2020: Year in Photos

From left are Taos Pueblo officials for 2020: Tribal Secretary Joel Archuleta, Governor Edwin Concha, and Lieutenant Governor Antonio K. Mondragon. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, Taos Pueblo leadership closed the pueblo's borders to the public. It was one of many difficult decisions tribal leadership made to protect Taos Puebloans from the virus.

Competitors waxed their shovels and took to the slopes at Angel Fire for the 40th, and, according to organizers, the final World Championship Shovel Races on Saturday (Feb. 1.) The event, launched decades ago by some resort trail groomers, so the story goes, did not disappoint, with dozens of people competing against each other – and the clock – for bragging rights. 

Marching down Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taoseñas participated in a global mass action against violence and oppression Friday (Feb. 14) during One Billion Rising. Inspired by the statistic that one billion women and children are raped or beaten in their lifetime, the global One Billion Rising movement included a flash-mob dance to the song ‘Break the Chain,’ wellness activity tables, poetry readings and a march through town.

Minister Angela MacDonald marries Donaovan and Nayeli Maestas, of Taos, on Friday (Feb. 14) at the Río Grande Gorge Bridge in El Prado. MacDonald teamed up with Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Jeff Shannon and Judge Melissa Kennelly to offer couples three locations to choose from for their free Valentine's Day marriages. While MacDonald was at the gorge bridge, Shannon was at Taos Junction Bridge and Kennelly was at Taos County Courthouse. Shannon has been offering free Valentine's Day nuptials in Taos for eight years.

Roy Arellano, of Taos, stands inside his childhood home for one of the last times Monday (Feb. 17.) A structure fire engulfed the Arroyo Hondo home Sunday night (Feb. 16,) prompting responses from the Hondo-Seco Volunteer Fire Department, Questa Fire Department, the La Lama Volunteer Fire Department and the Taos Volunteer Fire Department. Roy and three of his brothers were born in the house, which was built by his late parents in the 1920s. "I grew up in this house," Arellano said. "It's just devastating." 

The Town of Taos implemented a nightly curfew Thursday (April 2) in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. The curfew required citizens to remain indoors from the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Taos. The curfew requires people to stay off of “public streets, alleys, parks, rights of way, grounds or other public and semipublic places whether on foot, bicycle or in vehicles of any type” during the curfew.

Father Michael Garcia delivers blessings to local parishioners as they drive by San Francisco de Asis Church on Palm Sunday (April 5) in Ranchos de Taos. "No matter what happens in our lives, whether it's a pandemic, disease or illness, all of this is just another way for us to unite ourselves to God," Garcia said. "Our faith is a reminder that we hope in something greater than just what's happening in humanity and in the world." Garcia joined parishioners Debbie Maestas, Catherine Collins and Peter and Cindy Jeantette in hosting a drive-thru palm distribution to recognize the official start of Catholic world's Holy Week. Due to the continued spread of the coronavirus, the church has not held mass in person for over a month, and instead delivers mass by livestream.

Karla Foronda, of Los Comanches de Taos, takes part in a community procession up the El Salto hill Friday (May 15) as part of a San Isidro Day gathering in Arroyo Seco. Dozens of Taoseños from different religions and cultures gathered next to the river and the community acequias to honor San Isidro, Northern New Mexico’s Patron Saint of Farming, with a “blessing of the waters” ceremony. The centuries-old tradition included a dance and prayer service from Los Comanches de Taos, shared prayer led by David Fernandez, community procession of the santos along the acequia and the casting of flower petals into the water. This year’s gathering was slightly different, as community members maintained social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Salma Virel, of El Prado, traces the fist of 9-year-old Kodiak Sporrong Ristow onto the Parse Seco building Wednesday (June 3) in Arroyo Seco. In collaboration with artist Izumi Yokoyama, dozens of fists covered the exterior of the experimental art space as part of a peaceful demonstration against police violence and systemic racism. "It's important to have public places, galleries, establishments and restaurants, speak out against this brutality," Virel said. "We need your support. We need you to show up because we didn't create this system. Support your fellow black artists and black-owned businesses."

