03 Oct VIGNETTE IN TIME TAOS, NEW MEXICO
Author: Ronnie Greenberg
Photos by: Joe Hilbers
5310 Dubois Ave
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
A Vignette in Time Taos, New Mexico
By: Ronnie Greenberg
Photos: Joe Hilbers
High desert sage brushed mesas snuggle up to the curves and jags of the soaring Sangre de Cristos Mountains, while brilliant sunlight and rainbow halos captivate the uninterrupted stretch of Taos’ pale blue sky. Deep red bunches of ristra punctuate the earth-toned adobes that complete the stunning vistas of this historic town and alpine village. Timeless influences of the Pueblos, Spanish conquerors, and Europeans can be found everywhere in this modest alpine settlement.
Taos’ dreamy Spanish character that kindles a magical heady blend of local color, natural beauty, art and mysticism, is rooted in the legendary tale of two artists, Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips. While traveling to northern New Mexico in 1898, stopped in Taos to get a broken wagon wheel repaired and became enraptured with the spectacular landscape, pulled up stakes, and lured their artist friends to this land of enchantment. Taos grew into an environment where artistic spirit flourished, ideas were shared and romance blossomed. Taos became a fixture in the art world when the Taos Society of Artists was created in 1912.
Explore Taos’ history starting at the Don Fernando de Taos Plaza, the center of local trade surrounded by old mercantile stores, adobe shops and galleries. Close by is the 25-acre Kit Carson Park and cemetery where Kit Carson, Padre Martinez and art patroness Mabel Dodge Luhan are buried. Visit the San Francisco de Asis Mission in Ranchos de Taos, built between 1710 and 1801 that’s still a source of ethnic and community pride. Take a drive over the breathtaking Rio Grande Gorge Bridge a dizzying 650 feet above the river and 1200 feet across, Visit the Taos Pueblo, home of the Taos-Tiwa Indians, designated as both a World Heritage UNESCO site and National Historic Landmark.
Stop by the historic museums that offer a glimpse of how the early settlers lived. The Blumenschein Home & Museum, a 1797 traditional adobe structure, is where Ernest Blumenschein brought his family in 1919. The blend of fine European furnishings, Spanish Colonial antiques and works by early Taos artists make a beautiful illustration of the lifestyle of Taos artists in the first half of the 20th century. www.Taos historic museum.org
The Kit Carson Home & Museum built in 1825 was bought by Carson in 1843 as a gift to his bride. You’ll see where deals were made with traders and military men for Carson’s many missions into the wilderness.
Long supporting artistic traditions, Taos’ art museums showcase the passion of the colorful characters who helped develop the area.
The Harwood Museum of the University of New Mexico is housed in a historic adobe compound, portions of which date back to the 1800s. Seven galleries display works from the 19th century to the present. Changing exhibits feature contemporary works by artists from Taos and elsewhere. www.harwoodmuseum.org
Millicent Rogers Museum is named for the socialite art patron who settled in Taos in 1947. Alongside her collection of magnificent turquoise jewelry, the museum contains the core of one of America’s foremost Southwestern arts and design collections and contemporary Hispanic art and pottery. www.millicentrogers.org
Taos Art Museum at the Fechin House is the original home and studio of Russian-born artist, Nicholai Fechin. The beautiful home features many of his hand-carved furnishings and art, as well as work by more than 50 Taos artists, including paintings by all of the Taos Founders. www.taosartmuseum.org
Many stunning galleries in the art community are members of the Taos Gallery Association.
Taos is a mecca for adventurers where outdoor options are vast and varied. In summer, nature lovers flock to explore alpine forests on horseback or foot, go rock climbing, hang-gliding, mountain biking, ballooning, swimming, fishing, and ride the bucking Rio Grande in a raft or kayak. There’s a scenic West Rim Trail that follows the Rio Grande gorge for nine miles, and llama trekking in Columbine Canyon in Carson National Forest. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a round of golf amid snow-capped peaks.
Winter skiing is steep at the Village of Taos Ski Valley that offers everything from fine restaurants to one of a kind shops and accommodations. Located north of the Taos Historic Plaza, it’s a 30-minute scenic drive through the Carson National Forest.
Where to stay
The Historic Taos Inn, at home with history, is made up of several adobe houses dating from the 1800s and which surround a small plaza- now the Inn’s spectacular lobby. A community well was located in the center of the plaza, in its place today, a fountain is surround by vertical vigas which rise two and a half stories to a stained glass cupola. This perfect home base set right in the heart of town, since 1936, has welcomed famous folks like Greta Garbo, D.H. Lawrence, and Pawnee Bill. More recently celebrities like Robert Redford and Jessica Lange have been spotted sipping margaritas in the lobby.
In the 1890s a Dr. Thomas Paul (Doc) Martin came to Taos as the county’s first and only physician, and along with his wife Helen bought the largest of the houses. Through the years, the Hotel Martin as it was then known was the hub of Taos’ social, intellectual, and artistic activity. Later owners renamed it the Taos Inn and added the popular neon thunderbird sign (Taos’ oldest). In 1982 the Inn was placed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. The Inn founded on a rich legacy of excellence, lets you sample the atmosphere of old Taos with modern amenities.
Doc Martin’s Restaurant is a legendary food and wine venue and acclaimed Taos tradition. Specializing in fresh food with a splash of southwest, incorporating chiles and produce sourced from regional farms and gardens.
Entrees include grilled New York Steak with roasted potatoes, leeks, bacon with pink peppercorn demi; red wine braised buffalo short ribs with horseradish mashers, melted leeks, Doc’s chile relleno, Anaheim chile, salsa fresca, pepitas, goat cheese cream; Elk burger, and pan seared whole boneless trout. Margarita’s here have earned winner of the “Best Taos” awards and highlight Grand Gold, Horny Toad, Fire on the Mountain, El Muchote, Corazon and Platinum Buddha, Cowboy Buddha. El Patron and Don Margarita.
The Adobe Bar is fondly called “the living room of Taos” by locals and visitors alike. With local color and atmosphere drawn from the tri-cultural, historic and artistic traditions of this unique community, the Adobe provides live musical entertainment every night. Musicians as authentic as the bar feature flamenco, jazz, bluegrass, Americana, gospel, Celtic, world and native folk music.
The historic Taos Inn is located at 125 Paseo del Norte. For reservations phone (575) 758-2233 or www.Taosinn.com
In this land where margaritas reign, Southwestern cuisine is the spice of life. The eclectic De La Tiera restaurant in the El Monte Sagrado Resort has an imaginative menu imbued with local influences created from freshest provisions. The Terrace Bar & Grill at the Taos Country Club serves such specialties as Fire Roasted Chile Relleno starter and entrees that include rib eye steak-asada style and Tequilla & Lime Marinated Chicken. Enjoy the most romantic dining in town at Lamberts of Taos Restaurant and Bar whose menu and wine list are created to compliment each other. Ronnie Lee’s Supper Club is a fun and lively dining venue. Taos Mesa Brewing Taos Tap Room features inferno pizza and a variety of craft beers.
Browse the unique boutiques at the historic Plaza and downtown Bent Streets, with much of the goods made in Taos. Additional best bets include: At Home in Taos for pottery: Mesa’s Edge for jewelry; Country Furnishings of Taos for painted folk-art furniture; Taos Tin Works for a fresh approach to a traditional Northern New Mexico art form.
For further Information contact:
Taos Chamber at 1-800-732-TAOS (8267) or visit their website at: www.taos.org