The Creation of an Altar Screen in Historic Luxury Home in Santa Fe

In the guest house of a luxury home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a special artistic piece that adds a touch of Old Spain to a beautiful, historic property.

Altar Screen Art

Altar Screen Art by Pamela Platt, Photo:

Artist Pamela Platt spent a year researching, and a year painting the mural on the old chapel wall as part of a series of painting projects at an Upper Canyon Road Compound.

Guesthouse Exterior, 1243 Canyon Road, Photo:

Guesthouse Exterior. Photo:

“I thought it would be very interesting and appropriate to the age of the room,” Pamela said, “that the painting be done as an altar screen in the style reminiscent of the 17th century Spanish Colonial altar screens.” The room in the chapel, (now part of a 1,503 square foot, 2 bedroom guest house), is one of the oldest on the property and dates back several hundred years. According to the building foreman of the property in the 1990s, the chapel was used by an order of Franciscan monks.

Virgin de Guadalupe altar screen, Photo:

Virgin de Guadalupe altar screen, Photo:

Based on her interviews with the then-owner—a mother of two small children—Pamela proposed a design for the screen with three central panels around the Biblical story of Mary: The Annunciation, the Mother and Child, and the Holy Family. A departure from the traditional altar screens of the time, they decided to include goddesses and figures of the feminine in other cultures representing the mother: The Corn Mother of the indigenous tribes of North America; the Virgin of Guadalupe from Spanish and Mexican Roman Catholic tradition; Kwan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Compassion; and Isis, a goddess of Ancient Egypt. The artist also included elements of earth, air, and water. Candles, lit before the finished mural, would add the element of fire.

Altar Image of Kwan Yin, Photo:

Altar Image of Kwan Yin, Photo:

The walls were freshly plastered with the traditional straw glinting gold in the light. Bill Roth Plastering did the initial interior plastered walls. The base coat of the 12-foot by 5-foot mural was a latex paint, then continued in oils.

“I did a few loose studies for each panel,” said Pamela. “The Annunciation panel shows Atalaya Mountain in the background and is from a point of view on the property.” She referenced the owner’s children in the face of the child in the Mother and Child panel and the Holy Family, and had a friend pose for the archangel, Gabriel. In Mary’s panel, the iconic symbols of Mary are present, including the lilies, the moon under her feet, and the stars on her blue mantle.

Bronze Guesthouse Doors Canyon Road Luxury Home for Sale

Bronze Guesthouse Doors at Canyon Road Luxury Home for Sale

The artist describes the other panels: “The Corn Mother shows a background of night and day and her child tucked next to her. The Virgin of Guadalupe is taken after the traditional known image of her. Kwan Yin is painted from a statue that I own and she holds a pomegranate branch and wears a headdress of the phoenix. Isis is the oldest goddess and she includes the moon at her feet, the waters of the Nile, and nurses her child.”

In addition to the mural, artist Pamela Platt also designed the bronze door screens which show apple trees and birds.

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To view more of Pamela Platt’s work, please visit

To schedule a viewing of this compound on Canyon Road, please contact Marilyn Foss at (505) 231-2500 or email

The data relating to real estate for sale in this web site comes from the Internet Data exchange (“IDX”) Program of SFAR MLS, Inc. Real estate listings held by brokers other than Santa Fe Real Estate Scene are marked with the IDX Logo. All data in this web site is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed. IDX Listing courtesy of Sotheby’s, Paul McDonald, listing agent.

Join the Black & White Benefit to Stop Bullying in New Mexico

Do you have a white shirt? Do you have black pants? Do you want to dance and donate money to a great cause in Santa Fe?

2011 French film "The Artist" with Costume designer Mark Bridges

The 2011 French film "The Artist. Costumes by designer Mark Bridges may inspire your Black & White attire!

You’re in luck, because on Friday, June 15, 2012, the Santa Fe Mountain Center (SFMC) is hosting the organization’s First Annual Black & White Dance Party: A Benefit to Stop Bullying in New Mexico.

The party will be held at La Posada de Santa Fe’s Ballroom from 8pm to midnight. Get your tickets, ($45 in advance, $50 at the door, $200 for a book of 5 in advance) at the SFMC website. Click here to purchase tickets from SFMC.

On hand to spin the tunes will be special guest DJ Stephen Durkin flying in from Philadelphia. The ticket price includes complimentary food by La Posada and Sugarbaby Cupcakes. There will be great items and deals at the silent auction, including lodging and spa packages, cooking lessons, portrait sessions, artwork, restaurant and clothing gift certificates and so much more.

The Black & White Party is proudly sponsored by individuals and organizations who understand the importance of supporting bullying prevention programs. These include Marilyn Foss and Kevin Bobolsky of Santa Fe Properties, Merrill Lynch/The Medrano Asher Green Group, OptumHealth New Mexico, Los Alamos National Bank, La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa, New Mexico Bank and Trust, Ian Johnson & Pilo Bueno, and Chris Haynes.