Hundreds of Taoseños lay face down with hands behind their backs Wednesday (June 3) for nine minutes, the time a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed black man. The protestors joined a global movement to seek justice for Floyd's death and put an end to police brutality and racism. 'Each one of us, unlike George Floyd, is going to get up and live another day,' artist and activist Nikesha Breeze said during the demonstration. 'So what do we do? We show up and we fight and we say, "No more!"'

Salman Lee, center, embraces Nikesha Breeze and Tigre Bailando Friday (June 19) following Breeze and Bailando's invocation ritual performance at the Juneteenth Block Party at Revolt Gallery. In an emotional performance called "Say their names," Breeze and Bailando paid tribute to the the 70 Black people, Black Trans and Gender Nonconforming people killed in this year.

Six-year-old Mikaela Trujillo sneaks up on her dad, Manuel Trujillo, on Wednesday (July 8) in their Taos home. The New Mexico Public Education Department in June announced its plan for students heading back to the classroom — a proposed “hybrid learning” schedule in which students attend in-person classes for some days of the week, and spend other days learning online. For Mikaela, who will be getting tested for autism, the classroom setting is critical in helping her learn to communicate with others. “She was having a hard time with interaction before this happened,” said Mikaela's mom, Marissa Montoya. “Since this has all started, she has gone downhill and needs interaction, and she’s not getting it because of this distance thing. She needs school."

As afternoon thunderstorms roll passed on Tuesday (June 23,), Des Montes rancher and artist Floyd Archuleta gathers hay bales from land that has been in his family for generations. After marginal snow accumulation and little Spring rainfall, Taos County is expected to experience an abnormally dry summer. According to the June 18 update of the United States Drought Monitor, southern Taos County is in severe drought and the northern region is in extreme drought. "I pray for rain every day," said Archuleta, who is among farmers and ranchers most vulnerable to abnormally low runoff. "If it doesn't rain, we're going to be in trouble." 

Alexia Martinez, 12, smiles while walking her 4H pigs, named Gordo, Shorty and Arnold, early Tuesday (July 21) around her Ranchos de Taos home. Martinez rises early to exercise, feed and care for her animals despite the uncertainty that COVID-19 has caused for Taos County Fairgoers.

After saying a prayer to thank the Earth and soil, Corilia Ortega helps her 3-year-old nephew, Enoch Gonzalez, of Denver harvest zucchini from her family's Arroyo Hondo farm on Saturday (July 25.) Worried he might hurt the plants, Gonzalez required some gentle coaxing before picking his first zucchini of the morning. Ortega is promoting LandLink New Mexico through her job with Alianza Agri-cultura de Taos and is also interim president of the Taos chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Taos Middle School Art Teacher Christine Autumn poses for a portrait Tuesday (Aug. 4) surrounded by her students' self portraits at Taos Middle School. "They're all so different; they're exquisite," Autumn said of the portraits. "I'm sitting with my beings. My people." Autumn's students did not have the opportunity to exhibit their self portraits this year, as in-person teaching abruptly ended in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Taos students will continue learning for the foreseeable future. For Autumn, the thing she will miss most is engaging with the students one-on-one. "But I'm high risk," she added. "It's not worth my life to come back to teach."

Julianne Cisneros divides her attention and assistance between her two children, fourth-grader Diego and second-grader Elizabeth, on Wednesday (Aug. 26) while they complete homework for their online classes outside their home in Ranchos de Taos. 'It's been challenging,' said Cisneros, who also has a part-time job. 'But hopefully we'll overcome this. We're just taking it day by day.'

Connie White, a first-grade teacher at Enos Garcia Elementary School for over 20 years, shares a moment with her horses, named Var and Doc, on Wednesday (Aug. 5) outside her El Prado home. Between learning new online platforms, crafting a lesson plan and staying in touch with students and their parents, White said the preparations for Spring semester are overwhelming and stressful, at times. She spends time with her horses to help break up long hours at the computer. "My joy is my horses," White said.

