Taos Spotlight: Lanna Smith
Lanna Smith is the owner of The Ranch at Taos, a gallery that specializes in “upscale ranch art”: Western- and Southwestern-themed paintings, sculpture and jewelry, as well as vintage Western articles.
How would you describe what you do for a living, and what is your favorite part of your job?
I feel lucky to wake up every day and be able to work with beautiful objects and provide an environment that brings real joy to the people who visit my gallery. What is so gratifying for me is the expression on my clients’ faces when they see the exceptional artists I represent — they want to own a piece of their work — and the financial support that the sales bring my artists. My favorite part of my job is the excitement of staging my tiny gallery to see how I can bring out the best of what my artists create.
What do you consider the greatest challenges and rewards of your job?
Since I am a one-woman operation, there are many challenges. The toughest task is keeping finances in check so I can keep doing what I do. I would like to do more with social media and advertising, but most of my time is spent seeking quality work, advocating for my artists and educating my collectors. My gallery is very small, so presenting the works of art is often another challenge. Even though I work seven days a week, I love sharing the artists’ work, and my customers return year after year for their special things. I have to say that I have had tremendous support from the business owners around me who guided me through the first few years. They are still there for me to help me learn along the way.
How did you end up living in Taos?
Like so many others, Taos just kept drawing me back, on and off, for 35 years, beginning with vacationing and then working in galleries and shops. I moved here six years ago out of a need to create a job for myself. Working in the arts is all I have ever wanted to do, and living in a cozy little mountain town appeals to me.
What is your best insider recommendation for Taos visitors?
So much! Taos offers magnificent views, accessible hiking and great restaurants. The Millicent Rogers Museum is a must-see, and Taos Pueblo. Taos is a charming town, with a diversity of cultures. Visitors are amazed that there is so much to do here, and they always want to spend more time on their next visit to Northern New Mexico.
What is your favorite near or far getaway, and why?
Disneyland always does it for me. It always reminds me to be carefree.
Describe an unrealized dream of yours.
I’d like to try living in a few more places. Maybe Oklahoma City or Fort Worth. I am drawn to cities with a Western culture. Taos mountain is beautiful, but I also love and miss an infinite horizon line and the prairie.
As told to Cyndy Tanner