Fall arts season

In their element

Studio tours are the true fall festivals


The studio tour — the Northern New Mexico art mainstay, a large draw during the fall in Taos County. There's something personal and informing, almost romantic, about watching an artist create in the heart of his or her creative space that is normally off limits.

Chama Valley Studio Tour:Sept. 1-2, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

From the Village of Chama, Chama West, Brazos Canyon, Los Ojos to Laguna Vista, artists open their studios during the 12th year of the tour. More than paintings and less than live gorillas, the Chama Valley Studio has a huge variety of art represented including large sculptures; metal work, paintings in all mediums; fabric art; useful items made from recycled tires; jewelry; glass art; and folk art. Plus, there are local shops featuring clothing, fun treats and the local Brew House.

In-town artists will open their studios to the public while other artists from the area will have booths set up along the main street. No admission charge. Children and pets are welcome. 

A highlight in Historic Chama is a train depot serving the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, an abundance of wildlife (especially elk) and outdoor adventures galore. It’s no wonder its artists are inspired. Visit chamavalleystudiotour.com.

TAO Studio Tour : Sept. 1-3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

“Taos is art” banners placed on lamp posts throughout town speak to the love affair this part of the country has with artists and their creations. It’s been a decade now that the Taos Artist Organization (TAO) kick starts the annual fall arts revelry with the TAO Studio Tour over Labor Day weekend. This year's "TAO" of TAO features more than 30 emerging and established artists. Painters, ceramics artists, photographers, glass artists, fiber artists, jewelers and more are all represented. Check online at taosartistorg.org, as more artists may have been added.

What participating Jeanine Borree loves about hosting an open studio, she states, is “Showing my work to people of all ages. Telling stories about why I paint and how I paint. Listening to people as they study and enjoy my work. And, of course, having my paintings find new homes.”

TAO and the Taos Center for the Arts are sponsoring an exhibit of tour artists’ work at the TCA from Aug. 20-Sept. 4. The TAO Group Tour Show is a good place to see examples of the artists’ work and start the tour. The TCA is located at 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte (tcataos.org).

Tour brochures are available at the Taos Visitor Center (1139 Paseo del Pueblo Sur), participating artist studios, at the Preview Gallery at the Sagebrush Inn and online at taosartistorg.org.

Río Costilla Studio Tour : Sept. 8-9 , 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

In the luminous landscape between the Río Grande del Norte National Monument and the Valle Vidal, impassioned artists and crafts people follow their muse. You are invited to experience the 20th Annual Rio Costilla Studio Tour.

The historic villages of Costilla, Amalia, Garcia and Jaroso are home to artists creating bronzes, paintings in all mediums, fused glass, fine wood-working, fiber art, paper-crafting and much more. You will find a diverse, high-quality selection of art and crafts. The commercial organic wildflower fields will take your breath away. 

Brochures and maps will be available at all stops and at the information booth at the historic Plaza de Arriba in Costilla. A diverse offering of other arts and crafts will be under the portal. Your hunger will be satisfied by local fare as well as green chile cheeseburgers.

High Road Artisans Studio Tour Sept. 22-23/29-30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Since High Road Artisans was formulated two decades ago, the group has held steadfastly to its purpose of providing visibility and education for and by the artists of the region. The High Road is a back-country, scenic route between Santa Fe and Taos leading visitors through high desert, mountains, forests, small farms and tiny Spanish Land Grant villages. (The "low road" runs through the valleys along the Río Grande.) Scattered along the way are the galleries and studios of artists and traditional artisans inspired by the beauty of their surroundings.

Since its inception in 1998, the tour has grown considerably in size and scope. This year’s event features 37 stops. Also look for farmers' markets next to Gaucho Blue in Peñasco and in Truchas next to The High Road Art Gallery.

For more information, go online to highroadnewmexico.com.

Angel Fire Studio Art Tour: Sept. 29-30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Presented by Art Up Northern New Mexico, immerse yourself in 20 studios found in the Moreno Valley communities of Angel Fire, Black Lake, Taos Canyon, Valle Escondido and Eagle Nest. During this second annual tour, there will also be art classes, workshops and music. Photography, oil paintings, woodwork, jewelry … it’s all represented and more.

Sharing artists’ histories, processes and love for their crafts is what studio tours are all about. 

“I discovered my love of beading over 20 years ago when my mom included me in her new hobby,” expresses artist Melody Costa. “I spent years using my beading skills to make gifts and jewelry for friends and family. I found new and interesting ways to expand my creative use of origami and beading, learned how to bead weave using a loom and created colorful vases using repurposed glass bottles. I am constantly looking for ways to become better at my craft and look forward to showing the results.” Visit angelfirestudiotour.org.

El Rito Studio Tour: Sept. 29-30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Come celebrate the 32nd Annual El Rito Studio Tour. Hidden in plain sight is a small community embraced by the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where residents have lived quietly for generations cultivating lives that foster independence.

There are 29 artists on the tour, which make up about 20 stops. Some have full scale galleries of their own, including  Nicoloas Herrara, David Michael Kennedy and Ted Harsha. Fiber artist Gedeon Santos will be showing his backstrap loom weavings. A local, longtime resident has completed a three-story folk art tower titled called "Polar Lander" that fronts on El Rito’s main street. It was under construction for about 10 years. The El Rito Library will again host its scrumptious “Death by Chocolate” fundraiser. For a map and more information, go online to elritostudiotour.org.

