Taos has no shortage of colorful and influential characters who have made their mark not only in Northern New Mexico but around the world.
On such early Taos mover and shaker was Taos Society of Artists member Joseph Henry “J.H.” Sharp who became known for his paintings of Native Americans. Strikes His Enemy Pretty (Crow), a model for and good friend of Sharp, gave his hat to the artist. It hung on the wall in Sharp’s Taos studio until Sharp sold this portrait along with the hat to Peter McElvain (the lender’s, Tim McElvain, father), a regular visitor to the studio in the late 1940s. Between 1900 and 1936, Sharp painted Strikes His Enemy Pretty 26 times. He was a member of the agency police and a judge for his people in the late 1890s. Sharp said he was “a fine type, a great man and favorite model.”
If you’re an art and history hound, then be sure to explore the Couse-Sharp Historic Site and the other interesting places that helped solidify Taos as an art colony and a major player in frontier trading.
THE COUSE-SHARP HISTORIC SITE
146 Kit Carson Road
Hours: Docent tours are available from May through Nov. 3. Tours are by appointment only; available appointment hours are Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Call to schedule.
The home of 20th century artist Eanger Irving Couse and his family and studios of Couse and J.H. Sharp — members of the Taos Society of Artists (TSA) who were instrumental in creating the cultural fabric of Taos as we know it today. Wander through the Couse home and see how these pioneer painters lived. Nothing is under glass. All remains as it was 100 years ago.
THE E.L. BLUMENSCHEIN HOME AND MUSEUM
222 Ledoux Street
Hours: Mon-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Admission: $8 adults; $7 seniors; $4 per child (5-15); free children under 5; group of 10 or more $6; free for Taos County residents on Sunday; tour rates and discount cards for multiple visits are available.
This home is maintained as when artist Ernest L. Blumenschein, an original member of the Taos Society of Artists, and his family lived there. Included are paintings by other members of the TSA and later artists. The home beautifully illustrates the lifestyle of Taos artists in the first half of the 20th century.
D.H. LAWRENCE RANCH
San Cristobal Road off State Highway 522 North (make a right turn after mile marker 10; signs mark the rest of the way), San Cristobal
Hours (weather permitting): Thur. and Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Also known as Kiowa Ranch, this site is situated on 160 pristine acres on Lobo Mountain, about 20 miles north of Taos. Frieda, the wife of the famed author, entrusted the ranch in her will to the University of New Mexico for the purpose of creating a public memorial to her husband. The ranch features buildings once used as respites for other writers and artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe. Still standing is the ponderosa pine tree O’Keeffe painted during her first visit to New Mexico in 1929 (“The Lawrence Tree”). The ranch is also home to the D.H. Lawrence Memorial Chapel and the Dorothy Brett Cabin. The couple owned and lived at the ranch during their visits to Taos in the early 1920s.
The ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places and the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties.
GOVERNOR BENT HOUSE AND MUSEUM
117 Bent Street
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: $3 adults, $1 children ages 5-8, under 8 free with adult
The home of a wealthy merchant and the state’s the first civil governor under American rule in the territory of New Mexico who was appointed in September 1846 by Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny. On Jan. 19, 1847, during the Taos Revolt, Charles Bent was attacked inside his home, dragged outside where he was scalped alive and decapitated by an angry mob protesting the American rule. Many of the Mexican families naturally resented the American conquest of their home, and the Taos Indians had long disliked Bent because of his trade relations with their northern enemies. During the chaos, Bent’s wife, Ignacia and her first-born daughter Rumalda, and Ignacia’s sister (Kit Carson’s wife Josefa) dug a hole inside the home as an escape route into the adjoining house. Although partially filled in, the hole remains. This tucked-away house was converted into a quirky museum in 1969.
HACIENDA DE LOS MARTINEZ
708 Hacienda Way off Ranchitos Road
Hours: Mon-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday noon-5 p.m.
Admission: $8 for adults; $7 seniors; $4 per child (5-15), free admission for children under 5; free admission for Taos County residents on Sundays; tour rates and discount cards for multiple visits are available.
This thick-walled adobe, fortress-like trading post with 21 rooms surrounding two interior courtyards is on the National Register of Historic Places and gives a living history of rugged frontier life. It was constructed in 1804 by Severino Martinez. Their eldest son, Padre Antonio Martinez, battled Bishop Lamy to preserve the Hispanic character of the Catholic Church in the territory. The Martinez Hacienda is one of the few examples of Northern New Mexico style, late Spanish Colonial period “Great Houses” remaining in the American Southwest. Serving as an important trade center and gathering place, the Hacienda was the final terminus for the Camino Real, which connected Northern New Mexico to Mexico City. It was also the headquarters for an extensive ranching and farming operation.
