Friday, December 2, 2011

Santa Fe, New Mexico

New Mexico became the 47th state in 1912. Next year the state will celebrate its centennial.
Before you read about Santa Fe, think about where you live. What does your area look like? Is it lush and green or brown and dry? What style are the buildings? Are they made of brick or wood? For what is your area known? What is the land like? What water features are prominent? No matter where you live in Virginia, you will find that Santa Fe is vastly different. One of New Mexico’s most famous artists once lived in Williamsburg, but she did not appreciate the Virginia countryside. She thought it was too green and sought refuge in New Mexico where she preferred the desert landscape.

The land outside of Santa Fe--what does this tell you about the geography of the area?
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains sometimes look red.
It was 28 degrees when I began my walk around the heart of Santa Fe, and it didn’t warm up much throughout the day. Everything looked quite different from my hometown in Southwest Virginia, and I was struck by the beauty of it all. Settled in 1610, Santa Fe is the second oldest city in the country. Only St. Augustine, Florida is older. The Spanish influence surrounds you as you walk among old Spanish and pueblo style buildings. Some are original adobe, and many look like they are built of adobe but are not. I learned at a museum today that adobe buildings have adobe brick under the surface while the newer buildings are built of wood and are then covered with stucco. In the early days, there was little wood available here because trees do not grow in the desert. Today, however, lumber can be more easily imported.
Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, is located at 7199 feet above sea level. This makes it the highest state capital in the United States. Compare that to Richmond, Virginia’s elevation of 166.45 feet. Yes, Santa Fe is more than a mile high! Both desert and mountains surround it. On the outskirts of the city you can see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Spanish for “blood of Christ” the mountains look red under certain conditions.  
Like Texas, there are a lot of Latinos in New Mexico, so Spanish is frequently heard. Latinos now make up more than 46% of the population while Native Americans comprise almost 10%. Santa Fe is well known as a center for arts and they reflect the multicultural character of the area.
San Miguel Mission, purported to be the oldest mission church in the USA.

St. Francis Basilica Cathedral, 1869
How is this architecture different from where you live?
First Presbyterian Church

In the heart of the city is a large plaza and facing that plaza is the Palace of the Governors, which was built in 1610. Now a museum, the palace was the seat of New Mexico’s government for about 300 years. Another historic building is the San Miguel Mission, purported to be the oldest mission church in the United States. 
The plaza was filled with these inviting benches.
Across from the plaza sits the Palace of the Governors.
The Palace of the Governors is now a museum. Every day artists and merchants set up selling their wares.
This man is setting out beautiful jewelry to sell.
More jewelry for sale. Pieces made of silver and turquoise are popular.
Some vendors sell small stone carvings.
As I wandered around, several things caught my eye. 
I liked this old clock. Does your community have a large clock?
Some houses had statues in their yards.
This horse shows a lot of spirit.
If you have read any of my other blog entries, you probably are aware that I enjoy visiting museums. Humans reflect their culture and what is going on around them through the arts, so I am always drawn to art museums. While they all have something in common, you can get a sense of what a region is like by viewing the art. I found a small community art exhibit and went in to see what I would find that would be different from what I might see in Virginia.
This style of weaving was important to some Native cultures.
A modern piece, these peppers caught my eye. It turned out that everywhere I went, I encountered peppers.
Another beautiful weaving, this one with more muted colors.
Metalwork is also popular in Santa Fe.
Many cultures create pottery, but the designs on this pottery reflect the Southwest.
These sculptures also reflect this part of our country.
What do you think this modern piece represents?
How did the artist who created this piece illustrate his or her culture?
Everywhere I went, I found peppers. The ones in the photo below are Christmas decorations.
If you lived in Santa Fe, you might put these on your Christmas tree.
Look closely and you can see the strings of peppers decorating this restaurant.
More colorful wares for sale. Reds, yellows, and oranges are popular colors.
Peppers and gourds for sale!
Excellent advice from a famed artist.
Georgia O'Keeffe--1887-1986
On of my all-time favorite artists, Georgia O'Keeffe, lived for a while in Williamsburg, Virginia. Trained as an artist at a time when few women were recognized for their work, O'Keeffe worked as an art teacher before being discovered by Alfred Stieglitz, a photographer who eventually became her husband. O'Keeffe lived and painted in New York for many years. She is best known for her huge representations of flowers. Later, she relocated to New Mexico where she fell in love with the stark scenery and began painting both the countryside and the skulls she found while walking in the desert. O'Keeffe lived to be almost 99 and continued to paint well into her 90s. The photo below shows one of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings of Jimson weed.

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