TISA students project their call to save the nea on the walls of Taos Plaza
In September 2016, just before The Paseo nighttime art festival, artist-activists, Kyle Depew and Anna Ozbek of The Illuminator Collective led a workshop in Megan Bowers Avina’s classroom at Taos Integrated School of the Arts (TISA). The Paseo-sponsored workshop introduced students to The Illuminator’s political art guerrilla projection techniques, which were central to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The youth learned the principals of “urban projection” – the use of technology, art, cinema, light, and story in an urban landscape to influence social change.
Fast forward to March 2017 when Ms Avina’s students expressed their concern over the new president’s apparent plan to de-fund the National Endowment for the Arts.
As any sensitive teacher or parent is likely to do, Megan encouraged her students to find a constructive outlet for their anger. They revisited the principals of peaceful political expression they learned in Kyle Depew and Anna Ozbek’s class. They created images, wrote statements, used projection mapping, video and rapid-response meme generation to create a group statement.
At sunset on Thursday evening, March 30, the students will present their art projection project to the community of Taos. Although it can’t be called “guerilla art” because they did get town and plaza business approval for a peaceful assembly, it will be a lesson in using art to start public discourse. It will also be an example of The Paseo Project’s vision to “transform art through community and community through art.”
Megan Bowers Avina says of this process, “Activism and social awareness always have a place in my curriculum. Growing compassionate learners is a priority in my classroom. I presented the idea of a world without arts funding to the students, assigned them the task of researching the NEA and sharing their findings with each other and me. Every student was given the choice of participation and all chose to join in creating an illuminating protest in honor of saving the NEA.”
At a Glance
WHAT: TISA Illuminated Protest in Support of the NEA
WHEN: March 30, 2017, 7:00-8:30pm
WHERE: Southside of Taos Plaza
MORE: The Illuminator art collective
The Paseo 2016 outdoor art festival’s praise and participation peaks for the third year.
On Friday and Saturday, September 23rd and 24th, twenty-one Paseo-sponsored art installations (and a number of gallery-sponsored presentations) were viewed by a flood of locals and visitors in a huge and joyful public gathering in Taos, New Mexico.
The Paseo presented installation, performance, and projection art on the streets of the historic district of Taos from 5:00pm to 10:00pm on both Friday and Saturday as part of Taos Fall Arts Festival, now in its 42nd year.
All the Paseo artworks were participatory, meaning the audience was invited to be part of the art– eat it, touch it, dance with it, re-color it, step inside of it. The artists of each piece were present to explain their process and intentions on site and at Daytime@ThePaseo workshops and lectures, a new addition in 2016 to the three-year-old phenomenon.
THE 2016 PASEO NUMBERS The 21installations were conceived and produced by 25 artists. Of those, seven were artists living in New Mexico, two were from within Taos County. Eight artists were international in origin—from Brazil, Colombia, Vienna and Spain. In addition, 13 local galleries and businesses sponsored Taos installations by Taos artists. All the Paseo artists were paid for their work, thanks to funding received from grants and contributions from individual supporters. (More on that below.)
Twelve artists presented pre-festival workshops in Taos middle and high schools through a program titled STEMartsLAB@ThePASEO which exposes students to cutting-edge technologies, science and art. Approximately 700 Taos youth from 13 schools participated in these workshops, many of whom also worked with their artist teacher on his/her festival installation. Another 1800 youth participated in Hands-on@ThePaseo maker activities.
This year, 150 volunteers helped pull off the multi-venue event. The Paseo planning team consisted of 7 staff members and an advisory board of 11 art experts. The Town of Taos contributed over $7000 in staff time and technical assets to the weekend events.
Taos Fall Arts Festival (TFAF), the nonprofit umbrella for the Paseo, hosted indoor art exhibits in two venues during the Paseo (185 Taos artists were included). Over 700 people were counted at opening weekend of TFAF’s prestigious Taos Select exhibition and 600 at the popular Taos Open exhibition.
The Paseo’s economic impact on Taos is yet to be measured in gross receipts and lodgers tax numbers, as they will not be available for several months. However, a poll of six downtown hotels showed a 100% occupancy rate in the historic district over the weekend indicating 1600 overnight visitors were within walking distance of the Paseo. Combining this data with walking traffic from day visitors, local residents and B & B guests, the Paseo team estimates between 6,000 and 8,000 people shared the Paseo experience—and the other art events occurring in Taos over the weekend. (These events were Taos Fall Arts exhibits, Old Taos Trade Fair, Taos Fall Arts and Crafts Fair and a number of gallery openings)
On-site surveys show that participants in The Paseo 2016 came from many cities and states: 59% were Taos County residents, 16% from other New Mexico communities, 5% from Colorado, 3% from both California and Ohio, and1% from both Oregon and Texas. The remaining came from other states.
The Paseo describes itself as “a 100% free public art festival.” However, in 2016 several ticketed events were added: three workshops, an after party, and a Robert Mirabal/Joe Dean multimedia concert in a big video dome located in Kit Carson Park. Approximately $4000 was raised in theses efforts. The Paseo 2016 was funded primarily by grants. New Mexico Tourism Department’s events grant bestowed on events that embody the New Mexico True experience contributed $15,000. The Town of Taos and Taos County Lodgers Tax also provided funding, as did over 180 private donors and local businesses. The 2016 Paseo budget was $100,000.