Monday, November 10, 2014

I Love Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa

February 2014 my wife and I had been gifted with an overnight retreat to Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. It was the dead of Winter with a light snowfall, early morning temperatures began at 7 degrees, with daytime temps reaching 35 at best. This may sound like an absolutely crazy time to visit a Hot Spring, yet I found it to be more magical.
On the way there we noticed a few Big Horn Sheep grazing, by the side of the road. Magic was indeed in store for us.
In over 20 years living in New Mexico I had never visited the Ojo Hot Springs. In Taos we live just up the road from the Ponce de Leon Hot Springs. ( There are a few various natural Hot Springs in Northern New Mexico. All a bit tricky to find perhaps, but they do exist.
 So, why pay to visit Ojo Caliente?

The weekday fee Mon-Thurs is $18. & weekend Fri-Sun rates at $28.
The hot springs and water in the rivers around New Mexico can contain the parasite Giardia. At Ojo you will not be subject to this risk.
There are a variety of pools at Ojo all offering unique experiences, and Ojo offers a whole lot of services, and you won’t be confronted with a crowded pool of naked visitors, there are rules at Ojo, bathing attire required.
At the Admission Desk you’ll sign in, check about your reservation if you’d chosen extra Spa Services, and pay the fees involved (please note: No Reservations required to visit the pools themselves). You’ll be given a fluffy towel (overnight guests are the ones wearing the special robes). There are locker rooms for day guests, bring a lock for the lockers, locks are not provided, they do sell them if you need one. They have a terrific Gift Shop attached to the lobby, my favorite thing to purchase are a bag of Chipotle Roasted Almonds.
From Yoga Classes to Meditation Sessions, Body Wraps to Massage Packages, there’s quite a bit available to visitors, check it all out online before your visit.
I recommend a dip into the pools, a hike, break for Lunch at the Artesian Restaurant and another dip into the pools.
Upon entering the pool area there are 3 various pools to the right after the women’s locker room and massage room area. Iron, Soda and Arsenic (the furthest away with 2 pools). There’s also a large kidney shaped swimming pool, a small very Hot pool and an area for ‘Mud Bathing’. The very hot pool is often crowded. Lounge chairs are everywhere along with hammocks, they’ve done a great job on the comfort level. During cold evenings kiva fireplaces are lit in lounge areas.
You may lounge and soak all day, hours are 8AM- 10PM, 365 days a year!
Let me also recommend along with bathing suit and sandals, bring a robe, hat, sunglasses and bottled water.
There’s a lovely private pool option, these are fenced and include kiva fireplaces, a way for couples to have some privacy. The private pool is hourly, it’s worth it, especially during busy season.
Ojo posts currently checked temperatures of the water at each pool, mostly around 103 or so.
At the check in desk you may want to ask which pool to enter first, the desk staff has not been helpful with this at all each time I’ve asked. So, I’ll tell you here and now, the Arsenic Pool should be entered first, soak in the bigger of the 2 for a while, move to the smaller (it’s not as hot). Try to soak long enough in each pool to feel relaxed. 
The Arsenic pool is one of the rare Arsenic Hot Springs in the world.
Before visiting Ojo I checked with my cardiologist if it would be safe for me. My Doctor basically told me to use common sense and not go overboard. My experience has been that I have not felt this good in a very, very long time. The constant pain in my chest for over 2 years was alleviated rather miraculously. Various health professionals have told me they believe that the Arsenic Pool can help draw out toxins from your system. Now I’m not suggesting any miracles at Ojo Caliente, (it’s not Lourdes!) yet my experience has been such that I try to return every other month or so.
The Iron Pool should be next, I found this to be quite buoyant it also seemed to give me a bit of a ‘flush’, not a bad feeling at all, but it was unexpected.
Lastly the Soda pool (a covered area, which in the cold of winter was so steamy I couldn’t find where the pool began and the concrete floor ended) large enough and underutilized enough to swim laps in. 

Perhaps there’s something in the literature for Ojo about its healing powers, if not, there should be.

