Fine art

Flourishing creativity in Taos

Marketing maven Karina Armijo, First Weekends and more

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This article represents part 2 of our feature on Taos arts marketing.

Before looking closer at Ana Karina Armijo, the town of Taos Marketing and Tourism Director’s marketing activities, I’m pleased to find that this weekend’s first Friday and first Saturday of the month (Nov. 3 and 4) activities are happening again, giving everyone a much-needed blast-off before the winter holiday rush begins.

First Friday and Saturday

The inaugural First Friday event last month was actually more than expected, given that all the merchants on Bent Street proper were indeed open. But, according to The Underground Taos men’s apparel store owner Stu Brown, that since their gardens and courtyards were dark, most of the evening’s visitors assumed they were closed and stayed jammed into the John Dunn Shops at the end of Bent Street.

“We’re going to amp it out a bit this week,” Brown said, “we’re going to have lots of lighting to let people know we’re here and we’re open.” (I saw new lights being strung up last week, so there should be quite gala goings-on.)

The upcoming First Saturday Art Walk, (Nov. 3), from 3-6 p.m., includes the two newest galleries in Taos: Read Lockhart Gallery, a couple doors north of the Plaza light at 107 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, featuring Lockhart’s classic and contemporary figurative painting; and Fine Art Atelier and Gallery at 108-J Kit Carson Road, with owner-artist Patience Heyl featuring her watercolor, oil and acrylic works.

Across the street, also on Saturday from 3-6 p.m., Valerie Graves is featuring holiday paintings and cards, at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art, 119 Kit Carson Road. Very popular standby, the Kit Carson Museum’s doors at 113 Kit Carson Road will stay open until 7 p.m.

Just north of the Plaza, FaraHNHeight gallery at 311 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, will welcome folks with tunes by popular musician Tara Somerville, to name just a few of nearly 50 Taos galleries, practically all within walking distance.

A reception for University of New Mexico-Taos students art exhibit is 4-7 p.m. Saturday at David Anthony Fine Art, 132 Kit Carson Road – showing a variety of student paintings, prints, ceramics and jewelry. Owner David Mapes will donate a portion of all student artwork sales in support of the UNM-Taos Art Department.

As director of the renewed Taos Gallery Association and Chair of the Taos Marketing Committee, Mapes is excited by all the marketing activity of the past year-and-a-half, something he said is simply not perceived by the average Taoseño or merchant.

Marketing maven of Taos

“What she does is tourism for the whole area involved,” Mapes explained about the town’s marketing and tourism director Ana Karina Armijo. Since Armijo has come aboard in 2015, Mapes said most of the marketing and tourism monies (about a million dollars) stay in Taos, hiring mostly locals to handle jobs that previous firms did from Denver and Albuquerque.

The Waite Company, the new public relations company for the town, just opened an office here and has hired local writer-editor Andy Jones part time. Some Waite Company employees have lived in Taos, according to Armijo’s presentation at the town’s first 2017 marketing meeting Oct. 12.

“Karina says anything we can do to provide local jobs,” Mapes said, “like in tourism, is what she wants to do.” Hiring Alyson Hyder last year, former longtime Executive Director of the Village of Taos Ski Valley, to take over taos.org, the 35-year-old Taos website first started by Webb Design, is an example of keeping things local. Hyder has facelifted the Taos social media pages, a sorely needed fix, Mapes said, following various upheavals in tourism and art markets since the Great Recession of 2008.

“Collaboration with Taos Ski Valley is better than ever before,” Mapes said, referring to the Taos and TSV shuttle program to encourage skiers to ride back to town for shopping and entertainment. “Karina had a 20-year history in Taos, but she also worked with Rebecca Latham, the director of Tourism New Mexico,” Mapes said, noting too, Armijo’s years’ marketing for Blue Rain Gallery on Taos Plaza.

Born in Honduras and a Taoseña for over 20 years, Armijo said in a phone interview last month she’s looking for businesses to market themselves differently.

“People are buying differently than in the 1980s and 1990s. They want to see the artist making their art. When I marketed for Blue Rain Gallery, you went to a party and you’d meet the artist, you’d watch them blowing glass or painting and talking about their art,” Armijo said, adding “the great receptions at RC Gorman’s and Steve Parks galleries, well, that shifted to more installation art, like Cristina Sporrong [metal sculpture], The Paseo and Meowolf. We’ve seen the modern, the Native American, and now we’re into ‘Low Brow,’ and that means we need to shift with it.”

Using, as an example, Taos Pueblo artist and owner of Smoke Signals on Taos Plaza, Dean Johnson, she said she would “love to see a mini video of Dean making his cool work.

“First, you get a website, then you put it all over Facebook,” Armijo explained. “Then you tell your story, you show us you making the art. Then you get on Instagram, you get search-engine optimization … There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Art is really one of our main pillars.”

The Waite Company’s Matt Kennicott said they hope to help Taos businesses achieve the smart marketing strategies Armijo is talking about. They will also be handling much of the Public Information duties that Cathy Connelly’s job revolved around, among many other strategies.

180-degree change

“The whole way marketing is going on in Taos has changed 180 degrees,” said David Mapes, since he began attending marketing meetings in 2011. “Karina started doing these marketing meetings and she wanted to get out of the back seat. In those days [2015], the entire marketing budget was being given to one firm in Albuquerque. As citizens, we would just sit and listen, wondering, ‘Why is all this money going to Albuquerque when we have all these talented people here?’ “

Mapes said The Waite Company is going to help galleries develop the skills they need. “With the Taos office, the money stays in Taos. We need to do a lot more marketing,” Mapes admitted, but added, “There’s so much going on with marketing art in Taos it’s just fantastic.”

Stay tuned for more of the Gallery Glider’s finds on marketing the arts of Taos.

Correction

The Waite Company public relations firm for the town of Taos was incorrectly named in the Oct. 21 Gallery Glider column. They also refer to themselves as The Waite Company, Waite Co., or TWC.

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