Sheer joy and exuberance
Kit Carson Road Historic District
By Dena Miller
There isn’t any season that’s not perfect for a stroll along historic Kit Carson Road but, as the winter chill sets in, the shops along this charming stretch are particularly inviting.
Just across the way from Taos Plaza, Kit Carson Road is a nostalgic visit to the frontier roots of the town, anchored by the Kit Carson Home and Museum and the Couse-Sharp Historic Site and Lunder Research Center farther to the east. In between these classic examples of Spanish Colonial architecture is a lineup of fine art ateliers and showrooms, funky studios, quaint boutiques and the finest of historical and contemporary art.
“We’ve weathered the storm [of the pandemic] and are gearing up for the future,” said Greg Moon of Greg Moon Art. “On this one block you’ll find a tight community representing everything from museum-quality art to what’s new, cool and different; not just in art but in sundries, too. And what we all have in common is the spirit of Kit Carson Road.”
Moon’s own work – and that of the artists he represents – encompasses everything from oils to assemblage across the genres of realism, outsider art and pop-surrealism. It’s a not-to-be-missed stop as you’re strolling – “a visual trigger to do a bit of healthy daydreaming,” Moon said.
So stop in to recharge your energy with the sheer joy and exuberance of the art surrounding you. Then, head out to discover delights old and new.
New kids on the block
Cinnamon’s Botanicals is one of the most recent additions to the historic district, a Lilliputian treasure brimming with wild-harvested bulk herbs and herbal blends, organic health and beauty products, salves, CBD and other tinctures. Cinnamon Bird’s shop also offers a selection of exotic ethnic art treasures to browse while also exploring a natural solution “for what ails ya.”
Other new neighbors on Kit Carson Road include the warm and welcoming Benedictine Monks Gift Shop, supporting the Monastery of San Juan Diego located here in the town, at 205 Don Fernando Street. Books, crafts, handmade soaps, icons and retablos, rosaries and many other items are available for purchase. Atcitty’s on Taos Plaza has an extensive collection of Native jewelry, crafts and paintings for your consideration (see more on page XX); and People of the Valley, a hip vintage Western wear and art emporium, is a stylish addition to the block.
Some shops have recently relocated from other spots in town to join the Kit Carson Road family. Jackie’s Trading Post is one of them, a local paragon of old pawn and traditional Southwestern jewelry, old and new pueblo pottery and other Native collectibles. tea.o.graphy moved to a front-and-center spot on the road, just in time to offer winter visitors the comforting ritual of small batch, handcrafted herbal, green and black teas. Sample one of their custom blends or have them create one especially for you.
Two Graces first opened its doors in 2003 in the San Francisco de Asís Church plaza, but in 2019 moved to its present location at Kit Carson Road and Barela Lane. Owners/artists Robert Cafazzo and Holly Sievers are known for their own fine art as well as the eclectic collection of art, books, jewelry and curios, which all seem to have a unique story the couple will gladly share with you. Cafazzo is also one of Taos’ best-informed chroniclers and tour guides so consider delving a bit more into the history surrounding you.
When you visit Wilder Nightingale Fine Art you’ve stepped into the heart of Taos. For almost three decades the gallery has been one of the anchors of Kit Carson Road, representing leading contemporary regional artists and consistently recognized in “Best of Taos” annual locals’ survey. Browsing the collections is a great way to familiarize yourself with the many mediums and genres that are “Taos art.”
Bryan’s Gallery is the other stalwart of Kit Carson, celebrating four decades in town, of which 25 have been in their present location. You’ll be intrigued by the collections of estate jewelry, santos, Zuni fetishes, masks and pottery on display beneath the many paintings for your consideration.
Nestled between Bryan’s and Wilder Nightingale is The Ranch at Taos, a jewel box of a gallery carrying a carefully curated selection of local artists. The Ranch is also the exclusive local outlet for the in-demand jewelry of Rosa Kilgore, crafted traditionally but with a modern aesthetic.
