New Mexico’s beauty is unparalleled and unique to that of other states that we have traveled to previously. On our second day in New Mexico, we were still in awe of the adobe houses with their reddish-brown hue and their flat roofs, and we admired them all as we headed to our next destination.
Allan Houser Sculpture Garden by Beatriz Martinez
The Houser Gallery was about an hour south of our hotel, and we left early to make it to our appointed time. Houser was an incredibly well known native-American sculptor, with pieces featured at the Winter Olympics in Utah and the New Mexico capitol. We were cheerfully greeted by our tour guide and Allan Houser expert, Sina Brush, who began the tour by telling us Houser’s life story.
Allan Houser’s family belonged to the Apache tribe, and his grandfather was first cousin to the famous Apache leader, Geronimo. Houser began his education by attending the Indian School for Art with classes taught by Dorothy Dunn. However, during that time period Native Americans were severely discriminated against and the children were only taught what whites viewed as appropriate for Native American artists to learn. Houser thought that this was too constricting and began to explore different artistic styles on his own.
One of our favorite stories dealt with his first sculpture. After World War II he applied for a commission in the Haskell Institute in Kansas. Knowing absolutely nothing about sculpting stone, he somehow convinced the jury that he was well-practiced in doing so. Shockingly, he did not disappoint! After that success, he became incredibly well-known in the art scene. Three of his main artistic themes seen throughout his 1,000 sculptures he completed during his lifetime are women and children, dancing figures, and action or movement involving animals. He worked with different materials, including Carrara marble; the same marble preferred by Michelangelo.
His artwork was truly impressive to us, especially because we were invited to touch the pieces!
Meandering among the sculptures of animals and representations of members of many different Native American tribes, we were able to truly get a feel for what Allan Haozous Houser wanted to convey to us.
The emotions that many of the pieces symbolize may sometimes be abstract, but they showed through nonetheless.
Whether it be the sculpture named “Prayer” commissioned as a memorial for a young boy or “Sacred Rain Arrow” that depicted an Apache rain ceremony, through work of Houser we were able to discern the different Native American cultures and history that each piece is meant to represent.
It was such an honor to pay a visit to the Allan Houser Sculpture and catch a glimpse of the 80 sculptures scattered throughout the 50-acre plot of land.
With a great deal of sadness, we said goodbye to Houser’s works and moved on to our next destination.
Ski Santa Fe by Beatriz Martinez
We had a drastic change of scenery as we headed away from the Houser Sculpture Garden and into the Santa Fe National Forest. With a base elevation of 10,350 ft. mountain, the ski resort was definitely a new kind of challenge for the Leap Ambassadors. Three of the five Leapsters had never been skiing before, and those who had were still incredibly excited to explore the Santa Fe Mountains.
Getting geared up was probably the most time-consuming part as well as having to learn how to ski.
Thankfully, we discovered that the Professor Yawn’s excellent teaching skills extend beyond the sphere of Political Science and also into the realm of skiing.
Thanks to his guidance, Victoria, Bianca, and myself were able to start off easily at the bunny slopes. Victoria caught the hang of it surprisingly fast…
and left to try the bigger slopes while Professor Yawn worked more with the other beginners.
I can be at times considered the clumsiest among the Leapsters, but today I shocked everyone and was soon also zipping through the trees.
Meanwhile, Bianca and Christina took it slow, practicing in the Bunny Slope. Karla truly won the Bravery Award because she faced her fear of heights by going on two different ski lifts.
Everyone enjoyed the fun in the snow…
…and soon it was time for us to trek back to the car and head over to the New Mexico museum that we had been looking forward to since we first arrived.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum by Christina Perez
After our half day of skiing we headed back into Santa Fe to visit the museum dedicated to one of the most famous women in art.
Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15th, 1887 in a small town in Wisconsin. Her first pieces of art were simple sketches of her family. She eventually decided that she would trade her small town for a big city, and she moved in 1905 to attend the art institute of Chicago. Her art was first exhibited in New York in 1916 by famous art dealer and photographer Alfred Steglitz, and that’s where it all began. She is now known as one of the most boldly innovative artists of the twentieth century.
Her style, whether it is with flowers, landscapes, and bones, is what set her apart from other artists.
The LEAP Ambassadors have learned quite a bit about art but Georgia O’Keeffe is usually the first artist whose work they can organize when they begin visiting art museums.
As we walked through the museum we came across a timeline of events from her life. It was interesting to follow it throughout her life and see what was happening during her lifetime in regards pop culture, art, and politics, while also connecting her to other Museums we have visited.
It allowed us to compare her life to the lives of other great artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollock. As we walked through the exhibit Professor Yawn mentioned that he enjoyed her art piece called “A Street” which was painted in 1926.
Christina on the other hand liked “Clouds 5” and the study of the painting next to it. It was a painting of clouds seen from an airplane window, but it showed that Georgia O’Keeffe had been inspired by all of the traveling that she did in the 1960’s. As we headed for the gift shop to find a few trinkets, we stopped to snap a couple of photos of our favorite art…
…then we posed for a photo outside…
…and then we headed to dinner!
Jambo Café by Christina Perez
For dinner we were able to add another type of food to our trip cuisine! We visited an award winning restaurant in town named Jambo Café. It has been named the best international cuisine by Santa Fe reporters for the past five years, and the owner is Ahmed Obo who first mastered the African cooking style and then decided to open his own restaurant in Santa Fe in 2009. We decided to order multiple appetizers and entrees and share amongst ourselves so that it would be a bit easier for everyone to try new things. We ordered Kenyan style beef kebobs, and combination plates that included goat stew, curry chicken, and Moroccan lamb stew all atop a bed of rice.
During dinner, we discussed all the different types of food we were able to sample thus far on our trip. Included were French, Mediterranean, Mexican, and of course African cuisines. It was difficult for many of us to decide our favorites, but Jambo Café was definitely high on all of our lists!