New Mexico Glass GardenArdell Scartaccini (b. 1927)

Status

Extant

Address

Golden, New Mexico, 87047, us

Built

begun 1964

Visiting Information

The site is open to the public by prior appointment; a small portion of the site is visible from the road.

About the Artist/Site

Ardell Burkhart grew up in New Mexico to a family whose father was a trapper, and then later ran a general store and trading post in Belén. She married Eugene Scartaccini, a miner, and the young couple lived first in Magdalena and then moved to Golden in 1961, a small town located between Santa Fe and Albuquerque on the old road. There they purchased the one-third+ acre property on which Ardell later built her garden. They raised their own four children along with several foster children as well, and to help make ends meet Ardell worked as a housekeeper at the Lloyd Ranch.

Beginning around 1964, Ardell Scartaccini opened the Turquoise Trail Shop, housed in a former one-room schoolhouse on the property, and began decorating its surroundings with glass bottles and other found objects, indulging a collector’s spirit that she inherited from her grandmother. She dug up some of the bottles, bought others, and received still others as gifts from friends or acquaintances who knew of her interest. She hung the bottles from the fences and inserted them on top of plant branches; and as she collected, she became fascinated by and quite knowledgeable about the age and chemical makeup of different types of glass and how these chemicals determined their hues. Wagon wheels, boots, antlers, ore from the mine where Eugene once worked, and vintage agricultural tools adorned the site as well. Some of her older or more precious objects were displayed inside the main house, where they lived.

After some legal disputes, in 1986 the Scartaccinis sold the property to Vassillos J. Mantas, who paid additional funds for the stock in the Shop. He put the property up for sale again in 1996, after first selling off most of the glass and valuables and making few, if any improvements to the rest of the site. It stood empty and open to the weather for two years until Fabrizio and Linda (née Winget) Beorchia bought the property in December 1998. Although they didn’t realize what the site used to be like when they bought it, as they worked to renovate the property they learned more and became excited about trying to bring Ardell’s vision back to life. Closed to the public during their early renovations—when they had to remove all the glass from the garden to lay in a new septic tank and water lines, and then replace it all again—they are now working almost full time to restore the site and find different ways to display the bottles to take advantage of their light-transmitting properties. They are also fabricating sculptural forms with the bottles. “The final result will be something quite different in form than the original garden,” Fabrizio writes, “but we hope our search will bring an extra dimension to light reflection.” While working to turn other parts of the property into an artist studio and a B&B, the site is open to the public by prior appointment; a small portion of the site is visible from the road. The Beorchias are working to develop a web presence for the Glass Garden, and when that is completed, new hours and notices will be posted.

~Jo Farb Hernández

Materials

bottles, fossils, glass, rock

SPACES Archives Holdings

SPACES archives includes scan of the articles “In the Turquoise Trails ‘Glass Garden,’” The New Mexican. October 20, 1974: 13 and “The Sparkling Gardens of Ardell Scartaccini,” by Karen Evans, New Mexico Magazine. January 1985: 101-103; scans of the purchase deeds to the property 1961, 1986. Digital photographs by Alison Franks, 2008; Fabrizio Beorchia 2011. Correspondence with the owners 2011.

Map & Site Information


Golden, New Mexico, 87047 us
Latitude/Longitude: 35.210265 / -106.322834

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