The Art and Architecture of Taos

With the convergence of architecture and art, Taos provides a breathtaking backdrop that stimulates a rich understanding and appreciation of our state’s traditions. The 25 participants of this year’s three-day architectural tour enjoyed VIP access to eight Taos sites during the weekend of November 2.

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS:
Living Designs Group Architects  |  Studio Southwest Architects  |  VGHArchitects 
Baker Architecture + Design  |  Martin Stupich Photographer  |  Jon Anderson Architecture   |  School Zone Institute

To share this experience, this photo collage captures all the people, places and things that made this tour unique and unforgettable. This was possibly the most photogenic tour in its 30-year history. Photos were submitted by NMAF members Ken Hartke, Roy Hertweck and Karli Massey.

San Francisco de Asis

San Francisco de Asis is a Roman Catholic parish in Ranchos de Taos, and has stood as a cornerstone of the surrounding community since its construction began, perhaps as early as 1772. The tour was led by a local docent and church historian who demonstrated how the building itself is a living work of art. The church houses treasures of the Spanish Colonial style in its reredos (altar screens) and its other interior art, including hand-hewen vigas resting on hand-carved corbels (photos were not allowed inside the church). As traditional adobe construction, the building must be renewed yearly by fresh coats of mud plaster.

Historic Taos County Courthouse

UNM’s Audra Bellmore, Ph.D. led a tour and discussion of the courthouse murals. Taos County build the courthouse in 1932. This Spanish-Pueblo revival style building was designed by Albuquerque architect Louis Hesselden. By 1934, the county obtained funding from the Public Works Administration for the painting of the courtroom murals. The murals are period interpretations of justice by four New Mexico artists: Emil Bisttram, Ward Lockwood, Bert Phillips, and Victor Higgins.

Hacienda de los Martinez

The Hacienda de los Martinez is one of the few northern New Mexico style, late Spanish Colonial period “Great Houses” remaining in the Southwest. Built in 1804, the 21-room fortress has massive adobe walls became an important trading center for the northern boundary of the Spanish Empire.Tour guide Annie James provided our visitors with a glimpse into frontier life with adobe mudding and weaving demonstrations.

UNM Taos

UNM Campus Construction Manager Jessica Romero-Sanchez and Architect Doug Patterson with Living Design Group provided an insightful tour of the UNM Taos Campus, which recently completed a 7,0000-square-foot renovation to its student support center.  Other highlights of the site tour was the art building and multi-purpose instructional building to include significant energy upgrades.  The campus is also accentuated by beautiful landscape architecture and an incredible art collection made possible by the Art in Public Places Program.

Couse-Sharp Historic Site

Tour participants explored the adjacent studios of E. I. Couse and J. H. Sharp, founding members of the Taos Society of Artists. The Couse house is still furnished with the original furniture and household items that belonged to the artist and his wife. Paintings from various periods of Couse’s career are on view in his studio and you can see the models stage and props. There was also a visit to Sharp’s two studios (plus teepee) – one in the Luna family’s 1835 chapel that he acquired in 1908 and the second was a two-story house with big studio windows and storage for his extensive collection of Indian costumes and artifacts.

Taos Art Museum at the Fechin House

In early 1927, Russian artist Nicolai Fechin acquired a small two-story house, located on the main street of Taos. For the next five years, Nicolai planned and his multi-lingual wife Alexandra communicated directions to masons from the Taos Pueblo. Nicolai worked day and night, and the final result was a 4,000-square-foot, asymmetrical Pueblo and Mission Revival house, with 24-inch adobe walls. The Fechins created a masterpiece of Southwest architecture. The spaces within the home houses Nicolai’s art collections as well as his carvings of sculpture, furniture, and architectural ornament. Participants were able to enjoy a dinner event in the Fechin studio after a special tour.

D.H. Lawrence Ranch

The site visit to the D.H. Lawrence Ranch was led by master site planner Shawn Events of AOS Architects. The purpose of UNM’s Ranch initiatives is to preserve the legacy of novelist D.H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda Lawrence. Widely considered one of the most important writers of the twentieth century, the British novelist owned only one piece of property in his lifetime – a 160-acre ranch located 15 miles outside of Taos, which was later bequeathed to UNM by Frieda. She stipulated that the ranch be used for educational, cultural and recreational purposes and that the Lawrence memorial be open to the public. Tour participants learned about the challenges of maintaining the remote site with limited resources.

St. Anthony Church (Questa)

In 2008, the Archbishop of Santa Fe said St Anthony’s church should be torn down and a new one built. But residents would have none of it. Parishioners and others are using their smarts and their brawn to make a once-collapsing shell of a church to once again be the glue that held the community together through countless generations. In August 2016, the church was re-dedicated and Questa community members have proven to serve as role models of strength and unity.

 

 

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