ART IN THE TIME OF CORONA: TAOS FALL ART FESTIVAL 2020 FALLS VICTIM
In the land of enchantment there is an extraordinary place where art has made its mark for more than a century. This place is Taos, a town of extraordinary diversity and creative talent. And every year for the last 45 years, Taos has celebrated the arts with the Taos Fall Arts Festival. The 46th Annual Fall Arts Festival in 2020 was to be a particularly special event.
Lying below luminous skies at the foot of Taos Mountain and the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo mountains with mesas undulating out to the western horizon, Taos is known for its breathtaking views and dramatic light. Combined with the cultural diversity and influence of the Hispanic and Native American cultures, it and has inspired generations of artists and world class art.
The Taos Fall Arts Festival began in 1974 as a venue staged at the homes of patrons who wanted to promote local art. Over the years the festival grew in popularity, and the venues have changed, but the mission has remained constant: to celebrate the visual arts and artists of Taos County; to enocurage the growth of emerging artists; and to continue hosting an event where artists could come together, exhibit, and market their work for the delight and appreciation of the community.
As the festival grew in popularity, Spring Arts emerged, only to disappear. Meanwhile, Taos Fall Arts Festival has continued as the main art event of the year. Over the course of its existence, TFAF has worn several faces. For one, it grew into a juried show. In conjunction with this main event, there was also the Taos Invites Taos, Taos Selects and the Taos Open. Venues have included the Stables Gallery, the Taos Inn, the Taos Art Museum’s Fechin Studio and the Old Courtroom on the historic Taos Plaza, as well as various buildings along Civic Plaza Drive. For the last several years, the Guadalupe Gym behind Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Don Fernando, a block west of Taos Plaza has been home to the festival.
In its current configuration, Taos Fall Arts Festival takes place for ten days at the end of September and into first week of October at the Guadalupe Gym. The gym is converted into a large gallery space with high ceilings and a lot of light. White panels are arranged to create interesting spaces for exhibiting the artists’ work. The show is not juried, and more than 200 artists subit a broad array of work for the exhibit. This includes paintings and photographs, mixed media, sculpture, furniture and jewelry, as well as miniature paintings
Most years, the festival puts out a call for a poster image competition. The winner is given a financial award, and the chosen image is used to create the annual event’s poster and is used widely in advertising and promotional material. The festival hosts a poster signing event and allots an entire wall for the poster artist to exhibit other pieces of work. Two runners up in the competition, the Image Award winners, are also featured in promotional material and given space to exhibit more of their work.
In addition to the poster competition, TFAF, a 501C non-profit corporation, grants other awards, including the Kids Give Back Award. The Visionary Award, granted by the Martin Foundation, is given to one or two artists, not only for the quality of their work but for the contributions they make to the arts scene in Taos. The final award given is The Charles R. Strong, Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award.
Over the ten days of the festival, performances are held in the gym and at other venues. Satellite shows take place – Pressing On at the Stables Gallery and others at gallery and studio spaces in the various “art districts” of Taos. Adding to the excitement and anticipation of the festival, in 2014 TFAF embraced THE PASEO as part of the festival. THE PASEO continues as an established event that places creative and interactive installations around Taos Plaza and Kit Carson Park the week before the Taos Fall Arts Festival.
Fall is the time for the arts in Taos, and the festival attracts not only local but art lovers from out of state. 2020, with the theme TAOS VISION: RETURN TO THE LAND, WATER, SKY was to be a year of special celebrations when during the course of the season Taos arts events would join in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the Taos Pueblo’s 50 year anniversary of the return of Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo. While the Taos Fall Arts Festival has fallen victim to the COVID-19 restrictions and fiscal shortfalls, Jonathan Warm Day Coming’s painting, A Place of Stories, will be the poster commemorating the festival for 2020/2021 and will be for sale on the Taos Fall Arts website. The Taos Fall Arts Festival looks forward to resuming the celebrations in 2021, September 24-October 3, with a variety of events.