The last four decades have seen the Taos Fall Arts Festival outgrow the living rooms of art patrons who wished to support and promote the local art community, expanding over the years into ever-larger town venues as its popularity and significance grew. Now, It is rightfully hailed as the pinnacle of a season-long celebration of Taos art, attracting visitors and locals who want to experience for themselves the essence of the country’s most significant art colony.
So, welcome to “New Beginnings,” the 48th annual festival which kicks off on Friday (Sept. 23) at UNM Bataan Hall on Civic Plaza Drive from 3 to 9 p.m. The festival will be open to the public through Oct. 2 during the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“The festival this year has been moving and shifting as it has been growing and recreating itself into a platform that would best serve the community,” said Lisa Harris, president of TFAF. “This year will be representative of the multicultural diversity of Taos as well as incorporating all aspects of the arts, as we had hoped to do.”
The theme of the 2022 TFAF is a nod to the new board members and their mission to expand the reach of art submissions, now including fashion, dance, music and the written word, for example, noted Harris. Yet there is nothing “new” about these art forms. As opening day festivities will demonstrate, they are heritage icons: some presented intact and preserved across generations; others are reimagined in a modern conversation.
Harris reported that submissions to the festival have surpassed expectations in exemplifying that diversity, and are guaranteed to delight the crowds that have been eagerly anticipating “New Beginnings.”
Prior to the evening’s indoor festivities, Civic Plaza Drive will be closed to traffic at 3 p.m. as a program of free, family-friendly, culturally diverse entertainment takes place before Bataan Hall opens its doors.
Taos fine artists C. S. Talley and Jim Cox will be “stand-ins” for Taos Society of Artists members Joseph Sharp and Ernest Blumenschein: easels at the ready, painting en plein air and eager to enlighten visitors about that significant part of Taos history.
And Daniel Barela — himself a woodcarver — will come dressed as his great-grandfather, Patrociño Barela, who was featured in an issue of Time Magazine in September 1936, after a ground-breaking WPA exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.
“Back in Taos, he became a legend and inspired hundreds of artists to make artwork and continue on our traditions and culture,” said the young Barela.
“We hope families will come and are also encouraging schools to bring their students to have them learn about the importance of the Taos Society of Artists and of Patrociño’s work, and enjoy the live painting and carving demonstrations,” Harris said of this in-depth and unique learning experience.
“Artist Frederick Aragón will have a large canvas set up as a community project, encouraging visitors to paint a bit of it,” an opportunity to try one’s hand at being creative. Youth Heartline is expected to have an arts-and-crafts table set up, as well, Harris noted.
What is an outdoor celebration without dancing in the streets, you may ask. Well, “Dance WorX,” a professional performance company founded by Taos Dance Academy’s Amber Vásquez, will be performing, and Julie Struck will show off the flamenco style for which she is renowned in Taos.
Three generations of the Taos Pueblo Concha Family Dancers have been performing since the 1970s, and members of the family will be on hand to share non-ceremonial social dancing and singing in this very special appearance. When visitors are invited to enter Bataan Hall at 5 p.m., Francisco “Docq" Velarde will greet them with drumming and singing at the door in a traditional Native prayer offering for those entering the gallery.
“This is what Taos is all about: community pride that lifts us all,” affirmed Harris.
Winners of the prestigious Fall Arts awards will be on hand Friday evening to formally accept the recognition they have earned, including this year’s Visionary Artist Patricia Michaels; Lifetime Achievement honoree Thom Wheeler; and poster artist winners Peggy Trigg and Suzanne Wiggin. First, second and third place “Best in Show” awards — judged this year by Cheryl Vogel of Dallas — will also be announced. And Sarah Stolar, head of the UNM-Taos art department, will present scholarship awards to three deserving students.
In addition to receiving her award for Visionary Artist, Patricia Michaels has planned a memorable bonus program for visitors, including a catwalk of her stunning designs. There will also be a viewing of “Missing Murdered Indigenous Women,” a short video produced by Cameron L. Martinez, Jr.
“This was created for Patricia Michaels' fashion show at the 2019 Indian Market. It's in honor of all Indigenous Women. Protect your Mother, Protect the Earth, Support Indigenous Women. Special Thanks to all the Wonderful Native Ladies, young and old, that are featured in this Video,” the creator wrote on YouTube of his piece.
Remarks from Michelle Concha will follow, and the presentation will conclude with a brief performance of the Red Willow Harmony Singers, and traditional Native prayer by the Concha family.
As you move between the indoor and outdoor happenings, keep your eyes on the walls of Coronado Hall when, after dusk, “Rio Grande Serenade” will be looping. The acclaimed docuseries by Peter Walker and the UNM Digital Media Arts team is an ode to “a legendary river, a revered and beloved water source that goes by the name Río Grande. It is many things to many people, and has given hope, nurturance and sustenance to many lives, this big-hearted river with a legacy that is both ancient and forever new,” Walker said.
Conclude your visit with the purchase of raffle tickets; it’s your chance to win one of the two signed and framed winning poster submissions, or a two-night stay at the Blake Hotel in Taos Ski Valley. They are available at Bataan Hall through the evening of Sept. 30, when the drawing will be held. Proceeds benefit TFAF “Kids Give Back” grant program, and the lucky winners will have more than memories of a truly exceptional Taos Fall Arts Festival.
For further information on TFAF, please visit taosfallarts.com.
While you are out this weekend, consider adding the following to your calendar.
“Taos Celebrates Thom”
A special event honoring this year’s Taos Fall Arts Festival Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Thom Wheeler, is being held on Sunday (Sept. 25) and it is sure to be a spectacular afternoon.
Join Wheeler and his wife, Lavinia, at the Thom Wheeler Studio Gallery as “Taos Celebrates Thom” from 3 to 6 p.m. Experience food, drink, music and the artist’s iconic artistic accomplishments as he unveils his newest work, “Desert Flower.” Tickets are $75 and may be purchased via eventbrite.com or by contacting TFAF President Lisa Harris at (917) 697-2163.
Wheeler is also raffling a select piece — “Winged Heart” — valued at approximately $4500. Raffle tickets will be available at Bataan Hall during opening weekend hours, or at the event. He will draw the winning ticket before the conclusion of the afternoon. All proceeds will benefit the sustainability of the arts in Taos County.
The Thom Wheeler Studio Gallery is located at 939 Kit Carson Road, Taos.
“Old Taos Trade Fair”
Hacienda de los Martinez is hosting its annual “Old Taos Trade Fair,” full of live demonstrations and costumed Mountain Men to guide you through the activities.
See blacksmithing, wool spinning, weaving and wood carving come to life at this living museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hacienda is a “fortress-like building with massive adobe walls [which became] an important trade center for the northern boundary of the Spanish Empire. The Hacienda was the final terminus for the Camino Real which connected northern New Mexico to Mexico City and also was the headquarters for an extensive ranching and farming operation,” notes its website.
The fair is open on Saturday (Sept. 24) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday (Sept. 25) from 12 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults, and children are free.
Hacienda de los Martinez is located at 708 Hacienda Way, off Ranchitos Road, in Taos. For more information please call (575) 758-1000 or visit taoshistoricmuseums.org.