The New Mexico Architectural Foundation awarded the Martinez Hacienda a first-place award for “A Historic New Mexico Structure that brings our community together in a lasting way.”
THE HARWOOD MUSEUM OF ART
238 Ledoux Street
Hours: Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon-5 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Admission: $10 per adult; $8 for seniors; $8 per student; free admission to youth (18 and under), free admission to UNM students and faculty; free admission to members of the Harwood Museum of Art Alliance; free admission to Taos County residents on Sunday.
The Harwood Museum of Art showcases a permanent collection of more than 4,700 works and an archive of 17,000 photographs from the 19th century onward. In the early part of the 20th century, many artists were drawn to the Taos area to pursue a new, truly American art devoid of industrial influence, inspired instead by New Mexico’s landscape and light, and the traditional Native American and Hispanic cultures of the region. One of the museum’s most-prized assets is its Agnes Martin Gallery. The Harwood Museum collection brings to the public a unique record of this artistic convergence from its beginnings to the present day.
KIT CARSON HOME AND MUSEUM
113 Kit Carson Road
Hours: Daily May through October, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Admission: $10 per adult; $8 for seniors; $7 for veterans, teens and students; free to children under 12; $7 tour groups of 5 or more; free to Kit Carson Home and Museum members; free to Taos County residents every Sunday; free to active military personnel and Masonic members.
Taos’ oldest museum is the home of controversial Christopher “Kit” Carson. The Kit Carson Home and Museum, still standing in its original footprint on Kit Carson Road in Taos, was built circa 1825. Utilizing a History Channel video about the legendary frontiersman, trapper, soldier and scout is a great way to set the stage to view the three-room museum of period displays and some actual Carson items.
THE MABEL DODGE LUHAN HOUSE
240 Morada Lane
Hours: Please call
Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1991, the Mabel Dodge Luhan House is more than a dwelling — it is a living, breathing haven for all creative types. Inspiration is everywhere, from memories of her famous guests such as Willa Cather, Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe and Thornton Wilder, to the soothing sounds of the acequia that runs through the property under ancient cottonwood trees. The property was once owned by actor Dennis Hopper.
Workshops and educational conferences take place year round, and the property lives up to its reputation as a hotbed of visual and literary arts.
More an active learning center than a museum people can, however, take a self-guided tour during which they can learn about the history of the property and its impact on Taos’ literary and artistic life.
MILLICENT ROGERS MUSEUM
1504 Millicent Rogers Road
Hours: Daily April through October, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The museum is closed July 4 and during San Geronimo Feast Day (Sept. 30).
Admission is $10 per adult; $8 for seniors (60+); $6 for military (active or veteran); $6 for students (16-21 with ID); $2 per child (6-16); free admission for children under 6; free admission for Taos County residents; tour rates and discount cards for multiple visits are available. Docent tours are also available.
The museum was established as a memorial to Millicent Rogers whose inspiration, patronage and collections form the cores of its holdings. As the granddaughter of Henry Huttleston Rogers, one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company, she entertained American industrialists to European nobility. In her later years, she visited Taos after a difficult breakup with Clark Gable and eventually settled here. She became close friends with many of the founding members of the Taos Society of Artists and passionately supported Native American artists. Her namesake museum houses 15 galleries and more than 6,000 objects featuring the heritage of the Southwest. Items include jewelry, paintings, textiles and pottery, such as the family collection of heralded potter Maria Martinez.
For your little ones, the museum offers a coloring station.
TAOS ART MUSEUM AT FECHIN HOUSE
227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte
Hours: Tue.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Museum will be closed July 4.
Admission: $10 per adult; $9 for seniors; $6 per student; $8 per person in groups of 10 or more; free admission to children under 12; free admission on Sundays for Taos County resident; private tours by appointment. Docent tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. are included with the cost of admission. It is always free to visit the museum grounds and store.
The former home and studio of artist Nicolai Ivanovich Fechin, showcasing a blend of early 20th century Russian and Southwestern artworks.
In 2018, the New Mexico Architectural Foundation awarded the property for its lasting effect on bringing the community together.
For your little ones, the Children’s Treasure Hunt is a fun and free way to explore the property, including the studio and gardens. Just pick up a treasure map in the Fechin House lobby or download online, follow the clues and claim your reward in the Gift Shop.
The site celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. Read more in the “Artistic refuge in the heart of Taos” article in the Authentic section.
— Compiled by Scott Gerdes