Tempo

The Paseo looks forward

‘It might be the first big event that brings the community back into the streets’

By Genevieve Oswald
Posted 4/9/20

Most conversations these  days do not begin with bright words. Words like hopeful, transformation and opportunity are all mostly nostalgic reminders of days gone by.

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Tempo

The Paseo looks forward

‘It might be the first big event that brings the community back into the streets’

Posted

Most conversations these days do not begin with bright words. Words like hopeful, transformation and opportunity are all mostly nostalgic reminders of days gone by.

With so much up in the air it’s hard to know if the ground you stand on is solid, because likely, it is not. None of us knows what’s coming next and for the art world that future looks most grim. Burning Man announced last week ticket sales were postponed, museums and galleries have long been closed, many would-be future gigs and installation opportunities are postponing or canceling calls for applications.

Cancellation of events such as the Edinburgh Fringe Fest and the postponement of festivals like Burning Man and Coachella have a direct impact on the artists living here in Taos, involved in Paseo and other festivals around the world. Art without a venue in the 21st century is nearly as tragic as a Shakespearean play.

Perhaps there is no need to be too dramatic, as this tragedy has yet to come into its second act. Not everything is canceled yet. Here in Taos The Paseo street art festival is still setting their sights on hosting a public art event this fall. Mind you, caution is at the forefront of that planning. Rita O’Connell and Matt Thomas, directors of The Paseo, are people you believe when they use that word. But they are not so cautious that they are canceling all together.

Their approach to the project mirrors that of many other organizations and event planners at this time, the ones choosing to continue bravely and cautiously: there will be a monthly assessment and the plans will proceed unless caution dictates they must cancel. Thomas was adamant to share that “funding is in place and as of now they are planning an incredible community art event in September.”

Like our community, The Paseo organization is adaptable. Being adaptable is the only way any of us will make it through these times and arrive on the other side with a feeling greater than loss. “This is something I have learned from Matt in the past and continue to learn from him – we have a definite ‘every challenge is an opportunity kind of ethos.’ I think no matter what the circumstances are we will likely meet them,” O’Connell said.

Meet challenge they will. Challenge has inspired The Paseo festival directors to set an open call for Taos county–based artists to sign up for the “We Want You to Go Away” campaign. The campaign is a Paseo event intended to send a Taos-based artist to a four-week artist in residency program in Vermont. The Paseo is confident it will be able to send an artist on this residency in the next 12 months (assuming the pandemic allows).

The Paseo is also hosting a Census 2020 Poster Competition with prizes for first, second and third place. All of the prizes will be gift certificates purchased from local businesses. There’s a definite feel-good factor in this – and, like everything Paseo, that is by design. To learn more about these campaigns check out The Paseo’s website (paseoproject.org).

In the meantime, Thomas and O’Connell are acutely aware that while many artists see this time as a stay-at-home “artist in residency” opportunity, others may not have the privilege to have such a perspective. As the coronavirus continues to reshape life all around the world, the weeks of isolation have made it clear that without access to technology, the capacity to keep up with the world as we now know it becomes even more limited.

“When we talk about virtually engaging and who’s actually able to engage, we come up against some walls. We just want to help artists in our community make those connections,” said Thomas, who is constantly working on joining links. One way he is addressing the current need for connection is through a podcast series of interviews on SoundCloud with mostly local artists discussing process, art and the times. Thomas has produced and published the podcast “under the Paseo umbrella because I felt like it was a way that Paseo could contribute to connecting our community through the arts.”

Taos is fortunate to have people like Thomas and O’Connell dedicated to creating space and making connections for artists to share their works. Unlike most conversations these days, ours was full of uplifting words, hopeful vision and, most impressively, the courage and willingness to continue in the face of adversity.

O’Connell succinctly closed our exchange by stating that “obviously we have no idea what is coming and we would never be incautious, but the fact that The Paseo might be the first big event that brings the community back into the streets is really special.” Yes it is. Let’s all hope that the third act of this drama ends there – with love and joy as big as the heart of this wonderful organization.

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