Santa Fe by Foot
Santa Fe’s reputation as an arts hub has been growing in leaps and bounds over the years, and the city is now a major destination for those seeking out some of the most exciting contemporary art in the southwest and, indeed, the country. In the last decade or so, many of Santa Fe’s institutions have been reformatted or renovated, thanks to the city’s dedication to supporting its ever-evolving arts scene, in the process creating several attractive new neighborhoods. Compact Santa Fe is one of the most walkable cities in the United States, so explore on foot to better enjoy the fresh, crisp air; the clear blue skies; and the incredible views of the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Start a tour of the city’s art scene in east Santa Fe at Canyon Road, a half-mile stretch of more than 100 studios and galleries that showcase local and international art in myriad styles, as well as plentiful boutiques and restaurants. Make sure to visit the New Concept Gallery, one of the road’s landmark galleries. Run by artist Ann Hosfeld, it gives particular emphasis to dynamic painters and sculptors from the area. After stretching your legs and getting to know some of the gallery owners on the strip (most of whom are more than happy to give out background information on Santa Fe’s history as an artist haven), stop at The Teahouse, a welcoming café with abundant outdoor seating in a tree-shaded garden.
Caffeinate with an espresso or a matcha latte and a piece of gingerbread before strolling one mile west to the state capitol. This might seem an unlikely place to find sterling art, but the Roundhouse, as the capitol is known, is home to the excellent New Mexico Capitol Art Collection. There are over 600 works of art here, all by New Mexican artists, and all open to the public. Temporary exhibits rotate throughout the year.
From the capitol, head north for lunch at the Plaza Café. This Santa Fe landmark first opened in the historic Santa Fe Plaza in 1905 and has been serving up posole (a hearty Mexican stew) and other New Mexico favorites to locals ever since. It’s casual and homey, with a menu boasting fresh, natural ingredients like local grass-fed beef, and it’s the perfect place to fuel up for an afternoon of sightseeing.
Post-lunch, stroll southwest to the Jean Cocteau Cinema, an independent theatre from the 1970s that was reopened in 2013 by George R. R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones novels and Santa Fe resident. Try to schedule your visit to catch a showing (the cinema has just a single screen) of a Woody Allen classic, the latest from Pixar or an old-school sci-fi drama. The cinema also hosts readings by sci-fi and fantasy writers, and exhibitions of visual work by local artists or famed fantasy illustrators. There’s a bookshop and an in-house bar, too.
Walk five minutes down S. Guadalupe St. to the Railyard Santa Fe, 50 acres of revitalized downtown that was opened in 2008 as a brand new arts district. Allow a couple of hours for exploring here – the area comprises a plaza, park, farmers market, shops and restaurants, as well as a number of galleries that are home to some of the most creative and unconventional contemporary art in the city.
FROM STAND-UP COMEDY TO MODERN DANCE
If you’re visiting in the summer there are often live music acts and outdoor movies, but be sure to prioritize trips to Evoke Contemporary, an edgy gallery that collaborates on local art tours and festivals (check their website for details) and SITE Santa Fe, an 18,000-square-foot exhibition space for innovative contemporary work with an oft-changing façade that’s a work of art in itself.
After a thirst-inducing stroll around the galleries, stop at the nearby Second Street Brewery, a craft brewery with a menu of Santa Fe-made lagers, IPAs and cream stouts that are best
accompanied by the New Mexico Farmer’s Plate of local cheeses and house-made chutneys.
For a taste of the Santa Fe live arts scene, catch an evening performance at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. This is the preeminent arts venue in the city and its remarkable Spanish Renaissance architecture contrasts cleverly with a very modern interior. Live shows here run the gamut from stand-up comedy to Twyla Tharp’s modern dance, with offerings like ballet, theatre, opera and even big band music also popping up on the calendar.