The Taos News

Taos, New Mexico, 1977-78

I moved to Taos in May 1977. Julian was two, and Michele was pregnant. It was a rash move, to put it mildly. We had no money. But Michele’s parents had recently moved to Taos—her father ran the pathology department for the hospital and also had a practice as a cardiologist; her mother an artist—and they would help us find our way. We were prepared to live simply. I had been working for David Way, the harpsichord maker, in Stonington, a job that neither paid well nor left me time to pursue theatre projects. I loved David, but he was an impossible boss, battering his employees with his ego. I had left on good terms, with the idea that I would be his agent in the Southwest—sell harpsichord kits and make and service instruments of David’s design. But there was hardly any business.

Taos has been an art destination for most of a century. There are dozens of galleries, and collectors come from Texas to buy pictures. It is not as big an art market as Santa Fe, of course, but Taos has been a thriving art colony ever since D. H. Lawrence came to visit Mabel Dodge in 1930. Good artists fall in love with the place for its physical beauty, timeless Indian presence, extraordinary space and light, and strong creative vibe.

I needed a job, and the local paper, the weekly Taos News, had lost its art editor. Nobody was reviewing the art openings or plays or reporting on cultural events. So I presented myself and was hired to produce an arts page for the paper every week, writing the articles, taking the pictures, laying it out, for which I was paid $25. I liked the work; I knew how to do it, and it gave me an excuse to go places I wanted to go and a reason to figure out the scene. Nobody took me very seriously, which was just as well. I had zero qualifications as an art critic, I was winging it, but once you know how to write a review, you can review anything. I liked to look at art and it was interesting to write about it.

I stuck it out for a year. I had expanded onto a second page, and it was too much work for so little money. Then the editor started pressing me to cover the regular tourist galleries as well as the elite quality galleries, which was not something I wanted to do. I told her she would have to double my pay if she wanted me to prostitute myself; she offered me $35, and I quit with a sigh of relief.