Happy New Year!
May it be wonderful for us all – people, places, creatures and things.
Reflections and Projections
2016 was “abuzz” for LEAP. We were busy! Perhaps a little too busy. In 2017 we plan to take things a little slower; fewer big events and intentional focus on some of the less visible, but very important nuts and bolts that will make LEAP stronger and more sustainable in the long run. We hope you will join us in whatever ways are right for you and yours!
As you may remember, pollination was LEAP’s theme in 2016. “The Buzz” permeated LEAP’s activities and programming throughout the year, from our science and art enrichment programs for Questa and Costilla elementary students in the spring, to NeoRio at Wild Rivers in the Fall. We also organized our annual Questa Earth Day event, the regional ¡Pollinate! Art Show at OCHO in Questa, StorySLAM and Paint Out event at Wild Rivers, Dia de los Muertos Community Celebration and local field trips for Questa Junior High Students.
Each event and engagement deepened understandings of the phenomenal and beautiful roles of pollination and pollinators in our lives and ecosystems; each brought people and “place” together and was successful in its own ways.
We also launched two new projects this year: The Northern NM Growers & Makers Exchange and the North Central NM Story Cache. The goals of these new projects are to enliven our communities, generate meaningful conversations, draw-out local stories, and celebrate histories and traditions, new and old. The Growers & Makers Exchange champions our local agricultural and artisan networks by localizing our economy with outlets to sell goods and other infrastructural support. The North Cental NM Story Cache is an emerging local oral history project and archive. Look for more on these projects this year!
HUGE thank yous to all who contributed time, energy and resources to LEAP’s endeavors in 2016. Gratitude to our volunteers, collaborators, artists, participants, donors and grant supporters! You all made it possible.
We are looking forward to new adventures together in 2017!
On Nov 1st, OCHO Art + event Space in Questa overflowed with activity, color, music, delicious food and a diverse group of guests. We honored loved ones and ancestors with ritual and celebration by gathering the living for Questa’s second annual collaborative Dia de los Muertos celebration. This full, late afternoon and evening party included art and altars, Aztec dancers, a feast, music by Questa High School Mariachi and more!
Many thanks to those talented students and their dedicated teacher, Rachel Leon. We will long remember their performance of La Llorona in a candlelit gallery.
The main artworks in the gallery were altars created by Questa Junior and Senior High School students thanks to the guidance and support of art teacher, Jennifer Vialpando. A heartfelt thank you to our local educators, and gratitude to the hosts of the event at OCHO Art + Event Space, in the village center.
As guests arrived they were greeted by local artist Anita McKeown and her Water Altar, created to honor and celebrate the importance of water.
Anita said this of her inspiration, “Water is life for all of us, the altar allows us to make ‘offerings’ for the healthy continuance of our relationship with water and place. It gives a space to reflect and be mindful of our inter-connectedness.”
Thanks to our inspired community members who cooked and baked and served the feast! The spread included posole, vegetarian lentil stew, beans and rice, a huge prune pie, hot chocolate, apples, local cider, pan de muerto, and much more!
The Aztec Dancers moved with such vitality and power, a deeper history of this celebration, rooted in the indigenous traditions of precolonial centuries, struck us.
Guests of the evening brought photos of loved ones and objects to adorn a community altar. And a pet altar honored animal friends. We remembered the dead with celebration, bright colors, and food with strong flavors; which may explain why this year’s Dia de los Muertos filled the house.
Guests enjoyed decorating sugar skulls, writing calaveras or “memory poems,” making paper marigolds, calavera face painting (special thanks, Peggy Trigg), and printmaking (special thanks, Joan Long), and writing letters to the dead at “The Dead Letter Office” with author and teacher, Annie Mattingley.
Of this particular activity Annie said: “This is a chance to write your own heart-healing letter to someone dear who died either recently or long, long ago.” Those heart-healing letters deposited in the sealed box in “The Dead Letter Office” were burned, (in their box), as promised.
Coordinated by Gaea McGahee and Claire Coté, the collaborative event was the collective effort of LEAP, OCHO, Questa Junior-Senior High School students and teachers, as well as community volunteers.
