The excitement in Taos is palpable every year, anticipating opening night of the Taos Fall Arts Festival. The opening reception and awards presentations take place this year from …
The excitement in Taos is palpable every year, anticipating opening night of the Taos Fall Arts Festival. The opening reception and awards presentations take place this year from 5-8 p.m. Friday (Sept. 20), at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Gymnasium on Don Fernando Street.
The festival is now in its 45th year, and some 200 artists plus another 800 to 1,000 people anxiously await the opening of the exhibit doors and the reception that follows, celebrating the past year's effort of creating work according to the current theme.
Celebrants beware, however, as TFAF President Paul Figueroa warns that presentations will begin promptly at 5 p.m., with no waiting for the crowd to quiet down. Christine Autumn and her jazz combo will start up immediately after the awards ceremony.
The parish gymnasium has been the site of the Taos Open for a number of years. Due to a shortage of available exhibition venues in town, the Fall Arts board decided it could be more inclusive and supportive of all Taos artists by presenting only the unjuried Taos Open exhibit.
Ricky Pass, TFAF vice president and curator of the Taos Open, said it is Fall Arts' mission "to celebrate the visual arts and artists in Taos County. Our main goal is to support the arts in Taos, to grow art and keep it exciting; to support new artists, keeping the future of Taos art alive."
2019 Poster Image Award
The 2019 exhibit theme is "Of Heaven and Earth/Del Cielo y de La Tierra." The winning image selected for this year's prestigious Fall Arts poster is the remarkable photographic piece by Sasha Raphael vom Dorp, titled "15.15 Hz Sunlight 04.01.2018 09:16:17.003 36*24'22"N 105*34'31"W."
According to vom Dorp, the title describes the exact moment, up to 1,000th of a second in time and space, that light moved through sound-stimulated water, thus capturing the heaven and earth theme "in a very relevant and exciting manner," TFAF Marketing Director Norlynne Coar said in press materials.
Vom Dorp prints his photographs on archival watercolor paper with archival pigment inks and mounts them onto aluminum. As poster image winner, he receives a cash prize, enviable exposure in festival marketing and a premier spot in the Taos Open exhibition.
2019 Image Awards
Because so many stunning works are submitted for the poster image competition, the TFAF board created the Image Awards in 2017 to recognize the high level of quality achieved, thus honoring both the heritage and the future of art in Taos.
This year, Karen Ahlgren was selected for her "Cloud Dancer," a watercolor and gouache painting; and Robert Pérez Jr. was chosen for his oil on canvas, titled "The Reaper."
Lifetime Achievement Award
The recipient of the Charles R. Strong Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for 2019 is the late Gendron Jensen (1939-2019), the graphite-drawing genius of Vadito who succumbed to cancer July 23. Animal bones were a major focus of his 50-year career. Artist-writer Ann Landi, creator of the art website Vasari21, said, "The drawings are so precise, zoologists can identify them by species, but disembodied from their source [the animal bones] have a spooky, iconic presence, like the totems of some unknown tribe."
Jensen's work will be displayed in a special section of the Taos Open.
Visionary Artist Awards
Sponsored by the prestigious Peter and Madeleine Martin Foundation for the Creative Arts, the Visionary Artist Awards are given "to recognize actively working and exhibiting artists who are contributing to and invigorating the growth of the living art community in Taos," according to TFAF's Coar. Nominated by Taos artists and local business owners, the 2019 recipients are Michael Vigil, Lise Poulsen and Nick Beason.
Vigil is son of the late, renowned artist and printmaker Veloy Vigil. Michael Vigil is known for his abstract expressionist oils, acrylics and prints.
Partners in art and marriage, printmaker Beason and fiber artist Poulsen are gallery owners of Gaucho Blue Fine Art in Peñasco, a small community in southern Taos County. Poulsen stresses her belief "in helping other artists to be successful through providing economic and educational opportunities."
Best of Show, Honorable Mention and People's Choice
Highly anticipated each year are the Best of Show and Honorable Mention awards, this year handed out by sculptor and teacher Andrea Pichaida, who has lived in Santa Fe since 2010.
According to TaosFallArts.com, Pichaida was born in Santiago, Chile, "where she earned in 1987 a master's degree in fine art with honors. She has participated in more than 30 group exhibits in Chile and Argentina and in 12 solo exhibits in Chile and the USA. Her work can be found in many public spaces as well as private collections around the world, including the Vatican." She operates a private sculpting studio and business, CeramicAndrea. She also teaches group and and private lessons at Santa Fe Clay (see more at AndreaPichaida.com).
The People's Choice awards that are handed out at the close of the exhibit, which is Sunday (Sept. 29), are an equally or sometimes more highly anticipated award for the recognition of creativity and overall appeal by exhibit visitors.
"Of the 1,000 People's Choice ballots last year, 25 percent came from outside of Taos," said TFAF President Figueroa about the impact of Fall Arts in bolstering the economy and arts of Taos. "We're trying to be more inclusive and engage other artists from Northern New Mexico," he said, concluding on an optimistic note, "We're looking forward to a really good year."
For more information, see TaosFallArts.com.
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