We spent ten days in Taos, elevation of 7,000 feet, a magical village where half of the 7,000 residents are artists. Surrounded by mountains, it’s also popular with ski buffs at this time of year. I don’t ski, but I’m glad I visited. I found an impasto oil painter I like – Walt Gonske. Marvelous colors.
About an hour south – and 15 degrees warmer – is Santa Fe, where we stayed for a month – in the home of an artist who let me use her studio. I finished 12 more paintings of Ohio barns. I brought the panels from home and will transport them back when I leave.
I also wanted to visit Santa Fe because my dad and his older brother went to school here for about eight years in the 1920s when their mom had TB and received treatment in a hospital in Albuquerque. She put the boys in a boarding school called St. Michael’s College in Santa Fe. So, I visited the school, now evolved into a co-ed high school, also called St. Michael’s and still run by the Christian Brothers who founded it in 1859. When I picked out my dad (middle, front row) on a 1926 school photo of about 100 students, the administrator told me that I was the first to recognize a relative in that old picture. It was good to re-trace my roots.
Aside from many other interesting things Laura and I did in Santa Fe, I met a fascinating person, about my age, who shares my passion for art. Randolph Laub has framed pictures for over 40 years, which doesn’t sound too artistic … until you understand that he’s one of the best in the world, good enough to command $2500 to $6000 for the big ones. Now, he’s switched slightly, though still working each day, to turning wood – making beautiful bowls out of gigantic cut logs, which you can view on his website.
The part of Randolph that caught my attention – not to downplay his incredible studio – was his ikigai, his purpose in life, his contagious love of wood and art, intense and spirited. I listened as he told me about his feelings when he turned wood stumps into bowls, how he loved to craft these pieces – for their sake and not for strict economics, and how he hopes to do it the rest of his life. Not all artists have such zeal for their work – but he does, and he represents, I’m sure, the majority of Santa Fe and Taos artists. I’m glad I met him and I’m glad I had a chance to return to my roots in this artists’ haven. If you love art and the history of the Southwest, put this place on your bucket list. I did.