Taos Fall Arts Festival

The main event

44th Taos Fall Arts Festival extravaganza

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The incredible reality of the Taos Art Colony, blooming in the middle of New Mexico’s high desert, remains a fascinating and stimulating mystery to ponder and explore — precisely the ticket for feeding the vibrant inquiry and self-expression of Taos artists.

Once a year, art lovers across the nation and the world, gather here to revel in the creative efforts of the past year, much of it specifically created for Taos Fall Arts Festival.

Now in its 44th year, from Sept. 21-30 about 1,000 visitors will crowd into the festival’s opening reception evening; returning again and again through the 10 days of this historic arts event. Despite the inevitable changes of venue and variety of awards and exhibitions, Fall Arts is still the pre-eminent affair here that brings the world to Taos Art Colony’s door.

“Our mission is to celebrate the visual arts and artists in Taos County,” says Fall Arts Vice President Ricky Pass. “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.”

Taos Open

Due to venue limitations, in 2017 the Fall Arts board eliminated the juried show that had been a feature of some four decades of festivals. UNM-Taos took over much of the main exhibit venue for the university’s programming, and the Stables Gallery venue was sewn up by Pressing On, a popular print show that takes advantage of the traffic Fall Arts creates every year.

The gym at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church has been the site of the Taos Open for a number of years, and the Fall Arts board decided it could be more inclusive and supportive of all Taos artists by continuing the non-juried Taos Open exhibit until such time as the town’s venue space is resolved.

“I’ve heard a few artists complain about being shown in a ‘gym,’ but I always think of the shows at The Armory,” Pass said, referring to the U.S. National Guard building in New York, where the artwork, not the venue of The Armory, in 1913 attracted 87,000 visitors in New York City alone.

An avid Taos collector and county resident in the ’90s, Pass moved with her family to Colorado Springs to pursue an interior design career, and moved back to Taos four years ago. She has curated the Fall Arts exhibits for the last three years and shows no sign of fatigue over the year-long volunteer effort.

“We keep adding more artist awards, first because of all the great work submitted for poster image consideration,” Pass said, explaining how the awards for Image Artists, Visionary Artists and Lifetime Achievement Award developed (see 2018 Artists Awards below).  

The Taos Fall Arts Festival began in 1974 and was staged at patrons’ homes to promote Taos art. As it grew in popularity, the festival expanded into invitational and juried exhibits, as well as the open exhibit of over 250 Taos County artists. Pop-up event partnerships in music, dance and performance evolved, most notably The PASEO (see Page ??) and the Taos Environmental Film Festival (held last April), both of which inject new energy into Fall Arts, appealing across an increasingly broader spectrum of arts enthusiasts.

2018 Artists Awards

The Taos Open is an all-inclusive, open-entry show featuring Taos County artists either living in or represented by Taos galleries. Awards are given in several Best of Show categories.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Anita Rodríguez 

Among the honors Taos Fall Arts bestows on Taos artists, the most exclusive is the Lifetime Achievement Award, this year recognizing the expansive career and life of Anita Rodríguez, as noted by TFAF Marketing Director Norlynn Coar.

“Anita Rodriguez was raised on Taos Plaza where her father, Alfredo Antonio Rodríguez (better known as “Skeezix”) owned a drugstore,” Coar writes. “Her mother, Grace Graham King, was from Texas and came here to study art with Walter Ufer.”

Rodríguez is known throughout the state and nationwide for moving adobe plastering out of the dark ages and up to code for modern architecture. Traditionally, “women’s work” by Native and Hispanic women for hundreds of years, enjarradoras are now well-recognized for their historic practice, all popularized during Rodriquez’s 25 years of professional practice as a licensed contractor in Northern New Mexico. 

“She won many national awards for her work, has been featured in  more than half a dozen books and was invited to Egypt to work with Hassan Fathy, winner of the Aga Kahn prize for earth architecture,” Coar continues.

She is perhaps even more well-known nowadays for calavera or skeleton themes in much of her paintings, which harken to 15 years in Mexico — her adopted second home— all the more fully developed since age 45, upon retiring from contracting.

