In the Land of Enchantment exists a "Place of Extraordinary": Taos. Nestled amongst breathtaking vistas, blanketed under luminous skies, and steeped in an enticing blend of cultural diversity, Taos has inspired artists for over a century and risen to prominence as a world-class art destination. Each autumn, both locals and visitors gather in anticipation of the Taos Fall Arts Festival (TFAF), an opportunity to experience and celebrate all that the artists of Taos and Taos County have to offer. This year's 43rd Annual Taos Fall Arts Festival is held Sept. 22-Oct. 1.
The Taos Fall Arts Festival began in 1974 as a venue staged at the homes of patrons who wished to promote local art. As it grew in popularity, TFAF developed into a juried festival for artists who were Taos County residents, and quickly began attracting compatible events. Yet, despite the changes that have occurred over the decades, TFAF’s mission has remained constant: celebrate the visual arts and artists in Taos County, encourage the growth of emerging artists and continue an event where artists can come together to exhibit and market their works for the delight and appreciation of the larger community.
Much of what has recently made TFAF so dynamic can be attributed to changes wrought over the last several years, including the addition of new partnerships such as The PASEO and the Taos Environmental Film Festival. Both have brought new energy to the venerable institution, appealing as they do to wider audiences across the region and the country. For the third year, “Visionary Artist” awards will be presented by the prestigious Peter and Madeleine Martin Foundation for the Creative Arts to artists who have demonstrated a passion for the future of Taos, and who have inspired a new paradigm within the art community.
Even the Festival’s collectible posters have undergone a transformation. Long used to seeing traditionally painted landscapes and figures, the community was surprised and delighted by the 2015 selection of a black-and-white photograph by Meredith Mason Garcia. The 2016 winner, Tera Muskrat, a self-taught artist, garnered a reputation for bringing to the forefront the feminine power, struggles, empathy and humor that are elemental to thriving in this multicultural New Mexican society. Each of these selections demonstrates the depth of encouragement to welcome all genres, all media, for consideration as the voice of TFAF.
The 2017 Poster Artist is Ed Sandoval with his glorious 36 x 60 painting “The Colors of Northern New Mexico." Sandoval has painted in Taos for more than 30 years, capturing the very essence of the area’s history. Sandoval can be found most days painting at the corner of Paseo and Kit Carson in front of his gallery, talking with tourists and passersby about his work. If you are lucky, you might see him as Zorro, riding his horse by The John Dunn Shops with sword in hand.
The 2017 Taos Open Exhibition at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Gymnasium, 205 Don Fernando Street, will be an all open, all-inclusive show. This one venue features Taos County artists of all mediums. The festival’s Opening Reception on Sept. 22 from 5-8 p.m., will feature a superb smorgasbord of openings and receptions throughout the historic downtown district. Music will be provided by The Christine Autumn Jazz Trio, refreshments will be served and a cash bar will be available. Awards will be given in several Best of Show categories. There will be no juried show due to the loss of venue space at Coronado Hall.
During the Opening Reception there will be an Award Ceremony at 6 p.m. honoring the 2017 Visionary Artists. The honorees will be celebrated with a dedicated exhibit at the Open as well as cash awards of $1,500 each. This award is given to working artists who exemplify growth to the future of the Taos art community. The 2017 Visionary Artists are Siena Sanderson, for her longtime work with the youth of the Taos community and Sarah Hart, a well-known printmaker and co-owner of Ennui Gallery on Bent Street. Her work with many non-profits in Taos is seen as public art on bulletin boards all over town.
Sanderson was raised in south Florida, inspired by the beauty within her father’s gardens. This early childhood experience has informed her work with art and seed. Upon completion of her Art degree in Texas, she moved to Oregon for her graduate work.
She first arrived in Taos as a Wurlitzer Fellow in 1983. After living in southern New Mexico and Massachusetts, she finally planted herself in Arroyo Seco where she and her husband, Mark Goldman, raised their son, Ian. She has been working with children and creating art in Taos for more than 30 years.
Sanderson worked with domestic violence issues for many years before teaching art in area schools. For the past 10 years, she has brought art directly into the neighborhoods throughout Taos with her creation of the Neighborhood Arts Project. That program settled in the Gusdorf Housing Development as SmArt House, an after-school program now run through Youth Heartline. For four years she was part of the ongoing SEED exhibit that designed a children’s educational component, teaching the science of seeds alongside artwork inspired by the images of seeds.
