If you ever want to have a super-fun conversation with someone deeply ensconced in the established arts community in Santa Fe, let 'em know you've started to grow tired of the Canyon Road scene.

Oh, don't get us wrong. We've seen some stellar shows up there, assume we will again, and we do kind of love that there's a dedicated gallery street in town. But even our readers know the gallery landscape is a-changing. This is partly why we're excited to highlight three local galleries that topped our annual readers poll—none of which reside on that storied street.

We think this proves a couple important truths: that Santa Feans will go where the good art is, regardless of address, and that the democratization of visual and performance art is well underway.

You needn't worry about galleries as we know them, for they'll always exist as they have so long as the city's marketing dollars have a dog in the hunt. Further, the galleries on this list are in downtown Santa Fe, long held as the bastion of acceptable art spaces (not counting the Midtown push or the Southside DIY renaissance). Still, there's a certain something about these galleries that speak to Santa Fe's sensibilities—why else would you have voted for them as the cream of the crop?

form & concept

It seems like the very moment the Zane Bennett Contemporary Art transformed into the more eccentric and entirely more locally focused form & concept, the hits have kept on coming. From the bizarre landscapes of Matthew Mullin and the visceral wearable art of Debra Baxter and the show-stopping full-space multimedia of Thais Mather, the Guadalupe Street space has never once feared taking risks.

We've caught live music from ppoacher ppoacher; we've stared in awe at painter Jared Weiss' colorful assemblages; we've seen trans musical activists, caught incredible talks about sex ed and peered at strange cyanotypes obscured with other-worldly knitting. There's no telling
what you'll find at form & concept, but you just know you'll probably love it.

435 S Guadalupe St.,

Still life compositions by William Acheff are tiny: 10 to 12 inches.
Still life compositions by William Acheff are tiny: 10 to 12 inches. | Courtesy Nedra Matteucci Galleries

Nedra Matteucci Galleries

The oldest gallery on our list opened its doors in 1972, and has long been one of the most popular spaces for observing (and maybe even buying) paintings and sculpture, pottery, jewelry and more. It's not unusual to see traditional landscapes and historical paintings alongside contemporary Native artists, bronze sculpture or stirring portraiture. Also notable is the serene and pastoral sculpture garden, replete with soft grass and a beautiful pond.

It's the sort of gallery tourists and locals alike can enjoy, the coming-together of our city's hundreds of years of history alongside more contemporary artists exploring their craft. You'll find easily more than 50 at any given time, with the promise of more surprises at any given moment.

1075 Paseo de Peralta,
982-4631, matteucci.com

Wow! Gallery

Wow! represents the gallery as leveler, an eclectic venue that seems at first blush like everything Santa Fe exploded in a room. But when we take into account the gallery's unique pricing structure, things start to get a little more interesting.

See, when it comes to paintings at Wow!, customers only pay $100 for original work. This is meant to encourage new collectors to get in the game, and highlights an interesting point about the art market's labyrinthian concepts of value. Does a piece need to cost or be valued astronomically in order to be worthwhile, or does the feelings it evokes carry more weight?

135 W Palace Ave., 466-1225,