Give an Unforgettable Experience

We are pleased to announce that we are now offering gift cards, so you can share the Santa Fe Art Tours experience with someone significant in your life. Perhaps someone in your family or a close friend is coming to Santa Fe, and you’d like to gift them a memorable experience while they are here. Or, you might be a Santa Fe local looking for a unique gift idea for a friend, colleague, or partner. Our tours are popular among couples seeking a fun and engaging activity for a date as well as groups of friends getting together to experience something new. 

Gift cards may be applied to any of our standard group tours, including Canyon Road Quickie, A Matter of Taste, Discover Downtown, and our Kid-Friendly Canyon Road tour. They may also be applied to a private or custom tour that we tailor to the recipient. 

Our booking partner, FareHarbor, makes the process easy, but below we’ll walk you through the steps for purchasing and redeeming a gift card so you know exactly how it works.

First, you'll need to select the number of gift cards you want to purchase. Then, you can select the gift card amount. You may select "other" to type in any amount you wish.

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Please note that after choosing the amount, you'll enter the name and email address of the recipient – not yourself! 

That comes in the next step, where you will enter your payment and contact information under "Contact." Make sure to double check your email address and that of the recipient.

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Next, you'll be invited to add a personalized message to the recipient and send.

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Make sure to hit the "Email" button after you enter your message, or your gift card will not be sent. If you somehow miss this step, don't fret. You will be send an order confirmation email, and you can also complete this step via the confirmation email.

Once you send the gift card, the recipient will receive an email informing them of your gift, along with instructions on how to redeem the gift card. It will look like this:

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Then, all the recipient has to do is visit and select the tour that they would like to book. On the payment page they will click "Add a gift card" and copy and paste the gift card code into the box.

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When they hit "Apply," the gift card amount will be deducted from their total. They can also give us a call if they run into any issues or would prefer to book a private or custom tour. 

Ready to share the Santa Fe Art Tours experience? Just click the button below to purchase your gift card!

2016 Santa Fe Studio Tour – don't miss these artists!

It's already the second week of June – can you believe it? – and the Santa Fe Studio Tour is just around the corner. New Mexico is well known for studio tours that take place in towns and cities all over the state. Santa Fe's tour falls in June, kicking off summer's countless cultural activities.

What is the Santa Fe Studio Tour?
The Santa Fe Studio Tour is an annual event that provides an opportunity for the public to visit the studios of over 80 Santa Fe artists. The tour is free and self-guided, so participants can pick any number of studios and see paintings, photography, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics and other work.

The 2016 Santa Fe Studio Tour takes place the last two weekends in June. On Friday, June 17, from 5 pm-8 pm, there is an artists reception at Santa Fe University of Art & Design. From June 18-19, the studios will be open from 10 am-5 pm, and the Preview Gallery will be open as well. From June 25-26, just the studios will be open from 10 am-5 pm.

Keep in mind that most of the studios are not within walking distance of downtown Santa Fe, so you’ll need transportation in order to visit them. 

Which studios should you visit?
Although many artists participate in the tour, there isn’t necessarily a huge range of styles. If you look through this year's roster, you'll see a lot of saturated landscapes and whimsical subjects on view, and you won’t find much in the way of sleek conceptual work. That said, keep an open mind, do a little bit of exploring, and you may be pleasantly surprised. The beauty of the studio tour is that you can visit as many different studios as you want.

While many of Santa Fe's most sought after artists do not participate, there are still some incredible artists opening up their creative spaces to the public for the 2016 studio tour. Here is a list of highlights – you won't want to miss the work of these artists!

Lauren Mantecon
123A Camino Teresa
Lauren paints meditative and atmospheric abstractions – and she also teaches! We offer a tour and workshop package that you can check out here.

Melinda Tidwell and Jonathan Keeton
20 Vista Calabasas
Melinda makes collages in gorgeous color palettes; Jonathan paints striking landscapes and nocturnes.

Kristine and Colin Poole
1108 Calle Catalina
Kristine's life-size ceramic figures are incredible, and Colin's figurative paintings are just as stunning.

Sommers Randolph
1889 Conejo Dr.
Sommers specializes in stone sculpture – his craftsmanship is worth a look!

