The Best Place to See Sculpture Being Made

By Richard Mahler

Author of "New Mexico's Best"

Like her fellow sculptors from throughout the United States, California resident Gwyn Murrell visits Shidoni whenever she gets anywhere close to Santa Fe. A combination foundry, gallery and outdoor sculpture garden, Shidoni is north of the city in the village of Tesuque.

"This is one of the greatest resources anywhere for sculpture and collectors of sculpture," says Murrell, whose own work is in museums and private collections all over the world. "Shidoni has evolved into a world-class casting facility. And what's fun about it is that visitors can learn firsthand about how these works of art are created."

Every Saturday the public is invited to watch 2,000-degree molten bronze being poured into ceramic shell molds, one of several steps in the complex "lost wax" casting process. During other days of the week you are welcome to tour the foundry during its 15-minute work breaks that occur every couple of hours. Call ahead for exact times. There's usually something life-size or larger being worked on.

Murrell recalls that Shidoni (Navajo for "friendly greeting") was founded in 1971 as a two-man foundry catering only to local artists. It now employs 40 people and serves artists of international distinction.

Nestled at the foot of an old apple orchard, the foundry shows much of its work in two adjacent galleries (one traditional, the other contemporary) and on several acres of orchard grounds devoted to monumental sculpture. Visitors are invited to bring a picnic and enjoy the  tranquil setting.

If You Go: Shidoni (505-988-8001) is 5 miles north of Santa Fe on Bishop's Lodge Road. From downtown, take Washington Avenue (the name soon changes to Bishop's Lodge Road) north, and watch for a large sign on the left side of the road.

Insider Tip: Come April, the apple trees are in radiant bloom and the temperatures are usually mild. If you're a bicyclist, the ride here is one of New Mexico's loveliest.


Richard Mahler is author of "New Mexico's Best" and several other books. A journalist and photographer as well, he specializes in travel writing, among other subjects. He has contributed to National Public Radio since 1973 and to the Los Angeles Times since 1979. He has written thousands of articles for more than 100 magazines and newspapers, including The New Mexican, New Mexico magazine, and Santa Fean magazine. A longtime resident of New Mexico, he lives in Santa Fe.

For a full listing of Richard Mahler's books, and to place orders for them, visit Amazon.com.

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