Thursday, October 29, 2009

Taos to LosAngeles

The view from our hotel window, yes indeed smog! Even though it doesn't show up in this picture we can see the HOLLYWOOD sign directly across from us. The Palm trees and other flora such as Bird of Paradise flowers blooming are a treat to see. Yesterday at the convention I saw a rather large hummingbird at one of the BoP flowers, really beautiful here from what I've seen so far. I'm currently hooked up to wireless at this Hotel and amazed at how easy this MacBookPro is to use!
The Convention was to promote American Airlines flying directly to Santa Fe starting in mid-November, which is great. As for Taos, we were invited to tag along as part of a rather large Santa Fe contingent. Here's a pic of our table with my altar set up and Joannie as usual working the phone, on the plane in the airport, all business for her all the time, (I think she drives and works at the same time too, Note to Joannie: You drive to work, not work while you're driving). There were probably 125-150 people at this thing and who was who I couldn't even begin to guess. Displays set up all over the courtyard were, a Santa Fe landscape painter, a contemporary potter, (actually letting people try the pottery wheel), a massage and healing herbal remedy area, & Santa Fe cooking school producing some rather delicious food. I tried the Lamb Chop, the Corn Muffin stuffed with shrimp, the calabaceta stuffed with tomato, and the cocktail a Tequila based Chimayo(???), yum to everything and yup I do like food. Other than the food area our Taos Altar Booth was THE BEST, and we were given the best location in the courtyard, in the center directly across from the stage. The food booth had the worst location stuck in a back corner, for over 3 hours we had no idea it was even there.
Taos Pueblo musician Robert Mirabal, was so gracious and wonderful, he even gave me a hug, jeez. He does have a whole lot of CDs to choose from so what to recommend I don't really know. Not to be negative, but like the new Bob Dylan Christmas CD, DO NOT GET the Mirabal Christmas CD, get one of the others!
When I noticed NM Gov. Richardson walk in to the courtyard, I NOTICED, he has some sort of aura about him, very strange, a definite presence to the man. He gave a great speech and was super to take the time out to come to this event, wow. This is my worst pic of him, so sorry sir, but I messed up the good ones trying to get the flashed eye look out, maybe I still need some training with the Mac. Here he looks as sleepy as I was at this point, Holly turned up after her wonderful day of shopping and walking on the beach, and we packed up the altar and headed off to a nearby Sushi Bar, good but not as good as Sushi by Hattorri back in Taos believe it or not, BELIEVE IT, the Taos sushi bar is better by leaps and bounds. Same on you LA Sushi! then we headed for desert at a another nearby restaurant which RC Israel highly recommended for a special desert which yes Holly ate and loved it, I opted for the traditional Tiramisu and an espresso. So far so good LA, just a bit of a let down on the sushi thing but traffic-wise rather like Chicago, very wide highways full of cars, sometimes moving along at a clip and sometimes slowly.
Got to go and see what today brings....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sweet and Savory 2 Recipes

As some of you may know we got an early frost in Taos during the month of September. Which absolutely killed my tomato and pepper plants. I picked the peppers and pickled the hot italian variety, picked a basket of jalapenos and brought those to Jen at Love Apple. The tomatoes though were still very green, and rather then eat Fried Green Tomatoes, I called my Mom. She told me not only to put them on the windowsill to ripen but to put an apple or 2 in with them. Needless to say, Listen to Your Mother! Yes, the tomatoes are ripening since mid September, and yes some just rot away, and the stubborn ones of the bunch just won't ripen at all, change is difficult even for tomatoes. The results with the ripe ones have been a treat because here it comes, the recipe: Tomato Confit
Slice 1/4 red onion thinly, and chop one clove of garlic, (a clove not the entire head), add olive oil to a saucepan or small cast iron skillet, (this has to go in the oven so not something with a meltable handle) put all of these into the pan and sautee on high while you chop up approximately 3 ripe Roma style Tomatoes, add this to the pan and continue to sautee a bit now ad one and 1/2 Tsp Balsamic vinegar, some salt, pepper and a pinch of Rosemary, add about 2 Tblspn of Olive Oil. Put this into the oven which has been heating up to 400/450 for 15 minutes. YUM
Spread on fresh Bread or onto Pasta, or on Pizza, (but still use a tomato sauce and cheese on the pizza), or use it as a side dish for meat. YUM

