Mesmerizing galleries along historic Kit Carson Road
By Josephine Ashton
Kit Carson Road in Taos could easily be dubbed “Gallery Row.” Named for the wilderness pioneer, the short block is both the site of the Kit Carson Museum, once Carson’s and his wife Josepha Jaramillo’s tiny adobe home, and host to more than 20 creative and historical enterprises.
If you park in Taos Plaza, walk through the four-way light or park parallel on Kit Carson Road. Smack dab in the middle of the long block are four galleries, as varied as the Taos landscape: the historic Parsons Gallery of the West (with an associated Robert L. Parsons Fine Art on nearby Bent Street), The Ranch at Taos, Wilder Nightingale Fine Art and Alhambra–Soul Inspired Living.
Situated on the same side of the street as Kit Carson Museum are two creative experiences: The Ranch at Taos Gallery and Wilder Nightingale Gallery.
The former, with 10 highly successful years in business, is light-filled and colorfully eclectic. Owner Lanna Smith explained most of her artists have been with her for the duration of that time. “They are awarded, nationally known painters, jewelry designers, ceramic and mixed media artists.”
During a brief visit, I’d enjoyed discovering a few of the artists: Rosa Kilgore and Julie Cohen’s heart-felt and nature inspired jewelry, Artist Sheila Cameron’s elegant ceramic and mixed media ‘Messenger Horses,’ paintings, prints and cards by others such as Gary Roller, Audrey Davis, Claudette Barker, Peter Grab and Cathy Carey express what all confess to: a reverence for nature, and what artist Tracy Turner Sheppard calls a “magical reality.”
Next to The Ranch, Rob Nightingale has maintained the Wilder-Nightingale Fine Art gallery for more than 30 years, the past two years garnering the award for Best of Taos galleries. An entrepreneur active in the creative community, he daily endeavors to showcase his more than 35 varied artists on Facebook and other online venues, then celebrates the artists when their pieces are walked out the door.
Recently, Nightingale, an artist in his own right, began a series of paintings, expressing wistful interpretations of acequias and alleyways. One such painting, is a 20 x 40-inch oil on canvas. “‘Acequia Dreams,’” he explained, “is inspired by these topics — much talked about — and which have caused much concern over the years, justifiably so.”
Across the street, a hop, skip and walk-across-cautiously, are two spaces, that, while inhabiting historic buildings that once served as homes, are two galleries – Parson’s Gallery of the West, a treasury of painters from the past, and the newer, Alhambra – Soul Inspired Living, a home-design center.
The meandering rooms of Parsons Gallery of the West was once the home and studio of artist Victor Higgins, who, with an awesome background exploring and studying art nationally and internationally, was elected in 1915 to the founding Taos Society of Artists.
Higgins’ work is currently housed in Robert L. Parsons Fine Art Gallery on nearby Bent Street. That gallery occupies the historical home of Ferdinand Maxwell, who, after joining his brother in Taos, would, in 1862, be appointed by President Lincoln, Indian Agent for New Mexico Territory.
At both locations, you’ll be entering museum-like galleries featuring works by founding Taos artists, as well as contemporary, so prepare yourself by browsing The Parsons Gallery of the West website, which also gives you digital walkthroughs of both galleries.
On the same side of the street, be sure you visit the exotic, magical, flying carpet world of Theresa Stark Jessop, owner and interior designer of Alhambra – Soul Inspired Living. With an art scholarship that gave her a degree, Jessop explained, “I soon discovered that design was the area I wished to explore.”
The shop, in a new location, is co-owned with Jessop’s husband, musician/songwriter Jess Wayne (who plays a regular gig at The Sagebrush Inn). A designer’s — home or professional — paradise, the six-room shop is wall-to-wall, ceiling to floor, filled with exquisite glass, ceramic and decorator pieces by local artists, magnificent carpets, iron and courtyard doors and gates, sculptures, furniture and more.
Wear your walking shoes, because coffee, food, other galleries, museums and shops, are all nearby.
The Ranch at Taos 119-A Kit Carson Rd 325-647-5736 theranchattaos.com Parsons Gallery of the West 122 Kit Carson Rd Suite D 575-737-9200 parsonsart.com/parsonswest Wilder Nightingale Fine Art 119 Kit Carson Rd 575-758-3255 wnightingale.com Alhambra – Soul Inspired Living 132 Kit Carson Rd 575-223-0540 alhambrasoul.com