Art Feasting in Santa Fe from adobeairstream.com

Place: Santa Fe.

Time: A crisp winter’s evening the end of February 2012. It isn’t snowing, the air is dry, cool, as I walk around the plaza, and up on Canyon Road wearing a coat–no hat or gloves are needed. It’s pleasant. I’m with my cousins from Texas and a friend from New York. We’ve wandered through about six galleries when our friend from New York proclaims with her German accent: “The whole frickin’ town is a piece of art!”

And in many ways, she is right.

For us, it wouldn’t be February without a trip to Santa Fe to attend Art Feast and “do whatever we want.”

The whatever we want is wandering in and out of galleries and boutiques, sipping wine in the living room of our cozy rental house in front of a Piñon fire, talking about our lives, our challenges, our loves, and everything in between. It means a day getting pampered at Ten Thousand Waves and driving around looking at houses imagining that someday we might have our own place to gather, while taking home ideas we can adapt for own spaces. It means walking around sculpture gardens in Tesuque and trying the newest culinary creations from world-class chefs, or divulging in our favorite green chile at Tia Sophia’s.

We’ve been doing this for ten years in a row, traveling from San Antonio, Texas, New York City and Colorado, coming together in Santa Fe, stocking our rental kitchen with treats from Trader Joes and embarking on a grown-up slumber party. We have rituals, a visit to the Plaza and the “door store” (Serets), participating in the Friday evening Edible Art Tour, sampling nibbles from restaurants while viewing art. Over the years our group has purchased two paintings, a rug, numerous items of clothing and we have dined at the finest restaurant’s Santa Fe has to offer: Geronimo, The Compound, Ristra, Santacafe, La Boca, Galisteo Bistro, Osteria d’Assisi, and more. When we first visited, we stayed in hotels and B&Bs: Las Palomas, The Hotel St. Francis, The Hotel Santa Fe, Eldorado Hotel and The Sage Inn. But we prefer a house where we can all gather together in one living room. Our favorite house rentals have been from Casas de Santa Fe.

This year, some highlights from the Edible Art Tour were Blue Rain Gallery, featuring the Palace Restaurant and Saloon and their delectable fried kale with ginger, thin-sliced marlin, and orange soy appetizer. Windsor Betts Art Brokerage paired with The Cowgirl BBQ, and while the pulled pork slider was delicious, it was the simple side dish of butternut squash casserole that we fell in love with for it’s simplicity of flavor. At Pippin Contemporary colorful abstractions were complemented by lime pistachio white chocolate and a red chile pecan dark chocolate truffle from Chocolatesmith. The Singleton-Biss Museum of Fine Art is a hidden treasure in a shopping mall on San Francisco Street and we sampled Chicken Korma and Chana Masala from Raaga Fine Indian Dining, which tickled our taste buds so well that we ordered take out on Sunday night to enjoy while watching the Oscars in our rented living room. And of course, one of our very favorite partnerships happens each year at Wiford Gallery with Luminaria, featuring more delectable chocolate creations and a sampling of a 2005 Shiraz by George Wyndham, and Pippin Meikle Fine Art who pairs with Maria’s Mexican Kitchen for must have margaritas and fresh, chunky guacamole.

Forty-one galleries and restaurants participated, but the crowds seemed smaller this year, the lines shorter. We made it to about a dozen of the locations, retiring to our rental house on Aqua Fria to sip wine in front of a fire having gazed and grazed. However, director of ARTsmart, Diane Deane said numbers this year were comparable to 2011 when they sold 2,200 tickets to one or more of the seven ticketed events they host. Participants came from 32 states.

“Income (and hence donations to the schools) is up over last year too!  We continue to do better and better every year,” Deane wrote in an email to me.

ART Feast programs benefit art programs for Santa Fe’s youth. ARTsmart has distributed just under $1 million to ARTsmart projects, public school programs, art related organization and endowment funds. Hahn Ross Gallery was open during the edible art tour, though not an official gallery of Art Feast. They featured students from Pojoaque Valley Schools and the Imagine Forward program with art instructor Karen Turner. Students were showing their original artwork which was for sale with half of the proceeds going direct to the individual student artist. I purchased a painting of a polar bear by 11-year-old Estefania. During the Art of Home Tour, another member of our group was able to bid in the silent auction on a work of metal sculpture by a Santa Fe High School student.

All money raised goes to a great cause–art education. We are already planning our trip next year. The last week of February 2013 and I’ll be in Santa Fe with my cousins and our friend from New York.

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