On the weekends we have desert, because when we have desert all week long we tend to put on a lot of weight. Thus being desert is only Sat/Sun or Fri/Sat at our house. Baking especially sweets requires paying strict attention to the recipe, as most people can tell you, I am not a one to play by the rules. When you make Chocolate Chip Cookies according to Nestle (the inventor of the fine treat) they tend to come out a bit slumped shall we say, spreading their way across the cookie sheet and not really all that wonderful. I split the batch into 2 parts half for one night ad half for the other. Get ready for wonderful, and in this case Butter everyones friend is the culprit.
Here's the recipe: "The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER"
1 stick of butter BUT hold back 1 TSP of the culprit, feed it to the cat or dog if you must
1/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar add 1 TSP Molasses,
(that's right just do it, why pay for that fancy expensive Drkst Brwn Sgr when you can do this)
1/3 cup White Sugar
1 cap full Vanilla Extract
(and yes you can make it yourself if you can find Vanilla Beans a t a reasonable price)
1/2 TSP Baking Powder
1/2 TSP Baking Soda
Beat this stirring vigorously, put your arm muscles into it, after all this is the only exercise I get
1 Egg Beat and stir some more
1 1/4 cups Flour mix this in until it's dough if it's too sticky you may add a bit more flour
but don't go overboard or your cookies will be stones
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup Nuts Walnuts or Pecans (absolutely no Peanuts I am allergic to them)
Mix some more and spread this onto a sheet of tin foil, divide in half, no you may not make the whole batch in one night, the next night you will have the treat of Hot Fresh Cookies.
Oven is on 325 the rack is at the top depending on your oven heating
Divide half the dough into 6-8 cookies, a true cookie treat awaits in 8-11 minutes
do not burn them or overcook, as soon as you see golden edges they are done, YUM

Book List Part 1

If I owned a paperback copy of this it would be a dog-eared mess by now, a bloggers friend.
I think this book is a riot, and if I thought about it this writer is probably a whole lot like me!
Embarrassingly obvious shill for my sister's book, which to me is the best of her series, I'm told it may be rereleased from Chronicle Books. Years ago I saw it in the window of a bookstore in Taos Plaza, and called my sister immediately to tell her. When it was still in print they had it in the window most of the time. Yes, Amazon will hook you up with a copy.
Invest in the hardcover, you'll want to keep this book, but don't loan it out,
or you'll never get it back.
The re-release of this book is telling of just how good a Taos book this really is. Mabel Dodge Luhan at her best, and yes I know you've been told to read Edge of Taos Desert, (too dry) this is so much better, and evocative of the real Taos, a companion piece to the next book.
The Dynamic duo of Taos books (Winter in Taos & Of Time and Change) Waters captures what Taos' people were and are to this day like,
(there's a better way of saying this but I'm rushing here).
The third which to me is rather dry is Taos Mosaic, which the Museum docents are told to read.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dia de los Muertos Shadow Boxes

These are Day of the Dead Shadow Boxes that I have made to sell, they are $75. each, first come first served and are offered here for the next 48 hours only, by Tuesday at this time they will be gone. Choose wisely, let me know, the email is posted on the blog site. Above "Skeleton Guadalupe Bobblehead" They are about 5" x 10" with the largest being the one above at 12" tall. Shipping is $5, Priority Mail.
"Skeleton Mask with Dingleberries"
"A Lovely Taos Hat"
"Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire"
"Another LA Story"

Theft, I don't like it!

