The Arts

Has Pecha Kucha lost its diversity?

'Taos Characters' edition made up only of those who applied, according to organizer

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 6/5/19

Thursday (June 8) marks the 29th edition of the highly popular Pecha Kucha Night Taos, and this time its theme is "Taos Characters." Organizer Matt Thomas said the idea sprang from the concurrent exhibit …

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The Arts

Has Pecha Kucha lost its diversity?

'Taos Characters' edition made up only of those who applied, according to organizer

Posted

Thursday (June 6) marks the 29th edition of the highly popular Pecha Kucha Night Taos, and this time its theme is "Taos Characters."

Organizer Matt Thomas said the idea sprang from the concurrent exhibit by Taos artist and photographer Paul O'Connor that opens the same evening. This show is titled "Taos Characters Volume V: Black-and-White Portraits."

Yet, while O'Connor's exhibit offers a diverse array of portraits of Taoseños representing the valley's Hispano, Native American and Anglo community, Pecha Kucha strangely does not.

Thomas explains: "Paul O'Connor has his ongoing series, 'Taos Characters,' and we're all familiar with his book and every couple of years he does a new edition. This is the fifth edition, so when he contacted me we were talking about a location for the show." Thomas is also curator of collections at the Harwood Museum of Art. "We spoke with the [Taos Center for the Arts which manages the auditorium] and ended up having this great opportunity to overlap, so we have 'Taos Characters' opening in the Encore Gallery and I said, 'Hey, let's do a Pecha Kucha theme around 'Taos characters.' So, we opened it up for all the Taos characters to come onstage and present."

But, not "all" Taos characters presented themselves.

In fact, those who applied were mostly the ones who will end up onstage. "Honestly, I really keep it open," Thomas said. "It's really first-come-first-served. I put an announcement on Facebook and said, 'Are you a character or do you know a character? Nominate them.'" While some responded to the Facebook post, Thomas said he also went out and contacted a few.

So, how did the diversity ball get dropped?

"Yeah, we get that a lot," Thomas said. "I know I need to do my part to reach out more and, yeah, unfortunately, it didn't happen this time. I posted on Facebook and literally got 20 different names ... There's always people we miss out on, so, I understand the complaint, for sure."

Thomas said in most previous shows he has made an effort to bring in more people from the community in order to present a better representation of who they are. "This time it just didn't happen," he said. "I just have to be on my toes and work a little bit harder on it."

The scheduled presenters include (in no particular order) Jeff Cochran, Mary Domito, Michael T. Levy, Paul O'Connor, Marcia Oliver, Allan Packer, Monique Parker, Howie Roemer, Hank Saxe, Christina Sporrong and Audrey Valentine. Nibbles will be provided by The Lounge by Rolling Still, and music by DJ Julia Daye.

Drinks will be available by the TCA with plenty of time for "chitchat" with local creatives.

"It's gonna be a really fun night," Thomas said. "This is our 29th show and this is unique in that we're combining it with an opening at the Encore [Gallery] and then we have our local music. We have a DJ, Julia Daye, who's going to be spinning in the lobby and then we have a new restaurant, The Lounge, that's going to provide nibbles and bites."

He said ths show will present "a cross section of our community artists, creative dancers, movers, business owners —I have Mary Domito [aka "Mattress Mary"]. I always wanted to hear from her."

Each artist will share their stories and creativity on stage using the unique Pecha Kucha 20x20 format.

The term "Pecha Kucha" is Japanese and refers to the sound of "chitchat." The gist of Pecha Kucha is that artists are given an opportunity to showcase and present 20 images of their work, with images changed every 20 seconds. The whole presentation is six minutes and 40 seconds per artist.

Pecha Kucha Night Taos has events three times a year, and since 2010 years has hosted nearly 300 local presenters. You can view most of these on their Vimeo site at: vimeo.com/pechakuchataos. Showtime is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door or in advance at the TCA offices and are on sale now and online at tcataos.org. For more information on Pecha Kucha Night Taos, contact J. Matthew Thomas or Richard Spera at (575) 613-0601 or pechakuchataos@gmail.com; or visit pechakucha.org.

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