In Every Room: A Story of the Art

Highlights of the Art at La Fonda

The wholly owned art collection of La Fonda on the Plaza began at the hotel’s inception, and has grown considerably over the years. Paintings by the best Pueblo artists were acquired in the early years and Sam and Ethel Ballen carried on that tradition followed by Jenny Kimball, all 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 guest room, but all of it has a connection to the people who designed, built, and owned the hotel—a collaboration that has garnered La Fonda a reputation as one of the best Santa Fe hotels and a sought-after destination for more than 90 years. The book, In Every Room: A Story of the Art, highlights a few of these artists and their stories and is available for purchase in Detours at La Fonda, our gift gallery. You can also click here to download a PDF to your computer and print a copy. 

Image 1 Image 2 Image 3

The Art of La Fonda

The magazine, Western Art Collector, featured 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 article 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 of O'Hern's article.

A Close Up Of A Decorated Tree
A Close Up Of A Piece Of Paper

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 and progenitor of Santa Fe style. Overhead are beautifully hand-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 historic to modern, La Fonda has honored the legacy of New Mexican artisans 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 Elizabeth Colter renovated the interior. She filled La Fonda with unique furnishings inspired by homespun Mexican inns and their aristocratic Spanish forebears, with individually painted furniture, hand-painted tiles, 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 located in the ballroom and another for the stairway leading up to it.

A Painting Of A Book

Vladan Stiha, a onetime resident of the hotel, painted striking panels of Native America situated in 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.

A Close Up Of A Flag Hanging On A Wall