The Blake at Taos Ski Valley opened to rave reviews in the 2016/17 ski season. With 80 guest rooms (including 15 suites), the boutique hotel is just steps from the iconic Lift 1 and the gondolita for the children's center.

In addition to offering a luxury experience in lodging -- The Blake offers guests an unparalleled art experience. Its collection consists of thousands

of original pieces. These works encompass paintings, contemporary and historic photography, sculpture, prints, assemblages, pottery, and weavings. Most notably, all of the art works are central to Taos, either in subject matter, creation, or both.

Gallery Guide recently toured the collection with Stephen Rose, director of hospitality at The Blake. He explained:

The history

We were faced with a bit of a dilemma when we were designing The Blake. We were trying to create a very European, Bavarian style. At the same time, we wanted to root it in

Northern New Mexico. The challenge we had was we wanted to avoid having a very 'Bavarian-cliche' exterior with a very 'Southwest-cliche' interior. We were trying to figure out how to bridge this gap.

We worked with Los Griegos Studio in Santa Fe and asked them: ‘Where do you see the merger and the connection between this European influence and the various influences of Taos?’

It happened during the Works Projects Administration period in the 1930s. When these public projects were being done, the craftsmen of all different backgrounds and heritages were sharing ideas, tools, and materials. That’s when you begin to see that territorial crossover.

What we identified is that Taos is the end of many roads. It’s the end of the Santa Fe Trail, El Camino Real, and it’s the northernmost of the 19 pueblos. It’s the eastern edge of the Navajo migration lands, it’s the western edge of the Plains tribes’ migration lands, and it’s the southern end of the Ute migration lands.

The naming

We appreciated having the blessing to name the hotel after Ernie Blake and his family. In the vestibule of the main entrance and the restaurant (192 at The Blake), guests can see family photos of the Blakes.

With regards to the restaurant name, ‘192,’ that was the tail number on the small airplane that Ernie was flying in when he discovered for himself that this would be a great place for a ski area.

Also in the vestibule, there is the photograph that Ernie took of the area from the airplane. You can see the runs

on that photograph — but those runs aren’t really cut yet. On that photo, he took plaster tape and identified where he wanted those runs to be. Then he handwrote on the back and you can see on the back of the photo where he has his notes. That really is the first master plan of Taos Ski Valley.

The lobby

In the lobby, guests can enjoy the block furniture and the Spanish influence of the décor. There are carvings in the viga beams and pillars. There are elemental treatments and symbology. For example, guests can see the circle of life in the corbel and wood panel carving.

Hung throughout the lobby, there are amazing pieces of art from the Taos Society of Artists. Guests can marvel at the mastery of these renowned artists from the early 20th century. They worked in the studio with local models and props, and en plein air with the natural landscape. On display, for example, are paintings by Oscar Berninghaus, Walter Ufer, and Martin Henning. These are classic and rare pieces.

In the remainder of the hotel, hallways have differing art themes. The work is arranged and displayed with a thesis in mind. While the art is aesthetically impressive for casu-al viewing, a guest can also spend a moment immersed in a real art education reading the accompanying placard of descriptions.

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