The Arts

Creative Taos on-stage

Volume 25 of Taos Pecha Kucha Night offers evening of provocative presentations

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Pecha Kucha Night Taos returns Thursday (Jan. 25) for its 25th volume of unique, informative and provocative presentations. The event takes place at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

As background for those who may be unfamiliar with Pecha Kucha, it was born in Japan and was intended to be, “informal and fun gatherings where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, thoughts, holiday snaps — just about anything, really — in the PechaKucha 20x20 format,” according to the founders’ website.

The name “Pecha Kucha” is a loose Japanese translation for the sounds of “chit chat.” Its 20-by-20 format is built upon the premise that each presentation involves 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide for a discussion of each. But make no mistake about it: Pecha Kucha Night Taos is not a tedious PowerPoint marathon. To the contrary, it’s an evening illuminated by the light of creative energy and filled with inspired conversations.

Festivities begin at 6 p.m. with live entertainment by Kate Mann and Mark Dudrow. The music provides the backdrop as you “chit chat” your way around the TCA’s Encore Gallery. A cash bar will be available during the preshow hour and at intermission. As a special treat, Ziggy’s Frozen Yogurt will offer complimentary tastings during the preshow hour as well.

Then, from 7-10 p.m., settle back into your seat and enjoy the stories that the evening’s 10 presenters will be sharing with you. You’ll be traveling with them across a wilderness of topics, from mastering the angst of novel writing to traveling the back roads of America to preparing nomadic dining, and everything in between. It promises to be a wild and wonderful ride.

And you will undoubtedly see why Pecha Kucha Nights in over 1,000 cities worldwide have become the standard for celebrating ingenuity and spirit with their informality and community-based focus.

Taos has no dearth of talents willing to share both their thoughts and their processes as seen in tonight’s lineup. The presenters in Volume 25 include Nate Berkopec, Jerrod Elliott, Sean Hudson, Allegra Huston, Dan Jones, Max Moulton, Johnny Ortiz and Leia Layus, Sarah Stolar, and co-presenters Janet Webb and Judy Kendall.

Finding one’s voice is a particularly poignant thread weaving through the presentations.

“My oil paintings of women and my talk focuses on how I found my unapologetic feminist voice,” Stolar said. “I am sharing my experience of being torn between making the work I want to make and conforming to how I thought a women artist should behave. I hope that by sharing my journey and struggle, it will inspire others to stay true to the work they want to create.”

Huston plans to focus on a similar strugglew although her tools are words, not oils and brushes. “My presentation is about ‘How I Wrote a Novel.’ This is the one creative thing I can do,” she said. “Since I don’t find writing easy, I’ve developed ways to fool myself that I’m not actually writing at all.” Those tactics have resulted in her first novel, “Say My Name,” which, she said, is the result of “trying to reclaim good writing for women.” (For more about her book, see the feature on Page 10).

At the Harwood Museum of Art, Janet Webb and Judy Kendall are busy co-curating the exhibition titled “Work by Women,” which will be the focus of their presentation. “With difficulty, we narrowed our choices down to work by 76 women who have made their art in Taos or were touched by Taos in some way,” Webb said. “The importance of community became clear to me as the stories of these artists intersected on many levels. At one point in our curatorial process Judy [Kendall] said, ‘Women create in community. Men create in isolation.’”

Some voices carry like the wind across the landscape. “I’ll be speaking about the [over] 15,000 miles of cross-country motorcycle trips I’ve taken on the dirt and gravel back roads of America,” Berkopec said. “It’s about how you can’t find your ‘self,’ but you might be able to create it.”

Jones stays closer to home. “My presentation is titled ‘Artistry with Plants’ and I’ll be tracing the path of my life and how from birth the roots of my passion for plants were nurtured. Through my life many things have contributed to my love of landscape design … Taos has provided the ultimate spiritual platform for my artistry to come into full bloom.”

Ortiz, who with his partner, Leia Layus of the Shed Project, will be presenting their organic approach to sustainable and nomadic dining. “[We are a] dinner project celebrating nature and the fleeting time in Northern New Mexico using local, native and wild ingredients from the surrounding area.”

And, “at the moment, I’m in pursuit of the in-between,” said artist Hudson. “It’s tricky to talk about the in-between because it’s not this or that, here nor there, but rather a transitional space in-between the two.”

Moulton is a partner at local radio station KNCE-FM 93.5. In his talk, he plans to explore “what commercial media looks like when cooperation, creativity and innovation are driving factors. KNCE [with its] over 90 volunteer DJs sharing their music, ideas, art and quirks with the community every day [are what make this] radio family rule.”

DreamTree Project farm manager, Jerrod Elliott. will also present.

In its 24 previous volumes, Pecha Kucha Taos Nights has introduced more than 250 stories to the audience.

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the door or in advance at the Taos Center for the Arts office, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, or online at tcataos.org. For more information, call (575) 758-2052, email pechakuchataos@gmail.com or visit tcataos.org.

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