These 2 pics of the giant Kachina sculptures are the last remaining evidence of their existence, why! They've been stolen, like so many other items stolen whether they be items from inside the Churches of the world, (not just the Church that I sit here in the shadow of, which is kept locked when none of the Church people can keep an eye on things after hours), or out of someone's yard. One of my yard ornament Flamingoes was stolen a couple weeks ago from in front of the shop, and yes I'd like it back thank you very much. That's not all, the beautiful O'Keeffe charcoal that hung in the lobby of the LaFonda Hotel in Santa Fe was stolen this past Spring. It had been there since O'Keeffe put it there herself many, many years ago. I would go in to that lobby just to see that drawing an abstract "River" drawing that was absolutely brilliant. It made me think of how proud I am of the drawings my wife Holly makes, to me they are every bit as beautiful. It made me cry to see it had vanished and yes indeed the concierge ladies (if you are in Santa Fe and need to know where to find something the people that manage this desk are the smartest people to talk to) of the LaFonda told me it had been stolen.
I'll miss driving by these 2 Kachina figures, but I really hope they are returned.
Then too, why is a guy on the crimestoppers list not been arrested Edward Laird, he is known to have stolen the Van Gogh drawing out of a Santa Fe collection, among a whole lot of other stuff from other homes in and around Taos/Santa Fe. He was walking around as bold as ever here at the Ranchos Plaza shops a few weeks ago and tis is after his pic was on the crimestoppers website. At the time I had no idea, but noticed that the truck he drives was parked in front of Dennis Hopper's house just across the street. As soon as I was told that this was the thief guy I relayed what I'd seen and where his car was parked directly in front of the doorway of Hopper's place, everything seemed alright, but argh, a thief walking among us one recent Fall afternoon.
When I first began Two Graces a local woman with her very own shop a block away came into the shop that first Winter, Holly was working for me that day. When I got back to the store, I asked Holly if she had sold a bunch of the RELIGIOUS items I had up at the front of the shop, in those days the desk was at the back wall. Nope, very few sales hardly anyone had even come in except for this local woman. So, mad as a hornet I walked over to her store and as plain as could be there were my missing items, I told her I wanted them back and that it was mighty horrible for her to have taken them. Well, she bold faced lied to me and said they were brought to her by some local youths, (Blame the kids why dontcha), no youths in the shop that day by the way. I started to go around the counter to retrieve my things which still had my price tags on them with my own hand writing! She began to pile things onto the counter and hand it all back to me, I told her not to come anywhere near my place of business. Once I got back to my store I realized she had handed over not only the stolen items but some of her own things as well! Guess, I scared her pretty good, and no I did not file a police report, her brother owns the pawn shop next door to her shop is a big drug dealer and fence in the area and is politico connected.
Another time also at the first store, I was outside talking to a friend when some teenagers went in and ran out, yup they'd grabbed all my cash $77.!!! I immediately called the police who showed up so fast I couldn't believe it, described them and how much money they took. The police came back within 10 minutes, they had found the 2 thieves behind the post office counting the very sum I'd described. Nothing ever came of it as far as any prosecution goes, but the police needed to KEEP my money for evidence. Well, here's the good part 5 YEARS later I got a cal from the police that they have my cash in their evidence locker and would I mind if someone dropped it off to me that very day. 5 years later, needless to say they turned up with the long forgotten loot and I took Holly & I out to dinner with it, (yes, at Love Apple).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Last Yard Sale

PLEASE NOTE: This post has been re-edited to a shorter story.
This was the last yard sale day of the year. If your having a yard sale you pretty much want to make a few bucks and get rid of stuff you don't want. The yard sale rule I was told is to show up about 20 minutes before the listed time. This actually doesn't work as most dealers show up at least an hour before if not the night before. Beware if you list your phone number you'll get every reason under the sun that someone can't make it on Saturday and could they come earlier. I know a dealer here who will just plain out lie that she's got to watch her granddaughter and that she can't come later, well her granddaughter lives in Kansas. Some people will HIT a sale and be done in 5 minutes. My buddy Louie wearing the gold jacket in the picture above is THE BEST PICKER in Taos, I say this because he knows everyone, he's polite and asks if they are selling any jewelry which is usually the last thing people put out, so he gets first pick of the jewelry, and the stuff he comes up with is incredible. Impromptu sales are always a welcome sight, reason being that perhaps they weren't 'picked' earlier, so to just take a morning drive up the Paseo and back can be worthwhile.
I wasn't actually planning to go out to yard sales this morning, but I ran into one of our buddies yesterday at the bank and she told me they were having a group yard sale in the morning and were doing the No Early Bird thing. So I got there at 20 minutes before 9 and sure enough people were there already, (remember the 20 minute rule). Yard sales around Taos are actually quite fun, you see the same people every weekend and there can be a comraderie to it. Sometimes I'll show up at a sale and everyone will look up and yell out "Hey, Robert" as though I were someone special, and it does make me feel special, it makes me feel great, what a wonderful way to start your day. So, this mornings items include an enormous Paolo Solari Bell and a cactus which I bought for our house. Not a lot, but some good stuff for home.

So, why should you shop at stores that get their stuff at yard sales? Reason being, do you really want to get up early at the crack of dawn every weekend morning to get first pick! If you find a shop that has stuff you like, then more than likely they have the right aesthetic and taste for you, that's the shop you should frequent. Some places price at fair market value, some compare what it would be on EBAY, and some just wing it. Which means you can find great values in shops that re-sell, it just takes a bit of digging in those shops, but have fun you never know what will turn up in someone's haul.
Taos Balloon Rally began yesterday, continuing through today and Sunday, here you can see why anyone would pull the car over for this spectacle.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Never Get out of the Boat!

