#TravelTuesday: Solo Travelers Can Artfully Linger in Taos, New Mexico

by Haven Lindsey on October 22, 2019 in Travels, Art,
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Solo travel is an art form that blends well in Taos, a small town with a world-renowned art history.

Solo travelers agree that one of their favorite aspects of traveling alone is the ability to go at your own pace. When we travel alone without a group agenda, partner or family, there is a rich opportunity to linger. This second Taos-based article is a testament to being able to linger. The original intent was to write one segment on soloing through Taos. As with so many solo experiences, the ‘linger’ began to happen and more was discovered. This article dives deeper into the artful linger to be experienced in Taos.

For a town with just over 5,000 people, the sheer number of museums and art galleries speak to the history of art in this small town. Artists and craftsmanship that can be traced to Paris in the late 1800s eventually made their way across the globe to the community of Taos, home to the Pueblo Indian tribe who imparted their Native American influence. Intent on defining a new American form of art, a small group of artists paved the way for a larger colony of artists to make the area a new home base.

Pueblo pottery is on display at the Millicent Rogers Museum and is the most celebrated and recognized art form of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. The craftsmanship often incorporates animals and other elements of nature. Photo courtesy Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos

Millicent Rogers discovered Taos in the early 1900s and began collecting works and friends. She first fell in love with the feeling of Taos and played an integral role in encouraging artists to come to the area. After her death, her son donated her vast collection of Native American Art. You can linger through the Millicent Rogers Museum, full of cozy rooms inviting you to linger—and don’t miss the room filled with turquoise jewelry.

At the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time and into someone’s home. The only way to truly experience the range of talent and intrigue that was Nicolai Fechin is to linger in his formidable home. The staff at this amazing residence tell stories with such emotion and enthusiasm that tour groups, so often rushed from Point A to Point B, want to linger – solo traveler-style.

One look at the detail of a hand-carved cabinet by Nicolai Fechin at Taos Art Museum almost dares you to look again because your eyes will always find something with a second glance. The renowned artist blended Russian, Spanish, and Native American influences into his work. Photo Dave Hensley

The now famous light that embodies and reflects the sacred mountain vistas that surround Taos have inspired many artists. Perhaps no two artists expressed the beauty, the Native American culture and imagery of Taos more effectively than E.I. Couse and J.H. Sharp. Even locals bypass the unassuming, yet breathtakingly beautiful, property not far from the center of town, the Couse-Sharp Historic Site. It is here that you can see where these two talented artists captured the famous Taos light that comes in from the north. You’ll see first-hand their studios, paintings, and even the brushes and pallets as they left them. The site is the home to drawings and photographs that were the beginnings of what eventually resulted in the vast paintings of the American Indians that distinguished Couse’s work.

Six Hand Hat Company represents the hands of Mikel and Kristina Robinson and their son, Jeremia. At least two of those hands touch every piece of art that is worn out the door. Photo Ben Guihan

Another Taos find is the quaint Six Hand Hat Company, where local artist Mikel Robinson custom makes new hats from recycled hat blanks on site. There are many more unique finds waiting to be discovered around every corner and part of it is due to the light – the mundane is highlighted with elegance in Taos.

With art enthusiasts and socialites encouraging the art scene in the early 1900s, Taos became one of the most important art colonies in America and put Southwest art on display. When you linger long enough you’ll be entertained with the variety of tales that come from humans being humans – perhaps the stories aren’t worthy of the local Taos News (a newspaper originally suggested by Georgia O’Keefe), but they are good for a chuckle and will raise an eyebrow or two.

Today, Taos remains one of the nation’s oldest art colonies, one that got its start with the Pueblo Indians more than 1,000 years ago. For any solo traveler it is an ideal location to feel at home and be sure to plan plenty of time to linger.

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Cover: At the beginning of Taos’ historic Ledoux Street, you’ll spot this lively mural contracted by Inger Jirby, a local artist and gallery owner. The artist, Robin Keith, painted the entire mural with her youngest child strapped to her shoulders.

Photo courtesy Town of Taos Tourism Department

Haven Lindsey resides in Austin, Texas. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories. This article is part of an ongoing solo travel series exclusive to Texas Lifestyle Magazine.