Giving the Gift of New Mexico Art on a Budget This Holiday Season

As Seen on 2 KASA Fox “New Mexico Style”

Colorful  reclaimed wood and metal pieces
Ghost Town Furniture
Well, it’s the holidays and times are still tough for most people.  Have you ever wanted to give art as a holiday gift but weren’t sure where to start, where to go or what to buy?  Art can sometimes feel intimidating.  It shouldn’t be, if you keep my number one piece of advice for buying art in mind–buy what you like!  Some galleries may try to convince you that it is important to buy for investment.  For most, though, who don’t plan to buy a Picasso or Kandinsky, value is less important.  True, many artists’ work will appreciate, but in a bad economy, you may not get your investment back if you decide to sell it. That’s why it’s even more important to buy something that speaks to you or something that your loved one will enjoy.  After all, you or someone will have to live with the piece day in and day out. It may even become a treasured family heirloom! 
With artists and galleries struggling, it is even more important to buy your art locally.  Every community is blessed with terrific artists, and New Mexico cities are no exception. Often times, people will spend upwards of $200 for framed prints by famous artists at the local hobby shop.  Did you know that for the same price or less, you can give a one-of-a-kind gift for the holidays in the form on original art made by a local artist?
New Mexico has some amazing original art that is available both directly from the artists themselves and galleries.  My experience as a New Mexico resident has allowed me to see a wide array of art. That’s the reason I decided to put together my own comprehensive holiday gift guide featuring great art for people shopping on a budget.   From functional art to traditional Native American, contemporary and wearable art, I hope you find my picks as exciting as I do!

Functional Art:
Functional art is the kind of art that we can live with, enjoy, and use in our everyday lives.  Furniture is a great example.  Ghost Town Furniture in Nob Hill is one of the best purveyors of rustic furniture in the Mexican style in Albuquerque. Claudio Cruz and his family create beautiful pieces made from reclaimed wood and metal.  Pieces include colorful chairs for $135, this ranch shelf for $240nichos for $125 and holiday angels for $18 for small ones and $58 for the larger ones.
Ranch shelf
Ghost Town Furniture

Reclaimed wood and metal angels
Ghost Town Furniture
Micaceous serving bowl by Clarence Cruz
Andrews Pueblo Pottery & Art Gallery

Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo potter Clarence Cruz creates beautiful functional pottery out of black and gold micaceous clay.  From bean pots to stew bowls to ollas, Cruz’s work is stunning and can actually be used to cook and eat from because of the properties of the micaceous clay and the firing process involved with making the pottery.    Andrews Pueblo Pottery and Art Gallery in Old Town carries a wide array of Clarence Cruz’s functional pottery.  This is a wonderful idea for a holiday party hostess gift. It’s a serving bowl that will only set you back $75.

Native American Art:

When it comes to buying Native American art, do your research and know the dealer from whom you are buying it.  Only reputable dealers will represent the art they sell as made by Native Americans.  Native art sales are highly regulated by the government.   Bob Andrews of Andrews Pueblo Pottery and Art Gallery in Albuquerque’s Old Town knows a thing or two about Native American art since he has been selling it for 38 years and you know that when you buy from Bob Andrews that it is going to be authentic.

Dreamcatcher  by Carrie Lucero

I really love the traditionally made dreamcatchers made by Carrie Lucero, who is a member of the Onondaga Tribe of the Iroquois Nation.  Did you know that the circle is not a traditional form? It came about when artists started using metal hoops to make them. Carrie utilizes natural wood with organic materials ranging from horse hair to quartz crystals to shells and feathers.  She also handwrites booklets that are attached to the dreamcatchers, which give the meanings of all of the materials.  This dreamcatcher painted black is available at Andrews Pueblo Pottery and Art Gallery for $62.

White marble and black jet bears
by Herbert Halate
Andrews Pueblo Pottery &Art Gallery

If you live in the Southwest, you are, no doubt, familiar with festish carvings from Zuni Pueblo. While it is forbidden to sell true fetishes that are used for religious purposes, many artists such as Herbert Halate, create fetish carvings that can be sold.  Pieces such as these bear carvings cut from jet and white marble are essentially miniature sculptures and are the perfect gift for those who love bears or sculpture. Both are available at Andrews Pueblo Pottery and Art Gallery for $69 and $95 respectively.