Her award-winning “Coyota in The Kitchen,” penned, illustrated and published at age 75, is a recipient of five awards. Overall, Rodríguez’s paintings and writing “celebrate life – dancing, making love, driving low riders, praying, eating,” Coar notes, summarizing this powerhouse in Rodríguez’s own self-defining label: “I am not a liberal or a progressive – I am a revolutionary.”

2018 Image Artists Awards

Image Awards are presented to finalists culled from submissions for poster-image selection, won this year by artist David Vedoe (see Page ??). With such high levels of quality work submitted each year, the TFAF Board initiated Image Artist awards in 2017 to share additional work with the community and promote Taos County artists. 

Of the 86 images submitted for poster-image selection this year, the Image Artists awards go to Cathy Carey, for her oil on canvas titled “Miles of Clouds,” and Stephen Kilborn’s acrylic on canvas, titled “Sunflowers and Gorge.” In addition to Fall Arts print materials and advertising, Carey and Kilborn are given a shared, designated wall and may enter two works in the show. They also participated in the TFAF exhibit at the Taos Ski Valley Art Festival held in mid-August along with Fall Arts poster artist Vedoe.

Visionary Artist Awards

Taos Fall Art’s Visionary Artist awards are presented by the prestigious Peter and Madeleine Martin Foundation for the Creative Arts, and will also be presented at the Fall Arts opening reception Friday (Sept. 21).

The award is given to two actively working and exhibiting artists “who contribute to and invigorate the growth of the living art community in Taos,” according to the TFAF website, “artists whose works innovate, challenge and bridge the boundary between the traditional and the cutting-edge … and shine a beacon of light upon both the history of the town’s reputation and its movement forward into the future, their visions for Taos are extraordinary.”

Nominated by local business owners and established artists, 2018’s Visionary Artists are Maye Torres and Rob Nightingale.

A fine artist in his own right, members of the Taos Fall Arts Committee noted online, “Nightingale has owned and operated Wilder Nightingale for 28 years. The number of artists he has launched and promoted in Taos over almost three decades has not only offered support to each artist but, has grown the art community and invested in the economy of Taos. His gallery has been voted ‘Best in Taos’ repeatedly.

“Nightingale’s paintings are deep, mood-evoking works that create as much the feeling of impending storm and shadow as a unique way of looking at the Taos landscape,” the committee concludes. Nightingale will be debuting all new work at the Fall Arts Festival.

Maye Torres opened Studio 107-B  this January in the same space that for 17 years her mother Cecilia Torres operated New Directions gallery; and whose family stretches across generations in Northern New Mexico.

“Torres’ work is not only beautiful but, evokes strong emotion around the traditions and history of Northern New Mexico,” the selection committee says. “Her elegant drawings are often incorporated into larger works requiring the viewer to travel through the beauty of the piece to access its deeper meaning.”

The Visionary Artists are honored with a dedicated display wall at the festival, are featured in The Taos News, in radio interviews, and in marketing and advertising for the festival. Each will also receive a cash award of $1,500, along with the Visionary Artists Award Certificate.

Peoples Choice Awards

Last, but certainly not least, are the Peoples Choice awards garnered from Taos Open visitors voting for their favorite artists displayed in the show, and announced at the close of the exhibit.

The rest of Fall Arts is punctuated with pop-up exhibits and performances, as noted in the schedule of events below. This whirlwind of creativity fires visual, performing, culinary and film arts into a fury of activity and celebration, capping the year’s work with exhibits, demos and artist receptions that serve to fan creative flames of Taos artists, stoking imaginations through the quiet of winter and seeding a new round of art-making in Taos. 

For more information, see taosfallarts.com.

Kids Give Back Grants 

Kids Give Back was created by the Taos Fall Arts Festival in 2011, where each year the TFAF Board grants an award to one or more children’s art programs in and around Taos, according to Kids Give Back award coordinator Lisa Harris. Award recipients receive a cash prize to go toward funding their program and are invited to mount an exhibit during the following year’s festival. Past recipients include Talpa Community Center ceramics department, Harwood Museum of Art Children’s Art Program and Taos High School Art Program.

A Kids Give Back grants fundraiser is Sept. 9. Look for Creative Edge in Tempo magazine in The Taos News and the Fall Arts website for details.

The 2018 grant applications are now being accepted and will remain open through midnight, Sept. 15. Teachers and applicants may include images, numbers of children served, where your classes are located, and any other information to indicate how a program benefits children. 

