Low Riders, Fractured Faiths, Flamenco, and Photography in Santa Fe

The nation’s oldest capital city, Santa Fe, New Mexico, is famous for its stunning natural beauty and the depth and breadth of its deep roots in art and culture, evidenced in the community’s world-class museums. Nestled next to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the heart of New Mexico, Santa Fe is accessible off Interstate 25, just one hour north of Albuquerque. A legendary trade center for centuries, the city boasts 5 Star accommodations, extensive galleries, sumptuous cuisine, and colorful markets.

Begin your museum experience by strolling among Native American artisans selling their pottery and jewelry in front of the 17th century Palace of the Governors on the historic Santa Fe Plaza. Inside the Palace, explore Santa Fe’s sometimes bloody history as Spain’s early seat of government.  Across the courtyard, two new exhibits reflecting fascinating features of New Mexico’s diverse faces open in May.  Fractured Faiths: Spanish Judaism, The Inquisition, and New World Identities tells the story of how, in 1492, Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella issued a royal edict ordering all Jews to either convert to Catholicism or leave the country. The Spanish Inquisition stood ready to prosecute anyone who failed to abide.  Violators would endure prisons, torture and death. Now, for the first time, a major institution tells the comprehensive story of how Spain’s Jewry found a tenuous foothold in North America The exhibit opens May 22 and runs through December 31..

Also opening in May is Lowriders, Hoppers, and Hot Rods: Car Culture of Northern New Mexico.   Spotlighting the creative reimaginings of America steel captured in photographs, hubcaps, hood ornaments, car show banners, and yes, actual cars, the exhibit aims to shed new light on the rich and creative culture of the area’s lowrider car culture, including the drivers, shops, mechanics, and craftspeople who express their mastery and creativity as both folk and fine art.

Next door, the New Mexico Museum of Art will offer a  companion exhibit Con Cariño: Artists inspired by Low Riders, opening May 21.

On scenic Museum Hill, experience the passionate, fiery, and sensual history of flamenco dance and music at the Museum of International Folk Art with Flamenco: From Spain to New Mexico (through September 2016). Exhibition curator Nicolasa Chávez says, “Flamenco is often considered an outward expression of one’s innermost emotions, whether happy or sad, and carries with it an air of freedom or abandon.” Known as a folkloric art form that began among the Gypsy people of southern Spain, the exhibit traces Flamenco to its arrival in the U.S. and its rise as an international art form now enjoyed by millions. Costumes, play bills, instruments, and paintings, are complemented by lectures, workshops and performances.

Also on the Hill, step into Oblique Views: Archaeology, Photography and Time at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Pairs of photographs of the Southwest’s most significant archaeological sites taken by Charles Lindbergh in the 1920s are contrasted with images of those same landscapes taken by Adriel Heisey in 2007 and 2008.  Risking life and limb while flying at alarmingly low altitudes and slow speeds, Heisey leaned out the door of his light plane, and holding his camera with both hands, re-photographed the sites to reveal mesmerizing and dramatic changes in these historic landscapes.

If you can, tour outside of Santa Fe to explore history where it happened at New Mexico’s eight historic sites, featuring the dwellings of the pre-Puebloan people, El Camino Real, Civil War posts, and Billy the Kid and Lincoln County wars.

The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs offers the CulturePass www.newmexicoculture.org for discounted admission into each of the state’s 15 museums and historic sites. The CulturePass is your gateway to New Mexico’s extraordinary cultural bounty.

Make Santa Fe and New Mexico your destination location for art and culture in 2016.