ONETIME TAOS RESIDENT AND AUTHOR D.H. Lawrence also loved to paint. He just wasn’t as good at representing his mostly biblical or mythical—and often nude—subjects as he was at writing novels. In 1929, half of his oil-painting exhibit in London was judged obscene and exiled from British soil. Lawrence’s widow, Frieda, brought nine of the notorious works back to their home north of Taos. Upon her death in 1956, the paintings wound up on curtained display at Hotel La Fonda de Taos and have stayed with the property since. Present $5 at the front desk and you can judge the artistic merit of the “forbidden” paintings while listening to an audio tour. 

From left: Artworks at La Fonda on the Plaza include a Marla Allison (Laguna Pueblo) painting, "A Hint of Blue," and a sculpture by Sheldon B. Harvey (Diné), "Kaá loogi (Dragonfly)."

Established in 2015 to showcase both the architectural and artistic accomplishment that is Santa Fe’s oldest hotel, docent-led art tours have since shepherded more than 7,000 people through a fraction of La Fonda on the Plaza’s 1,200-piece collection. (Most are installed in guest rooms.) Tour participants travel a timeline of notable New Mexico art from the 1920s through today. Tours are free, Wednesday through Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Make first-come reservations with the concierge. 

Local artists have shown and sold their work from La Posada de Santa Fe since it became a hotel in the late 1930s. Every Friday for the past 14 years, resident curator Sara Eyestone has regaled anyone who presents themselves in the lobby with stories about the property and its contemporary artworks decorating the hotel’s public spaces, all of them for sale. A margarita or glass of wine makes it even more engaging. Private tours can also be arranged.