Cover Stories

Best of Santa Fe 2021

Readers Choice Awards

The shortlist for this year’s Best of Santa Fe cover artist was pretty much one name: -Brandon Maldonado. From there, getting the Albuquerque-based painter on board was a cinch—he already had exactly what we needed.

“It’s going with that raw New Mexico thing where usually it’s just one figure and some curtains,” Maldonado says of the figure he’s come to call the Cake Lady. “But that gets a little old for me, so how can I reinvent it? It would be very easy and logical if she were holding a normal bouquet, but when you start thinking of the land—what if she were holding a cactus?”

Maldonado says he stuck with a traditional three-color palette for the piece (red, black and dirty white), though his use of markers and calligraphy pens eschews tradition for a more modern feel.

Just how tradition and modernity should intersect seems to be a theme in Santa Fe over the last year. Those who voted in the Best of Santa Fe readers poll for 2021 reflected the notion with some steadfast winners who have held their titles for a decade or more along with newcomers and underdogs who also reinvented themselves to earn support over the long, cold, lonely pandemic. Cakes are for celebrating. Cut yourself a big slice!


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