Taoseños were treated to a live drive-in jazz concert Saturday (Aug. 29) featuring world-renowned jazz musician Doug Lawrence. Joining Lawrence from a stage in the parking lot behind the TCA were musicians Pete Amahl (drums), Bob Muller (keyboard) and Terry Burns (bass). The one-of-a-kind concert was presented jointly by the Taos Jazz Bebop Society and the Taos Center for the Arts.

Before sunrise, masked Taos Tigers complete push ups in unison Wednesday (Sept. 30) during a football workout at Anaya Field. With fall contact sports postponed until the spring, student athletes continue training with masks despite the uncertainty of their season. 

Taos Firefighters work to contain a blaze that burned about one acre of field filled with lumber, firewood and mixed vehicles Thursday (Oct. 8) in Ranchos de Taos. Taos and Rio Fernando Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the blaze off West Romero Road. Firefighters controlled the blaze within an hour, and had it completely out within two hours.

Smoke billows from the Luna Fire in the hills behind El Rito Presbyterian Church Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 20) in Chacon. As of Tuesday, the fire is burning 7,412 acres in steep terrain of mixed conifer, spruce and ponderosa pine at lower elevations. In an open-air town hall meeting with residents, Angel Fire Fire Chief John Murtagh said the Luna Fire is burning with an Energy Release Component of 97 percent, which "predicts fire danger that you would see in June or July." "That's really high for this time of year," Murtagh said. "The most important message is don't panic. We are observing the fire danger and preparing for the worst case scenario only because we have to."

Type 1 Operations Branch Director Corey Rose stands for a portrait Sunday (Oct. 25) near Bull Canyon in branch five of the Luna Fire. Rose is also the assistant chief for L.A. City Fire and was assigned to help manage the Luna Fire through its progressive containment in recent days. “When you have this significant of a storm coming, you can’t wait until it hits you,” Rose said of the impending snowstorm. “We’re pulling everyone off the hill.” The Luna Fire management team had been using a combination of direct and indirect tactics on both sides of Luna Canyon to protect the values at risk and suppress the blaze, which as of Oct. 27 was 27 percent contained. “The people in this field have missed Christmases, birthdays, you name it,” Rose said. “But what we get back is that reward for making that difference. That’s what keeps me going.”

Dana Gusky and Meghan Ballard, both of Los Angeles, enjoy the swings and the snow Monday (Oct. 26) at Kit Carson Park. "This [weather] is very different from L.A.," Gusky said. "We were out walking and saw the playground and felt inspired."

House District 42 candidate Kristina Ortez (D) is embraced by her daughter, Vida Ortez y Jones, on Tuesday evening (Nov. 3) as the results roll in from the hotly-contested local race for state representative. With all 41 precincts reporting and early votes counted, Ortez had 5,794 votes to Linda Calhoun's 2,274.

John Spencer-Nowak holds a portrait of his late mom, Dora Nowak, a longtime Taos Living Center resident, who died after contracting COVID-19. Nowak is now one of 20 residents at the Living Center to have died of the disease as of Wednesday (Dec. 2), according to Dave Armijo, the nursing home's administrator. A total of 46 residents have become infected, he said. According to the state, a total of 23 people from Taos County have died from complications related to COVID-19, the respiratory disease which stems from the novel coronavirus.

Taos County Intermediate EMT Jarred Johnson shows the cat to its owners Thursday (Dec. 10) after it was rescued from a structure fire Ranchos de Taos. At least one cat died, two dogs were saved and a kitten's survival was still in question after a trailer southeast of Taos caught fire and filled with smoke. Taos volunteer firefighters responded to the report of the structure fire around 2:15 p.m. on Espinoza Road, where a large plume of white smoke emanating from the trailer could be seen for several miles in every direction.

Katelyn Walker, 7, of Houston, Texas, raises a candle with her family Thursday (Dec. 24) during a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at First Baptist Church in Taos. Usually the church's Christmas Eve services are standing-room only, but this year Pastor Randy White offered shorter services at three different time slots to maintain social distancing. "Upholding traditions and having something short and simple, like this service, is so meaningful," he said.

Click below to support our sponsors