She is currently a family navigator for Las Cumbres Community Services in Taos, providing services to families and their children throughout the community, including the Nurturing Center at Enos Garcia and the Juvenile and Adult Detention Centers. During the past year, she has worked with the Juvenile Detention Center staff to create a garden and her hope is to bring art to the Detention Center residents. She feels the urgency of supporting the children in our community and believes the arts are key to providing an opportunity for our youth to express their feelings.
At the age of 5, Sarah Hart decided that she would become an artist when she grew up. Her childhood was filled with creativity, fueled by her mother, Marty Hart. She was given the ability to explore many different mediums.
Hart learned to screen print in 2006, and took to the form immediately. She had long held an appreciation for the art of printmaking, fueled in large part by the practice of linoleum printing, which she had learned from her mother. Hart was taught to screen print by the late KC Haywood, her boyfriend and a former Taoseño, when they were living in Chicago. After Haywood’s passing in 2008, Hart decided to continue pursuing their shared dream of opening a print shop, and moved back to Taos to do just that.
Her first posters, created for old friends and local band Two Ton Strap in trade for a website, attracted enough attention to launch a thriving print and design business, and Hart Print Shop officially opened in Taos. Hart’s distinctive artistic and printing style has since been lent to creating hundreds of posters for live shows in and around Taos. Typically printed on the inside of old beer boxes, Hart’s posters have become coveted local collectibles over the years — many locals boast extensive private Hart poster collections, grabbed from the bulletin board at Cid’s or the windows at the World Cup. Hart has provided gratis work for many nonprofit fundraisers in the Taos community.
Ennui Gallery, owned by Hart and fellow Taos artist Montserrat Oyanedel Tolmo, opened in 2013. The gallery has allowed Hart an outlet to showcase her works in other mediums, from pencil illustrations to paintings, alongside the screen-printed works Taoseños have come to know so well.
Parties, prints and films
Concurrently, and scattered amid the TFAF partnerships, The PASEO “Party on the Plaza” will be in full swing on Saturday night, Sept. 23. Taos Fall Arts will be open until 8:00 during the party to give party goers a chance to see the Open Exhibition. Guests are invited to come see the show then stroll a block over to Taos Plaza for the party. The Paseo is a highly anticipated event dedicated to bringing installation, projection, and performance art to the streets of Taos. Previous years of The PASEO have drawn unprecedented crowds, as will this year’s offerings of “unhangable art” that is “experimental, time-based, ephemeral, participatory, and context responsive.” (Read more about The PASEO.)
Printmaking has been a historical tradition with many artists in Taos since the early founders of the Taos Art Colony. This year, two print shows will exhibit concurrent with Taos Fall Arts Festival. SoDo Open Studio at 1022 Reed Street, is an introduction to over three generations of Taos artists: Nick Beason, Peter Chinni, Dan Enger, Ann Landi, Maurice Lowe, Lise Poulsen, Jason Rodriquez and Aya Trevino. Pressing on 7 will present work at Stables Gallery. The show will feature demonstrations of printmaking techniques and workshops.
Music and poetry will delight with “Take a Tour From Route 66” at Hacienda de los Martinez on Sunday, Sept. 24. The Taos Tour will feature music by Kim Treiber and Chipper Thompson and 13 poets from New Mexico and California performing their Route 66 poems.
Wednesday, Sept. 27, will see the premier of the 3rd annual Taos Environmental Film Festival at the Taos Community Auditorium. The Film Festival runs through Oct. 1 and has been created with the support of the Taos Fall Arts Festival. The festival was dreamed up by, and is organized by the hard work of Jean Stevens. It incorporates films honoring the land, environment and people of New Mexico, the country and the world, with performance and lectures to expand our knowledge and engagement with environmental activism and topics. Screenings are held at the Taos Community Auditorium, SOMOS and at Taos Ski Valley.
The event opens with “ODE to Standing Rock,” a poetic narrative of the brave defenders of Standing Rock. The film includes unique cinematography with superb drone footage of the pipeline. “Coral Reef Adventure” brings the beauty and mystery of the coral reef environment to the big screen with a
film that both celebrates this vital ecosystem and warns of its imminent decline. The film follows the personal journey of two underwater filmmakers, Howard and Michele Hall, on a 10-month expedition across the South Pacific to explore and document some of the world’s most beautiful and endangered coral reefs. Followed by “Groundswell,” director Chris Malloy’s short film follow-up to "180° SOUTH." Surfers Dan Malloy, Trevor Gordon and Pete Devries set sail on a 68-foot sailboat guided by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation into British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest where a pipeline and oil tanker proposal looms. The team explores waves and a rainforest full of life while learning of the potential irreversible consequences of this project from local First Nations leaders. Thought provoking and inspiring films are offered daily and each evening through Sunday, Oct. 1. A photography and writers panel discussion with John Nichols, William Davis and Jim O’Donnell will be presented at SOMOS on Sept. 27 to further inspire area artists. The film festival is made possible by Taos Fall Arts and Taos Ski Valley Foundation. More films are listed in the accompanying schedule and can be found online at taosfallarts.com.