I was scheduled for a Hot Rock Massage. As I am Not the ‘all in’ massage type, this was more for the purposes of having a complete Ojo Experience. My masseuse began with a story of Grandfather Stones, which made me want to gag, so I asked her to kindly stop. My objection is to a completely made up New Age experience. Now don’t get me wrong it’s really Just Not For Me, as for you, please take a look at their website choose (make a reservation) and enjoy your own experience.

There are also a few well-marked hiking trails around the Ojo Caliente Resort. Ask at the front desk for a map, unfortunately most of the staff is unfamiliar with the hikes! I highly recommend hiking to the Mica Mines, begin at the northern end of the parking area (furthest parking area from the resort buildings, look for the water tower and head up towards it) walk up a very rocky rutted road, at the top you’ll see signage to which way the trail runs. There are well placed signs and Rock Cairns (basically piles of rocks) along trails to help guide you. 
The other beginning point (between the Hot Springs and the Restaurant Lodge) is much more of a scramble. Bring bottled water with you and bring a camera, your cell phone may not have reception. Although I do not remember ever seeing Petroglyphs anywhere around Ojo, I’m certain they exist, the logo itself is one depicting the Spring. 
The Mica Mine trail is about 2.5 miles (5 miles round trip). You’re close when you begin to see the rocks on the trail change to a peach color. 
A few of the Ojo product lines, creams and shampoos, use this mica in their formulations. Mica is also used in the local Pottery, it creates a way for the pot to expand and contract in the heat of an oven or stove top, it’s a wonderful cooking tool, pots are available at the Ojo Gift Shop.
Food at the Artesian Restaurant is wonderful, with Breakfast and Dinner absolutely amazing. There’s also a hopping bar scene there with wine and local beers available. The Artesian lunch menu is designed to get people fed quickly as the restaurant is quite busy at lunch time. The move’em in, move’em out lunch crowd misses out on Breakfast and Dinner where this restaurant truly shines. Visitors will more than likely not avail themselves to Breakfast here, everything I’ve had here for breakfast is delicious and perfect. Breakfast is something the overnight guests partake in, but let me tell you, if you go to Ojo early enough for a day trip, run to the restaurant first and enjoy its deliciousness.
The real treat of the Artesian Restaurant is Dinner, go here for dinner, slow down, relax and enjoy. I’d place them in the top ten restaurants of Taos County. I Love dinner at this restaurant, we enjoyed a wine from the local Black Mesa Winery perfectly paired with our meals. 
Take a look at the menu online, you’ll want to make a reservation. Artesian Restaurant should be on your list of places to have dinner when you are visiting the area. 
So who visits Ojo Caliente anyway?
From couples visiting during Ski Season, European Hot Spring Pros, Hipsters from LA, Moms and Pops with Grandparents and Children, Executives on retreat and yes indeed, the New Age and the Hippies. It’s a mixed bag of people from everyday life, including me (grumpy old guy).
My wife and our friends have been visiting Ojo for years, even my 80 year old Mother has gone. During a very long time I had a stigma about it, thankfully now I do not.
There are signs posted around the pools to “Whisper Please”, often this particular rule is ignored. A staff member occasionally walks around discreetly with signage stating “Whisper Please” a gentle reminder, no scolding involved here and I for one appreciate this.
Some form of soft music may help cut down on the chitter chatter of the guests which does get loud at times.
I’d like to see local music ‘unplugged’ become a part of this resort, the softness of a Pueblo drummer, the lilting take you away on a breeze of the Native American flute. At the very least a sound system with flute, maybe some classical music, with some Inuit Chanting and sounds of the Brazilian Rainforest, (alright NOW ‘I’m’ sounding all New Age-ee).
Try to take the opportunity in your lifetime to actually visit Ojo Caliente overnight for the full experience. Overnight lodging rates begin at $140. There is also lodging that includes a fenced private pool, with Kiva fireplaces in rooms, this is a luxurious treat for guests. The rooms are southwest elegant. Someone recently told me that they took a tent and camped there, if you cannot afford the overnight lodging, then perhaps camping could be an option for you too.
I am grateful to Wendi Gelfound (Ojo Marketing Director) for gifting us my first experience at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa. If it were not for her great kindness I truly believe I would still be suffering from the nagging pain of my heart disease. Yes, it took a bit of convincing me to visit, but I am hooked and a true believer. I was really only going because it made my wife giddy with delight of the opportunity for an overnight visit. Her feeling is that when she leaves Ojo amazingly relaxed, the last thing she ever wants to do is take that drive home.
The drive to and from Taos is actually magnificently beautiful. 
I could, but shouldn’t jabber on about how much I truly am addicted to Ojo and of my utter enjoyment each time we’ve visited.
For much more information and reservations please visit the website
*All photographs are copyright Robert Cafazzo 2014, except for the vintage ca.1930's images provided by OCMSR&S.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

