Taos is still a small town.
Small in size that is, bur not in terms of repute.
Nestled between the deep, black-walled gorge of the Rio Grande and the sage and juniper-dotted foothills of the Sangre de Christos mountains, the name Taos, in the language of the inhabitants of nearby Taos Pueblo, means “place of the red willows.”
Spaniards, Anglos and native Taoseños have shared the land for hundreds of years now; ranching, farming and trading. And for the plein air painter, the light and the landscape is hard to beat, which is why Taos continues to attract visual artists more than a century after they first began arriving.
Taos is especially enchanting in the fall, when the cottonwoods turn yellow in the valley below the mountains, which are themselves glimmering golden from the turning aspens.
This year the Blumenschein Museum is celebrating 100 years on the (art world) map coinciding with the Couse Foundation’s upcoming open house, hard-hat tour, at the historic site( which includes a tour of the space for planned (Lunder) Research Center) on Sept 7th, serve as a prelude to Taos’ 43rd Annual Fall Arts Celebration.
An Art Colony doesn’t just happen by accident. The Taos we know today is the result of more than 100 years of continual support of working artists and truth be told, art has been a priority in Taos long before it was officially incorporated as a town in 1934 – it had already been an artist’s enclave for 30 years.
Taos’ reputation as a artist’s haven belongs to six well-educated painters who called themselves the Taos Society of Artists, (founded in 1915.) Their concentrated efforts to expose the world to “Real American Art” by entering their paintings of uniquely Southwestern images in traveling exhibits — eventually brought the Taos art colony international acclaim.
Now home to several museums and dozens of galleries, Taos remains a thriving art center, but perhaps at no time is the spirit of the Taos Society of Artists more alive and well than during this season when we celebrate the Arts aqui en Taos. This year, the 43rd Annual Taos Fall Arts Festival happens from September 20 – 29, 2019 with several related events leading up to the actual Festival.
This week, the Annual TAO Studio Tour begins and runs through the weekend from Sat, Aug 31 – Mon, Sep 2. Check their site below this post for details.
On Friday and Saturday September 13th and 14th, the PASEO 2019 Festival takes over the Downtown Taos Historical District, bringing a unique convergence of art and technology to our streets for free! The PASEO is the ultimate community event that proves Taos continues to be a force on the cutting edge of the Arts. For much more information about this year’s event, please check out their site linked below as well.
Over the years, other art events including the one’s I mentioned above, have intentionally coincided with Fall Arts, and consequently, the season has become a favorite time to visit and a unique opportunity to experience and celebrate the Arts, as well as the artists of Taos.
This year’s poster artist, Sasha Raphael vom Dorp, nods to the PASEO’s Digital influence with his Larry Bell-esque imagery – no big surprise – the famed artist is his father-in-law – and brings Fall Arts firmly into the present. Gone are the hollyhocks and chile ristra illustrative works of the recent past which brought to mind the Rollings Stones classic “you’re out of time my baby, baby baby baby you’re out of time…” Now thankfully these nostalgic motifs are mostly seen only on the roadsides and in gardens where they belong.
When the Taos Fall Arts Festival began in 1974 it was staged at the homes of patrons who wished to promote local art. As it grew in popularity, TFAF expanded into larger venues, Invitational and Juried Exhibits and has developed into an Open Exhibition for over 250 Taos County artists.
Yet, despite the changes to that have occurred over the decades, TFAF’s mission has remained constant: celebrate the visual arts and artists in Taos County, encourage the growth of emerging artists, and continue an event where artists can come together to both exhibit and market their works, (continuing in the tradition of the early TSA, who were a co-opperative organization as well; interested in both the creation and the Business of Art.)
The inclusion of new partnerships including the PASEO contribute new energy and excitement to the Taos Fall Arts events, appealing as they do to a much broader audience.
Also in September, the Couse Foundation invites Taoseños and visitors to a Sept. 7 “hard hat” tour of the under-construction Lunder Research Center at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site, where you’ll be able to get a glimpse into both the past and future of the Arts in Taos.
The center will be housed in the soon-to-be renovated Mission Gallery building on Kit Carson Road, which incorporates the remnants of artist J. H. Sharp’s home.
“We’ve completed the interior demolition phase of the project, and we know many people are curious about what will happen inside this storied old building,” says Davison Packard Koenig, executive director and curator. “You can now see the adobe walls of Sharp’s home and even the roof of his portal, now embedded in the ceiling.”
Floor plans and the new purposes of the various rooms will be posted, and the future collections room will host a mini-exhibition of paintings by members of the Taos Society of Artists (TSA). A “show and tell” by the Foundation’s archivist will display materials and objects representative of those being collected for the research center.
The walk-through tour will be on Saturday, Sept. 7, 3-5 p.m. At the same time visitors can attend an interpreted open house of the entire historic site and the exhibitions Taos Pueblo Portraiture: The Photographic Studies of E. I. Couse and Joseph Henry Sharp’s Montana. They can also obtain the recently released monumental biography Eanger Irving Couse: The Life and Times of an American Artist, 1866-1936 and have it signed by the author, his granddaughter, Taos-based art historian Virginia Couse Leavitt.
The Lunder Research Center for the Taos Society of Artists will be the repository for documents and art created, and artifacts collected, by the 12 members of the Taos Society of Artists. Please see their site below for details.
With its blend of cultural diversity and stunning geographical beauty, Taos has inspired artists for over a century and has risen to prominence as a world-class art destination. Each autumn, both locals and visitors alike converge on our little town to celebrate the one thing that sets us apart : Art.
The 2019 festival will take place September 20 through September 29, 2019. For more information on all the above, visit the sites linked below.
And for all the info you need about Taos, year round, please visit Taos.org linked below,
Editors Note: PASEO co- founder, Agnes Chaves reminded me that (re/ the featured image), two middle schoolers from Taos Charter – Ryan Cox and Jasmin Stoner, led by workshop artist, Markus Dorninger, did that projection on the church.
“They painted that with their fingers!” Agnes said.
All images thanks to the above: Couse-Sharp, Taos Fall Arts (image of 2019 poster art by Sasha Raphael vom Dorp), Paseo and TAO.
Image of Taos, stock files.