Metallics, period attire, sequins, gowns, ruffles and a rich theatrical history were discovered in the upstairs costume loft of the Taos Community Auditorium. That retrograde discovery then sparked the Taos Center for the Arts (TCA) newest fundraiser and showcase initiative.
On Saturday (March 9) from 3-6 p.m., the TCA will present the opening reception for "Lights Up! A Costume and Performance Revue" at the Stables Gallery, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.
During a tour of the facilities, manager Chelsea Reidy escorted TCA Executive Director Colette LaBouff backstage and upstairs where countless costumes from previous productions were stored. LaBouff then reached out to Carolyn Kalom, long-time designer and long-time TCA participant, to see if she and Reidy might organize an exhibition.
"I've worked on theater stuff here for more than 35 years and it was like meeting old friends," said Kalom as she looked at the hanging garments around the gallery, watching the creative team design the outfitted facade of each gallery wall.
Blast from the past
In her 35 years Kalom has not only performed in the theater, but has served on the TCA board at least three times, was a performing arts director and has continually helped fundraise for the organization recruiting donors and sponsors.
Kalom grew up in Chicago and in the 1960s was bitten by the theater bug when she started working at the renowned Second City Theater. Later Kalom's family moved to Taos.
"My husband and I moved here and of course I didn't ever think about doing theater here, but somebody called me up once in 1975 and said, 'We are doing a children's production of 'Oliver!' and I understand that you make costumes,' " said Kalom. She then designed more than 75 costumes for the production. In her time with the TCA she estimates her costume creation count has reached the thousands.
The retrospective will highlight the past of the community theater, the heart of the TCA and will raise money for a theater seed fund so that the TCA may start producing plays, musicals and other performing arts events once again. The TCA had consistent productions from 1964 to 2011, with the exception of 2018's "The Giant Desk Plays." The organization has unfortunately slowed in momentum.
"I had the privilege of working on the TCA stage as an actress, in a lot of the plays that Carolyn designed the costumes for and when I moved here in 1980 every week there was something happening at the TCA on stage in the performing arts," said Tymotha Thurston, member of the revue's creative team. "Now it's been difficult," said Thurston.
Due to financial circumstances the TCA has faced many challenges like so many other art organizations finding monetary means to relight the stage. Ticket sales alone do not cover the expenses.
"That's what the purpose of this [exhibition] is, for the theater fund to get live theater back onstage in the TCA that we, the organization, produce," said Kalom. The organization aspires to sponsor and bring theater and performing arts back to the community.
Memorabilia and remembered performances
Within the Stables Gallery more than 75 costumes are to be exhibited from the TCA's past theatrical performances at the revue including "West Side Story," "Cabaret," "Cherry Orchard," "Waiting for Godot," "Guys and Dolls," Man of La Mancha" and "Our Town," as well as past and recreated set pieces.
There will be a giant cardboard desk in reference to 2018's "The Giant Desk Plays" along with costume designer Maurice Palinski's sketches for the play. There will be a projection on one of the gallery walls of a past performance, the costume for the Tin Man from "The Wizard of Oz" and posters from shows.
There will also be photographs from a 1992 revue of the TCA's performances including a photo of Kalom and her husband Ron singing as Golde and Teyve from the 1978 production of "Fiddler on the Roof." Among the photographs are snapshots from the famous, sold-out "Hair" performance as well as the "Grease" production and other shows. There will even be costumes from a traveling "Kismet" adaptation, "Timbuktu!" brought from New York and worn in the TCA's own "Kismet" performance.
The creative team that volunteered for the love of theater and helped execute and organize this decorated, historical display includes Reidy, Thurston, Palinski, Mikala Martinez, Lana Green, Edward Lobb and Bill Traetta.
The opening reception is free to the public and there will be a special performance from surprise guests.
The TCA will be accepting donations and sponsorships from anyone interested at the opening reception and for the duration of the exhibition. The costume and performance revue will be available through March 15. It is open Sunday (March 10), 1-5 p.m., and Monday-Friday (March 11-March 15) from 4-6 p.m.
For more information about the TCA, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (575) 758-2052.