Taos hosting second performance art festival Paseo

An illuminated giant arachnid called TaranTula by Christina Sporrong will be one of the displays for the Paseo on Friday and Saturday in Taos. Katharine Egil/The Taos News

Performance art — interactive, participatory and ephemeral — is rolling into Taos on Friday and Saturday for the second Paseo Festival. The outdoor arts event will be enlivening the streets and gardens of downtown Taos with installations, projections and innovative wonders that defy descriptions. The event runs from 1 to 10 p.m. each day.

Matt Thomas, whose background is in architecture and urban design, conceived of Paseo early in 2014, when he learned that the Fall Arts Festival was about to lose its Civic Plaza home. “I’ve always loved Fall Arts as a time when the whole community came together in one place,” Thomas said. “When I heard they were going to have to move their shows to separate locales around town, I wanted to come up with a creative way to connect the venues.”

The success of the first Paseo earned enough funding to triple the budget for 2015. This year’s Paseo will feature more than 30 jury-selected installations representing more than 70 artists from Taos, across the United States and overseas. All of the exhibits are new this year, with many created for Paseo.

A few highlights:

Energy Transfer to Synesthesia, by Sasha Raphael Vom Dorp, Jennifer Longo, Josh Cunningham and Gak Stonn. Cunningham and Longo are also the creative force behind the Paseo’s after-party Saturday night at Taos Mesa Brewing, featuring audio-visual artist Filastine, among others.

Love Letters to the World by Edie Tsong and Michael Lorenzo Lopez, in collaboration with writers from SOMOS. Participants are invited to sit at a vintage typewriter and compose a brief love letter, addressed to anyone or anything. When the letter is written, Tsong will climb a ladder and proclaim it to the world with a bullhorn.

A Surreal Tasting with Thomas Soule. Food artist Soule will be offering “miracle berries” that alter the flavor of whatever is eaten next. He explained that the project is a synthesis of his passions for molecular biology, biochemistry and cooking.

Wheel of Fortune, by Jill Sutherland and Anne Staveley. The wheel is a “magical piece of interactive art featuring 22 doors in a circle,” Sutherland said. “Upon stepping through a door into the interior space of the wheel, you suddenly realize that you’ve just chosen a Tarot card.” Inside the wheel, there are performance artists who might offer anything from a cup of tea to a full Tarot reading.

TaranTula, by Christina Sporrong. In 2014, a large-scale metal artwork by Sporrong and her husband, Christian Ristow, became the first iconic emblem piquing many locals’ curiosity about the Paseo. This year, a dreamily beautiful, illuminated giant arachnid will take center stage. “My interest in metal drew me to blacksmithing,” said Sporrong, who has had her own smithy and metal fabrication shop in the Taos area since 1998. “My focus is sculpture that is interactive — using sound, fire and kinetic motion — and that inspires a conversation.”

Co-founder Agnes Chávez, who exhibited her work at last year’s festival, is focusing her attention this year on the Paseo’s “STEMarts” initiative. The acronym STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Chávez, Thomas and others are active in all Taos middle and high schools, and this weekend’s Paseo will feature a host of collaborations between invited artists and Taos students and teachers.

For more information, visit visit paseotaos.org.

This story first appeared in The Taos News is a sister publication of The Santa Fe New Mexican.

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