At Long Last... I'm Back!

Thank you all for continuing to find us at Two Since the multiple Heart Attacks I've had a difficult time remembering certain things, (not everything) mostly I have No Idea what Passwords I'd been using. Rather than stress about it, I've managed to ignore it all and move on, yet that means I have not had access to the Blogspot for Two Graces, which had been quite, quite frustrating.
Due to circumstances recently I got a new Iphone the 5S, not the new 6 or whatever they are up to now, and as I've been setting the new phone up, I have discovered that I could get into my two graces blog account!!!
So here I am, and there's a whole lot to catch up on.
Yesterday the book by my niece Izy Hossack of Top with Cinnamon was released in the US, officially! A big warm hearted congratulations to her!!!!
Before I forget to mention: IF I lose this Two Graces blogspot thing again, you will find my postings at Taos Love blogspot or at Taos Art Gallery Blogspot.
Last February we were given a very generous gift of an overnight stay at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Resort nearby to Taos, by Wendi Gelfound. I have been remiss Not to write about that visit here due to the password problems, old dead email and so on. I plan to indeed update you on that visit asap, or once I get back into the writing spirit. For now I will say that I love visiting Ojo Caliente and that the Arsenic Pool in particular seems to have washed away most of the pain from the after effects of my heart surgery (3 stents).

By the way, another reason I've stayed away from writing anything at all is because the heart condition dwells on me very heavily and continues to be at the front of my mind whenever I do sit down to write.

This past year I was asked to help as a private contractor to the Griffin and Associates team (of Albuquerque) who have worked for the Town of Taos in marketing Taos as a place for visitors to indeed visit. My job was to work with Travel Writers visiting Taos and give them tours of things they'd be interested in. As I quickly discovered each writer would like a scoop, to write from a different angle than any other writer. To not cover what everyone else has already covered is extremely difficult. Mostly Taos had been marketed as a day Trip from Santa Fe, but what I strove to do was to show writers that Taos is Much, Much more than a day trip that the diversity is here indeed and that anyone visiting could discover any number of new things to do here year after year.
To All, each and everyone of you that I was fortunate to be given time with, showing you my version, my personal journey of Taos, I Thank You all. You have taught me a great deal, about writing, about Taos, about people, thank you so very much. YOU know who you are, and you know how much it meant to me to be in Your company.

In saying that I gave tours to Travel Writers, that is correct, I did and no longer work for Griffin and Associates. My time with them has been over since the end of May. Yet I still take people on Tours of Taos, specializing in backroads, off the beaten track itineraries and the sights to be seen here in Taos, for specialized tours with visitors. 
My half day rate is 4-5 hours with a fee of $125.
Full day rate 8-9 hours is $200. 
In your vehicle, otherwise there is an added $60. fee for me to drive you.
The hourly rate is $40. per hour.
Recently my family visited Taos from London, my sister requested that we do things they had never done before. She was impressed that we were able to visit amazing places, that indeed she had not seen before!
Next on the calendar for Holly and I is to attend the docent dinner this evening at the Couse-Sharp Foundation. 
Then on October 11, 2014 we have been asked to be in Spearman, Texas to show our artwork for a School arts program fundraiser. They open a few homes who host artists and their work, the locals of Spearman visit and meet the artists for a small admission fee. We hope that this is a big success for Spearman and we are honored to be guests. We'll be bringing a nice selection of our paintings.

