Tuesday, February 17, 2015

High Tea with Joanna (Great Grand Daughter of Frieda Lawrence) & Richard Terry at Mabel Dodge Luhan House

                        Left to right Liz Cunningham, Sharon Oard Warner, Stan Rivelas, Bill Haller

Sharon Oard Warner gathered a few current ‘Movers and Shakers’ of Taos together for a High Tea Party at the historic Mabel Dodge Luhan House “Los Gallos”. The guest(s) of  honor visiting from Toronto was the Great Grand Daughter of Frieda Lawrence, Joanna Terry and her husband Richard Terry. During their visit to Taos the couple were given a tour of the DH Lawrence Kiowa Ranch by Bill Haller president of the Board of the Friends of D.H. Lawrence. A visit to the 'Forbidden Paintings of D.H. Lawrence' collection at the Taos La Fonda Hotel was a must see. Later they met with Taos legend Jenny Vincent who had befriended Frieda, one of the very few people still living today who knew Frieda personally.
                           Holly Sievers, Joanna Terry, Richard Terry

As Mrs. Terry began to speak about her day in Taos she welled up in tears. Her first words when she began “My head is spinning”. The Terry’s spoke with me fondly of Taos, their curiosity had been piqued. They told me that they would indeed be back to visit, asking when would the best time to visit be. They had only planned a bit of a sightseeing journey through the southwest with friends, including parts of Colorado and New Mexico. As I like to remind visitors, Taos is much more than a day trip, and they whole-heartedly agreed.

Joanna Terry speaking to the attendees

Frieda Emma Johanna Maria Lawrence (née von Richthofen) married David Herbert ('D.H.') Lawrence on July 13, 1914 after receiving a divorce from her first husband Ernest Weekly. Professor Weekly was DH Lawrence’ teacher at University College of Nottingham. Lawrence met Frieda on March 3, 1912 they immediately fell in love. Remembering her father’s words “Marry for Love” she followed her heart.
D.H. Lawrence and Frieda Lawrence
Ernest was bitterly hurt when Frieda ran off with one of his former students, soon he took out a court order keeping Frieda from seeing her 3 children Charles, Elsa & Barbara.
Lawrence wrote of her “She’s the finest woman I know.”
Frieda Lawrence

The Lawrences only owned one piece of property during their lives together, the 160 acre Kiowa Ranch previously named the Flying Heart Ranch then changed to Lobo Ranch (and later to Kiowa) just north of the Town of Taos by the village of San Cristobal. Frieda bequeathed the property “to an organization to be created and sponsored by the University of New Mexico, providing they succeed in making a perpetual D.H. Lawrence Memorial or Foundation.” This quote is taken directly from her Last Will and Testament, Second Section, Part A, dated August 23, 1956.

View from the Lawrence Kiowa Ranch

Frieda von Richthofen (8/11/1879-8/11/1956) was born into an aristocratic family in Metz, France (near the German border). Her father was Baron Friedrich Ernst Emil Ludwig von Richthofen (1844-1916), her mother was Anna Elise Lydia Marquier (1852-1930). 
Frieda is buried at the DH Lawrence Kiowa Ranch here in Taos alongside the shrine and burial place of Lawrence.

Frieda Lawrence memorial at the ranch, Bill Haller with Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Frieda wrote that her last words be printed in the local paper 
“To my friends: A last farewell to all my friends, thanking them for all their friendship.”
                        Far Left Nita Murphy, Mr. Healy, Richard Archueleta, MDL Staff Chef, D. Lujan, Rose Alexander, Trudy Healy Far Right 
In response, Rebecca Salsbury James composed this note: “No one who ever met Frieda Lawrence Ravagli, even casually, can ever forget the eagerness and assurance of her booming “Ja!” It always made them feel their own importance as living creatures, and certainly impressed them with her significance as a vital force and as a lasting influence for good on all who knew her.” “But it was she who inspired these friendships and she who should be thanked for what she so bountifully gave to so many of us.”

