Burro Alley in Santa Fe, NM
The James Compton Gallery is on Burro Alley, 28 Burro Alley to be precise. This is a historic street in Santa Fe, NM, and now exists as a pedestrian walking street with access at the north end to West Palace Avenue (actually Sandoval Street – the Alley comes out right where the Palace turns into Sandoval) and at the south end West San Francisco Street. The east side of the alley hosts all the shops and the west side is the block long façade of the Lensic Theater. This first photo is looking towards the south to W San Francisco St and the second view is looking north to Palace. Next door to me is the wonderful Mexican restaurant Los Magueyes which hosts a great Friday and Saturday night piano bar performance by Charles Tichenor. Directly south of my gallery, across from the narrow side alley, is B&B Bakery – supreme cakes, rolls and such – I’ve enjoyed many of their varieties.
My gallery sits at about mid-block and adjacent to an even smaller alley that runs perpendicular to Burro Alley. I have a door with glass and a window that both face this southern exposure giving me great light. At the Southern entrance to Burro Alley is a large sculptural burro laden with wood. This burro is iconic and is a meeting point for many as well as a place for photo taking. Across the street from this burro is the rounded corner of the Lensic Theater, reaching 3 stories high with a fancy terra cotta frieze at the top.
Directly across from my gallery door is a mosaic mural. It’s a beautiful mural that gets more attention than any shop on Burro Alley. It’s colorful contrast with the monotonous wall gives it a perfect backdrop. The plaque below the mural states: This mosaic mural was designed and created by a group of Santa Fe youth artists Fine Arts for Children and Teens (FACT), in collaboration with the Lensic Santa Fe’s Performance Arts Center and El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe under the guidance of artists Amaru Leyda, San Leyba and Gary Myers.
Burro Ally is historic and its history goes way back to the 17th century. Like the infamous “Skid Row” found in Western ports (San Francisco and Seattle), Burro Alley was a rough part of town and collected an assortment of striving characters. A wonderful, seedy novel was written by the same name and plays with the whole under current of life and business in this far out West town of Santa Fe. The photo at the heading of this post is of this book, and the below photo is the priceless back cover.
With the approach of Spring the sun plays with shadow as it baths Burro Alley in light. I’ve taken a few photos of particularly interesting views, mostly all of the wall along the Lensic Theater. Below is one of my favorites – it’s the emergency exit for the upper level of the Lensic. The image of shadow shows how light relates objects to each other, and carries them in a way not usually seen.