John Sakel (left) and Fritz Kapraun create art. Kapraun painting with water colors and Sakel taking photos.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain photos

Marked by a mural across one wall, the La Posada de Maria Magdalena Gallery features a broad range of local artists.

Visitors can find woven rugs created by two different Alamo weavers, icons in the Eastern Orthodox tradition painted by a Magdalena resident with Ukrainian heritage and santos created by an Albuquerque artist.

The gallery represents Navajo painter Eddie Tsosie, whose mural marks the side of the building, and of course has work by the two gallery owners, Fritz Kapraun, whose water color architectural portraits have been commissioned by Southern Living magazine, and John Sakel, who loves to shoot photos in black and white infrared.

The couple moved from North Carolina to New Mexico four years ago, but their love for the Southwest is long-standing.

Kapraun and Sakel found their own adobe home
in Magdalena four years ago.

They made many trips to the region before relocating here. After Kapraun retired from teaching marine biology in North Carolina universities, the pair decided to live their southwest dreams and find an adobe home to call their own in New Mexico.

After moving in, they still had boxes and boxes of art to unpack and decided to open an art gallery.

“I would say this is definitely the best gallery between Albuquerque and Sedona,” said Kapraun.

La Posada has a featured collection of Louis De Mayo. In 1980 De Mayo did a series of illustrations of Navajo people that was published in Southwest Art Magazine.

The couple discovered the art in a back copy of the magazine and bought up 12 pieces that were available, including origi­nal acrylic paintings and seriographs.

They also display 100-year-old Navajo saddle blankets that De Mayo originally dis­played with his work. A range of woven work is available at the gallery, including Navajo blankets, Zapotec Mexican rugs and woven creations from Magdalena weaver Wini Labrecque, who comes to the gallery three days a week to offer weaving demonstrations so visitors can learn about the process.

La Posada’s fireplace resembles a traditional horno.

A short drive down 60, although far enough to feel like you’ve left town and entered the desert, and off a brief dirt road is the couple’s home and bed and breakfast. The modern adobe house offers one bed­room for stay in the main house and two spacious rooms in a casita next door.

“In some ways the casitas are an exten­sion of the gallery,” said Sakel.

The casitas are decorated with photo­graphs, artwork and pottery that is for sale.

There are three courtyards to relax in, including a courtyard that Kapraun uses as a kitchen garden behind the home, where he grows broccoli and rhubarb.

“We’re trying to find things that the deer and the rabbits don’t like. They love broccoli,” Sakel said.

Sakel and a friendly neighbor built an horno whose shape mimics the moun­tains behind it as a spring break project. Sakel is a middle school science teacher at Magdalena’s school.

The couple try to make guests feel like part of the family.

“They have full run of the main part of the house. The fireplace in the winter, all the gardens. We base it off what we experienced when we traveled and when we’ve stayed in bed and breakfasts in Europe where we just really have felt like we’re part of the family.”

The couple have hosted international visitors from Italy and Japan who are excit­ed to see sights like the Very Large Array and drink in the desert sunsets. They’ve also had guests from nearby locations like Mountainair who want somewhere to stay for a weekend jaunt to Magdalena.

“If you want to stay in a regular motel and sit there and watch your TV, please do that, because that’s not what this is about. This is about the experience of being able to sit out and watch the light shift on the mountain and just relax,” said Sakel.

The gallery is at 1180 West Highway 60. More information on the bed and breakfast can be found at