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NeoRio 2018 Gratitude!

October 2, 2018

It was beautiful weather on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Montoso Campground at Wild Rivers as over 250 people arrived to explore the theme “Roots ~ Raices” at LEAP’s 10th anniversary outdoor contemporary art celebration.

A wonderful way to celebrate 10 years of experimental art on the rim of the gorge!

NeoRio from LEAP on Vimeo.

Art installations included a “wall” of rooted willows by Scott Sutton, innovative backpack kits for “short adventures in place” by Kacie Smith, interactive installations by UNM Land Arts of the American West artist group (a selection of which also comprised our poets this year), root words flapping in the breeze by Martha Shepp and earth-penetrating optical illusions by Nicholette Codding.

Hands-on activities were for all ages, notably a booth created by Olga Gresott and company in homage to the lowly beet as well as fun art activities provided by Joan Eilers.

Participants were captivated by impassioned young poets at the afternoon Poetry & Music Salon, a bountiful locally sourced (and served) feast, soulful tunes, and informative artist talks at dusk. Featured local musicians were Mad Cat Jack Lorang, Mark Dudrow and Kate Mann. The local feast featured Questa Farmers Market produce and cooks, plus many young volunteer UNM students who helped chop mountains of veggies.

Approximately one third of NeoRio visitors this year hailed from within a 20-mile radius, and the other two-thirds were from further afield New Mexico towns and cities and surrounding states. NeoRio draws a wide array of participants, diverse in age, interests and cultural backgrounds.

And perhaps most significantly, all 250 of us shared the majesty of the place together, through the changing light of the afternoon and evening, the explorations of the artworks and the ways that they enabled us to see the place a little differently or feel it a bit more deeply. Closing the evening with interesting artist talks, Gaea’s perfectly sweet Meixcan hot chocolate and Flavio Cisneros’s melt-in-your-mouth biscochitos by fire and star light was pretty special too.

Thank you to all who helped make NeoRio possible this year – artists, musicians, collaborators, volunteers, donors and sponsors. 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:
Featured artists Scott Sutton, Kacie Smith and UNM Land Arts Group for sharing their work at the event and for offering their artist talks. Although we offer NeoRio featured artists a small stipend to cover supplies and travel, much of their valuable time and expertise are donated. Also to contributing artist Geraint Smith, who donated to LEAP the beautiful “Milkweed Pods” that were on display and raffled off to three lucky winners.

Without this kind of generosity the past nine NeoRio events would not have been possible.

Huge thanks to the NeoRio Team:

  • Sarah Dzieweczynski for event logistics expertise and MCing!
  • Martha Shepp for much event logistics and graphic design support!
  • Chris Coté for endless moral and logistical support, set-up and take down and providing fire wood for the campfire and shlepping equipment to and from Wild Rivers.
  • Timothy and Connie Long for providing tents for the event, childcare and helping with set-up and clean-up, down to the last details and beyond!
  • Gaea McGahee, NeoRio Food Maven, for graceful and delicious food coordination and preparation.
  • Olga Gressot and crew for Beet Art tent and Joan Eilers for her “prehistoric painting” tent!
  • Sarah Parker for representing Questa Stories at the event!
  • Questa Farmers Market Cooks Wendy and Alex Medina as well as community cooks, Ethan Jackson, Jeannie Masters, Kate Cisneros, Flavio Cisneros, and Dawn Provencher for their delicious food!
  • UNM Land Arts and Art & Biodiversity classes for volunteering help with feast prep and lots of other support.
  • Joan Long for cooking delicious lunches for our NeoRio volunteers as well as logistical support.
  • Ed and Lynn Galusky for great help at the event.
  • Steve Bishop, Peggy Trigg, Joan Eilers and Aimee Deans for much help with tents!
  • Peggy Trigg for welcoming visitors and providing information and general event help.
  • Sherri and Daniel at Cerro Vista Farm for providing beautiful flowers and foliage to decorate the event!
  • All BLM staff and volunteers – most especially to Wild Rivers Manager, Teddy Lucero, and Ranger, Tim Long for many onsite details; John Bailey for coordination, administration and generous support.
  • PPC Solar for generously providing solar electricity to power the event.
  • Nicholette Codding and Loralee Mattison for photographing the event.
  • Musicians, Kate Mann, Mark Dudrow, and Mad Cat Jack Lorang for providing wonderful tunes for the evening.
  • Many thanks to the Sunday Morning clean-up crew including Joan Eilers, Aimee Deans, Chris Cote, Tim and Connie Long.

Special thanks to our funders: This project was supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts. Special thanks also to grants from MAE Foundation, Taos County, Questa Economic Development Fund, Chevron Questa Mine Grants for Good, and sponsorships from PPC Solar, Zia Event Design, North Star Toys, Taos News, Beyond Taos, Rio Grande Ace Hardware, Questa Farmers Market, Cid’s Market, Common Fire, Cerro Vista Farm, and others. It takes “a village” to make this annual event happen!

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, photos and feedback: or call Claire 575-224-9066.

Every NeoRio event is a unique collaboration of artists, collaborators, organizations, businesses and our host, the Bureau of Land Management Taos Field Office. This 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 attended or contributed in some way!

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