Art lovers could spend a lifetime perusing the galleries of Santa Fe. Or an afternoon taking in only what they love best under the careful direction of Four Seasons Rancho Encantado’s new art concierge Mike McKosky. The luxury property a short 10-minute drive from the Santa Fe Plaza launched the country’s first Art Concierge Program this year, giving collectors and enthusiasts alike front of the line access to the best art galleries in Santa Fe.
As the United States’ third largest art market behind only New York and Los Angeles, winnowing down stops among the nearly 300 galleries to a manageable handful that can be visited in a single afternoon is no mean feat. McKosky, a fixture in the Santa Fe fine art scene since opening his InArt Santa Fe gallery in 2006, does the heavy lifting. Following a brief introductory phone call with guests where he learns their preferences, he uses his experience and leans on contacts around town to hand-select the most relevant venues.
The Art Concierge Program allows guests to customize an itinerary based not only on style, but budget, desired medium and length of visit to ensure a seamless shopping expedition. Looking for contemporary paintings by female artists under $1500? No problem. Historic or contemporary Native American art? Pots, weavings, beadwork–what’s your pleasure? A statement piece for the yard? Yup. In search of a big-name artist? Georgia O’Keeffe, Richard Diebenkorn, Fritz Scholder–can do.
“I like the diversity and the availability, you can literally go door to door to door and see different pieces of artwork very readily,” McKosky told Forbes.com about what he likes best regarding the Santa Fe gallery scene. “When people come here, especially people that haven’t been here before, they’re amazed at how much artwork there is and real class artwork.”
Beyond gallery visits, with numerous world-renowned artists living in Santa Fe, McKosky can also coordinate studio meet-and-greets. With his personal connections and the Four Seasons brand behind him, Art Concierge Program tours feature private showings and after-hours experiences when the situation requires it.
“My goal is to demystify the Santa Fe art scene and allow people to get an intimate experience,” McKosky said. “Unlike the bigger art cities, we’re welcoming and approachable, but with such a wide selection of galleries, it can be overwhelming for visitors to determine the best way to spend their limited time. This program is a way to build a personal connection to our vibrant city.”
Four Seasons Rancho Encantado’s–enchanted ranch–Art Concierge Program evolved out of conversations between McKosky and general manager Bixente Pery. Phase 1, undertaken just prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, was filling the resort and its dramatic grounds set amongst the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains–blood of Christ–with art. The names reminders that Santa Fe and what is now New Mexico was a colonial possession of Spain as far back as the late 1500s.
Dramatic sculptures have been incorporated into the landscaping outdoors with paintings, weavings, ceramics and more being displayed throughout public spaces indoors. Anything from David Perez Escudero merits a long look. His three-dimensional approach to pointillism dazzles the eye.
Phase 2 was taking the art viewing experience off property and into the artistic wonderland of Santa Fe. While concentrated around the art galleries on Canyon Road–more than 100 within a couple blocks–McKosky’s tours, exclusively available to resort guests, can venture out into the Plaza, Railyard Arts District and other locales around town suiting each traveler’s specific interests.
Gallery hopping in Santa Fe, visitors quickly recognize how different the experience is from what they may have encountered elsewhere. Warm and welcoming instead of chilly and aloof, Santa Fe’s arts community has a small-town, come-as-you-are vibe.
“It’s accessible,” the gregarious McKosky said. “I think it’s important to break down the barriers of, ‘oh my gosh, we’re going into a gallery.’ I think people associate it with more of a museum type thing where you can’t touch, you can’t take flash (pictures) and I think it’s a bit of a turn off or a hindrance for a lot of people. I love breaking that down. This is a welcoming place whether you’re a serious, world traveled collector, or a newcomer.”
The Art Concierge Program additionally offers a complimentary service, available Wednesday to Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m., for resort guests that includes an on-site consultation and personalized recommendation from McKosky of galleries to visit. Complementary tours of the Four Seasons’ art collection are additionally available.
Exploring Northern New Mexico
The Art Concierge Program is just one of many full-service tours offered to guests enjoying the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado. A robust suite of experiences are available from city tours of Santa Fe to excursions around the region including O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch, Taos Pueblo and art museums, other nearby Pueblos and Los Alamos, birthplace of the atomic bomb, visible from a hilltop overlooking the property.
Adventure seekers can partake in mountain bike rides, snowshoeing in winter, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and hiking to a high desert mountain waterfall. Epicureans may fancy local brewery tours or a chocolate workshop.
Schedule a spa treatment. It’s good enough for Robert Redford.
As expected, the on-property restaurant delights. Be sure to sample the moist and buttery hatch green chile and cheddar corn bread with sweet–not too sweet–jalapeno jam. House made biscochitos–traditional anise and cinnamon shortbread cookies–are a mouth-watering cultural immersion.
As is the Rancho Encantado Tequila, specially made for the resort by Código 1530 distillery in Amatitán, Jalisco, Mexico. One barrel at a time of Código 1530’s rosa tequila, “rested” in Napa Valley Cabernet French White Oak wine barrels, is selected exclusively for use by the property. Smooth as any bourbon, try it neat before adding cocktail ingredients.
Thankfully, the Four Seasons in Santa Fe’s Terra restaurant and adjacent bar welcome diners and dabblers not staying overnight, but for those who are, you’ll surely enjoy the wood-burning fireplace in each of the 65 casitas, and if you don’t have your fire starting merit badge, a staff “fire butler” will help you along.