“I see Dia de los Muertos as a way to process loss with simple and meaningful actions in the presence of a community. During our celebration, we prepared food, made beautiful altars and items to place on them. We made sugar skulls; and, while adorning them, maybe we faced mortality with a bit of humor. Our ritual and celebration was a container for our feelings of sorrow at the death of our beloveds. By treating mortality with humor, we acknowledged that we are all sojourners; some simply further ahead,” says Gaea.
Thanks to Rita Daniels of KNCE 93.5 Taos True Radio for joining us at the event and reporting about about it. Listen to her radio program about our day of the dead celebration here: “Wake Up, Taos! with Rita Daniels” Nov. 2, 2016 episode 51: “Questa Celebrates Dia de los Muertos” (click on “Questa Celebration” 18:10 minutes)
The event was made possible by funding from the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area Fund, Chevron Questa Mine Community Fund, Questa Economic Development Fund as well as individual donations and many, generous, in-kind contributions and volunteers.
We are looking forward to next year! If you’re interested in participating in the event in some way, please contact, Gaea McGahee, email@example.com, 575-224-2102.
Tuesday, November 1, 4 – 7 pm
OCHO Art + Event Space, #8 Hwy. 38, Questa, NM (parking across street)
Free – Donations welcome
More Info or to volunteer: Gaea McGahee, firstname.lastname@example.org, (575)224-2102
All are invited to join in Questa’s second annual collaborative Dia de los Muertos celebration, featuring artwork by Questa Junior and Senior High School students. Enjoy art and activities, Aztec dancers at 5pm, followed by a feast, then mariachi music. Community members will contribute posole, prune pies, hot chocolate, atole, apples, local cider, and the Questa Junior-Senior High School culinary arts students will make “pan de muerto.” At 6:30, Questa Mariachi students will perform in a candlelit gallery to close our festive evening with La Llorona.
Dia de los Muertos is a time to honor our loved ones and ancestors with ritual and celebration and gather the living in these observances. With intertwining cultural roots it combines Spanish, Aztec, and even earlier indigenous traditions. It is a time to remember the dead with celebration, bright colors, and food with strong flavors; this may explain why Day of the Dead has spread across the world. This ritual offers a container for our feelings of sorrow at the death of our beloveds. And by treating the eventuality with humor, we recognize we are all sojourners; some are simply further ahead.
Dia de Los Muertos in Questa explores traditional activities and innovative elements centered around community and art. Supplies and instructions will be provided for decorating sugar skulls, writing calaveras or “memory poems,” making paper marigolds, and colorful prints with traditional imagery. These items can adorn altars or be taken home. Guests on the evening of Nov 1st may bring photos of loved ones or objects to add to a community altar. A pet altar will be created to honor animal friends. Items can be brought ahead of time to the OCHO gallery, which will be open on Oct 29th and 30th.
The event will also feature calavera face painting for all ages with Peggy Trigg, printmaking with Joan Long, and writing letters to the dead at “The Dead Letter Office” with author and teacher, Annie Mattingley. (The Saturday prior to the event (Oct. 29th) Mattingley will lead the “Writing Letters to the Dead” workshop, 2 – 4 pm at OCHO. Suggested donation to OCHO $5. For more information or to sign up for the workshop, contact author and teacher, Annie Mattingley at (575) 586-1792.)
Dia de los Muertos in Questa Schedule, Tuesday, November 1, 4-7 pm:
4 – 6:30 pm Activities and Constructing Altars/Ofrendas
5 pm Aztec Dancers
5:30 pm Feasting
6:30-7pm Music / Candle Lighting
Coordinated by Gaea McGahee, the collaborative event is the collective effort of LEAP (LeapSite.org), OCHO (OchoZone.org), Questa Junior-Senior High School students and teachers as well as community volunteers. The event is made possible by funding from the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area Fund, Chevron Questa Mine Community Fund, Questa Economic Development Fund as well as individual donations and many in-kind contributions and volunteers.
Thank you for exploring this important and beautiful topic with us this year. A huge thank you to our twenty-four ¡Pollinate! Art Show artists who brought such wonderful vision and diversity of approach and medium to the show and theme. We got lots of great feedback on the show and compliments on the quality and diversity of the artwork.
Local and regional artists featured were:
Diane de Fremery
Geneviève de Vellis
Julia Ruth Claus
Lee Lee and Susanna Mitchell
Robert Perez Jr.
