Rick Romancito is the long-time Editor of Tempo, the Arts & Entertainment Magazine published weekly as an insert to the Taos News.
A lot of people I know buy the paper for the magazine alone; how else would they know what’s going on aqui en Taos if not for Tempo? Especially prior to the advent of digital media. Nowadays of course, even the Taos News has an active website, but Rick Romancito continues to write, photograph, edit and oversee the publication of Tempo, showing up to work on time every day.
Rick Romancito is an award-winning photojournalist, an actor and film maker (his short film Benito’s Gift, adapted from his own short story), was the winner of the 2006 New Mexico Governor’s Cup Short Screenplay Competition, Sponsored by the National Geographic All Roads Film Project and the New Mexico Film Office.
Rick works tirelessly to bring attention to Taos creatives with a constant round of articles and interviews, many of which he writes and photographs himself, but few know his rich background and history.
A few weeks ago I dropped in on Rick at his office and put him in the hot seat for a change.
He was charming and forthcoming, soft spoken and incredibly articulate with a fantastic memory that proves helpful when one is a journalist, albeit an accidental one.
Rick is of Taos and Zuni Pueblo Heritage. Growing up and going to school in Albuquerque (his father had been in the Navy and moved there after the Korean War), he also attended the Anthropology Film Center (American Indian Arts) in Santa Fe, where he studied Documentary Film Making and discovered a love of cameras, a passion that has continued into the present time.
In fact it was Rick’s ability and know how with cameras that got him his job at Tempo in the first place, but it would take him awhile to get there.
A year after leaving UNM after studying there for two years, (he originally wanted to teach inner city kids), he decided to try out as an actor and as luck would have it, he was considered for a role in When Legends Die, starring Richard Widmark. He didn’t get the role but the movie bug had bitten him.
His 21st Birthday was celebrated on the set of Rooster Cogburn, starring Katherine Hepburn and John Wayne. He recalls being asked to hide in a teepee while the crew set up a shot and when he emerged there was a big celebration with all the cast and crew and a birthday cake!
In 1989 having moved to Taos and needing a job, Rick saw an ad in The Taos News for a copy camera operator.
“Cameras had their own room back then,” he explained. “We re-photographed photo prints, it was tedious work with lots of (physical) cut and paste.”
Melody Elwell was the Tempo Editor at the time and she began sending Rick on Photo Assignments after learning his background and history. Soon those became writing assignments as well and soon after that, the two began dating and have been married for over twenty years, with a daughter (Ella who partners with her mother on their popular Ghost Tours), and now a grand-daughter enriching their lives together.
A few years later after a couple more (Tempo) editors had come and gone, an opening provided Rick with an opportunity he jumped at, and has continued to shape and steer the magazine to this day. He also contributes photography and editorials to the newspaper’s website.
“I try to focus on “news you can use” rather than random bits of information,” Rick told me when I asked him how he approaches his job at Tempo.
“Clearly we are covering the Arts and Entertainment which is great because Taos has long been an Art Colony and home to more galleries per capita than just about anywhere in the country.”
“But it’s also becoming a fast growing Music destination,” he continued, “and on any given evening, there is something going on.”
We talked a little about the changes we’ve both witnessed over the past couple of decades, and I asked how he saw that affecting the Arts in Taos.
“Things change all the time,” he said, “At one point we had a thriving Film Festival and then that folded, only recently another (Short) Film Festival ended as well.”
“During the 80’s and 90’s the Art scene was booming, there were a lot of people with disposable income coming through town, around the same time Native American jewelry was fashionable and people look back on that with nostalgia.”
“Things are always in a state of flux,” he noted, “right now I think we see more people coming for music and outdoor activities, skiing, rafting and stuff like that.”
“And as always you are going to have detractors who think Taos should be promoted in a certain way, and others who are willing to work to accommodate the changes,” he smiled.
Rick rides the crests of the waves of change with ease, and finds no discomfort in having to occasionally change his point of view. A trait that continues to serve him well in his position at the helm of Taos’ Arts & Entertainment Weekly.
For more about Rick Romancito, please visit (the family) website linked below this post, and of course I’ve included The Taos News Entertainment link as well.
All images (the couple’s wedding on the Pueblo Buffalo Pasture), with their daughter Ella, and Rick working on his land, thanks to Melody Elwell Romancito