July 21, 2009

Defining Taosian structures

One of the most defining structures of Taos, New Mexico are the mountains which surround it. These mountains have provided security and spiritual sustenance to the Tiwa Indians for over 1000 years. When I first saw these beautiful blue mountains about 25 years ago I knew I would have to keep coming back. I have set in front yards, back yards, street corners, dusty roads and painted the elusive cloud shadows as they have moved over the blue mountains.Many have loved this "enchanted circle" and when they think of Taos they think of adobe structures framing the mountains. There are other structures which define Taos and my husband and I had fun discovering them earlier in the summer.

Eleven miles north of Taos, pushing down into the crust of the earth, exists the yang of the Blue mountains. This is the Rio Grande Gorge which you get to by crossing "the bridge to nowhere" on Hwy 64. This gorge sinks down into the earth braced by black/red rocks marching up its side.
If you continue driving west on Hwy 64 you will eventually come upon a community of dwellings called "earthships". Stop take a tour and find out what true sustainability could be.These are homes built from recyclable materials which allow there owners to live "off the grid".

Taos as I said before is known for its adobe dwellings the Tiwa Pueblo being the first and foremost but then there are haciendas and simple dwellings all over. One of the most iconic adobe structures is the San Francisco de Asis church made famous in a painting by Georgia O'Keefe.

On many of my trips between Taos and Arroyo Seco I have wondered what was the story about a most curious structure on the west side of the road soon after you leave the "blinking light" turn off. Curious because it is not adobe but wooden and painted here and there and takes on sort of a higglety piggelty appearance from the road. Well now I know. Currently it is a Bed and Breakfast and we stayed there. Originally it was the last of three home/studios which the artist Charles C. Stewart built and lived in before he moved onto Mexico in the 1980's. He was constructing and modifying from about 1947 when he came to work with like-minded artists. The Stewart house is truly an interesting structure for Taos but one can see there are many singular structures amongst the quiet adobes.

Taos is a place where artists came seeking the clear air, the closeness with the natural. The larger part of the historyof Taos in the 2oth century has been related to the visual artists who finally learned why the ancient Tiwa and then the Spanish were captivated by the "Enchanted Circled"


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