What to Expect: Plaza Blanca & Abiquiú Artisan Studio Tour from Santa Fe

After picking you up at the Inn & Spa at Loretto in Santa Fe, you will enjoy a scenic drive through Northern New Mexico, past the historic Camel Rock and through Espanola (the Lowrider Capital of the World). We will continue on the upper road by the Puye Cliff Dwellings to Georgia O’Keeffe country enjoying the expansive skies and views of the majestic plateaus that create the landscape of Northern New Mexico.

Then, our journey takes you off the beaten path to Plaza Blanca in the Rio Chama hills, near the village of Abiquiu. Plaza Blanca is a majestic landscape made up of beautiful white sandstone cliffs with breathtaking views of the Chama river valley. It was made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe through her series of paintings called The White Palace which will inspire the inner artist in you when you visit this hidden gem.

Here we discover this sanctuary mindfully experiencing a new perspective of how this place has inspired depiction of self-expression through art. Take the time to notice how it speaks to you in the stillness of the earth. Does anything specific creatively resonate with you exploring this moonscape? Savor the simplicity of wandering through this arid and artistic landscape, taking the time to truly enjoy your surroundings. Notice how the earth can viscerally inspire art through your interpretation of experiencing its wild form.

Following our meditative hike, we journey down the quaint back roads to Abiquiu, a small town with an impressive history. Abiquiú means “wild choke cherry place” in the Tewa language.was first settled in 1742 by 24 Tewa Pueblo families The first settlers here were Indians, and the name Abiquiu is a Spanish variation of the Indian Tewa words pay sha boo-oo, meaning “timber-end town,” and abechin, meaning “hoot of an owl.” The Indians who came to the Chama Valley were migrating from Mesa Verde in Colorado in the 15th century. the starting point of the pioneering route of the Old Spanish Trail. a historical trade route that connected the northern New Mexico settlements of (or near) Santa Fe, New Mexico with those of Los Angeles, California and southern California arun 1830-1850. While the town is most well-known for the artist Georgia O’Keeffe, the outer lying landscape tells the story of millions of years of erosive scars that continue to shift and change with time. While exploring Abiquiu, it’s not difficult to uncover why so many artists have made their home among her mesas, buttes, valleys, canyons and plateaus with vivid hues painted and etched across her landscape like poetry. We stop for a delicious lunch on the patio at the historic Abiquiú Inn at Café Abiquiú & The Terrace in Abiquiú. The menu is comprised of fresh local ingredients featuring New Mexican specialties.

We will visit the home and studio of local artists Debra Fritts and Frank Shelton. This hospitable artistic couple moved here from Atlanta after years of life in the city both working and teaching in their field of art. They created a cozy and sophisticated home along the river which provides new inspiration from the natural world for their work. The studio space was an old chicken coop built with WPA money to provide work for those living in the Chama River Valley and now transformed into one of these creative living spaces.

Debra is a clay artist who works intuitively with pounds of wet clay until forms appear and stories develop. Her talent, vision and articulation of clay are profound, and her spirit is playful, nurturing and creative. She weaves in the natural world and spirituality around her of the ravens, the coyotes and owls.

Frank is a multi-media painter and curator at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. His paintings are inspired by creative investigations of the internal and external realities of our humanity and the natural word. He describes the style of his work with one word, passion. He believes that without passion work is dead.

They will take you on an in-depth tour of their studios and give you insights into their working style and inspiration for their art. You can see the range of their creative expression in their showroom. As husband and wife, you can see their deep connection simply by seeing their artwork shown next to one another.

Finally, with lots of fresh air and artistic memories, we’ll journey back to Santa Fe with a stop at Romero’s Roadside stand. You’ll get a taste of traditional New Mexican cuisine at this quintessential Northern New Mexico stand selling the best of New Mexican chiles.