At the heart of El Monte Sagrado is a unique gallery that embodies the hotel’s eco spirit, combining elegance and sustainability.
Originally published in Taos News
Right in front of De La Tierra restaurant and next to the Anaconda Bar, Taos Mountain Gallery and Gift Shop is the perfect place to get everything from high-end artwork and jewelry to a beautifully simple Taos postcard.
Owner Dawn Mirabal is a tribal member of the Taos Pueblo. Her brother, Dean Little Lake Johnson, owns Smoke Signals, the longest-running Native American shop in town.
“I’ve always been interested in business,” Mirabal said. “I like the sense of independence that being an entrepreneur gives to people, particularly women.”
Mirabal earned a Bachelor’s degree in business from New Mexico State University and has been in the retail industry for over thirty years. She has sold everything from clothing to Native American jewelry, pottery, flutes, and more.
“I fell into owning my own business when I was married to a musician,” she said. “I ran the shop in the Taos Pueblo village and then another shop in town, as well as the online store and the merchandise on the road when we traveled.”
Later on, after she divorced, Mirabal decided to go back to school and try another approach to the business world.
“I wanted to open a travel company,” she said. “I love to travel and often make other people’s flight reservations and plan trips for them.”
In the meantime she got a part-time position in what used to be the Grand Bohemian Gallery at El Monte Sagrado. But the director left that very week so Mirabal became a full time employee, acting director and finally gallery owner when Heritage Hotels and Resorts bought the property in 2015.
“I was blessed with a special opportunity when the CEO and friend, Mr. Jim Long, asked me to take the gallery over in November last year,” she said. “It is now called Taos Mountain Gallery and Gift Shop.”
A tri-cultural space
Mirabal’s main goal is to showcase the tri-cultural nature of the local art.
“We have such a rich culture here that I want every visitor to know about it,” she said. “There are so many local treasures! I do, however, represent artists from Washington, California and Florida as well. I am excited to bring forth more of the Native American artists with their paintings, sculptures, glass blowing, and jewelry.”
Among the local artists that the gallery represents are Ed Sandoval, Tom Wheeler, Rich Nichols, Mel Scully, Ira Lujan from Taos Pueblo, Dean Johnson, Kim Trieber, and Taos Leather. She also carries artwork by Tony Jojola from Isleta Pueblo, Arthur Shortbull from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Amber Beata from San Fransisco, and several Zuni artists.
“We offer unique items with a wide range of prices so there is something for everyone,” Mirabal said. “Now we also have sundries for the resort guests. We carry snacks, cold drinks and even little travel items that people tend to forget.”
The Peruvian connection
Mirabal is a fulltime student at UNM-Taos, majoring in business and Spanish.
“Plus I am a single mother of three amazing and beautiful girls,” she said. “Sometimes, the most difficult thing is finding the time to do everything that needs to be done!”
She also enjoys traveling. Peru is one of her favorite destinations, and the reason she is taking Spanish classes now
“During my next trip to Peru I will have the opportunity to work at the Pisac Inn, located in the Sacred Valley, south of Cusco,” she said. “My two oldest daughters just returned from there. We all love to travel to meet new people, taste new foods and fully participate in other cultures, whether it is their daily life, farming or ceremonies.”
Mirabal carries handmade Peruvian merchandise: a variety of jewelry, artwork and textiles. There is a collection of bright-colored runners than can also double as scarves.
“They make beautiful and practical presents,” Mirabal said. “It’s not too early to start buying graduation and mother’s day gifts!”
Though she works hard juggling work, family, school and business management, Mirabal feels that the long hours she devotes to running the gallery are worthwhile.
“I am proud of what myself and my staff have created here together,” she said. “We all have something to contribute to the gallery. My clients, artists and El Monte Sagrado employees are all wonderful to work with.”
Taos Mountain Gallery and Gift Shop is located inside El Monte Sagrado Resort and Spa at 317 Kit Carson Road
Phone: (575) 737-9840