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A Taste of Art History in Taos and Santa Fe

TIME : 2-16 15:53:17
Santa Fe and Taos have long histories of fostering creative output, much of it inspired by the surrounding landscape. Tour northern New Mexico with a creative eye, and soon you’ll be recognizing locations from paintings and maybe find yourself ready to buy … or to dive into some work of your own.

Taos

Art lovers need not spend all their time in museums (though there are some great ones). It can be just as rewarding to visit studios, talk with artists, and see how objects are made.Taos is the best place to see where and how artists lived: At the Mabel Dodge Luhan House (240 Morada Ln., 575/751-9686, 9am-7pm daily, free), now an inn, Mabel’s own bed is still in place in her sunlit room with views of Taos Mountain. Elsewhere in town, the E. L. Blumenschein Home (222 Ledoux St., 575/758-0505, 10am-5pm Mon.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun. Apr.-Oct., 10am-4pm Mon., Tues., and Thurs.-Sat. Nov.-Mar., $8) and Taos Art Museum at Fechin House (227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, 575/758-2690, 10am-5pm Tues.-Sun. May-Oct., till 4pm Nov.-April, $8) both show how artists adapted their residences to their personal styles.

Perhaps the most illuminating spot is Dorothy Brett’s miniscule cabin at the D. H. Lawrence Ranch (10am-4pm Mon., Thurs., and Sat. June-Oct.), barely big enough for a bed and a woodstove. Across the yard, in front of Lawrence’s only slightly larger home, is the towering pine depicted in Georgia O’Keeffe’s The Lawrence Tree. Get her perspective, and the curving lines of the painting come into focus:

“There was a long weathered carpenter’s bench under the tall tree in front of the little old house that Lawrence had lived in there. I often lay on that bench looking up into the tree…past the trunk and up into the branches. It was particularly fine at night with the stars above the tree.”

New Mexico's Pedernal Peak, seen from Ghost Ranch where Georgia O’Keeffe kept a studio.

Pedernal Peak, seen from Ghost Ranch. Photo © Zora O’Neill.

Santa Fe

Art lovers need not spend all their time in museums (though there are some great ones). It can be just as rewarding to visit studios, talk with artists, and see how objects are made. Drive the High Road to Taos to see woodworkers’ studios and weavers’ workshops.

Northwest of Santa Fe lies Abiquiu, turf that painter Georgia O’Keeffe called her own, even if she had only a small house in town and a studio at Ghost Ranch (U.S. 84, 505/685-1000). But everything under the sway of flat-topped Pedernal Peak, so often depicted in her work, was grist for her creativity.

Just north of Santa Fe, Shidoni (1508 Bishops Lodge Rd., 505/988-8001, 9am-5pm Mon.-Sat.) and Tesuque Glassworks (1510 Bishops Lodge Rd., 505/988-2165, 9am-5pm daily) sit side by side—the former is a bronze foundry, with demonstrations on weekends, and the latter has an open glassblowing studio where you’ll usually find some craftspeople at work. It’s remarkable to see such heavy technology creating what are often very delicate pieces. If you’re truly inspired, check out the listings with Santa Fe Creative Tourism.


Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Santa Fe, Taos, & Albuquerque.