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Betty Panos operates what is reportedly Old Town's oldest bead store. As its name implies, it is a place where handcrafted goods are bought and sold. Its low ceiling and dark interior are in keeping with the traditional image of a trading post. And you can almost hear the echo of history on the hardwood floors. For sale are genuine pieces of Native craft including jewelry, kachinas, fetishes, and bead work, all at exceptionally reasonable prices.
The star of this Old Town gallery is serigraph master Doug West and rightly so. An entire wall of this shop is devoted to examples of his meticulously rendered Southwestern landscapes, whose muted colors evoke the vastness of a pinon-dotted mesa or fleeting desert twilight. Also available are Native fetishes of carved stone, such as the dragons and hummingbirds of Esteban Najera of Zuni Pueblo. Visitors will be drawn to the geometry of the brilliantly etched pottery of Rebecca Lucario of Acoma Pueblo, and to the decorative lidded jars of Thomas Natseway. There is also a wide selection of Kachinas and Native jewelry.
The question on the mind of any visitor to this Old Town photography gallery is: How can owner Ed Wolfe sell a 16x20, matted and framed print of Ansel Adams' "Moonrise over Hernandez New Mexico" for less than $400? Ed may say it has to do with volume, of which there is plenty. The store is jammed, ceiling to floor, with flawless prints of cowboy candids by Harvey Caplin, New Mexico portraits by Ken Nohl and canyons by Pud Franzblau. Assistants Jennifer and Frank will cordially and expertly answer any questions you may have.
Located behind San Felipe de Neri Church, this delightful shop is five connected rooms filled with beautifully crafted gift items, all made by senior citizens. The non-profit Assistance League of Albuquerque operates the Blue Portal, which has generated over a million dollars for community programs since it opened in 1985. It is not charity, however, that prompts the visitor to buy, but the beauty and craftsmanship of the pottery, wood sculptures, quilts and other products on display. A warm and enthusiastic welcome from the volunteer sales associate is part of the package.
Layer by layer, history unravels itself in the charming Old Town Albuquerque. A locus of the city's cultural, architectural and historic tenor, Old Town has been the focal point of community life since 1706. The winding alleys of this neighborhood are dotted with traditional houses awash in lovely Pueblo-Spanish architectural influences. This quaint quarter was laid out in the quintessential colonial way, and is home to a string of notable landmarks which attest to the quarter's historical and cultural importance, for example the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, the historic San Felipe de Neri Church and the Plaza, which is perhaps the cultural and communal nucleus of Old Town. Here, wrought iron and adobe bancos (benches) rest under the shade of the plaza, offering a respite from the usually balmy weather year round. Unique items from around the world, as well as those distinctively Southwestern are sold in an array of quirky shops and boutiques. Soaked in old-world charm, Old Town is a part of the city, which can never be forgotten.
This is unquestionably the store with the widest selection of gifts and souvenirs to be found under one Old Town roof. Several interconnected rooms are jammed with an enormous array of goods. These range from inexpensive items, such as key chains and refrigerator magnets to high-priced, high-quality merchandise, such turquoise and silver jewelry and fine Navajo rugs. The crowded, noisy atmosphere is part of the charm in this cavernous souvenir emporium.