For the 23rd year one of New Mexico’s most beloved art tours is poised to become your weekend destination. The High Road Artisans studio tour, following one of the country’s most scenic byways, is kicking into gear beginning September 18 for two weekends.
Over those two decades High Road Artisans has grown in popularity throughout New Mexico and neighboring states for a number of reasons.
There’s no doubt the tour takes place during the region’s most gorgeous season: the beginning of autumn, when the Sangre de Cristo mountains are alive with crisp air, resplendent colors and startlingly blue skies. And the drive visitors follow, wandering through the many historically vibrant old Spanish land grant and Pueblo villages between Santa Fe and Taos, is a draw regardless of the time of year.
One of this year’s highlights is the tour’s expansion into Nambe and Ranchos de Taos and so more closely following the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway while widening the exposure of visitors to more artists, noted Nick Beason, a local artist who, along with his wife, Lise Poulsen, owns Gaucho Blue Gallery in Penasco.
But perhaps the most exciting change is the addition of a downloadable app available for Android and iOS operating systems. 900 people and counting have already availed themselves of the information-packed convenience that will guarantee an exceptional experience when following the tour.
The High Road Art Trail app—accessible without cellular connectivity once downloaded—is the brainchild of photographer Chuck Jones and his artist wife, Suzanne Birrell, who both own Birrell Jones Studio and Gallery in Chimayo.
From its home page, check out the High Road Art Trail sites, also conveniently grouped by category so aficionados may hone in on their favorites, whether mixed media; ceramic, glass, pottery; metalwork, stone, sculpture; painting, watercolor, drawing; prints, monotypes, giclees; fiber arts, both paper and felt; photography; jewelry; weaving, textiles, clothing; wood carving, woodwork, furniture; folk art, tinwork, games; and santos, retablos, and bultos.
And in addition to what you’d expect—artists’ bios and gallery operating hours—the app features interviews, videos, blog links, suggested reading lists, and tours of historic churches and other cultural points of interest: everything you need to pre-plan your studio tour.
After all, the tour covers 60 miles, many of them off the beaten path. You will find yourself relying on the app both for the repeat visits you’ll need to finish your exploring and revisiting your favorites. (Insider tip: High Roads Art Trail doesn’t disappear at the conclusion of the tour so keep it on your phone and enjoy the carefully curated notifications of what’s new and upcoming all year long.)
However, what truly makes the High Road Artisans studio tour successful is, “the massive injection of dedication and love from the artists themselves and from the support of our Board of Directors, donors, sponsors and volunteers,” said Beason. “It’s through their efforts we’ve been able to thrive and grow.”
“As an organization we cannot thank Chuck and Suzanne enough for their pro bono launch of the app; Robbie Puskarich for his donated time and money as a board member; and New Mexico Art’s Jenice Gharib and her team.”
“The cultural tapestry of northern New Mexico is a great place to visit, and a great place to live,” emphasized Beason. Join the High Road Artisans tour and see why for yourself.
The High Road Artisans studio tour is Sept. 18-19 and 25-26 from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Sponsored by the Walking Rain Group