Select Page

The Incredible Lightness of Taos

“For art to exist,” wrote Nietzsche, “for any sort of aesthetic activity or perception to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication.”


But not necessarily intoxication of the alcoholic kind, which may or may not have stirred the muse of such great writers as Dylan Thomas, Ring Lardner and Malcolm Lowry.

The English novelist, D.H. Lawrence, became intoxicated with New Mexico early in this century and he may have explained why, for over 100 years, artists have flocked to Taos in northern New Mexico at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountain chain. Lawrence wrote: “[New Mexico] had a splendid silent terror, and a vast far-and-wide magnificence which made it way beyond mere aesthetic appreciation. Never is the light more pure and overweening than there, arching with a royalty almost cruel … “

When Taos artists are asked what brought them to this remote little town in the northern New Mexican mountains, they invariably reply: “The light!”

Taos lives and breathes art. Every other retail outlet it seems is a gallery. The walls of every restaurant and shop are adorned with the works of local artists, who all appear to make a surprisingly good living.

Says Taos artist, Ray Vinella, whose painting “Taos Light” became the official poster for the 1991 Taos Arts Festival, “Taos is definitely an art center. I love Taos. I think this place is paradise. It’s perfect for an artist – the multiple terrain is uncanny. Forest, desert, mountains, all kinds of terrain to excite an artist.”

With a resident population of only 4,300 Taos is dependent on tourism. The town and county have much to offer the visitor anytime of the year. Taos Ski Valley has become renowned for its light powder, bright winter sunshine and challenging slopes. The world-famous and much-photographed Taos Pueblo is the largest existing multi-storied Pueblo structure in the United States. It has been continuously inhabited by the Taos Indians for nearly 1,000 years.

Taos Plaza, still the center of the town, is the site of the original Spanish settlement dating from 1790, although earlier Spanish settlers were in the area in the late 16th-century. Historic walking tours of the Plaza and district with knowledgeable guides may be arranged.

More recent historical associations may be found in the Kit Carson Home and Museum, showing the lifestyle of the famous mountain man and western scout.

Literary and artistic ghosts are everywhere. Willa Cather lived in Taos. So did Georgia O’Keefe. Just north of Taos in San Cristobal is the D.H. Lawrence Ranch and Shrine. The writer and sometime painter lived here for three years.

But it is art that makes Taos tick. The museums in Taos all focus on art and the art history of the community. The Harwood Museum, on Ledoux Street, two blocks from the Plaza, collects, exhibits and researches the art, artists and art history of Taos County. Its collection includes representative works by many of the most significant artists who have worked in the Taos area. The Harwood is open daily except Sunday and there is no admission fee.

The Ernest Blumenschein Home and Museum, also on Ledoux Street, is the large adobe home of the co-founder of the Taos Society of Artists, organized in 1915. The home contains antique furnishings and art of the Blumenschein family and other Taos artists. The house itself dates from the late 18th-century.

The Millicent Rogers Museum, located six kilometers (four miles) north of Taos, was home to Millicent Rogers (1902-1953), a wealthy socialite who moved here in 1947. A passionate designer and stunning beauty she was frequently featured in the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She collected the Native American jewelry, textiles, basketry, pottery and paintings that are now the core of the museum. Also on display are permanent and temporary exhibits of Hispanic and local art.

The San Francisco de Asis Church, eight kilometers (five miles) south of Taos on Highway 285, was built in 1815 by Franciscans. As a spectacular example of adobe mission architecture it is the most frequently painted and photographed church in the United States. Regular services are held on Sundays and holidays and the santuario is open to visitors Monday to Saturday, 9.00am to 4.00pm. A 15-minute video presentation explaining a mystery painting and the church’s history and restoration is shown throughout the day in the nearby parish hall.

Martinez Hacienda, on Ranchitos Road three kilometers (two miles) from the Plaza, is one of the few fully restored Spanish Colonial adobe haciendas in New Mexico open to the public. The fort-like building has 21 rooms and two courtyards with exhibits on Spanish culture and history with photo exhibitions and scheduled “living museum” demonstrations. Padre Jose Antonio Martinez (1793-1867) was a local priest, politician and folk hero who brought education and a sense of self-determination to Taos’s agrarian people.

The Fechin Institute, 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, two blocks from the Plaza, was the home of the famous Russian artist, Nicolai Fechin. It is a traditional southwestern adobe home, but with a Russian-style interior full of Fechin’s extraordinary handcarved woodwork. The Institute holds annual exhibits and special art workshops.

It was in fact the work of Nicolai Fechin that first brought artist Ray Vinella to Taos in 1969. At the time he was a successful illustrator for Walt Disney. One day, while walking down Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, he saw a group of Fechin’s paintings in a gallery. “Those paintings knocked me out!” he says. “I didn’t understand what he was doing, but I knew that I was trying to speak his language.”

Vinella did some research on Fechin and discovered that he had done those incredible oils in a place called Taos.

