Contemporary Art Thrives in Santa Fe Galleries

Artists first came to Santa Fe at the dawn of the 20th century, many attracted by the high desert landscape and the quality of the light. Before there were galleries, some artists welcomed prospective buyers to their studios, many on Canyon Road. Formal galleries came later. Frances Namingha of Niman Fine Arts said that there were only three in 1972. The proliferation of galleries began in the mid-1980s. Today there somewhere around 200, found mostly in the three principal art areas: Canyon Road (perhaps the best known), Downtown and the trendy Railyard District. While many galleries show some contemporary art, around two dozen galleries are specifically dedicated to the genre.

Ask ten art experts “What is contemporary art?” and you’ll probably get ten different answers. The one thing they seem to agree on is? That it’s art being created by living artists, whether it be cutting edge, figural or abstract.

Many contemporary galleries call the Railyard Art District home. Over the last few years, several contemporary art houses have relocated there. There’s also a selection both on Canyon Road and downtown. Friday night gallery openings are popular in Santa Fe. Canyon Road has an Artwalk on most Fridays in season especially in season (between May and October), Downtown has claimed the first Friday of the month and the Railyard the last. Great resources for local art information: the Santa Fe Gallery Association’s website and in The Collectors Guide, a free publication found all around Santa Fe.

Canyon Road

NÜART GALLERY, opened in 2002 with the mission of gathering "the very best artists together under one roof." Their criteria was artistic excellence rather than "what sells," believing that collectors would come. Their belief is that buying art...  Read More

EVOKE Contemporary
Photo courtesy of Evoke Contemporary

EVOKE Contemporary Gallery opened in 2009. Owner Katherine Erickson, an art historian who started with the goal of being a museum curator was ready. "My partner Elan Varshay, and I had a clear vision of what the gallery could be and took that...  Read More

David Richard Gallery
Photo courtesy of David Richard Gallery

David Richard Gallery opened in Santa Fe's Railyard Art District in 2010. The name is an amalgam of the owners' names: David Eichholtz and Richard Barger. Both are collectors with art backgrounds who wanted their own gallery. The gallery shows...  Read More

Canyon Road
gf contemporary
Photo courtesy of gf contemporary

In 2009, Deborah Fritz, owner of Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art since 2001, decided she wanted to do something different from her traditional gallery and opened gf Contemporary. Fritz says the gallery is "dedicated to finding art that is fresh,...  Read More

TAI Modern
Photo courtesy of RAI Modern

In 2014, TAI Gallery, known for showing both antique and modern Japanese bamboo basketry and historic textiles merged with Eight Modern, specializing in contemporary art,to become TAI Modern. Their chic location, in the former Sears Warehouse in...  Read More

Selby Fleetwood Gallery
Photo courtesy of Selby Fleetwood Gallery

Selby Fleetwood opened in a historic 18th century adobe on Santa Fe's Canyon Road in 2004. Fleetwood, who'd worked as a gallery director, wanted a gallery that reflected her own vision. The gallery roster is made up of artists who "have a unique...  Read More

LewAllen Contemporary
Photo courtesy of LewAllen Contemporary

LewAllen Galleries, one of the oldest galleries in Santa Fe, started life as the Elaine Horwich Gallery in 1976. Arlene Lewallen later purchased it and changed the name. Kenneth Marvel and Robert Gardner acquired it in 2003. For years, the...  Read More

Niman Fine Art
Photo courtesy of Niman Fine Art

Dan Namingha is one of the best known Native American artists in the world. The Tewa-Hopi artist and his wife Frances opened Niman Fine Art in 1990 to showcase his work. Today, the gallery also represents the work of their two sons: Arlo, a...  Read More

Zane Bennett Contemporary Art
Photo courtesy of Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, opened on Canyon Road in 2005, moved to its current 10,000 square foot Guadalupe Street location in 2008. The contemporary interior boasts a two story atrium with a glass staircase, cat walks and skylights. Owner...  Read More

Yares Art Projects
Photo courtesy of Yares Art Project

Yares Art Projects, formerly the Riva Yares Gallery, opened in Santa Fe in 1991. Yares, who came to the USA from Israel, first opened a Scottsdale location in 1963 and expanded to LA (now closed) in 1971. These days, Riva Yares oversees the...  Read More


Meet Billie Frank

Billie Frank is a freelance travel, food and feature writer based in Santa Fe New Mexico. Her blog, Santa Fe Travelers, is a treasure trove of information on the oldest capital city in the...  More About Billie

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