A century-old world of creativity and inspiration opened as we stepped into the domain of famed Taos artist E.I. Couse (1866-1936). By pre-arrangement, we met Couse’s granddaughter Virginia in the garden of his home and studio. For nearly two hours we were captivated by the stories she shared of her grandfather, one of the founding members of the Taos Art Society as we walked through rooms filled with family furnishings, collections, sketches, prints and original paintings. We left inspired not only by Couse’s art but the family’s commitment to preserve his legacy through The Couse Foundation.
Tours must be arranged in advanced. No fee is charged but donations to the foundation are gratefully accepted. When you go be generous for this is worthy of support.
For the afternoon we headed to the Taos Ski Valley and lunch at the Bavarian Lodge and Restaurant. The 19-mile drive from Taos ascends through the Carson National Forest into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The restaurant sits at over 10,000” altitude, transporting guests to an alp-like ambiance. After a filling German lunch we stroll the Village of Taos Ski Valley, considerably quieter than a wintertime visit.
Returning to Taos we stop in the quirky village of Arroyo Seco. It’s impossible for me to pass through Seco twice without a stop at Taos Cow Ice Cream. I consider the day a total success when one of today’s choices is Pinion Caramel, my absolute favorite. Across the street we “need” to do some jewelry shopping at Claire Works. Bob is now supplied with gifts for my birthday and Christmas.
In light of spaetzle and ice cream we make a workout visit to the Taos Spa. The facility accommodates regional visitors with reasonable priced day passes or multi-visit punch cards.
We peacefully conclude the day back at the casita with music, wine and books – a fantastic Friday.
Tantalizing Taste and Tranquility in Taos
We’ve arrived for our long anticipated yearly sojourn in Taos, New Mexico. Next week Bob attends a watercolor workshop given by Taos resident artist/potter Stephen Kilborn. Driving from Colorado our traditional first stop is lunch at Orlando’s, a personal favorite consistently serving excellent New Mexican fare.
Today we savored every tantalizing taste – Bob a shredded beef chimichanga, Nancy a combination platter of cheese and onion enchilada in a blue corn tortilla, chile relleno and a shredded beef taco in soft shell blue corn tortillas, accompanied by posole and beans. Yum! Although many Orlando’s menu items are ones similar to those found on Tex-Mex menus there’s a world of difference in the rich New Mexican flavors.
Filled to the gills, we declined one of the homemade dessert treats. During our Taos visit I’m planning on several more visits to enjoy the shredded beef burrito, the fish tacos and grilled shrimp burrito plus dessert at least once. The flan is always exceptional and the frozen avocado pie uniquely refreshing.
For the third year we’re delighted to settle into Casa de Las Abuelas, an adobe guest house. I’ll share more about this exceptional property in a separate posting. The convenient yet secluded location provides much needed tranquility after a day of travel, museum and gallery visits, or outdoor activity. After threatening afternoon skies we peacefully watched evening descend as mere whiffs of clouds inched across the sky. A perfect beginning to a Taos vacation.
10th Annual Quick Draw and Art Auction
Taos Center for the Arts – September 25, 2010
Couldn’t pick just one from the dozens of Taos artists taking part in the 10th Annual Quick Draw and Art Auction so we salute all the participants and their creativity. Paint brushes, tubes of paint and sculpting tools stand at the ready as the noon hour approaches. Local artists in a wide range of media begin work on creations that must be finished on site by 3pm. Patrons and browsers wander among the easels and work tables chatting, asking questions or just standing back to watch the process as each work takes shape.
At 2:50pm we hear the announcer, “Artists, you have ten minutes to finish your work.” As each piece is completed, signed, and framed they are taken to the finish line. The public can view, appraise and sign up for a bidding paddle. The auction starts at 4pm, action lively and sometimes quite competitive. Proceeds benefit the Taos Center for the Arts which provides facilities, programming and education in the visual, performing and media arts.
In the morning we viewed the shows comprising the Taos Fall Arts Festival. Quick Draw offered an opportunity to see many of the artists in action whose works we’d admired in the shows.. An ever changing gathering watches as horses charge across Doug Scott’s canvas. Ed Sandoval’s personality and painting quickly draws a bevy of art enthusiasts as he captures a Northern New Mexico fall scene. Pat Woodall intensely adds vibrant colors to his Ranchos church. We stop to watch Leigh Gusterson whose art we frequently admire.
In addition to painters, sculptors, potters and jewelry makers work in stone, glass, wood and silver. Live music and an appreciative audience add to the festive atmosphere on a perfect autumn afternoon in Taos.
Woodblock Prints, Oils, Pastels
Taos artist Angie Coleman is well known for her woodblock prints. The image of each relief print is produced from the raised surface of a woodblock. As each color is printed more of the background is carved away. One block is used for each limited edition.
