Tag Archives: Museum of Spanish Colonial Art

About Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is located in northern New Mexico. Nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe has an elevation of 7,000 feet.  As a result of our high altitude desert environment, Santa Fe enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine annually, warm days and cool nights and four full seasons.

Santa Fe is an outdoor lover’s paradise.  Nearby mountains that reach over 12,000 ft. provide local residents with downhill and cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities in the winter.  Abundant National Forest land and State Parks surrounding Santa Fe contain deep canyons and colorful deserts for hiking, biking, horseback riding and water sports.  It is no accident that Outside magazine has its headquarters here.  To learn more about the recreational opportunities in and around Santa Fe, visit The Public Lands Information Center.

Santa Fe is the second oldest city founded by European colonists in the United States, first inhabited by Spanish settlers in 1607 and established in 1610 as the capital of Spain’s northernmost territory.  Originally Santa Fe was called La Villa Real de la Santa Fe (The Royal City of the Holy Faith). The famous El Camino Real (the Royal Road), a 1,500 mile trade route which ended in Santa Fe’s Plaza, connected Santa Fe to Mexico City and was in use from 1598 to 1885.  Now the capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is the oldest capital in the United States.

Long before the Spanish arrived, Pueblo Indians were living in the Rio Grande Valley in communal houses with hundreds of rooms, often four or five stories high, with earth floors, adobe walls and flat roofs held together by pine logs (also called vigas).  This method of building structures strongly influenced the settlers who came later.  Santa Fe’s rich cultural history, a blend of Native American, Spanish and Anglo influences, has led to its unique Spanish Pueblo and Territorial style architecture, which is unlike any other city in the United States.  Santa Fe’s unique architecture style is one of the reasons Santa Fe draws over 1,000,000 visitors annually.

Santa Fe’s magnificent quality of light, ever changing skies and colorful, dramatic landscape are responsible for the thriving artists’ community here.  Santa Fe is the 3rd largest art market in the United States in sales volume and boasts nearly 300 galleries and dealers.  East of the Plaza, Canyon Road has the highest concentration of art galleries in the city, and is a major destination for international collectors, tourists and locals. The Canyon Road galleries showcase a wide array of contemporary, Southwestern, Native American, and experimental art.

Not surprisingly, given the importance of art, history and culture here, Santa Fe has over a dozen major museums, mainly located near the Plaza or on Museum Hill.  If you plan to visit more than a few museums, consider buying one of several multi-day, multi-museum passes.  For instance, currently you can buy an $18  Museum Pass good for 4 days of unlimited visits to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Palace of the Governors, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, the Museum of International Folk Art and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art.  Also available is the CulturePass, currently $25, which allows the holder to visit each of  New Mexico’s 14 state museums and monuments once during a 12-month period.

Opera buffs will enjoy the Santa Fe Opera, which many rank as the second best opera company in the United States, behind only the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Established in 1957 and housed in an architecturally stunning, partially open air amphitheater surrounded by panoramic vistas, it consistently draws famed directors, conductors and singers.  The opera season typically runs from the beginning of July to late August.

The Lensic Theater, located at 211 West San Francisco Street, is an 821 seat theater which was completely restored and renovated between 1999 and 2001, and provides Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico with a modern venue for the performing arts.  The Metropolitan Opera’s live simulcast performances are shown at the Lensic Theater.

With a population of approximately 70,000 people, Santa Fe combines many of the benefits of small town life and wide-open spaces with access to cultural events normally associated with much larger cities.

One of many works of outdoor art displayed in downtown Santa Fe

Traveling to Santa Fe  American Eagle flies three daily roundtrip services between Dallas/Fort Worth and the Santa Fe Airport and one daily flight between Santa Fe and Los Angeles International Airport.

Many visitors traveling by air to Santa Fe fly into Albuquerque, New Mexico first and then make the one hour drive north to Santa Fe either by car or by shuttle.  Sandia Shuttle offers convenient, frequent shuttle services between most Santa Fe hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts and Albuquerque International Airport.

Santa Fe Neighborhoods – Focus on Museum Hill

Santa Fe New Mexico Living– Focus on Museum Hill 

View from the Wheelwright Museum front terrace

View from the Wheelwright Museum front terrace

Santa Fe has four world class museums located on Camino Lejo on the southeast side of town in an area called Museum Hill.  If you limit your museum touring in Santa Fe to the cultural riches around the Plaza, you’ll be depriving yourself of a chance to view some wonderful art as well as magnificent views of the mountains.  Travel between Museum Hill and the Plaza is simple and convenient. Take the “M” line operated by Santa Fe Trails, which runs 7 seven days a week and costs adults $1 each way.  Departures start from the Downtown Transit Center on Sheridan Street (one block off the Plaza) for a short 18-minute ride.  Click here to see a map of the route.  Call 505 955-2001 for the most current information about schedules and fares.  You can spend endless hours exploring the wide variety of art in these collections. Continue reading

59th Traditional Spanish Market To Be Held July 24 and 25, 2010

Spanish Market street scene

The 59th Traditional Spanish Market will be held on July 24 and 25, 2010 on the Santa Fe Plaza. This popular event celebrates the vibrant Hispanic culture of Northern New Mexico, both past and present. Visitors are provided with a unique opportunity to purchase a dazzling array of Spanish Colonial art works produced by over 200 traditional Hispanic artists, sample mouth-watering regional food specialties, attend art demonstrations and workshops and enjoy continuous live music and dance entertainment.  A separate youth exhibition area will line the side streets just off the Plaza and will feature the work of some 100 emerging artists. This is the oldest and largest Hispanic market in the United States. Admission is free.

