Under the Painted Sky: Guide to Canyon Road, Santa Fe

Imagine one art gallery. Pick your favourite. Think of all the reasons why you love it. Then multiply that gallery by infinity. Now, in a mathematical sense, this is impossible, considering that multiplication is only valid for real numbers, but let’s rewrite the laws of mathematics for a moment and say that such a feat is possible. Go on ahead, imagine that special gallery by infinity. Think of art bordering the crossroads, at every turn, look, and intersection. Think of breeds of artwork – sculpture, oil, pottery – towering above you and at eye-level. This is Canyon Road, a strip of indie art galleries in Santa Fe, where the world appears to have been dwarfed into a painted sky.

Today, I thought we’d go exploring. I’ll take you in and out through some of my favourite galleries. It’s hard to fathom the sheer size of Canyon Road and the diverse array of artwork until we start walking and our feet start hurting. But, not to worry, this little art lover’s delight is the most accessible slew of galleries I’ve visited so far. Luckily for you, everything we are going to see today is on the same street!

White Gallery

Our first stop is a small adobe building with a fresh white door (in contrast to the beautiful blue ones normally seen in Santa Fe) and a matted sign with the word “white” blocked in capital letters. This gallery is the White Fine Art Gallery, home to the works mostly of Mark White, a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to art. The front yard is littered with samples of his work – a few scattered oil paintings and rich kinetic wind sculptures dominate the space.

Guide to Canyon

We enter in a small office-style room enriched by a clinical museum layout, but there are only few works plastered on each of the walls. The White Gallery boasts a simple collection that resonates personal showcase more than a privatized art gallery. As we explore the adjoining rooms, we find idyllic landscapes of lonesome terrain, styled with boldly defined brushstrokes. There is the occasional sculpture of an animal contoured into a characteristically human pose.

The hidden gem of the Mark White Gallery is the courtyard behind the main building. This is where most of White’s works that blend sculpture and nature are held, so I just have to show it to you! We find winding metallic works twisted onto a pole that move hypnotically in the wind. It’s refreshing to see art that isn’t just a depiction of natural elements, but rather works with natural elements. White does the same with his waterfalls. We see earthen slabs of rock nestled amongst pebbles. As the water trickles down, the slabs shift into a darker hue. The piece, in a most literal sense, is defined by nature. My favourite sculpture in the Mark White Gallery happens to be right next to the courtyard entrance. It is a small work, that, unlike the kinetic wind pieces, doesn’t tower above us. The piece is simply a boy cuddling a rabbit, but the boy’s eyes are perfectly etched, round and wondrous. His eyes are fraught with as much emotion, if not more, than real human eyes, which makes the piece a Canyon Road bucket list item.

La Mesa

Our next stop is La Mesa. The showcase, itself, contains New Mexican influenced hand-crafted pottery pieces. But the wiry glazed pieces, outside, capture our attention. Oh, the places we’ll go! Stick-thin figures that stack various geometric and abstract shapes are grouped together in sections of the dried grass. Each part is clearly delineated a colour. These are colours that should be incoherent and gaudy together – colours that are as compatible as green eggs and ham. But somehow, they fuse perfectly. We feel as though we’ve entered a secret private collection owned by Dr. Seuss. La Mesa gallery hosts a youthful set of art with adult-level cohesion.

Guide to Canyon Road: Bold Glaze in La Mesa Gallery Guide to Canyon Road: Seussical Comes to life in La Mesa Gallery

Canyon Road Contemporary

Canyon Road Contemporary is an ever changing and growing blend of artwork. There appears to be no governing theme or style dictating the works, but we’ll take a walk around anyways. Canyon Road Contemporary is also the first brick building we see in Santa Fe. Most of the buildings we’ve seen so far are made from traditional adobe, but Canyon Road Contemporary is far from traditional. The architecture is just as modern as the art within the gallery, itself.  Right now, there are glass works everywhere. These pieces are delicate and abstract, but maintain a very real inspiration – flowers. Wisteria hangs down gently in a pale pink. Red poppies with waves of green leaves are perched next to the front porch. Bluebonnets spiral upwards with the metal. Isn’t it beautiful?

Guide to Canyon Road: Red poppies outside the Contemporary Gallery Guide to Canyon Road: Wisteria outside the Contemporary Gallery

Meyer Gallery

Are your feet hurting yet? Don’t worry, this is our last stop before we grab a quick bite to eat. Sound good? Meyer gallery is all about the people with a plethora of portraits and statues. Yes, there are quite a few odd landscapes and bison, but a majority of the works celebrate the human form. Before we enter, we are already greeted by smiling children swinging and frolicking. Each is sculpted with impeccable detail, right down to natural looking wind-blown hair that Pocahontas could only dream of. Then there are the more poised statues of what appear to be Native American chiefs. Even the clothing, layered strategically, are brilliantly done. Inside, we walk into a gallery of paintings. One that stands out is a girl in a modest red dress gracefully opening the curtains. There is something about the lighting that fragments the emotions.

