The gleaming galleries and stately museums of Taos are great. But so too are the less-polished studios of working artists. Thanks to the Taos Artist Organization, you can go …
The gleaming galleries and stately museums of Taos are great. But so too are the less-polished studios of working artists. Thanks to the Taos Artist Organization, you can go "behind-the-scenes" and visit with your favorite artists, and emerging artists you may not know, right where they live and work.
The TAO Oiivpen Studio Tour, now in its 10th year, runs Friday through Monday (Aug. 31-Sept. 3). All studios on the tour will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and admission is free. See page 28-29 for a map of this year's 42 participating artists. Their studios are handily identified with the artist's initials.
The artists work in various media, such as painting, print, glass, fiber, clay, quilting and mixed media. The website taosartistorg.org has more information about each artist and images of their works.
If, in the past decade, you haven't done this studio tour, expect a fun weekend of personal warmth, natural beauty and fine art. Studio visitors are greeted with warm hellos (and sometimes hugs) as well as with the sights of kids running around, the smells of home-cooked foods and the licks of a friendly dog or two. Stunning views envelope the driving tour, making certain that the TAO Open Studio Tour is no cookie-cutter art experience.
In a press statement, the TAO studio committee notes that this tour kicks off the fall arts season in Taos. Many of the artists you'll meet on this casual tour will be participating in many of the more structured showings that occur throughout the fall.
Artist Melanie Redmond is vice president of TAO's board of directors. She said the studio tour encompasses TAO's mission: "You can see it in the mission statement of our organization. We seek to encourage and educate about the visual arts."
Redmond points out that TAO is engaged with larger civic movements underway, such as the town of Taos' inclusion in the MainStreet Accelerator Program, a national initiative for downtown revitalization.
Eugene Van Natta is the TAO board treasurer. He provided last year's financial summary to demonstrate how far-reaching and popular this studio tour has been: "Peak number of visitors at any one studio: 188 (27 percent above 2016). Out-of-state visitors: we had people sign in from 24 different states (triple 2016 results). Aggregate sales: $49,000-plus (a 38 percent increase over 2016)."
Indeed,Tempo has showcased many of these artists' achievements throughout the years.
In celebration of its 10th year, TAO has directed some of its grants (such as one received from the Taos Community Foundation) to freshen up the tour experience for visitors. "We're having a new look and all new signs are being replaced," Redmond said.
This year, for the first time, the work of tour artists are also featured in an exhibit at the Encore Gallery of the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. The show, "TAO at TCA: Preview of The Open Studio Tour," is on view through Tuesday (Sept. 4).
Among artists whose work is in the Encore Gallery are Peggy Griffey, John Staple, Jeanine Borree, Sylvia Luftig, Dennis Luftig, Jeremy G Landau, Erica Wendel-Oglesby, Kathryn A. Hayden, Nicki Marx, Mari Hawkes, Lydia Johnston, Bill Binger, Krysteen Waszak, Claire Haye, Inger Jirby, Katherine Bensusen, Floyd Archuleta, Debbie Schultz, Susan Utley, Cher McMacken, Donna Gorsky and Don Wallis.
Before Redmond moved to Taos, she had gone on the TAO Open Studio Tour with her parents. Back then she met artists she is now working with.
On the tour, she said, "you get to see the thicker neighborhoods and more culture than what's on the main road. It's like bringing that water deeper into a root system, like a pond and not a flash flood, to nourish and saturate."
Tour brochures containing artist information, photos of work, and a map of studio locations can be obtained from the Taos Visitors Center, 1139 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, and other Taos galleries and businesses. More information on the tour is available at taostudiotour.org and on Facebook.
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