Thanks also to our volunteers, visitors and patrons, everyone who came out for the opening reception and stopped by during the show’s two-months in the gallery. Special thanks to Deuce Jazz Duo is Mary Rose (flute and alto flute) and Joseph Salack, (piano and bass) who played at the reception and to all of you that purchased artwork! Many volunteer hours went into making this show possible, and we appreciate every person that contributed in their own way during set-up, reception, gallery-sitting and take-down!
Special thanks to Jean Frey and Katie Woodall and Martha Shepp, who showed up just in the nick of time, for helping to curate and install the show and to Dawn Provencher and Ella Maloy for their great help with the Pollination Sensorium. Without these creative, capable women, the show would not have come together.
Kids of all ages enjoyed exploring the Pollination Sensorium: information, games, the “pollinator water fountain activity” and the magnification table were all a great hit! We look forward to expanding this hands-on pollination curriculum and offering it to more kids and in more forms in the future through LEAP/SEED programming.
Thanks to financial support for the ¡Pollinate! Art Show by Taos County, Questa Economic Development Fund, Chevron Questa Mine Community Fund as well as by other local business, individual donations and in-kind support.
Take note: LEAP will be taking a break from curating a themed art show at OCHO in 2017, but you all will be the first to know when our next local/regional call to artists is out for any future shows. Thank you for your continued support!
The Northern NM Growers and Makers Exchange (G&ME) took place nearly every Sunday from June 12th to October 2nd on the corner of hwy 522 and 38 in Questa’s village center. We offered a variety of food and craft to enjoy and take home. Community members were served by the G&ME and visitors came, too. We met folks traveling north to Denver and other Colorado cities after a weekend in Taos, and others coming north from the southern NM. If you joined us as a visitor, patron or vendor, we thank you for you participation!
(click on above images to view in slideshow mode)
Traditional and gluten free baked goods
Vegetarian Lunch options and Frito Pies
Jams, jellies, honey
Bread and tortillas
Plants and starts and birdhouses
Handmade belts to fit
Home sewn items
Pottery and photographs
Fresh flowers and garden produce
And many Sundays of live music shared by local musicians – our thanks to:
*Special thanks to Jonathan Hutchison not only for his own wonderful musical performance but also for helping to organize and facilitate music at G&ME Sundays!
We also send out our thanks to Cristina (on puppets) and Nat (on accordion) who brought Puppet Theatre los Titiriteros to the G&ME at the end of July!
The G&ME gave community members a place to gather and exchange goods, as well as spend time with one another, often around a table, sharing good food. It demonstrated that, while structural economic barriers exist, our community members are motivated to take on challenges and help themselves.
Our market gave those of us selling a chance to visit, too, and talk about our hopes for overcoming these barriers. One much-discussed need is for a commercial kitchen that supports local makers so they are able to scale-up production and enter larger regional marketplaces.
The Growers and Makers Exchange members want to explore what to do next. One thing we’d like to see is more vendors and a wider variety of offerings.
We’re interested in your feedback. We want to know if we ought to try again next season, what you thought worked, and what we could change to make it better. Again, we met on Sundays and our hours where about 10am to 2pm. Feedback on the hours and day would be great.
What a beautiful day it was on September 17th at Wild Rivers in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument; a perfect day to enjoy our 8th annual NeoRio!
NeoRio this year was “abuzz” with a diversity of art installations and cross-pollination between our three featured artists, community members and visitors from near and far. The setting and majesty of the landscape also afforded moments of solitude and contemplation.
Visitors followed the NeoRio map to discover Lee Lee’s colorful and poignant paintings and interactive, educational installations; Viviane Le Courtois’ five site-specific, sculptural installations attracted both pollinators and people with their hand-crafted, beauty and natural elements; and Jenny Lynn McNutt’s pop-up gallery displayed her “cabinet of curiosities” on the honey bee.
ADRIFT – MIGRATION – HOME, by Lee Lee
Reconciliation: Sculptures for Humans and Pollinators, by Viviane Le Courtois
Precise Breathing or Why I Call My Baby Honey, by Jenny Lynn McNutt
Members of the Northern NM Growers and Makers Exchange and other volunteer cooks made an incredible fall feast enjoyed by all, accompanied by music from Justin Dean and Mark Dudrow (High Desert Acoustic Duo). The menu consisted of a mostly local, organic and homemade assortment of dishes: torta de juevos (spanish quiche), calabacitas (summer squash, corn and green chiles), frijoles (beans), two kinds of homemade salsa, local green salad and two kinds of homemade dressing, homemade tortillas, dinner rolls, butter and homemade/local jams, and a special chutney made by Lee Lee from her family’s apple orchard.
