Sunday, May 19, 2013

old taos looking for the new taos

I let myself lose track with my blogging again. Mainly it was because the Blogger platform was really not working well on my computer. I think I have that problem solved for the time being, though. We'll see.

I think this blog will be short, though, even though it should be really long, given the subject.

Last week I went to Taos, New Mexico. It's not too far from Denver. It's a really beautiful city. I had mainly gone there to see the Millicent Rogers Museum. Inhad also hoped to see Cherie Burns, the author of Searching for Beauty, a really good biography of Millicent Rogers. But Burns ended up being outnof town at the time.

I got into Taos on Thursday afternoon and left early on Sunday morning, so I could celebrate Mother's Day with my mom. It was definitely not enough time for someone slow like me to see everything. I am already thinking of going back to see the things I missed.

On Thursday I went to the Taos Pueblo. That's probably the best way to start your trip to Taos. The Taos Pueblo is a series of adobe dwellings that have been occupied for about a thousand years. The history of Taos basically starts with that Pueblo. There is also a really lovely church in the Pueblo that kids named after the Archangel Gabriel.

The Millicent Rogers Museum is located outside of Taos, on the north side. The main attraction, for me, was the jewelry that had been designed by Millicent. It has a kind of modern and abstract style. One can almost see traces of Picasso in some of the work, such as the "Running Star" pieces. I also love some of her big, silver necklaces, which somehow remind me of the collar pieces for Egyptian Queens.

But Millicent had quite an extensive collection of Southwestern art. And even since Millicent's death, the museum has collected more art. There are all kinds of silver work, tin work, weavings, wood carvings, pottery, and basket work.

There were also some lovely photos and drawings done by middle school and high school students from aroubd Taos. The drawings were like sketches and studies, some copies of Da Vinci's work, some original works. I actually liked seeing some of that work.

I went to a few different galleries. The first gallery I went to was the Hulse Warman Gallery. There were a few interesting works there. One set of works I really liked was the sculptures of Petro Hul. The sculptures had a raw, abstract kind of feel. One sculpture looked like some sort of mixture between coral and a sea cucumber that was about to explode with spores. Another was pure black marble stuffed full of cylinders of white marble.

Another artist whose work I liked was August Muth. He had some holograms with circular images. Some of the circles were broken. Others were whole. As you moved past the works, the circles would also move, so that they would intersect or blend together, changing color allthe time.

The big exhibit at the Hulse Warman was a collection of works by Murtuza Boxwalla. Boxwalla was an architect in India, but he decided to move to Taos to become an artist. His work has a style very reminiscent of scaffolding, or the skeleton of a building, blended with a kind of Cubist style, and employing the color palette of Taos -- the tans and pale turquoise blues.

I spoke for a while with Clint Hulse, the owner of the gallery. One thing in particular that Clint mentioned to me was that he would like to see more new, young artists come down to Taos.

Another gallery I liked was the David Anthony Fine Art Gallery. There is some interesting work there by a few people. John Farnsworth's current work is devoted to painting horses in a style reminiscent of Georgia O'Keefe. But some of his other work is more interesting to me, such as his Zuni woman holding an olla mask, and his father and sons on horseback, as well as a really gorgeous kachina standing before a purple and gold sunset.

There are also sone interesting photos by a person named Bill Davis. Some of his earlier photos aren't too interesting to me. But over the past few decades, Davis has, it seems, become a master of photo manipulation. And he has some wonderful works along those lines: a cluster of trees over a river, done so that the trees are yellow and the river and sky are maroon and purple, and then put into a mirror image; and the surface of a flaking-away surface of sandstone, manipulated into a color scheme of blues, purples, and creams, to look like one of Monet's paintingsnof water lilies.

There are also some lovely pieces if furniture by David Mapes. Mapes also, I think, has some neat photos of white fireworks shooting off amid flowers and other figures, such as a woman shrouded under a huge, white sheet. There are also some lovely etchings by a wo an named Jennifer Lynch. And some good paintings by a man named Jack Smith. In particular, I like his painting of the Slator Daughters.

I also stopped by the Intersecting Parallels gallery, which is owned by and showcases the work of Brandon Maldonado. Brandon's paintings are nice, a kind of blend of old-style Latin-American Catholic imagery and dark sexuality, mixed with a Magritte-like surrealism and tattoo and graffiti-art delineation. There is also an edge to the style that reminds me of the manga of Mizuno Junko and the Bratz dolls.

Brandon, oddly enough, had only recently moved down to Taos. He'd lived up in Denver and had had a gallery here. I knew his work, in fact, from having seen it here. Brandon told me he'd moved to Taos from Denver because he felt like Taos was a bit more if a buyer's town than Denver. People, after all, make trips to Taos expressly for the purpose ofe buying art.

I also went to the Parsons Fine Art Gallery, the one near the plaza and the John Dunn House center. There were a lot of interesting earlyworks there. Among my favorites were the works of Robert Daughters and Nikolai Fechin. But I also liked the works of Jerry Jordan, especially his paintings of the Taos cemeteries.

The only other museum I went to was the Taos Museum, which is housed in the house belonging to the great Russian painter Nikolai Fechin. Fechin designed the house and frunished it with an immense amount of wood carvings. The wood carvings, in a definitively European, rather than Southwestern, style, are by far my favorite part of the museum.

I also like the exhibit of works by Duane Van Vechten, which take up the entire second floor of the house. Van Vechten employs so many different styles! Even her still lifes of flowers are done in many different styles!

I went to the Moby Dickens bookstore, which is like a cultural center for Taos authors. I saw a lecture there by Bonnie Lee Black, who has just published a book called How to Make an African Quilt. The book is about the time Black spent in Mali, teaching women how to make patchwork quilts.

Apparently, while Black was in Mali, one of her friends published a book about how, in antebellum America, symbols on quilts were used to indicate key directions for the Underground Railroad, the secret path the African American slaves took to freedom.

Bkack also began to get the impression that in a former life she had been an African woman. She began to imagine the story of this woman, named Jenebel, who was a slave in America and who helped on the Underground Railroad. So this story is also interwoven into Black's novel.

The owner of the Moby Dickens bookshop, Jay Moore, is also a really cool guy. He's pretty young. He bought the store, I think, from the family of Art Bachrach, the man who, I think, owned the shop until his death in 2010. Jay has a lot of stories to tell -- from his own experiences in Taos, from what people have told him, and from what he's read about Taos. He also seems to be really excited about the fact that Mumford and Sons are coming to Taos in July.

Another good bookshop is the Brodsky Bookstore. While there, I bought a book by self-published author Bill Rakocy. The book is about the founders of the Taos art scene, but it eventually becomes an all-purpose history and philosophy of Southwestern art and world art.

I went to the Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn one night and watched the TV Killers while I had a chicken burrito smothered in green chile. The TV Killers were pretty good. They're based in Santa Fe. They have a sound kind of like Tom Petty.

I also went to the World Cup Cafe one morning. It was a really nice cafe, though it was kind of small. I got there as soon as they opened, though, so it wasn't crowded. Another cafe I went to was the Caffe Tazza. It was a much bigger,  much quieter cafe. I sat there for two hours, reading the paper and some books I'd bought from the Millicent Rogers Museum.

My overall impression of Taos is that it is a city of culture that thrives on infusions from outside cultures. That's why I think that right now there's such a call from the older generation of artists to bring in a new generation. Where will that new generation come from? One thing I didn't see much of while in Taos was installation art. Another thing I didn't see much of was digital art. So many artists have painted the desert landscapes. Why not make an installation art and a digital art based in the desert mountain landscapes of Taos? That might be what the new generation will bring in.