The arts are strong in taos

Some people say the Taos art scene is on its last legs. Some say it is already gone. I wholeheartedly disagree. I know many artists who are working day and night in our community to adapt to changes in the market that have moved the traditional, gallery-based model to one that increasingly is about experience. Paseo in Taos and Meow Wolf in Santa Fe come to mind. The arts are strong here.

Creative individuals still make Taos their home, and create incredible art here. Young artists are establishing themselves, opening galleries, and keeping the Taos art scene relevant in the 21st century. We have creative entrepreneurs operating clay studios. We have creative entrepreneurs opening contemporary Native American galleries. We have creative entrepreneurs using repurposed bread trucks to bring art to the masses. We even have creative entrepreneurs proposing art pieces for our skateboard park, that can be skateboarded on. The arts are strong here.

I do see a disconnect in how our public institutions support the arts, though. Nationwide, school art programs have been cut to provide more time for standardized testing. Locally, the town government has not been as proactive as it could be in promoting our art scene. I say this as your Town Councilor. But the arts are strong here.

Last year, just months into my first term as an elected official, I began conversations with art supporters like Paul Figueroa, and the artists Scripture and Jake Mingenbach, to find out what more local government needs to do to encourage and support our local art scene. It was immediately clear that, while we have impressive public art collections and pieces, we needed to make it easier for artists to show their work.

Recently, I was introduced to Jason Rodriguez of ArTaos, who has been pushing the idea of an open-air art market to allow emerging artists a space to affordably promote their work. Numerous people have offered their support for such a proposal, as do I. But we still need to do more.

I have been working with my fellow councilmembers, town staff, and others to make support for public art a priority for the current administration. The arts are integral to our modern identity as a community, have helped to portray the historical agricultural identity of the area, and serve economically as a draw for visitors and provide much-needed gross receipts taxes that pave roads and pay for public services.

To that end, the Town Council recently passed Resolution 17-41, “A Resolution in Support of the Arts.” The resolution includes my directives to:

  1. Identify public properties and policies to more effectively promote the display and sale of locally produced art in conjunction with the concept of an art market, arts and crafts fairs, art walks, an art cooperative, or other publicly assisted venues and events.
  2. Draft an ordinance no later than October 2017 declaring the Town’s support for art in public places, and the creation of a municipal art advisory council or committee to advise the Town on the selection or approval of public art, and to advise the governing body on art-related policies and programs that can support and enhance the presence and viability of the arts in Taos.
  3. Examine the mechanisms available through private or non-profit intermediaries can address the need for affordable workforce housing and affordable studio, performance, and gallery space for artists and art-related communities, so that our creative economy can continue to exist and expand.
  4. Direct that all public properties should be examined for the display and/or sale of art by local artists.
  5. Create an opportunity for local artists to display and sell their art during town-sponsored concerts and events at Kit Carson and Fred Baca Parks.

It's a start, but I will continue to support the arts community in any way I can. Expect to see me push for murals, more public art installations, and partnerships with you, our creative community, as we move forward.