I paint the legends, stories and scenes of my culture.
Anita Rodriguez was born in Taos in 1941 and grew up on Taos Plaza. She has lived in Mexico and traveled to China, Egypt, Guatemala and California. Before she became a painter at 47, she was a professional enjarradora, or traditional adobe finisher, and ran a construction company for 25 years. She has been a full-time painter since then, and has dedicated herself to exploring a visual vernacular that mirrors the culture that inspires and nourishes not only her painting, but her writing. Rodriguez’s book Coyota in The Kitchen, published by University of New Mexico Press, is about Taos and won 5 awards.
I was born to a table groaning with art, exotic recipes and eccentric stories from far-flung cultures. My father, who had a drugstore on Taos plaza, came from a family whose New Mexican roots go back to 1698. The plaza, town and surrounding villages were almost all adobe, a symphonically beautiful architecture in a landscape that inspires awed reverence and begs to be painted.
I grew up on our centuries-old plaza, a stage set for a colorful, tragic and complicated historical drama. Taos witnessed conquest in 1692, revolution in 1680, re-conquest in 1700, and conquest again in 1847. Taoseños speak 3 languages, carry 3 versions of history, world-views and belief systems in our heads. We are a living epigenetics theater of cultural confluence and conflict. This exotic ambiance drew Anglo intellectuals, writers and painters, including my artist mother to our colorful town. She walked into Daddy’s drugstore, he made her a chocolate soda (a known aphrodisiac) and the resulting, entirely improbable marriage breached racial, class, and cultural boundaries.
Anita Rodriguez. Mis Antepasados, 1998. Acrylic on wood. 23 ½” x 47”. Courtesy of the artist.