I just got back from a ten-day road trip that took my husband and me through Marfa all the way up to Denver and back. It was an enlightening experience and I encourage anyone to do it if you have the time. One of the places I was most looking forward to was Santa Fe. I had heard amazing things about the New Mexico city, most specifically their art.
"You will love Canyon Road," a girlfriend of mine enthused. She knows me; I am an extreme art lover, so needless to say I was stoked.
Santa Fe is one of those cities that you drive around and ask yourself where the actual city is. It is made up of small sections, some thriving some not. What Santa Fe is not lacking at all is Whole Foods and art. According to some, Santa Fe boasts the most art galleries per square capita, but I have also read that statistic about Atlanta and Seattle. I have also read that 80 percent of statistics are made up, so there. The most galleries or not, Santa Fe has some serious art. You can smell it in the air it's so prevalent.
To see the bulk of it, you are advised to go hit up Canyon Road, which is a long stretch, if I were to guess I'd say two miles, of nothing but art galleries. One after another after another. Imagine Gallery Row on Colquitt but forever; this is Canyon Road. I was giddy with art excitement! I even had delusions of purchasing something, which is crazy when you are poor like me.
Our first stop was at the CVG Contemporary, and it was... OK. There was a life size blue metal horse adorning the entranceway that catches the eye, but other than that it was your standard contemporary fare. We strolled through the Adobe Gallery, which was filled with mostly southwest Indian pottery. It was more museum than gallery for my taste, but interesting nonetheless. We were drawn to the Wiford Gallery because of its spinning metal lawn ornaments. My husband asked if I would put a large spinning metal pole in our front yard and I said that I would rather put a lawn jockey. When there are 50 spinning lawn ornaments in your front yard that's some kooky, old art-lady lawn, when there is one that costs upwards of $1,500, you just spent too much on a windmill.
We thought maybe we should try the fine art galleries instead, so we passed through the Ventano gallery that had colorful paintings of wolves and Indians but they reminded me of that Obama print that was so big a few years back. The Sage Creek gallery had bronze busts of Indians and cowboys with rifles; it was the type of art you find in people's second "southern" homes when they are trying to have a theme. Those people also have lassos hanging over their mantelpieces and serve you chips in a buffalo skull.
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I could go on and on as to the overall "meh" feeling I got from the majority of the art on Canyon Road. It was highly disappointing and even more expensive. But it also gave me something of a revelation.
Quantity never equals quality and Houston's art scene can go toe-to-toe with Santa Fe's any day of the week. We've got many talented artists working and living in Houston that have their works on display in the galleries around town. If you are looking for out of town art, we have got that as well, and how. And if you are looking for mantelpiece artwork for your vacation home, the aforementioned Gallery Row on Colquitt, which I am not always a fan of, has your number. For more contemporary, head over to Washington Ave for Second Saturday's open house at Winter and Spring Street and you'll find way more interesting and exciting art than anything I stumbled across in Santa Fe.
As we made our way back out of art-central, my husband stopped to point out a large-scale sculpture of a rock/paper/scissor pyramid placed in front of one of the galleries. "That's pretty cool," he said. Yes, it is indeed, but we have one of those here. It was by Kevin Box and the Thornwood Gallery has one as well.