JUST OFF U.S. 84 SOUTH OF ABIQUIÚ LAKE, a tiny adobe building with a turquoise door and a rounded roof stands out against the Jemez Mountains. What is that? you wonder, driving past the mix of ancient Byzantine architecture and adobe construction.
“People think it’s a mosque or a shrine,” says Connie B. Burkhart, who owns the 100-square-foot structure. Built by adobe guru Quentin Wilson and his Northern New Mexico College students in 2006, it draws inspiration from an architectural process first used at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, in Turkey, more than 1,500 years ago. “It’s this iconic structure in Abiquiú,” she adds. “A lot of the locals would come by and say they had always wondered about it.”
Burkhart, who has been teaching workshops and leading educational hikes at Ghost Ranch for 29 years, bought the dome in 2016. She moved to Abiquiú full-time a few months later with plans to make the little building into a gallery and studio space for her welding practice. “People come to Abiquiú for Georgia O’Keeffe and think there’s nothing else here,” Burkhart says. “But really, it’s such a treasure. Anywhere you go around here, you’re finding artifacts from ancient cultures.”
Last year, Burkhart’s daughter, Becca Fisher, moved to Abiquiú so they could realize the space’s full potential together. With a bit of preparation and a lot of love, the duo opened Abiquiú Dome gallery in April 2022. “It was a great first season,” says Fisher, the gallery’s curator and managing partner.
Open Saturdays and Sundays from May through October, Abiquiú Dome features Burkhart’s welded metal garden spirits, fragrant bundles of local herbs Fisher makes under the moniker High Desert Flora, and landscape photography from Burkart’s son, Jesse Fisher. Seven other artists also show work there, including oil painter Barb Clark, folk art painter Jamie Taylor, and fused-glass artist Katrina Jameson. “We have about half returning artists and half new,” Becca Fisher says. “We like to keep it fresh.” Look out for handmade candles, soaps, and ceramics, too.
A new retail space next to the dome allows more artists and makers to join the Abiquiú Dome while keeping the natural allure of the little building intact. “It’s not just about the building itself,” Burkhart says, “but the mystery and enchantment that surrounds it and Abiquiú. It’s such a treasure.”
Connie Burkhart’s Ghost Ranch hikes combine aspects of paleontology, archaeology, geology, and history, giving visitors an experience that highlights the wonders of Abiquiú. Her next outing, Healing in Hiking, steps off on September 3. Burkhart also hosts art welding workshops at Ghost Ranch. Her next Fire It Up course starts July 9. ghostranch.org