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Mind Bending Art in Santa Fe

From opera tailgating to immersive art at Meow Wolf, what not to miss around Santa Fe.

Step inside an amazing art installation that’s a funhouse for adults and kids and try Opera Tailgating on your next trip to Santa Fe. 

Santa Fe, New Mexico is an arts and culture melting pot, with world class galleries and experiential exhibitions that are truly memorable. We toured around Santa Fe to find some of the most interesting and unusual experiences that arts and culture lovers may enjoy. While Canyon Road is well known for its galleries and Santa Fe has a host of special events each year, below are some other artistic stand-outs.

The courtyard at the New Mexico Museum of Art.

The courtyard at the New Mexico Museum of Art.

#1 Meow Wolf

Get your creative juices flowing at Meow Wolf, a 20,000 square foot experiential art installation travelers can visit and explore. Founder Vince Kadlubek took me on an insider’s tour of the House of Eternal Return.

According to Kadlubek, “The concept is that there’s this family that lives in this house and some event has occurred that broke time and space and so there’s these like secret passageways, like these wormholes that then lead people into these other dimensions, and so we really wanted to create the sense that you’re going from one dimension to another with all of these different spaces.”

Time traveling through spaces where artists have used video, audio, painting, writing and other mediums to tell a sort of bizarre and very creative story one that inspires freedom of the arts for big kids and small.

Exploring at Meow Wolf is quite the adventure.... don't try this at home.

Exploring at Meow Wolf is quite the adventure…. don’t try this at home.

#2 Santa Fe Opera

We’ve heard of tailgating for football, but tailgating at the opera? The Santa Fe Opera’s stunning open air theatre buzzes indoors and outside during opera season. Director Charles MacKay let me walk up on stage, so I’d feel what the performers may feel as they gaze out into the audience and behind them at the stunning views.

“People can get really serious about opera tailgating,” said MacKay, “because people can do it in the theme of the production that evening, and so you’ll come out here and they’ll be occasions where people will have elaborate chandeliers and tables all set with linen and fine crystal and very elaborate meals. People always enjoy something that is a little bit different when they can express themselves and be in a beautiful setting and have a good time.”

We certainly can get behind mixing a night at the opera with a bit of outdoor and theatrical fun.

The view for the audience at the Santa Fe Opera.

The view for the audience at the Santa Fe Opera.

#3 Chimayo

Heading North out of Santa Fe, spend the day in a community that’s a pilgrimage site for many Catholics, Chimayo. This special area is also home to generations of weavers like Robert Ortega, whose workshop workout creates impressive results.

Ortega explained that this knowledge of the weaving was brought to this area from Spain, when this area was settled in the 1770s. It’s impressive that his family has carried on the tradition up to today and fortunate that travelers can still visit their workshop and retail store. You’ll find beautiful and colorful blankets, rugs, coats, pillows and accessories here and each design is unique from the next.

Robert Ortega's shop in Chimayo.

Robert Ortega’s shop in Chimayo.

#4 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

For a more traditional, but no less impressive art adventure, head over to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in downtown Santa Fe. It contains thousands of works by the 20thcentury artist. She was drawn to New Mexico for its landscapes, art, architecture and distinctive aura. O’Keeffe began visiting the state in 1929 and would eventually move to New Mexico in 1949, passing away in Santa Fe at the age of 98 in 1986. Well known for painting flowers, the museum showcases many works inspired by New Mexico’s landscapes and light.

Also, downtown, take a walk along Canyon Road, a half mile of galleries, artist studios and cafes serving up further artistic inspiration and consider visiting the New Mexico Museum of Art, which has a stunning courtyard. Enjoy all that this historic city, whose architecture is a work of art in itself, has to offer.

These are just a few of the destinations in and around Santa Fe that those with an eye for art and an ear for music may want to add to their travel list.

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Travels with Darley is a travel TV series broadcast on PBS stations and on digital networks, including the AOL On Network. Host Darley Newman of "Equitrekking" fame joins locals to showcase the top food, culture and adventure attractions in the USA and around the globe.

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