This Year’s Buying Trip to the Village and Mucho Mas

by Susanna Starr

Having just returned from a visit to the weaving village, the images are strong in my mind. For some time my family of three grown children have been talking about getting together in Oaxaca when we did our next buying trip. Although they’ve come down to the weaving village individually as children and young adults for many decades, this was the first time they came down together. At this point in their lives, work and time are difficult to come by, so we started making arrangements, scheduling the visit and noting it into their calendars, many months prior to the anticipated trip.

Amy, Roy and Mirabai in front of Tlamanalli Restaurant
Amy, Roy and Mirabai in front of Tlamanalli Restaurant

Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers: An Odyssey of Love

The Zapotec Indian culture is a rich one, with many thousands of years of enduring traditions. Of all the traditions, family is probably the most important of the underlying structure of this ancient culture. My partner, John Lamkin, and I had recently published a beautiful book called Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers: An Odyssey of Love ( which tells the story of my more than forty years of working with the same families in the village. John’s beautiful photographs accompany that journey. In it, I trace three generations of families that I’ve been so close to, as well as photographs of other weavers I’ve been working with, especially on the Line of the Spirit™, a special designer collection that has been an important part of what we do for more than twenty-five years.

Roy enjoying tortilla fresh from the comal Rosario, husband Faustino, Amy, Roy and Mirabai.
Roy enjoying tortilla fresh from the comal
Rosario, husband Faustino, Amy, Roy and Mirabai.

Having Mirabai, Amy and Roy accompanying us to visit each of the weaving families was not only important to the families, but to our family as well. When Roy and Rosario Mendoza met again,  thirty years had passed since they both were living in the Mendoza house in Oaxaca. but there was no problem in recognizing each other. Mirabai and Amy were down more recently, sometimes with their own children, but now there were not just two generations, but three. As close as I am to the original families and their grown children, it’s this third generation, the same age as my own grandchildren, that are moving beyond the life they were born into, while still honoring and practicing the cultural values that have continued for so many generations before them.

Armando in front of special "Tree of Life" which we purchased
Armando in front of special “Tree of Life” which we purchased

Now, through the hard work of their grandparents and parents, they have been afforded educational opportunities never before available to preceding generations. Although many of the young people of this age are still weaving, those who have been given the opportunities to study at universities are continuing on to become doctors, dentists, and studying for other professions.

I feel as proud of their accomplishments as I do those of my own grandchildren. The ties we have are strong ones and having our families together during this time was evidence of the warmth and friendship that goes far beyond just a working relationship. Living in the village, waking up to the sounds, visiting the market to buy our flowers and fresh produce, visiting the families we work with, having lunch at El Descanso and at Tierra Antigua with the Montaño families was joyful…and memorable.

The Montaños at El Descanso
The Montaños at El Descanso

Also memorable, was the evening we spent at the home of our good friends, Florentino and Eloisa Gutierrez. Their son, Juan Cristobal, who studied audio engineering in California, has put together a band and at Mirabai’s urging, decided to perform a concert for us. It was held in their spacious courtyard, with luxuriant flowers and plants providing the perfect backdrop for the concert. And, the younger Fidel Montaño was the lead singer. Writing their own music and lyrics and accompanied by a few other members of the band, the concert was outstanding.

Juan Cristobal, Fidel and their band, Km 1
Juan Cristobal, Fidel and their band, Km 1
Roy holding Alta's grandson Pablito
Roy holding Alta’s grandson Pablito

We spent important time with Alta Gracia, the dyemaker for Line of the Spirit™ since its inception and with her son Jaci and his wife Soledad. We visited with the wife of Felipe Lazaro who passed away recently and bought some of her specialties of roasted pumpkin seed bars, amaranth bars and light wafers and exchanged warm embraces. We visited with Maria and Eloisa Bautista whose recently married son, Jacobo now is following in the footsteps of his parents who have been part of the Line of the Spirit™ team since it began, more than twenty-five years ago when he was just a baby. Our family meeting with Jovita and her brother, Valentino and his wife, was affirmation of the ongoing relationship of our families, as it was with all the Line of the Spirit™ weavers.

Maria & Eliseo Bautista with Susanna and Jazi
Maria & Eliseo Bautista with Susanna and Jacinto

Having lunch at Tlamanalli, the acclaimed restaurant of world-famous chef, Abigail Mendoza, and her sisters, was another special event. In the kitchen, we cried together with their mother, Dona Clara, who lost her son Arnulfo, one of the most talented artists the village has ever known and one of our close friends. In the beautiful patio, we enjoyed some of their famous dishes at the traditionally decorated tables. The embraces we exchanged were heartfelt.