Linda Picos Clark
1401 Maclovia
Linda's process-driven, abstract paintings highlight form and color.

Martina de Avila
19 Arroyo Griego
Martina crafts unique pots made from local micaceous clay.

Karen Milstein
13 Blue Jay Drive
Another ceramicist working with micaceous clay, Karen also incorporates other natural materials, like weathered wood.

Robbi Firestone
621 Old Santa Fe Trail, Suite #16
Robbi's vibrant and expressive portraits capture the inner spirit of her subjects.

For a complete listing of participating artists, visit or download the 2016 Santa Fe Studio Tour catalog. Santa Fe Art Tours is not scheduling any regular tours of the studios on the Santa Fe Studio Tour, but if you are interested in step-on guide services to select studios or other guided tour options, please contact us!  


Santa Fe Art Tours on ArtBeat Radio

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of being a guest on ArtBeat, a local radio show that explores happenings in the visual arts in Santa Fe, together with Kathleen Richards from the Carl & Marilyn Thoma Art Foundation. It was so much fun talking with host Kathryn Davis about Santa Fe Art Tours and Canyon Road. If you'd like to find out more about the SFAT approach and one of the inspiring galleries we visit, you can stream the interview online! A big thanks to Kathryn for her enthusiastic support of the Santa Fe arts community and to Kathleen for sharing about Art House and Santa Fe Art Tours.


About ArtBeat: Listen to art on the radio with art historian Kathryn M Davis. Specializing in modern and contemporary American art, Kathryn is an arts writer, editor, curator, and educator and is owner/president of ArtBeat Associates, an independent organization for cultural tourism. She chooses her guests from the Santa Fe community of extraordinary individuals in the arts.

About the Thoma Art Foundation: The Carl & Marilyn Thoma Art Foundation recognizes the power of the arts to challenge and shift perceptions, spark creativity and connect people across cultures. Art House is the Foundation's exhibition space in Santa Fe and is located at 231 Delgado Street. 

Five Fun & Romantic Activities in Santa Fe

Since Valentine's Day is just a few days away, I thought I'd put together a list of some romantic activities to do in Santa Fe, just in case you're lucky enough to be spending the weekend here! In compiling this list, I focused on unique activities that you might not think of immediately when planning a date night, but that provide a shared experience that can only bring you closer and create some awesome memories. 

While this list was created with romance in mind, these activities would also be fun to do with friends or family, anytime of the year – not just during Valentine's Day weekend. 

Learn How To Paint...

...Or just have fun exploring the medium! At Santa Fe Art Classes, Robbi Firestone leads fun and intuitive two-hour paint sessions that include all materials. You can join a group class, or if you're wanting some extra attention, book a private class. For a more in-depth exploration of various materials and media, Lauren Mantecon offers private art two-hour workshops that include wine and chocolate.

Play With Clay

Getting your hands a little dirty can be super sexy, especially when you're with your special someone. (Ghost, anyone?) There's something about playing with clay and learning to guide and shape it that is incredibly grounding and sensuous. It's also a ton of fun! Local clay artist Ginny Zipperer offers private pottery workshops that include instruction, all materials, and shipping of your fired and finished work. 

"Four Hands" by Dwayne

"Four Hands" by Dwayne


Tour Canyon Road Galleries

Looking at art can be such a meaningful and memorable experience. Our gallery tours make use of conversation and close-looking activities to encourage participants to discover more about art and connect with each other. If you're here on February 13, check out our special Canyon Road tour and wine tasting – a fun and cultured way to spend the afternoon before heading out to a romantic dinner. 

Connect In Mind, Body, & Spirit

So many possibilities here! Couples tarot, astrology, and intuitive readings – Santa Fe's got 'em all, plus life coaches, breath and movement masters, meditation retreats, and incredible experiential art installations. For an especially romantic experience to help you feel connected to your partner, Joshua Fabia at School of Self can create a guided meditation and (strictly professional) partnered massage session just for you – so you'll learn skills and techniques that will help you connect with each other even after your Santa Fe experience ends.

