Perfectly delicious is how you feel walking out of The Ranch at Taos art gallery.
Perfectly delicious is how you feel walking out of The Ranch at Taos art gallery. Although she opened in February 2013, owner Lanna Smith had to count the years on her fingers and to her surprise needed to use both hands - just. Somehow the gallery feels almost brand spanking new.
"People think I'm new, but I'm not," Smith says, laughing about her little space in the heart of historic Kit Carson Road district. She admits that because one wall opens into Wilder Nightingale gallery, some visitors have initially thought her place was a gift shop.
"Because of the jewelry, I guess," she says pointing out Rosa Kilgore's sterling silver, "ancient bronze" and many semiprecious stones, flashing alluringly in the Southwestern sunlight of the south-facing gallery windows.
Longtime Taos visitors and locals will remember Kilgore's father, well-known artist John Farnsworth, who used to have the Farnsworth Gallery next to The Taos Inn with his wife, Thea Swengel, who now runs David Anthony Fine Arts Gallery across the street.
"This is a magic circle here, between Rob (Wilder), Thea, Bryans Gallery, Parsons (Gallery of the West)," all practically within shoulder-rubbing distance, not to mention Kit Carson Home & Museum, Greg Moon Gallery, Dragonfly Blue, Copper Moon Gallery, Amore Gallery, Angie Coleman Studio, Fine Art Atelier & Gallery, Untitled Fine Art and The Couse-Sharp Historic Site - all on the same block on Kit Carson Road, just east of the Taos Plaza intersection.
A "local" on and off since 1971, Smith has worked Taos galleries from the "old days" - during the R.C. Gorman, Maria Martinez and Taos Six era, and feels this spirit is what endears Taos to visitors.
"I still think of Taos as a true art colony," she says, "something which Santa Fe has lost, because there's so much more influence from other places, other countries, down in Santa Fe.
When she started, Smith had only three artists, bronze sculptor/painter and musician Gary Roller, painters Tracy Turner Sheppard and Mary Doolittle.
In the past six years, besides adding jeweler Kilgore to her stable of artists, she also represents jewelers Julie Cohn, Amy Fortunato and Gloria Valencia; painters Claudette Barker, Daniel Brown, Audrey Davis, 2018 Taos Fall Arts Festival "Image Award" winner Cathy Carey and monotypist Betsy Peirce; and sculptors Lisa Chumoff and Jan Quinn.
In June, Barker will be doing a watercolor workshop at Casa Benavides just east of the gallery, "not for beginners" Smith says, so it's best if interested folks contact claudettebarker.com for complete information and to sign up.
Smith says there's a heart-to-heart connection visitors get when they come to Taos galleries. "When visitors come up here from Santa Fe, they're just so enamored. A lot of them say 'Next time we're going to stay here in Taos and visit Santa Fe,' instead of the other way around."
She named the gallery because of Gary Roller's mobile stage, called Melody Time Ranch, which they used to set up behind the gallery and host big names like Tish Hinojosa and Michael Hearne, among many others.
"I wanted it to sound big, because it's so small," she says. "There's thousands of galleries with 'ranch' in it but I looked it up and there was no gallery with Taos Ranch in the name. So I took it!"
Roller's mobile stage proved so popular, however, that it is mostly now set up in Southern New Mexico, bringing in a monthly income that Smith says is pretty handy to have, so best not to upset that apple cart.
But don't be surprised if Roller shows up at Chuck Wagon Nights in Red River and in concert at The Taos Mothership, where he draws the locals and out-of-town fans. More on that as the summer approaches - details aren't nailed down yet.
So do yourself a favor and drop by the little gallery with loads of talent. You will be most rewarded, at the very least for making a friendship with Lanna Smith, a gallery owner long on lovin' Taos and art.
The Ranch at Taos is located at 119A Kit Carson Road, Taos. Contact Lanna Smith at (325) 647-5736 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit theranchattaos.com.
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