Guide to Canyon Road: Statues of Children in Meyers Gallery

The Meyer Gallery also has a second floor, so let’s not forget to check that out as well! It’s separate from the entrance, so we have to go back out and enter through another door. Here, we can poke through thousands of works stacked against the wall at our leisure! As we are looking through, we stumble upon some recognizable names – Cary Ennis, Suchrita Bosle, and William Hook.

Tea House

Whew! That was a lot of walking and we haven’t even covered a tenth of the galleries here. But it’s almost five and most of the showcases are closing so we, unfortunately, can’t see more. But I have a great idea, let’s go grab some tea. I know the perfect place. We walk into a building and spiral through rooms of cozy wooden library chairs and pink patterned tables. Despite the outside patio space, there are plenty of nooks inside for a cold winter’s day. Odd antiquities and a large textile rug hang on the wall of the back room. Black and white photos add to the sparse decoration.  This is the Tea House.

We sit down and are given a menu lined with healthy salads and sandwiches. But it is the pages and pages (literally) of tea selections that drives us insane. There are teas inspired from regions across the globes, especially Asia, and many of the spices used to make the teas are brought in from their original countries. I order a spicy hot chocolate.

Guide to Canyon Road: Tea House Spicy Hot Chocolate

Would you like some mango tea?

Guide to Canyon Road: Tea House Mango Tea

Most of the teas here, run anywhere from $3 to $6, but arrive in mammoth mugs (the Venti Starbuck’s containers would be jealous). If you have a sweet-tooth like me, the teas sadly come sugar-free, but I’m not going cold turkey. There are plenty of organic sugar packets to satisfy my sugar craving. The Spicy Hot Chocolate is a natural blend that isn’t spicy per se, but has a thin, milky consistency blended with what tastes (and smells) like turmeric. The mango tea is green and frothy. It has a minty taste and at first, you are absolutely convinced that this is a mint-based tea, but no, it’s mango. You’re just going to have to trust me. The Tea House is on Canyon Road and the perfect way to wind down after a day of walking and exploring. It’s a local’s delight for a reason. Grab a book and read while sipping a hot drink or take out your laptop (like me) and get into a calm working rhythm.

Disclaimer: This post was made in partnership with the Santa Fe Tourism Board, but all thoughts and opinions are very much my own. 

Did you find this guide to Canyon Road useful? Have you ever been to Canyon Road? Let me know in the comments below. As always, I would love to hear from you!

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  • Maria Berneiser Haase

    Mango Tea? That tea shop sounds like a place I would move into, if it were here in San Antonio 😉 They would probably have to evict me, because I would never leave on my own. Oh and the art is beautiful too!

    • Haha! Honestly, I felt the same way in San Antonio in regards to Mi Tierra. I’m a huge hot chocolate drinker, and their Mexican hot chocolate made me want to set fort inside the restaurant. I would hope the Tea Shop wouldn’t evict you…you would only be helping business 😉

  • What a great read! I’d never heard of Canyon Road. It looks like such a great way to spend a day. Your Dr. Suess comparison to La Mesa seems spot on! I love how each gallery has its own flavor. A walk along the road would be quite an artistic tour. The finish at the Tea House really rounds out the day well. A perfect way to reflect on the art you’ve taken in!

    • Thank you so much! Canyon Road is an excellent way to spend a day (or two). I’m really glad you enjoyed my tour!

  • That tea house sounds amazing. I think I’m the opposite of you in that I don’t like my tea sweetened at all. I find the raw taste of tea with just 1 flavor is the best. Great article 🙂

    • Thank you so much! The Tea House was astounding just in the sheer variety. If you like your teas unsweetened, then the cafe is perfect because all their drinks are raw. Some have mixed flavours but are based heavily on one 😉

  • Everything, and I do mean everything, about this place sounds amazing. I too like my tea sweetened..and depending on which leaf it is, with a touch of half and half 🙂

    http://www.amusedblog.com

  • Paige Brown

    I adore the Southwest and this just added to the places I want to visit. I would love to sip some tea in that Tea House! I mean, mango tea? Yes, please! Thanks for adding to my ever-growing wanderlust!

    • Awww…you are so sweet! The mango tea was indeed amazing (slightly minty, but amazing nonetheless)!

  • Patricia Steffy

    Santa Fe is absolutely on my “must see” list this year. The environment seems so inspiring, and I think the impact it has had on the art scene is incredible. And my boyfriend would love the Tea House!

