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.

029 life on the pueblo 2, NM

Taos Pueblo, oil on board, 9 x 6 inches (approx.)

19.May 12th, 2006.

Went to Taos for breakfast. Took a while to find my bearings. Taos is…cute. Didn’t bother going into any galleries. Got a gigantic sausage and egg burrito-was told I had finished the most anyone had that day…

There’s that Irish ‘finish everything on your plate, what about the black babies, and sure aren’t you lucky you don’t remember the famine syndrome..’

..and I didn’t finish all of it either, rebel that I am.

026 breakfast in taos, NM

Burrito, Taos, New Mexico, oil on board, 7 x 9 inches (approx.)

Mabel Dodge Luhans’ House is now a hotel-quite lovely but in the lobby there was classical music playing and it was all a bit swish. I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay there. Nice to see the outside but the artists retreat like Indian culture is long dead and viewing the carcass isn’t the same thing.

Went to the pueblo. Cranky again. Hot. Shops in every house nearly. All the questions arose again. Undeniably it depressed me.

Taos Pueblo is a famous settlement, home to the Pueblo Indians, and is one of a few to have been continuously inhabited since they were founded. Taos Pueblo is said to have been built between 1000 and 1400. It consists of adobe houses, built close together and rising five or six stories.


The shops I did go into were swish-pots for $4000!

Anasazi pottery is distinctive, made from white or grey clay, and is quite beautiful. It appeared as early as 200 A.D. The pots for sale would have been modern versions.

One young man was drawing a design on a drum with a permanent marker which made me wonder what exactly are we supposed to be paying for.

..and how much that tiny drum coloured in with marker was going to be priced. $2000?

Is this Indian culture?A modern facsimile of the same?The appreciation of the culture kills it-creates a demand, changes the things people are buying or want. The shops reminded of me of those Irish gift shops I would not shop in, in a million years. I want the real thing. Which is unobtainable. So I left.

Later I dozed in the outside sitting room with my new detective book and woke to the sounds of the strange, large, girl and an English guy talking. So I got into my first conversation in weeks. Patty is an artist and she’s quite a good one too. Another lady-in her 50s joined us, on a road trip from Alaska to Mexico including a seven night stay in a silent catholic order somewhere in California or Mexico.

Patty, who has auditory dyslexia-‘greek version of sickle cell anaemia’ and various other ailments-told me there is a Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. Might try and see it.
There are cats here which is nice. Patty did a painting of one this afternoon. That’s two paintings today!

This was the first time I had heard of a hearing ailment which it turns out I probably have. Patty called it Audio Dyslexia and linked it to her Greek heritage (she was from Indiana though) but there is something called Central Audio Processing Disorder (CAPD) where the brain finds it hard to interpret speech. I have inner ear damage. Hearing aids should have helped but they served to confuse me a lot. Eventually, a few years after my trip, a consultant suggested I had CAPD but it cannot be officially diagnosed once there is ear damage too.

Eventually went and got something to eat in Taos, Orlandos, blue corn, beef, enchilada with beans and guacamole. Yes!

There are some really ‘cool’ people here, dreadlocks (shudder) etc. who are far too cool to say hello. Said hi to one girl who has been ignoring me, and everyone else  I assume, just to annoy her.

Cool people are not for me. Maybe that’s why they annoy me. Maybe I want to be cool too but these are not my kind of people. I am drawn to the others, the flotsam, the jetsam, the damaged, they are more real to me.

Later in my shed…I feel a migraine coming on. There is a lurid painting of an Indian warrior on his knees beside his horse lit by a blinding light in the sky. A romanticism of a culture long dead. This is the age of ideas, the age of romance. Culture packaged and sold, true love, fame, communion with the gods, success-all these are answers to our questions, our hungriness. But there is not answer and all we are searching for is our own death, which is the answer to everything. 

028 life on the pueblo 1, NM

Taos Pueblo, oil on board, 9 x 6 inches (approx.)


12 responses to “ROAD TRIP : TAOS PUEBLO

  1. Having to eat everything on your plate isn’t just an Irish thing. Occasionally I can tell myself that I don’t have to.

    I love the painting of the dog sleeping in the shade.

  2. Thanks April…I have just updated this post a little to include a bit of background and a photo of the pueblo…I still battle with that ‘plate’ thing!

  3. It looks so hot in your photo and paintings, breakfast looks huge! I too come from a land/time of eat-up-or-else. A shame the Indian culture has been so commercialised, guess it’s what they have to do to survive, make money from tourists, same the world over really. :/

  4. It was perfect weather really, not too hot, nice and warm. Yes they have to do this to survive…I think I was struggling because I could see no other way this could have turned out….I think my problem is not with the Native Americans but with mankind…as you say it is the same the world over, as well sell off bits of our chimerical cultures to survive. A tad depressing…I think its time for a happy song now!

  5. It looks amazing, until you start thinking about how people manage to live there. Local councils here would have it demolished as a slum. Different cultures value different things.

  6. In the states they feel that have so little ancient history I think they value it. The houses might be quite safe and comfortable too. I think they will be under the control of the tribe who would over see that. I imagine people would not continue to live there if they weren’t…but of course the only alternative for a lot of the tribes, as they are beset by poverty and other issues, is government housing which is far more flimsy and slum-like. It’s probably good it wasn’t demolished even from that practical point of view. Possibly a lot to do with the difference between the social welfare states in Europe and the dominance of capitalism in the States too.

  7. I looked it up and it said they had no running water and no electricity in the houses. Buildings have been declared slums for less. I’m sure you’re right about the differences between Europe and the US.

  8. I wouldn’t doubt you for a minute April 🙂 :)…mind you when I was there some of those shops were air conditioned, with discreet lighting, glass shelves etc etc, I mean when I say they were swish, they were swish, so its possible to have units that are more than liveable in, though its hard to know how they did the places up since electricity is prohibted….I have a heard a lot of bad things about the HUD housing…I guess they are between a rock and a hard place…no wonder they are selling pots for thousands..

  9. …I am just looking through my photos to see if I got any shots of the shops but I didn’t…maybe I am imagining it, maybe its just an impression I got from the prices…some of the units certainly weren’t swish. Who knows. I suppose though that’s the way the tribe wants it and it generates money for them. Anyway…I am up to my neck in exams so I’m going to turn off comments for the rest of the posts as this is my final week. Thanks as always for your input, see you on the other side 🙂

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