Be Adventurous

Santa Fe has a lot to offer if you're looking for a little adventure – hiking, skiing, snowshoeing (although the temperatures are on the rise – at least this week!) – but the one adventure outing I would love to take with my significant other is a tour of New Mexico's beautiful scenery in a Pinzgauer. Santa Fe Walkabouts offers several tour options in these unique military vehicles. Just make sure to bundle up and cuddle up while you're on (or off) the road! 

Touring new mexico in a pinzgauer. photo by santa fe walkabouts.

Touring new mexico in a pinzgauer. photo by santa fe walkabouts.


Have fun and enjoy!

Material Struggle, Material Agency: An Interview with David O'Brien

I came across David O’Brien’s work earlier this year at a small gathering of local artists and writers in Santa Fe. O’Brien’s piece, an image of dry, cracked earth in a palette of pink and blue, struck me immediately with its ambiguity. Hovering between lunarscape and desert landscape, photograph and painting, the image is one of an ongoing series of “disc paintings” in which O’Brien evidences human activity by documenting material left behind.

A photographer who seeks out alternatives to traditional photographic printing techniques, O’Brien is currently investigating screen printing as a method for transferring these images. It’s an incredibly intensive process of deconstructing an image and slowly reconstructing it, layer by layer. To transfer a single photographic image, as many as four screens and up to twelve layers of paint are required, and each must be carefully prepared, cured, burned with a photographic image, and rinsed before color can be pulled through.

Here, O’Brien shares more about his process, the evolution of his work, and his solo show at Santa Fe’s Center for Contemporary Art, which opens January 22, 2015.

How did you begin working with silk screen printing as a medium? Was there an “ah-hah” moment?

Before, I was doing big collages of people. I spent two or three years photographing everyone I knew and then collaging them into big clouds. I got to the end of that project and was looking for what the next project would be, so I would go out and just photograph things randomly. I was out in the Mojave Desert in this place called Vasquez Rocks, and I started looking at the ground and seeing all of these footprints. I looked up and saw a sign, and I realized I had found a piece of the Pacific Crest Trail. 

I started photographing the ground and all of these footprints. It was like a weird inversion of the photo swarms of people, where the footprints were evidence of people in the landscape. And somehow, at that moment, I thought that these photographs would make good silk screens, because it was just purely light and shadow.

35°59'14.5"N 106°03'32.6"W (35.987348, -106.059191)

Is that something you had worked with in the past?

No. I’d never done a silk screen before, ever. I’m always looking for ways to get away from traditional photography, and I’d been thinking about other ways to print things. I really like working with my hands, so I somehow gravitated to this process.

So then you ran with this concept and started photographing specific places?

Well, there’s one thing that happened between those swarms of people and [my current work]. I did a residency in Iceland, and I planned to keep photographing people there, but I couldn’t figure out how to get all of the equipment on the plane in any sort of reasonable way. So, I had to abandon that, and I went there with just a camera and a computer. 

If you go to Iceland, you inevitably start seeing all of the crazy large-scale evidence of climate change. I started doing these performative video projects where I would be dismantling the Arctic in a sort of satirical way [by] dragging bits of ice around, basically pulling them out of the frame of the video. That got me thinking about all of the weird ways you can think about climate change, not in an activist sense, but maybe in a slightly humorous or satirical way. There’s comedy in tragedy. There’s a fine line there. I had never seen anyone approach climate change in that way, so I was thinking about how to do that.

The footprint photos came from [that phase], and then evolved into documenting those sites as evidence of people being on the earth and dropping things on the ground. I’ve been reading more about object-oriented ontology and new materialism and trying to think about it from the material’s perspective – what it’s like for highly synthesized, engineered materials to be asked to go back to the earth that they came from and reintegrate in a way. It’s almost like taking a person out of their native country, waiting a few generations, and asking their grandchildren to go back and try to reassimilate somehow. To me, there’s this chemical struggle, this material struggle on the ground everywhere, with these materials trying to reassimilate to the earth.

How do you choose a location? Is it purely at random?

Everybody has some sort of sensibility, visually. For one reason or another, I am drawn to certain collections of things on the ground, and I’ll take a picture. 