The National Education Association has stated that in recent years, “bullying has become more lethal and has occurred more frequently” than in the previous two decades. Your donation to SFMC’s First Annual Black & White Dance Party will support ongoing programs including:

  • SFMC’s Adventures in a Caring Community (ACC) which provides experiential activities to increase students’ resiliency as well as promote life skills.
  • SFCM’s New Mexico Gay Straight Alliance Network (NMGSAN) works with LGBTQA youth and Gay Straight Alliance Clubs (GSAs) to create safer, more inclusive and more welcoming schools while building stronger, more resilient and allied youth leaders and activists.
  • N’MPower is an Albuquerque-based program of the Santa Fe Mountain Center to promote gay and bisexual men’s health and prevent HIV transmission.

The Santa Fe Mountain Center is an award-winning, nationally recognized and accredited 501(c)3 nonprofit educational and therapeutic organization that, since 1979, has been dedicated to promoting personal discovery and social change among youth, families and groups through the use of creative learning experiences in wilderness, community and cultural environments.

Sunset Santa Fe Style

Sunset over the Sandias, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A big part of enjoying the Santa Fe lifestyle is the daily view of the sun setting behind the Sandias in Albuquerque. One of the best types of sunsets is when the last rays dip under a storm cloud in summer and stretch across the land for a few minutes before disappearing.

Enjoy these other sunset photos from

Santa Fe Sunset from January 9, 2012. Photo: Photo: Photo: Santa Fe Sunset from January 17, 2012. Photo: SantaFeSky365.comPhoto:

Explore Santa Fe Like a Local this Summer

When you’re visiting Santa Fe, you want to discover the places not on all the regular tourist maps. Take it from a local who’s lived here for years, there are some great places to visit and restaurants to explore off the beaten path.

The Plaza is the hub of tourism in the summer in Santa Fe. But a local music organization paired with a new stage, has made the Plaza a place for locals to gather for a free summer festival and community celebration.

Established in 1610 and proclaimed the end of the Camino Real from Mexico City and the Santa Fe Trail from St. Louis in 1822, the Santa Fe Plaza has recently become a primo place for locals to see old friends. On cool summer evenings, the benches and dance areas are filled with hundreds of locals and tourists alike listening to musicians play in the free Santa Fe Bandstand concert series. You may get a chance to hear Matthew Andrae, Alex Maryol or the incredible Santa Fe Opera Apprentice singers. Bring your dancing shoes!

When your feet are sore, give them a rest right across the street at the Marble Brewery and Tap Room on East San Francisco Street. From the upstairs balcony you can sit and watch over the Plaza while enjoying locally brewed, handcrafted selections including Double White Ale — a pale, hazy, Belgian inspired, wheat ale. Brewed with coriander, orange and lemon peel. What’s really cool is you can purchase a lesser-pint: 5oz and 10oz are available. On a hot summer day, it’ll wet your whistle. They also have a full espresso bar for the non-beer drinker.

Standing in line at O'Horri's local coffee roasters in Santa Fe. Photo: Melissa J WhiteBut if coffee is de riguer for you, try O’Horii’s local coffee micro-roasters (30lbs or less) kitty-corner from the State Capitol. They’ve been a Santa Fe icon since 1984. In the summer, the crowd tends to t-shirts, but when the legislature is in session (Jan-Feb) you’ll see suits in the mornings. One of my favorite O’Horii’s brands is the rich Sumatra Mandheling.

Gotta have green chile. If you’ve been away from Santa Fe for more than a week, your blood requires a dose of real New Mexico green chile when you come home. One of the best places to get your fix is at Bobcat Bite, a simple, small, burger joint on Old Las Vegas Highway only fifteen minutes from town. Line up and rub shoulders with friends and family on the porch as the door swings open and the smell of grilled burgers wafts out to you. You’ll also get a view of all the photos of mountain cats framed on the wall. The Bobcat Bite has been a family-owned and operated restaurant since 1953. Bring cash; they don’t take credit cards.

Just writing about green chile makes me hungry! What’s your favorite local hangout?

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If you’d like to view some homes for sale while you’re in Santa Fe, please contact Marilyn Foss. Click here to send an email.

Santa Fe Fine Dining

International cuisine has had a long and flourishing home in Santa Fe, and on the north side of town, there are a few restaurants you won’t want to miss, especially when they are mere minutes from your Circle Drive Estate:

El Mason

A “Mesón” is a typical Spanish Bistro, rustically decorated, serving hearty food and wine. The popularity of the cuisine of Spain has exploded on the international arena. For the last 15 years, El Mesón has championed the traditional flavors and methods of Spanish Cuisine in Santa Fe. Tapas, paella, fine wines & live music are at the core of El Mesón. Refined, yet also relaxed, an evening at this Santa Fe restaurant is as close as you can get to a night in Madrid itself. Nowhere else in Santa Fe can you find a more classic representation of the ingredients, preparations and flavors of Spain than El Mesón. So much so, that El Mesón is recommended by the Consulate of Spain for quality and authenticity.


Gabriel’s, serving food of the Southwest and Old Mexico, is considered one of the best Mexican and Southwestern restaurants in New Mexico. The personal attention to service and food is what makes Gabriel’s special. Little touches add so much to your dining experience, such as fresh guacamole made at your table, margaritas made with freshly squeezed limes and gold tequila, and handmade corn tortillas.