Opinion: Meow Wolf Taos Vortex - boom or bust?

By Diana Smith, president of the Taos Watercolor Society
Posted 9/5/19

Legalities aside regarding the lawful use of Kit Carson Park as a mega-event site, this author can say without a doubt that this event broke the back of the Taos Watercolor Society.This art …

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Opinion: Meow Wolf Taos Vortex - boom or bust?


Legalities aside regarding the lawful use of Kit Carson Park as a mega-event site, this author can say without a doubt that this event broke the back of the Taos Watercolor Society.

This art organization of 27 years is now in its fourth year at the Stables Gallery (Aug. 15-21 at 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte) and the rude treatment of would-be visitors and patrons as well as the TWS members was appalling. The denial of access to its rightful parking lot on the opening night marked the ruination of an otherwise successful annual evening of quality art viewing and the bottom-line sale of the same.

Responsibility for this treatment of the TWS supporters on Friday (Aug. 16) was passed up and down the line at the security force quarters. Patrons and visitors from Taos and out-of-state were rudely turned away or aggressively pushed back with wooden barriers forcing cars to three-point turn at Civic Drive during the height of traffic jams. A few persistent visitors walked blocks back to the Stables to attend the watercolor exhibit.

Arrangements were made as soon as it was learned in the newspaper that this event in the park was to take place on Aug. 16. This allowance was known for months on end and yet this writer was chastised for keeping the offenders "in the dark."

It is irksome, to say the least, that these mega-events bring big money to Taos. In fact, it is the everyday Taos resident that goes to restaurants, puts friends and family up in local accommodations and pays taxes in all forms each day that are being shunted aside while the clientele of these events are camping, bringing in their own food and using the town's facilities, paying very little to local entities.

Instead, they pay $90 per person per day and overwhelm a small town's park and resources. The fact that Taoseños are cut off from their park, endure heart-threatening base beats until midnight, can't get to long-established cultural evenings and add to the carbon monoxide in the air by stalled traffic is beyond any economic benefit to this community. It has been noted that many of Taos' citizens left town or avoided usual patronage due to this questionable event.

The math just doesn't add up. There is only one driving force behind this poor decision to hold such a detrimental "happening" in Taos. Greed.

That famous movie line from "All the President's Men" comes to mind when Deep Throat says, "Follow the money." Someone is profiting big time and it certainly isn't Taos and its organizations. TWS attendance was down 75 percent and sales suffered the same fate.

The talented members of TWS work tirelessly all year to produce excellent art and a well-organized week at the Stables Gallery. Adding insult to injury, the designated parking lots for the Stables Gallery and Donabe Asian Kitchen were out of reach due to the treatment by Meow Wolf's security staff. A clerk (in her 70s) at Andean Softwear, encumbered with supplies for the day and wearing a leg brace, could not park in the provided space in the complex.

Both natives and tourists are being treated in the worst fashion, which goes beyond Taos County borders. It's evident that the powers that be can't see the forest for the trees.

This has to cease or more traditional, nonintrusive events will choose not to come to Taos at all. Then, everyone in Taos will lose. The hurt and disgust of this author should be apparent by now. Wake up and put things right! The citizens of Taos have the right and power to do so.

Diana Smith is president of the Taos Watercolor Society.


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