Manitou gallery in Santa FeBy Kelly Skeen Photos Caitlin Elizabeth

Manitou Santa FeWith two prime locations in the most visited art districts of Santa Fe, Manitou Galleries are among the city’s top art destinations for classic and contemporary western art lovers.

Long time collector and appraiser Robert Nelson established Manitou’s first location in 1975 in Cheyenne, where he also founded his namesake public collection of western artifacts, Nelson Museum of the West. Nelson is a respected resource for art and antique collectors worldwide, and an appraiser on PBS’s Arizona Collectibles, the state’s local version of Antiques Roadshow.

Nelson brought Manitou to Santa Fe in 2001; the original two-story location on Palace Avenue as been a downtown landmark ever since, attracting not only art collectors but also history buffs as the historic check-in point for the Manhattan Project. In 2011, the gallery expanded to an intimate space and inviting sculpture garden at the 225 compound on Canyon Road. Originally opened as overflow gallery space and an opportunity to show outdoor sculpture, the Canyon Road location has since forged an individual identity with Manitou’s Classic Collection. Both galleries are rooted in western themes, but represent distinct collections of artists.

Contemporary Western

Manitou’s downtown gallery showcases about 40 artists alongside an impressive jewelry collection, which includes pieces from contemporary jewelers as well as vintage and estate sale treasures. The exhibiting painters and sculptors approach the genre of western art in a variety of ways, calling for more contemporary and adventurous western art collectors. The work is considered representational, but the artists’ techniques push the boundaries of a traditional style, such as William Haskell’s dry-brush watercolor method in his vivid and interpretative southwest landscapes, or the thickly textured brushwork in Jerry Jordan’s emotive Taos scenes. Haskell and Jordan are top sellers and will have a group showing of their work in July 2016. Another artist to keep your eye on is Kim Wiggins, whose dynamic color palette and expressionistic western imagery has been exhibited in museum collections around the country. He’ll have a one man show at Manitou this August.

The Classic Collection

Manitou’s second location is 225 Canyon Road, welcoming visitors as one of the first galleries on this famous street. An alluring sculpture garden—with Joshua Tobey’s playful bronze bears and Jim Eppler’s lifelike ravens—overlooks the Santa Fe River and provides a peaceful respite in the warmer months. The Classic Collection has an overall “antiqued” feel and includes established western painters whose work can be found in public collections such as the Denver Art Museum and New Mexico Museum of Art. Among the growing roster of these celebrated artists are Birger Sandzen (deceased), Nicholai Fechin, and John Modesitt. Every First Friday between April and October, the inviting sounds of a mariachi band waft through the streets from the portal of Manitou’s Palace Avenue gallery, joyously welcoming Friday night gallery goers. On the third Friday of each month, Manitou on Canyon opens their doors for festive receptions with regular collectors and interested art seekers. Check their website for an updated summer show schedule.


Manitou Galleries 123 W Palace Ave. 505.986.0440  |  225 Canyon Rd. 505.986.9833 |