I married into a large family and every other year we have a family reunion where about 30 people meet. The location and accommodations for the reunion are selected by one of the siblings at least a year in advance. We’ve been to Whistler, Banff, Gray Rocks, and Vancouver Island and Durango. One of the more recent reunions took place in Taos.
For me, the Taos reunion has extra special memories. Memories of great fun with relatives, the beautiful landscape, the rustic living and the great ice cream we had at Taos Cow in Arroyo Secco will always be with me, but the best memory is the meeting with well-known Native American artist, Juanita Suazo Dubray in the Taos Pueblo. Juanita comes from a long line of Taos pueblo natives and is known for her “corn design” and micaceous pottery (it glistens). Interestingly, her pottery career actually started after her first career as a pharmaceutical technician.
Getting to meet Juanita can be described as spiritual and inspiring. My sister-in-law was able to make contact with Juanita through a woman she just happened to meet while at an art gallery in Taos. We drove to the Taos Pueblo and found Juanita’s small two room adobe home which is located away from the main touristy part of the pueblo. Her home sits on a small plot of land with neighbors just close enough but not too close (her home is right next to her son’s studio where he creates stone sculptures). She was very welcoming and one of the sweetest people I have ever met. We heard about her family, looked through her portfolio of pottery, and listened as she explained the process of making her pottery. It was amazing to hear that she actually finds her micaceous clay in the nearby mountains.
While Juanita is known for her pots, she also makes storytellers. Storytelling plays an important role in Native American culture with each story filled with sacred traditions and beliefs so we each ordered a storyteller to be handmade by her. To personalize the storytellers she asked us of all things, how many grandchildren we wanted. I have two kids so four grandchildren sounded like a practical number (I think my sister-in-law asked for 6 or 8, but then again she comes from a large family). My beautiful storyteller arrived after about 2 months and today it sits in it’s own niche.
The next time you are in Taos, remember to take some time and appreciate the Native American art; maybe you’ll find a piece or two to bring back and enjoy in your home.