In conjunction, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival boasts 29 film shorts. The "eco-benefit" will be held Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Taos Community Auditorium. The event includes food, drinks and a raffle.
Tickets to all screenings are free, but donations are accepted and support Rivers & Birds, Amigos Bravos, Western Environmental Law Center, Taos Land Trust and Taos Fall Arts Festival.
Also this year, TFAF will hold a fundraiser for the Kids Give Back Program. A cash award will be presented to a local school arts program. Last year, because of the great success of this event, two $500 awards were given, one to TISA and one to Taos Pueblo Day School. The event will be at Ed Sandoval's Quesnel Studio on Sept. 10, 5-7 p.m. Tickets are $50, limited attendance for talk and demonstration along with wine and cheese. Call Paul Figueroa at (575) 779-8579 for tickets.
Ballet Taos and Dancers of the Desert Moon with Diane Eger will perform at the Guadalupe Parish Gym during the 2017 Taos Open Exhibition and the Puppet Theatre los Titiritoeros, “Dona Adelina,” a bilingual performance of a solo marionette will be presented by Cristina Masoliver. Taos Galleries and Studios join Taos Fall Arts Festival with receptions and gallery openings throughout the festival.
There is something for everyone of all ages during this exhilarating nine-day festival, whether locals or visitors. Partake in the variety of options being offered, explore new vistas, leave with a greater appreciation of the greatness of the Taos art community and let the heart of Taos grab a piece of yours.
For more information, go online to taosfallarts.com.
— Jean Stevens and Paul Figueroa contributed to this story
43rd annual Taos Fall Arts Festival, Sept. 22-Oct. 1, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, No charge.
The 2017 Taos Open Exhibition is an all inclusive, all open entry show featuring Taos County artists. The exhibition will be open to the public daily at the Guadalupe Parish Gymnasium, 205 Don Fernando Street, in the Taos Historic District. Opening Artist’s Reception and Awards Ceremony: Sept. 22, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.; Sept. 23, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Taos Open Exhibition: Sept. 24-Oct. 1, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Taos Environmental Film Festival
Sept. 27, 10 a.m: "Coral Reef Adventure" and "Groundswell", Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, (575) 758-2052. No charge.
Sept. 27, 7 p.m: "Ode to Standing Rock", SOMOS, 108-B Civic Plaza Drive, (575) 758-0081. "Ode to Standing Rock" is a poetic narrative tribute to the brave defenders of Standing Rock, North Dakota who stood against the construction of a controversial oil pipeline. The film includes unique cinematography with superb drone footage of the pipeline. After the screening, distinguished Taos writers/photographers, John Nichols, William Davis and Jim O’Donnell will discuss the intersection of environmental photography and writing. A book signing follows.
Sept. 28, 10 a.m: "Chasing Coral", Taos Community Auditorium (school screening). "Chasing Coral": Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.
Sept. 28, 7 p.m: "The Colorado", Taos Community Auditorium. "The Colorado": A music-based documentary that explores the Colorado River Basin from social and ecological perspectives across history.
Sept. 29, 10 a.m. "Before the Flood", Taos Community Auditorium. "Before the Flood": This film presents a riveting account of the dramatic changes now occurring around the world due to climate change, as well as the actions we as individuals and as a society can take to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet. From Academy Award winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens. Executive Producer Martin Scorsese.
"Seed: The Untold Story": The story of our seeds is a defining story of our time. Caught between the runaway juggernaut of industrial agriculture and the ecological, cultural, and spiritual destruction in its wake, seeds offer us a profound chance to restore mutual harmony between people and planet.
Sept. 29, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m: "Wild & Scenic Film Festival on tour" shorts, Taos Community Auditorium. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., program 1 begins at 6 p.m. and program 2 begins at 8 p.m. after an intermission
Oct. 1, 6 p.m: "Chasing Coral", Taos Community Auditorium.
Oct. 1, 8 p.m: "In the Pursuit of Silence", Taos Community Auditorium. "In the Pursuit of Silence": A meditative exploration of our relationship with silence, sound and the impact of noise on our lives.