Wednesday, October 26, 2016

This year, readers of the Taos News voted the Millicent Rogers Museum Store as the Second Best Place to Buy a Taos Souvenir--second only to Taos Pueblo.  We always recommend a trip to the Pueblo (and of course the MRM!) as an absolute must when visiting Taos.  It's even on our homepage.  Taos Pueblo has a rich history that goes back over a thousand years, and it is also home to many talented artists, such as Patricia Michaels, Jonathan Warmday Coming, Ira Lujan, Dawning Pollen Shorty, Debbie Lujan, Michael and Causandra Dukepoo, and John Suazo, whose work is featured in both our store and in our permanent collection.  In addition, we host these same artists and more at our annual Taos Pueblo Artists Winter Showcase at the museum during the Pueblo's ceremonial closure.

Patricia Michaels

Dawning Pollen Shorty giving an artist demonstration at the MRM

John Suazo at the Taos Pueblo Artists Winter Showcase
photo courtesy of Jim Cox
Both Millicent Rogers and Paul Peralta-Ramos, her youngest son and the museum's founder, valued the art, culture, and traditions at Taos Pueblo.  Since its founding in 1956, the museum has always reserved an honorary spot on our board of trustees for the Governor of the Pueblo and closes every year on September 30th so that the staff and volunteers can attend the festivities at the Pueblo's San Geronimo Day.  At this year's event, our office manager Kathleen Michaels' mother told us about how she remembers Millicent visiting the Pueblo and that, afterwards, she and her friends would pretend to smoke cigarettes with rolled up leaves, put choke cherry juice on their lips for lipstick, and "walk fancy." Millicent and her son Paul were friends with many of the artists at the Pueblo, and she even had some of her friends paint the interior of her home in Taos.  We have some of the original sketches for her painted vigas (exposed wooden ceiling beams) in our permanent collection, which I discussed in a previous post, and you can see lots of images of the interior of her home in this Wall Street Journal article.  

Millicent Rogers

Although she was renowned for her wealth and romantic escapades with famous men, such as Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl, and Clark Gable, Millicent was also a talented artist and designer.  She collaborated with notable couturiers of her day, such as Charles James and Elsa Schiaparelli, to create her signature Southwest look and even designed her own jewelry.  In fact, as part of our 60th anniversary celebration, we currently have a special exhibit that focuses on Millicent's life and includes both her original jewelry designs and her finished pieces.

Millicent Rogers with Lady Dorothy Brett in Taos Plaza

Charles James dress form in Millicent as Visionary exhibit
The mannequin is based on Millicent's measurements.

Millicent's original sketches and jewelry designs in Millicent as Visionary exhibit
A penchant for fashion and a knack for jewelry design runs in the family.  Earlier this year, Millicent's granddaughter, Christina Peralta-Ramos, gave a moving lecture on her grandmother's legacy, which was featured, in part, in a recent article in Trend Magazine, and the New York Times featured an article on Millicent's great-granddaughter Sascha Peralta-Ramos' jewelry line, Mary Millicent, which includes pieces modeled after some of her great-grandmother's work.  You can see her work in person at our museum store and online.  

Christina Peralta-Ramos presenting a lecture on her grandmother

The MRM Store recently collaborated with local jeweler David Anderson in recreating several of Millicent's designs by using her original molds.  In addition to being a very talented and detail-oriented jeweler, David is also the grandson of Claude and Elizabeth Anderson, close friends of Millicent Rogers who donated their home to the museum in the 1960s.  The museum continues to be located inside the Anderson's home, and we feature photographs of what it used to look like throughout the museum's fifteen galleries.  According to David . . .  "When Claude donated the house to the museum, our family would visit and look around at all the fantastic art. I didn't know that I would become a jeweler then but I was fascinated by the museum's wonderful and extensive jewelry collection."  Our store manager Nancy Colvert has been employing David's talents as a jeweler in completing repair work for the vintage Native American and Fred Harvey jewelry available in our store.  David was thrilled to take on the task of recreating Millicent's designs for the MRM Store, and did a lot of research to make sure he stayed true to what Millicent had in mind.  He found that, much like her collaborations with fashion designers, she would often commission works from famous jewelers, such as Paul Flato, and would design the majority of the pieces herself.  David notes that "Millicent used to also design jewelry when she was ill and bedridden.  I must say I have done the same and have notebooks full of jewelry designs. Her jewelry is big, bold and she wanted to make her own pieces to wear.  She had a huge spirit and could pull it off! I have seen her jewelry being worn by many different people over the past forty years, including my mother." We are honored that the Anderson family continues to be a part of the museum and Millicent's legacy!

Millicent wearing a heart-shaped brooch by Paul Flato

David Anderson's recreations of Millicent's  jewelry designs

Each piece is stamped with the MRM's original logo

The MRM's original logo, which is evocative of the sun rising over the surrounding Sangre de Cristo mountains

The original entryway to the Anderson's home, now a fire exit at the museum.  Millicent Rogers, Dorothy Brett, and several other friends of the Anderson family carved their initials into the floor.

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