The process intrigues me, I can’t imagine the vision and planning required for each new creation. As each layer is chipped away there is no going back; one slip of the chisel and the result is changed. The process produces subtle variations with each print.
Coleman graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts and has been included in many national juried shows. Her work received the best of printmaking award at the “2007 Taos Invites Taos Show” and the Harwood Museum purchase award in the “Originals New Mexico Show” in 2007. In addition to woodblock prints she also works in oil and pastels.
Many of Coleman’s subjects reflect her years of living in Taos, New Mexico and her love of hiking and camping in the mountains ofColorado and New Mexico. We’ve collected a number of her works over the last ten years. Each day we enjoy Coleman’s images of chamisa, golden aspen, antique truck and rustic adobes in our home. Add to that today’s purchases of two winter scene miniatures and her last available print of Apples and Adobes.
When in Taos visit Angie Coleman in her working studio/gallery at 207 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur, two blocks south of Taos Plaza and immediately north of McDonald’s. The studio is generally open Monday thru Saturday, call 575-779-4658 to confirm hours. Visit her website for more details on the woodblock process and the “Gallery” pages to see the range of her work.
The drive from Denver to Taos couldn’t have been easier; or, legally faster. Just 4-1/2 hours after pulling out of the driveway we were pulling into Orlando’s parking lot for lunch in Taos. This is a personal favorite for great Northern New Mexico cuisine. Watch for an Orlando’s blog tomorrow.
We rented an adobe casita, Casa de Las Abuelas, for the week sight unseen. No disappointments here, I already know I won’t want to leave at the end of the week. A detailed blog will follow soon.
After an orientation for the Stephen Kilborn painting workshop Bob’s attending this week we joined friends Dolores and Orrel for dinner at Doc Martins in the Taos Inn.
The day’s been a nearly perfect start to a much anticipated week. After a rather difficult summer I’m not even going to feel guilty as I unwind, rest, dine and seek the perfect margarita.
Taos – Through the Windshield
We were on our last leg of a three week road trip. The route took us through Taos, New Mexico – a place we like to visit and know fairly well. Other than a stop at the Visitors Center to use the restrooms and pick up the requisite five pounds of current travel literature we stop only for traffic and stoplights.
As I’m sitting in the passenger seat thinking how strange this seems Bob says, “Feels funny not to be doing anything here, to just drive through.” We point out new street lights, a reopened restaurant, a road project completed since last summer, new gallery locations but keep driving. Today we’re focused on getting home. The draw of Taos is strong, we already have plans for a week this summer when we’ll see Taos up close and personal not through the windshield.
When You Go: Don’t just drive through plan a Taos visit.
Painting Blumenschein’s Garden
The artist capturing the summer garden at the Blumenschein House and Museum is Michelle Chrisman. I love her use of vibrant colors. Michelle describes herself as an Impressionist and Expressionist working in oils and loves to paint en plein air. She has been featured in Southwest Art Magazine, in 2005 as an “Artist to Watch” and in June 2008 in a feature article on “Plein Air Painting.”
Michelle lives in the historic village of Ranchos de Taos. She is represented by galleries in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. Visit her website to view available works, a schedule of exhibitions, events and workshops.
If you’re planning a trip to Taos Michelle has an adobe cottage she rents for short term stays during the summer. The casita sleeps two, has a fully equipped kitchen and full bath. Call 575-613-0443 for reservations.
Peeking into a Creative Past
Ernest L. Blumenschein
Two blocks south of Taos Plaza the home of Ernest Blumenschein (1874-1960) preserves a look into the creative life of one of Taos’ most famous artists. A founder of the original Taos Society of Artists, Blumenschein was drawn to the Northern New Mexico region after his first visit in 1898. With wife Mary Greene Blumenschein, an artist in her own right, and daughter Helen the family purchased the home on Ledoux Street in 1919. Portions of the adobe structure date to 1797.
The interior remains much as it was when the family lived, painted and entertained in the 13-room rambling structure. Entering the kitchen with its ice box, California cooler and combination wood/electric stove sets the stage for a step back in time. One can imagine the list of luminaries who gathered in dining room during the first half of the 20th century. The home is furnished with the family’s original belongings of European and Spanish Colonial style antiques and a lifetime of personal possessions. Walls filled with the family’s art collection include works by other Taos artists, Mary and Helen. Many of Blumenschein’s own works hang in his former studio.
In summer the home’s courtyard fills with colorful blooms. A sky blue bench entices visitors to sit among the hollyhocks and let their mind wander back a few decades. Twenty-first century artists frequently work at easels in courtyard corners, capturing their vision of the Taos landmark.
When You go: Blumenschein Home and Museum, 222 Ledoux Street, Taos, New Mexico. Open daily in summer, check the website for hours and admission fees. Call, 575-758-0505, for winter hours. Browse the gift shop for unique New Mexican items and books.