If walls could talk…
Bent Street’s walls would fill a library!
The heart and center of Downtown Taos’ Historical District, Bent Street’s history epitomizes everything we imagine the Wild West to have been. From Zane Grey novels to Hollywood Westerns, more than a few stories of the Western Frontier start here.
Shootouts, hangings, marauding Comanches, Pueblo Revolt – it all happened here, on Bent Street. But Bent Street too was also a center for business and trade. As noted in Monday’s post, Charles Bent, the ill-fated Governor of the New Mexico Territory, had his home and a Trading Post here, although he worked in the capital of Santa Fe.
The last stop on the Camino Real, Taos was where the Plains Indians had long come to trade. Many tribes met here in fact, hence the continuity with Taos Pueblo’s modern day, Pow Wow. But in the 18th Century, Taos was a major confluence for people coming from all over for various reasons; from Gold Diggers to Bounty Hunters; they all passed through here. And business thrived in the center of town, on Bent Street.
On the soundtrack for Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, Bob Dylan intones that: “the businessmen in Taos are out to get ya. Ah Billy they don’t like you to be so free.”
Well, ironically, free-spirited people have been drawn to Taos forever, and a certain freedom comes with the rugged territory; both freedom of expression and the free thinkers who live and work here, who refuse to be categorized in any way. Bent Street’s shops and their proprietors reflect that like the sun bouncing off their storefront windows!
Perhaps that’s why both Bent and his brother-in-law, Kit Carson are not considered heroes in these parts? Things have changed and these days the business men (and women), in Taos are as free-spirited as their patrons!
When you cross the Paseo from the historic Taos Inn, you can’t miss Taos Blue, situated at the top of the street, in what was once Taos Society of Artist’s co-founder, Bert Phillips’ home. When Sue Westbrook moved in almost thirty years ago, she rented only the tiny front space. Since then she has expanded her galley and emporium into the back of the house, reclaiming most of Phillips’ home, if not his studio which is rented by an artist, as it should be.
Known for American made, Fine Arts & Crafts, Sue represents many artists and jewelers, makers of ceramics and weavings, functional, decorative and out of the ordinary furnishings, mirrors and lamps. Beautiful, hard to find lighting to illuminate the great pieces found here, inside the Blue door, with Corn Maiden standing sentinel.
She also has a large collection of Vintage Hats, Western and beyond, gorgeous leather bags, sculpture and wood carvings, metal work and much more. There’s no better place in Taos to start when looking for that special something for someone you love.
From great greeting cards, to a painting by Suzanne Betz, and everything in between, you’ll find it here. I’ve linked to their site below this post, and please see all posts tagged with Taos Blue for more on Sue and her shop!
Next door, in what was once part of the beloved Taos artist Ed Morgan;s studio, La Chiripada Winery has a small outpost and tasting room. New Mexico’s oldest winery and vineyard, La Chiripada is owned and operated by the Johnson family.
Many are not aware that New Mexico is in fact the oldest wine making region in the United States, beginning with grapes brought here by the Spanish Missionaries.
La Chiripada has only been making their award-winning wines for almost forty years, but they’ve long been a favourite destination spot for visitors to Taos. Their vineyard and tasting room are located in nearby Dixon, (Taos’ burgeoning wine country), so definitely plan a visit while you are here., but if your schedule does not permit a visit to the vineyard, pop into the Bent Street location for a tasting. Check the board outside for times.
And if you are looking for a unique gift for wine lovers back home, you need look no further. La Chiripada wines are also available for purchase in most places where good wines are sold, including at the Cellar in Taos. For much more info on both the winery and the wines, please visit their site linked below.
People come to Taos for a myriad of reasons, one undeniably being, the great outdoors! Mudd N Flood (which was once also part of Ed Morgan’s studio), is a locally owned Mountain Shop, specializing in gear, footwear and clothing for people with an outdoor lifestyle (or for those of you who forgot to pack your boots.)
The store is owned and operated by Elana Lombard and Chris Pieper, who moved here soon after they married, and bought Mudd N Flood in 2001. Since then the couple have worked hard to keep abreast of all the ongoing advances and changes in their industry, keeping their business firmly on the cutting edge.
They sell both technical apparel along with stylish, casual wear that can be worn both on the streets as well as during more strenuous activity! Look great while keeping fit – it’s a win win!
They offer gear for hiking, camping, rock-climbing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing,
During the winter season they also rent cross-country skis and snow shoes. Their staff – all outdoor enthusiasts themselves, are friendly and helpful while providing expert advice that will ensure your safety during your outdoor adventures in High Country.
For more about Mudd N Flood, please check out their link below as well.
Over the next few Wednesdays, we’ll visit more of the unique shops along Bent Street, please join me again for another stroll down the street in the heart of Taos’ Historical District.
All images thanks to the Bent Street store owners, my iphone, stock files and Bill Curry (Taos Blue.)