Fall arts season

Uniquely Northern New Mexico

Events not found just anywhere


It isn’t just the scenery, the culture and the galleries of Northern New Mexico that are head-turners. Taos and its environs are home to a number of distinctive fall events.

Artes de Descartes XVIII - On exhibit now through Sept. 8

Melissa Larson's Artes de Descartes ("art from discards") is a juried exhibition put on annually through her Taos nonprofit Wholly Rags.

This year marks the 18th annual, 90 percent recycled art show. Plastics, bottle caps, worn yarn, weathered wood — you name it and artists will create with it.

Many Taoseños know Larson for her wizardry with textiles and recycled materials. She has also introduced hundreds of Taos youth to sewing and quilting. The mission of Wholly Rags is “To piece together and rethread the fabric of our community by gathering the cloth of the past to conserve the culture of the future.” 

“We're trying to hold onto this old material to make way so there is always some material so people can sew. The cloth can get lost. If it goes in the landfill that's the end of it,” Larson says. “That's why we have to conserve the material. It can turn into trash. We don't want it to do that. It can be made into art, and beauty and fun.” 

Larson and the participating Artes de Descartes artists apply that sentiment to every piece they create, no matter the materials.

Artes de Descartes is on display at Stables Art Gallery at Taos Center for the Arts, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos, through Sept. 8. whollyrags.com, tcataos.org

Explore “Roots ~ Raices” at NeoRio 2018, Sept. 15, 4-9 p.m.

NeoRio offers thought-provoking art installations right on the rim of the Río Grande Gorge. Now in its 10th year, this free annual event is truly a unique experience for the Taos area. The outdoor contemporary art and community event will take place at Montoso Campground at Wild Rivers Recreation Area in the Río Grande del Norte National Monument in Questa, New Mexico.

“Bringing the arts and the land together gives voice to the voiceless and ears to those who are ready to listen,” reflects Deborah Pender Hutchison, NeoRio attendee and poet in the NeoRio 2017 Music and Poetry Salon.

Each year, NeoRio features a different theme. As a natural follow-up to last year’s focus on “Seeds,” this year the event “digs deeper” with the theme of “Roots ~ Raices.” The branching form of roots is a natural growth pattern as well as a form of distribution and collection, following paths of least resistance. These root-like forms show up underground, but also as watersheds, circulatory systems and family heritage diagrams. Part of this theme is a call to “dig-in”; to discover and explore our own roots, and plant new ones; to learn, understand, celebrate and perpetuate our own heritage, local cultural and agricultural practices as well as the native plants and ecosystems in Northern New Mexico and beyond. Art installations and activities at NeoRio 2018 will begin to “unpack” this very full, poignant and broad-reaching theme in both literal and metaphorical ways. The event will host featured artists Scott Sutton, Kacie Smith and University of New Mexico students of the immersive Land Arts of the American West program. NeoRio contributing artists are Martha Shepp and Nicholette Jean Codding.

Organized by LEAP (Land, Experience, and Art of Place) in collaboration with the BLM and others, this event celebrates National Public Lands Day, and is a great chance to discover the Wild Rivers area of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, or, see it in a whole new way.

The vision for NeoRio is for people to experience the ‘confluence of art and environments’ through the lens of each year’s theme. The combination of art and wild places can be an exciting recipe; at best perception-changing and heart-opening and at least entertaining, novel and fun. With NeoRio, it’s also about community, the place and artworks together with a delicious meal and a beautiful fall sunset.

This is a free event; donations are appreciated. NeoRio is made possible by individual donations, local business sponsorships and support from the Questa Economic Development Fund, Chevron Questa Mine Community Fund, Taos County and others.

Find out more about NeoRio online at leapsite.org or call (575) 224-9066.

NeoRio schedule at Montoso Campground, Wild Rivers:

4 p.m.: Roots-inspired art installations and activities

5 p.m.: Poetry and Music Salon

6 p.m.: Farm-to-Table Feast and music by High Desert Acoustic Duo Justin Dean and Mark Dudrow

7 p.m.: Artist Talks by NeoRio featured artists

8 p.m.: Campfire and music (bring an instrument if desired)

PechaKucha Night Taos, Vol. 28: Sept. 16, 7-10 p.m.

PechaKucha (Japanese for “chit-chat”) is a presentation-style art event in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format, which keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events called PechaKucha Nights.

Taos’ own creatives present slides at this favorite, almost always sold-out event. PechaKucha Night, now in over 900 cities worldwide, was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network and show their work in public. Taos PechaKucha Nights are organized by Richard Spera and Matt Thomas, the latter a Taos local and founder of the PASEO Project. Past subject matter includes “The Pattern Language of Taos Architecture,” “Light Lite” and “Modern Countervailance.”