For more information about Spanish Market contact the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art  at 505-982-2226 or  e-mail info@spanishcolonial.org.

Glossary of terms used, and art forms found, at Spanish Market

  • Santos – originally produced in New Mexico between the 1700s and late 1800s, these are depictions of religious figures in the forms of bultos (three dimensional wood carvings) and retablos (paintings on wooden panels).  Most materials used to make santos were indigenous to New Mexico: pine, cottonwood root, gypsum, pinion sap, yucca fibers and horse and human hair for paintbrushes, and natural home-ground pigments made from the vegetation, clays, ocres and minerals. Although New Mexico became part of the Republic of Mexico in 1821, it still remained isolated from the outside world. Consequently, most New Mexicans artists in the nineteenth century were self-taught or apprentices who learned from their local masters.   Santos played an important part of the religious lives of New Mexicans in the colonial period.   Retablos and bultos adorned local churches and families had private devotional altars graced with Santos. Santos convey the spirit of Hispanic New Mexico through their unique style, traditional Catholic subject-matter and the materials used to create them.
  • Straw Appliqué – crosses, chests and boxes decorated with applied wheat straw and corn husks which are adhered to the wood with resin.
  • Textiles – hand-woven on looms using handspun and vegetable dyed yarns
  • Tinwork – decorative and utilitarian objects of cut and punched tin.  Frames, mirrors, switchplates, candle holders, sconces, mirrors and crosses are examples of tin art. Tin art, especially in religious form, began to flourish after the United States Army occupied New Mexico in 1846 and the appearance of imported tin cans. 
  • Furniture – usually made from pine using mortise and tenon joints
  • Embroidery – unique regional embroideries employing the colcha stitch which was used for centuries to embellish priest garments, altar cloths and coverlets and produces rich and colorful textiles and tapestries
  • Ironwork – tools, fastenings, and household objects forged from iron
  • Precious Metals – silver or gold jewelry, utilitarian and devotional objects
  • Pottery – hand-sculpted bowls, pots, and other ware made from micaceous clay
  • Bonework – decorative items, anillos (rings) and tool handles carved from bones
  • Ramilletes – decorative paper garlands
  • Basketry – baskets handwoven from red and brown river willow

Retablos at Spanish Market

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society screens all of the artwork shown at Spanish Market for authenticity and requires that all artwork be handmade by artists practicing their craft in the context of their community.  Some families are represented by three or four generations

For more about the art you can see at Spanish Market visit the Collectors Guide.

History of Spanish Market

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society first sponsored Spanish Market in 1926 and continued to hold it until the mid-1930s.  In 1965 the Spanish Colonial Arts Society revived Spanish Market, which was held in conjunction with the annual Indian Market until 1972.  In 1973 Spanish Market became its own distinct event taking place on Santa Fe Plaza during the last full weekend in July. 

Since 1985 Contemporary Hispanic Market has been held at the same time as, and in conjunction with, Spanish Market.  It is sponsored by El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe and is located northwest of Santa Fe Plaza along Lincoln Avenue.   In 2009 Contemporary Hispanic Market showcased contemporary fine art such as photography, weaving, glass work, paintings, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, textiles and mixed media from over 130 artists.  For more information call (505) 992-0591 or e-mail info@elmuseocultural.org  


Grand Prize, Best of Show Winner - 2002 Federico Prudencio, Spanish Hope Chest

The Society honors artistic excellence at Spanish Market by awarding prizes and purchasing outstanding works of art for its collection.  Its grand prize, first prize and other special awards recognize distinctive skill and innovation in various media.   The Society’s collection of more than 3500 objects is housed at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, 750 Camino Lejo (Museum Hill) in Santa Fe.   The collection includes Spanish Colonial art forms spanning four centuries and four continents.

Insider’s Tip

On Friday, July 23, 2010 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm the Spanish Market Preview takes place at the Santa Fe Convention Center for members only.  Be the first to see this year’s Spanish Market art and meet the artists.  Early Preview starts at 6 pm for upper level members ($300 – $5,000).  General Preview starts at 7 pm for all members.  Memberships are available at the door.

Food at Spanish Market

Vendors offer Spanish Colonial and Northern New Mexican specialties such as carnitas, carne adovada, stuffed sopaipillas, chile rellenos, fajitas, tamales, empanaditas, chile stew, taquitos, burritos, enchiladas and tacos.