    • Yes! Santa Fe is so beautiful! It has a very unique vibe – kind of like a permanent Coachella festival but more laid back.

  • Gina Panozzo

    I really loved the painted bamboo and glass flowers. With the contrast of the adobe houses, it makes for a vibrant delight to the eye. Love your photography.

    • The glass flowers were lovely! I felt like I was walking through a modern yet retro secret garden! The whole city was very vibrant indeed 🙂

  • Christina

    Seems like a great way to spend a day. You got to see so many different pieces of art with each gallery having a different strength. I also would have ended the day at a tea house. I am a sucker for good tea and it sounded like they have a large selection to choose from.

    • I’m currently obsessed with tea and The Tea House’s menu literally blew me away! There were more choices of tea there than I’d ever even heard of 🙂

  • There are some beautiful galleries here! Such a great number of talented people collected in one small area – fantastic!

    • Yes! And I haven’t even covered half of them in this article! Since most pieces are hand-selected, they all have such a great collection!

  • LOVE the photos from La Mesa. What gorgeous colours.
    What an incredible find all of this is.

    • Thank you! The artwork was so pretty. I think I spent a good half hour, just running around the entrance and taking pictures because every angle was picture-worthy!

  • Chantell Collins

    Oh wow! So gorgeous! I have been to Santa Fe briefly but never heard of this place. Looks like a great place to visit next time I am in the area :).

    • Yes! It is so beautiful, isn’t it? I was blown away by how much artwork there was in one street. Who knew that such a fantastic area existed?

  • Ooh sounds like a fun way to spend the day! What were you doing in Santa Fe?

    WONDERMENTARY

    • It was so much fun! I wanted to go on a road trip through some of the Route 66 stops and Santa Fe was one of them! 🙂

  • Serendipity Tess

    Ohhh i love places that burst with colours and this seems like one of these places! No idea if i’ll ever travel to Santa Fe, but if i do – i will check Mesa out. By the way, I love your logo & blog!

    • Thank you so much! There is so much colour in Santa Fe and it stands out compared to a lot of other places because of the gorgeous brown, adobe brick that is used to construct the buildings! 🙂

  • Jamporter

    What a cute part of town! I’m always intrigued by the southwest and hearing about a place like this makes me want to go even more! Great post!

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  • Valery

    Wow! I didn’t know this place even existed! And your post is extremely well written. I’ll just have to add this place to my list now 🙂

    • Thank you so much! Canyon Road is a definitely a hidden gem in New Mexico 🙂

  • Lara Dunning

    Love seeing all the photos and art!

  • Alyssa A

    Wow, New Mexico is incredibly cultural and beautiful! Who knew so many galleries existed! This looks like a lovely place to visit

  • Lyssie

    Wow, New Mexico is incredibly cultural and beautiful! Who knew so many galleries existed! This looks like a lovely place to visit

    • Yes, it is! The best part about all these galleries is that they are all on the same street! So too much walking doesn’t entail 🙂

  • I think my favorite was Canyon Road Contemporary (that wisteria is gorgeous!!). Also, I love your writing style – have you considered pitching an article to Travel & Leisure or a travel magazine? 🙂

    • Thank you so much! It’s on my to-do list at some point 😉 I love Canyon Road Contemporary too, it’s very fluid in it’s artwork, so it’s one that you can keep coming back to and always discover something new 🙂

      • Rosi C

        Love art galleries 🙂 they look very real

  • Kachina Dimmock

    What a great post! Those art galleries look amazing! Definitely somewhere to visit the next time i’m in America 🙂

  • Great pictures and story, but I’ve gotta say, the writing in your first paragraph drew me in immediately. You’re a great writer! I love art and small galleries, so I’d have loved this anyway, but you really made me feel like I was there!

    • Thank you so much! Comments like yours motivate me to keep going. I’m really glad that you enjoy my writing style ☺️

  • I love how you chat us through the places, I feel like I traveled with you! I can definitely see your passion for art and beautiful things 🙂

    • Thank you! I try to make my posts as interactive as I can! 💕

  • Simona

    I am not such a big fan of galeries but your photos look really nice!

    • Thank you so much! Galleries are definitely not everyone’s cup of tea but I’m glad you liked the pictures😊

  • Amazing post…the galleries are beautiful, and those drinks look so yummy! I haven’t been to many art galleries…I need to do it more often!

  • Brooke

    beautiful photos-New Mexico is a unique place I’d love to explore soon

  • I love Canyon Road! My aunt lives in Los Alamos, so I’ve been to Santa Fe several times and it’s one of my favorite places. Your opening paragraph describes it just perfectly. It is the ideal place to explore and take fabulous pictures. But I have never been to Tea House! Next time I will have to go.