CULTURALLY RICH TAOS, NEW MEXICO
Three Highlights: Taos Pueblo, Taos Art Colony & Starr Interiors
By Linda Milks
BIG BLEND RADIO INTERVIEW: Travel writer Linda Milks talks about her cultural experiences in Taos, New Mexico. Listen or download her interview podcast on Spreaker.com, YouTube.com, SoundCloud.com, or hear the whole show with other guest segments on BlogTalkRadio.com.
As we drove from our hotel, all we saw for miles was grassland with looming mountains in the background. A group of International Food, Wine & Travel Association media were headed to Taos Pueblo. My first glimpse of Taos Pueblo was the adobe buildings as seen in photos. We were with our guide, Angelisa Murray, from Heritage Inspirations, who set up our trip to meet Geronimo and witness his skill.
Geronimo welcomed us to his adobe home behind the outside horno oven (a chimneyed oven used for cooking) where he does his baking. Cedar wood was laid inside the oven to heat the interior to the perfect temperature for baking bread. Once at that temperature, Geronimo and Angelisa scooped out the coals and set them beside the oven. Angelisa placed the famous hatch chilies on top to char them while Geronimo slid the rounds of rolls into the oven. Soon, baked loaves of rolls were produced from the interior; we were given one each to butter. On top, we placed delicious chilies that had been peeled and chopped. To our delight, each of us was given a gift-paper wrapped loaf of rolls to take home.
For me, this was the highlight of our Taos trip. I recommend contacting Angelisa at Heritage Inspirations to plan your personal experience. The Pueblo is generally open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you plan to go on your own, call 575-758-1028 to verify the time.
Taos Art Colony
My second tip is the art shops comprised of about 60 galleries, home to a wide variety of styles and eras of art. The story of the history of the art colony is that in 1898 two young artists from the East were on a trip to paint the Southwest for magazines. Crossing mountains, one of the wagon wheels gave out and was fixed in Taos. The two embraced the natural beauty and rich subject matter, hence the name “The Broken Wheel Incident” and the beginning of the Taos Art Colony.
A trip through the eclectic variety of art galleries in Taos will enrich your knowledge and grow your love for the uniqueness of Taos. D. H. Lawrence put it best when he said they were there to experience the “peculiar ‘otherness’ of Taos.”
We were fortunate enough to have David Mapes, director of the Taos Gallery Association, lead us on a tour of galleries located in the heart of Taos. Mapes’ gallery is called David Anthony Fine Art. David Mapes has always built things. He was inspired by his grandfather and uncles who all worked with wood. Mapes is a fine artist and old-world craftsman with his own furniture company since 1978. His furniture can be seen in the gallery. He likes working with sustainable wood and follows “the way of the wood.” In addition to furniture, check out his reasonably priced wooden boxes that show off his relationship with wood. A wide variety of art by other artists is also on display. Set up a private appointment to view and purchase artwork from Mapes by calling 575-770-5733.
When you wander from gallery to gallery, you will find your favorite art. For me, I fell in love with the work of Timothy Nevaguaya at the McCormick Gallery. Nevaguaya’s use of color grabbed me and held me in awe. He is a gifted artist inspired by his father, Doc Tate Nevaquaya, who taught him about Commanche history. His paintings reflect the soul he feels about his heritage. To set up an appointment, call 575-758-1372.
Wander to Wilder Nightingale Fine Art owned by Robert Wilder Nightingale. This gallery won the 2019 First Place People’s Choice Award for Best Art Gallery. When you visit, you will find Robert’s hospitality very engaging. I personally was enthralled with the Native American ceremonial garb on display called “Spirit of Resolution” and its symbolism.
Maye Torres has focused on cutting-edge art for 40 years at Studio 107-B. I was entranced by the assortment of contemporary artwork. This studio will wrap itself around you and totally enthrall you. Her shows rotate every six weeks. For an appointment, call 575-758-3065.
All of these galleries have beautiful artwork available for purchase online or you can call the gallery directly to set up an appointment. Of course, there are more galleries to explore. Plan on spending at least an afternoon enjoying many.
Starr Interiors, around since 1974, is my third recommended stop. Walk into Starr Interiors, and you are embraced by Zapotec rugs and Mexican Southwest décor. This shop is home to the largest collection of Zapotec Indian rugs in the United States. Owner, Susanna Starr, has been working with weavers for decades. Her line called “Line of the Spirit” has been on the cover of Architectural Digest and purchased by celebrities like Paul Simon and Sting.
Susanna and her photographer/partner, John Lamkin have traveled many times to the Oaxacan village of weavers. The two of them have published a book, “Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers: An Odyssey of Love,” about their journeys from house to house talking to the weavers. The book can be purchased on the website.
Most fascinating for me was to witness Leah Sobol, the gallery director of sales, weaving her masterpieces for the Line of the Spirit. Leah has been weaving for around 35 years. Leah ground pink dye that comes from the cochineal, a scale insect producing the dye carmine found on prickly pear cacti and used by the Aztec peoples in the second century B.C. (Think about this for a second—today, carmine is primarily used in food and lipstick.) Watching her hands glide rhythmically across the loom was mesmerizing and a sight that was truly magical. You can call Starr Interiors at 575-758-3065 for a personal shopping experience.
Taos is truly a magical town of rich culture and history with art reflecting its beauty. What I have highlighted barely touches on all that Taos has to offer. I was hosted in Taos as a member of a press trip and am so appreciative of this experience. As a visitor, you will not be able to help but embrace the peculiar “otherness” of Taos.
Links to Plan Your Taos Experience
Linda Milks is a food, wine and travel writer living in Southern California. Linda believes traveling exposes us to other cultures which grows understanding, tolerance and acceptance. She loves to share her stories and experiences via freelance travel writing to capture the reader and rouse an interest in discovering new horizons. Sometimes it’s the hidden gems that bring Linda the most joy. Whether Linda travels to Switzerland; Punta Cana; Bordeaux; Italy; Birmingham, Alabama; or Door County, Wisconsin, she finds unique aspects of the area through conversations with the people with whom she comes into contact. She has found there is beauty in the commonplace as well as the exotic. Follow her adventures on her new travel site, www.ToastingFoodWineTravel.com.