Interlude: Santa Fe

Sunday and Monday, November 14 and 15 [2021], Sean and I spent exploring Santa Fe, New Mexico, a city that I had long wanted to visit and that he remembered fondly from when he had traveled there for a deposition in 2008. It was forty-eight hours of art, food, exploration, and even seeing old friends.

Sunday morning, after two days of four National Parks units, we slept in. We had talked about possibly visiting Chaco Culture National Historical Park while we were in New Mexico, but it was a three-hour drive (one way) from Santa Fe, so we decided to save it for another time.

It was 10am when we arrived at the Teahouse on Canyon Road, near our AirBnB.

After a delicious breakfast, we wandered down Canyon Road, checking out the art galleries that were open.

Image: Sean M. Santos

This piece reminded Sean of Jennifer Lopez at the 2019 Met Gala.

Sean: “Who wore it better?”

Image: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Kevin Box, Road Trip. Image: Sean M. Santos

We were particularly struck by the sculptures of Kevin Box, who uses origami as the basis for whimsical steel sculptures.

Kevin Box, Rock, Paper, Scissors

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Indian Arts

We wandered downtown and went into the Museum of Contemporary Indian Arts, which was fantastic.

Kohei Fujito (Ainu), The Singing of the Needle (detail), 2021, iron, acrylic, deer skull.

The primary exhibition downstairs was Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology, which documented “international Indigenous artists’ responses to the impacts of nuclear testing, nuclear accidents, and uranium mining on Native peoples and the environment.”

David Neel, (Kwakwaka’wakw, Canada, British Columbia) Chernobyl Mask (Allusion to Bakwas Nuclear Disaster Mask), 1993, cedar wood, cedar bark, acrylic paint.

Carl Beam (Ojibway), Sitting Bull and Einstein (From the Series: The Columbus Suite), ca. 1990, etching in black ink on paper.

Suni Sonqo Vizcarra Wood (Quecha, Peru), Masks of Protection, mixed media, and Ancestor, bronze

We also enjoyed seeing some of the work of younger artists in the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) BFA show.

Joseph Maldonado (Tlingit, Ottwa), Raison D’etre (Reason for Being), 2021, illustration board, acrylic paint, spray paint, ink, marker.

Now a tribal college focused on the fine arts, IAIA was founded in 1962 as a boarding high school. Joy Harjo, recently Poet Laureate of the United States, attended high school at IAIA in the 1960s. One of her prints was part of an exhibition upstairs at the museum, Experimental exPRESSion: Printmaking at IAIA, 1963–1980.

Palace of the Governors

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the vicinity of Santa Fe’s plaza, checking out bookstores and other shops.

At Overland Sheepskin Company, Sean tried on a very nice leather jacket, but decided not to get it.

Back at our casita in the early evening, we put in a pick-up order for Maria’s New Mexican, which was delicious. I’d end up eating leftovers for the next few days.

That evening we made a nice fire in the living room’s kiva fireplace and relaxed.

Image: Sean M. Santos

I started making my final plans for my route home. I knew that after Sean flew home on Tuesday that I’d be heading up to Taos for the remainder of the week, but after that I hadn’t yet finalized my route home to Chicago.

Next morning, Monday, November 15 [2021], I was up with a 6am alarm to send a press release for the Chicago Region Food System Fund, an ongoing Bold Bison client.

After I wrapped up a few other work things, we walked down to La Fonda for breakfast with friends, Anne and Dave.

Anne had been my supervisor at my first job in Chicago back in 2005. Lifelong Chicagoans, they had retired to Santa Fe.

After a breakfast with lively conversation, we went back to their house to meet their pups, Avalanche and Blizzard. It was such a delight to catch up with them!

Loretto Chapel

Later, after a couple of midday Zoom meetings and some work, we wandered back downtown to check out Loretto Chapel and its miraculous stairway.

Both raised Catholic, Sean and I had soft spots for somewhat cheesy Catholic tourism.

Loretto Chapel

Loretto Chapel

The deal with the staircase is that it has no central support structure. It appears to float in one long helix from the choir loft to the floor of the chapel.

In the gift shop, Sean bought me an “action figure” of Saint Andrew the Apostle. In the eighth grade, I chose Andrew as my Confirmation name in honor of my cousin Andrew and best friend Andy. I always acknowledge the Feast Day of Saint Andrew the Apostle on November 30.

Afterward, we wandered into the Loretto Inn, which Sean remembered from thirteen years earlier. I snapped a picture of him sitting under a painting of Snowy Santa Fe that he recalled from last time.

We spent the rest of the afternoon much as we had the previous day, wandering around going into shops and bookstores.

Standard and Strange

At a men’s clothing store called Standard & Strange, Sean tried on a jacket that he really liked, but again didn’t buy. Sean trying on outerwear was a theme of this trip. And it gave me multiple options for birthday and Christmas gifts.

That evening, we again ordered take-out, this time from Dr. Field Goods Kitchen out among the strip malls on Cerrillos Road. Sean was somewhat surprised by the strip malls, since he had not encountered them on his previous visit.

On the way back, we spotted a coyote crossing Cerrillos.

Monday evening was much like Sunday: dinner, a cozy fire, reading, and booking a few more places for me to stay on my journey home. Santa Fe, we really enjoyed you and hope to visit again often.

Leave a Reply