In January, 2022, my wife Kimberly and I will be relocating to our new “contemporary adobe-style” house in Santa Fe. While our decision to move wasn’t based on the art authentication business, we certainly factored in the town’s creative atmosphere. Witness the mile-long row of diverse art galleries on Canyon Road and the abundance of artist studios. Another added benefit is that Santa Fe is Georgia O’Keeffe country — one of the artists who we authenticate — and home of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Finally, Santa Fe is a cornucopia of green chile-laced food, turquoise and silver Native American jewelry, great book stores, historic pueblos, and fantastic natural wonders.
As for the local art scene, it includes some of the finest Native American artists in America: Tony Abeyta, Diego Romero, Nocona Burgess, Cara Romeo, Frank Buffalo Hyde, and others. In addition, you can readily view the work of legendary Native artists: Fritz Scholder, James Havard, T.C. Cannon, Baje Whitethorne, and Kevin Red Star. It is my belief that contemporary Native American art represents the next collecting opportunity for those who enjoy the work, while also looking for a good investment. In 2020, the Metropolitan Museum of Art appointed Patricia Marroquin Norby as its first curator of Native American Art. Once the museums get involved, the galleries and collectors tend to follow their lead.
While Native American art dominates the Santa Fe art scene, there’s also a substantial number of contemporary Western artists who call it home. This group is led by Billy Schenck, also known as the “Warhol of the West,” for his Pop-style imagery. Schenck, and a small group of like-minded individuals, have been updating the traditional Western-themed imagery of the old Taos Society of Artists — and creating a whole new language. The beauty of New Mexican art is that it connects you with your surroundings; the unparalleled cloud formations, rugged canyonlands, and ethereal ever-changing light. Whether you enjoy Native American Art or Western Art, the key is remembering that the finest work is always about “feeling.”