Fine art

Native visions

'Taos Pueblo Artists Winter Showcase’ opens at Millicent Rogers Museum

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With spring on the horizon, so is the promise of another exciting season of activities that draw locals and visitors off the slopes and into town. This weekend is its prologue, with the “Taos Pueblo Artists Winter Showcase” returning to Millicent Rogers Museum for the fifth annual exhibit and sale.

More than 20 local Native American artists will be featured, including Patricia Michaels, John Suazo, Jonathan Warm Day Coming, Cassaundra Dukepoo, Jocelyn Martinez, Ryan Suazo, Jacqueline Gala, Joshua Concha, Debbie Lujan and Angie Yazzie and sons. The showcase is timed to coincide with the annual spring closure of Taos Pueblo to visitors. The Pueblo is slated to reopen March 20.

Conducted in partnership with the Taos Pueblo Tourism Office, the event is consistently regarded as one of the most popular shows held at the museum, lauded for the abundance of original Pueblo art available for purchase and the heartening spirit of community surrounding the show. The museum’s permanent collections are also open to the public for viewing.

The showcase’s opening reception, which is family friendly and free to the public, is planned Friday (March 10) from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The fun-filled event includes an acoustic performance by musicians Benito Concha and Maztl Galindo, plus light refreshments provided by Taos Mountain Casino, sponsor of the event, whose generosity ensures all proceeds of the event are returned to the artists.

The showcase continues Saturday (March 11) from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Sunday (March 12) from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission is free to Taos County residents and $10 for nonresidents. Two special events are planned. On Saturday at 2 p.m., Ilona Spruce, director of tourism for Taos Pueblo, will present a lecture titled “Taos Pueblo 2017.” On Sunday at 1 p.m., “Keeping Up with Patricia Michaels” promises to be an “intimate update” on the celebrity journey of one of Taos’ prominent residents.

Participating artists have also donated items for a raffle that will be drawn on Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 each and are available during the showcase as well as at the Millicent Rogers Museum shop. Ticket holders need not be present to win.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the event, both Millicent Rogers Museum Executive Director Caroline Fernald and Spruce are quick to note the showcase shouldn’t be construed as an arts and crafts show, a misnomer often mistakenly associated with Native American art.

“Whether you are looking for a piece from either the contemporary or traditional collections – or maybe both – this is an event highlighting the fine art for which Taos Pueblo is known throughout the world,” Spruce said.

“The show includes artists who have already made a name for themselves and also introduces undiscovered artists, which makes this a wonderful opportunity for collectors to acquire new pieces of art,” added Fernald. “From the variety of art being offered – paintings, pottery, sculpture, jewelry, photography and traditional drums, moccasins and beadwork – there will be ample reasons to enhance and beautify your surroundings.”

The collaboration between Taos Pueblo and Millicent Rogers Museum on the showcase represents a relationship that was forged by the namesake of the museum itself. Rogers, a prominent socialite and Standard Oil heiress, arrived in Taos in the late 1940s and remained here until her death in 1953. She amassed an enormous collection of Native American and Hispanic art and is widely credited with bringing these extraordinary art forms to the forefront of national and international renown. In 1956, Rogers’ youngest son, Paul Peralta-Ramos, established the museum to ensure that her legacy as a Native American supporter, mentor and activist remained intact.

With Taos’ centuries-old reputation for social and cultural collaborative diversity, the museum’s office manager, Kathleen Michaels (and Patricia Michaels’ sister), believes the “Taos Pueblo Artists Winter Showcase” is proof that the collaboration continues to thrive here in the spirit of Rogers. She said, “Millicent Rogers Museum is full of our Pueblo’s stories, as seen through her collections that have been preserved here. It’s not quiet like a library; there’s laughter and discussions going on all the time.”

Spruce concurred, noting, “The museum serves to remind everyone that Taos Pueblo is a living community that also benefits from the economic and spiritual support of the surrounding towns,” of which Millicent Rogers was an unparalleled example.

The showcase continues that support, timed as it is with the Pueblo’s annual closure for religious observance. For many families, the loss of income from the closure creates hardship as access to many Pueblo shops is restricted. Having the showcase as an alternative for making local art available not only provides for immediate sales, but, Fernald noted, often encourages visits to the Pueblo when it reopens to the public. “People discover an artist here at the show and are anxious to visit Taos Pueblo to learn more and perhaps purchase more works,” a synergy that is emblematic of Taos.

Event coordinator Noreen Mirabal sees an even longer-term benefit deriving from the showcase. “There are visitors asking months in advance about the show, and in planning for it, we engage so many members of the community, especially our youth,” Mirabal said. “The exciting buildup and all of the preparations become a learning tool for the younger generation, letting them discover more about their community and about the museum.”

Spruce agreed, adding, “Tourism comes as second nature to the adult tribal members, as it’s been our main source of income. With the showcase, our youth learn to appreciate the hard world of an artist while being exposed to the many means they have available to expand their horizons.”

Millicent Rogers Museum is located at 1504 Millicent Rogers Road in El Prado. For more information, call (575) 758-2462 or visit millicentrogers.org and taospueblo.com.

Taos Pueblo harbors innovative creatives

By Coral Bernal

Many people visit Taos without realizing that Taos Pueblo exists. Standing for more than 1,000 years, Taos Pueblo continues to bring forth some of the most innovative and talented artists in Northern New Mexico. Most of these artists have been creating artwork of all mediums since they were young children and now continue to showcase their creations in family gift shops, galleries in town and in prestigious art shows, such as Indian Market.

Artists of all ages from Taos Pueblo work in many forms from traditional to contemporary with everything in between. Richard Aspenwind first started creating artwork in 1987. He works mainly with rawhide, native woods, buckskin and earth pigments. “What inspires me is the vibrant culture that I am privileged to be a part of along with living in one of the uniquely beautiful places on earth,” Aspenwind said. “The meanings and stories that are behind my art reflect my surroundings, personal vision and mankind’s quest to know him or herself deeper.”

A number of people have a gift for making silver jewelry set with turquoise and other semiprecious stones. Joshua Concha received a great amount of inspiration from both his parents. His mother was a silversmith and his father a painter. He has also incorporated sculpture and music into his art endeavors. He said, “Art is also a spiritual practice. Art helps to express inner musings. It brings about physical manifestations of the beauty to be found in the soul.”

A lot of artists use their artwork to release negative energies and overcome hard times in their lives. Twenty-eight-year-old Javonne Garcia uses all sorts of mediums from acrylic paints to graphite. She said that she “likes to capture the moment.” Her artwork has changed a lot and is still changing. She expressed how she had went through a dark phase of her life some time back and during that time worked on many different projects. She said that artwork is her stress reliever. Garcia said, “I love to collaborate with other artists and get their point of views on life. I have always admired art, especially in our community, Taos Pueblo. We empower each other!”

Carpio Bernal, also known as WaterCrow, has had his gift shop at Taos Pueblo since 1985. He works in numerous mediums and art forms, including cedar wood and stone carving. He likes to work in both traditional and contemporary categories. His artwork is a story of who he is as a person. He believes that his artwork is a form of healing, and that is reflected in his chakra chairs and items like his talking sticks. He states that his “inspiration to create comes from the wind. There are always ideas flowing, and that is how I like to see my art.” He is continuously working with new people and finding new ways to help heal people through his creations.

One-of-a-kind treasures in traditional pottery, wood and stone carving, acrylic painting, silver jewelry, drums, music, flutes, weaponry, photography and leatherwork are just some of the mediums created at Taos Pueblo.

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