The Swedish connection in Taos

Walking around historic Taos, New Mexico, with a tourist map in my hand I was surprised to spot a Swedish flag, no two!, outside one of these lovely adobe houses that Taos is full of.

Being Swedish I felt a pang of nationalistic nostalgia (normally I’m neither nationalistic nor nostalgic). It was clear that it was an artist’s house, so I was curious not only to find out what the Swedish flags were doing there but also to see the art.

The artist herself, Inger Jirby, gave me a warm welcome and explained that she was born in the very north of Sweden, in Lapland, but that she had lived abroad for a great number of years.

Inger Jirby at her gallery

Find out more about Inger and her colourful and inspiring art: 

Taos is full of art galleries, art tourists and of course artists. Even though it is a small town it can be a little tricky to get an overview of all there is to see and experience, but brochures and magazines are distributed here and there and give guidance. 

In one of these magazines there was a photo of a painting that caught my attention. It was to be found in a very centrally located gallery, The Sage Fine Art Gallery, 

I headed there without further delay. 

Unsurprisingly the painting was even more attractive in the gallery than in the magazine and its modest size would actually make it possible to bring it back home.

It so happened that the painter herself, Carrie Schultz, was the artist on duty on that particular day. Inevitably, when we started talking, the question “Where are you from?” came up at an early stage. When I replied “Sweden“, Carrie started talking perfect Swedish with me! It appeared that she had lived and studied in Sweden and had kept up her Swedish since then. Hats off! 

Carrie Schultz with two of her paintings

We concluded that the painting I liked had been waiting for me to step into the gallery, so I bought it without any further ado. 

It travelled safely with me during the rest of my trip in the US and back to Europe, and it now waiting to be hung. This will happen shortly.

Find out more about Carrie and her art:

The call in the wild

I was just taking our lunch picnic bag out of the car at a beautiful viewpoint along the highway when another car, with a trailer full of hay, pulled up just in front of ours. Out jumped a man with a cowboy hat and a big knife dangling from his belt.

We were on our way from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Taos in the same state.

I put the lunch bag back into the car and felt a little ill at ease (the knife!) as the man stepped up to us in a very decisive manner. There was no one else in sight.

Do you want to hear a song?

He spoke in a way that made it clear that ‘No’ was not a reply to consider, so we mumbled

Yes,  that would be nice.

And in a loud and clear voice, facing the valley, he started a rather monotonous but clearly lamenting song in a native American language. After a while he switched to English and sang about the land that the white man had stolen. I felt guilty and sad.

When he stopped he turned to us and said

I had a difficult weekend, I had to get this off my chest.

And turning to my husband:

I want to give you a gift, I have made it myself.

He took off a very nice black leather bracelet that he was wearing and put it around my husband’s arm.

It’s a practical bracelet, you can put dollar bills inside it and pay for your coffee in the morning. Now I have to go to my ranch and feed the horses.

He walked to his car and disappeared. We just stood there, amazed at the man, his song and his gift. It felt unreal. Maybe it was?