TAOS HISTORIC MUSEUMS
January 12th 2013
Vaquero Room, Sagebrush Inn Taos, New Mexico
The board of the Taos Historic Museums plans to honor four individuals for their service to our museums. The honorees include the following: John Atkins, the Blumenschein Award; Connie Fernandez, the Wagon Wheel for Education Award; Clark Funk, the Spirit of the Taos Historic Museums Award; and Cristobal Martinez, the Martinez Hacienda Award.
Tickets for the brisket meal cost $25.00 per person and remain available from board members, the Blumenschein Museum (758-0505) or the Martinez Hacienda (758-1000). Space remains limited, and therefore on a first come, first serve basis. Museum officials must notify the Sagebrush Inn of the number of tickets sold by January 7, 2013 to enable an adequate food order.
You can also purchase your tickets here via PayPal and we will hold them at the door for you.
ABOUT OUR HONOREESBy Kathryn Cordova
The Taos Historic Museums selected John Atkins as the recipient of the Blumenschein Museum Award. As a long-time board member, he has served all the museums since joining the board in 1968.
“At that time, members had to join the Bent Lodge in order to serve on the board,” related Atkins. When he joined, the Taos Historic Museum system included the Kit Carson Home and Museum, administered under the name Kit Carson Memorial Foundation. During an inter-view, Atkins shared much of the organization’s history. His board tenure included the acquisition of the Maxwell House. The board rented out the facility as an art gallery until its sale a few years ago.
In 1969 or 1970, the board could not attract enough Masons to serve on the board (“There were six members and twelve board positions”), according to the honoree. Therefore, the group changed the By-Laws to allow people other than Masons to serve in board positions. The 1970s ushered in affiliation with the CETA program, a partnership that lasted several years. By this time, the Kit Carson Historic Foundation acquired the Martinez Hacienda. This enabled then-director Jack Boyer to use funds to teach people to make adobes, cut vigas and use them for the structure. “It was lots of work,” he remembered. “Around 40 people were working there. Everyone dugout the foundation, gathered rocks and built it up. We re-adobed’ the building,” Atkins stated. CETA also assisted the board to repair the Morada building. Atkins recalls that back hoes and trucks purchased by CETA provided much assistance. Atkins also served on the board at the time Helen Blumenschein donated the family home to the Kit Carson Foundation.
“The eighties were pretty good. We had good chair-men and people on the board. The names that come to mind right now are Charles Randall, John Smedley Sr. and Harvey Bond. We were always trying to find money. Sometimes, we’d have to transfer here and there and we sold property, but we were able to maintain.” From 1962 to 1976, Atkins worked for the telephone company in Taos as a supervisor. Then, his work station turned to Albuquerque for four more years, until his retirement in 1980. “John Randall was the Membership Chairman in those days. He wouldn’t let me leave the board, and we met every three months, so I remained even though I worked in Albuquerque. My bosses were Masons, so they allowed me to attend the meetings,” John Atkins shared.
His involvement in board activities included all of the Taos Historic Museums. In 2008, John Atkins opted to leave active board status and serve as an ex-officio and currently does so.
Atkins served in the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in the South Pacific. John Atkins returned home to Las Vegas, New Mexico and married a nurse who served at the New Mexico State Hospital. Later, Dora Atkins worked as a Public Health nurse in Taos. John and his wife Dora raised four children. Jack Atkins, an artist, lives in Albuquerque with his wife Deena. Nancy (Peter Taylor) passed away six years ago. Leah Combs, an accountant for a computer manufacturer, resides in Albuquerque. The youngest, Laura Crowe (Jay) is the Director of Risk Management at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque. The couple is grandparents of four and great-grandparents of three.
John Atkins panned for gold in Alaska in 1993 and 1995. He found a bit of gold in the rivers near Nome. John liked to fish in area rivers and hunted elk in between Cuba and White Rock for many years.
Regarding his impending award, Atkins said, “It was nice for the board to think of me. Some of our former board members aren’t with us anymore, so we need to celebrate those helpful people who are with us today.”
Connie Fernandez, future recipient of the Wagon Wheel for Education Award, received this status because of her involvement in two realms - the Exceptional Program for the Taos Municipal Schools and as a colcha embroidery teacher for the public.
Her teaching career spanned over 40 years, 20 of them in Taos. She has used her opportunities of working with youth and adults to help others. In this spirit, the board selected Fernandez for the award. Connie Fernandez has rejected the “cookie cutter” approach to education, meaning that all students learn in exactly the same manner, using the same approach. The rejection of a “canned” lesson plan includes both professional and personal teaching, whether in the public schools or in colcha embroidery classes. Her teaching philosophy, reflected in her work, means that she seeks to note how each individual student learns, and then she works with the youngster accordingly.
