Quick Draw Art in Taos

Richard Nichols was focused on his job when I passed by his location in the 10th annual Quick Draw Art event that benefits the Taos Center for the Arts. He has a studio over on Ledoux that you can reach through the Blumenschein courtyard.

Leigh Gusterson was making great progress on her painting here around 2:00 PM. This year there were about 40 artists, in a diversity of media, invited to participate. I understand this year’s Quick Draw was well attended and raised a good amount of money for the TCA. The work, begun at noon, is auctioned around 4:00 in the afternoon to the highest bidder.

Ed Sandoval was working on a larger canvas and I noticed his painting style was very active. I believe his painting turned out to sell for a nice high price, benefitting everyone.

Honestly by the time I arrived at the Quick Draw I had been taking my time through the Saturday Farm Market, the Taos Fall Arts Festival painting exhibit (lots to see there) and had looked up a friend selling wares at the Arts & Crafts festival at Kit Carson Park. I was running out of steam. Next year I will make this event more of a priority. I really would have appreciated the opportunity to put faces to the names of well-known Taos painters and other artists.

This photo taken at the farm market says it all about the time of year. Nature’s ability to come up with colors and forms for the humble squash seems infinite. My own garden is still producing tomatoes, zucchini and lemon cucumbers at the front of the house. The salad greens I keep fenced in the back are perking up at the cooler weather. And there are lots of last minute annuals in both locations trying to make some seeds before it’s too late. The birds are enjoying the sunflower seeds while they’re abundant.

This aging sunflower plant is my first photo of fall colors in the landscape around my home in Talpa. I’ve heard there are lower-elevation areas that have already had frosty nights, but so far not where I live above the Rio Chiquita River. I’ve checked the 10-day forecast for temperatures at night and it looks like our warm weather will continue on.

I just looked at the clock and it says 2:10 PM. Normally I’d be thinking I just have time to make it to Cafe Loka for an afternoon break, but sadly that business, my heart’s favorite, closed last Friday. I will really miss that place and I’m sure I’m in good company.

I am in love with this sign that greeted me on the way to the parking lot at the Hanuman Temple Sunday. Great wisdom, at least for a Sunday.

Ledoux Street

Ledoux Street fulfills a promise for those coming to Taos with a longing for old adobes along a street that offers a sense of a neighborhood in some sweet and slower moving past era. The one-way street is so narrow cars must move slowly. Art is the theme on Ledoux St. for the most part. Some artists have studio/galleries there. It reminds me of Canyon Rd. in Santa Fe, just much shorter. Once a month Ledoux St. has an open house/gallery walk from 3 – 6. There was one last Saturday. I showed up to say hello to my artist friend, Sheila O’Malley, who has the studio in the photo above, located in the courtyard of the old Blumenshein home.

Sheila wasn’t there, but things were hopping at the Rane Gallery nearby. So far this is my favorite Taos art gallery. When you walk in the front door to your right sits Judith Rane at her desk. Her artist husband, Bill Rane, passed away a few years ago and she handles the sale of his remaining work, and prints, along with a couple of beautiful books about him and his work. I have had a few chats with Judith and have found her engaging and always ready to talk about Bill’s work in a way that is intelligent and joyful.

The small gallery space with Bill Rane’s paintings has a door leading to a lovely courtyard and beyond it is another, even larger, space. When I first arrived in Taos last spring, and visited the Rane Gallery, this space was also full of Bill’s paintings. Now Judith Rane has joined up with two other women to form a group called The Three Muses, and their goal is to offer this space to individuals and groups. Last Saturday a group of crafts people were having a 2-day show of work. All the work was beautifully and skillfully made. One could present a class in the space or have a galley show of ones own art. I think the Three Muses would assist you with the promotion of a gallery show. In any case this is a new use of the space and I’m sure they would welcome inquiries or discussions.

Meet the founder of Rickshaw Runners. You don’t have to be in Taos long to see him sailing by with a passenger in the historic part of Taos. Sadly, I didn’t get his name, but he did give me a brochure full of rates and hours and contact info and such. The greatest, if not the most exotic, thing about a rickshaw (also called a pedicab) is that this mode of transportation is GREEN. Imagine a world of bicycle-transportation-only-zones in historic districts of cities (that have such, like Taos and Santa Fe and Albuquerque). Well, anyway, here he was on Ledoux St. that same Saturday, so part of my tour. If you see him stopped somewhere ask for his nice brochure.

The Acequia Waters

Last Sunday I was able to photograph what may be our property’s last time for the release of water from the acequia system this season. I live in Talpa on a property with an orchard planted in the ’30s that depends on water for it’s continued vitality. I must say I dove into the opportunity with gusto, finding the juxtaposition of surface water, grasses and the orchard’s fallen fruit compelling.

In this photo you can see the downward streaming ditch has been diverted to the left into an offshoot. Most of my artistic photos were taken downstream of this particular diversion of the flow. There is something about flowing water that fascinated us in early childhood on some joyful elemental level. When we are around it we revert and become irrationally joyful. This happened to me last Sunday while I used my camera as an excuse to hang around and explore and observe in a most un-adult, un-purposeful way.

While I’m sharing these photos I’ll talk a bit about the history behind today’s very essential pathways of water from the mountains to the fields and orchards and gardens of the Taos region. I’ve heard that when the first Spanish “invaders” arrived in the region there was already a system of irrigation in place created by the Pueblo peoples who had been living sustainably in the region for some time. As it turns out, the Spanish had learned the so-named “acequia” system in Spain from their own invaders, the Arabs, during their occupation of the Iberian peninsula. Thus the word, “acequia,” comes through Arabic into Spanish (water conduit).

Here’s Eric, the water master, hired to move the acequia water all around the property. He was carrying his lunch and a chain saw. His dog is 7 months old and a topic of conversation, which we will skip, other than to say he’s the best and smartest dog in the world, and improving by the day. What Eric really likes to talk about is water. I wish I had recorded some of the information he’s shared with me about the importance and the history of acequia water. He loves this area and understands well how fortunately situated Taos is, and how that relates to the long history of people living here with respect for the natural, elemental features and forces of the place. Without consciously knowing it, these were the very things that drew me to Taos, a longing for a place with this kind of history and promise for a sustainable future.

These pale, fading leaves belong to a huge apricot tree in the orchard that dropped its fruit over a month ago.

Before I close I want to share with you some interesting links I’ve discovered while researching for this blog. A group called Nuestra Cosecha (Our Harvest) is “seeking to increase the production of locally grown food that is spiritually and culturally meaningful to our communities, ” food that is “fair, local, green and affordable for our families.” This group’s page is parented by the NM Acequia Association’s site, Las Acequias, an interesting site in its own right.

And here’s a link to my Picasa album with more acequia water photos.

Last Dance for Plaza Music Nights

This was the last of the summer’s Thursday night “music in the plaza” events. When I first heard about them back in June it sounded like such a good thing, but I admit I failed to follow up, until just this last time. As it turned out the music was all Hispanic flavored and difficult for most people to dance to, so I made it a photo op and didn’t stay very long. Still the event and the plaza setting had an impressive sense of Taos community.

This youngster was really enjoying himself and the amazing face painting added to his sense of excitement and adventure for the evening. With his grandmother’s permission he posed for me to get this photo. I was told there were lots of different types of music all summer and so this evening’s focus on Hispanic music and songs, anticipated by most of the audience, was not typical.

Meanwhile all around the region we see along our roads a sage-like plant blooming: Chamisa. It seems to grow right next to the ubiquitous sage, and I suspect the less showy bloom of the sage is also happening simultaneously. I come here from sage country in Idaho and always have bad allergies from mid-August through September which I blame on sage pollen. I guess I can blame its companion, the Chamisa, too.

I spotted these pots of Chamisa for sale in the nursery section of YArt, an inspiring Taos business specializing in yard art, thus the name. I really like this Taos business and plan to blog about it sometime. I was there briefly a week ago Sunday as they were sponsoring a gathering of healers, there to give readings. Some were astrologers, some psychics or tarot card readers.

I came by to check in with my friends who offer the Oneness Blessing in Taos, Joanie and Mariah, but they were too busy to even notice me. I sometimes attend the weekly blessings and find them very helpful, especially in the way of staying calm and peaceful while meeting life’s challenges. If interested you can call Joanie, 758-2192.

And who could blog in early September and not mention Hatch chili roasting at the local grocery stores? Being a Taos newbie this is all, well, NEW to me, but I did bravely buy a little sampling of the product at Cid’s a week ago. It tasted way hotter than I was hoping, but by removing all the seeds and the roasted skin and running it under cold water for a bit, then chopping it up in tiny bits, I’ve managed to incorporate these much prized chilies into my diet.

At Smith’s one day last weekend there were people waiting for the burlap bags of chilies they had purchased to be roasted. The line of bags sitting in supermarket carts was very long and people looked like they were patiently settled in for a wait. I learned that the bag(s) of chilies are intended to last for the season. The purchasers freeze most of them for later use.

