In mid-September, I found several museums with collections similar to those held by the Luther Bean Museum and arranged to meet with Carmela Quinto, Curator at the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, NM. On Thursday, September 27, 2018, I set out for Taos. It was a fine day for traveling, sunny and not too hot. I arrived at the Millicent Rogers Museum (MRM) at noon, to give myself time to look at the newest exhibition, “A Feast for the Eyes, Rio Grande Blankets from the Collection.”
The MRM, originally a private home, is a Santa Fe hacienda-style adobe structure, approximately square in plan, with many rooms varying in size, arranged around a central open courtyard. To reach the weavings exhibit, one progresses through a series of interconnected exhibition spaces with the assistance of a map, and passes through a two-foot thick archway into the exhibition space. You are greeted by a roomful of colorful Rio Grande weavings.
Most are hanging vertically against the light blue painted walls, four are draped as they would have been worn over mannequin forms standing in each of the four corners, and three very large weavings hang vertically from the approximately twelve-foot ceiling in the center of the space. I spent a solid hour looking at each weaving and examining many closely, to note the differences in fiber textures, weaving styles, and patterning. Having done some preparatory reading and attempted to understand weaving methods from photographs in books, it was very helpful to view actual textiles up close.
I was quite impressed with the skills displayed by the carders and spinners and the dyers who made the fibers, and by the beauty of the patterns and the joinings in the weavings made by these often unknown artisans of the past. The exhibited weavings are vibrant and very well preserved. They present a wide variety of weaving styles, dye colors, and patterning, from bands and stripes to Saltillo-inspired diamonds to Vallero stars and much more. I could very easily have spent the better part of a day in just this exhibition.