Harris said funds are awarded and winners announced opening night of Fall Arts at 7 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 21), at Our Lady of Guadalupe Gym. A representative of the winning organization must be present at the opening to receive notice of the award. Previously awarded programs may reapply every three years. "Last year, with the generous support of our patrons, we were able to give three awards on opening night.”

For more information on applying or if you want to help support children’s art programs in and around Taos, contact Lisa Harris, (917) 697-2163 or yogapuravida@gmail.com.

 Satellite Fall Arts Events

• “Outside the Lines” – 11 Taos artists exhibit at Bareiss Gallery, 15 State Road 150, El Prado (Ski Valley Road just north of Taos).

Opening reception is Saturday (Sept. 22), 4-7 p.m. Exhibit hours, noon-5 p.m. daily. Free admission. Saturday (Sept. 29 ) 2 p.m., panel discussion and selected exhibit artists. Sunday (Sept. 30), close.

“In 2010, when Jeremy McDonnell came to teach in the art department at UNM-Taos, he initiated a critique group of professional artists,” artist Jan Dorris explains in an email. “At first it was for painters but, evolved to include every medium. It was a wonderful learning experience for all who participated. The group has continued to meet even after our facilitator,  Jeremy, moved away. This show, ‘Outside The Lines,’ is a representation of the high quality and variety of our critique group.” 

Artists included in “Outside the Lines” are Maury Calvert, Dora Dillistone, Jan Dorris, Donna Gorski, Sally Grey, TJ Mabrey, Paule Marx, Marcia Oliver, Brian Shields, Jameson Wells and Barbara Zaring.

Discover Southside Arts

Saturday (Sept. 29) 1-6 p.m. Check out this enclave of artist studios, galleries and arts-oriented businesses, all within a few miles south of Taos Plaza. During this one-day event, the studios, gallery showrooms and participating businesses in the Reed Street and Gusdorf Road areas will be open to the public. There will be special happenings, artist demonstrations and opening receptions for the public to explore these creative and unique outlying areas. Discover what Southside Arts has to offer.

• Reed Street Studios — 1022 Reed Street

For more than a decade, one of Taos’s best-kept secrets has been the complex of studios at 1022 Reed Street, south of the downtown Historic District. These studios, along with the Gusdorf Arts Zone, are collectively becoming known as Discover Southside Arts.

This satellite event of the 2018 Taos Fall Arts Festival offers a rare chance to visit the artists and get a glimpse of the creative ferment that has made Taos a mecca for artists for more than a century. Refreshments will be served. 

Six artists from Reed Street Studios will be on hand to show and discuss work in a variety of mediums. They include Nathaniel Lowe: metal designs, and blade-smithing; T.J. Mabrey: embossed, cut-and-folded paper and aluminum; Peter Chinni: sculpture, drawings, paintings; Dan Enger: Day of the Dead drawings and prints; Ann Landi: “Blue” paintings; and Jivan Lee - landscape oil paintings.

• Gusdorf Arts Zone — Gusdorf Road and Paseo del Cañon

Artist studios, gallery showrooms and art-oriented businesses will have special events, artist demonstrations, open studio tours and artist receptions from 1 to 6 p.m. Discover a hidden arts district within converted warehouses and commercial lofts, just two miles south of Taos Plaza located in the commercial complexes on the south end of Gusdorf Road between Este Es Road and just south and north of the first roundabout off Paseo del Cañon. Participating artists and businesses include:

216 Paseo del Cañon East

Vagrant Heart Gallery – Urban art of Taos

204 Paseo del Cañon East

First drive off Gusdorf Road south of roundabout

Palette Framing – Quality art framing, Unit 1

Nikki Marx Studio – Fine “natural” material art, Unit 2

1335 Gusdorf Road

203 Fine Art – Early modern to contemporary, Suite I 

Kim Henkel Studio – Jewelry and sculpture, Suite H

Lynn Garlick – Retablos, Suite D

Aaron Garlick Studio – Drawings and paintings, Suite D

High Frequency loft – Mindful movement, Suite Q

1337 Gusdorf Road

Robin Stanaway Studio – Glass art and installations, Suite N

Melissa Larson – Wholly Rags, Suite L

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