In 2006 I took a Road Trip from San Francisco to New Mexico and back over the course of a month, writing and taking photos all the way. Two years later I had a show of paintings based on those photographs. This is one of a series of twenty-nine posts of those paintings accompanied by the relevant diary entries.
18. May 11th 2006.
There’s a sharp climb above sea level and I am wondering now if this caused the headache I had for the next few days. It was still a nice couple of days though. Taos used to be a hot bed for artists and creative types. O’Keeffe lived around here, Mabel Dodge Luhan, a wealthy patron of the arts, held court here and painter Agnes Martin built her house and worked here. However, as with most creative places, it attracted the idle rich who proceeded to homogenize it and it now its has that soulless patina of luxury that one gets in the well-heeled suburbs of the world. It is unlikely an actual artist could live here now.
The drive here (to Taos) was lovely. Stopped in Chana for an excellent home cooked lunch. Town is ringed with snow-covered mountains. Pale brown, white broken strips. Restaurant:wooden walls. Lurid pictures. Mural. Home baked pies. Corona beer salt and pepper shakers. Old guy with glasses in the kitchen. Scrambled eggs, chorizo, beans and potato. Wonderful!Bear skin on the wall, three men sitting beneath it. Cross-shaped pinata ceiling fans.
Continued on the 64 through the Carson national forest, snow still around the bases of the trees. Carson married a local girl of 14 and settled here so everything is named after him in sharp contrast to the hippy, Native American loving nature of the place. I thought he was a famous Indian hunter after having being a friend of the Indians?Its not mentioned anywhere so far.
I crossed the Rio Grande on this day and hardly noticed though I went back to visit it.
I am staying at the Abominable Snow Mansion in Arroyo Seco just north of Taos. Much better day today. When I arrived there were all these old hippy types sitting around. Decided not to camp as the campground is just a wee patch of grass, so I am in a cabin, more like a small garden shed, and quite happy.
…this was in the actual garden outside the main hostel building…
I can see a mountain-Sangre de Christo?- out my door. There is a sit-in or take-out shop up the road with a bar, looks local and smells like my grannys’ house. The rest of the tiny street is choc a bloc with adobe shops, galleries, potters, delis-and even though it is a wee bit much it is nicely done-and people are saying hello!One of the guys has just asked me over for some dinner.
There is a large girl sitting in the ‘outdoor chill place’ …an outdoor living room with sofas…wearing make up. She didn’t return my hello, just looked. She has changed from her shorts and top into a dress and has now changed into another dress-all in the space of four hours. When I passed earlier I thought she was crying.
Everything is so hippy here. Even the real estate agents are called Dreamcatcher & Sundance. I haven’t seen Taos yet, just in the three-quarter views of the hand drawn tourist maps (there are two). I will be going to see the Taos Pueblo tomorrow and I think it’s the reason for my high today.
The worst part of the day?My car hit weasel-type thing just as he was running across the road right on the continental divide…
I found out later it was a Mexican Ground Squirrel…which I suppose is a Latina weasel..
I went back. I had run over his back and his wee leg was crushed and he was, to my horror, still alive so I searched for a stone to crush his skull but I could only find bits of wood-I really didn’t know if I could do it-but he had died when I got back to him. I feel dreadful, poor wee thing. I apologised..
…I am sure he appreciated that..
but still a large shadow on the day.
Impressions:Its cooler, more clouds, snow in the mountains. There is a lurid picture on the wall here with price tag of $3. It’s about 2 ft by 4 ft. I would gladly buy it just to burn it, to rid the earth of its existence. It’s a landscape. Blue mountain, blue river. Pine trees. Very similar to the ones hanging in the restaurant in Chana. Is this the best Taos can do?