Canyon Road in Santa Fe is home to more than 50 fine art galleries. The highest concentration of galleries in the country. Two dozen clothing and jewelry boutiques and a handful of restaurants join the Santa Fe galleries on Canyon Road to make this scenic and historic half-mile stretch of tight two-lane street a must-see for travelers.
Which is my favorite Canyon Road gallery? My choice reflects my taste in art, as yours surely will yours. When I visit Canyon Road in Santa Fe, I want to see Western and Native American art. Santa Fe galleries on Canyon Road are full of international cutting-edge contemporary art, none better than the brilliant Hung Liu at Turner Carroll Gallery. I wrote about an exhibition for Liu at the National Portrait Gallery on Forbes.com.
But international contemporary art and interior designer pieces are not what I visit New Mexico looking for. I can find that in New York or San Francisco or Miami.
When I’m browsing the Santa Fe galleries on Canyon Road, I want Western culture and heritage. I want mountain and mesa landscapes. I want buffalo and cougar sculptures. I want Pueblo pottery and Navajo weavings and contemporary Native American paintings. I want what Canyon Road in Santa Fe can offer me that no other place in America can in the same volume and of the same caliber.
My Favorite Canyon Road Gallery Santa Fe
Ventana Fine Art continues to be my favorite Canyon Road gallery. The vibrant, Fauvist-inspired paintings of John Nieto (Mescalero Apache) continue to be the reason why. I’ve been in love with Nieto’s artistic vision since first coming across his work. Ventana Fine Art represented Nieto in life and continues representing his estate in death.
From wall-size original oil-on-canvas masterpieces in excess of $20,000, to smaller prints for only a few hundred dollars, Ventana Fine Art is Nieto Central. Other galleries in town sell his work, but Ventana is the best with the most.
On my most recent visit to the Santa Fe Galleries on Canyon Road I was drawn to Rebecca Tobey’s sculptures at Ventana.
Speaking of sculptures, Ventana has an exceptional outdoor sculpture garden with monumental animal pieces that is a blast to visit.
More Santa Fe Galleries on Canyon Road
Candidly, Canyon Road primarily caters to the wealthy. Sure, deals can be found, but this guide is primarily directed at browsers, not buyers. If you’re looking to buy without the backing of a trust fund, I put together this handy guide of Santa Fe artists to fit every budget. Including mine, which excludes me from being serious about buying 90% of what is for sale here.
Eat your heart out at Legacy Gallery where the best of the best in Western painting and sculpture are on sale. The top names in the genre can be found at this Canyon Road gallery: John Moyers, Jerry Jordan, G. Russell Case, Glenn Dean.
Non-natives painting Native American imagery is a sensitive subject. No two non-Native artists do it better, however, than Jordan and Moyers. I’d no longer buy an artwork of Native subject matter by a non-Native artist, but there’s no crime in admiring their brilliant work… and at over $100,000 for big paintings, it’s not an option anyhow.
Like Ventana, Legacy Gallery has a fabulous outdoor sculpture garden out back that is a joy to visit.
The most extensive Canyon Road gallery Santa Fe for authentic Native American art from Native American artists is Morning Star Gallery. With its extraordinary historic pottery, baskets, beadwork and jewelry, shopping at Morning Star is like shopping in a museum. Remarkable.
If you’re looking to begin a distinguished collection of Native American art on a working-class budget, I’d suggest the ledger art of Delores Purdy (Caddo/Winnebago). A few thousand dollars will let you take home one of her pieces which are gaining increasing popularity across the collector landscape. Her work is in major public collections like the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe. Beautiful, meaningful pictures.
Another of the Santa Fe galleries on Canyon Road where you might be able to stretch your wallet without missing a mortgage payment to acquire a signature piece of art is Meyer Gallery. Head upstairs for the evocative and soulful New Mexico landscapes of Robert Daughters. Composed with the insight and skill of the Taos Founders, Robert Daughters paintings, small ones, start at around $5,000.
I love how Meyer Gallery allows looky-loos like myself to dig through his paintings which are stacked on the floor, much too many to hang on the wall. I always think I’m getting a deal when I buy artwork off the floor and that placement does nothing to make me think the work is inferior. Quite the opposite. A great painting should need gallery lighting and precise staging to show it off. Such is the case with Daughters.
Where Daughters’ vision of New Mexico is muted and serene, Barbara Meikle’s vision of the state is wild and exuberant. Her gallery is located steps off Canyon Road on Delgado Street. Meikle occasionally uses the gallery as her studio and you can often find in-progress artworks on view – and sometimes, Barbara herself working there!
Meyer Gallery, Barbara Meikle’s gallery, they do away with the occasionally hoity-toity vibe of Canyon Road in Santa Fe. No place is more down-to-earth than Ernesto Mayans Gallery. This place is old school! Creaky floors, cluttered, gallery owner meets you at the door; this is probably what a typical Canyon Road gallery looked like in the 80s.
LaQuincey Reed’s contemporary Black figurative cowboy sculptures are a breath of fresh air in the Western genre. Find them at Sage Creek Gallery.
Sonia Grineva’s vivid landscapes are jaw-droppingly beautiful with striking paint application. She carries on the exceptional tradition of Russian Impressionist landscape painters, a school and style of painting I adore and feature in my personal collection. No less an authority on art in Santa Fe, contemporary Western Pop-art superstar Billy Schenck who lives there, told me he prefers Russian Impressionism to French Impressionism.
Also represented in this Canyon Road gallery is Jason Berger whose paintings have a decidedly European, Nabis, Fauvist, Matisse feel to them. Nice.
Parking on Canyon Road
Parking, especially on weekends, can be tricky along skinny Canyon Road. Public lots are available on Delgado Street right by Barbara Meikle’s gallery, on East Alameda near the entrance to Canyon Road in Santa Fe from Paseo De Peralta, and at the far end of Canyon Road from the downtown side where it intersects with East Palace Avenue.
Street parking along Canyon Road and on side streets is first-come, first-served and hit or miss.
Canyon Road Santa Fe Special Events
A highlight of each year for the Santa Fe galleries on Canyon Road is the Christmas Eve Farolito Walk. Thousands of people venture out in the chill to enjoy a striking display of lit candles inside paper bags which has become a beloved tradition.
In Spanish, farolito translates as “little lantern” and is the preferred term in Santa Fe for the decorations that are referred to as luminarias elsewhere.
Every August on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, the galleries bustle with overflow crowds from Indian Market.
A spring art festival, a Halloween stroll, outdoor painting and sculpting events, for a Canyon Road gallery Santa Fe, there’s always something going on.Santa Fe