Rudolph Carl "R.C." Gorman (1931-2005) is being recognized this week for practically single-handedly turning Taos into the commercial art center it is today.
For almost half a century, "with the force of personality and the wide appeal of his art, (Gorman) was the most prominent art figure in this town until his death and should be remembered as such," wrote Steve Parks, noted Taos gallerist and Artlines publisher, nearly seven years after Gorman's death.
For exactly that reason, the legacy of this larger-than-life Navajo artist is being honored at R.C. Gorman Days, an event planned Friday and Saturday (July 27-28) at different venues throughout town. It is being hosted by the town of Taos, the Taos Arts Council in collaboration with FaraHNHeight Fine Art, Michael Gorman Gallery, Navajo Gallery, and Vicky and Don Zillioux, who purchased the former Navajo Gallery at 210 Ledoux St.
Today (July 26), also happens to be R.C. Gorman's birthday, as well as the 50th anniversary of Navajo Gallery in Taos. Organizers deemed it an eery "fit" for announcing the R.C. Gorman Days - dedicated to three generations of Gorman artists of Taos: R.C.'s father Carl Gorman, his nephew Michael Gorman, and, of course R.C. Gorman, for the incredible impact he had on growing Taos into the sort of multicultural arts mecca that we enjoy today.
Besides being a party animal of outrageous proportions, for good or ill depending on your proclivities for rural lifestyles, R.C. brought Taos to worldwide attention as he hobnobbed with the nationally and internationally rich and famous, the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Andy Warhol and too many others to mention in this little preview.
The last time R.C. Gorman was "officially" recognized in New Mexico for his contribution to the arts of Taos was in 1979, when then Gov. Bruce King and Taos Mayor Phil Lovato honored him with the proclamation of R.C. Gorman Day, during a humorous roast with tributes by friends and dignitaries at the Sagebrush Inn. After his death in 2005, then Gov. Bill Richardson ordered the state flags to fly at half mast in honor of R.C. Gorman's contributions.
Besides the synchronicities of R.C.'s birthday and this 50th year of Navajo Gallery, nephew Michael Gorman notes 2018 is also the 150th anniversary of the Navajo Treaty signed with the United States. Lithographs, paintings and ceramics by all three generations of Gormans will hang in Michael Gorman Gallery, 103-B East Taos Plaza, through August.
"We are hoping this will become an annual event," said Greg Farah of FaraHNHeight Fine Art of this week's inaugural R.C. Gorman Days. "We need to recognize the impact he had through his art in Taos. So that's how we came up with this celebration marking the 50th year of Navajo Gallery, and of contemporary Native American arts as a group, as well as the legacy and heritage of his family in the arts and the Southwest."
"Yes, his art ranged from the sublime to the kitsch," Parks concludes in his letter above, "but he was Taos' greatest ambassador and champion."
For more information see taosartscouncil.org, michaelgormangallery.com.
Schedule of events
Friday (July 27)
5:30 p.m. Town of Taos Proclamation will be read honoring R.C. Gorman on Taos Plaza, with the Dineh-Tah Navajo dance group, led by Shawn Price.
6-8 p.m. Reception and exhibition: "Three Generations of Gorman," at The Michael Gorman Gallery, 103-B East Plaza (under the Gorge Restaurant, Taos Plaza). On view will be paintings by the late Carl Gorman, selected works by R.C. Gorman, ceramics by Michael Gorman, and more.
6:15 p.m. Zonnie Gorman, R.C.'s sister, an acclaimed historian and lecturer, will speak about R.C.'s legacy at Michael Gorman Gallery. Other family will also be present to share stories and light refreshments throughout the evening.
Saturday (July 28)
10-11:30 a.m. Walking Tour of Ledoux Street Galleries, introducing the history of the street and several of its buildings which are on the National Register of Historic Places. Meet outside Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux St. The opening of the Navajo Gallery by R. C. Gorman in 1968 expanded the art scene on this one-way lane just south of the Taos Plaza. The tour will conclude on Taos Plaza during the Taos Farmers Market.
1:30-3 p.m. Docent-led tour of "Full Circle: Taos Pueblo Contemporary," at Couse-Sharp Historic Site, Luna Chapel, 146 Kit Carson Road. Free, limited to eight people per tour.
5-7 p.m. Taos Arts Council Private Benefit at the home of Vicky and Don Zillioux, 210 Ledoux St., the former home and gallery of R.C. Gorman. This limited-space, $25-per-person ticketed event includes a mini-display of the Gorman artists with a presentation by Gregory Farah and Michael Gorman, plus hors d'oeuvres and wine or beer. For reservations, contact TAC president Paul Figueroa at (575) 779-8579.
The Gorge Bar & Grill on Taos Plaza will feature specials inspired by R.C. Gorman's three cookbooks, "Nudes & Foods," which paired R.C.'s drawings and paintings with recipes from R.C. and his friends. Gorman loved to entertain and together with business manager Virginia Dooley, they created three one-of-a-kind cookbooks for the art and food lover.
Sponsors for Gorman Days activities
The Gorge Bar & Grill, Pärcht Bottleshop+Bites, Michael Gorman Gallery, FaraHNHeight Fine Art Gallery, Jackie's Trading Post Gallery, R.C. Gorman Navajo Gallery and Estate, and the Taos Arts Council. The Council promotes a further understanding, appreciation of the arts and advocates for the arts community. For more information visit taosartscouncil.org.
Editor's note: Steve Parks’s 2012 letter to the editor concerned unsubstantiated allegations of pedophilia against R.C. Gorman which surfaced after his death. They were ultimately dismissed.