May 9, 2016
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Taos, New Mexico    May 9, 2016

The Creative Life

As we know, creativity takes many forms and follows many paths.  The creative life in all its manifestations, is alive and well at Valverde Commons.  We have painters, sculptors, writers, artisans, singers, comedians, people who sew. knit, garden, you name it!

One of the great things about building your own house is that you can build in a place to do your creative work.  But at VC, we also have a community workshop in our barn which will function as a shared creative space all of us may use at our whim.  Here's a photo of our pristine new space which is soon to be filled with wood-working equipment, a kiln, lots of worktables, and whatever else the members decide.

If you've always wanted to do something but never had the time or space to do it, we offer up Valverde Commons as a great place to bring your creativity to fruition.

Here's an introduction to some of the creative work happening at Valverde Commons.


Hank Brusselback

Hank built lumpy, organic furniture in the 60's with a little company called Home Hewn.  Chairs and tables had walking legs and a sense of movement.  When it came time to design his first house, the building took on some of that same animation.  By the 1980's he got an MFA at the University of Colorado and began painting more seriously and making artists books.  In the last twenty years Hank seems to have settled on painting and sculpture between sculptural building projects.  The house that he and Gaia now live in is a curvaceous, energy efficient collection of ideas from their many earlier homes.  It's called "Crab Nebula."

Lately my paintings are from dreams, painted in the spirit of subconsciousness, left handed and upside down.  I eventually turn them back around and correct my distracting anomalies, like a left hand on a right arm.  They start out as a simple depiction of some actual dream of mind and then the painting process has its own way with the image. The final product may say something other than the dream story had intended.

Kate Crawford

While working on her memoir about being sexy in one's sixties, Kate, the winner of this year's Taos Resident Award at the Taos Writer's Conference, reminds herself to "start looking for all the things she can do, and stop looking for those she cannot."  The list of what Kate has been able to do in the past year is impressive: besides entering and winning the contest, she has nearly completed building her house at VC.  She spent the winter working on "Second Coming." a memoir of "creating a new paradigm for sexy sixties" and is looking for an agent and a publisher for her book.

Kate credits writing with helping her to have a life despite struggling with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  She began writing professionally after winning a travel writing competition that earnmed her a trip around the world in 2002 and renewed respect from her doctor, who wondered "How she could go around the world when she couldn't go around the block."  Kate's stories have appeared in the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, and "The Best Travel Writing of 2012."

"Second Coming"--pun intended-- will be a mixture of vignettes and fantasies of Kate's hilarious and often tragicomic experiences as she conducts hands on research on her subject.  Besides reading everything there is to know about sex at a certain age, and taking Flamenco to "get life back in her," Kate has practiced research on related subjects, from Kegel exercises to sexy underwear and other intimate accessoires, to employing the services of a dating advisor.  Kate promises "to tell it like it is" in her memoir, while escorting readers on a trip to interesting locales that include her own journey" "I am the protagonist; my illness and my age are the antagonists."  Kate is excited about being in Taos for this new chapter of her writing career, stating "I have a life, I have a passion in my life-- and I take Cymbalta."

Jim Ludden


Jim Ludden has been sewing since the seventh grade, when he asked to take sewing class as the first boy.  The next year a number of girls wanted to take wood shop.  He may have disrupted something there!   In 1970 he bought a treadle Singer for $5 at a Vermont town auction and made a Dior pattern pants suit with silk top stitching for his wife, Carol, and a ball gown for the bicentennial in Boston.

Since 1984 he made a number of religious vestments co-designed with his wife, a couple of wedding dresses, clothing for nieces and nephews, and embroidered Christmas stockings for his extended family.  The example is a chasuble and stole made of silk applique for our bishop in 1996.  Jim has also designed and built 25 pipe organs, as well as computer applications and databases.


Carolyn Schlam

Carolyn Schlam is a painter and glass artist whose work is primarily figurative.  In 2013 she was named one of the 48 finalists in the Smithsonian Museum Portrait Competition. Her painting, "Frances at 103", has been acquired by the Smithsonian and will be in the permanent collection of its new Museum of African American History and Culture, on the National Mall.  Carolyn's work has been shown in many Museums and Galleries over her career.  She is the author of two books on art, both represented by Schulman Literary in New York, and has a second career as a professional writer.  Her writings have appeared in many magazines and publications under her own name and that of her many "alter egos."

Carolyn is pursuing her work in oil and glass at her studio at VC and has recently added wood sculpture to her art vocabulary.  She is currently working on 2 planned exhibitions and another book.   One of her claims to fame: Carolyn went to art school with Bob Dylan.  She's hoping he'll write the intro to her book...

Barbara Zaring

Barbara Zaring is a painter/printmaker working in Taos for over forty years.  She is known for her elaborate oil paintings, using many layers of translucent paint, that create new worlds dealing with opposing paradigms of contemporary life.  She derives imagery from her interior space created through decades of meditation practice and dream work.

During her career Zaring has had exhibitions in a dozen Museums including The Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma; the Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana; and the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM.  She has had many one-person exhibits in galleries, and been in over eighty group exhibitions.  Among her honors are Artist-in-Residence at Yosemite National Park, and participating in the Art in the Embassies Program of the U.S  Department of State in Zagreb, Croatia.  Her work has been on the program covers of some of the finest classical music festivals in the United States.

Barbara has just opened a new LEED Platinum certified artist studio at VC.