Thursday, November 27, 2008

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Back in the late 60s and early 70s my husband Dave and I took a couple of trips to Santa Fe, New Mexico while vacationing and camping along the way. We used to live in Denver, Colorado at the time. That was the first time I was introduced to the Southwestern culture and architecture. And I fell in love with both of them. Santa Fe was the epitome of modern day culture mixed with the western past. To me it was so "romantic." One of the things I remember most was visiting the Governor's Plaza where Native Americans would spread out their wares to sell to the tourists. Amazingly, this still goes on today. When we drove to Santa Fe Saturday morning (Nov 15) we had planned to walk around the Plaza and check out the vendors' wares. My husband is a jewelry buff, specifically Indian jewelry. He always wears a turquoise bracelet on one arm and a turquoise watch band on the other. And he enjoys "window shopping" when it involves Indian jewelry. Any other kind of shopping he hates.

When we arrived, the Native Americans were there selling their goods at the Governor's Plaza as usual. But taking a photo of it was impossible; all around the Plaza reconstruction was taking place. Everywhere we walked the sidewalks were packed with people/tourists, so getting around was definitely not like it was back in 1969.

Another place Dave wanted to visit was the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. Visiting the museum was quite educational. I did not know that much about the artist other than she was from New Mexico, especially in her later years. From September 26, 2008 through February 1, 2009 the museum is featuring "Georgia O'Keefe and the Camera: the art of identity." Many items were photos of Ms O'Keefe taken by other artists, especially the love of her life, Alfred Stieglitz. Other items on display were several of her paintings. Her early artwork was quite abstract, a form of art I really don't care for. But once she had experienced New Mexico through yearly vacations and then moving there after her husband's death (Stieglitz), her artwork turned to the beauty she found in and around New Mexico. Below is a banner hanging just outside the museum featuring the exhibit we saw.

I took these next two photos from across the street. Note the adobe structure, the classical southwestern architecture. More about this later.

This building was a block away and on our way back to where we had parked. This appears to be an office building. Again, note the adobe style architecture which is quite prominent throughout much of New Mexico. If you click on the photo to get a larger view you will also notice small brown items evenly spread out on the top edge of the roof and the patio roof. These are luminarias which are a New Mexico tradition, and have been for many, many years. Click on the link to read more about these "special" lights.
This is a close-up view of the luminarias as well as the "deco" wood mouldings around the windows and providing decorative support of the patio roof. If you should Google southwestern architecture you may find that many homes are also decorated with bluish or turquoise window and door frames. This was a tradition to keep evil spirits away.
Just a few doors down from the O'Keefe Museum was this building that looked like it had been a mission church at one time. But now it is the home of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Dave and I did not go in, but I was impressed (again) with the beautiful southwestern architecture.
Here is a side view of the museum.
I took this photo to point out the wood used with the adobe. This looks like a small balcony of sorts.
And here is a view of open style windows. And I think the pieces of wood sticking out of the adobe is the exposed portions of something called vigas. These are supposed to be the support beams inside the building.
In front of the museum, on the sidewalk, were several plaques honoring many artists and novelists. One of my favorite writers when I was a young girl was Willa Cather who wrote of pioneer times; and she and I share the same birthday (Dec 7th). I apologize for "cutting off" the plaque at the bottom, but there were so many people walking by that taking a photo was a bit difficult.


Lynne said...

That museum sounds terrific. I'd love to visit there.

Shellmo said...

I loved the decorative wood frames and being able to see these buildings!

Linda in Erie said...

I like the southwestern architecture, too. I saw some episodes of the Antique Roadshow that had something about Georgia O'Keefe on it. I love adobe. It is Pueblo Indians isn't it that used the adobe? I love the patterns on their blankets, too, and used to mimic them on graph paper when in art class at school. I can't wait to get back to that area and visit it again as it's been a long time.

Mary C said...

Hi Lynne - if you like seeing one's art, you would thoroughly enjoy this museum. Unfortunately, one cannot take photos in the museum.

Hi Shelley - since you enjoyed the buildings and their deco, I would highly recommend visiting New Mexico someday, especially Santa Fe and Albuquerque. You can probably sense why and how I fell in love with this culture and architecture.

Hi Linda - yes, Pueblo Indians used the adobe. I'm going to post about our trip to Taos Pueblo and you'll get to see a lot more of that adobe. We have a couple of blankets purchased from a few years ago. I forgot which tribes we have, but like you I like their designs. I guess these posts and my subsequent posts will surely whet your appetite for visiting the southwest. I know I can never get enough of the culture and architecture.

Red said...

Weren't the blankets Zuni?

I noticed what amazing blue skies you had that day. How nice! Guess it'll be a few months before we get those here again. Ah well, change is good, lol.

The vigas nowadays are purely decoration due to codes. I don't know how old those buildings were in Santa Fe, but they did look newer. Maybe they're just well kept. So those ones COULD be structural.

Mary C said...

Red - I really don't remember what tribe(s) the blankets come from. I don't think Zuni are known for making blankets. I think they are known for making baskets and pottery. Yes, skies were exceptionally blue - but then they usually are in the desert southwest. You are probably right about the vigas; but I think the museum of art looks like it used to be a mission church at one time, so it probably went through a lot of restoration to convert it to a museum.

RuthieJ said...

Looks like you had some gorgeous weather to enjoy your day in Santa Fe.

(I love silver and turquoise jewelry too!)

Mary C said...

Hi Ruthie. Yes, the weather was perfect. Knowing you like the silver and turquoise jewelry I hope someday you can travel in that direction. Who knows? Maybe you can drive through on your way to California to visit your brother. ;o)

Kathiesbirds said...

You have hit on some of my favorites as well. I love Geogia O'keefe and Willa Cather. I'd love to visit both of those art museums. I never knew that the turquise doors were to keep out evil spirits until I read it above in your other post.

Mary C said...

Sorry, Kathie, I missed your comment. I sure hope you do get the chance to visit Santa Fe one of these days. You'll love the architecture as much as do, and you'll certainly enjoy visiting the museums there, too.


Current skin is MC Winter 08 and designed by Red.
Best viewed on Firefox at 1024x768, larger or widescreen.