Street Inn
427 W. Water Street
1-800-646-6752 or 505-984-1193
The Anasazi Restaurant: A fine,
unique blend of New Mexican and Native American fare. At the Inn
of the Anasazi, 113 Washington Ave.; 505-988-3030.
Geronimo: Contemporary Southwest
cuisine in the elegance of a 150-year-old adobe 724 Canyon Road,
Santacafé: One of the city's
best, in an historic adobe or in its shaded . Bistro-style food
with a southwestern flair. 231 Washington Ave., 505-982-8608.
Ta Sophia's: Casual dining on
a breakfast burrito or blue corn enchiladas at lunch. 210 West San
Francisco St.; 505-983-9880.
Mary Ann Hemphill is a freelance travel writer and photographer
from Newport Beach, California. Her work appears in major magazines
and newspapers, and she recently won a Silver Award in the annual
Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition.