Mable Dodge House Lives On

By some luck I was invited on a tour of the Mable Dodge house/complex. I had been scheduled to give a talk to a group staying there for a class on travel journal sketching but the group got a chance to take the tour at the same time. Thus I was included and gave my talk after. This photo shows the main part of the house as it was designed by Tony Luhan,  Mable’s Taos Pueblo native husband. He did a lot of beautiful and creative things with the adobe style of building.

I particularly admire the playfulness of these two square rooms at the top, the bedroom with windows all around, which I was able to visit last summer, and the room with the painted glass, which I’ve never been in.

Seeing this painting on glass 2 years ago gave me the practical idea that I could use the same technique to paint my two glass-paned front doors. The tour guide, Jane, mentioned the glass painting and said several different people, some famous artists, did the work, each pane an original.

This is the kind of charming detail that captures my imagination, part of a row of cut-out spaces in a wall that gives lightness to it, as well as a tantalizing view into an area of the house that I believe was for guests. Our tour was mostly outside. At the end we all sat around in what was the living room listening to our guide tell her informed version of the story of Mable and Tony’s life in Taos.

We were taken around to the back of the house, along the wall with the green lattice windows in the wall, to discuss the border line between the property on which the house sits and the Taos Pueblo land. According to the Pueblo the assumed property line was originally calculated incorrectly and there are special arrangements by which some of the  guest houses continue to be bought and sold and occupied. There was a road along this fence which allowed trucks to drive up and unload at a back door entrance to the main house, but that use has been discontinued due to conflict with the Pueblo over the property line.

While most Anglos feel Mable and Tony’s story is a valued part of Taos’ history, the people of the Pueblo were never very impressed by it for their own reasons. In some way we can see this boundary conflict as it moves along into present time as a symbol of the complexity that remains a part of Taos.

I mentioned last week the hollyhocks having their day in the sun here in downtown Taos. Well, as it’s turned out the sun has been brutally consistent lately, with daytime temps in the 90s. Here we see plants that are doing fine in the heat. They’re located beneath the innovative and new El Gamal sign across the lane from said restaurant. Beyond is a large parking lot that serves the shops on Dona Luz as well as the central Plaza a block away.

I believe this is a close up of one of the flowers in the previous shot. In the house where I grew up there were hollyhocks growing along the back fence each summer. No doubt this influences the emotional reaction I get when I see them to this day.

This is an unexpected siting of a very happy mullein plant growing in one of the beds at the Hanuman Temple. Mullein is more often found in the wild, ideally in places where it gets plenty of water. It has medicinal properties. Is good for lung issues. The leaves are softly hairy and can be used in lieu of toilet paper, or so I’m told. I’ve never tried it.

Happy first birthday on July 4th Charlotte!

Blooms & Light

That’s Cerro Pedernal Mountain in the center horizon, the sacred mountain near Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch so loved and painted by Georgia O’Keefe. Earlier that evening a group of women (and their workshop leader) staying at the Mable Dodge campus met me at the St. Francis Church to photograph it around dusk. I eventually had urged them to follow me up to the last rest stop on 68 as you’re heading into Taos for a fuller view of the sky as shown in this photo.

Earlier I was able to record this lovely light with tree shadows on the St. Francis Church. I want to mention how I met the instructor of this journal sketching workshop. Her best friend goggled “Taos bloggers,” or something close, and found my Taos blog. Since she was looking forward to a trip to Taos for the class she found the blog interesting and forwarded it to Amy Bogard, the leader and planner of the group. Amy was about to experience her first time teaching/staying at the Mable Dodge. She emailed me with enthusiasm and praise for my blog and offered a link to her blog, which is more about her process as an artist. I really liked her blog and we began to talk about meeting when she got to Taos with her group.

She and her best friend had arrived two days before the group to get acclimated and ended up coming over to my house, among other things, on their first non-travel day. Amy bought this small Goddess altar from me and put it to good use as the centerpiece of a personal altar she set up in her room. There are now three other similar altar pieces available for sale at Wabi Sabi, along with a large group of my cards. Amy took this shot with her iPhone and I felt it spoke volumes about how I’m anticipating people will use my new approach to altars. It’s only 4″ across and made of paper mache, so neither large nor heavy.

This remarkable piece of textile art I found hanging on the fence next to Two Graces, a curio shop in the plaza of St. Francis Church. I had to include it in this blog out of total admiration for its brilliant and patient creator. I’d say the figures are Hopi or Zuni kachinas. As you can see it could use some repair, but mostly it’s in excellent condition. Just something unexpected to admire…

To end this week’s blog I’ll share some photos I took last week in the historic district of Taos. This type of rose must like the mountains because they were also common in Sun Valley, Idaho, where I last lived. They bloom early and so their beauty is most welcome and appreciated. I wish I knew the proper name for it, but nothing is coming to mind. I’m sure nurseries sell them. They have a wildish sprawling habit, most charming for landscaping that intends a casual look.

In case you haven’t guessed this is a peony bud. Found this along the north side of Bent Street. I’ll be sure to check back and photograph the flower in full bloom. When I was a young child growing up in Oklahoma I lived next door to a couple who had a large and varied collection of peony plants in their back yard and it was a special treat in late spring to be welcomed over to look at the flowers when they were in bloom. They seemed very exotic to me, hinted at wonders beyond my normal experience, promises of future revelations.