A personal note to Rebecca James from Frieda

Frieda was truly loved here in Taos, the Terry’s felt that love today, overwhelmingly so. 
In the few photographs here you can see a strong family resemblance between Joanna Terry and her Great Grandmother Frieda Lawrence.
Today was a very proud day for all of Taos, it was an honor to be invited and to attend this event.
Joanna Terry, Great Grand Daughter of Frieda Lawrence
Thankfully the Lawrence Ranch will begin the 2015 season earlier than expected and be open to the public Thursday, Friday & Saturday beginning in March 2015, in May the ranch will extend days which it will be open to the public (we hope 7 days a week).
On the front porch of the Lawrences Home 
The Bill Haller docent course at UNM Taos begins February 25, 2015 this link will give you the syllabus for the previous semester: http://www.taoscf.org/uploads/files/DHLawrencesyllabus.pdf
Frieda & D.H.
For the best source of updates on the Lawrence Ranch: http://www.friendsofdhlawrence.org
High Tea Treats provided by the Mabel Dodge Luhan House staff
Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Winter panoramic view with dovecotes

Taos celebrates the year 2015 as it's 100th anniversary of being an Art Colony with the formation of the Taos Society of Artists. Today was a reminder of how very rich Taos history truly is.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Chocolate Cookies for Valentine's Day and a tribute to Top With Cinnamon

“Showing people you are worth it is a really good thing” Izy Hossack

Top With Cinnamon Baking Cookies in Taos

Inspiration is not something that comes easily, some days you need a bit of help, something to kick it into gear. Cooking supper each night can be like that too, sometimes in order to alleviate this, flipping through cookbook recipes or online can be a big help.
I write this 'recipe post' to inspire you and give you an idea of something simple for a Valentine's Day dessert treat.
Personal Valentine Collection
My niece is the creator of the website Top With Cinnamon, www.topwithcinnamon.com a cooking ‘blog’ full of inspiring recipes. In 2014 she designed, photographed and created recipes for her first printed cookbook “Top With Cinnamon, Stylish Sweet and Savory Recipes” published by Hardie Grant in the UK, with Rizzoli Books here in the US.
"Top with Cinnamon" the Book
Some people take the term top with cinnamon literally and as questions arise I explain that it’s just the phrase she has coined for her enterprise, NOT everything includes cinnamon, she also creates savory dishes (without cinnamon). Evidently in my experience not everyone loves cinnamon, not quite sure why not though!
As you peruse through her recipes you’ll see ones that you will want to make at home. She is an inspiration over and over again, she began doing this at 15, 2015 she turns 19, YIKES!
The Author book signing.
She has a creativity to her photographs that inspires other food photographers. Seeking out treasures of ‘props’ to use in her images is fun all in itself, and find treasures she does time and time again.
Then too some of her inspiration comes from old family recipes of both her ‘American’ and her ‘British’ sides.
Etta & Al dancing in the streets outside Rome, ca. early 70's
My Maternal Grandmother was born in Taormina, Sicily her family moved to California where they baked bread in an Horno Oven (similar to the ovens here in Northern New Mexico), which they sold to other immigrant families of the California melting pot. Needless to say, it’s in our blood.
Years ago I too tweaked and ‘improved on’ old family recipes, it turns out when my mom Etta, was learning to cook she watched her mother Lena cook and wrote everything down, including measuring out ingredients which my Grandmother rarely did. Now we pass these recipes down amongst us and try to remember that sometimes it’s just by ‘feel’ and sometimes it’s a bit of inspiration from our own heritage.
a couple of my Original TYPED recipes 
As a part of this family cooking and baking thing I also began making my own cookie cutters. With a strip of tin from a can and a pop rivet gun, it was just a matter of bending and shaping to a design drawn on paper. In a short while shop owners were asking me to design cookie cutters specifically for them, something unique, something with a vintage look to it. Eventually I became busy making art and cookie cutter variations became broader and available from large companies making all sorts of designs.
Here in time for Valentine’s Day I’d like to share with you one of my own original recipes for Chocolate Cookie Cutter Cookies, I hope you’ll enjoy them. Just remember that slightly under cooked is better than slightly over cooked with these. It’s a bit tricky to see how they are browning as they are already dark chocolate in color, so watch your oven.
My Original Handmade Cookie Cutters inspired by Bill Traylor

Uncle Bob’s Chocolate Cookie Cutter Cookies
Cream together: 1/3 cup softened Butter, 2/3 cup Sugar, 1 medium Egg, 1 tspn Vanilla
Stir in: 1/3 cup Cocoa Powder, 2 cups Flour, 1 tbspn Corn Starch, ½ tspn Baking Powder, ¼ cup Milk (or a bit less)
Roll out the dough to just over ¼” thickness, cut into shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. If you use a silpat, fantastic, if you use Parchment paper that's great too, it helps keep things from burning, also makes it easier to slide off onto a cooling rack.
Bake at 350F about 10 minutes or less until Lightly Browned.