You’ll also pass Angie Coleman Fine Art where Coleman – renowned for her color block prints – is usually at her press. But maybe you’ll catch her behind the easel as she executes one of her spirited paintings. Either way, you’ll be treated to her fresh interpretation of Northern New Mexico landscapes.
Bold color and patterns, ancient symbology and a slice of Western life frozen for a moment in time all await you at the gallery named Dragonfly Blue. Besides investing in art, if you’re looking to perfect your own skills, then contact Patience Heyl at Fine Art Atelier and Gallery to check availability in her instruction schedule.
Be sure to visit the new generation of painters working behind the doors of Untitled Fine Art, where the iconic light of Taos is being explored in keeping with the traditions of the transcendentalist movement and historic Taos painters Emil Bisttram and Agnes Pelton. Light responsiveness, the “biophotonic frequencies of color in pure earth pigments,” LED-“breathing light,” holographic elements and gemlike “chatoyancy” in sheer, deep, oil layers create hypnotic and startling movement, which the co-owners Kimberly Webber and KC Tebbutt are happy to demonstrate for you.
David Anthony Fine Art (DAFA) brings a diverse sampling of international contemporary art to Taos, keeping alive the spirit of the town as a worldwide draw for both artists and collectors. It is also a showcase for the extraordinary furniture of gallery owner David Mapes, who is renowned for his custom work.
DAFA’s neighbors – Parsons Gallery of the West and Heritage Fine Arts – are superb stops along your stroll for a true early Taos art experience. Parsons is recognized for his unique collection of early- to mid-20th century artists with a focus on the New Mexico images they made famous. Heritage likewise represents acclaimed traditional Western artists and also has an estate sales showroom featuring an assortment of reasonably priced collectible art.
A great way to begin or end your stroll is an immersion into the living history that is the Kit Carson Home and Museum and the Couse-Sharp Historic Site. Don’t pass up the opportunity to visit these remarkable places that meticulously capture the times when Taos was experiencing its growing pains and taking its place in the world as a significant art mecca.
The Kit Carson Home and Museum is located at 113 Kit Carson Road. Call ahead for COVID-19 updates at (575) 758-4082. The Couse-Sharp Historic Site is open by appointment only – call (575) 751-0369 for reservations.
Holiday Art Walk
Gallery owner Rob Nightingale of Wilder Nightingale Fine Art announced a Saturday, Dec. 19, Holiday Art Walk along historic Kit Carson Road.
All the businesses will be open for extended hours, from noon to 6 p.m. Look for specials and goodies along the way, and always remember to wear your mask and be mindful of physical distancing.
Finish up that last-minute holiday shopping and, maybe, pick up something special for yourself.
For more information, contact Wilder Nightingale at (575) 758-3255.
Kit Carson Road Gallery contacts
Angie Coleman Studio, 117A Kit Carson Road, (575) 779-4658
Atcitty’s on Taos Plaza, 103 Kit Carson Road, (575) 779-7172
Benedictine Monks of Taos Gift Shop, 105 Kit Carson Road, (505) 690-1986
Bryan’s Gallery, 121 Kit Carson Road, (575) 758-9407
Cinnamon’s Botanicals, 114 Kit Carson Road, (719) 459-7132
David Anthony Fine Art (DAFA), 132 Kit Carson Road, (575) 758-7113
Dragonfly Blue, 109B Kit Carson Road, (909) 784-8490
Fine Art Atelier and Gallery, 108 Kit Carson Road, (719) 338-0081
Greg Moon Art, 109A Kit Carson Road, (575) 770-4463
Heritage Fine Art, 122 Kit Carson Road, (575) 751-7348
Jackie’s Trading Post, 129 Kit Carson Road, (575) 758-4828
Parsons Gallery of the West, 122D Kit Carson Road, (575) 737-9200
tea.o.graphy, 129 Kit Carson Road, (575) 613-2029
The Ranch at Taos, 119A Kit Carson Road, (325) 647-5736
Two Graces, 105 Barela Lane, (575) 758-4101
Untitled Fine Art, 133 Kit Carson Road, (575) 758-3969
Wilder Nightingale Fine Art, 119 Kit Carson Road, (575) 758-3255