A Taos trifecta

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Summer Saturdays in Taos are a horse race. There are so many events you have to change horses midstream, never sure if you made the right selection.

Last Saturday (June 23) I combed the Tempo calendar, weighing my timing, the nose-to-nose receptions, distances of travel, a pit stop for gas, traffic and the like. I finally settled on the Lions Club KIDSIGHT benefit wine tasting at Taos Country Club, the HORSES! art show at Stables Gallery, and the grand opening of Taos Mesa Brewing Company.

The 2 p.m. crowd at the Lions Club stopped me in my tracks. I crawled down two blocks of parked cars, overflow from the official lot, ending up on a sage-lined dirt road, shimmering in the 95-degree heat.

Scooting into the pro shop, a babbling roar pulled me into the hallway and oh my, the mass of humanity was numbing. Both sides of the hallway were lined with tables of silent auction items and the center lane was clogged with people trying to go in opposite directions or stopping to chat. A freeze-framed stampede.

It took at least 10 minutes to move six feet to the registration table. But the cute little plastic card-readers attached to the volunteers' iPads was so fun to use I forgot the surging elbows and feet pulling me into the melee. Finally, empty wineglass in hand, my winers-to-be herd stalled in the bar as an outgoing race of folks temporarily blocked our forward motion.  

But there were rewards aplenty. I only had four different wine tastes (totaling about half a glass, because this was the first of the day's three gigs), but the treats from Taos' restaurateurs was so worth all the cheek-to-jowl action. My hands-down favorite was the duck confit from Doc Martin's Chef Zippy of the Taos Inn. Second fave was Mondo Italiano's oysters on a half shell with a lemony chiffon-thingy. The biggest surprise was Ginny Greeno's black bean dip de tarragon — so full of fresh tarragon I felt a cool breeze spread through my palate like a smile.

Leaving the cheery faced golf club crowd, I pointed my steed back uptown to the HORSES! exhibit at The Stables (so fitting, I know). The courtyard of the Taos Centre for the Arts was empty but for Bindy the miniature donkey, Hava the mini horse and their "mom," Ruth Bourgeois, Equine Spirit Sanctuary's founder (20 percent of net proceeds' exhibit sales goes to ESS from the show ending Sunday, July 1).

A chat and a nuzzle later I was pondering the equine-themed art in the gallery. The reception wasn't until 5 p.m., so I had time to see the work before the crowd hit.

After a few ho-hums and hum-drums, my eyes and ears perked up, dazzled by Melody Perez' "Mustang Mansion Road Show." Tom Noble's abstract was powerful and Leigh Gusterson's signature redefinition of grazing horses sent me right back to the days I first "felt" the centering power of her Taos horses afield.

Shifting media, I found Jo Dekeuster's equine ceramic vases sublime and Maggi Rankin's "Wind Spirits Tiles" practically irresistible. There's tons of beauty in this show, stamping and snuffling for the attention of horse and art lovers alike.

Refreshed after iced herb tea, I climbed back in the saddle and headed for Taos Mesa Brewing Company, "three minutes from the old blinking light," as Last to Know bandmember/brewery co-founder Dan Irion said in J.R. Logan's business article for The Taos News. And it's true. I timed it as I was scanning the heat-smeared horizon for a Quonset-hut brewery structure.

There, with a huge multi-striped, peaked tent top spreading out over the mesa on the north side of U.S. 64, almost directly opposite the entrance to the landfill, was the new microbrewery cum nightclub cum recreation center (a volleyball sand court beckons teams to vie for brewskis in the copper light of summer sunsets). Amplifiers and sound stage hunkered under the striped tent top, mute harbingers of the bash Last to Know would unleash later that night.

And what a difference from the artists and wine tasters (which is not to say there were no artists or wine tasters there). This is the new, green, sustainable-living, smart, young, outward-bound herd, hailing from the river, the slopes, the canyons and mesas, the recording studios, tattoo parlors and multimedia suites — the Twitterati of Taos? Only time will tell.

I liked the horses I chose Saturday. Of all the races available, I picked winners out of all the possible events, in their exact order of occurrence — a Taos trifecta.

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