Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Think about Santa Fe as I ask this question: What color do you see? Perhaps it’s the turquoise in a hand-crafted bracelet or the green of piñon and juniper trees or red and orange painting the sky at day’s end. Now open your eyes. Think Santa Fe again and consider this: Whatever color your mind’s eye pictures is already here. Our Summer of Color paints an unforgettable picture with color-themed exhibitions at Museum Hill’s renowned cultural institutions.
A Tour Through Turquoise is a Tempting Invitation
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture has a gem squarely set in the exhibit “Turquoise, Water and Sky,” a reflective progression through this legendary stone’s backstory. Associated with energy, creativity and balance, turquoise was mined all over the Southwest and the variety of hues and uses are well worth exploring. Its importance to ancient and modern Native American life is displayed via intricate jewels and objects embellished with every shade of this culturally significant stone. Adding a tour of the museum’s gallery of humorous and politically astute work by painter David Bradley (in which turquoise also appears) makes for intriguing past-to-present discovery.
The Blues Can Make You Happy
In scoring turquoise’s relative, the color indigo, The Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts aims for artistic and historic revelation. Opening May 8th, “Blue on Blue: Indigo and Cobalt in New Spain” details the use and significance of blue dye and pigments in New Mexico’s colonial era and their continued popularity in today’s traditional arts. Blue is associated with peace and stability––rest assured that when you return for July’s annual Spanish Market, you’ll see the same peaceful, evocative blues embroidering delicate colcha textiles or coloring lovingly carved santos.
Shining Silver Speaks of Skill
No museum could be more deserving of silver than the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. A June 6–7 gala welcomes the Wheelwright’s new Center for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry and I can’t think of a better home for a permanent gallery devoted to these traditions. Founded by Mary Cabot Wheelwright and Navajo shaman Hastiin Klah, the museum was designed by artist/architect William Penhallow Henderson in the shape of a hogan, the traditional Navajo dwelling. Silver is said to reflect back energy given out, and the hushed atmosphere of the Wheelwright imparts nothing but good energy.
Get Red-y to Be Amazed
Compliments of attention to the color wheel, folk art fans receive the gift of complementary colors when the Museum of International Folk Art embraces red and the International Folk Art Market takes on green. “The Red That Colored the World,” opening May 17th in the Hispanic Heritage Wing of the Folk Art Museum highlights American Cochineal, a tiny insect that produced the prized reds in paintings, sculpture, furniture and textiles of the mid-16th through mid-19th centuries, prior to synthetic pigments. If you’ve ever seen zig-zagging scarlet in a finely-woven serape or deep reds adorning the altarpiece of a mission church, you’ll recognize the passion, boldness and determination that red represents.
Global Artistry is Ever-Green
The ever-increasing popularity of the Folk Art Market, celebrating its twelfth year from July 10-12, is an exemplar of green’s meanings: growth, freshness and optimism. The garden-worthy panoply of greens on display from around the globe grows annually, with fresh indigenous artworks from a multitude of global cultures. The artisans, some of whose cottage industries help support whole villages, bring with them the optimism that their wares will find appreciative owners and the proceeds returning home will continue to move the culture forward.
“Orange” You Glad You Thought Santa Fe?
Across from the museums, the Santa Fe Botanical Garden celebrates orange, red’s cousin on the color spectrum. Expect to see blazing blossoms create a scenic panorama as “Monarch––Orange Takes Flight,” an orange container garden decorates the garden landscape with themed plantings on which visitors are invited to vote. Orange is known for enthusiasm, creativity and stimulation (ever wondered why restaurants use the color for décor?), so add in five Thursday after-hours sunset walks with picnic opportunities––May 21, June 18, July 23, August 20 and September 17––and enthusiastic enjoyment ensues.
Load Your Palette with Artistic Adventures
The downtown museums are also part of the multi-colored amusements. The New Mexico Museum of History offers summer-long events centered on adobe architecture, which boasts far more than one shade of brown. The New Mexico Museum of Art’s “Colors of the Southwest” has already garnered avid return viewers (count me in), earning its title with an overview of the unique qualities of Southwestern color and light. Works by the Taos Society of Artists and Santa Fe’s historic Cinco Pintores share space with those of their modern artistic heirs. And as for the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, I think we can all agree that Georgia’s name guarantees gorgeous color.
Give Yourself the Rainbow of Santa Fe
Have I offered proof enough of a kaleidoscope of experiences turning the City Different into a colorful portrait of artistry and nature? And I haven’t even mentioned the galleries! Why not paint your summer vacation with Santa Fe colors––even the sunsets are happy to oblige!