I hope you will also find the recipes from my niece Izy Hossack and Top With Cinnamon, inspiring to your family.
Happy Birthday & Happy Valentine’s Day to my niece Izy and my sister Karin.
My Nephew Jasper and my Sister Karin making handmade gnocchi dinner for us in Taos

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, a Historic Taos Home and Museum

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Taos Society of Artists I am writing a few articles pertaining to the Taos Art Colony, here's one on the Fechin/Taos Art Museum: 

“Art is not an end to itself, but a means to addressing Humanity.”
M. Mussorgsky (Russian Composer) 1839-1881
 Fechin House through the Aspen Trees

Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955) in 1923 the family moved from Russia to New York City. He first visited Taos in 1926, the following year (1927) he moved to Taos with his wife Alexandra and daughter Eya.
Nicolai Fechin in the Taos Studio
Fechin purchased 7 acres of land and a small adobe home next to the estate of Mabel Dodge Luhan. There he began to build and carve out a home and studio to suit his own needs in 1928. Lumber was purchased at the nearby Randall Sawmill (the Randall Lumber & Hardware business still operates in Taos today) and ironwork was created with the assistance of the Bill Hinde Blacksmith shop (the same Blacksmith shop where the Broken Wagon Wheel was repaired). Fechin worked with a small crew of local craftspeople. On cloudy days or at the end of the day he would switch to carving the elements that make up this magnificent house. This masterwork of carpentry has been inspiring woodcarvers from near and far since it was begun. In 1979 the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When Alexandra asked for a divorce Nicolai moved to NYC for a short time with Eya, later deeding the house to his former wife. He moved on to Palm Springs, Hollywood and then to Santa Monica, California becoming a much beloved artist and teacher to a new generation.
Cardboard Model of the house as Fechin worked on it.

“Fine painting is simply a matter of putting the right colors in the right places on canvas.” Nicolai Fechin 
Panorama of Fechin Portraits

Fechin is known mostly for his portrait drawings and paintings. He also created narrative and historical paintings. The texture of his paint, a flash of brilliant eye dazzling color, his balance, the manipulation of matte to gloss is what artists respond to. His canvas was primed sometimes with rabbit skin glue, then gessoed with a mixture of white casein ground (casein is a mixture of a milk substance, in this instance derived from cottage cheese, mixed with a pigment), this preparation could effectively absorb the mediums used in oil paints. He worked with brushes, palette knives and his fingers, at one point developing blood poisoning from the various paint pigments. A Fechin drawing has a textural quality extremely different from every other artist, thus highly recognizable as a “Fechin”.
Fechin Self Portrait

"We stand before a work of art and our spirit is lifted by it: amazing that someone is like us! We stand before a work of art and our spirit resists: amazing that someone is different!" Katherine Mathilda ‘Tilda’ Swinton (1960-)
Rebecca Salsbury James & John Young-Hunter dressed for the annual Taos Fiestas

While in Taos he seems to have kept to his work, even when he’d take a break and go fishing he went on his own. His friends here were Mr. & Mrs. John Young- Hunter, along with Bill & Rebecca Salsbury James.
Fechin and fellow Russian artist Leon Gaspard who came to Taos in 1918, and built his own home here, were not known to be friendly towards one another. Both men had rather feisty reputations among the many others in the small art colony. It’s rather odd that 2 Russian artists settled in Taos, New Mexico at this time period. From what I read about this coincidence there are similarities to their homeland in Taos with the landscape and indigenous people, I believe this to be a bit of a stretch. Artists are a competitive group, in a small art colony where each is trying to stand out, to this day it is a constant struggle. Imagine someone visiting Fechin’s studio, seeing a painting they might want to purchase, then telling him they would first visit Gaspard’s studio before deciding. Gaspard may then sell them a painting for a bit less and vice versa, it would be cutthroat (it still is).
Carved Swinging Doors to the Great Room of the Fechin House

“Art does not stand still.” Leon Gaspard (1882-1964)
Short video of the Taos Society of Artists room.