Please Note: I have re-edited this little piece of drama and it is now far from dramatic, but thought it best to remain positive!

Oh, what a sorry day in Taos!
Today I posted a note on the door at Two Graces to say closed between 12-2PM on Friday!
My mentoring duties are with a 10 year old who I meet with once a week, this is at one of the Taos Elementary schools, and done through Taos MEN BUT today he was out "sick", so no mentor meeting today. Since I was closed anyway, I decided to take a break and see the SEED exhibit at the TCA gallery. My buddy Merce Mitchell, (scroll down you'll see her felt skulls), has several pieces in this exhibit. BUT she was busy with a local curator. It's a nice exhibit and 2 of the loveliest people of Taos came in to see it as well The Baron's who have been married for over 50 years! She's a weaver and he is an artist and cartoonist for Taos News, always nice to see them. Skipped out on that and headed over to Antiques at the Bunkhouse to visit with Melissa and her sister Donna. They sold my antique brass dutch bell that was on consignment to them, hooray. Then I went over to Red Cat Antiques which is run by this guy named Charles, he comes by every once in a Blue Moon and asks for better prices on anything he's interested in. So I did the same thing to him which I rarely do, I believe someone's price is what they want and need for the piece and I respect that. Well he knocked $15 off a bentwood adirondack style twig chair which has it's original red paint, beautiful and comfortable too. I gave it to Holly at her shop the Plaza Gallery which is right next door to Two Graces. At RedCat I ran into a local historian, and the great, great granddaughter of one of our past Presidents of the USA. She always asks for discounts wherever she goes and is such a brat about it that everyone gives in. Needless to say she no longer shops here. Then I went over to the Harwood Museum, where Pat Sidman, who was having a Harwood Trunk show in the gift shop with her felt wall hangings very nice work. Last year she was included in our Day of the Dead exhibit. So I went into the Museum itself to see Mary Witkop's pottery exhibit, which I had encouraged the newest curator to do over a year ago, and I wasn't even invited to come to the opening reception. Well Mary wasn't invited either which is a really long story that I'll leave out. The Harwood also has a Richard Long sculpture on exhibit in the Agnes Martin room, and that was the third reason I went there. Then the fire alarm went off from someone burning toast in their office, and I rather expected the sprinkler system to go off, so I headed for the door. Then over to Now & Again, where I saw Azatlan working for Sandra the owner, he doesn't wear shoes EVER and has only just begun to wear shoes. I've been in awe of this and now he's just like the rest of us, I guess we all have to adapt.
So, then I get back to the shop and open for the rest of the day and am flooded with people. The Sacred places tour group people came in to use the restroom, but the leader of the group bought one of my small horse paintings which was super nice of her, and one of the ladies bought a ring and some milagros (scroll down for the milagro story). Nice people they look tired and a bit aimless.
Rick Romancito came by to shoot some pics for Taos News, he's doing a story on Day of the Dead that he is including us in all the places in Taos that do this at this time of year. He was so nice that he gave me a CD of music to listen to. Kristine Rippel came in, (scroll down she's in the show) to take my picture for Taos News, which is very nice, so she included the Two Graces sign in the shot. Yesterday someone called to ask me about the altar I'm taking to LA and what that was all about, I'm still not certain what she was interviewing me for???
By the way, the picture above is from the Christmas Eve bonfires at Taos Pueblo from a few years ago, when you could take pictures, now you can not. It's included here to ad drama to this whole little story.

NOTE: Saying your sorry no matter how hard it might be to swallow your pride is a really good thing.
All in all not such a sorrowful day, but the nicest things have happened today back in my own little boat safe and sound. Never get out of the boat, never get out of the boat...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Robert, I did not spray paint that UFO

When we first moved here to Taos these UFO stencils were on a whole lot of cow crossing signs. It's really too bad they were all removed, they added a sense of humor and charm that is missing these days. Far too much homeland security paranoia.
Someone told me a story of how there was a person glueing small plastic cowboy and indian toys onto the middle of roadways years ago. People would go out looking for the latest edition of them to appear. Someone out there must have pictures of them and know more to this, I'd love to know more...
Anyway, this picture is posted here because I was asked to put a better picture of myself on my Blog page, so here's one I like, Robert & the beam me up Cow sign!

