HISTORICAL WOMEN OF TAOS MURAL
Celebrating History, Culture, Community
In June 2023, internationally recognized muralist Jenny Ustick created a mural on the south wall of Rio Grande Hall on Civic Plaza Drive. The mural features four historical women of Taos, who were chosen by the community of Taos and the Taos Pueblo in spring 2022. The mural’s intention is to not only celebrate Taos women, but to also represent the diversity of our community. This project was generously funded by the Taos Arts Council and the University of New Mexico-Taos.
DeAnna Autumn Leaf Suazo was a Taos Pueblo and Diné contemporary 2D artist.
DeAnna graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Spring 2021 with a BFA in Studio Arts and was admitted into IAIA’s inaugural MFA program in Summer 2021.
DeAnna loved to celebrate her Diné and Taos Pueblo heritage and to create art that reflected Pueblo cultural significance and aesthetics. Inspired by heroic figures of Japanese manga novels, she imbued her work with memory, resilience, and good intentions. Her most recent work emphasized figural paintings of strong Indigenous women who, in her words, “grind every day for a better community.”
DeAnna showed her work at the Southwest Association for Indian Arts Market for over a decade, a SITE Santa Fe Scholar, and the 2021 Taos Fine Arts Visionary Artist. Her artwork has exhibited across the country, including the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.
In 2021, DeAnna was tragically murdered. She is remembered as a dedicated student, a devoted friend, a kind person, and a passionate artist whose creativity knew no bounds.
María Rosa Villalpando (1720-1830) is considered the ancestral matriarch of several prominent Taos families and one of the historic women of the Santa Fe Trail.
In 1760, around sixty women and children were taken captive in a Comanche raid on Ranchos de Taos. That raid is an example of the danger of living on New Mexico's frontier during the 17th and 18th centuries, for both Hispanic and Indigenous communities. Both were traded for labor or goods, and were also traded back to their own societies.
María Rosa was taken in this raid, traded to the Pawnees and, after ten years, was ransomed by her future husband, a French trader from St. Louis, and had six children.
1802, her first child, Joseph Julian Jacques, a son from New Mexico who survived the raid, crossed the plains to visit his mother. She acknowledged him and made an estate settlement with him.
In 1824, her grandson, Antoine Leroux, married into the New Mexican Vigil family. Today, the Taos Valley has many Jacques, Villalpando, and Leroux surnamed people who are distant cousins. All are descendants of María Rosa Villalpando.
Cleofas Martinez Jaramillo was an author, historic preservationist, and businesswoman. She had a major impact on the preservation of northern New Mexico’s Spanish culture.
Born in Arroyo Hondo in 1878, Cleofas was educated at Catholic schools in Taos and Santa Fe. By 1931, her husband and only child passed away. After these deaths she felt called to document centuries old Spanish traditions that were beginning to fade from the northern New Mexico landscape.
Cleofas wrote four books that recorded Spanish oral traditions, including Spanish Fairy Tales (translated from her mother’s stories), a cookbook, and two more about cultural traditions. She created unprecedented texts and that also featured aspects of women’s life, recognizing the importance of domestic activities.
In 1935, Cleofas founded La Sociedad Folklόrica, which preserves Indo-Hispano folklore, colcha embroidery, traditional attire, tinwork, literature, dance, music, art, and other cultural practices.
Helene Wurlitzer was a philanthropist who started a pivotal artist residency in Taos.
Born in Salt Lake City to German immigrants in the mining industry, one of her father’s mining companies was in New Mexico. She spent some of her childhood in New Mexico, where she thrived.
In 1895 she married and her husband ran the Wurlitzer music business. Helene studied and pursued artistic endeavors, with much of her energy spent on the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music. Here she became the first women to sit on the Board of Regents.
Cincinnati is where Helene began her philanthropic work, establishing the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, which was later dissolved and reopened in Taos when she returned.
Founded in 1954, the HWF manages one of the oldest artist residency programs in the USA. It’s mission is to “Support the artist and the creative process” and serves as a haven for visual artists, literary artists and music composers. They provide charitable assistance to thousands of artists from all over the world, including placing emphasis on supporting LGBTQ artists and offering several full scholarships to Taos high-school graduates who want to major in art.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jenny Roesel Ustick is Associate Professor of Practice and Foundations Coordinator in the School of Art - DAAP at the University of Cincinnati. A Cincinnati native, Ustick has become one of the most prominent muralists in her region and across the globe. She has completed murals in Cincinnati for ArtWorks, US Soccer Federation, 21C Museum Hotel Cincinnati, among others. Her Mr. Dynamite (James Brown) mural in Cincinnati has earned her international attention. She has also created or contributed to murals in Tennessee, New Mexico, Illinois, Kentucky, and Florida, including invitations to the Walls for Women mural festival in Tennessee, and the CRE8IV Mural Festival in Rockford, Illinois.
Internationally, Ustick has participated in the Proyecto Palimipsesto mural residency with La Fundación ‘ace para el Arte Contemporáneo y el ‘acePIRAR, Programa Internacional de Residencias Artísticas in 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was Artist in Residence in spring 2018 with the Graniti Murales program in Graniti, Sicily. Ustick is also a museum exhibiting multidisciplinary artist with numerous shows including the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, the Dayton Art Institute, the Cincinnati Art Museum, New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, and Redline Contemporary in Denver. She has participated in multiple international art fairs including Governors Island Art Fair in New York, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and ArtPrize. For more info: https://www.jennyroeselustick.com
ABOUT THE TAOS ARTS COUNCIL
This project is generously funded by the Taos Arts Council. The Taos Arts Council is a non-profit organization working to ensure that Taos County has a vibrant, vital and active arts environment. The mission of the TAC is to promote awareness, understanding, appreciation and development of all of the Creative Arts (literary, visual, tactile, musical, performing, etc.) in order to enhance the quality of life in our Northern New Mexico area. For more info: https://www.taosartscouncil.org/about-taos-arts-council/
The University of New Mexico-Taos is one of the four branch campuses of the state’s flagship institution, UNM. UNM-Taos is a comprehensive community college serving the region from “cradle to career” with an award-winning early childhood education and care center; pre-college programs including high school equivalency, dual enrollment and early college; vocational and technical courses and short-term certificates; associate degrees in ten programs; transfer and articulation to four-year institutions in New Mexico and surrounding states, career readiness, adult basic education, and lifelong learning opportunities.
Located approximately 130 miles north of Albuquerque, UNM-Taos is the only college within a 50-mile radius. Nestled between the Rio Grande, Sangre de Christo Mountains, and the ancestral lands of the Taos Pueblo, we are tightly connected to the unique rural, multicultural, and historically rich communities we serve and as such, UNM-Taos epitomizes the term “community college”.
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL SUPPORTERS
The Town of Taos
The Historic Preservation Commission
The Paseo Project
Estevan Rael-Gálvez, Ph.D.
Executive Director/ Project Investigator
former Development Director
Rocky Mountain Youth Corps
Palace of the Governors Photo Archive
The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of NM
Dr. Michelle Lanteri
Curator of Collections & Exhibitions
Millicent Rogers Museum
The Harwood Museum of Art
Curator of Education and Public Programs
The Harwood Museum of Art
Public Programs Coordinator
The Harwood Museum of Art