Santa Fe is a city made by hand; a place of no hard edges or sharp departures, whose centuries old past stretches indelibly into the future. Well known from the art it has inspired, the Royal City of the Holy Faith, dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, startles first-time visitors. Above the jagged crest of La Bajada to the south, it rises against the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, blood-tinged at dusk. At seven thousand feet, the heavens draw near and the unfiltered sun bleaches the Santa Fe landscape to a desiccated palette of straw, sage, lavender, ochre, and salmon.
The city’s vibrant art trade began near its historic plaza, where the Museum of New Mexico was founded a century ago. Galleries still circle the old town square and extend from its center along San Francisco Street and Palace Avenue.
From the Plaza, it is a fifteen minute walk to Canyon Road. With its dense concentration of shops, roughly eighty at last count, this picturesque thoroughfare is the heart of the city’s gallery scene.
West of the Plaza, the revitalized Guadalupe District offers more galleries, some housed in the Design Center, a former Chevrolet dealership.
Much of the Santa Fe we see today is the product of a local version of the colonial revival, which began here around the time that New Mexico achieved statehood in 1912 and dictated a codified architectural style.
Those who hungered for an urban landscape free of historical conceit got their wish with the opening of SITE Santa Fe, the contemporary arts exhibition center anchoring the Railyard. Santa Fe’s newest arts district is home to cutting-edge galleries, a cultural center, and a performance space, as well as the terminus of New Mexico’s new rail service linking Albuquerque and Santa Fe.