Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Mexico: Beyond Santa Fe and South to Albuquerque

Outside of the city center in Santa Fe is the famed art-walk street, Canyon Road.  If you enjoy art galleries, you'll reach your saturation point by strolling this gallery-upon-gallery road, and the variety of presentations is mind-boggling.  So, too, are the prices of many of the works for sale.  As might be expected, many of the galleries focus on western and/or Native American art and the periods range from works crafted in the 1800's to ultra modern pieces--picture a stainless steel buffalo with its head cast in white porcelain.  Many of the galleries, however, feature contemporary artists whose work would be just at home in San Francisco or NYC.  Whatever your taste in art, you are certain to find something you'll enjoy along Canyon Road. 

Canyon Road, almost every structure is Gallery space.

Canyon Road is also well known for it's beautiful doors and hidden gardens.



Outdoor sculpture is everywhere.

Sleepy bear.

Santa Fe also boasts a free shuttle with pick-ups throughout downtown and drop-offs at tourist locations such as Canyon Road and the Railyard, a restored rail facility featuring upscale galleries and restaurants.  Speaking of the latter, one of the best in town is Geronimo, on Canyon Road, with great food, decor, and service.  A short distance from the town plaza is Ristra, which is outstanding.  The scallops in saffron sauce were memorable, as was the service and general 'vibe'.  A sister restaurant, Azur, offers different cuisine but is also terrific.  All in all, Santa Fe has terrific dining opportunities for a city its size.  And if you're worried about the use of chili peppers, I was advised that most restaurants will tone down the heat to "accommodate the foreigners."

A gallery called One Artist Road, one block from the square, loved Linda's artwork and will be showing it in Santa Fe.  Although her works are not on display yet, their site is http://www.oneartistroad.com/.  Linda's website is http://www.lindagrossbrown.com/, where you can view thumbnails of her paintings. 

There are some great trips to take beyond Santa Fe.  Heading northeast, on a road that parallels the Rio Grande, lies Taos and Taos Pueblo.  Both are worth a visit; the Pueblo, a multi-storied reddish-brown residential complex, remains inhabited after 1,000 years.  Ten miles west of Taos, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge looms 650 feet over the river--both the bridge and the view are beautiful.  
By driving Northwest of Santa Fe, the road hugs the Rio Chama and winds toward Georgia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch.  While the drive is scenic, particularly near the man-made lake created by Abiquiu dam, none of Georgia O'Keefe's artwork is displayed at the Ranch, which is now a conference center.  However, it's easy to appreciate the inspiration that motivated O'Keefe by standing quietly and observing the muted colors that stretch forever over a landscape of surreal rock formations reaching from the desert toward a deep blue sky.  On the way back south, there is a turn-off for the Abiquiu dam and a parking area which offers great views over the water.  It's a bit incongruous, seeing this large lake springing up in the middle of the desert, and warrants a stroll for a few photographs of the blue-green water rimmed with desert rock.
Lake Abiquiu

Ghost Ranch, can't you just see Georgia O'Keefe painting here?

More of Ghost Ranch.

Log cabin on the Ranch with Lake Abiquiu in the background.


West and slightly south of Santa Fe is Los Alamos, a must-see for anyone interested in the WWII nuclear bomb project.  There are great museums on the 'Hill', as it is called, and appreciating the commitment and sacrifice of those who labored to win the race for the nuclear bomb comes clear when you see first-hand where and how they lived. 

A bit south are some fantastic ruins at Bandelier.  Although Linda and I did not visit this trip, they are well worth the drive as it is possible to climb among the cliff dwellings, explore reconstructed kivas, and enjoy a beautiful mountain setting. 

Although it's not Bandelier, there are beautiful ruins scattered throughout New Mexico.





One caveat about driving through New Mexico:  if you are not used to mountain roads, they can be a bit unnerving.  Particularly jarring is Route 501 up to Los Alamos, where every hairpin turn makes it appear as though you're driving into sky. 

We returned to Albuquerque, where Linda was inducted into the Masters' Circle of the American Pastel Society, and stayed at the remodeled Hotel Andaluz.  The first hotel built in New Mexico by native son Conrad Hilton, the hotel has been restored to its former glory with a unique blend of Spanish and Native American designs.  The restaurant, Lucia, is top-notch and the service throughout is great.  While only a block from the Albuquerque Conference Center, the hotel is a several minute drive from Albuquerque town plaza and old town. 

Lobby.  Behind are the private lounging areas you can reserve.

Just pull the curtains and you have your own private room.




Ice cold Margaritas any one?????  Yum!

Beautiful country, you can see why artists are so attracted to this area.

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