So what did you think of Santa Fe?
Each morning you wake up with an amazing sunrise and each evening with an amazing sunrise. The whole place has very long horizon views 360 degrees around with a mountain range background and loads of native plants, shrubs and grass. Its very relaxing after escaping the manucured lawns of suburbia in San Francisco. In Santa Fe, they usually build much of the area in adobe style housing, which has a deep connection to the Indian background nations that lived or live around Santa Fe. Some of the banks and even gas stations are done in adobe fashion as well. In 1912, they passed a law that all the downtown would be built in this fashion to encourage higher tourism.
So what were the origins of Santa Fe?
Interesting enough it was founded before Plymouth Rock in 1610 by the Spanish settlers. Before it came under Spanish, Mexican and then US rule, it was founded by the peoples of Pueblo in around 900 so the historical connection is fairly deep considering the rest of American cities. It was founded around a river that is slowly drying up and now only is filled seasonally as the rains are moving away from the area. Interestingly the Pueblo people actually drove out the Spanish briefly from 1680-92. By 1848, first Texas tried to take New Mexico and then US army came in and took it from the Mexican rule. One of the important changes was the railway on the town.
Did the town grow sharply with the Santa Fe railway?
Actually, they decided the first pass would be more practical to stop south of Santa Fe and then later was extended to the city of Santa Fe. This had a pretty drastic impact on the town as a business stop and the economy started to sync. Because of its economic decline, the citizens re-imagined it as an art destination. In the early 1900s, the first pottery markets were organized in Santa Fe.
Another important element to the arts scene was its hand-woven rugs by the descendants of the surrounding Indian tribes: Pueblo, Apache and Navajo. Each tribe had their own designs that you can see in the traditional weaving patterns.
Were there any famous painters in Santa Fe?
Probably one of the most famous artists was Georgia O'Keefe that decided to move here after living first in Texas and New York City. She decided to become an artist at age 10 and lived to 99 painting away. She became one of the most famous female abstract painters, whose paintings was speculated on to represent femininity in its most intimate way. Probably the nude photos of her taken by her husband and exhibited help drive this interpretations. Santa Fe has a great museum dedicated to her work that I enjoyed thoroughly, since it had a fairly good spectrum of her work, although not her biggest works. Georgia O'Keefe Museum
What are the bizarre aspects of the town?
Well, one would be that it held one of the infamous Japanese internment camps during WWII outside of town. They held 845 Japanese men. Later they added Italian and German immigrants to the camp. By 1946, the interns were released and the camp disassembled.
Are there any other government experiments in the area?
One of the strangest, is Los Alamos. The town was originally an exclusive school Los Alamos Ranch School for rich kids recovering from illness that got taken over by the US Department of War in 1943. The town during the war received mail as "P.O. Box 1663, Santa Fe, NM". Despite the intense secrecy of the building of the first atomic bombs at Los Alamos, there were atomic spies from the USSR like Claus Fuchs, Morris Cohen and the Rosenbergs. Of course, after WWII there was an arms race and the US and USSR entered the Cold War, which now seems to be repeating with Russia and North Korea.
How do you think these government projects affect tourism?
I'm sure some of the higher paid scientists drove much of the art collecting to some extent. The guide at the Los Alamos Manhattan Project center was exactly like the whack job scientist in Independence Day. I bet you $100 they used him as the type cast in the movie.
How many painting galleries are there downtown?
Well, downtown its still the bread and butter of selling Indian jewelry, pottery and rugs primarily. There are a few painting galleries, but not as many as I expected. The majority of the art galleries are east on Canyon Road. There are nearly 300 art galleries in Santa Fe itself. I would say the atmosphere of the heavy tourism, amazing landscape and art density are an artist paradise if you live and breathe art. 24/7.
Which other famous artists lived in Santa Fe?
Do you have any artwork related to Santa Fe?
I do have one artwork related to the construction of the Atomic Bomb in Los Alamos. My painting dwells on the arms race between the Soviet Union and the US soon after the 1945 creation of the very first atomic bomb. The Russians ended up creating the single most powerful bomb of 50 megatons, the Tsar Bomba.
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