• brandenfugate

Road Notes: Day 172

Taos is really growing on me. I feel like I need to make an apology, actually. In a previous Road Notes entry, I kinda dissed on the art of Taos. I think I said that it is ‘predictable hippie psychedelia’ or something of that sort. There is a LOT of that, especially plastered over all of the restaurants, diners, and coffee shops. But today I was proven wrong.

We decided to just take a drive and see where we ended up. Which was (unexpectedly) town (the nature scenes around here are calling our names and that was kind of the original plan). On Sundays, the Taos Art Museum is open for free to residents. The lady at the door was impressed with Branden’s Earthship adventures, and considered us to be residents. She was rad, and we still made a donation (support the arts!).

The Taos Art Museum is housed in the former home of Russian artist Nicolai Fechin. He became infatuated with the scenes of the Southwest and moved to Taos permanently in 1927. The museum displayed a lot of his works, alongside those of many other American Western artists. The feature was Buck Dunton. We strolled through the 100 year old adobe home, which made my heart melt. The concept of an adobe house is very foreign to me. I love it. Adobe buildings have a timeless feeling to them. Not to mention the fact that they are endlessly customizable. I will live in an adobe home one day. Shit. Branden knows how to build them now. It’s gonna happen.

There was a video in the museum all about the Taos Society of Artists. It was founded in 1915 by Dunton, Joseph Henry Sharp, E. Irving Couse, Oscar E. Berninghaus, Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips. These artists stumbled upon the dusty little town of Taos, became enamored by its people and its beauty, and decided to stay. They helped to shape the concept of the American West as depicted in art. Seriously. Google them. I had no idea that Taos was such a monumental and influential town in American art. Here I was, heralding Marfa as being such a unique institution, and they are really taking notes from Taos circa the early 1900s. I stand corrected, and sincerely look forward to exploring more art in this city.

We also explored the cemetery, something we often do because we are creeps BUT HEAR ME OUT it often tells the history of a place. Kit Carson Cemetery is the epitome of this assertion. We have gained a small, first-hand understanding of the tensions amongst early American settlers, Native peoples, Spanish colonists, and Mexican natives. We’ve learned this from our visit to Taos Pueblo, from wandering the streets of downtown Taos, and Wikipedia of course. New Mexico was really the crossroads of some turbulent times. Kit Carson, the American frontiersman, is heralded as a national hero. He sounds like a douche to me. So we go in the cemetery where he is buried. The site regards him as a legend. Sure, he wasn’t part of the Confederate. Good on ya. You did the bare minimum. However, he is praised for “opening up the west” and “gaining California’s independence” aka erroneously staking claims on land already inhabited by various tribes for thousands of years. Yeah. Hero. It astounded us how tone deaf the various plaques were. They continuously call the Native tribes “rebels,” “enemies,” and “murderers.” These are people who were merely protecting themselves and their lands against the encroaching colonization. People who were constantly being taken advantage of. People whose descendants still reside in Taos. We found great pleasure in the immense amounts of graffiti that corrected these one-sided accounts (see photos). On the other hand, the grave of artist Mabel Dodge Luhan is covered in decorative offerings. Taos residents have their priorities straight.

We then hit up the Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn. Once again…an awesome, long history. I really am falling for this place. The Inn is a collection of several adobe structures dating back to the 1800s. It was once the home of Thomas “Doc” Martin, who was the traveling doctor of Taos. Legend has it that the Taos Society of Artists was founded in this place. We enjoyed some local libations. I had Gruet sparkling wine, and Branden had Monk’s Ale from Abbey Brewing Company. Important note: we just secured an interview with them. They are the first American Monastic order to brew beer, as many European monks do. Score.

But seriously, who do I have to talk to about rewording these plaques in the cemetery? It’s bad.

Road Notes are timed entries—written in thirty minutes or less at the end of each day. Considerations are made for spelling/legibility but not for grammar. Deal with it.

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