Off the beaten path from New Mexico’s other arts and culture offerings is historic Gallup, serving up some local flair that is sure to please even the most well-heeled art connoisseur. Situated just east of the Arizona border on Interstate 40, Gallup hangs on to its Route 66 heritage, keeping alive the earlier generations of automobile travel and the iconic wild west genre while at the same time echoing the ancient footsteps of Navajo and Zuni traders. Those long ago traders came to this lonely stretch of country to exchange goods, information and establish connections. When White settlers began mining, building railroads and America’s westward expansion 150 years ago, those connection stayed in place and today are celebrated here in many ways, year ’round.

Native American Arts - Gallup Arts, New Mexico
Native American Arts – Gallup Arts, New Mexico

March 11, 2017 kicks off the Second Saturday tradition of ArtsCrawl advancing the flavor of this high desert city with some vibrant and exceptional cultural treats. It’s a theme party arts festival and community gathering celebrating Gallup’s Native American mercantile past, keeping many important traditions alive. In addition to art of every medium, Gallup’s ArtCrawl offers music and dance performances, engaging workshops and activities as well as the best authentic foods around. As part of larger whole, ArtsCrawl is just one piece of the culture scene produced by gallupARTS, the county’s non-profit entity to “foster culture, creativity, commerce and quality of life” in this region of the state. The multitudes of events in Gallup are to support local artists and engage the broader community, executive director Rose Eason at gallupARTS tells ArtBeat Magazine. In 2016, more than 9,000 people visited the ArtsCrawl events and gallupARTS collaborated with 550 creative partners to make it all happen, she says.

Fire Performers at Arts Crawl in Gallup, New Mexico
Fire Performers at Arts Crawl in Gallup, New Mexico

According to information online, “Gallup is the Native American jewelry capital of the world” and is an exceptional source for avoiding higher retail prices offered in other cities for just about any handmade artifact. Their flagship 123Gallery is a strong proponent of student arts, showcasing more than 250 pieces by local youth last year alone, says Eason. Intriguingly, Orlando Walker, vice president of gallupARTS, curates what is likely the smallest official art gallery in the western United States, the Shallow Gallery, “packing a punch” in 30 square feet  of experimental space and “cutting-edge” artistic interpretations on all aspects of the human condition each month.

Artist Marina Eskeets exhibiting at
Artist Marina Eskeets Opening Reception March 11, 2017; click on image to find out more information

In 1997, the old Santa Fe Railroad Station was converted into the Gallup Cultural Center. It is still a working train station now featuring a museum, art gallery, cinema, gift and coffee shop. Also, every summer Gallup hosts the four day Inter-Tribal Ceremonial that bring American Indians from around the country together with their most colorful dances, art, exhibits, parades and a rodeo. 2017’s Ceremonial will be the 96th annual. Go to for more information.

As an overnighter or weekend trip, the Gallup area features some one-of-a-kind backcountry tours such as Trail of the Ancients and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. It is recommended that those types of things are booked in advance. During daylight business hours, visit the nationally recognized Navajo Code Talker Museum dedicated to these WWII heroes, as well. Plenty of other hiking, camping and  outdoor activities abound. Come for the scenery, stay for the music and food, live for the art!

Check out among other amazing websites for the travel interested. Photos courtesy of GallupARTS. Feature image “Fire Walk Beside Me” by Arizona artist Jeff Slim.

Downtown Gallup Arts Crawl
Downtown Gallup Arts Crawl

March 11: It’s a Generational Thing

April 8: Flower Power

May 13: Comic Con

June 10: Summer Solstice

July 8: Camp ArtsCrawl

August 12: Get Your Kicks

September 9: Fair and Square

October 14: Whodunnit?

November 11: Thank You for Your Service

December 9: Fired Up