Giving Thanks for Art, Travel, Food, Nature . . . and Thanksgiving

November 15, 2023
Cornelius Annor, Black Doll
Cornelius Annor, Black Doll
As we all gather this week to eat, play, laugh, yell at the television, bury the hatchet and connect with those we love I wanted to share some thoughts on togetherness and travel.

There may be no other holiday that is so rife with memory than Thanksgiving. The look and feel of our childhood homes, the smells coming from the kitchen. The sounds of football on the television in another room. Maybe children’s games in another. Family, college roommates, other people’s pets. Many holidays are often spent on vacation, but this one always brings back the feeling of home, whatever that means to each of us. We go back there actually and metaphorically every year.


My Thanksgiving lately has included an early morning hike in the mountains. Very crisp and quite cool now, and fewer birds as Winter is barely restrained and everyone and everything is preparing to rest. My dogs don’t seem to notice, thrilled to be in their own heaven. The only constant sound is the still flowing river which runs along the trail, as it babbles through the forming ice. Even on a holiday I try and get on the trail by sunrise as it’s so magical to watch the earth awaken with the sun.


Whatever you do on this day, I hope you are at peace and that your day is filled with joy.




I recently returned from two trips. East and West. In New York, I saw The Art Show, the annual fair at the Park Avenue Armory. Also wonderful exhibitions in galleries and Manet / Degas at the Met. And of course, the walking and walking that I love to do in big cities. I heard the term “flaneur” recently…someone who walks in cities with no particular purpose except to be present in their walking…  I suppose I have been a flaneur for some time and did not even know this. More so when I am abroad as my days are often loosely based on eating at some point and getting back to the hotel at some point, but otherwise just spent wandering about. Perhaps pointed toward a particular area of town or a museum of interest. It is easiest to approach life with a beginner’s mind when I am not around the familiar.


I was tasked with some assignments in New York..looking at all the fare laid out by the auctions and galleries. So, I had to restrict my lack of purpose to the negative space of my days… We cannot be all things at all times, I suppose.


The auction season was quite impressive. I am still amazed at how much great art appears every season, and how much is fought for, coveted, discussed, consumed, acquired.


The art world, like the stream in the mountains I hike, is always flowing. 


Sometimes when I am thinking about art, I think about love and how it cannot be understood, but can be deeply felt. Unlike love, art is not terrifying. With both, I have felt the connection that comes from being completely in the moment in the world. Anything that can change our perspective or open our hearts and minds is some kind of love.


To be an art dealer, you have to be eternally hopeful. That is, you wish for a good result, but are realistic about all the circumstances necessary to arrive at that result. You have to believe that others see what you see and that they, too, will embrace what you love. To be a dealer you also have to be optimistic. You have to believe that positive outcomes are always possible, probable even.



On this trip east, I also finally made it to Philadelphia to see the Barnes Collection. Now that I’ve seen it I don’t think Dr. Barnes was as eccentric or as rigid as he’s always seemed. So much would be lost if that collection were to hang in a museum just like all the other works of art are hung in museums. Dozens at a time in big rooms, the rest in storage. Curated segments of the whole. How rare to create something so personal that survives across time? And there is something to seeing all of those paintings as they are hung there. What do we focus on. Which works do we notice first. How do they relate when we are in such close proximity to them all. I definitely found myself asking different questions when I was there. I had similar feelings when I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston last Spring, too.


Then I came back to Santa Fe, and enjoyed the beautiful 5 hour drive up to Denver. I don’t mind flying, but I love to drive and driving in the West cannot be beat.


Denver has several wonderful museums and a very enthuiastic and supportive art community. The recently renovated Denver Art Museum is truly stunning.  The collections are diverse and superb in quality and depth.  On view now is an exhibition of paintings loaned from the Phillips Collection, Washington DC. For this exhibition, they’ve also re-created some of the musical arrangements that are hallmarks of the Phillips, which hosts weekly concerts in their museum.  Here is a link to this exhibition, All Stars: American Artists in the Phillips Collection, in case you want to make a special trip to see this exhibition. You can fly anywhere in the world from Denver, so just connect a trip through there and spend a day in town.


I was please to attend the first ever Chairwoman’s Gala at the museum to celebrate this effort. Sarah Anschutz is the museum’s first Chairwoman. About time!




There is also an insightful and inspiring show of Amoako Boafo’s work currently showing as well: Soul of Black Folks




Finally, I also enjoyed a number of tasty vegan meals in New York, Philadelphia and Denver. Santa Fe needs to step up its plant-based game.


The best recipe….in Denver I found true hospitality mixed with humility and pragmatism. There is something about being in the West. I grew up in Los Angeles. West Coast… but Santa Fe and Denver are in the West. It’s definitely a vibe. Love it.

About the author

Aaron Payne

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