Canyon Road is world-famous among art collectors. Some say it’s the densest concentration of art galleries in the world. About 100 of the 250 galleries in Santa Fe are along Canyon Road. The State of New Mexico attracts about 33,000,000 visitors every year. Those who come to Santa Fe’s many festivals and fiestas expect to see art. Many buy. On our last visit, Ruth & I went to the New Mexico Museum of Art, which is downtown and across the street from the Palace of the Governors, for the first time. In fact, it’s on Palace Avenue.
The New Mexico Museum of Art has been around since 1917, and its permanent collection focuses a lot but not exclusively on the early art colonies that blossomed in and around Santa Fe. Expect to see Georgia O’Keeffe, Maria Martinez, and other artists who gained fame by trying to duplicate local colors and culture. This museum’s very design recalls centuries-old pueblo mission churches.
This is a place to be around and talk to people who live here because of St. Francis Auditorium. This musical event venue looks like an ancient, historic Southwestern church but it’s not. It was designed to look like one because churches are traditional gathering places in this part of the world. Ruth and I were there about noon and a concert was in progress.
I was surprised to come around one corner and find myself face to face with Rembrandt. In “Self Portrait with Saskia”, a 1636 etching, he looked a bit tired around the eyes, maybe a bit bored, as he looked directly at me as if we were having a staring contest. Rembrandt was the inventor of the selfie. He specialized in pictures of himself and is thought to have created around 90 of them. They rarely show he and his wife together. This one does.
Don’t expect Rembrandt to be on display when you visit. Like all above-average art museums the New Mexico Museum of Art puts up and takes down displays regularly. However, Fritz Scholder’s “Super Indian” will probably still be up.