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Here in New Mexico, we are fortunate to enjoy beautiful blue skies almost all the time, with 300 sunny days per year. I show you our sky pretty often; I'm a sky-watcher and I love to share what I see. There are other beautiful blue sights to see in our state, part of a proud cultural and architectural tradition that I enjoy just as much - the brilliant blue-painted doors and wood trim on many New Mexican homes (including my own). This is often referred to as Santa Fe style, or Taos style, but it can be seen all over the state. Doors, window trim, flower boxes, vigas and canales might be painted in some shade of blue, standing out against the earthier tones of the stucco that covers most homes here. The stucco blends into the high-desert landscape; the blue shines boldly.
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Why blue? There are numerous schools of thought on this subject. Some say that the color blue wards off evil spirits, keeping them from entering one's home. This tradition probably began with the early Spanish settlers. Or maybe the color is connected with Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to Juan Diego, a Native American peasant, in 16th-century Mexico City. Also known as the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe is associated with sky blue, the color of the robes she wears. The tradition might also be traced to the beliefs of Pueblo Indians, for whom colors are indicative of directions, with blue symbolizing southwest.
Still others cite the blue doors on the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, a compound built in the 1600's as the seat of Spain's colonial government, as a source of inspiration. And then there are the theories about spirituality and connections to heaven. Nobody seems to know exactly why blue doors are such an important tradition here. There are as many reasons for blue doors in New Mexico as there are blue doors, I think.
Today, we see blue doors as a sign of welcome, a symbol of peace and tranquility within, an extension of goodwill to those entering. I like this theory best; it's why I've kept blue on the exterior of my home, a shade somewhere between slate and royal. My doors are not blue (they're carved natural wood, too pretty to paint), but the wood trim on my home is blue, and I decorate the yard with blue pottery and blue glass marbles in the xeriscaping gravel. I love the tradition and I'm proud to celebrate it.
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The most interesting part of this tradition is the variety - there is no set shade of blue to use. Walk the Canyon Road in Santa Fe, or stroll the Plaza in Taos, and you'll see many brilliant shades of blue on houses, shops and galleries, ranging from palest aqua and soft powder blue to bright turquoise, clear azure and deep indigo. Set against earth-toned stucco and stone, the windows, doors, courtyard gates and other architectural features really pop. But they're a calming influence too, signifying protection and peace, welcoming visitors, drawing them in.
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Blue doors, with all their mysterious and much-debated origins, are one of the best things about my beautiful state. This is a diverse place, one of the oldest in the Americas, with deep and varied cultural roots. The unique tradition of blue doors is one that ties together some of the most important parts of our heritage - the beliefs of ancient native peoples, the influence of Spanish colonial rule, and our collective relationship with the endless sky.
Don't forget to visit the other Color Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts. Just click on the links below:
Annie at Annie Cholewa
Sandra at Cherry Heart
CJ at Above the River
Sarah at mitenska
What is The Color Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a color related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about color in new ways.