Overall it's been a difficult year here in Taos, but we keep trudging along. Please support the Artists and Galleries here that contribute to making Taos a lovely destination for all. I know that visitors do support the places to stay here and the restaurants, but please don't forget the shop owners who make it worth visiting here. Just a simple purchase and a friendly gesture can make someone's day a little brighter. 

I know that people find us through this Two Graces blog, which was originally the main purpose of it, we thank you for continuing to visit us here in Taos at the Gallery and online at
You will also find us on facebook at Two Graces Plaza Gallery
Our phone number is 575-758-4101
My correct email to reach me is
Our physical address is Two Graces Plaza Gallery 68 St. Francis Church Plaza in Ranchos de Taos, 4 miles south of the center of Taos, (just a few blocks south of the intersection to 518).
For those of you inquiring about Kachina Repairs, start with sending photos, I will get back to you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

James Havard Santa Fe

 Circumstances led us to a Santa Fe day trip yesterday. An appointment with my cardiologist for a stress test 3 months after I suffered a series of 4 heart attacks over the course of 9 days. The tests went quite well and from the Doctor's point of view I should live another 30 years or so with the 3 stents he placed in me on April 15. This by the way is my round about way of writing something about this whole unexpected dilemma. Holly was with me to disseminate the rapid fire descriptions of what was and is currently going on with my heart. After 3 hours of tests we were able to take a bit of time to stop in to see the James Havard exhibit at the vast Zane-Bennett Contemporary Art Gallery at 435 South Guadalupe St. 
We spent almost an hour there as it was difficult to tear ourselves away from viewing these master works. This is a 'survey' of Havard artwork, that is to say Mr. Havard's work through the years. Most artists prefer to exhibit the most current work, and I'm certain if he was up to it there would have been mostly new work here. Yet, he too has had recent health scares and thus the Gallery is exhibiting a bit of work from different time periods. Thank you to the ZaneBennett owners and staff for doing so. As far as I'm concerned this is the exhibition of the year in Santa Fe you should be very proud and I hope that people are turning out to see it.
Southwestern Galleries and Art have the stigma of having to show and be about "landscape paintings" it's a rare treat to see real Contemporary Art and in a gallery that is all about viewing the art.
 Much of the work is presented in shadow box frames due to the layering of artifacts/items onto the surface of his base, whether it be a cardboard box or a heavy artist paper. Most of you will not have the opportunity to view this exhibit, it's only up for 2 more weeks, but there is a lovely 20. catalogue which you can purchase through Z/B. There is also a "James Havard" monogram book in 2 editions a pricey limited edition which comes w a print and the regular hardback by Hudson Hills Press 2006. Pricing of original art begins at 5,000. for masterworks such as these they may be the last bargain to be found in any Santa Fe art gallery! There are also large stretched canvas works, which I did hesitate to investigate pricing of, (the last image here is one of the large early pieces).
 Pages from books with images of masks, pre-Columbian figures or any survey of art history images may adorn the surface. There's also a wonderful 3 dimensional effect he's able to create sometimes with a spray painted shadow below a thick straight from the tube line drawn in space. The series of assemblage boxes with thick paint and artifacts is not like traditional assemblage box art at all, you'd never think of it when viewing these, we viewed them as complete paintings. He seems to stay away from kitsch as a natural instinct, even with the repetitiousness of some of the imagery using words, paintbrushes, picture postcards and even Navajo medicine bundles these never become quaint and ordinary, they are every one extraordinary.
 Although it is never touted as such, Mr. Havard is of Native American descent, of which tribe and to what percentage seems to make no difference to anyone who loves his artwork, (his bio lacks this information). This makes him more endearing to me, he's just James, like him or not. Author Jamake Highwater includes an early work in his book "Arts of the Indian Americas North Central South Leaves from the Sacred Tree" 1983 Harper & Row
 I first saw a few of Mr. Havard's paintings in the office of Ray Trotter of R.B. Ravens Gallery in Ranchos de Taos (although he does not have any of them on the website). Inquiring minds would love to know more and from speaking with Ray about this artwork I learned more. Mr. Trotter has a knack of acquiring art that he loves by people that he loves, it just seems to go hand in hand with him. A few years later we had dinner at Trattoria Nostrani a wonderful Italian Restaurant in Santa Fe, there adorning the walls are a few of the paintings of James Havard, (these with a definite food theme, probably purchased in trade for a tab), worth a look and worth a reservation to visit, or choose to sit at the bar. 
When I look at this artwork I see a kindred spirit someone who loves and respects world culture, but also someone who was more than likely influenced by an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC "Primitivism in 20th Century Art" 1985. Seek out the catalogue of the same title it's well worth owning (we do currently have a copy available at Two Graces Plaza Gallery) In the catalogue you'll find comparisons of Modern Art to the arts and crafts of world cultures, the influences of world culture on a wide range of artists.
 Often times words and writing on paintings bring to mind the artwork of Jean Michel Basquiat, when you actually explore a bit more of art history you'll find early David Hockney and Andy Warhol using writing, go back further and you'll learn about Illuminated Manuscripts. So is James doing his version of Basquiat? The answer is a definitive no, James is doing James and what he loves best and he obviously loves 'Primitivism' and how that has influenced art through the years. With the image below you may notice more of a Bill Traylor style of work, the strong Cobalt color, the primitive style of drawing as in the look of an 'Outsider Artist'. Mr. Havard's paintings are very colorful from his use of Cadmium Red, Yellow and Orange along with the Cobalts of Blue and Green. He doesn't scrimp on his art supplies whether he's using oils, acrylics or pigments and tearing pages out of art books can get very expensive as well.
 The newest work is reminiscent of figures by Romare Bearden, again this is not a bad influence the paintings are very much James Havard paintings. The one major disappointment to this exhibit is the lackluster sales, I noticed one 'red dot' on a description card signaling a sold painting, that's not a whole lot of sales for a High End Art Gallery. Z/B has a top notch sales staff, Christian Cheneau, Mark DiPrima and the ever present Nancy Boshers will always speak to you, even if you are just visiting to see the art and not make a purchase, (who knows perhaps someday you'll want to return and make a purchase when you are feeling flush, and no please don't use the old 'when I win the lottery' excuse).
Introduce yourself, tell them I sent you.
The James Havard exhibit "Staying Ahead of the Beast Paintings, Works on Paper, Archive Boxes" is on view at Zanebennett Contemporary Art in Santa Fe June 29-July 20, 2012
It would have been nice to attend the opening and finally meet Mr. Havard, but I feel fortunate and exhilarated that we were able to take a moment while in Santa Fe to see it, thus this post (normally I don't write posts about other people's galleries).
This is a collection of masterworks by a more than talented artist, a rare treat, try not to miss it, (the clock is ticking).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mary Witkop Taos Pottery at Two Graces Plaza Gallery

