September 14, 2022
Santa Fe’s adobe structures seem an extension of the earth itself. Curvy walls in warm, desert hues — tan, soft rose, terracotta — rear up from the gravelly soil to enclose courtyards and residences. Wooden doors, some with slatted windows for a glimpse inside, add mystery and perhaps a dash of color, often shades of blue. Dried chile ristras hang from doorways, a sign of good luck and welcome.
We visited Santa Fe, New Mexico, in late August and stayed in an Airbnb within walking distance of the main plaza and famed Canyon Road, a half-mile ramble packed with art galleries in historic adobe residences.
One morning we walked over to Canyon Road via E. Palace Avenue, and I kept stopping to admire the beautiful doors and walls of homes that we passed.
We found more charmers in the historic neighborhood just off Canyon Road.
Here’s a sampling of my favorites from that pleasant walk.
Agave, adobe, and Corten steel, a match made in heaven
At one of the galleries along Canyon Road, I spotted a stunning metal tree with silver-chain foliage.
Acacia is the work of Travis Seeger and Foster Talge — who happen to be Austin-area (Elgin?) artists! This is part of their collaborative Tree Series.
A smaller one is available too. I LOVE it. As it happens, 11 years ago I posted about another metal tree created by Foster Talge, which wowed me on the East Austin Studio Tour.
A different sort of sculpture, based on desert flora, made my heart skip a beat when I saw it. These botanical ceramic totems are the work of my friend Dustin Gimble, a visionary Los Angeles garden designer and artist.
Just wow. Aren’t they great?
I wrote about Dustin’s work last spring, so click for more info and pics.
Other soaring sculptural pieces rise amid tawny grasses on Canyon Road, where bigger seems to be better.
A glowing terracotta wall with arching sprays of pyracantha called out for a photo op too.
The orange berries against the salmon wall is so pretty.
And nearby, yellow dahlias with near-black leaves
Back to the art and architecture of Canyon Road, and those blue New Mexico skies
This head sculpture wears a red stripe that echoes a painted window frame.
A Rubenesque nude’s voluptuous curves remind me of the city’s curvy adobe architecture.
Metal origami sheep by Kevin Box touch noses at another gallery.
One of Kevin Box’s classics: a sculptural rendition of the rock-paper-scissors game, with an origami crane for the paper element. I’ve photographed a lot of Box’s charming work over the years, especially since he’s now exhibiting at botanical gardens around the country.
Glowing, white trunks and welcome shade from a grove of aspens
I love the paper-bag texture of this long adobe structure with a seafoam-green picket fence and sunflowers.
Swags of plastic marigolds and felted balls adorn this cobblestone house. A neon corazon light is ready to glow after dark.
A golden hand door knocker. Don’t you want one now?
A pumpkin-hued adobe wall and rustic gate — gorgeous!
And a newer, more polished version — also good
The classic Santa Fe color scheme
Shadow play and fallen pears
Nedra Matteucci Galleries garden
An expansive sculpture garden at Nedra Matteucci Galleries on Paseo De Peralta was recommended to us, so we headed over when we reached the end of Canyon Road.
The gallery itself has an astonishing collection of art for sale. Outdoors, I was also amazed by the size of the garden, a shady oasis encircling a large koi pond, with many bronze sculptures of animals and human figures.
I immediately recognized some of the animal sculptures, like this drinking baby elephant by Dan Ostermiller, from an over-the-top River Oaks estate in Houston that I toured in 2014.
That River Oaks garden had this upright, prancing elephant too — he was spouting water into a round swimming pool encircled by palm trees. I never thought to encounter him again, but there you go.
And it can be yours for the low, low price of $195,000.
I’d read that Matteucci Galleries has been sold, and the owner will be relocating to a downsized gallery on Canyon Road. The property — which includes the 10,000 square foot gallery plus guest houses (where Val Kilmer, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie O, and President Gerald Ford have stayed, according to a Santa Fe New Mexican article) and the garden — will be turned into condos. I wonder if the garden and pond will survive. I hope so. But change comes to every garden. In fact it’s the only constant.
As we left the gallery and headed back to our Airbnb, I paused to admire pink hollyhocks glowing against buff-pink adobe.
I love these simple cottage flowers. Add a dusky wall and a bright blue sky, and maybe it’s all you need.
Up next: A visit to Santa Fe Botanical Garden. For a look back at the Santa Fe garden of former Austin designers James David and Gary Peese, click here.
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