A four-letter word for art: Taos remains a mecca for artists -- here are five standout public pieces

Apr. 28—There's power in art.

For more than a century, Taos has been a place for artists to flourish.

From the Taos Society of Artists to modern-day artists, the area remains one of inspiration.

As one walks around Taos, there are dozens of public art pieces — each with its own story and purpose.

J. Matthew Thomas has his hands in the art world — both as curator of exhibitions at the Harwood Museum of Art and executive director of The Paseo Project.

He stops in his tracks when he sees a piece of art — oftentimes viewing the piece until it speaks to him.

Though there are many pieces of public art to see in Taos, Thomas picked out five that stand out to him.

1. "Untitled" by Ernest Doty

Doty, known as the Rainbow Warrior, painted the piece circa 2020 at World Cup Coffee, 102 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte A.

Thomas says the piece is one that can be missed if not looking specifically for it. Some people don't realize it's a piece of public art.

"I love that this piece is in a slightly hidden spot — and it surprises you and puts a smile on people's faces as they pass by," Thomas says.

2. "The Fledgling" by Christian Ristow

Thomas says "The Fledgling" by Ristow is from 2011 and is located at Revolt Gallery, 222 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte.

Thomas says the piece is from the local Taos artist and was featured at PASEO 2015.

"Originally activated by people, you could climb up onto it and pedal and it activated the wings to go up and down," he says. "Now installed at Revolt Gallery. It's a masterpiece in robotics and machine technology."

3. "Taos Matriarch" by Lynnette Haozous

Created in 2022, Thomas says the mural, "Taos Matriarch" is 10-foot by 120-foot.

He says the mural was commissioned 100% by the Taos County Initiative and is located at 105 Cam De La Placita.

"One of the first fully permitted murals in the downtown historic district, this mural was a collaboration with the Paseo Project and 100% Taos County Initiative," Thomas says. "The Initiative works to ensure that all families in the county have access to the 10 vital services for surviving and thriving. This is the first of a number of murals they are supporting across the county that share the goals and to inspire."

4. "The Historical Women of Taos" mural by Jenny Ustick

Created in 2023, Ustick designed the mural at University of New Mexico-Taos' Rio Grande Hall, located at 120 Civic Plaza Drive.

Thomas says the women featured include DeAnna Autumn Leaf Suazo, a Taos Pueblo and Diné contemporary 2D artist; María Rosa Villalpando, ancestral matriarch of several prominent Taos families and one of the historic women of the Santa Fe Trail; Cleofas Martínez Jaramillo, historic preservationist of northern New Mexico's Spanish culture; and Helene Wurlitzer, philanthropist who started a pivotal artist residency in Taos.

"Instigated and created with the support of Sarah Stolar of the (UNM) Department of Fine Arts, Film and Digital Media, this large mural was a community inspired and created project, with the contributions made by the community," Thomas says.

5. "Buddha Means Business" by JJ Horner and Mock Juan

Thomas says "Buddha Means Business" by Horner and Juan is located at Revolt Gallery, 222 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte.

"This subtle and easy to miss piece, nearly levitates within the Revolt Gallery courtyard," Thomas says. "Walk around it to get different angles and explore the subtle humor and skill of this sculpture."