Fina art

Flames of inspiration

Fall Arts Festival and The PASEO still make Taos the place to be

By Dena Miller
Posted 9/22/17

In addition to the kickoff of the 43rd annual Taos Fall Arts Festival, The PASEO returns for its fourth season. Between the two – and their many related events – your days and evenings will be filled to the brim with the best of who we are.

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Fina art

Flames of inspiration

Fall Arts Festival and The PASEO still make Taos the place to be


This is a weekend to contemplate the visionary, and there will be plenty of that. This is a weekend to embrace our community, and there will also be many opportunities to do that as well.

In addition to the kickoff of the 43rd annual Taos Fall Arts Festival, The PASEO returns for its fourth season. Between the two – and their many related events – your days and evenings will be filled to the brim with the best of who we are.

The 2017 ‘Taos Open Exhibition’

Ed Sandoval’s stunning painting, “Colors of Northern New Mexico,” stands ready to greet visitors to the annual event, which has gone through some exciting changes.

“This year, we believe it’s especially important to stand up for diversity and embrace inclusivity, so the Taos Fall Arts Festival board decided to make this show open to all artists residing in Taos or who show in a Taos gallery,” said Rikki Pass, vice president of the festival’s board.

Board President Paul Figueroa echoed the sentiment. “No invitations; no juries. By making this show all inclusive for both established and emerging artists, we are promising our most expansive exhibition yet – and the most representative of what Taos is.”

In an additional break with previous formats, the “Taos Open Exhibition” is being held in one venue: the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Gymnasium, at 205 Don Fernando St. More than 200 artists working with every imaginable medium are participating in the show: exquisite paintings in oil, acrylic and watercolor; sculpture; jewelry; mixed media; fabric art.

The “Youth Art Show” will also be housed at the gymnasium, giving visitors a precious window into the world of childhood dreams.

Pass noted, “I really believe smaller is bigger. By exhibiting in only one venue, we can really celebrate. Thanks to Shera Maher [board secretary], we’re providing refreshments and beverages, and the Christine Autumn Jazz Trio will be playing.” It is, Pass said, a more accessible and encompassing experience for the entire community.

The opening reception and award ceremony will take place Friday (Sept. 22) from 5-8 p.m. “At 6 p.m., we will honor our award winners,” Pass said. This includes the best of show award and honorable mention winners as judged by Peggy Lanning, a renowned Southwest gallerist.

The Peter and Madeleine Martin Foundation for the Creative Arts Visionary Artist awards will also be given, which this year have gone to printmaker Sarah Hart and artist-art educator Siena Sanderson. Hart is owner of the Hart Print Shop and co-owner of Ennui Gallery on Bent Street. Sanderson was a creator of the Neighborhood Art Project, now known as SmART House via Youth Heartline, an after-school program, while working with disenfranchised families through Las Cumbres Community Services.

Pass also noted the many satellite events that are surrounding this year’s exhibition. “Stables Gallery will be hosting ‘Pressing on 7,’ a printmaker’s show featuring over 20 artists and whose hours will match those of the festival,” she said. “We also advocate ‘SoDo’ at 1022 Reed St., ‘Discover South Gusdorf,’ while the traveling poetry show, ‘Take a Detour of Route 66,’ will satisfy your nostalgic appetite.”

Of course, one of the crown jewels of the festival is the Taos Environmental Film Festival (see Page 26), curated by Jean Stevens. The film festival offers a comprehensive array of features, shorts, multimedia presentations and lectures.

Details and schedules for the aforementioned happenings are available at

Kit Carson Road, a short jump from exhibition events, will also host an early evening “Kit Carson Celebration of the Arts,” replete with music, food trucks and receptions at participating galleries on Saturday (Sept. 23).

“This is what is so gratifying to us. From under the umbrella of the Taos Fall Arts Festival has emerged a totally immersive 10-day celebration of Taos’ history as one of the most venerable national art colonies, hands down,” Figueroa said.

The 2017 ‘PASEO Party on The Plaza’

J. Matt Thomas and Agnes Chávez, co-directors of The PASEO, had coincidentally drawn the same conclusion that “smaller is bigger.” This year, instead of scattering installations throughout the historic district, The PASEO is throwing a standout “Party on the Plaza,” planned Saturday (Sept. 23) from 7-11 p.m. on historic Taos Plaza.

“We wanted the event to be focused and, in being so, able to thoroughly engage our participants,” they both stated about overcoming the previous years’ challenges of multiple locations and lack of a cohesive program. With its curated selection of superstar installations and a fiery theme of the mystical, the magical and the monstrous, this year’s PASEO promises to be one memorable party, indeed.

The featured artist is world-renowned Motomichi Nakamura, of Brooklyn, New York, who will bring his signature red, black and white projection-mapped animated monsters to the facade of the Hotel La Fonda, accompanied by local DJs Kanizzle and Dubvirus in an extraordinary four-hour light and sound show.

And Chávez – who is also director of STEMarts@ThePaseo, Paseo Project’s educational program – is passionate about the parallel “Monster Design Challenge.” “The challenge is an online platform that allows all Taos County schoolteachers, plus the [University of New Mexico-Taos] Digital Media Art [program] students, the opportunity to explore Motomichi’s work and guide their students in a unique monster design entry,” the winners of which, selected by Nakamura, will also be projected on buildings across the Plaza.

Nakamura arrived in town early and gave private shows to both Taos Middle School and Taos High School, the influence of which is driving the establishment of The PASEO New Media Internship Program. He will be also be giving a presentation earlier on Saturday at the Harwood Museum of Art. The 2 p.m. lecture will give partygoers a deeper appreciation of his process and make the evening all the more enjoyable.

The artist will be in good company with the return of DJ Oliver’s Silent Disco – this year, with 500 headphones and 10 DJs spinning in three DJ tents. Ballet Taos will also be performing contemporary shadow dancing, enhanced by light and fire elements, at the installation. Fire dance performer Jex will be all around the Plaza dazzling visitors with her unique talents.

Famed fire artist Jamie Vaida, best known for his Burning Man installations, in collaboration with Alvin Sessions, will ignite the night skies with a burning tree and a burning pipe organ whose flames and sounds will be audience interactive.

Luster will power a virtual photo booth installation where anyone with a smartphone and the hashtag #paseotaos will become part of the event’s documentary while also scoring a souvenir postcard of their “selfie.”

Among all of this new art and video mapping, Twirl, a PASEO partner, will set up on Teresina Lane and demonstrate a return to the eerie and early days of animation.

There’s even more. Saturday’s Taos Farmers Market will feature “Medicine Paint Live,” where, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., Diné and Hopi artists will be painting Vaida’s burning pipe organ for the evening’s performance. On Sunday evening (Sept. 24) at 7 p.m., Pecha Kucha will highlight several Taos Fall Arts Festival artists in a special presentation at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

Perhaps what Thomas is most passionate about is the return of “The Illuminator,” who this year partnered with “Strong at Heart” to provide a conduit through which Taos residents can illuminate their hopes and visions for the community. “It’s not just artful; it’s philosophical. What do you want your community to be? And to capture each of our multicultural demographics, interpreters in Spanish and Tiwa will be available,” he said. It is a groundbreaking and timely addition to our conversations.

Smaller is definitely bigger when we’re focused upon finding common ground.

All events are free and family friendly.


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