Oil painting of a pilgrimage to a church in Taos, NM

Santuario de Chimayo Pilgrimage
Oil on Panel
24 x 30 in.
Available through the artist

Michele Byrne: My first visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico was September 2019. I fell in love with the mountains, skies, and rugged landscape. I immediately knew this would be my new home, this place called the “Land of Enchantment”. Growing up and living in Pennsylvania my whole life, this new world seemed magical to me.

During that first trip I visited the Santuario de Chimayo along the High Road to Taos. I was mesmerized by its history and strong cultural beliefs. A small room at the rear of the main chapel called El Pocita contains a round pit with “Holy Dirt”. The Sanctuary attracts over 300,000 visitors each year. It’s the most famous Catholic Church in the country with yearly pilgrimages. Centuries earlier, the native American tribes also felt this healing energy, and built pueblos in and around the area.

After I moved to Santa Fe in July of 2020, I made subsequent visits to Chimayo, most notably, a visit with friends going through some rough physical challenges. We prayed and spent time in the Chapel. Returning again and again I did some sketches and small studies in preparation for this painting.

A large percentage of my work is done plein air, however, this piece has been in my studio for a few months collecting layers of paint as I change and adjust it. I feel these layers signify the many layered cultural histories of this magnificent place.

Moving across the country during the Pandemic was challenging, however, by joining the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico and painting with the Santa Fe Pleinarians has made the transition so much easier. The welcoming comradery from these artists has been a wonderful asset.

I’m best known for my sunlit and/or rainy city street scenes from the east coast. There has been a major shift in my subject matter as I immerse myself in this enchanted environment.

Upcoming Shows & Events:
• Ghost Ranch Paint Out – PAPNM, Abiquiu, NM, June 11-13, 2021
• Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters (RMPAP) reunion exhibit, Bozeman Art Museum, MT, July 10-18, 2021
• OPA Annual Convention in Santa Fe, NM, Painting Demonstration, August 27, 2021

Upcoming Workshops:
• OPA – Pre Convention Workshop, Santa Fe, NM, August 23 & 24, 2021
• 4-Day Workshop – Dillman’s Artist Retreats/Dillman’s Bay Resort, WI, Sept. 7-10
• 3-Day Workshop – Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio, WA, Sept. 24-26, 2021
• 7-Day Workshop – Castelvetrano Sicily, Italy, Oct. 16-22, 2021

You can see more of Michele’s work by visiting:

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