A plein air painting by Cecilia Robertson in progress during the 2016 Paint Out in one of Canyon Road’s many sculpture gardens.

Wanderings: A Creative Journey

Each October, hundreds of art patrons throng the sidewalks, streets and sculpture gardens of Santa Fe, New Mexico’s historic Canyon Road to celebrate the creative process. Here, about 100 painters, weavers, sculptors, jewelers and potters set up workspaces to make art in the open air.

The annual Historic Canyon Road Paint and Sculpt Out celebrates 10 years this October. And just like last year, the 2017 event will be a vibrant scene, with colorful palettes, the strokes of hundreds of paint brushes, and canvases representing every style of creativity, from expressionistic to modern, Western and Native American. The solitary act of creation becomes an opportunity for connection, as collectors can visit with the artists while they work.

“Artists love the Paint Out because it’s one of the few events where the collectors actually get to see the painters creating the work, and they get to meet each other,” says Bonnie French, director of the Waxlander Gallery. “I don’t think there’s anything more magical than that.”

Canyon Road’s charm stems from its history. This narrow, curving road located between Paseo de Peralta and East Palace Avenue, a few blocks from Santa Fe’s Plaza, was originally used by Native Americans and then by Spanish Colonists, who renamed it the “Road of the Canyon” and used it to gain access to the mountains where they gathered firewood and grazed their livestock. Over time, the area, which receives precious water from the mountains, was used for farming, and a small residential lane began to form in the mid-1700s.

Canyon Road was the birthplace of Santa Fe’s art colony at the start of the 20th century. Such artists as Olive Rush, William Penhallow Henderson, Alice Corbin Henderson, John Sloan, Randall Davey, Andrew Dasburg and Gerald Cassidy lived on or near Canyon Road in the early decades of the 1900s.

Today, the Canyon Road Arts District includes 100 galleries and artists’ studios within walking distance. The oldest surviving houses there date to the 1750s, and the coyote fences and restored façades look much like they have since the late 1800s.

This year’s festivities begin with art openings and demonstrations on Friday, October 20, and extend through Saturday evening. The hsistoric Paint and Sculpt Out is also a fundraiser for Santa Fe Public Schools, and nearly 500 music students will perform throughout the day on Saturday. This is one of those quintessential art experiences that can only happen in Santa Fe.

“I saw the empty street on Canyon Road one day and imagined all the artists at their easels outside on the streets painting. I knew from my life of being sequestered for hours each day that it would be fun to be outside on a beautiful day in Santa Fe, painting and having fun with other artists. So I challenged every artist I knew to join me on the street to paint. The rewards of camaraderie and the interaction with collectors who got to see art happen and meeting artists was priceless.”

— Roseta Santiago
Artist and founding Paint Out member

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