“I live and paint in a small mountain town in Northern New Mexico called Taos. Its name is derived from the Native American Pueblo language Tewa, meaning “place of red willows”. Located roughly seven thousand feet above sea level in the Sangre de Cristo mountain chain, which is the end of the Rocky Mountains; the geography is as awe-inspiring as its sunsets. Sangre de Cristo is Spanish for “blood of Christ”. A fitting description for the blood red hue that the mountains turn at sunset. The town consists mainly of square adobe buildings which house both shops and residences. These adobes are built of dried mud bricks, which have fantastic insulative qualities. Their palate of hues are earth toned, the color subtle, yet striking.
The first inhabitants of the area were the Pueblo Indians, and Taos Pueblo is a National Historic Landmark and World Heritage Site, having been inhabited for over 1,000 years. The town of Taos was established in 1615 and dubbed “Fernandez de Taos” by the Spanish. In 1846, the United States laid claim to the territory of New Mexico, installing its first American governor, Charles Bent, who was killed just four months later in what is called The Taos Revolt. The place of his death is less than a block from where I type this right now. On Bent Street, his home is now the Governor Bent Home and Museum, and is open to the public. According to the story, the women in his family dug a hole through the adobe wall of the house to escape the angry mob that killed Charles. They escaped into an alley which is now called Martyr’s Lane.
Starting in 1899, Taos became known as an artist Mecca, drawing big names from the East Coast and abroad. The Taos Society of Artists was created in 1915, by artists Bert Geer Phillips, Ernest L. Blumenschein, Joseph Henry Sharp, Oscar E. Berninghaus, E. Irving Couse, and W. Herbert Dunton. With the advent of Fred Harvey’s railroad empire at the turn of the century, Taos became even more accessible to artists. Socialite Mabel Dodge Lujan, known for her art salons in Europe and New York, moved to Taos and is responsible for introducing many famous artists and writers to the area. Names we all know, Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, the writer D. H. Lawrence. America was enamored with the West, and it needed artists to record and preserve it.
Today, there are close to 100 art galleries in Taos. Located mainly in the historic district: on Bent Street; Kit Carson Road; the Taos Plaza; and Ledoux Street. Organizations like the Taos Gallery Association, the Taos Center for the Arts, and Taos Artist Organization (TAO) unite local artists and galleries, and hold shows, and exhibits throughout town. Taos boasts an art market that competes with much larger cities such as those in New York, and San Francisco. Not bad for a town of 6,000 residents.”
-Allegra Sleep, 2011