Coyote Moon is a small, vibrant store located in the middle of the John Dunn Shops. It specializes in folk art from Latin America and New Mexico.
A giant sculpture, part mermaid and part lizard, is the store’s centerpiece. It’s also the first thing that visitors notice when they come in.
“This is a special kind of alebrije,” says owner Cristina Garcia. “It wasn’t made in Oaxaca, like many of them, but in Jalisco, and is a mix of papier-mâché, wood, clay and many other materials.”
Luis and Cristina Garcia bought Coyote Moon in 2005, shortly after they moved to Taos.
“We got it from the original owner,” said Cristina. “My husband and I have always liked folk art and since the business was up for sale, we decided to buy it. It was the best decision we ever made. The store has given us the opportunity to meet wonderful people and to do something we are passionate about.”
“Our focus is to bring to Taos, a town known for its artistic penchant, products that have an edge, a quirk, something different about them,” added her husband, Luis Garcia. “Our merchandise is colorful and, I dare say, unique.”
The eclectic inventory includes folk art from Mexico, Peru and Guatemala as well as Colorado and northern New Mexico.
“We have a variety of styles, from the traditional to the contemporary,” said Cristina Garcia. “It’s all folk art, but you won’t find two identical pieces. That’s the beauty of it.”
Among the local artists are Patty Mara, from Dixon, who makes Day of the Day inspired ceramics, and Merce Mitchell, a felt artist famous for her Day of the Dead skulls.
“El Dia de los Muertos has been a great source of inspiration for many artists,” Garcia said.
The theme of death is indeed present all over the place, but in a festive, almost joyous manner.
“These catrinas come from Mexico City,” says Garcia, pointing to a group of skeleton figures made of papier-mâché and dressed like brides and grooms. “We know an artist who makes all their costumes by hand. That’s a specialty in itself.”
There is a collection of alebrijes from Oaxaca and all of them are signed by the artists. The crosses and the tin artwork are mostly from New Mexico.
“We also carry a selection of masks made by an artist from Colorado who calls himself El Guero Santero,” said Garcia.
Some pieces just defy description. Historia de un amor is a kind of a tin shrine, a nicho, that follows the history of a couple from their first meeting to their deaths.
“It was made by Cielito Lindo, an artist from San Miguel de Allende,” says Garcia. “The boxes and the figures are handmade too, you can see all the little details.”
A corner is devoted to Mexican clothes. There are colorful blouses from Puebla—yellow, white, and red—and several shirts from Chiapas.
“One size fits all,” Garcia tells me.
Carolyn Dowson, from Texas, comes to Coyote Moon every time she is in Taos.
“Last year I bought a pair of handmade turquoise earrings for one of my granddaughters,” she said. “Today I brought Anna, my other granddaughter, and she likes everything.”
Anna Lowler is trying on a pair of earrings.
“They are really original,” she says. “I haven’t seen anything like that before. I will get them and a bracelet, too. ”
The earrings, it turns out, were made by Luis Garcia, who sells some of his own pieces at the store.
After taking several jewelry-making classes at UNM-Taos, Luis began producing his own pieces —sterling silver earrings, rings and necklaces ornamented with semi precious stones.
“They are among our most popular products,” said Cristina.
“The nature of the stones inspires me,” said Luis. “I strive to create a setting that enhances the stone.”
The art of selling
For Cristina Garcia, the best part of owning Coyote Moon is meeting people from all over the world and getting to know them.
“My clients become my friends,” she said. “The ones from out of town make a point to come to the store every time they are here. Many have seen my daughter grow up and know the entire family. I am a really social person so this is the right business for me. I also enjoy perfecting the art of selling.”
Yet success goes beyond making a sale.
“I honestly believe that, in order to be successful, you have to love what you do,” she said. “It’s not about opening a business or selling a product, it’s about doing something you enjoy. Then, it doesn’t feel like a job. I wake up and look forward to coming to the store and seeing different faces. That’s what makes the business so rewarding to me.”
Coyote Moon is located at 120 Bent St. Taos, NM87571
Phone: (575) 758-4437