Keeping kids creative

Taos Schools’ Visiting Artists Program plans first art auction to raise funds


The Taos Municipal Schools Visiting Artists Program has been bringing local artists to the schools for more than a decade. As part of the program, jewelers, potters, writers, santeros, painters, dancers and many other artists and performers go to the local elementary schools and share their knowledge and passion with the students, who are in turn inspired to create their own artwork.

“It’s a labor of love,” Tanya Vigil, Visiting Artists Program coordinator, said. “When we do our yearly exhibits of their work at the Martínez Hacienda and the Millicent Rogers Museum, people are always impressed by the quality of the children’s work.”

The program is funded through the Taos Municipal School District and also in part by the Fine Arts Education Act, but it can also benefit from the community’s support. “That’s why a number of recognized artists, some of whom are or have been part of our program, donated valuable pieces to the first annual art auction that will continue supporting art in the schools,” Vigil said. “Many local businesses have contributed as well. Some of our funding has recently been cut, as people probably know. We have applied for several grants, like the New Mexico Arts, but the program still needs help.”

Participating artists include William Acheff, Ann Huston, Ramsey Scott, Thom Wheeler, Ed Sandoval, Lisa Burg, Dan Vigil, Michael Vigil, Veloy Vigil, Kirk Clark, Pat Woodall, Leandro Rodriguez, Luis Moya, Angie Coleman, J.K. Lampkin, Amy Cordova, Michael Vargas, Walt Gonske, Joselyn Martinez, Victor Goler, Jim Wagner, Margaret Nes, Leigh Gusterson, Larry Bell, Christopher Taylor, Laura Taylor, Kim Pollis, Tupper and Richard Hawley, Larry Herrera, Andy Greif and others.

Gift certificates have been donated by Hotel la Fonda, El Monte Sagrado, Heather Miro Hair Design, Dwellings Revisited, Education @ Work Café, Martyrs Steakhouse, Lambert’s of Taos, Medicine Mountain Massage and other businesses.

The event will take place Saturday (Feb. 25) at the Stables Art Gallery of the Taos Center for the Arts, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. The silent auction will be held from 4-6 p.m. The live auction will start at 6:30 p.m.

Vigil has collected around 30 pieces for the live auction and many more for the silent auction. “They are all great works of art that highlight the talent of our community,” she said.

The event includes entertainment provided by two visiting artists: Rebecca Carón, artistic director of Taos Soundscapes, who will play the cello, and Catalina Río Fernandez, who will offer a flamenco performance. Hors d’oeuvres will be provided by the Taos High School Culinary Arts Program. “There will also be a PowerPoint presentation of our work throughout the years as well as some pieces by the children so the people can see what they do,” Vigil said.

The Visiting Artists Program is available to the students of Taos from kindergarten to eighth grade. Since its beginning, the program has brought more than 60 artists to the schools. “The program has a huge impact on the well-being of every child who participates,” said Vigil. “It has been designed as a true celebration of community, family traditions and life.”

At first, the artists visited only elementary schools, but in 2016, they branched out to middle school. “We would like to go into high school,” said Vigil, “and eventually be part of the summer school as well. The use of art in the classroom not only enhances our children’s education, but also fosters their lifelong appreciation of the arts.”

Vigil said she wants to thank “Vicki Breen, arts consultant at New Mexico Public Education Department, for her unwavering support to our program throughout the years; Dr. Lillian Torrez, our superintendent who has supported us immensely; our assistant superintendent, Melissa Sandoval, who has also helped the program grow and flourish; and Sandra Garcia, our great administrative assistant. I also want to thank all the artists that are or have been part of our program. We couldn’t have made it without you – and the teachers who give us space in their classrooms and work side by side with us. Muchas gracias a todos.”

Vigil also has a personal message to the Taos community: “We are inviting everyone to come to the auction, see all the outstanding pieces that we have and shop for a good cause.”

To find out more about the program or contribute to it, contact Tanya Vigil at (575) 770-2670. To purchase tickets ($10 per person, $15 per couple when purchased in advance; $12 per person, $20 per couple the evening of the event), email or call (575) 758-5210.