The Paseo rips art right off the walls

Outdoor exposition expands expectations of what you might think art is supposed to be

By Laura Bulkin
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 9/10/19

It awakens at sunset. Its interactive playground encompasses all of downtown Taos. Its exhibits comprise a movable feast of visual arts, music, dance, light, literature, history, …

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The Paseo rips art right off the walls

Outdoor exposition expands expectations of what you might think art is supposed to be

'Tonglen' by Ryan Mathern appeared at 2017's Burning Man Festival. Sponsored by Jocelyn Harper, tonglen, the Buddhist practice of receiving and accepting bad energy and sending out and letting go of one's good energy, is embodied in this prayer engine made of steel and fire. Standing 18 feet tall, this placid face made of segmented, polished, stainless steel breathes as an amplification of human input. Participants will be able to act on a handle that will operate the heart-shaped bellows and exhale through the sculpture's mouth.
'Tonglen' by Ryan Mathern appeared at 2017's Burning Man Festival. Sponsored by Jocelyn Harper, tonglen, the Buddhist practice of receiving and accepting bad energy and sending out and letting go of one's good energy, is embodied in this prayer engine made of steel and fire. Standing 18 feet tall, this placid face made of segmented, polished, stainless steel breathes as an amplification of human input. Participants will be able to act on a handle that will operate the heart-shaped bellows and exhale through the sculpture's mouth.
Courtesy Leori Gill
Posted

It awakens at sunset. Its interactive playground encompasses all of downtown Taos. Its exhibits comprise a movable feast of visual arts, music, dance, light, literature, history, philosophy, science and technology.

It is -- as you've surely guessed -- the 2019 edition of The Paseo Taos, happening Friday and Saturday (Sept. 13-14), from sundown to 11 p.m. each day. A Paseo-centered Pecha Kucha wraps up the weekend on Sunday (Sept. 15), 7 p.m. at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

Artist and architect J. Matt Thomas, a co-founder of the Paseo project, is now its executive director. Thomas' schedule is a juggling act elevated to the level of sacred dance. It currently includes the year-round process of curating and staging the Paseo and several Pecha Kucha events, as well as preparing for an upcoming residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute and a solo show of his own work at the Taos Art Museum in 2020.

"We have more than 30 installations, spread out around downtown, in the Plaza and in Kit Carson Park," Thomas said. "Our theme for 2019 is 'Connections.' Paseo was always intended as a way of bringing people together, making new connections with our community - and it just grew from there."

Thomas gave us a whirlwind preview of some of the weekend's installations.

"'The Enchilada Western Museum of Fetishized Identities' is from art cooperative La Pocha Nostra, including the amazing Guillermo Gomez Peña (featured on this week's Tempo cover), who will doing a workshop for local performance artists culminating in performances on both nights. Gomez has been a frequent collaborator with Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte in El Prado. Ori Alon's 'Empowering Clerks Network Office Hours,' a collaboration with Taos DreamTree Project, will have a desk set up issuing official documents such as Forgiver's Licenses, Joy Permits and more.

"Colton White's piece, 'We,' invites people to connect with their own reflections in a very original way. Robyn Sanford's 'Hugs' is an interactive touchable, huggable sculpture. Corwin Levi's 'So Many of Us' is going to be an elegant, beautiful light projection on the walls of the Presbyterian Church in the park. 'Cloudnet,' from Andy Wagener, is a dynamic structure made of netting collected from the Atlantic Ocean, a beautiful commentary on ocean waste and trash. One of our acequia pieces is called the Telepoem Booth - Elizabeth Hellstern and Owen William Fritts of Cerillos in collaboration with [Tempo columnist] Ariana Kramer. Visitors to the booth can dial a number and hear regional poets speaking on Taos' acequia culture.

"So many supe-fun interactive things: 'Visual Audio' by Alison Johnson and Thomas Vause of Santa Fe is an audio-visual projection where people can create vector art using their voices. French artist Antonin Fourneau will have a 26-foot-long LED wall on the plaza where people can 'paint' with water and light.

"Jessica Blinkhorn's 'Lay with Me' is incredibly powerful - I was floored by it. Jessica is a quadriplegic artist living with disabilities who will be inviting our community into her world and reading audience responses to a profound questionnaire.