For the show at the CCA, some of the photos are of trash that’s scattered along the banks of the Colorado River in Needles, California. That speaks, in a multiple times removed kind of way, to how much people rely on that river in the West for all of civilization, really. There will also be a video projection from Iceland of a river that’s all glacial melt water. There’s this rock outcropping in the middle of the river, and [I was] thinking about the extra pressure that's added to the rock from the increased melt water due to human industry, and giving some agency to materials that way.

What is the significance of titling each photograph with its exact geographical coordinates?

It draws it into the language of a scientific specimen or an archaeological site. This is a DIY kind of archaeology – I can investigate these tiny patches of ground and then return to those sites. Geolocating helps me know how to get back to them. I also think it’s interesting that someone looking at the work could go to Google Earth and punch in those coordinates and zoom way down to get pretty close to that spot.

Chaco Canyon
36°03'35.8"N 107°57'25.2"W (36.059947, -107.957003)

Have you always been drawn to collections or groups of things?

I think I have. In architecture school, we studied old cosmological diagrams from the Renaissance. I spent a lot of time studying Vitruvius and Palladio, and the buildings themselves were cosmological diagrams, which is to say a picture of what you thought the whole universe was or a way to diagram everything. There’s the famous Vitruvian Man – that’s a kind of cosmological diagram in a way – trying to measure the human body against these absolute forms that are present everywhere in the universe. 

Ever since then, I think I have been trying to make that. These photographs are collections of little things, but they’re also simple ways of trying to get ahold of (or get a picture of) what the world is, in a super general sense.

How does your work function for you on a personal level, beyond any symbolism or conceptual meaning?

It’s kind of like a compulsion. It’s just a thing I have to do. It’s a way of working through things, of thinking through issues. 

I feel like I’ve told this story a few times, but you know how when you’re going hiking, and you’re in this perfect moment in nature when everything starts to come together and make sense, and then you round a corner on a trail and you find a styrofoam cup, and the whole thing is shattered for you? These paintings are a way of making sense of that, trying to come to terms with it, and maybe even finding something interesting or poetic about it – acknowledging that this is the world that we've got. It's not that I'm okay with environmental destruction, but we can't deny that the system of consumption and destruction is a fundamental part of human nature and therefore nature as a whole. Oddly enough, now when I turn the corner and see that piece of trash on the ground, I kind of get excited by it – like, oh, you're still there!

How do hope your work functions for other people?

I want it to start conversations. I’m continually trying to make my work better in the hopes that it can speak to people in a way that may alter their perception of the world around them. Maybe they’ll look at the ground or look at things a little differently. I think that’s the best that any artist can hope for. 

I like work that tells you something different when you go back to it a second time, or each time you look at it, you see something you didn’t see before. At MOCA LA, I went on a tour led by the artist Sterling Ruby and he kept saying, “This one I really love, but I wouldn’t want to live with this piece. It’s just too much. But this one I wish I could take home with me and live with.” That really stuck with me, and I’m thinking about work that you can live with that changes a little bit every time you look at it.


Be sure to catch David O’Brien’s solo exhibition, opening January 22, 2015 at the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe. Check out his website,, to view more of his work.

Winter in Santa Fe

The other day on a Canyon Road Quickie tour, we stepped back outside after warming up and discussing the art at MEI Gallery. As soon as the cold New Mexico air hit my face, I gasped. 

“Do you smell that?” I asked, taking in a deep breath.

“Yes – it’s so nice! What is it?" replied one of my guests.

It was piñon, which, when burned, releases the loveliest fragrance – earthy, almost spicy, but also delicate – into the air.

The scent of piñon curling up from chimneys all over Santa Fe creates an old-world atmosphere that constantly reminds me how magical wintertime in Santa Fe is. Throughout the holiday season, farolitos (or luminarias, depending on where you’re from) line adobe buildings and wonky sidewalks. Fires blaze in hotels, galleries, bars, and bookstores all over town. Many mornings, Santa Feans wake up to pristine snowfall that gives way to sun and blue skies by noon.

Luminarias line the Inn and Spa at Loretto

Luminarias line the Inn and Spa at Loretto

If you’re in Santa Fe for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, you’re in luck. It’s fun, festive, charming, and totally romantic. Here are just a few suggestions for how to spend the holidays in Santa Fe.

