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Taos, with its magical combination of abundant natural light and striking landscapes, and pueblo architecture and people, became the site of one of the Southwest’s first art colonies, which was cemented by the founding of the Taos Society of Artists in 1915. Figures like D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Ansel Adams have all spent time here, and today Taos likes to claim it has more artists per capita than anywhere in the world – indeed, there are nearly 100 galleries and six museums for just 5,500 residents. A stroll down just one of its charming streets – like Ledoux Street – will lead you to such gems as the Inger Jirby Gallery & Sculpture Garden, featuring the native Swede's bright expressionistic paintings; the Navajo Gallery with the work of the late R.C. Gorman; and the comprehensive Harwood Museum of Art.

Taos Arts Scene

Harwood Museum of Art

The premier museum of Taos, this University of New Mexico-operated arts center provides a comprehensive overview of the Taos arts movements, from the 19th century to the present in a charming 19th-century adobe building. The seven galleries include paintings by founding members of the Taos Society of Artists like Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips; Ansel Adams photographs; Hispanic religious art; contemporary works by Taos-area artists; and more.

238 Ledoux St., NM, 575-758-9826, www.harwoodmuseum.org
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Inger Jirby Gallery & Sculpture Garden

Animated, Swedish-born artist Inger Jirby showcases her prolific collection of vivid expressionist paintings in the charming setting of a 400-year-old adobe house. Boldly colored landscape paintings feature depictions of the artist's current Southwestern U.S. home base, but also draw on encounters during her vast travel experiences (born in Sweden, the artist has lived in Mykonos, Paris, Venice, Jamaica, and New York, and traveled far and wide from Bali to Morocco). If you're lucky enough to encounter Jirby at the gallery, you'll have a better sense of the vivacious, whirlwind spirit that comes across in her brushstrokes. The outdoor sculpture garden featuring works by Frederick Prescott, Ed Haddaway, Priscilla Hoback, and Rick Hewitt is an artistic wonderland.

207 Ledoux St., NM, 866-758-7333; 575-758-7333, www.jirby.com
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Millicent Rogers Museum of Northern New Mexico

Patron of the arts and heiress to Standard Oil, fashion designer Millicent Rogers moved to Taos in 1947, and began working Native American prints and fabrics into her designs. Also a skilled jewelry designer, many of her pieces on display incorporate traditional Native American elements like silver and turquoise. A restored adobe house is the setting for her Native American and Spanish collection of jewelry (both self-designed and from Navajo and Pueblo tribes), pottery (don't miss the collections of Maria Martinez), textiles, basketwork, and assorted arts and crafts.

1504 Millicent Rogers Rd., 4 miles north of Taos Plaza, NM, 575-758-2462, www.millicentrogers.org
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Parks Gallery

This Bent Street gem is the go-to gallery for a diverse sampling of some of the region's top contemporary artists. Gallery owners Stephen Parks and Joni Tickel represent fewer than 10 artists at time, most of them from the Taos and Santa Fe area. Look for inspired works by mixed-media artist Melissa Zink, painter Jim Wagner, and collage artist Erin Currier.

127 Bent St., NM, 575-751-0343, www.parksgallery.com
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R.C. Gorman Navajo Gallery

Featuring works by renowned Navajo painter and sculptor, R.C. Gorman (who passed away in 2005), this four-decade old gallery - and the one-time home of the artist - was the first American Indian-owned gallery in the United States. Set in a two-century old house, gallery rooms are filled with oil pastel originals, lithographs, posters, and bronzes spanning Gorman's long career. His bright portraits of elegant Native American women are particularly remarkable.

210 Ledoux St., NM, 575-758-3250, www.rcgormangallery.com
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Sign Up for Art Workshops

If the creative energies of Taos have your artistic juices flowing, the Taos Arts School offers weeklong summer and fall classes on topics ranging from painting for complete beginners to Native American pottery making, and from Georgia O'Keeffe country tours to calligraphy. Note that the school has no central campus - classes are held at locations appropriate to their subject matter.

Varies by course, NM, 575-758-0350, www.taosartschool.org
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Spring and Fall Arts Festivals

For art buffs, there's no better time to visit Taos than during its month-long May Spring Arts Celebration or during the Fall Arts Festival, held from late September through early October. Expect special gallery receptions, studio tours, art walks, arts and crafts fairs, concerts, and artist-led wine dinners at area restaurants.

Varies by event, NM, 800-732-8267; 505-758-3872, www.taoschamber.org
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The Ernest L. Blumenschein Home & Museum

Set within the restored late 18th-century adobe home of one of the founding members of the Taos Society of Artists - Ernest Blumenschein - this museum is mildly interesting for the glimpse it provides, through antique furnishings and housewares, into the early 20th-century way of life for the Blumenschein family, which included the artist, as well as his wife, Mary, and daughter, Helen. What really steals the show though, are the original paintings on display by the artist and his early-20th-century counterparts - works by his wife and daughter are also showcased.

222 Ledoux St., NM, 575-758-0505, www.taoshistoricmuseums.orga
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The Taos Art Museum and Fechin House

Located within the one-time home and studio of Russian-born artist, Nicolai Fechin, the converted space today serves as a gallery for 19th- and 20th-century works by the Taos Society of Artists, as well as a showcase for the paintings and charcoal drawings of Fechin himself. The museum's namesake was also a masterful woodcarver, as evidenced by the embellished hand-carved posts, doors, and other accents throughout the home.

227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, NM, 575-758-2690, www.taosartmuseum.org
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