View La Fonda’s Art Photo Gallery
In Every Room: A Story of the Art
Highlights from the Collection of La Fonda on the Plaza
The art collection of La Fonda on the Plaza began at the hotel’s inception, and has grown considerably since Sam and Ethel Ballen bought the property in 1968. Paintings by the best Pueblo artists were acquired in the early years and the Ballens carried on that tradition, supporting Santa Fe’s famed Indian Market and acquiring work by Native Americans and other artists for the hotel. Not only does original art hang in every room, but all of it has a connection to the people who designed, built, and owned the hotel—a collaboration that has made La Fonda a sought-after destination for more than 90 years. This book highlights only a few of the artists and their stories. You can also click here to download a PDF to your computer and print a copy. In Every Room: A Story of the Art is available for purchase in the gift shop at La Fonda.
Art at La Fonda
The magazine Western Art Collector features the hotel’s art collection in its December 2011 issue. Writer John O’Hern looks not only at the art on the walls, but the art of the walls themselves in his report on how the colorful social and artistic history of Santa Fe meets present and future at La Fonda on the Plaza. You can also click here to download a PDF to your computer and print a copy.
Where Art and History Meet
Step into the lobby and public spaces of La Fonda, and you are surrounded by some of the finest examples of Santa Fe style. Overhead are beautifully carved and painted beams, sculpted corbels, and handcrafted chandeliers of tin, glass, and copper. The light-filled La Plazuela dining room at the heart of the hotel includes an inspired mix of New Mexican textiles and furnishings, plus contemporary pieces by local artisans. From ancient to modern, La Fonda has honored the legacy of New Mexican arts and crafts for almost a century.
In the 1920s, when La Fonda became one of the iconic Harvey Houses of the West, renowned architect and designer Mary Jane Colter renovated the interior. She filled La Fonda with unique furnishings inspired by homespun Mexican inns and their aristocratic Spanish forebears, from individually painted furniture and hand-painted tiles to wrought-iron banisters and chandeliers. Local artists were commissioned to create works for the hotel’s public spaces and meeting rooms, many of which remain today.
Gerald Cassidy (1879–1934) painted ten dramatic canvases depicting life in the frontier West, plus an important map of the Southwest that still hangs in the New Mexico Room. Paul Lantz (1908–2000) painted handsome murals depicting life in a Mexican village, as well as two large tableaux for the ballroom and another for the stairway leading up to it.
Vladan Stiha, a onetime resident of the hotel, painted striking panels of Native America on the Mezzanine level overlooking the hotel’s La Plazuela dining room. And nearly every corner of the hotel is graced with the charming hand-painted motifs of Ernest Martinez — most notably the windows in La Plazuela. His whimsical flora, fauna, and Native designs add a folk-art touch to the most surprising places, tying together old and new in a way that is unmistakably La Fonda.