Studio tours are the heartbeat of Fall Festivals

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The studio tour — the mainstay, a large draw during Taos Fall Arts Festivals. 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. From the High Road to Abiquiú, there is no shortage of studios to tour or talent to behold.

Taos Studio Tour: Sept. 2-4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

It's been a decade now that the Taos Artist Organization (TAO) kick starts the annual fall arts revelry with the Taos Studio Tour over Labor Day weekend. This year's "TAO" of TAO features emerging and established artists for a total of 40. Visual creators working in a variety of mediums open their studios around town from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and encourage the public to enjoy the activities planned for the holiday weekend.

Painters participating in the tour include Mark Asmus, Donna Gorski, Linda Rauch, Bill Baron, Anita Rodriguez, Katherine Bensusen, Mary Beth Hill, Sweet Marcie Brown, Ron Larimore, Jeanine Borree, Kathryn Hayden, Margaret Tange, Judy Burch, James Cofman, Cher McMacken, Dennis Tasa, Karen Tasa, Bob Cooley (who also sculpts in wood and clay), Eve Messick, Carol De Marinis, Maureen Tibbs, Inger Jirby, Abril Mondragon, Don Wallis, Jane Dunlap, Live Johnson, Bren Price, Kristen Waszak, Lydia Johnston and Janet Price.

Ceramic artists are represented by Lynn FitzGerald, Dennis Luftig, Sylvia Luftig and Mari Hawkes. The tour also includes glass artists Scott Messick and Roy Dunlap; tapestry artist Peggy Griffey; photographer Jeremy G. Landau; fiber artist Laura Quilligan; furniture maker Yavanne Jaramillo; and mixed-media artists Jan Dorris, Nicki Marx (and wearable art), Danielle Kennedy, Lynda Jasper-Vogel, Barbara Moncivais Sager, Ty Minton and Caren Lorber. Serigraphs, photography and etchings are featured at 555 Taos plus, glass, jewelry, encaustic and more at Taos Studio Works.

TAO and the Sagebrush Inn are sponsoring an exhibit of tour artists’ work in a "Preview Gallery" at the Sagebrush Inn from Aug. 1-Sept. 5. This is a good place to see examples of the artists’ work and start the tour. Over the Labor Day weekend, a TAO representative will be at the Sagebrush gallery to answer tour-related questions.

TAO sprang from an idea thought up by visual artists Bren Price, John Staple and David Vedoe in the summer of 2007. They envisioned a movement that saw artists supporting artists, which led to the crafting of the TAO mission: "To create a forum for visual artists and the greater community to work together to inspire and promote one another." The tour began the following year.

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

Chama Valley Studio Tour: Sept. 2-3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

From the Village of Chama, Chama West, Brazos Canyon, Los Ojos to Laguna Vista along State Highways 64/84 in northern Río Arriba County, artists open their studios. More than paintings and less than live gorillas, the Chama Valley Studio has a huge variety of art represented including large sculptures; metal work (metal bells, knives and black smithing), paintings in all mediums; fabric art such as quilts and hand-dyed woven traditional Northern New Mexican rugs; useful items made from recycled tires; jewelry in all mediums; and glass art, crosses and folk art. Plus, there are local shops featuring clothing, fun treats and the local Brew House.

More than 40 artists are participating in this 11th year of the tour. In-town artists will open their studios to the public while artists from the area will have booths set up along the main street. No admission charge. Children and pets are welcome. 

Río Costilla Studio Tour: Sept. 8-10, Friday 4-7 p.m./ Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

You will experience studios and homes tucked along this picturesque route, winding its way along the Río Costilla. The 19th Annual Río Costilla Studio Tour is kicking off this year's tour with Music on the Plaza featuring Chris Arellano on Friday, (Sept. 8). The festivities will be held on the Historic Costilla Plaza (aka Historic Plaza de Arriba) from 4 to 7 p.m. and select studios will also be open during that time. The tour will open in its entirety Sept. 9 and 10 during the hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information will be available on the Costilla Plaza as well as in Jaroso, Colorado.

The tour can be experienced in one day if you keep moving. However, consider a leisurely pace and check out the local lodging. You won't leave hungry either. Food and lodging information can be found online at

The tour includes the Hispanic artist that has been here for generations, the longtime Anglo ranchers, as well as the relative newcomers who may have raised families here, but are still considered the "new ones." This tour is as authentic as it gets.