Fernandez professional experience includes Marymount Loyola’s Education and Foreign Languages Department, a school from which she also earned her Master’s degree. In California, she directed the Children’s Language Program for student teachers and the Watts and East L.A. school system in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Then, she moved to Colorado where she served as a teacher and a member of a treatment facility team at a maximum security juvenile treatment facility.
A life path brought Fernandez to Taos where she met David Fernandez and married him. Her husband supports her love of colcha and cultural traditions. Connie currently works at Taos Middle School. Her duties include work in the Special Education/Exceptional Program for Language Arts and Phonetical Language Arts for dyslexic students. “I love it,” she stated in a recent interview. She added, “I consider teaching a privilege and a responsibility. No child is the same, and keeping this in mind helps the child learn in new ways that make education exciting.”
This past summer, Connie Fernandez shared her passion for preserving the colcha embroidery tradition with others as a volunteer demonstrator at the Martinez Hacienda. She assisted interested persons with technique and answered their questions in the sala where the Colcha exhibit is housed, thus adding a rich dimension to the Cultural Threads show.
Her exposure to needlework began early. Fernandez’s grandmothers participated in various forms of needlecraft, and Connie herself learned to embroider. Sixteen years ago, she received exposure to colcheras (colcha workers) from San Luis, Colorado. A woman with confidence in Connie handed her a piece of work and said, “Here. Take this and work on it.” Then, Fernandez enrolled in Monica Sosaya-Halford’s colcha class at Santa Fe Community College. The course added to the store of Connie’s self-taught knowledge. Along the way, Fernandez met other people who provided inspiration and encouragement, including Beatrice Maestas-Sandoval of Española’s fiber art participation and Carmen Velarde of Taos. The Bond House Museum in Española featured Connie Fernandez’s colcha work in a recent exhibit.
“When I retire in a few years, I want to teach whatever will promote culture for the overall good. No one specifically owns colcha; it’s one of those arts that must be shared. I can’t imagine myself retiring and not doing some form of teaching. If I teach colcha to others, I’m still doing the work I love, only in a different form,” concluded honoree Connie Fernandez.
Even though she hasn’t yet retired, the honoree continues to work on sharing colcha with others at the Martinez Hacienda. She plans to teach a Basic Colcha workshop Saturday November 17, 2012 at the museum from 10:30-12:30 a.m.. The workshop costs $25.00 to defray the cost of materials. Call the Martinez Hacienda at 758-1000 to reserve a slot. The instructor requests that participants make arrangements by Wednesday November 14th to allow Fernandez to prepare for the event. Space remains limited and on a first come, first serve basis.
Sitting down for a chat with Clark Funk resembles an interesting walk down the lane of Taos history, especially the art world.
Clark moved to Taos in 1930 at the age of six months with his father Lozier Funk, a tuberculosis patient, his mother Virginia and his sister Wally. During the Depression, his entire childhood home was smaller than his current living room. He recalls eating many meals of sardines. Funk shared a tidbit that he still enjoys sardines, mainly as a snack.
His dad was a teacher. Lozier Funk purchased Newton’s 5 & 10 in 1939, renamed it Funk’s 5 & 10 and subsequently opened similar stores in Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Raton and Gallup. In the meantime, young Clark enjoyed learning to fish from a man at Taos Pueblo and received the privilege of catching trout on the premises. While the art scene bustled in Taos, Clark met many local artists and he plied them with fish he caught.
He related an account about Leon Gaspard and his wife Evelyn. “I’d ride my horse and I’d take them some fish. Mr. Gaspard would tell me to get off my horse, go inside and get a painting. I’d say no because my mom was waiting for me. This scene kept repeating itself, and I never did get a painting. I estimate that I left about $200,000 worth of art at that house,” he laughed. In later years, Funk made certain that the Taos Fire Department collection includes a painting by Leon Gaspard.
Clark Funk attended school at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell for five years. He completed a B.A. degree in Business Administration at the University of New Mexico and then joined the U.S. Military service as a commissioned officer.
At home in 1955 and 1956, he served as the president of the Taos Chamber of Commerce. “We had a page in The Taos News and Saturday activities,” he smiled at the recollection. In those days, the organization did not charge dues, and when Chamber Secretary Ruth Fish asked about the budget because she needed money for postage, he told her, “Let’s see if I have enough money in my pocket. The budget was whatever money was in my pocket.”
When Lozier relapsed from tuberculosis, Clark took over business management. The family sold the 5 & 10s in 1975. Clark also participated in administering the Don Fernando and Hallmark stores, also located on Taos Plaza.
