There’s More to See in Santa Fe

Non-descript courthouse

My last post about Santa Fe focused on the Canyon Road art gallery district and the Historic Plaza. We’ll start today with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, devoted to New Mexico’s premier artist and an American icon, who lived the latter part of her life about one hour outside Santa Fe on her beloved “Ghost Ranch” in Abiquiu. From there she began to focus more on her iconic style of landscapes filled with color and largess, known as American Modernism. Both properties are now under the administration of the museum, which displays a small number of its collected works at the nine-room museum in Santa Fe. You can often see different works as they rotate the exhibits.

The museum is located a bit out of the way, across the street from the nondescript brown-colored adobe County Courthouse and behind the likewise nondescript but huge brown-colored adobe Eldorado Hotel. You can see the collection here in a short time, as it is a small space, but the 20-minute movie about O’Keeffe is worth a viewing. It puts her life in perspective and allows the viewer to understand why there are so many urban paintings, as she spent most of her productive life living in New York City married to her patron and famous photographer, Alfred Stieglitz, then 23 years her elder.

O’Keeffe is attributed with saying, “Colors and shapes make a more definitive statement than words,” and this statement sums up Santa Fe pretty well, as it is a quiet place whose sights just grab you without shouting.

After tiring yourself out seeing the O’Keeffe museum, you’re in the neighborhood for one of Santa Fe’s best bookstore/coffee shops. While some people will prefer Starbucks for its consistency, Santa Fe has an unusual number of independent coffee shops serving regionally-grown or locally brewed coffees.

The place I am directing you to, Iconik Coffee, does “direct traded” coffee and is co-located with Collected Works bookstore in an entirely un-notable building. From its website you learn its coffee beans are hand-selected, but I think that’s just the way all coffee beans are picked. The online raves for the coffee appear too good to be real, but the coffee is that good. Iconik Coffee has another location at the top end of Canyon Road, but the downtown location is my favorite, two blocks from the O’Keeffe museum at the corner of Galisteo Street and W. Water Street.

Here you can sip some of the best coffee in Santa Fe amid a great independent bookseller’s displays of current recommendations, local notices posted, and newspapers full of local doings. You could probably while away a good part of the afternoon exploring the books and drinking coffee, but don’t. There’s more to do.

Before leaving the area, explore the many unique boutiques along the streets. This is a little off the heavily touristic area, so the items are sure to be a bit more special, and maybe a little less expensive.

When you’re ready for dinner, if you want a great meal, head for Bouche Bistro, an authentic-feeling, rustic French restaurant which I have written about before. Otherwise, a few doors down from Iconik Coffee on W. Water Street, find Coyote Café and the related Cantina. The Café offers great local menu choices from lighter to full meal fare with a lot of variety. The Cantina is the part of this restaurant that I prefer. It’s a similar menu, but the setting is on the second floor overlooking the street in an open-air, covered balcony. It reminds me a bit of New Orleans, but with a definite Santa Fe flair, from the turquoise coloring and geometrical designs to the laid-back vibe. You may have to wait a bit because it’s a popular place for locals, but it’s worth it.

There’s simply so much to excite the senses in Santa Fe that it’s impossible to see it all on a short trip. You’ll want to return again to continue your exploration.


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