 Mary Witkop was more than a remarkable woman of Taos to me, she was a dear friend that I selfishly miss. Day after day she was in her studio working, mixing the local micaceous clay, building pots, burnishing, polishing, coloring and polishing some more. Carefully loading up her rickety truck to take the latest finished pots to her Pilar studio where she would fire them and add horsehair or feathers to put a unique finishing touch on her creations. She did it all herself, she resisted help, even if we just offered to carry clay or a bag of dried cow pies, she had to do it herself. That’s what being a total artist was to her, she did it all from start to finish.
a mango pink coloration with black 'clouds' and a bit of corrugated design at the neck 4,000.
Green pot with corrugated crimping and horsehair 4,500.
pinks, blues, lavenders enhance this pot with a small spout priced at 4,000.
 Every now and then she’d come over for a visit, or after selling one of her pots I’d go to see her in the studio to pay her. Then I could choose the next pot that she would allow me to have for sale. She’d say ‘go ahead, and pick one out’ in return I’d ask her which was her favorite, she’d pick up a beautiful jewel-like pot, hand it to me and tell me why this was the one I should have.
these 2 pots are rather dark with a bit of color, much like an evening sky here in Taos, with the glittery micaceous clay creating a solar system of stars on the left 300. on the right Sold
Milky Way
an extremely rare 'black' pot 350.
these are both Sold
 The high polish, the array of coloring and the cloud marks were her trademarks. When visiting a friend in Taos you can spot a Mary Witkop pot in someone’s home rather quickly, they are as unique as the most famous Pueblo potters.
Before her passing we had been talking about having a big exhibit of her work, she dreaded the idea and loved the idea. It would be an honor, and it would be a lot of work. Mary would begin working on 2 large pots for her annual contribution to the Taos Fall Arts exhibit up to 6 months before the opening! For many years she was awarded the Best of Show for her pottery in the Fall Arts exhibit until she asked the committee to start giving the award to someone else.
Solstice pot with Lawrence Herrera silverwork medallion
this pot was displayed in Mary's studio for many years where I always admired it, drawing me into it's magnificent beauty. Mr. Herrera attended the opening, I picked up the pot to show him that his name had been inscribed onto the bottom alongside Ms. Witkop's name.
priced at 1,000.
a bit of carving and blue linear lines on this pot enhanced with ostrich feathers 1,500.
lavender pitcher w/handle and spout 1,500.
This pot won Best of show in the 2004 Taos Fall Arts exhibit 1,500.
a lavender colored 'flying saucer' pot 1,500.
A large blue 'flying saucer' custom ordered pot 1,800.
 In memoriam to this wonderful artist and with support from her family, we are pleased to announce the exhibition “The Pottery of Mary Witkop” opening Friday, May 25 and on display through August 24, Two Graces Plaza Gallery, 68 St. Francis Church Plaza, Ranchos de Taos. There will be an opening reception on Friday evening from 5-8PM, we hope that people will come out and share their own stories and experiences about Mary. This is our tribute to Mary Witkop, we hope you will join us. For more information about this exhibit please contact Robert Cafazzo at 575-758-4101 or at