One year later Vinella threw up his lucrative career with Disney to pursue fine art in Taos. “I was ready to dig ditches if necessary to do my art,” he recalls. Initially he almost had to resort to manual labor to survive. But today Ray Vinella and his wife, Leslie Crespin, are both successful artists doing what they love to do while living in a beautiful home high in the mountains overlooking the “paradise” that is Taos.

Poet Robert Browning said, “Art remains the one way possible of speaking truths.” The motor vehicle license plates in New Mexico bear the slogan “Land of Enchantment.” A land of enchantment where fairy stories come true and truth may be perceived through the beauty of art. Do you need another reason to visit?

By Bruce Burnett
Bruce Burnett, has won four Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold awards for travel journalism. Read more of Bruce Burnett’s travel writing on his websites:

How to Do Venice in 48 Hours – part 2

Continuation of part 1 of the article by Katy Hyslop


An early start is necessary to ensure you get where you are going and to hopefully beat the crowds. Venice is a popular city all year round, summer and winter, and there doesn’t appear to be a low season as such. The weather can sometimes be a blessing as passing showers can keep the large crowds at bay and make queuing time shorter. Flooding is common in winter.

Entry to the Basilica can either be a long line shuffling through the doors or a quick step inside. Watch your step as the floor has taken on an undulating feel due to years of flooding. Beneath the altar lies the remains of St Mark, the patron saint of the city. St Mark was actually a replacement patron as the city fathers felt the original one, St Theodore, was lacking in ecclesiastical clout.

The mosaic above the door to the left portrays the bringing of St Marks body back from Alexandria in Egypt in 828. A chapel was constructed to house the remains but burnt down in 932, to be replaced with a more substantial basilica in 1063. During some of the renovations St Marks body was lost but was eventually found and relocated to the crypt beneath the altar.

Above the door way stands the Quadriga on the loggia balcony. These four horses are copies of the originals that are housed inside in the Galleria. They were stolen during the sacking of Constantinople. There is a small fee to enter the Galleria upstairs where you can view the original horses as well as get a great view over the entire Basilica’s interior.


The Palazzo Ducale was begun in the 10thC as the formal residence of the Doges. These men were responsible for the government, administration and justice system for the entire republic of the Veneto. The rooms and hallways are filled from floor to ceiling with paintings, frescoes and sculptures. In particular is one of the largest oil paintings in the world, Tintoretto’s Paradise. Many of the works shown are by Tintoretto, Sansovino and Veronese reflecting the wealth brought to the city by the traders.

You also cross the Ponte Sospiri to the palace prisons offering a chance to get an idea of what the prisoners must have felt on their way to their incarceration. One of the more famous inhabitants was Casanova, the legendary womaniser, imprisoned in 1755 for dealings in the ‘occult’ by the State Inquisition and the only one to successfully escape.


The streets around San Marco area are filled with shops and churches, all offering some more examples of fine art, architecture and craftsmanship. Not least is the impressive Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute, the church opposite the square marking the entrance to the Grand Canal. This church was built in honour of the Virgin Mary in the 17thC whom the city believed protected them from an outbreak of plague.


Making your way further up the Grand Canal you will reach the 20thC Peggy Guggenheim collection in Dorsoduro. She lived in Palazzo Venier dei Leoni for 30 years before dying in 1979. Her collection contains works by Picasso, Mondrian, Chagall, Ernst, Miro, Magritte, Bacon and Dali. The garden contains more sculptures as well as the graves of Ms Guggenhiem and her dogs.


There is a 10 minute vaporetto ride from Fondamente Nove on the LN line to Murano where the glass artisans have been working their trade since 1291. Venetian glass was one of the most prized items for the wealthy around Europe and it is still revered today. The glass makers were moved here by ducal decree after one too many fires and were also charged with treason if they tried to leave town, such was the prizing of their skill in the craft. Today you can watch them at work on their premises so keep an eye out for signs with ‘fornace’. Some places even offer more structured guided tours and demonstrations.


You can then continue on to Burano from Murano-Faro, the journey takes 30 minutes. Burano is the home to the centuries old tradition of lace making. The lace was an extension of the fishing nets made by the women on the island and became well known in courts around mediaeval Europe as being the finest quality. The island is distinctive also for the bold colours the houses are painted in.


From Burano it takes an hour to reach Venice’s hotspot for celebrity and films- the Lido. The Venice film festival is held here every year attracting the stars from all over Europe and now more commonly non Europeans. Even if the stars are not out there is the beach which gives a bit of respite from the bridges. The resort is not as hip as it once was but the prices are still geared towards those with a bit more cash. The trip back to San Marco should take about 15 minutes.

So there is the best Venice has to offer in 48 hours, all the essentials to get you behind the mask of this unique city.

Katy Hyslop has been wandering around in the European Tourism industry for the past 6 years and is now currently keeping the Plus Office in line. If you want to find out more about opening times and entry fees in Venice visit this page.

Top 10 Orlando Day Trips

Orlando is a versatile holiday destination, with loads of options for day trips.

