Indigenous arts in the heart of Taos
By Virginia Clark & Photos By Sam Joseph
Local, authentic indigenous art is alive and kicking up Native dust around Taos Plaza. The gallery owners are primarily Taos Pueblo tribal members, but they carry works from Taos Pueblo and many other First Nations’ artists.
Smack in the heart of Taos historic downtown district is Cherylin Atcitty’s gallery of Native American arts and crafts – many of which are created by her extended family. She is Navajo, and husband Delane Atcitty is Taos Pueblo.
Now in its second year, Cherylin notes how Covid shut down the Navajo Nation in 2020 the same month Atcitty’s opened, so it was a big plus for Navajo artists cut off from patrons by precautionary measures. Taos and other Northern Pueblo artists were equally affected by shutdowns, so Atcitty’s on Taos Plaza has become a go-to place for a wide array of Indigenous arts.
“I really want to help tribal people make an extra $100 to $1,000 a month, because that helps tremendously,” she said, adding, too, she’s now focusing on tribal youth.
“I want to start involving lots of young people because most artists are older and there’s a lot of history and cultural influences in the way we create traditional works — why we use these patterns or others. A lot of the patterns and designs we have, survived through our history and genocides. This is a reminder of the strengths we have inside.”
Jewelry, Navajo cradle boards, wedding baskets, flutes, dreamcatchers, kachinas, paintings, pottery, fashion and even Native fry bread flour or blue cornmeal are all available. Do pop in and enjoy.
Atcitty’s on Taos Plaza 103 Kit Carson Road Taos Plaza intersection with Paseo del Pueblo Norte y Sur Wednesdays through Sundays, some Mondays or Tuesdays 575-779-7172
Abran “Liphe” Tracks, Nate “Neight” Larcen, Jisk and SABA recently opened ArrowSoul Trading Post in Cantu Plaza, at the intersection of Placitas and Paseo del Pueblo Sur.
ArrowSoul Trading Post is a Hip Hop collective selling Native art and apparel created primarily by the four owners, as well as by Scripture, a well-known Taoseño Hip Hop artist in his own right.
Born and raised in Taos, Tracks (of Taos Pueblo) and Larcen (of Talpa) used to “rap battle” each other until they decided to collaborate — the pair are now The Soothsayers, a nationally touring duo of Hip Hop artists.
Open since summer 2021, Neight said ArrowSoul is a Hip Hop boutique and art gallery of First Nations soul and urban flare, “blossoming like crazy” with art and screen-printed tees everywhere.
“Think graffiti-style line work with traditional imagery from the Pueblo — like chopping wood or getting water,” Tracks told Tempo’s JuanIsidro Concha last winter. “Think animal heads mixed with Hindu Gods. I grew up going to the Hanuman temple and drinking chai, so I was exposed to those ways. I thought it’d be dope if a grizzly bear had Ganesha’s body.”
The art gallery at the end of the boutique’s short hallway is hung with works by the owners and will have specific exhibits and art benefits next year. Featured art is by @liphetracks, @jisk27, @sabawear, @neightlarcen, #nativewomanowned and @nashaw.02.
Don’t go looking for a phone number — they’re literally too hip for that hop. Facebook or Instagram gets their attention. Stay tuned for some outrageous First Nations Hip Hop wall murals on the building as it is being developed into an art hub by its new (unnamed) owner.
ArrowSoul Trading Post 101-A Camino de la Placita Hours 11 a.m.-7 p.m., closed Mondays Facebook + Instagram
Michael Gorman continues his famous uncle R.C. Gorman’s tradition of a Native American-owned fine art gallery, now located in the heart of Taos Plaza, just a mile or so east of R.C.’s original Ledoux Street gallery, established in 1968.
On the website, Michael proudly details the Gorman artists — from his great-great-grandfather Navajo silversmith; to his grandfather Carl N. Gorman, WWII Navajo Code Talker and artist; through to R.C. Gorman, The Picasso of American Indian Art; his sculptor mother Zonnie; and now to Michael Gorman himself, who works primarily in ceramics and photography, but also paints, silversmiths, woodworks and draws.
“I grew up on the Res,” he says, but he also has Irish, English and French bloodlines. “Four relatives came over on the Mayflower. The Gallery is a celebration of the creative spirit.”
“I focus on telling that story,” Michael says of the Gorman family art tradition and the other artists he shows, and knows personally — Nicki Marx, Ron Striegel and Trujillo Y Fuentes. “It’s all about the art and celebration of those things that inspire us. I’m an artist first.”
His exhibit, titled “Rebels Revisited,” is a retrospective running through winter that highlights Carl and R.C. Gorman’s works, an exhibit with “a lot of freedom to explore what each one wanted,” running from the 1950s through the 90s.
Though Michael’s not always personally in the gallery, he will make appointments for just about any time.
Michael Gorman Gallery 103 East Plaza, Suite B, Taos 575-224-6911
Just a few yards south of Gorman’s gallery is Lyle’s Creations, on the southeast corner of Taos Plaza, specifically known as McCarthy Plaza. Taos Pueblo artist Lyle Wright opened this gallery in January 2022 and has been busy getting the work of Taos Pueblo artists and artisans out during the challenging Pueblo Covid closures.
Wright said many Pueblo artists left the arts and took conventional jobs to make ends meet. Some galleries also closed, leaving other Pueblo artists to find new places for their work.
Using his formula for the Taos Pueblo Fine Arts showcase at the Stables Art Gallery he created last year, besides his handmade jewelry, he combines newer Pueblo artists with Taos Pueblo stars, such as Jonathan Warm Day Coming, Patricia Michaels, Sonny Spruce, George Lujan, Frank Rain Leaf, Matthew Martinez, Fred Lujan Jr., John Archuleta and Bison Star. He is also expanding representation to Native artists from surrounding areas of Northern New Mexico.
“People come here for Native American jewelry and crafts,” Wright said last fall. “We’re doing so well because [customers] are looking around for handmade stuff.”
Both fine art and folk art are represented at Lyle’s Creations — he makes no distinctions as some do. “To me, art is art,” he says and he hopes more Taos Pueblo-owned galleries will locate to Taos Plaza. He’s getting good traffic, he says, because folks love the handmade heartfelt Pueblo vibe.”
Lyle’s Creations 100 South Plaza, Unit B, Taos Plaza 575-779-8337