as we had predicted many of the smaller pots have sold quickly, please contact us ASAP for availability, (there may be more pots added to the exhibit, you never know...)

IF you own a pot that you would consider selling with us, please let us know, the sooner the better!
this large smokey red oxide pot is one of the 5 large pots priced at 4,000.
Small pot with blue spots Sold
all 5 of the pots at the front of this display are Sold,
the 3 to the back are available
left to right 300., 300., 350
one of the large colorful carved pots at 4,000.
 We are grateful to the Witkop and Hopper families for allowing Two Graces Plaza Gallery to exhibit and sell this beautiful body of work. 
So many people attended the opening reception last night, TGPG would like to thank all of you for making this an event we will never forget. Old friends mingled with people who had never met Mary, all awe inspired. A moment in Taos where the 3 cultures came together to once again celebrate an artist who stood among them and who we all admired.
This fall the Pilar Studio Tour will be dedicated to the memory of Mary Witkop, (the organizers came by to take photographs of the exhibit)
This unglazed Bean pot was made in a group of pottery done for a Christmas exhibit sale it is priced at 200. it is the only 'functional' pot we have available, meaning it can actually be used to cook in on the stove top or in the oven (gas or electric)
iron oxide pot priced at 600.
iron oxide with a hint of green Sold
I can hear the horsehair sizzle and burn onto this pot as she tossed it on. 250.
pot to the left with green and blue coloring 175. Indonesia green pot Sold
the green pot here and above were inspired by a trip to 
Indonesia where much of the pottery is colored green the pot to the left white with blue is Sold, the green seed pot is also Sold
Lavender pot priced at 600.
a few additions
Green w/horsehair medium size 500. medium size Blue w/feathers 600. small Blue w/feathers 175.
"Adoration of the Cross Ladies" medium size white w/feathery clouds 200.
(please note this pot is unsigned and has no identification of the collaborator who carved it, therefor a very special price point)
* please note: Mary always warned not to use her pottery as a planter, she would often place a feather or leaf in a pot, nothing more than that.
This exhibit runs through August 24, 2012