While Disney World, Worldwide Orlando and Sea World Orlando are all toppers for any family’s Orlando vacation, you will definitely want to take a day or more during your holiday to dodge the crowds at theme parks. Fortunately, Orlando also has diverse attractions where you can spend a relaxing morning without a maddening crowd.

10 of the best Orlando day trips

1. Busch Gardens Africa: The Busch Gardens in Tampa is a theme park, but it draws fewer visitors (4.3 million in 2006) than Disney World, worldwide Orlando or Sea World Orlando. In addition, Busch Gardens skin some assorted buzz rides and attractions such as Sheik, Florida’s first dive coaster, which boasts two 90 drops at 70 miles per hour.

2. Cypress Gardens Adventure square: Opened in 1936 as Florida’s first theme square, Cypress Gardens in iciness harbor still skin its lovely botanical gardens and spectacular water-ski shows, but has added buzz rides, live concerts and the spatter Island Water square over the elapsed few existence.

What an exciting way to begin this article, now let’s take a look at what else we can learn about this topic!

3. Kennedy Measure crux: Just 45 summary East of Orlando, the Kennedy Measure crux gives you and your family the once-in-a-existence opportunity to explore the incredible memoirs of American measure departure and outlook rockets and exhibits, tour launch areas, timepiece a 3-D measure picture at an IMAX acting and greatly more.

4. Silver Springs: allocated as Florida’s inventive Theme square, Silver Springs falsehood near Ocala and boasts quaint botanical gardens, animal habitats, live shows, rides, field shops and the world-notorious wineglass floor vessel rides.

5. Florida Aquarium: Opened in 1995, the Florida Aquarium in Tampa is home to more than 10,000 river animals and plants from all over the world such as alligators, humid fish, sharks, stingrays and sea turtles, as well as interactive exhibits.

6. Lowry square Zoo: Approximately 1,600 animals can be out looked in their physical habitats at Tampa’s Lowry square Zoo, which also skin a Florida animal’s crux, aviary, petting zoo, live shows and more.

7. Canaveral subject shoreline: One of just 10 subject shorelines in the United States, Canaveral subject shoreline is the highest stretch of undeveloped coast along Florida’s East Coast. Standard activities here contain sunbathing, swimming, breakers fishing, breaker sing and climbing.

8. focal Florida Zoological square: Just a fleeting energy up Interstate 4 in Sanford falsehood the focal Florida Zoological square, which is home to hundreds of animals, counting alligators, cheetahs, leopards, elephants and monkeys.

9. Daytona USA: Adjacent to the Daytona International Speedway, Daytona USA skin racing exhibits, wave simulator rides, the World crux of Racing Visitors crux and behind-the-scenes tours of the speedway.

10. Salvador Dali Museum: Nestled in downtown St. Petersburg, the Salvador Dali Museum boasts the most comprehensive collection of unending plant by notorious surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

When we begin to bring this information together, it starts to form the main idea of what this subject is about.

By Clark Sup

Visiting Puerto Vallarta – part 2

Continuation of yesterday’s article:

After nourishing your creative side, get your adrenaline pumping by taking advantage of one of the many sport-tastic opportunities. The northern shore of Puerto Vallarta is perfect for a number of heart-pounding activities like surfboarding and windsurfing and there are several popular scuba diving and snorkeling spots, including Los Arcos and Isla Marietas. Kayaks can be rented at most area beaches, and the experience of floating above the fray for a bird’s eye view can be achieved by taking a parasailing adventure. The seaside cabanas and shops will take care of all equipment and instructional needs, so get ready to have a blast.

Cuisine-inclined folk, a.k.a. food lovers, be aware that Puerto Vallarta claims to have the best food in Mexico. Sushi is a specialty and chefs from all over the world call this home, so expect to be wowed on more than one occasion. Casual to classy, cheap to luxurious, the culinary atmosphere can best be summed by one phrase: lot’s of choices.

Golf, shopping, nightlife, festivals and art galleries will help to finish out your itinerary; don’t forget to save some time for lounging, swimming, floating and reading as well. This is your time to catch up on sleep, reconnect with your significant other, and forget about your responsibilities. Do this by whatever means necessary; in Puerto Vallarta, it won’t be a challenge.

One more aspect of the trip that will lend itself to the successful execution of your great escape will be your lodging decision. To take things to the limit, consider renting a vacation home rather than staying in a hotel. Puerto Vallarta Vacation Rentals have a way of making you feel like you’re in your own world, one where you decide what your schedule is and who to spend your time with. Pick a romantic beach house for two equipped with all that you’ll need to remain secluded for a while, or choose a spacious villa with enough bedrooms to let the whole beautiful family breathe and coexist peacefully.

Checking out all the properties online is fun way to spend a little time, and may reveal the future site of many pleasant memories. At the very least, it’ll get you in the mood to visit Puerto Vallarta (as if that’s a difficult thing to get excited about) so start exploring your options today.

Visit to peruse an extensive array of vacation rentals in locations all over the world.