Ever wonder what draws such an artistic mix of people to a tiny dot on the map in the northern-most speck of New Mexico and the Southern-most part of Colorado? Why do they do a multitude of things to get by in such a beautiful place that can also be very harsh? What keeps them creating here in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos is their all consuming love of creating their art.

This year Kelly West will be once again sharing her artisan breads. New to the tour are Anita McDaniel's hooked rug wool footstools and pillows. Others on the tour include local photographers, JC Santistevan and Nancy DeHerrera Crochet, woodworker David Satrun on the Plaza, as well as African-style musical instruments built by Michael Schraud. Look for local painters Karen McCurtain-Blair, Karen Ahlgren, Randy Pijoan, Steve Waldrip, Kathryn Tatum and Evy McLean. There will be even more artisans and jewelers on the Plaza such as world-class sculpture done by Lynn Kircher, Matthew Gonzales and RC Santistevan, as well as ceramics by Sarah Welch and fused glass by Jane Kircher. Unique note cards and paper crafts will be shown by Evelyn Oliva and Lou McCall.

The Annual Emerging Artist Show creates much excitement every year on the Historic Plaza. Everyone involved in the tour believes strongly in mentoring the future artists who will carry on this artistic tradition. In its 9th year, it is an open call to the youth of the area, K through 12. Tour participants vote for People's Choice and every participant gets an art supply. For more information on the 9th Annual Emerging Artist Show email For more information on the tour, go online to

High Road Artisans Studio Tour: Sept. 16-17 and Sept. 23-24, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Since High Road Artisans was formulated two decades ago, the group has held steadfastly to its purposes of providing visibility and education for and by the artists of the region. Along the area known as the “High Road,” traditional and contemporary arts play a major role in preserving a long-cherished rural way of living as well as a livelihood.

Originally, the High Road Artisans Studio Tour was funded by an economic development project of the federal government through La Jicarita Enterprise Community. Since its inception in 1998, the tour has occurred each year and has grown considerably in size and scope.

The "Farm Connection" theme returns for its second year by opening three Truchas farms to visitors: Tooley's Trees, Zia QueenBees Farm & Field Institute and Willy Nilly Farm. Also look for farmers' markets next to Gaucho Blue in Peñasco and in Truchas next to Truchas General Mercantile and The High Road Art Gallery.

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.

The High Road Artisans Studio Tour is funded in part by NMArts, Taos County, Río Arriba County, New Mexico Tourism Department and the McCune Charitable Foundation.

For more information, go online to

El Rito Studio Tour: Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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 and creativity. Fifty miles north of Santa Fe, just 12 miles off Hwy 84, El Rito is brimming with talent in both traditional and contemporary media including weaving, welding, tin and iron work, retablos, sculpture, pottery, paintings, drawings, printmaking, photography and collage, jewelry, handmade books and note cards, furniture and carvings, and musical instruments.

Eighteen stops, including one on the New Mexico Fiber Arts Trail and one on the New Mexico Potter’s Trail, will display the work of more than 40 artisans in the setting in which it was created. Northern New Mexico College will be opening its doors to the Mercado and visual arts students from the Fine Arts Department of the college this year.

Visitors to this annual tour will be delighted by the variety of art, from local village arts to contemporary artwork. Artists being celebrating on this anniversary year have been part of the tour since the beginning and are still showing and living in El Rito: Barbara Campbell, Emmy Cheney, Nicholas Herrera, Kathleen and Terry Vanderbrook, and Julie Wagner. Other artists include potter Barbara Campbell; jewelry maker Molly Hennerty; photographers David Michael Kennedy, Tom Quinn Kumpf, Ted Harsha, Jacquelyn Rael and Vanderbrook Studios; live acoustic music and handmade instruments by michaelm; tin and metal work by Carmen Campos, Molly Hennerty and Nicholas Herrera; painting, mixed media and prints by Jan Bachman, Jan Bialka, Jane Kramer, Tracy McBride, Karen Sexton, Mike Sutton, Vanderbrook Studios, Lucia Vinograd, Steven Williams and Julie Wagner; fiber arts by El Rito Quilters Guild, Tracy McBride and Gedeon Santos; retablos and santos by Vincent Campos and Nicholas Herrera; and sculpture by Jan Bialka, Barbara Campbell, Vanderbrook Studios, Steven Williams and Julie Wagner. Visit the web site to explore the each artist’s web page with photos, biography, artist statement and contact information.

