What to Expect: Plaza Blanca & Abiquiú Artisan Studio Tour from Taos

After we pick you up at El Monte Sagrado Resort in Taos, you will enjoy a scenic drive through the bucolic back roads from Taos to Georgia O’Keeffe country. You’ll easily create in your mind’s eye old western movie backdrops, with the red earth covered in dusty green sagebrush and craggy outcroppings of multi-colored basalt, blazing past your window.

Then, our journey takes you beyond the ordinary tourist route, to Plaza Blanca in the Rio Chama hills. Plaza Blanca is a majestic landscape made up of beautiful white sandstone cliffs with breathtaking views of the Chama river valley. It was made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe through her series of paintings called The White Palace which will inspire the inner artist in you when you visit this hidden gem.

We discover this sanctuary mindfully experiencing it through a meditative hike that unearths the perspective of how this place has encouraged depiction of self-expression through art. Take the time to notice how it speaks to you in the stillness of the earth. Does anything specific creatively resonate with you while exploring this moonscape? Savor this arid and artistic landscape, taking the time to immerse yourself into the timeless surroundings. Notice how the earth can viscerally inspire art through your interpretation of experiencing its wild form.

Following our meditative hike, we journey down the quaint back roads of Abiquiu, a small town with an interesting multicultural history. It was first settled in 1742 by Tewa Pueblo Indians and was the original starting point of the Old Spanish Trail, a historic trading route that connected New Mexico to California in the 1800s. The name Abiquiú stems from the town’s Tewa roots and is the Spanish translation of the Tewa word meaning “wild chokecherry place”. The chokecherry trees are prevalent in the river valley and were a staple food in the diet of the Tewa tribes.

The outer lying landscape tells the story of millions of years of erosive scars that continue to shift and change with time. The Chama River, a major tributary of the Rio Grande, runs through the town of Abiquiu, creating a canyon of colorful siltstone and sandstone surrounded by gently rolling sagebrush-covered plains. Piñon woodlands cover the hills, and forests of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir cover the north facing slopes. While exploring Abiquiu, you will quickly understand why so many artists have made their homes among her mesas, buttes, valleys, canyons and plateaus with vivid hues painted and etched across her landscape like poetry. We stop for a delicious lunch on the patio at the historic Abiquiu Inn at Café Abiquiu & The Terrace in Abiquiu. The menu is comprised of fresh local ingredients featuring New Mexican specialties.

We will visit the home and studio of local artists Debra Fritts and Frank Shelton. Taken by the magical landscape of the region, the artistic couple moved to Abiquiu from Atlanta after years of life in the city both working and teaching in their field of art. They created a cozy and sophisticated home along the river which provides new inspiration from the natural world for their work. The studio space was an old chicken coop built with WPA money to provide work for those living in the Chama River Valley and now is transformed into one of these creative living spaces.

Debra is a clay artist who works intuitively with pounds of wet clay until forms appear and stories develop. Her talent, vision and articulation of clay are profound, and her spirit is playful, nurturing and creative. She weaves in the natural world and spirituality around her of the ravens, the coyotes and owls.

Frank is a multi-media painter and curator at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. His paintings are inspired by creative investigations of the internal and external realities of our humanity and the natural world. He describes the style of his work with one word, passion. He believes that without passion work is dead.

They will take you on an in-depth tour of their studios and give you insights into their working style and inspiration for their art. You will experience the range of their creative expression in their showroom. As husband and wife, you can see their deep connection simply by seeing their artwork shown next to one another.

Finally we will journey back to Taos through the tiny village of El Rito valley, which is rich with juniper, piñon, cane cholla and cedar.

If you have been curious to meet local artisans and experience their bucolic and creative lifestyles within the majestic landscape of Georgia O’Keeffe Country this tour is for you! Our mission is to introduce you to the people of New Mexico and share their voices and stories intimately so you walk away with a true local encounter.