New Mexico Museum of Art Open House (December 20)
The New Mexico Museum of Art’s annual holiday open house takes place this year on Sunday, December 20. A family-oriented schedule of events begins at 1 pm with the marionette play “A Party for Papa Gus.” Papa Gus is Gustave Baumann, one of several artists who came to New Mexico in the early 20th century. A skilled printmaker who is perhaps best known for his vibrant woodcuts, Baumann was also a master marionette maker. A selection of his artwork and marionettes are on view at the museum in the exhibition Gustave Baumann and New Mexico.

To see a recreation of Baumann’s printmaking studio, head over to the Palace of the Governers and ask to visit the Palace Print Shop. They’ll direct you to this small, local press that you might miss otherwise!

Canyon Road Farolito Walk (Christmas Eve)
The crown jewel of all holiday events in Santa Fe! Every Christmas Eve, the galleries on Canyon Road get dressed up for the Farolito Walk. Most pitch in to help line the sidewalks with farolitos – paper bags illuminated by candles – and many stay open late, welcoming guests with crackling fires, hot apple cider, and biscochitos. A personal favorite is Bindlestick Studio, where artist Jeffremy Schweitzer will be debuting his new book, The Eccentric Gentleman, this Christmas Eve.

Original work by Jeffrey schweitzer

Original work by Jeffrey schweitzer

Get Cozy at Collected Works
Local bookstore Collected Works is one of the coziest spots in town, with a cute in-store cafe and a big fireplace flanked by a pair of couches. It's a delightful spot to sip a cup of coffee and do some reading. With a ton of local titles and a great southwest history section, it's an excellent stop for souvenir and gift shopping, too.

Curator’s Talk at La Posada (Fridays at 4:30)
Every Friday evening at La Posada de Santa Fe, curator Sara Eyestone delivers a talk about the history of the hotel and its art collection. Arrive a bit early to select a glass of wine and some hors d’oeuvres, compliments of the Chef. Get comfy in an armchair facing the huge fireplace in the lobby, and let Sara answer all of your questions about this beautiful historic hotel. After the talk, grab a drink from the gorgeous bar and explore the sumptuously decorated sitting rooms that feature art from the hotel’s collection. When you find a romantic little niche of your own, sit for a bit and cuddle up with your honey.

Gather in the lobby lounge at La Posada de Santa Fe

Gather in the lobby lounge at La Posada de Santa Fe

New Years Eve on the Plaza
Join locals and tourists alike for the first ever New Year’s Eve celebration on the Santa Fe Plaza.  The event kicks off at 9:30 pm with bonfires, hot chocolate, food trucks, and performances by local musicians Alex Maryol and Lumbre del Sol. Just before midnight, Santa Fe's mayor Javier Gonzales will take the stage and lead a "count-up" to 2016. Rumor has it that a special surprise will kick off the new year.

Soak Your Bones at Ten Thousand Waves
Here’s another one for those of you looking for romance. Book a private spa suite at Ten Thousand Waves. The Ichiban suite, complete with its own sauna and outdoor soaking tubs, is pretty incredible – especially at dusk and with a gentle snowfall. The entire place is gorgeous, though, so a soak in the communal Grand Bath would do you just fine if a private tub isn’t in the cards. 

Snow-covered Ten Thousand Waves 

Snow-covered Ten Thousand Waves 

Tour Sant Fe’s Art Galleries
And now for some shameless self promotion! Both our Canyon Road Quickie and A Matter of Taste tours feature a bite-size selection of Santa Fe galleries, and both end at local culinary landmarks. After exploring Canyon Road, you can warm up over a piping hot tea latte at The Teahouse. Choose A Matter of Taste, and we’ll conclude with a spicy chocolate elixir at Kakawa Chocolate House. If you have something else in mind, why not customize your tour?

Be sure to check out the Santa Fe Tour Guides group, too, for a wide selection of other tours in the Santa Fe area. Enjoy your holiday in Santa Fe!

All images in this post link back to their sources. If you are the owner of an image and would like me to credit you or remove the image, please contact me!