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Silver City, New Mexico

Author: Judy Wade
Issue: March, 2009, Page 36
Syzygy Tileworks
With two dozen art galleries and studios, plus antiques stores and a tile workshop, Silver City, New Mexico, appears to be on its way to becoming a gestating arts center. Set on a hillside at the edge of the 3.3 million-acre Gila National Forest, the town is an appealing mix of sophistication and down-home “comfyness.” Remnants of the riches of the 1880s silver boom include well-preserved mansions and public buildings that display the columns, multiple roof lines, gingerbread and other quirky details of Victorian style.


SHOP

Syzygy Tileworks—106 N. Bullard St., (575) 388-5472; syzygytile.com
Lee Gruber and David Del Junco bring tile-making to dizzying design heights as they keep the craftsman tradition alive using environmentally sound techniques. The workshop/showroom is filled with design boards, cornices, period tiles, extrusions, accessories and more. Known for its matte glazes, tiny tiles and detailed custom work, Syzygy is represented by more than 130 distributors in the U.S. and Canada, including Craftsman Court Ceramics in Scottsdale and Fractured Earth in Tucson.
 
The Common Thread—107 W. Broadway St., (575) 538-5733; fiberartscollective.org
This treasure-trove of original items created by weaving, knitting, crocheting, felting, quilting and sewing includes beautiful hand-woven fabrics by the yard. Operated by the nonprofit Southwest Women’s Fiber Arts Collective, it offers rural cottage-industry craftswomen and artists a place to market their goods. Unusual wall hangings, pillows, framed collages, hand-dyed napkins, baskets and one-of-a-kind art objects predominate.

Lois Duffy Art—211-C N. Texas St., (575) 534-0822; loisduffy.com
Garnering awards for more than 30 years, Lois Duffy’s studio/gallery displays her wide range of realistic and surrealistic paintings. A favorite is her Norman Rockwell collection. With locals as models, she says the pieces capture people “just being themselves.” Her original painting of Buffalo Bar, a Silver City hangout, is part of the art collection at the state capitol in Santa Fe.
 
The Curious Kumquat—111 E. College Ave., (575) 534-0337, curiouskumquat.com
This folksy gourmet cook shop-cum-cafe caters to adventuresome locals for whom cable TV brought great food to rural areas, say partners Rob and Tyler Connoley. Rooms of a 100-year-old home are filled with Le Creuset, Cuisinart, Swiss Diamond and other notable culinary brands, plus gourmet food from around the world.

Clockwise from top left: Lois Duffy Art, Gila House Hotel & Gallery 400, The Curious Kumquat, Silver City Museum

Photography by Bill Baker, except Silver City Museum

STAY

Gila House Hotel & Gallery 400—400 N. Arizona St., (575) 313-7015; gilahouse.com
Young proprietors Amanda and Richard Deaton have converted two 100-year-old adobes into a single building with three guest rooms surrounded by large, airy public spaces that serve as an art gallery. If a piece of art strikes your fancy, it can be hung in your room during your stay to test how you’d like it at home. Do-it-yourself continental breakfasts do more than fill a void. The hotel is walking distance from shops and restaurants in the city’s historic district.
 
Bear Mountain Lodge—2251 Cottage San Road, (877) 620-BEAR, (575) 538-2538; bearmountainlodge.com
This Nature Conservancy B&B is tucked away on 178 acres, 15 minutes from downtown Silver City. The beautifully renovated 1920s hacienda has two massive stone fireplaces and hand-hewn beams in the great room, plus 11 comfortable guest rooms with Mission-style furnishings. Birding and hiking are favored pastimes, along with daily naturalist activities. Breakfast is home-cooked.
 
SUP

Shevek & Co. Restaurant—602 N. Bullard St., (575) 534-9168; silver-eats.com
The focus here is on “slow food,” with advice to come back another time if your schedule doesn’t permit lingering and savoring. Executive Chef Shevek M. Barnhart, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and partner/manager Michael Barnhart emphasize that everything is prepared from scratch. Using locally grown organic produce whenever possible and sashimi-grade seafood caught within 36 hours of delivery, the menu is unexpectedly sophisticated. The bistro-like dining room seats just 30, so the ambience is intimate but not intrusive. Open for dinner and Sunday brunch.
 
SEE

Silver City Museum—312 W. Broadway St., (575) 538-5921; silvercitymuseum.org
The beautiful 1881 Mansard-Italianate H.B. Ailman home now is the town’s museum. The brick structure, with a cupola that created the era’s “air conditioning,” is typical of the Eastern-style architecture favored by builders bringing sophistication to the West. It houses assaying equipment and office trappings from the silver rush, which ended in 1893. Old photographs trace the town’s genesis from early mining days to the present.
 
Western New Mexico University Museum—1000 W. College Ave., (575) 538-6386; nmculturaltreasures.org
Located in Fleming Hall on the university’s campus, this renowned museum houses one of the largest permanent collections of Mimbres pottery and cultural artifacts in the world. The 1917 building was designed by architect Henry C. Trost, who also designed the 1924 Luhrs Building in Phoenix and the Gadsden Hotel in Douglas, Arizona.
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