Contemporary Art:

“Our Lady of Sorrows” by Nicholas Herrera
Legends Santa Fe

 If finding affordable art by top contemporary Native American artists is your thing, look no further than Legends Santa Fe, a gallery that specializes in Native art and regional non-Native artists. On November 25, Legends Santa Fe opened its “Holiday Small Works” show offering pieces in the $300 to $1000 range by its roster of artists.  Famed non-Native American New Mexico artist Nicholas Herrera created “Our Lady of Sorrows” for the show. It’s priced at $450, which is a bargain for this artist whose work is found in museums around the world.

“Untitled” by Frank Buffalo Hyde
Legends Santa Fe

Cool Nez Pierce and Onondaga Native artist Frank Buffalo Hyde created this awesome untitled piece featuring the Bat Mobile for the exhibition. It is currently selling for $300.  For more information on the show and the gallery, visit

Day of the Dead ornanments by Amber Middleton
Mariposa Gallery

One of my favorite galleries in New Mexico is Mariposa Gallery in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill. Since 1974, the gallery has been carrying funky and fabulous local art. Local artist Amber Middleton creates these cool Day of the Dead paper clay ornaments. They’re not what you usually think of when it comes to the holidays, but they’re quintessentially New Mexico and will make a wonderful addition to your holiday tree. They come in smaller and larger sizes ranging from $40-$45 in price.

Ariela Boronat is a Cuban-born, Santa Fe-based artist who creates beautiful mixed-media paintings that are based on her travels around the world.  Her works, which can be found in private collections around the world, can run upwards of $300.  This holiday season, Ariela is creating pieces such as “Musical (11″ x 14″)” priced at $175 and “Old Memories (8″ x 10″)” $85, a great way to make her work affordable.  They are available at

“Musical” by Ariela Boronat

“Old Memories” by Ariela Boronat

Wearable Art:

Earrings by Priscilla Aguilar
Andrews Pueblo Pottery & Art Gallery

Turquoise earring are a staple in New Mexico. Andrews Pueblo Pottery and Art Gallery features gorgeous inlay earrings made by Kewa Pueblo jeweler Priscilla Aguilar.  Andrews carries a variety of colors and designs.  These earrings are authentic and are a steal at $165.

If you’re in the market for wearable art, check out Studio 13 in Albuquerque’s Old Town.  Owner and artist Daniel Ramirez, who is Saginaw-Chippewa creates original art on clothing based on his art.  Daniel is currently working on “The World’s Longest Native American Painting,” which features prominent tribal women, who are constants in his work.  While $800 to $5000 paintings are not in most people’s budgets, prints can be had for around $18 to $95 and cards sets cost $28Original painted clothing such as the t-shirt below featuring a basic design ($40) are great affordable statement pieces. Cost is determined by clothing item and complexity of the art. Visit Studio 13 in Old Town in person or online HERE.

“Women of the Four Directions” by Daniel Ramirez
Studio 13

Original wearable art by Daniel Ramirez
Studio 13
Bra Shrinky Dinks ring by Kris Mills
Mariposa Gallery

When I was a kid, Shrinky Dinks were all the rage. Today, local Albuquerque artist Kris Mills creates miniature graphite drawings on Shrinky Dinks before baking them.  Then she sets them in silver making pendants, cufflinks and exciting rings like this “Bra” ring available at Mariposa Gallery in Nob Hill.  This is a unique and affordable gift at $135.

Men are often hard to shop for. For the man who appreciates unique and sleek jewelry, why not give him this tufa cast cuff bracelet and ring by Kewa Pueblo artist Dino Garcia.  The bear claw and tulip designs are traditional,  but they can be incorporated with the fashion-forward wardrobe and can be worn together or separately.  The cuff is $225 and the ring is $90. Both are available at Andrews Pueblo Pottery and Art Gallery.
Tufa cast cuff and ring by Dino Garcia
Andrews Pueblo Pottery & Art Gallery

Street sign money clip by Peter Gilroy
Mariposa Gallery

For the man who hates a cumbersome wallet, give him this one-of-a-kind street sign money clip made by Northern New Mexico artist Peter Gilroy.  He retains the original patina of the signs that he uses in his work, but makes them cool and bold by polishing the sides and backs.  This is definitely not your grandfather’s money clip, and it’s a bargain at $50. Available at

(*Paul Niemi is a compensated spokesperson for all of the products and services contained within this gift guide)