Clark Funk was the youngest recipient of the Silver Beaver Award for volunteering in scouting. As President of the Taos Art Association, he headed the building of the Taos Community Auditorium. During his presidency of the Taos Volunteer Fire Department, Clark worked for and was responsible for the million dollar art collection. In 1965, Funk served as the first President of a corporation that started Taos Ski Valley. Ernie Blake named a run, “El Funko” after Clark. In 1978, Clark Funk helped create the annual Taos Fall Arts and Taos Invites Taos, which he spearheaded for the first five years at the Kachina Lodge.
Funk lived at the Blumenschein home for 11 years. He tended the grounds and built two carports which were later incorporated into the building structures. Funk learned to appraise Navajo rugs from Gil Maxwell, after whom the Max-well Museum in Albuquerque was named. He also appraised paintings for many years.
“I enjoyed trading, and sometimes would end up with a painting after giving up a pair of beaded moccasins,” he said. “Most of all, my way of giving back to a community that’s been good to my family is to support the artists. I’m not an artist, but I love art. I’d just as soon eat beans so I can support art,” he related.
Funk has traveled around most of the world. He also served on the museum board for ten years when it was known as the Kit Carson Historic Museums. During that time, Jack Boyer secured a grant to purchase the Martinez Hacienda. The honoree attends many Taos Historic Museum functions and encourages others to donate to the maintenance of both museums. The recipient, not content to rest on his laurels, continues his patronage of the Taos Historic Museums.
Presenting the Martinez Hacienda Award to Cristobal Martinez remains no accident for members of the Taos Historic Museum board. As a descendant of Don Severino Martinez, founder of the Hacienda, honoree Cristobal Martinez fulfilled a long-time role of helping to maintain his ancestral home.
The great grandson of Severino Martinez, Cristobal listed his bloodline in a recent interview. Next in the Don Severino lineage, his son Juan Pascual Bailon Martinez fathered Enrique Martinez; Enrique fathered Cristobal.
“When the family couldn’t take care of the hacienda, people from Spain did. Then, the Tejadas took care of the place. One of the Tejadas married a family member. Other people also lived there during various times. Our family visited there often while I was little, so I became involved quite early,” related Martinez.
Eventually, the late Jack Boyer assisted with the efforts of restoration of the property and designation to museum status. “The Hacienda picked up interest with the public. I was asked to come by to help. I became involved in every phase of labor and repair. I helped with fiestas (celebrations) at the Hacienda. I took my family to help, and we all had a good time,” stated Cristobal Martinez.
In the early 1960s, Martinez assumed a larger role in the museum world by joining the board. He remained in this capacity, sometimes taking a year or two away from his duties and then returning to service. Along with Ernest Lyckman and John Atkins, Martinez participated in the building of the carreta (cart) in front of the museum. When visitors arrive at the Martinez Hacienda, they aren’t always aware of the significance of the cart. Sometimes, visitors deem the presence of the wagon as “decorative.” In reality, the carreta pays tribute to the days of the trade routes, when the main mode of travel to exchange goods demanded transporting items in heavy wagons over treacherous trails. In addition, Cristobal Martinez helped with many Trade Fairs and fundraising activities of the board and its museums. As a board member, Martinez assisted with the Kit Carson Historic Museum (formerly a part of Taos Historic Museums) and the Blumenschein Home and Museum as well as the Martinez Hacienda. Martinez currently serves as an exofficio for the board.
The middle child in a family of ten children, Cristobal thought that the family’s role with the large Martinez-related property “was the greatest thing that happened to us. This great piece of property depended on us.” Following his graduation from Santa Cruz High School, Martinez attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado where he received an Associate of Arts degree in Agriculture. Later, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. He worked for two engineering firms before a thirty-year career with the Forest Service. Martinez considers himself an “organization man,” and as such, in his free time, he also helped with his labor union and other organizations.
Evangeline Martinez, Cristobal’s wife, greatly approves of his affiliation with the museums. Like her husband, she also loves history and remains active in historic and museum circles in the Española area. Cristobal, the father of six children, beamed as he said that all of them attended his alma mater, NMSU. The Martinez chil-dren are as follows: Bridget Blowers (Bruce); Walter Martinez; Jonathan Martinez (the late Norma); Carl Mar-tinez; Christopher (Crista) Martinez and Felicia Martinez. Two year-old Esperanza Martinez and her cousin Jona-than Patrick Severino Rafael Martinez delight the family as grandchildren.
When asked his reaction to the impending award, Cristobal concluded the interview, “I’m very happy. I feel that a Martinez descendant should always remain on the Taos Historic Museums board.”
Images from 2011 Old Taos Trade Fair at the Martinez Hacienda