A new day in a new state! Day seven in our trip began in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We hit the road on a forty-minute drive ready to discover what Santa Fe had to offer.
Los Potrillos by Victoria McClendon-Leggett
For lunch, we stopped at a place on the outskirts of Santa Fe called Los Potrillos. It was a chance for us to sample some New Mexican fare, which is slightly different compared to the Tex-Mex we are so accustomed to back home. We seized the opportunity to taste their horchata water (rice water), which everyone agreed was the perfect blend of vanilla and a hint of cinnamon. For appetizers we ordered chicharrones (fried pork skins) in green salsa and nopalitos (cooked cactus). Both of the dishes were delicious, and we looked forward to our main courses. A few among us kept it simple and ordered gorditas, while others opted for more interesting choices like cabrito (goat meat stew), Albondigas (meatball soup), and tamal de casuela (cream of corn soup with chicken). We left the restaurant feeling a bit stuffed, but also with the energy that we needed to begin exploring the city of Santa Fe.
New Mexico Museum of Art by Bianca Saldierna
Before we continued our museum exploration, we entered our first actual art gallery: Windsor Betts, in Santa Fe. The gallery has a host of interesting artists…
…that they display across four floors of exhibit space.
One of the artists we looked at was Alfred Morang and, indeed, our Professor, bought two of his pieces. This would not be the last time we saw Alfred Morang art.
Following our trip through Windsor Betts, we made our way to the New Mexico Museum of Art, our 8th art museum on this trip.
This year, the NMMA is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and interestingly, this museum is the oldest public museum west of the Mississippi. Since its opening, the museum has contributed to the development of the arts in New Mexico. Located in the museum is the St. Francis Auditorium which features a Santa Fe Pueblo Revival architecture, a regional mix of Spanish and Pueblo styles. The auditorium was built as a community center and it has historical value not only for the architectural features but also for the various cultural and musical events it houses.
The tour continued through the interior courtyard of the museum. Our tour guide explained that interior court yards were a common architectural feature of Mexican and Spanish homes. The courtyard had an unmissable art piece by one of the best and most prominent Hispanic sculptors, Jesus Moroles…
…who has about 10 pieces in Huntsville! Also, the walls of the courtyard displayed several murals of Native Americans done in 1934 by Will Shuster, a local artist who was part of the Santa Fe Cinco Pintores in the 1920s. During this time, the State of New Mexico received the most amount of money for public art. Shuster was one of the first to portray the day-to-day life style and the culture of the Native Americans.
We were guided through the historical exhibit which has three themes: Collaboration, Culture and Community. One of the paintings in the exhibit depicted the archeologist and anthropologist Dr. Edgar Lee Hewett, who was the founder and director of the museum. Also displayed was an oil painting called “Cui Bono” by Gerald Cassidy, a well-known painter, muralist and designer.
The word cui bono means “who stands,” and as we learned, it depicts Native American who stood at the entrance of their town and which represent the protection of their town, culture, and people.
At the next exhibit, we were able to appreciate the art of Gustave Baumann who is recognized for his picturesque woodblock prints. The New Mexico Museum of Art’s collection of over 1,700 works by Baumann is the largest holding of the artist’s work in any public collection. We further learned about the muralist Will Shuster during our tour. In 1924, Shuster founded the Zozobra and Las Fiestas de Santa Fe, which is the oldest civic celebration of its kind in North America.
As we learned, Zozobra is a fifty-foot bogeyman marionette which is burned every year to allegedly take away all the troubles and worries of the citizens.
Once again, we were fortunate to admire pieces by renowned artist such as: Georgia O’Keeffe, Victor Higgins and even Diego Rivera!
And, unexpectedly, we even saw a piece by Alfred Morang.
The ambassadors left pleased to have yet added another museum to the list and to have gained knowledge about the art and culture of the State of New Mexico.
New Mexico State Capitol by Karla Rosales
After a quick stop for some truffles and coffee…
…we continued on our way to the New Mexico State Capitol. The Capitol is built in a New Mexico territorial style and Pueblo adobe architecture to fit in with the adobe architecture in Santa Fe.
The style of the capitol was an unusual style to most of us because it lacked a dome. However, despite its peculiar architecture, we relished our tour very much. The capitol has over 600 art pieces which makes it very unique! We began our self-guided tour by admiring the exterior art. Among the recognized art pieces, we found a sculpture by Allan Houser…
…which we decided to replicate…
…and another by Dan Namingha…
…two famous local artists!
We learned there are some major differences between the New Mexico Legislature and the Texas Legislature. First, New Mexico only has 70 members of the House and 42 members of the Senate.
Second, the New Mexico Legislature only convenes for 60 days in odd numbered years and for 30 days in even numbered years. Third, the New Mexico Constitution prohibits any compensation to legislators other than a per diem and mileage allowance.
The rotunda is decorated with the flags of New Mexico’s 33 counties and with a Zia Sun symbol that represents a circular sun with linear rays extending in four directions. The number four is an important symbol to the Zia people as it represents the four directions of the earth, the four seasons of the year, the four times of the day, and the four stages of life.
Next, we walked over to the house and senate gallery which had a very theater-like style. Almost along every wall in the Capitol we found a piece of art. Among those were pieces by Andrew Dasburg, Glenna Goodacre…
…Fritz Scholder, and the famous buffalo piece by Holly Hughes.
My personal favorites were the furniture pieces of art. In fact, almost every bench in the Capitol was a unique piece of art. Even though the New Mexico State Capitol is not a traditional State Capitol, its many different art pieces make it one of a kind!
To wrap up our day we decided to drive through Canyon Road and take a quick walk around the downtown plaza. To our surprise, we learned that Santa Fe’s weather changes drastically in a matter of minutes! We began our drive through Canyon Road with sunny weather and a few moments later, the weather drastically changed to hail!
It was a nice surprise to see the road and art pieces slowly begin to be covered in white. Five minutes later the weather yet again surprised us with sun again and we decided to go for a stroll along the plaza and visit a few downtown shops, including the Worrell Gallery. This had a personal connection for us, because Worrell did the sculpture (The Shaman) at the entrance to Seminole Canyon, which the LEAP Ambassadors have hiked.
After our interesting day, we headed home to rest for another busy day ahead.