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What to Do in Santa Fe—An Artist’s Guide

A guide to Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Indian Market by artist Alex Jacobs
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Santa Fe is a fun place, with no shortage of attractions; if you're going there for the August 20-21 Santa Fe Indian Market (or if you're going there any time at all, really) it helps to have a few tips from someone who knows what he's doing. We asked Alex Jacobs, an Akwesasne Mohawk artist and poet and longtime Santa Fe resident, for thoughts on how to approach the Indian Market and—perhaps most importantly—where to go for enchiladas and a cold beer or margarita when you're taking a break from the art. Here’s what he said:

1. The best thing is catching music on the Santa Fe Plaza. It’s free, and anyone can do it. And the people-watching there is excellent.

2. There are many openings at many galleries, and for those of us in the arts that means networking galore with other Skins. Over the years I’ve made some great professional and personal connections at Legends Santa Fe (125 Lincoln Avenue), IAIA/MoCNA (108 Cathedral Place), Blue Rain Gallery (130 Lincoln Avenue), Allan Houser Estate, El Museo Cultural (555 Camino de la Familia), and the bars and lobbies of the La Fonda Hotel (100 East San Francisco St.) and Hotel Santa Fe (1501 Paseo De Peralta).

3. Artists will be having gatherings at their studios—try to get invited, and if you do get invited, go. Be prepared to bring stuff, work, make runs, or pay for stuff. And when you’re told it’s time to leave, leave.

4. There’s lots to do on San Francisco St., which runs along the south edge of Santa Fe Plaza. Places worth a visit are The Lensic Theatre (211 W. San Francisco St.); restaurants the San Francisco Street Bar & Grill (50 E. San Francisco St.), Ore House at Milagro 139 (139 W. San Francisco St.); and bars Evangelo's (200 W. San Francisco St.—and don't forget The Underground), The Matador (116 W. San Francisco St.), and Marble Brewery on top of the Arcade (60 E. San Francisco St.). Two other great places that are within walking distance of San Francisco St. are El Paseo Bar & Grill (208 Galisteo Street) and Tin Star Saloon (411 West Water St.).

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5. Some of my other favorite places to eat and drink are Maria's New Mexican Kitchen (555 West Cordova Road), Tomasita's (500 South Guadalupe), The Shed (113 1/2 East Palace Avenue) and LaChoza (905 Alarid St), Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery (133 W. Water St.), Guadalupe Cafe (422 Old Santa Fe Trail), Rio Chama (414 Old Santa Fe Trail), Pink Adobe (406 Old Santa Fe Trail), Del Charro Saloon at Inn of the Governors (101 West Alameda Street), Second St Brewery (1814 Second St., there's also another one at The Railyard), The Cowgirl BBQ (319 South Guadalupe St.), Santa Fe Brewing Company and Sol Santa Fe Stage & Grill (at 35 and 37 Fire Place, respectively), El Farol (808 Canyon Road), and the Mine Shaft Tavern in the town of Madrid.

6. As a rule of thumb, the better the dive, the more Indians you will find there. That’s why I’m not including expensive places in my list—if you want one of those, ask the front desk at your hotel.

7. There are Indian bands in town, but, frankly, there are not enough venues for them to play (you'll be most likely to find Native acts at Tin Star Saloon, Evangelo's, and El Farol, all listed above). You can check the listings in the Santa Fe New Mexican and Santa Fe Reporter, but in my experience you’ll have more fun in Albuquerque. To see what’s happening there, try the Weekly Alibi. Most of the bigger names will be playing at casinos in the area: Hard Rock Isleta, Sandia, Buffalo Thunder, Camel Rock, San Felipe. If all else fails, consider a road trip—the Taos Mountain Music Festival is also happening this weekend.

8. Attend a poetry reading at Collected Works (202 Galisteo St.).

9. If you need a break, the Santa Fe area is loaded with spas: Body and Ten Thousand Waves are in Santa Fe; Hyatt Regency Tamaya is on the Santa Ana Pueblo between Santa Fe and Albuquerque; and Ojo Caliente and Jemez Springs are towns up north with several spas each.

10. This sounds like a lot, but remember—I live here, and I’ve been to quite a few of these over the years. You don’t have to do everything; in fact, you don’t have to do anything. The market itself is enormous, so in some ways the best piece of advice I have is to simply go to the Plaza, see all you can possibly see, and save your money to spend on art. That’s why you're here, isn’t it?