Celebrate Georgia O’Keeffe’s 125th Birthday In Santa Fe (Tres Leches Cake Is Involved)

georgia o'keeffe
Mention Georgia O’Keeffe and cooking isn’t what comes to mind. But the iconic Southwestern artist was ahead of her time when it came to food. So says O’Keeffe’s former cook and assistant Margaret Wood, author of “A Painter’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O’Keeffe” (Red Crane Books), and “Remembering Miss O’Keeffe: Stories from Abiquiu” (Museum of New Mexico Press).

Wood shares anecdotes from her years with O’Keeffe, in an inspired demonstration class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. When not working with O’Keeffe in her Abiquiu garden, Wood procured eggs and meat from local farmers, and prepared simple, wholesome dishes such as leg of lamb with garlic and honey-mint sauce, or corn soup.

Santa Fe’s Inn on the Alameda is offering a special, “Happy Birthday, Georgia Experience” package, which includes a four-night stay for two, museum passes, a Georgia-focused class at the cooking school and more.

To purchase tickets for either event, click here, or call 505-983-4511.

[Photo credit: Inn on the Alameda]

A Day On Santa Fe’s Canyon Road

canyon roadI’m not what could be described as a patron of the arts, yet for some reason, I seem to have a knack for living in cities famed for their galleries and arts and culture scene: Vail. Lahaina. Santa Barbara. Calistoga. Telluride. Could I be a latent art groupie?

Nah. I’m just attracted to scenic places. I also spent many years waiting tables to support my writing habit, and it’s always been my belief that if I’m going to suffer for my art, then I’m sure as hell going to live someplace beautiful … where I can also make mad tips.

I’ve never lived in Santa Fe, but I’ve spent a lot of time in what’s best described as the arts epicenter of the Southwest. I’ve written of my obsession with the city’s restaurants, but my fondness for Canyon Road is more about visual, rather than prandial, pleasures. According to its official website, “within a few short blocks, visitors to Canyon Road can experience more than two centuries of the historic adobe architecture for which Santa Fe is famous…”

Located within walking distance of downtown and the Plaza, this 3/4-mile stretch of galleries, boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and artists’ studios is world-renown amongst art collectors, particularly those attracted to Southwestern and Native American themes.

For me, Canyon Road is less about the art, and more about people watching, architecture, and cultural immersion. And let’s face it: with my writer’s salary, I’m hardly in the market for “investment pieces.” The great thing about Canyon Road, however, is you don’t need money or an interest in art to enjoy it.canyon roadOver the years, I’ve spent many peaceful hours, in all four seasons, wandering Canyon Road. I especially love the enchanting adobe homes that line the side streets and far eastern end.

There’s no bad time of day to visit, but I prefer early morning, before the galleries open, when the only signs of life are dog walkers and the odd sidewalk washer. A late afternoon or evening stroll or run is my other favorite way to experience Canyon Road. The hoards of tourists are gone, and I can pop in and out of galleries as I get in some much-needed exercise (eating, as I’ve mentioned, being my other favorite activity in Santa Fe).

See
What galleries you choose to visit of course depends upon your interests. For what it’s worth, I love Pachamama, a lovely shop specializing in Spanish Colonial antiques and Latin American folk art – both passions of mine. The owner, Martha Egan, is a renown scholar of Latin folk art, and has written some excellent books on the subject. One of the reasons I enjoy this storesanta fe is that it’s full of affordable treasures. I also love Curiosa, a quirky boutique selling milagros, folk art, jewelry and other trinkets.

Eat/Drink
Canyon Road is home to some of Santa Fe’s most famous (and expensive) restaurants, including Geronimo, The Compound, and the venerable El Farol. Personally, I suggest you save your money and fuel up with breakfast at The Teahouse, located at the eastern end. In addition to things like steel-cut oatmeal and house-made granola, they make absolutely insane, gluten-free “scones (more like muffins)” topped with a mantle of crusty melted cheese, green chiles and a soft-boiled egg.

If you’re jonesing to start your day with authentic New Mexican food, you can do no better than the pork or chicken tamales at Johnnie’s Cash Store (above), less than a ten-minute walk from the galleries, on Camino Don Miguel. Go early, and as the name implies, bring cash. Five dollars will fill you up.
inn on the alameda
While you may want to skip the more spendy places for a meal, the patio of El Farol is a favorite spot for an afternoon glass of wine or beer, or happy hour cocktail. The Tea House also serves beer, wine and coffee drinks.

For an afternoon pick-me-up, head down Canyon Road, and turn left onto Acequia Madre, which has some of the area’s most beautiful adobes. Make a right on Paseo de Peralta, cross the street, and you’ll see Kakawa Chocolate House. Revive with a hot or cold sipping chocolate (“elixirs”) and a sweet treat; the red chile caramel coated in dark chocolate is outstanding.

Stay
My favorite hotel in Santa Fe just happens to be located around the corner from Canyon Road. The Inn on the Alameda (right) is an attractive Pueblo-style property with 72 spacious, comfortable rooms, many with French doors and balconies. It’s not the hippest spot in town, as it’s popular with older travelers. I suspect it has something to do with the elaborate full breakfasts and the daily wine and cheese happy hour, both of which are gratis for guests. And really, who in their right mind wouldn’t love a deal like that?