Our family with wife of recently deceased weaver Felipe Lazaro
Our family with wife of recently deceased weaver Felipe Lazaro
Our family looks on as art director, Jacinto Morales, discusses technical aspect with Juan Luis and his wife Paula
Our family looks on as art director, Jacinto Morales, discusses technical aspect with Juan Luis and his wife Paula










Yes, this was a memorable visit, a testimony to what business can really bring as its reward. We have all prospered and its always a joy to see how the entire village has also prospered over these decades. But, always, its the personal relationships, the warmth and genuine caring, the being part of an extended family that is the real bonus. This is as much a part of our connection as anything else that we continue to be involved in together. The weavings they produce and that we sell to our clients who provide a home for them where they will be enjoyed and appreciated completes the circle. But the heart connection is what cannot be seen, just felt, and what endures.

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Starr Interiors’ 38th Annual 1/2 Price Sale


575.758.3065 or 1.800.748.1756

Starr Interiors' Annual half-price sale
Starr Interiors’ Annual half-price sale

Master Zapotec Indian Weaving Demonstration – the Gutierrez Family

Florentino, Susanna, Eloisa and Hugo
Florentino, Susanna Starr (Starr Interiors owner), Eloisa and Hugo
photo © John Lamkin

For the past several years, during the acclaimed Taos Wool Festival, Eloisa and Florentino Gutierrez and Hugo Gonzales Gutierrez have set up a weaving demonstration in the historic courtyard of Starr Interiors.

This year, they will be weaving from 12 Noon to 4 PM on October 6th and 7th, which is the weekend of the Wool Festival. It will be a great opportunity to meet the weavers, enjoy the Wool Festival and the beautiful early fall weather in Taos, New Mexico at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

Eloisa Gutierrez
Eloisa Gutierrez
photo: © John Lamkin

Starr Interiors has been handling an extensive collection of the work of Florentino Gutierrez for several decades and his hallmark palette of soft, intermediate tones of butter yellows, greens, rusts and salmons have pleased many clients who have chosen rugs and wall hangings. They range in size from small 2×3 sizes to large room size rugs as well as table and floor runners. There is also an array of his ever popular accompanying pillows.

In tune with the Remarkable Women of Taos, the gallery will present Eloisa’s contribution – a special collection of very fine, intricate 2’x3′ weavings. She is one of the earliest of women weavers in the village where, traditionally, they have not been working at looms. In this summer of Remarkable Women of Taos, we are pleased to include Eloisa and her fine work.

Hugo’s large “Tree of Life” weavings have been purchased for a number of collections. There are generally just one or two of these produced each year, since they are time consuming and difficult to make, and are much sought after. The complex pattern of birds and animals created in a vertical format make for a stunning wall hanging as well as a special and unique runner.

If you can’t be there in person for this event and taste some of the traditional Oaxacan hot chocolate that Eloisa prepares, please check out the website to see some of the new pieces they’ll be bringing. But if you’re entertaining the notion of a few days or more to spend “away,” please make sure you stop by on Saturday and/or Sunday for this special yearly event at Starr Interiors.

Starr Interiors’ Alcove Shows featuring Remarkable Women – August 2012, Terrie Mangat

 Join us for our 4th Alcove show at Starr-Interiors,
featuring Remarkable Women of Taos.
The Terrie Hancock Mangat show
opens on Saturday August 4th 4-6 PM
and will be on display till August 27th

Skeleton Memory Jar, textile art by Terrie Hancock Mangat

Skeleton Memory Jar, textile art by Terrie Hancock Mangat



Starr Interiors is located on 117 & 119 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos NM, look for our beautiful, historical courtyard.

Contact us at 575-758-3065 or 1-800-748-1756 for more information and photos.

 textile art by Terrie Hancock Mangat
textile art by Terrie Hancock Mangat


Terrie Hancock Mangat is an internationally known textile artist. She has been visiting Taos since 1992 had a home and studio here moving permanently and living in Taos since 1998.

Ms. Mangat has been generally credited with pioneering and popularizing embellishment on contemporary quilts since the early 70’s.

Terrie graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1970 with a degree in art, and has exhibited and taught quilt making both in the U.S. and abroad for 30 years.

Her work has been shown in such venues as the San Jose Quilt Museum, the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in NYC, the San Diego Historical Society and the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe, just to name a few.

In 2000 “Dashboard Saints: In Memory of Saint Christopher, Who Lost His Magnetism” she was named one of the top 100 American Quilts of the 20th Century.

