Wanna get away? A few days in Santa Fe…

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“Wanna get away?” the voice asked. Um – “yes, as a matter fact, I do.” The last few months have been aggravating to say the least — although, in the “real” world I have nothing to complain about.  Just a bunch of little things.

I have been spending quality time with doctors. It seems to be first one thing and then another. I have minor afflictions but, taken together they are getting in the way of my plans for the year.  I’m in physical therapy and on a strict diet and waiting for hearing aids. I decided to get out of town for a few days.

Santa Fe is close enough for an easy trip and far enough to feel like it is someplace else. I’ve already been the California/Bay Area, Las Vegas and back home to Missouri and St. Louis this year so my travel budget is used up. Santa Fe is about an hour drive up the highway. I go there several times a year but never stay over so it is often a rushed visit.

georgia2Jill spent the first day with me but she went home on Monday because she can’t get off work. We had a good time and went walking around the plaza and visited the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. I like Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico paintings and she had a long and interesting life. I read a biography a few years ago on her early life and her time with Alfred Steiglitz and later years in the west. That was an interesting time in Santa Fe and Taos with a lot of artists, writers and photographers in residence.

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image8After the museum we went to see the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi – the main Catholic church near the plaza. It is in the gothic style – very unlike many of the old Spanish churches. The bishop who built the church (Bishop Lamy) was French so it more resembles a European gothic church. One of the side chapels is left from the old conquistador church that was on the same location. The statue of the Virgin Mary in the side chapel  dates to the early 1600s and was carried on foot by settlers from Mexico. During the pueblo revolt in the late 1600s it was carried back to El Paso and then returned once the revolt was put down. Santa Fe and most of the local settlements and missions were sacked and destroyed during the revolt.

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image7Around the corner – just a short distance from the cathedral is the smaller Loretto Chapel — also a classic gothic style church. The spiral staircase leading to the choir loft has no apparent means of support. Back in the 1870s the nuns prayed that they could have a stairway leading to the loft instead of a ladder. Not long after a man showed up and built the spiral stairs using his own labor and materials and then he left without charging them for the work…never to return.

I’m staying at a place about four blocks away from the plaza so it is convenient and a lot is within easy walking distance if I take my time. We spent a couple hours at the Rail Yards and had a wonderful lunch and then Jill went back to Albuquerque on the Rail Runner train.

Something came up on Tuesday and I had to make an overnight run back to Albuquerque to take delivery of some furniture. I was already going to make a mid-week run home to take care of my cat so this was OK. I made a quick drive up Canyon Road on my way out of town to see what’s there — lots of galleries and shops. I’ll go back.

One thing I want to do on this trip is take time to read. I get started on books but don’t get them finished. I was able to finish one the first night and have only two chapters left an a second book. The third book might take a while but I’ll make a dent in it. I’ve got a bunch of books I want to get started once these are done.

Heading out of town I got rear-ended at a red light. Just what I needed. It turned out to be a harmless bump with only a scuffed up bumper so I didn’t pursue it. Santa Fe is full of east coast transplants who drive in a rush. This guy stepped on the gas as soon as the light turned green even though there were two cars in front of him. It was nothing, really, but just a little reminder that this place is unlike most of New Mexico in many ways.

My trip back home (only 39 miles) was uneventful and I got back to Santa Fe around 3:30. It was cloudy and they were forecasting rain. I decided to go out for a walk just as it was going dark and there was a slight mist in the air. I went for an early supper at a Spanish tapas restaurant, La Boca, and had an exceptional meal. I don’t usually take pictures of my food and I  think that it’s a little un-cool but this was really good.

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After eating I made a big circuit around the plaza and a few side streets and then went back to the condo. It was misting heavier but still not raining. There were a few shops still open for browsing — I can’t afford to buy much that is for sale and I have too much stuff already.

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I read some more and finished my second book. I started another book but only got through one chapter before going to bed.

It was raining Thursday morning  and it got heavier as the day went on. I decided to do indoor stuff. There are some very nice museums in Santa Fe. I drove over to Museum Hill and went to the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art first. This is located in a classic old adobe house designed by noted Spanish colonial and Pueblo-style architect John Gaw Meem. This was once a personal residence but it makes a nice museum.

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The museum doesn’t allow photographs but there are a few images of items in their collection on the internet.

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My second stop was at the Museum of International Folk Art. One can express their impression of this museum in two words: HOLY CRAP! This place is amazing — it has wings devoted to different types of folk art but not clearly divided by nation or culture.  It is almost overwhelming. They allow non-flash photography so I have a few pictures. OK, more than a few…these are all miniature figures — mostly less than five inches tall.

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I’m partial to Ethiopian art. I took a couple classes in college on Ethiopian history, which is a fascinating topic but you really don’t get much chance to use your knowledge. To my delight they had a nice selection of Ethiopian folk art — mostly religious themes.

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They provide a printed guide for some of the wings but there are reasonable descriptions in the smaller exhibits.

There was a special exhibit on pottery forms and potters from the southern states of the USA.

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New Mexico folk art is well represented…

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I’m not sure I saw it all but I was in the museum for over two hours. There is a plaza out front that offers a  space for public art and access to a second museum — Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. I was museum-ed out  and went to the museum café for lunch.

I drove out the route of the original Santa Fe trail for a few miles. It is mostly fancy estates and expensive homes — based on what little is visible. I stopped off at the local offices of the National Park service which is housed in a unique building build in the Pueblo style by the CCC  back in depression days. Unfortunately you need an appointment to see the building.

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Eventually I was up high enough in the foot hills that I was in fog. It was still raining so I went back to the condo. Besides, I have  more reading to do.

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Friday was sunny and in the 50s – a big improvement.  I had to run a couple errands but finally got to spend a few hours up on Canyon Road doing a gallery crawl. The place is literally wall-to-wall art galleries with a very few restaurants tossed in for good measure.

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I always assume that places like this are priced way over of my budget and most of what I saw was way over — but there was a few places that had some paintings that I liked and that were not too crazy in price. If I planned for this kind of purchase it would be OK. The actual artists operate some of the galleries and it was very interesting talking with a few. A majority of the paintings I saw at most of the galleries were not something I would want. The styles are wildly variable from some sort of fantasy paintings, abstracts and minimalist, American Indian, and some that I don’t know what to call it. There were a few places that had watercolor or oil landscapes in a realistic style or maybe impressionistic. Some of these I like and could actually pay for.

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One gallery had a few pieces by Tim Prythero — a three-dimensional artist who does wall art or free standing pieces that are miniature scenes. Joanne and I bought one of his very early pieces way back around 1980 — I think he was still in high school.  I was happy to see that he was still busy and selling in a gallery.

Tomorrow, Saturday, I’m packing up and going home. I might squeeze something more into my week but it is supposed to rain so I may just check out and head for home. It has been a good week and I changed my opinion a little about Santa Fe. I’ve not been a big fan of the place but I enjoyed my week.

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