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance at the Taos Center for the Arts office, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by calling (575) 758-2052 during those hours. Show is held at Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For an updated list of presenters, visit pechakucha.org.

Sabor, A Taste of Taos: Oct. 7, Noon-4 p.m.

This event sponsored by the Taos County Chamber of Commerce at Historic Taos Plaza is designed to bring the community and visitors together to celebrate the intoxicating flavors from Northern New Mexico kitchens. Translated from Spanish, sabor means “flavor.”

Participating chefs from local restaurants will each prepare and serve small, ready-to-eat “tastes," which highlight their food craft. Each “taste” will be purchased by patrons with an event token purchased at an on-site ticket booth at the Plaza. Since 2015, Sabor, A Taste of Taos, has been a fun, lively atmosphere and includes live music, general seating, prizes and children's activities. 

Día de Los Muertos: Nov. 2, 4-7 p.m.

To be full of good spirits is to experience Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Dia de los Muertos is a time-honored tradition to remember loved ones and ancestors with ritual and celebration. It originated in Mesoamerica as a blend of Spanish, Aztec and ancient traditions. Today, it's celebrated worldwide. The gates of Heaven open at midnight on Oct. 31, reuniting deceased children's spirits (angelitos) with their kin for 24 hours. Adult spirits appear on Nov. 2 to revel in the festivities prepared just for them.

Día de los Muertos coincides with the Catholic holiday All Soul's and All Saint's Day. Unlike Halloween, which is more of a costume-inspired, candy-driven party, Día de los Muertos is the Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 way of making meaningful actions. While preparing foods, making things, staring down at little skulls while they are adorned, death is faced a little bit. This ritual offers a container for feelings of sorrow at the passing of beloveds.

On Nov. 2, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated with music, art-making and a feast. Each previous year community members have contributed posole, prune pies, hot chocolate, pan de muerto and more. All are invited to bring a dish to share, perhaps a favorite of someone being remembered. Participants can bring photos of loved ones or objects to add to a community altar. Questa Stories will record audio and document (via photography) any individual’s story if desired. A key aspect of this beloved community event has been art making and sharing in an environment that is supportive and festive. At the event, participants can make sugar skulls, paper marigolds and other art; supplies and instruction provided. There will be much to do and feast upon, and music to enjoy at this ritual of remembering.

Also, the Pixar film “Coco,” which centers around Day of the Dead, will be screened before Nov. 2 at a time and place to be announced. Following the free screening will be a discussion led by Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez (former state historian and native son of Questa) about the film, the celebration, as well as the connection between history and healing, family and community.  Check leapsite.org for updates.

This year’s celebration will be held at La Sala, 2331 State Road 522 in Questa, just north of Taos. 

There is no admission fee. This annual event is coordinated by Gaea and Dava McGahee and Claire Coté and is a collective effort of LEAP (leapsite.org) and many from Questa and surrounding communities.

TAOSFOLK: Nov. 23-Dec. 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Explore Taos' famous “POP-UP" store where you'll find unique, “affordable gifts made by Taos hands.” Gift buyers, home decorators and art lovers alike can find an astonishing ­­– yet, impeccably displayed – array of goodies. The work of more than a dozen jewelers; 11 textile artists; 10 Taos authors; nine potters; eight wood, leather and metal sculptors; seven paper, card and calendar creators; six knitters; five soap, cream and salve gurus; four hat makers; three clothing designers; two gourd painters; and a candlemaker will be available during the event’s 10th year. New this year is a TAOSDOGS and a TAOSCATS corner.

The grand opening “Meet the Artists” event will be Friday (Nov. 23), 5-7 p.m., with food, music and the first pick of all the beautiful, one-of-a-kind items.

While the specifics are tightly under wraps, Taos metal artist Christina Sporrong will show some of her latest pieces. She recently moved back to Taos after spending two years in Barcelona and Berlin.

Cathleen Lambridis, the creative director of TAOSFOLK, told The Taos News before last year’s pop-up store, “I like to think I bring a ‘world’s eye view’ to the store in how it’s presented and curated. I get my inspiration from the world and the artists get their inspiration from Taos.”

Taosfolk.com has every artist’s picture and contact information so they can be reached year-round. She believes the caliber of work that comes out of Taos is “superb” and how it’s displayed is “worthy of worldwide attention.”

To see a list of participating artists, go online to taosfolk.com. Held at Stables Art Gallery at Taos Center for the Arts, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos.

— Compiled by Scott Gerdes


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