Today the Taos Art Museum at the Fechin House is a proud example of one of the very best Historic Home Museums here in Taos, NM. The collections include the paintings of Nicolai Fechin and examples of the Taos Society of Artists and other Taos Art Colony artists.
A few of my favorite paintings in the collection are Walter Ufer’s ‘Kit Carson House’, ‘Indian Man and White Horse’ by Bert Phillips and ‘Tulips’ by Andrew Dasburg, all beautiful examples of early Taos art.
 Walter Ufer "Kit Carson House"
 Bert Phillips "Indian Man & WHite Horse"
Andrew Dasburg "Tulips"
While viewing the collections please be sure to also take a look at the interior itself, furniture, beams, doorways and lintels are all hand carved with various motifs, a bit of Russian style meets Southwest style. The woodwork today is maintained with a bit of S.C. Johnson’s Paste Wax from time to time, keeping the luster of the wood rejuvenated in the dry Taos air.
Carved Post and Fireplace in the Great Room
The building is open to 2 floor levels, there is currently no wheel chair access to the second floor, the first floor I am told by staff is a bit tricky to navigate (stepped levels) for those using wheelchairs, they will do their best to accommodate.
Three Dorothy Brett Paintings upstairs
Exhibitions change from time to time, mostly they are held on the second level. It’s best to check the T.A.M. website to see exactly what is on display at any given time, www.taosartmuseum.org
Fechin Studio window with Northern Light
The Fechin Studio is a separate building the front room of which today houses the museum gift shop. Saturday afternoons throughout the year hands-on workshops and demonstrations are held in the large studio itself. Both of these rooms are not to be missed, staff is welcoming and want you to enjoy the entire experience of this treasured museum.
Carved Cabinet Door inside Fechin Studio

Recently I asked one of the staff members to tell me if she had any particular favorite work of art in the collection, her response; “Where do I begin, there are so many beautiful treasures here.”
Painting to the left by E. Martin Hennings on the right by Herbert Buck Dunton
A bit of background to the Museum:
The Taos Art Museum at Fechin House originally formed as the Van Vechten/Lineberry Taos Art Museum in 1994 to honor the wife of Edwin C. Lineberry and their collections. His wife Duane Van Vechten passed away in 1977, she was an artist who studied with Taos artist Emil Bisttram, yet she shied away from ever selling her artwork. They named their home “El Rancho de la Mariposa” which was decorated with a butterfly motif throughout. Edwin & Duane also built the Kachina Lodge which she helped design Zuni Knifewing and Kachina motifs to enhance its appearance.
Zuni Knifewing Architectural Drawing for Kachina Lodge by Duane Van Vechten, available exclusively at Two Graces Plaza Gallery
The Van Vechten/Lineberry Museum eventually closed and merged with the Fechin Institute in 2003. Much of the original collection was sold at auction. Recently the V/L buildings were opened to an Estate Sale where much of the remaining household items and collectibles were sold off.
Abstract Painting by Mrs. Duane Van Vechten at Taos Art Museum
The Van Vechten home (which is currently closed to the public) is located at 501 and the Fechin at 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, (approximately 3 blocks form each other).
The Fechin Institute (basically a historic home opened to the public) was founded by Eya Fechin in 1981, it had begun to fall into disrepair before her death in 2002. Eya’s son & daughter-in-law sold the house to the Taos Art Museum foundation.
                                                               Taos Blue Door and Gate at the Van Vechten Lineberry Home
The Worldmark Hotel, a Wyndham Resort is built in the style of the Fechin House, it’s located directly behind the Museum. www.worldmarktheclub.com/resorts/ta/ the telephone is 575-751-3275
If you were to drive straight back through the fence and wall at the back of the parking area you would be driving onto the Mable Dodge Luhan B&B property.
Fechin at his easel Painting

The Taos Art Museum at Fechin House is a true jewel in the necklace of museums and historic homes we are so very fortunate to have and enjoy here in Taos. Their telephone number is 575-758-2690