Saturday, July 10, 2010

R.C. Gorman Estate

This morning I took a bit of time to visit the famous Navajo Taos artist R.C. Gorman. He's been gone now for 5 years but he's buried at his former estate. A few years ago the house was purchased by a Taos Charter school to become their school campus. They were taking out doors and stained glass windows to sell and virtually loot the place, until finally they went bankrupt and now the bank foreclosed on them. There's a lot of disarray and construction stuff left behind, the gate's open and the Japanese Garden walkway has fallen over. All in all it's quite a mess and very sad, as the saying goes 'RC is probably rolling over in his grave'.
Animals have moved in, with evidence of squirrels, pigeons and mice all over the place.
Recently a truly great RC/Taos story was told to me, it goes something like this: On RC's property he started noticing a colony of prairie dogs moving in. He called the nearby vet asking if he could borrow a live trap in order to catch the critters alive. Once caught he put the prairie dogs in his trunk and brought them to the other side of the Gorge Bridge to release them. After a few days RC noticed that his Mercedes was now infested with fleas. Again he called the local vet and asked about getting rid of the fleas. When whatever it was the vet recommended didn't seem to work he traded in the Mercedes. Now that's an RC/Taos story.
Through the door of the Great Room a pair of lions stand guard where there was once a White Baby Grand Piano, and an easel always set up for an impromptu RC drawing.
Through the window of the room that at one time had a beautiful swimming pool in it stands a life size horse sculpture looking out, a silent witness to the destruction left behind.
Petroglyph ironwork over a large window to the pool house, how appropriate are these spirit beings dancing around at RC's place.
The sadness felt by myself and a few of the stoic stone carvings left behind.
Eight foot tall stone carving by the front door.
Double sided twisting figure.
When we moved to Taos 8 years ago our home was just below RC's house, here's the view below with the Taos Blue Mountain in the background. Mr. Gorman would have "Indian Market" parties here after an opening back at his gallery in town. Invited guests ate & drank all they could, we were fortunate to be on the very special guest list and relished receiving the invitation. In the latter years the parties were much more subdued, RC would hold court in his magnificent bedroom with friends and movie stars gathered around. Just off the bedroom the dressing room was hung with photographs of RC and his famous friends along with a portrait of RC painted by Andy Warhol. In the hallway to the bathroom hung a small red ink painting of a Kachina by Fritz Scholder, which I later purchased for my own collection from the Gorman Estate Auction held here in Taos a few years ago. RC purchased a Mickey Mouse Zuni inlay ring from me here at Two Graces, he had the ring encased in Gold by local jeweler Larry Martinez, who kept it in it's original silver work and then encompassed it in gold. I was told that to keep it clean, RC would put it in the pocket of his jeans before they went into the laundry! During the Estate Auction I tried bidding on the ring but the price went higher and higher, and I really did want that Scholder painting. The couple that purchased the ring came by my shop the next day after the auction to show me the ring and allowed me to put it on my finger for a moment. I had a duplicate of this ring, I carry a large assortment of vintage Navajo & Zuni Mickey rings at Two Graces, they purchased one of the Mickey rings for their daughter so she wouldn't covet the RC Gold one and she would have her own. In is home the bookshelves were full of books and it's also where RC kept toys, folk art and his collection of Kachina dolls. It was an honor to have known RC, his kindness and support of local artists is sorely missed in Taos today.
This is a linoleum block with pencil drawing by RC which was purchased from the estate of Virginia Dooley, Gorman's long time gallery director of the Navajo Gallery, who is also gone now. The Gallery is still in operation and can be found on Ledoux Street just up the block from the Harwood Museum of Art.


  1. I love that you are adding to the legends of RC Gorman!

  2. you have so many stories to tell! keep it up! loved the tour. years ago in some town and country magazine or something there was a magazine spread on him and his home and I never forgot it, since it was so amazing. so sad to see it now, but you did show it off to its best light!
    inspite of critters taking up residence.

  3. My aunt was Virginia Dooley. I was missing her and googling a few thing when I found this piece. Thanks for it (although I am a bit late to the party.)

    1. Thank you Corey for your note, When I brought Christmas cookies to the gallery the first year, Virginia immediately asked for my name to put us on RC's Christmas list, she was a Taos Treasure.