The Fiesta Council is honoring one of Taos’ most beloved artists, George Chacón, who passed away on April 1 while playing the conga drums at a SOMOS event.
Señor Chacón was born in Saguache, Colorado, but he and his wife, Beverly, moved to Taos in 1983 — honorary Taoseños, indeed.
He received numerous recognitions during his career, like the Miguel De Unamuno Award in 1994 and the Taos Society of Portrait Artists Award in 2003. He was also well known for his many murals that gained him national recognition.
A mural he painted of the Taos Ski Valley at the base of the mountain was published in The New York Times. There was also the Town Hall wall that he designed to portray a timeline of Taos’ history in eight murals — he painted four of them, and “El Santero," a mural in Cabot Plaza that was once featured on the cover of Travel Magazine. He also worked with oils, acrylics, monotypes and mixed media. He was an artist all around.
One of my fondest memories of George and Beverly is meeting them on a Saturday morning at Gutiz. George talked enthusiastically about one of his pieces called “Duende” that depicted Flamenco dancers. Duende means soul, inspiration and passion. George’s work had plenty of that.
I also remember a painting session in Ray Vinella’s study at the Taos Retirement Village with George, Elizabeth Jose and other local artists, when I modeled for them. A few weeks later, George surprised me by giving me my framed portrait as a present.
Don Francisco Trujillo II also remembers George fondly. "George was very special to the Fiesta Council and highly respected. He created the Coat of Arms that are displayed at the gazebo during Fiestas on the Historic Taos Plaza," he said. "Over a 30-year period — adding a few more to our collection each year — the Taos Fiesta Council commissioned the shields, which reflect local, traditional surnames of Taos families and some of the original Spanish Conquistadores to the region. George was meticulous in his research to ensure that each surname was accurately portrayed. We appreciate his talent and generosity to our community of Taos."
Homage to George couldn’t omit the annual Día de los Muertos celebration that he and Beverly hosted at The Taos Inn from 1989 until 2016. On Nov. 2, which was also George’s birthday, they decorated the altar and encouraged people to bring photos and mementos of their loved ones as well.
Music was often part of the celebration, with Cuban Bata drumming by George (he was an accomplished musician, too) and Mariachi songs.
“Every year, as we lose more of our relatives and friends, the special meaning of this holiday becomes more profound,” said George when I interviewed him for a Day of the Dead story in 2014.
This year on Nov. 2, we will remember George in our own altars. But we will take comfort in the idea that he is still painting in heaven. Honor a un gran artista de Taos!