Sunday, May 16, 2010

The City Different

The nickname for Santa Fe, NM, certainly was evident in our brief walk around the streets surrounding the Plaza.

Santa Fe has conveniently provided a parking lot near the historic part of the city that has a number of spaces for RVs and buses--a rarity among city parking lots in our travels.

Our short walk to the Plaza took us past booths, such as this one selling hanging bunches (called ristras) of red chile peppers. This booth and three others were part of a shop that was set back from the street.

The Plaza, now a grassy park where kids play, adults converse or people-watch, and musicians play for everyone and no one, has served as the city's social gathering place for four centuries.

It was a beautiful day, and we were sitting downwind from a street vendor selling fajitas. I think we had an appetizer's worth of food intake just from the wonderful aromas.

The Plaza Mercado, a group of some 30 shops, galleries, and restaurants set back from the street, is an example of the city's dominant architetural style--adobe. It is one of the modern buildings incorporating design elements of both Pueblo and Pueblo-influenced Spanish adobe construction.






When we saw the Lensic Theater, we had to see the interior.

"Could we get into the theater to take a few pictures?" was the question I posed to one of the two people in the ticket booth.

"No," was the cryptic reply. "It's pitch black inside."

Sometimes you just know that a follow-up question would be unproductive. So, we missed out on seeing the interior of the pseudo-Moorish, Spanish Renaissance style Lensic, which was built in 1931. And we missed seeing the film and vaudeville house that had been called "the most splendid theater in the West."

The Lensic is on the corner of West San Francisco and Burro Alley (note the burro statue in the lower right-hand corner, above photo). Midway in Burro Alley is the Café Paris with its tables in the center of the (obviously) traffic-free alley. The introduction of bright colors added life to the adobe structure.

On the wall opposite the Café Paris was this mosaic mural. It was designed and created by a group of Santa Fe youth artists from Fine Art for Children and Teens (FACT).











On West Water Street (a block south of the Plaza), there is this group of businesses. It is still the adobe architecture, but color is added in the signs, and it is the color that brings life to the adobe and to the city.

With the Sleeping Dog Tavern on the far right (photo, above),the blue sign for Azul of the left, the signs for the POP Gallery, and the Blue Corn Cafe sign above the red POP sign, the colors makes the adobe, well, "pop."

The Gallery states: "Santa Fe, the second largest art hub in the US is continually refreshed by the emerging and established POP, Modern & Contemporary artists represented at POP Gallery."

And directly across from the POP Gallery is the world famous Coyote Café.

As an aside, chef-owner, Eric DiStefano was born and raised in Hershey, Pennyslyvania.











In its ads, the Blue Corn Cafe states: "We admit we're not that easy to find (look up, we're on the second floor--see third photo above) but you'll be glad you did!"

However, in spite of that claim of being hard to find, we found this stairway leading to the Blue Corn.

A colorful stairway to say the least.




Finally, a third way to find this "not-that-easy-to-find" restaurant would be to use this entrance marked by the banner on the sidewalk just off the Plaza.










To photograph this bench in the small courtyard in a hotel near our parking lot, I had to shoot through a slotted fence.

Now, that's a "not-easy-to-find" scene.











Even this roadster added to the colors that contrast with the adobe buildings.

So, the blending of Spanish and Native American cultures honors the history of the city, but at times it seems that this history of the city and its buildings serve as the backdrop for the colors and visions of modern day artists.

The walk around the Plaza of the City Different was enjoyable, but called for a rest at its conclusion.

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