"There is a whole set of installations, Acequia Aquí, about Taos' acequias, our connections with water and the earth. We're partnering with galleries and shops, and of course we're working with STEMarts under the direction of Agnes Chavez."

Chavez, a co-founder of Paseo, is an interdisciplinary sci-artist and educator. For 2019, she has paired seven visiting Paseo artists with Taos schools to involve young people in prefestival activities, with an art-focused and socially engaged application of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).

Said Chavez, "We are so excited to be bringing Paseo artists into Taos County schools this year, including Questa and Peñasco. Through the youth program we bring a taste of the Paseo directly to the students and show them the science behind the magic."

"We got submissions from all over the world," Thomas said. "The types of artists we bring to Taos have been really great to work with. We can't wait to introduce them to Taos and see the collaborations they do with local artists."

One of the Taos treasures paired with a visiting artist is educator, musician and activist Tessa Córdova of Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte. Córdova will be collaborating with Albuquerque artist Rica Maestas in a series of tours of the Acequia Madre, led by the "most infamous acequia mother of all," La Llorona.

Córdova grew up steeped in Taos tradition. Her parents, Arsenio and Kathy Córdova, founded the Sangre de Cristo Liturgies, and Tessa has brought her extraordinary vocal skills to the group's Advent-season performances of Los Pastores and to her father's Spanish-language choir at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. She has continued on in Sangre de Cristo while attaining her doctorate and teaching at the University of New Mexico-Taos and Albuquerque.

"In terms of Chicana feminist thought, we have philosophies that can be spoken about through the myth of La Llorona that could otherwise be taboo," Córdova said. "Affairs, politics, loss, all these elements of life. La Llorona is a way we can talk about it, can embed our experience through legend. I'm looking forward to seeing how Rica encapsulates that legend over the weekend. Then I'll be presenting on some of these things at the Pecha Kucha on Sunday. I hope it reflects connectivity to a humanity that is in disconnection. As people from a small rural community, we're trying to keep our culture alive, our lifeways, foodways, the way we philosophize. We need to acknowledge that in visual images, in songs. It's all about memorializing our connection to the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro."

Dancer and choreographer Amber Vasquez is known and loved by Taos audiences for showcasing young dancers in the classrooms and performances of Taos Youth Ballet. She is the founder of the Academy of Performing Arts in Taos, and director of the creative dance company DanceWorx. Vasquez is involved in two of The Paseo 2019's installations, and will also be presenting at Sunday's Pecha Kucha.

"For our roaming dance piece, 'Taos Un/Connected,' dancers from Taos Youth Ballet and DanceWorx will do full-length site-specific performances at 15 different sites around the Paseo area, creating dances using the stairs, the pillars, the walls, connecting with the architectural environment," Vasquez said. "For 'Mycelium,' a collaboration with Twirl's 'wUNDER' piece about the underground interconnectedness of mushrooms, we created a whole interactive presentation for children ages 2-5. We've gone into 20 classrooms and done lessons that feature a toadstool art project. It's a cool program for the kids to be part of the greater art community."

Said Thomas, "We hope that the legacy is for new generations of Taoseños to be inspired, to create and to have fun together as a community."

Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha, a Japanese term for the sound of chitchat, was devised in Tokyo in 2003 as a way for young designers to meet, network and show their work. It has since spawned events in hundreds of cities around the world. The simple presentation format is known as 20x20: each presenter shows 20 images, with 20 seconds to speak about each image.

"This will be the 30th Pecha Kucha we've presented in Taos," Thomas marveled. "The post-Paseo edition [on Sunday] is always fun. It highlights some of the visiting artists as well as those from our community. After seeing the installations during the festival, at Pecha Kucha you can get to see what went into making those amazing things happen."

Featured presenters will be Colton White, Ori Alon, Britney A. King and Jennifer Nev-Diaz, Amber Vasquez, Lothario Areski, Jody Servon, Tessa Córdova, Rosey Hayett & TrueKids1, Jan Smith, Vasudha de los Santos and Elizabeth Hellstern.

Intermission treats will be provided by Arroyo Seco's new Wake and Take café, with live music by the Pope Trio.

Visit paseoproject.org for a complete overview with descriptions of all installations, printable maps and brochures.

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