Arts

Taos Folk, a holiday gift bonanza

Artists and craftspeople converge on the Stables Gallery for an amazing annual show and sale

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 11/19/19

If you've been in Taos over the past few years, you know this is the season for Taos Folk. What is it? Let's just say, it's one of those things that is best experienced rather than explained.

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Arts

Taos Folk, a holiday gift bonanza

Artists and craftspeople converge on the Stables Gallery for an amazing annual show and sale

Posted

If you've been in Taos over the past few years, you know this is the season for Taos Folk. What is it? Let's just say, it's one of those things that is best experienced rather than explained.

We can say it's a treat for the senses, because as soon as you step into the Stables Gallery of the Taos Center for the Arts starting Friday (Nov. 22) you'll be amazed at the breadth of arts and crafts lovingly made by locals and even visiting artists from afar. It's a pop-up store offering a dizzying array of gifts for the holidays and beyond - you may want to visit again and again because, trust me, you cannot possibly see everything in one visit.

The show and sale, which continues through Dec. 24 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day, is put together by a team of tireless elves, led by local artist Cathleen Lambridis. We contacted her to ask a few questions.

There is such a variety of arts and crafts to be shown in this year's Taos Folk show. How do you keep track of everything and everybody?

Most of my life I have been a working graphic designer (in New York City, San Francisco and Athens, Greece) specializing in trompe l'oeil art both on textiles -- painted belts and necklaces on T-shirts and baby onesies -- and residential and commercial spaces, such as sky ceilings, marbelized columns, newspaper covers on backs of jackets.

In 2003, I took a U-turn for about eight years and worked in Paris and Brussels for the U.S. ambassadors to NATO and France. My title in French was directrice de la résidence. I organized all the events, galas, dinners, breakfasts and lunches for between 10 and 2,000 guests for the U.S. ambassadors. So, I felt that taking over Taos Folk combined both my artistic life and organizational life.

I have helmed Taos Folk now for seven years -- good art is the guiding light to accepting artists and their craft. Once good art has been established, each artist sends me information, which helps keep track of it all.

Taos Folk [also] requests a photo of the artists. Some artists send a headshot, some artists send a photo of their hands making pottery. The photos are used for the Taos Folk website (taosfolk.com) and the photo montage which is in each artists' space. Taos Folk requests an artist statement of 60 words or less, which also goes on the Taos Folk website and on the photo montage in their space, and, finally, Taos Folk requests six or more product photos for the website. These 3-inch "identifiers" make up the profile of each artist.

Lists are my secret weapon to organization.

What artist or artworks would you recommend not to miss at this year's show?

I love each artist and their work, so it is hard to single out which ones I would not want to miss, but this year I am very taken with the Bugware of new artist (to Taos Folk and to Taos) named Cat Manolis. Each plate and vase are hand-painted with large, maybe about 6-inch, very colorful bugs. I particularly love bugs as jewelry and motifs on textiles and porcelains.

The silver jewelry of Susan Backus is also very beautiful and unusual. She takes pieces of vintage Navajo and Hopi jewelry and rearranges it into breathtakingly beautiful necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Her artist statement reads, "One-of-a-kind pieces made from discarded, overlooked, unloved and out-of-fashion Southwestern jewelry."

Cami Hartman's rusted and recycled pieces of art are particularly fun. Her artist statement reads, "After spending years in arroyos or old dump sites, the found metal objects take on what I think of as anima or soul. I play with each piece until they somehow communicate what they want to become." This year she will have about 5-yard guardians, which will be outside on the wall in front of the Stables Gallery as well as small pieces in Taos Folk.

Eileen Pedersen's work as a photographer is particularly exciting, I feel. Her photographs will be transformed into playing cards, small notebooks and calendars. "Yellow Boots," "The Gorge in Winter" and "Red" are some of the photos she will present.

What comments have you heard from visitors or customers who have seen the show?

Some comments I have heard from past shows are:"I can do all my shopping here - there is something for everyone on my list."

This year we have things for everyone: babies (bibs, layettes), kids (wooden puzzles and games, chocolate), dogs (bowties and doggie coats from recycled sweaters), mom and grandmother (jewelry, hand-carved chopsticks, colorful napkins), dad and grandfather (jewelry, books, wooden boxes, cutting boards), little sister (whimsical colorful holiday headbands, beaded earrings) and little brother (cool T-shirts from Lama Foundation, hand-knitted caps).

"This looks like a European Christmas market."

Having lived in Europe for about 15 years, I take this as a huge compliment. I try to string the lights as if we are in an Italian piazza. Yesterday as we were setting everything up I asked the volunteers who were stringing the lights to please give me the Italian Piazza Look. We all laughed! And position the spaces close together as if we are in a Viennese or Munich Christmas Markt.

"Wow, we've never seen the Stables Gallery so full and bright."

" Hi, I'm meeting my friends here."

I like to think that Taos Folk is a meeting place during the holidays. We always have freshly baked cookies -- the volunteers bring them in each day -- and Perrier water on a stand for quenching their thirst while sitting in the comfortable chairs and waiting for friends, or waiting for partners to finish their marathon shopping.

"Taos Folk even does beautiful gift-wrapping -- for free."

We offer gift-wrap at no extra charge. There are customers who come back every year, buy gifts for their whole list -- sometimes over 30 items -- and then ask if they can come back later in the day to pick them all up already gift-wrapped and marked with the name of each person.

Do artists work specifically for this show? How many? What age range? Are they all local?

There are many artists who do work only for Taos Folk -- one of the first questions I ask when interviewing each artist is, "Where do you sell your work?" Since Taos Folk pops up only once a year (we do plan a summer pop-up this coming year, July 2-29), we are happy when artists have a loyal customer base and following. However, we are also thrilled when artists consider Taos Folk the only show during the year that they feel they want to participate in.

I would say that of the 75 artists and authors in the show, fully 25 percent of them show only at Taos Folk. The ages range from 23 to 80. They are not all local - we have some artists this year from Santa Fe, Albuquerque and one new artist from Denver with strong Taos roots.

What are your plans for next summer?

Taos Folk, July 2-29, will include Summer Suppers, planned so you can take home all the silverware, place mats, napkins, glassware and centerpieces from your meal.

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