Sipping hot cider and crunching Falvio’s “melt-in your mouth” biscochitos, audience members were given a tour of our three featured artists’ works and practice. The breadth and depth of their work, international scope and professionalism wowed and educated us. Music around the campfire concluded the evening.
(All photos used in this post are courtesy of Carrie Leven)
A deep thank you to the many dedicated individuals for their time and labor given to make the event a success!
Huge thanks go specifically to:
- Lee Lee, Viviane Le Courtois and Jenny Lynn McNutt, our featured artists, for sharing their work at the event and for offering their artist talks. Although we offer NeoRio artists a stipend to help cover supplies and travel, their time and expertise are donated. With out this generosity the past eight NeoRio events would not have been possible.
- Chris Coté for endless moral and logistical support, providing fire wood for the campfire and shlepping equipment to and from Wild Rivers.
- Gaea McGahee, NeoRio Food Maven, for graceful and delicious food coordination and preparation.
- Martha Shepp and Dawn Provencher for their invaluable help with set-up and site beautification.
- Growers & Makers Exchange cooks, Kathy Morsell and Chris, Wendy and Alex Medina as well as food volunteers, Jeannie Masters, Kate Cisneros and Flavio Cisneros for their delicious food!
- Timothy and Connie Long for providing the tents for the event, childcare and helping with set-up and clean-up, down to the last details.
- Joan Long for helping with lunch for our NeoRio volunteers as well as hours spent on set-up.
- Bill an Joan McDonald for great help at the event.
- Alberta Bouyer, for parking coordination and help with PR.
- Kathy and Chris, Kostecki-Shaw Family, Dawn, Cerro Vista Farm and Lee Lee for providing beautiful flowers and foliage to decorate the event!
- All BLM staff and volunteers – most especially to Wild Rivers Manager, Teddy Lucero, and Rangers, Tim Long and Jamie for many onsite details; John Bailey for coordination and administration and all the helpful BLM volunteers for on-the-ground support.
- PPC Solar for generously providing solar electricity to power the event.
- Siena Sanderson and Mark Goldman for hosting featured artist Jenny Lynn McNutt and her husband for the duration of their stay in NM for NeoRio.
- Carrie Leven for photographing the event.
- Musicians, Justin Dean, Mark Dudrow and Jonathan Hutchison for providing wonderful tunes for the evening.
- Morning after clean-up crew including Barrie Andrews, Mark White and others.
Our sincere thanks also go to the Questa Economic Development Fund (QEDF), Questa Mine Community Fund, Taos County, Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area Fund and the many individual donors as well as local businesses and collaborators (especially OCHO and our parent organization, Localogy) for supporting the event. With out the support of grants and donations this annual event would not be possible.
And last, but certainly not least, thank you to everyone who came to experience and participate in the the event! Your presence and participation provided the alchemy that made it a success. Let’s do it again next year!
We would love to hear what you thought of the event and we are always interested in suggestions and feedback: email@example.com or call Claire 575-224-9066.
Every NeoRio event is a unique collaboration of artists, area nonprofits, organizations, businesses and our host, the Bureau of Land Management Taos Field Office. This growing circle of collaboration, connections and relationships are an important part of NeoRio and LEAP’s work and we hope to continue to enrich and strengthen these relationships through each project and event! Thank you to all who came to the event or contributed in some way!
Saturday, September 17, 4 pm
Montoso Campground, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Wild Rivers
Enjoy thought-provoking art installations on the rim of Rio Grande river gorge. In its 8th year, NeoRio is a truly unique event for the Taos area. This year features three projects by three artists; “ADRIFT – MIGRATION – HOME” by Lee Lee, “Reconciliation: Sculptures for Humans and Pollinators” by Viviane Le Courtois, and “Precise Breathing or Why I Call My Baby Honey” by Jenny Lynn McNutt. Each artist approaches the theme of pollination in a unique way. Come enjoy art, scenery, local fall feast, campfire, poetry & music. Organized by LEAP in collaboration with BLM as a Public Lands Day Event, FREE. More info…
(click on above images for enlarged view + details)