Abiquiú Studio Tour: Oct. 6-8 , 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Explore famed painter Georgia O'Keefe's second home — the peaceful, glorious Chama River valley with its golden cottonwoods and mountain vistas. Discover a new world as more than 30 Abiquiú artists open their studios to friends, old and new, during one of the most beautiful times of the year in Northern New Mexico. The 25th annual Abiquiú Studio Tour is a self-guided driving tour that takes visitors and collectors through the village of Abiquiú and the surrounding Chama River Valley. Complimentary maps are available at all the studios, local businesses and online for download at abiquiustudiotour.org.

Dixon Studio TourNov. 3-4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Thirty-seven-years strong, the Dixon Studio Tour is one of the oldest continuously run studio tours in the state. Dixon, nestled in the Embudo Valley where the Río Embudo flows into the Río Grande, has been long known for its rich Native American and Hispanic heritage, productive farmlands, apple orchards and pastoral beauty. 

More than 40 artists will let visitors into their sanctuaries of creativity under the crisp fall air, golden tree-filtered light, limitless blue skies, sunlight and the cidery aroma of apples during this year’s tour, along with musicians and businesses such as wineries, shops and organic farms. Shops and restaurants offer produce, honey, herbs, wine, brewery and other local favorites.

In its early days, Dixon (named for the area’s first teacher) and the Embudo Valley were both agricultural and commercial hubs for the area. They were connected to the outside world by the twice daily mixed freight and passenger trains of the narrow gauge Denver and Río Grande Western Chile Line, which ran from Santa Fe to Antonito, Colorado, from 1880 until 1940. 

A number of orchards, small farms and market gardens continue the agricultural tradition; the Dixon Cooperative Market serves as its commercial center and is the site of the Dixon Farmers' Market. 

While maintaining its centuries-old agricultural roots, the Embudo Valley has emerged as an important center for arts and crafts in Northern New Mexico. The community's connection to the earth continues and is expanded through the work of the artists and craftspeople who live here and participate in the tour — every member of the tour uses materials from the earth, grown in the earth or is inspired by the natural beauty of the surroundings.

"The Mercado” takes place at the public school and features many home-grown and homemade local products. The "Collected Works" show, features an outstanding piece of work by each of the artists on the tour. The opening reception will be held at the Community Center in Dixon from 5-7 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 2). The show continues throughout the weekend.

For more information, visit dixonarts.org, or the tour's Facebook page on Facebook. Maps will be available at each numbered stop and can be downloaded from dixonarts.org.

— Compiled by Scott Gerdes

Folk art glossary

Santo —  Overall term related to a piece of one of various religious art forms. Commonly translated as “saint” as a noun, “holy” as an adjective. A santero is a person who makes such art.

Bulto —  An image of a wood-carved Catholic saint. 

Retablo —  A small oil painting on tin, wood or copper, which was traditionally used in home altars to honor Catholic saints and in some homes, are still used for this purpose. The literal translation for retablo is "behind the altar.”


To Abiquiú

From Taos: Follow State Highway 68 south and U.S. 64 west about 61 miles to Palvadera Road in Río Arriba County.

To Angel Fire/Eagle Nest

From Taos: Take U.S. 64 east for about 24 miles. Eagle Nest is just over 12 miles down the road on U.S. 64.

To Chama

From Taos: Take U.S. 64 west about 95 miles, continue to State Highway 17 north.

To Costilla

From Taos: Take U.S. 64 west to State Highway 522 north for 44 miles. Turn right onto State Highway  196 south.

To Dixon

From Taos: Take State Highway 68 south about 25 miles. Turn left onto State Highway 75 east.

To El Rito

From Taos: Take U.S. 64 west to the Rim Road (past the Río Grande Gorge) and
turn left. Drive 8 miles south to State Highway 567. Turn right (west) and drive to end at
U.S. 285. Turn left (south) to State Highway 111. Turn right on State Highway 111 and go
3 miles. Turn left onto State Highway 554. Follow State Highway 554 for 12 miles into the
heart of El Rito.
Also, an alternative, longer route from Taos: Drive South on State Highway 68. Turn
right (west) onto State Highway 74 and follow that to U.S. 84. Turn right and proceed
about 11 miles on U.S .84. Turn right (north) on State Highway 554. Drive 11 miles
into El Rito.

To the High Road

From Taos Plaza: Take State Highway 68 south to Ranchos de Taos; State Highway 518 east; State Highway 75 west to Peñasco; State Highway 76 south to Trampas, Truchas, Cordova and Chimayó; State Highway 68 south to Santa Fe. 

From Santa Fe: Head north on U.S. Highway 84/285 and turn right onto State Highway 503 where the "High Road" to Taos begins; State Highway 503 to State Highway 76. Follow State Highway 76 to Chimayó. Continue on State Highway 76 through the towns of Cordova, Truchas and Ojo Sarco. Pick up State Highway 518 at Peñasco and wind your way through the Carson National Forest to U.S. Highway 68 at Ranchos de Taos.


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