Ms. Mangat’s quilts are mixed media and often depict something that she has seen or observed. Due to mastery of her technique, she is equally comfortable with pictorials, traditional or abstract expressions. The subject matter of her work generally falls into the categories of personal experience, social and political philosophy, and cultural and ethnographic appreciation.

In addition to being a world-recognized quilt maker, Ms. Manget designs and prints fabric. She has created acclaimed designs for several commercial fabric houses. Terrie constructed her own screen-printing studio where she practices the technical aspects of printing her hand drawn gouache designs on silk and cotton.

Some of Terrie Mangat collectors include Jack Walsh who is a major quilt collector, and has a nationally significant collection of contemporary quilts. She created a commissioned large quilt on the subject of water.

Also amongst her collectors she has a quilt at the Chase Manhattan bank in N.Y., Alfred P. Murray Federal Building in Ok. City, Jewish Hospital, Cincinnati OH, Cleveland Memorial Hospital in Cleveland OH, and many more.

 textile art by Terrie Hancock Mangat
textile art by Terrie Hancock Mangat

Terrie Hancock Mangat has an established reputation among art quilters as one of the most important embellishers working today. Her complex compositions draw upon the power of pattern, have multiple focal points, are partially realistic and partially abstract, and are comprised of a myriad of materials and objects in addition to fabrics, including, for example, buttons, beads, and photographic representations. Together, these materials enable Mangat to achieve a scale so large that the viewer feels physically encompassed by the stories she tells.” Kate Bonansinga, director, Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for Visual arts at the University of Texas at El Paso

 textile art by Terrie Hancock Mangat
textile art by Terrie Hancock Mangat

Terrie Hancock Mangat is an academically trained painter whose highly personal and often autobiographical work is embellished with beads, buttons, and other small three dimensional objects. Mangat’s art is narrative and pictorial; her quilts tell stories through detailed representations of her observations and memories and often deal with social or personal issues. Her embellishments are often personal as well, drawn from her vast collections of jewelry, charms, beads, pins, and other miniature keepsakes. Robert Shaw, author, Contemporary Art Quilts, University of Kentucky, The John M. Walsh III Collection


Starr Interiors website redesign & Summer Sale

Line of the Spirit Room -- Starr Interiors, Taos, New Mexico
Line of the Spirit Room — Starr Interiors, Taos, New Mexico

We are working on a more user-friendly version of Starr Interior’s website. Please bear with us for a while.

Currently the gallery is having a Summer Sale–30% off

For information please contact Leah at:
Phone: 800 . 748 . 1756 or
575 . 758 . 3065

Starr Interiors’ Alcove Shows featuring Remarkable Women – July 2012, Lydia Garcia

Lydia Garcia – Retablos & Santos

July 7-23, Opening – July 7, 4-6 PM

Retablo by Lydia Garcia
Retablo by Lydia Garcia

Nestled among the Sangre de Cristo mountain chain is the village of Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, an artists’ community since the 1800s. Here art is a way of life. “It’s a simple life,” admits Lydia, “but it’s full of joy and peace. And that’s what is real to me.”

Lydia Garcia, the eldest of five daughters, is one of the foremost female santeras creating spiritual art today. As a life-long resident of Ranchos de Taos, steeped in the Hispanic traditions of art, culture and religion, her art reflects her cultural heritage in all of its passion and depth.

As a young girl, Lydia worked alongside her father, Elias, while he created santos and wonderful objects in his wood-working shop. Her hunger for art brought her to the studios of two artists, Ward Lockwood and Andrew Dasburg. In their studios, Lydia sat without saying a word so that they would permit her to watch them work. After these sessions she would run home to her mother’s kitchen where she would paint the underside of an oil tablecloth, using the precious gifts of old brushes and partially used tubes of paints that her mentors had given her. In this manner, Lydia initiated her own training. She still paints anything she can get her hands on: recycled wood, tin cans, old furniture, and treasures left outside her home by neighbors and friends.

Today Lydia is a full-time santera and continues to paint and sculpt in the same adobe workspace built by her grandfather, Antonio Vigil, where she was born and raised working with her father. Here she integrates contemporary media, such as acrylics and recycled and found materials. Although modern in technique, the core of Lydia’s work embodies the traditional faith in God and spirituality in her historic role of santera.

Lydia inspires others with her faith. “Life is a prayer,” she says. She gives thanks to God for the many blessings in her life, including five children, ten grand children and two great-grand children. She passes on blessings to her collectors in the form of unique hand-painted prayers found on the back of her work. For others, she teaches workshops, blessing her students through her instruction and guidance. Her passion and faith touch the many folk she encounters through her art, her prayers and teachings.

Lydia’s retablos and bultos have been acquired by some of the finest private collections and museums worldwide.