Padre José M. Gallegos became New Mexico’s first Hispanic delegate elected to Congress in 1853. The house he built on Washington Avenue in the late 1850s is now home to the popular restaurant Santacafé. In 1914 artist Sheldon Parsons lived in that house,. The home became a meeting place for the artists of the early 20th century.
20th Century Salons
Sheldon Parsons arrived in Santa Fe in 1913 suffering from tuberculosis. A prominent painter in New York, he completed commissions for President William McKinley and Vice President Garret Hobart. Other well-known politicians of that era also hired him for their portraits. In 1914 he moved into the historic house once owned by Padre Gallegos on Washington Avenue, which became a meeting place for the bourgeoning artist colony. Parsons became the first director of the Fine Arts of the Museum of New Mexico.
TB & Art
Tuberculosis became the leading cause of death in this country from 1880 through 1940. The dreadful disease solidified the foundation of Santa Fe as a major art center. The pristine arid climate brought hundreds of people to Sunmount Sanitorium, located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The solitude of convalescence awakened a core of creativity. The breathtaking landscape shaped by volcanic activity millions of years ago, coupled with the shifting light cast by the sun in the high-desert, formed a kaleidoscope of iridescent hues yearning to find artistic expression. The terrain provided a canvas for those indebted to the people and place that gave them a second chance at life.