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 diversity and creative talent. Every year for the last 478 years, Taos has celebrated the arts with the Taos Fall Arts Festival. The 49th Annual Taos Fall Arts Festival in 2023 will be a particularly special event celebrating new beginnings.
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 Hispanic, Native American and Mexican cultures, in addition to the hippie commune movement, it has inspired generations of artists, writers, dreamers, poets, adventure seekers 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.
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. We are very excited to be partnering this year with UNM moving the show into the newly renovated Bataan Hall on Civic Plaza Dr.
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 Bataan Hall.
Bataan Hall 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. This is an open show where all Taos country residents and artists represented by local galleries can enter their work. More than 200 artists submit a broad array of work for the exhibit. This includes paintings and photographs, mixed media, sculpture, fashion, music, dance, digital art, culinary arts, written and spoken word, 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. This year we have two poster art award winners.
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. This year Couse-Sharp Historic Site will be sponsoring the new heritage award with four cash prizes totaling $2,500.
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. 2022, with the theme NEW BEGINNINGS will be a year of special celebrations beginning with a fundraiser on September 10th at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site to honor this year’s awards: Lifetime Achievement – Thom Wheeler, Visionary Artist – Patricia Michaels, Poster Artists – Peggy Trigg and Suzanne Wiggin.