Don’t let the median age dissuade you if you’re a bright young thing. The hotel has stellar service, an outdoor hot tub, free parking, allows pets and is close to all of Santa Fe’s attractions. It’s also across the street from a bucolic creekside running path, and offers killer packages (especially if you’re a food-lover) in conjunction with the Santa Fe School of Cooking, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the farmers market. A stay here always feels like coming home to me, but then, Santa Fe just has that way about it.

P.S. Canyon Road on Christmas Eve is a vision of fairy lights and farolitos.

[Photo credits: gallery, Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau; gallery, Flickr user xnergy; Johnnie’s Cash Store, Laurel Miller; Inn on the Alameda; Alice Marshall Public Relations]

Three important American artists and their museums

Tom’s post about the exhibit in Paris of Andy Warhol’s work reminded me of the wonderful Warhol experience I had this past fall at the Wexner Center and my interest in going to the Warhol Museum on Pittsburgh. Museums dedicated primarily to the work of one artist is a way to really see what made a particular artist tick and why his or her work is important to the art scene and culture.

If you want to dive into the world of Warhol, Pittsburgh is a place to start. There are two other American artists who have had an impact on American sensibilities and American contributions to the art scene. Both also have museums dedicated to them. The museums are also places to see works of others who have shared similar muses.

There are other important American artists, but these are the ones I know have museums dedicated to them. If you know of others, please do tell. The museum in the photo is not Warhol’s. Any guesses whose it is and where it is? Read on to find out.

The Andy Warhol Museum

Where? Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Why there? This is the city where Warhol was born and grew up.

What’s at the museum? 12,000 of Warhol’s pieces that include paintings, photographs, prints and video interviews. This sweeping retrospective encompases Warhol’s artistic endeavors from the 1940s to the 1980s.

Why is Warhol important? Warhol whose scope and amount of work can make a person dizzy, is partly responsible for the fusion of art, popular culture and celebrity. The thing about Warhol that I find so interesting is how he turned himself into a celebrity in the process of helping other’s find their spot in the limelight, however fleeting. Warhol is the one who coined the phrase “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”

Famous works: The portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Chairman Mao, plus Cambells soup cans, Brillo Pads and Warhol’s self-portraits among others.

What else is there? The Warhol Museum is dedicated to promoting the work of other contemporary artists. This weekend is the last chance to see the exhibits: The Vader Project: 100 Pop Surrealistic artists’ versions of Darth Vader’s helmet and The End: a collection of works by artists in response to the economic woes in the United States. These end on May 3, so hurry.

The Georgia O’Keefe Museum

Where? Santa Fe, New Mexico. Why there? O’Keefe drew inspiration from New Mexico’s desert and made the state her home.

What’s at the museum? In the collection are 1,149 of O’Keeffe paintings, drawings and sculptures created between 1901 and 1984. This is the largest collection of O’Keefe’s work in the world. Through September 2009, the painting Jimsom Weed that hung in the White House dining room for 8 years will be on display. This is the flower pictured here.

Why is O’Keefe important? O’Keefe has held her own in a world dominated by men as an avant garde artist who helped form American Modernism. One trademark is her depictions of the natural world in a way that is lush, alluring, and sensual in a manner that is instantly recognizable as her own. Part of O’Keefe’s aim was to show “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it” as she put it.

Famous works: Flowers, cow skulls, New Mexico mountains and architecture.

What else is there? The museum also shows works of other contemporary American artists that typically highlight O’Keefe’s influence.

C. M. Russell Museum

Where? Great Falls, Montana Why there? Charlie Russell moved to Montana from in 1880 ate age 16. He lived in Great Falls until his death in 1926.

What’s at the museum? On exhibit in the permanent collection are 2,000 pieces of Russell’s artwork that show his development as an artist and a storyteller of Western life. Also included are items that were his that highlight his life.

Why is Russell important? With dreams of being a cowboy, Russell switched to being a full-time artist after years of combining the two professions. His love of American Indians and western life helped him create paintings and sculptures that tell the story of the West by someone who knew it well. One of Russells quotes that has a resonance, I think with travelers. “Lonesome makes shy friends of strangers.”

Famous works: American Indians, scenery, cowboys. Two paintings of note. The Jerkline and The Fireboat. The Jerkline is pictured here.

What else is there? Contemporary American western art and photography of other western-themed artists. Here’s a place to learn more about western life through the years. Contemporary artists’ work are also on exhibit, as well as Russell era artists. One current special exhibit that caught my attention is Photographing Montana 1894-1928: The World of Evelyn Cameron. Cameron was a female photographer who captured thousands of images of life and scenery of the West.

Eiteljorg Museum of Native Americans and Western Art

The Eiteljorg Museum of Native Americans and Western Art is located where I didn’t expect it to be. I don’t know why it surprises me that it’s in Indianapolis, Indiana. I assumed it was in the Southwestern part of the United States. But, now that I’ve typed out Indianapolis, Indiana, and see how the word Indian appears twice, I think, well that’s fitting. According to the Web site, the museum is one of the only two museums east of the Mississipi River to focus on Native American art. Contemporary art and Western culture and history are part of the museum’s focus. Georgia O’Keefe, Andy Warhol and Charles Russell’s work, among other notable artists are included in the collection

Here’s a video tour of the contemporary art exhibit with a commentary–just another reason to head to Indianapolis. This weekend is the WestFest, a family day of cowboys, entertainment, art and food.