The El Rito Library will host its scrumptious “Death by Chocolate” fundraiser. The El Rito Quilters Guild will be selling quilts, pillows, art dolls, and draw string bags. Local musicians will be playing at the library and studios.

Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes to enjoy a stroll in the crisp fall weather.

The tour is small enough that visitors can see each studio with ease and varied enough that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Autumn — with golden cottonwoods, clear blue skies, warm days, and cool nights — is a particularly beautiful time to visit. For a map and more information, go online to

Abiquiú Studio Tour: Oct. 7-9, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Explore Georgia O'Keefe's second home — the peaceful, glorious Chama River valley with its golden cottonwoods and mountain vistas. Discover a new world each fall Columbus Day weekend 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 — fall. The 24th 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 — a landscape of imposing mountains, spectacular rock formations and the glorious rivers of the Piedra Lumbra basin. Enjoy paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, pottery, sculpture, collage, mosaics, jewelry, stained glass, silk paintings, art quilts, wearable art, textiles, weavings, dream catchers, nature crafts, lamps, tinworks, candles, mirrors, note-cards, carvings, wood crafts, gold-leaf frames, furniture, rattles, crosses, retablos, santos, angels, and children's art. Complimentary maps are available at all the studios, local businesses and online for download at

Dixon Studio Tour: Nov. 4-5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Going on its 36th year, the Dixon Studio Tour is one of the oldest continuously run studio tours in the state. Dixon, nestled in the Embudo Valley in Northern New Mexico where the Río Embudo flows into the Río Grande, has been long known for its rich Native American and Hispanic heritage, productive farm lands and pastoral beauty. During the last 30-plus years, many artists moved to the valley to pursue their artistic talent and a simpler more quiet way of life.

More than 50 artists will let visitors into their studio sanctuaries 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, mercados and organic farms. Artwork in a wide variety of media including paintings, prints, metalwork, jewelry, 'papier-mâché, ceramics, photography, weaving and more. Shops and restaurants offer produce, honey, herbs, wine and other local favorites.

In its early days, Dixon 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. Area farmers and herdsmen who worked the fertile soil of the valley or grazed their stock on the commons, brought their shipments to the Embudo Station, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 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.

In 1982, two Dixon transplant artists decided there was a need for more connection with the buying public in a more intimate setting than the craft fairs and the galleries provided. The first year was a great success and the crowds have been coming ever since," states information on the tour's official web site. "People love to come to the little village of Dixon and wander among the orchards and visit the open studios and local businesses featuring a full spectrum of contemporary and traditional fine art and crafts."

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 continue and are 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.

This year's tour boasts 12 potters and ceramicists, whose work is formed from materials taken directly from the earth. The work represents a wide variety of traditional and innovative forms, which include tableware, classic vases with a Southwest look, Japanese-inspired work, raku, tiles, sculpture, mixed media and furniture with ceramic elements. With its wealth of skillful and talented artists working in clay, Dixon is a must-visit for enthusiasts and serious collectors.

In addition to ceramic artists' use of clay and earth-derived glazes, jewelers use precious metals and gemstones; sculptors employ metal and stone; floral artists and herbalists create with botanicals; furniture makers use wood; painters need pigments, paper and canvases; bookbinders require paper; textile artists and weavers make use of wool, plant-based fibers and natural dyes; photographers capture images of the natural world. While this can also be true of artists who create in city lofts, the artists of the Embudo Valley remain conscious of the deep ties to the land of the valley's earlier residents. Their work is often shaped by daily reminders of life in and on the land – water in the acequia, newly planted fields, blossoms becoming fruit, autumn color, first snow.

The Collected Works Show will be held at the Community Center in Dixon from 5-7 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 3). The show continues throughout the weekend.

For more information, please contact Ron Monsour at (575) 776-7431; visit the Dixon Studio Tour web site,, or the tour's Facebook page at to see what the members are doing in their studios. Maps will be available at each numbered stop and can be downloaded from


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.

To the High Road 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.