taos visionaries:
past and present

Set in a vast landscape of mountain and desert, Taos is a unique gathering-place for visionaries: a vibrant, thousand year-old Pueblo; a Hispanic culture dating back 400 years; and artists and adventurers from around the world have found their way to a place, still remote and profoundly unconventional, that allowed them to live authentically.

The brief biographical sketches that follow introduce ten visionaries, ranging across the time and cultural spectrum, provide a sampling of Taos visionaries, past and present.

Hispanic folk sculptor Patrociño Barela rose to national prominence in 1936. Featured with Federal Art Project artists at the Museum of Modern Art, Time Magazine hailed him as “Discovery of the Year.” His modernist wood carvings depict the human condition. Photo by Mildred Tolbert, Harwood Museum of Art Collection, ©Mildred Tolbert Archives
From a prominent Hispanic Taos-area family, Josefa Jaramillo married Kit Carson in 1843. Witness to the calamitous 1847 Taos Revolt, her life story bears testimony to the strength, hospitality, courage, and fortitude of countless Hispanic women of northern New Mexico.
Eight volumes of poems earned Peggy Pond Church the title “First Lady of New Mexico Poetry." Her House at Otowi Bridge (1960), a dual biography and elegy to the Pajarito Plateau set around the Manhattan Project, became a Southwest classic. Photo courtesy Los Alamos Historical Society
R.C. GORMAN (1931-2005)
Internationally prominent R.C. Gorman is best known for depictions of American Indian women garbed in blankets and shawls. Numerous museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, recognized his talent. His book, Radiance of My People, documents his life and art.
DENNIS HOPPER (1936-2010)
Actor, artist, filmmaker, photographer and art collector, Dennis Hopper discovered Taos while looking for locations for Easy Rider. Inspired by the landscape, he purchased and lived in Mabel Dodge Luhan’s home (1970-1978), where he completed his film, The Last Movie. Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures
D.H. LAWRENCE (1885-1930)
Summoned by Mabel Dodge Luhan, D. H. Lawrence resided in Taos between 1922 and 1925, and worked on, revised or finished several essays, poems, novels or novelettes including The Plumed Serpent and St. Mawr. New Mexico changed him forever. Photo Mabel Dodge Luhan Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale University
Writer, salon hostess, arts patron, and political activist Mabel Dodge Luhan promoted modernism. Luminaries invited to her Taos compound—including D. H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Ansel Adams—immortalized northern New Mexico through works based on their stays at Mabel’s. Photo courtesy Mabel Dodge Luhan House
TONY LUJAN (1879-1963)
Tony Lujan, Mabel’s fourth husband, provided insight into Taos Pueblo life. When the Bursum Bill threatened Indian lands, Tony, with social reformer John Collier, counseled with the nineteen Pueblos, forming the All Indian Pueblo Council that instigated the bill’s defeat. Photo courtesy Mabel Dodge Luhan House
AGNES MARTIN (1912-2004)
Internationally renowned abstract artist Agnes Martin’s Taos adventure began at UNM’s 1947 Field School. The landscape informed her early paintings. Her 1958 New York one-person exhibition presaged 85 additional solo shows. She received the NEA’s 1998 National Medal of Arts. Photo by Mildred Tolbert, Harwood Museum of Art Collection, ©Mildred Tolbert Archives
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