As an artist operating in a commercial society, burnout looms large heading into holiday season — my busiest time of year as a freelance photographer. Hoping for a way to recharge my creative spirit, I headed west to the Land of Enchantment. I set my sights on Bishop's Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection, a luxurious retreat set against the glowing backdrop of The Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico.
Settled 150 years ago by a French missionary as a private spiritual retreat (before becoming a dairy farm, a private residence, and then a beloved spot for Hollywood producers), today the restored landmark does a beautiful job fusing the spirit, nature, culture, and visual arts of the Southwest. During my stay, I floated from yoga to artist talks to postcard-making class without an ounce of stress. Around every corner, there's a special activity in the works: intensive painting classes with local artists, handmade ceramics tutorials at the on-site Horseshoe Gallery (where I popped in to peruse an impressively curated collection), and guided hikes to incredible vistas.
In the kitchen, the chef’s artistry honors the landscape. I dined at SkyFire during one of the first evenings of chef Pablo Peñalosa's new fall menu, and each dish was inspired by the lush colors of the changing trees. Golden tones and bright oranges and reds made appearances in the form of coffee and chile-rubbed pork ribs atop butternut squash purée, and cold smoked tomatoes adorned with feta. The Aguachile Negro echoed the exact colors I’d seen hiking the Dale Ball Trails that morning – the greens of the avocado reminded me of the desert shrub and cacti, the peachy hamachi flesh mimicked the pink sandstone. Inventive nods to traditional New Mexican cuisine, like the green chile risotto, breathed new life into beloved flavors. At the bar, too, the Holy Margarita was a beautiful shade of orange, thanks to the unique inclusion of apricot. It was a perfect drink to sip on the terrace during golden hour with glittering Aspens.
I found tons of inspiration in the museums and galleries in town. I passed one pleasant afternoon on Canyon Road visiting historic adobe homes filled with artwork and chatty curators. Even the other visitors I crossed paths with shared an easygoing nature and willingness to talk about art and the natural splendor of Sante Fe. Closer to the town square, I took in the incredible handiwork of Native artisans: intricately carved silver bangles, exquisitely cut turquoise, and inlaid precious stonework in colors mirroring the dusty pinks, bright oranges, and deep purples that nature paints so beautifully throughout the west. Eager to learn more, I visited the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, where the entire second floor was dedicated to a jewelry collection, The Stories We Carry, created by 100+ Indigenous artists. Decades of colorful, textural work were on display; the craft continues at the hands of local university students.
During dinner at the lodge, I overheard a server effusively sharing personal insights and deep knowledge of the property’s paintings to the guests at her table. When I packed up to leave, the porter assisting me shared how much he’d love to paint that morning's cloudy skies. Each interaction touched upon the beauty of the scenery or the talents of the artisans in the community – everyone seemed to slow down and enjoy their craft, or at least the view.
A perfect takeaway, an enchanted reset, and here I am at home, eager to dive back into my own craft with a renewed love for my camera.