And where or what is Hatch? I’ve heard it’s a town in southern New Mexico. Get out your maps blog readers and see if you can enlighten the rest of us. All I know is the good chilies come from there and that is that.

Tipis and Temples in Taos

I know, it looks like Mongolia, but it’s Taos, in one of her many faces. Take a turn off Medio on Mondragon and enjoy the bumpy dirt road (no speed bumps necessary). I was there for a presentation offered by two ambassadors from Peru, who represent the Kipatsi Indigenous Work Group. I believe the event was hosted by Vista Paz Taos. Nyna Matsiak invited me and the above photo is her family’s home.

This was taken inside the tipi where we gathered. These lovely gentlemen are Asheninka Mino and Emilio Salvatierra. They are presently living in Albuquerque but come up to Taos at intervals at the invite of Vista Paz Taos. There were about a dozen locals attending. There was a translator on hand, who works with Kipatsi, to help with the conversation. Oddly, I found when they spoke Spanish I could almost understand what they were saying. Possibly they slowed down their natural speech rhythm for this purpose? I was very touched by the effect it had on me and found their very presence inspiring.

Of course, they have goals similar to all of us, survival of our chosen or inherited homelands and into the future sustainable living close to land that is free of rape and pillage by the profit machine.

I took this shot as I was departing around 8 PM. No doubt you’ll hear more about the adventures of Nyna and her farm off the grid and the Kipatsi work group, not to mention the interesting goings on at Vista Paz Taos.

I also attended lunch last Sunday at the Hanuman Temple in Taos, an exotic place if you’ve never been there. They serve their lunches starting at 1 PM every Sunday as part of their spiritual practice and the outdoor serving area is entirely free of any hint of collecting money. They do have a little store near the kitchen area. This was my second time and, like the first, there were lots of people eating and socializing. The food is Indian style, warm and spicy and delicately delicious.

Ganesha holds a place of honor at the entrance to the compound from the parking lot. This is the season for local marigolds and are a popular flower both in the Hindu culture and in Mexico. I have a few plants but they have yet to flower. I had a marigold conversation on Saturday with Tara, who is one of the gardeners on the Hanuman Temple property. She was offering them for sale at the farm market last Saturday and said they always try to grow a lot of them so they can use them at the temple and sell them, but it’s hard to get them to bloom early where they are located, a giant step down from Taos proper on a little road off Valverde.

So as a newbie gardener in Taos I’m taking note. Start your marigolds in a greenhouse if you have one, or indoors, early. That would probably be along with your heirloom tomatoes of Siberian descent! Yes, my tomatoes are still producing but I’ll admit this past week they have slowed down a touch (due to lack of Siberian heritage?). Their feet are still staying cosy inside their “walls of water’ but the tops will be vulnerable come the first cold night. We won’t even mention the touchingly beautiful morning glories I have climbing up everything in sight now. They will be the first to go in the cold. Ah, life and death in the garden.

The Farm in Abiquiu

On the unpaved road to Jeff’s farm near Abiquiu you pass along the Rio Chama, a river that begins up near the New Mexico town of that name, close to the Colorado border. As you can see from the muddy waters in the foreground we have had recent monsoon rains. The name of Jeff’s farm is Red Mountain. I forgot to ask where it was in the landscape but I can attest to the fact that the earth there was red in color.

I presume Jeff is irrigating his 20 acre farm with water from the Chama River. Those Cottonwood trees in the background mark the presence of the river. Even though when we met at the Taos farm market and Jeff said he had a 20 acre farm (I blogged about it 2 posts ago) I didn’t realize just how big that is until I was there in person. Jeff, and I guess many farmers like him around the area, mean business. Jeff’s location gives him a nice lower elevation, one that can extend his growing season on both ends, spring and fall.

And just to make sure he gets an early jump on the season there’s a big greenhouse. Jeff joined up with a farmer from Embudo, Steve Johnson, to form a CSA (community supported agriculture) community. If you’d like to learn more about that or might consider joining they have a website: rioarribafarms.com. Jeff and Steve set up next to one another at the Taos Farm Market, so you can meet them both there, and I’m sure they’d love to offer you their nice brochure about Rio Arriba Farms.

Looks like blackberries will be starting to happen at the farm market this weekend and beyond. And someone mentioned to me that at this time of year they go down to Mora to pick raspberries, so those could be making their way here as well.

Eggplant was in abundance. These are the lovely flowers of the plant which face downwards so to take a photo you have to get down on the ground and tilt your camera up, usually in a blind kind of way, til you get the shot. Not a problem. There were lots of tomatoes as well, but one would expect that.

And what photo-blog about a farm would be complete without a goat!