Well, I knew the time would come. When I’d be back in my living room in Ohio, attempting to put into words and a few measly pictures, the experience that is The Taos Trip. I last posted the first few days of our adventure here and now I’ll re-cap on the quickly passing second leg of our trip. At some point I hope to share some student work on the travel-journaling page of the blog but for now, just a quick re-cap… and some thoughts on it all.
While in Taos, we were fortunate to meet and spend time with folks who are knowledgeable about Taos or who are successfully living and working in Taos as artists, much like last year. We took a tour of the Mabel Dodge Luhan house, our home for the week, with Judi who works at Mabel’s and has spent years learning about the ghosts of the place and how they fit into Taos history, art history, native and national history.
By the end of our hour with Judi, we felt transported in time and into Mabel’s fascinating life and story.
Last year, we met artists Kate Cartwright (who again paid the class a visit) and Lenny Foster. This year, we visited artist, quilter and fabric designer Terrie Mangat at her house in downtown Taos. It was thrilling! Her home has been lovingly restored in Taos style and we were treated to an up-close and personal showing of some of her quilt work.
Fortunately, Terrie had aprons available for folks to purchase at the end of our visit (much as we would have all liked to buy one of her amazing quilts!!!) Some of us bought 2. Thanks to Terrie for a magical glimpse into the life of a Taos artist with greater Cincinnati ties!!!
Last week (was it really last week?) was the Solstice and to celebrate the longest day of the year (in, frankly, one of the sunniest states in the country) we did some sun prints to put into our journals.
This was a fun activity, specifically geared toward those not so keen on drawing in their journals. I had a range of artistic skill and levels of comfort in this class and it was difficult to meet everyone’s needs. I am already teeming with ideas for next year to get the newbies drawing more and the practiced artists to lean a little less on the camera image back in the class room. There is something so immediate about sitting in a particular place and just attempting to make a drawing. The drawings aren’t always the best, or most accurate, but when made, they can enhance the knowledge of a place one has visited. But this activity was fun for all and most people made many of these. It was great to bring home shadows of some of the natural flora to be found around Mabel’s.
Taos, and especially the Mabel Dodge house, has a tapestry of history with the native people of the region, the Taos Pueblo Indians. Mabel’s backs right up to Pueblo land.
I have always found it tremendously interesting to consider what life is like in a culture completely different from our own. We were blessed with a warm, but beautiful morning to explore the historic part of Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our guide, Cameron Martinez, provided a wonderful, knowledgeable tour of the public portion of the Pueblo and a peek into life there.
The tour guides at the Pueblo are generally college students who are planning to come back to live at the Pueblo and further their cultural heritage there, while bringing a firm knowledge of the outside world back with them which will help them to navigate the future relationship between Native people and the rest of us. Cameron is a photographer and film maker, and I look forward to seeing his work!!
The week sped on and soon, sadly, it was time to say good bye.
Everyone seemed to have a good time. Most everyone seemed to try a few new things, and met a few new friends, which will hopefully extend beyond the boundaries of the trip. I for one am already making plans to make next year even better than this one, though if I learned anything this year, it’s that each year is different, and will have it’s own vibe.
A couple of folks on the trip have blogged about their time in Taos… here are two:
Though the workshop was over for the most part, our adventures were not. While in class one afternoon, we made the acquaintance of Denise Labadie, who was passing through Taos, on route to Ghost Ranch to teach a quilting workshop. We became fast friends with connections to Ireland, quilt making, workshop teaching and a love of the Southwest. She invited a few of us for a visit to Ghost Ranch to her class. And so we went!!
Denise’s work is award winning at the national and international level. She hand paints fabric and then creates paintings of sorts, in quilts. They are breathtaking. Between her work and Terrie Mangat’s it all makes me want to make another quilt!!
Ghost Ranch is absolutely awesome. And I don’t use that word lightly. It’s a different landscape and feel than Taos, but no less beautiful. I was captivated. and I could see why Georgia O’Keefe pretty much took up shop there to make her most famous work.
At one point, in the quiet of the desert, I looked over at the iconic mountains in the distance and thought, I could paint here.
When I went to Taos the first time, I knew I wanted to go back. And so I did. Last year. That visit was overwhelming and fun and rocked my world. And Taos felt like a foreign land. I knew again that I wanted to go back, but I was pretty glad to get back home. I told people upon my return that ‘Taos is great. I don’t think I could ever live there.” This came as a surprise to my closest friends and family who are used to me going places and saying, ‘I love this place! I could LIVE here!!”.
Going back this year was yet again, completely different from any other time. It was more difficult in some ways, logistically and from a workshop management perspective. And yet, there was a feeling of coming home after a really long absence. I’ve begun to create community in Taos. The folks at Mabel’s welcomed us with open arms and we all shed a tear when it was time to go. Dorothy, Maria, Diane and Judi were like a blessed herd of Awesome Aunties the entire week. I couldn’t get enough. The kitchen staff fed us like family and I still wake up wondering if I smell bacon…. I have set the dates already for next year’s workshop (June 16-22, 2013!!) and am planning to go yet another few days early to sink in a little deeper into Taos Magic. My Eco-Chic partnership is another place I have found unexpected community and I look forward to meeting more and more of my co-facilitators on that project. They are a powerful bunch of women, and I am still pinching myself that I’m a part of it all!
I jettisoned (for lack of a better word) back into life back home with an exhausting (and exhilarating!) week of puppetry rehearsals. We are working with Rumplestiltzkin this time around in preparation for a two week tour in Georgia:
As much as I love all that I do, I’m feeling the need to figure out exactly what it is I really want to do, and to follow it. This is scary. And may take some time. I have a couple of kids to get through high school. And some jobs I’ve committed to which I really love. But in the dusty corners of my studio lie some pretty awesome ideas for bodies of work I’d like to paint on, and children’s books I’d like to make, and workshops I’d like to continue improvement upon. I need to make some space.
We shall see how it all shapes up. In the meantime, I’m practicing being in the now. It’s a good place to be. And as much as I can, I’ll take time to share some of those experiences here with you.