By the 1990s, Santa Fe’s old railyard district was full of nothing much but empty buildings and boxcars. A refrigerated warehouse for beer abutted the railroad tracks in Santa Fe’s railyard district. But by 1995, thanks to a vision bordering on miraculous, the warehouse was transformed into SITE Santa Fe, where the only international biennial (occurring every two years) of contemporary art in the United States was curated by Bruce Ferguson. (Previously, the only biennial in the U.S. was a national one that took place in New York at the Whitney Museum of American Art.) Some of the art world’s brightest stars curated exhibitions at SITE, including Lance Fung, Dave Hickey, Robert Storr and Rosa Martínez, and hundreds of internationally known artists showed their work there, often commissioned by the organization to create site-specific installations.
By 2010, when Irene Hofmann was named Director of SITE Santa Fe, the whole celebrity-based, who’s-hot-right-now model for biennials around the world had just about played itself out, leaving the market-driven, commercially based expos to focus on the art world’s most glamorous (and expensive) names and trends. Under Hofmann’s direction, the organization’s new multi-dimensional approach reestablished SITE’s role at the forefront of exhibition making. The next biennial, part two of SITElines: New Perspectives on Art of the Americas, is slated to open in the summer of 2016, and takes advantage of Santa Fe, New Mexico’s unique location as a geographic, historical, and cultural center of North and South America.
When in Santa Fe, give yourself a day to visit the Railyard Arts District and its anchor, SITE Santa Fe, one of the earliest occupants in the area’s new incarnation as a showcase for contemporary Santa Fe. Since 1995, they’ve been the spot in Santa Fe for up-to-the-minute, cutting-edge contemporary art. Not only are their shows as cutting-edge as anything you might find on either coast, or around the globe, SITE Santa Fe offers a solid education program that includes the Young Curators, a group of teens who create their own exhibitions. Dozens of school children visit SITE every month and some return with their families in tow. Lectures occur regularly around the city and often feature one or two of the artists whose work is at the former beer warehouse. In short, the non-profit organization has put Santa Fe on the contemporary-art map in a big way, and it’s at the top of a glittering, gleaming contemporary culture evolving over Santa Fe.
Phone : (505) 989-1199
Thurs. 10 - 5, Fri 10 - 7, Sat. 10 - 5, Sun. 12 - 5