Astro Boy the movie is out this weekend in theatres, well here's my artwork of Astro Boy!

Day of the Dead, Part 2

Trish Hernandez wall altar includes a photograph of her Mom, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, and GreatGreat Grandmother, 4 generation family photo!
The piece to the right is Kristine Rippel's "Spirit at Pedernal". I'd asked Kristine to do something for this exhibit because of her love of art and her report from the Christo/Jean-Claude press conference in Denver this past Spring which was published in Taos News, she showed a real love and fascination of her subject, it made me want to read more of her writing.
Another undiscovered Taos artist, she went to art school and my guess either RISD or Philadelphia College of Art, but I don't really know where.
Dan Enger & Amy Cordova, a true Taos dynamic duo, their Enger/Cordova Gallery on the northside of the Taos Inn is one of the select few galleries I tell people to visit. Both have their own unique style, and will make you feel appreciated and welcomed. Amy was one of the very first people to purchase one of my small paintings, (the ones I call Critters). When Holly & I were first starting out we did all the local crafts fairs. Here comes this woman with a Zuni inlay Mickey Mouse ring on her hand and well, that was it I had to stop her and drag her over to my booth.

They say that artists paint themselves over and over again, if you see a guy who looks like this waking around Taos, that's Dan Enger, too cool for school.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Altars and Art

Merce Mitchell has returned to the Two Graces Gallery with her latest Skull Heads of handmade Felt dyed with Marigold Flowers, how wonderful are these, very! They are 12" & 16", and much more affordable than you would imagine. When I opened the shop 6 years ago I had a couple of Merce felt skulls in the window, people driving by would stop in just because they looked so interesting. Some of the best people we know came by then and still come by to this day, you know who you are and how much we love you.
Jerry Padilla created 2 paintings of Comadre Sebastiana, some may know her as the Lady of the Death Cart. Who knew Jerry could paint, well when does he have time after editing and writing for the Taos News Spanish section. We are proud that he took the time to create these 2 incredible paintings exclusively for us.
Melissa of Antiques at the Bunkhouse created this traditional altar for her Scottish grandparents, a very special display. When you are visiting Taos her shop is on Ranchitos in front of the Harwood Museum more or less, in the former Fenix Gallery space. Real Antiques!
When Barbara Thomas brought in her 4 pieces she told me it was alright if I didn't like them and didn't want to include them. Well her work is astounding, and we are thrilled to include these pieces here. The 3 dolls stand about 18" or more, I call them Ladies of the Eve. Barbara is an incredible craftsperson, she will be making "Our Ladies" for us at Christmas time, I can't wait!

This has been Part 1 of the exhibition, I'll try to get to Part 2 in the next post.


A great selection of Milagros are back at Two Graces, over 400 are in stock right now. Silver colored, brass colored, antique brass/copper, the new batch of silver and brass have the finest detail I've seen in a long time.
A few oversized mostly sacred hearts, some Guadalupes. I'm intrigued by the milagro Leaves which have been turning up lately, (what can they possibly be used for?), nice shapes nonetheless.
Petition your saint or guardian angel now for a miracle to happen, or just to say thank you.

Day of the Dead

It was a great opening at Two Graces this past Friday, over the weekend we had about 200 people show up to see the exhibit of Altars and Art! A very nice story in Taos News Tempo arts section helped more than I would have imagined! This is the 6th year we've put this exhibit together, it's always very different.
Next Wednesday I'll be traveling to LA with the altar I put together, it will all break down and go into a suitcase, then to be set up at a Tourism Convention at the Shangri-La Hotel. I'm going to be representing Taos for the "Return to Sacred Places" promotion. The Taos Tourism promotion people also asked me to design a button to give out, which I haven't seen yet, but should be pretty wonderful, I only hope we can get some printed to have here at Two Graces.
I'm really looking forward to this trip, as I've never been to LA., if anyone has some suggestions of places to go or see, please let me know your favorites.
My agenda is to see 4 Museums and a few galleries, I'll be heading to Amoeba Records to visit with Hiland Hall. 8 years ago Hiland helped us move to Taos from Somerville, Mass., we took turns driving a 25 foot truck with all of Holly & my possessions. We couldn't have done it without him, these days he keeps the Amoeba website on track and he's getting MARRIED on March 6.
I will be blogging about the trip and hopefully keep a regular blog schedule after that.