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NeoRio 2013: The Ice Cream Olympics

NeoRiofrontcardSept5WebLargNeoRio2013-Info-WebDates: September 14, 15, 21 & 28, 2013
What: NeoRio 2013: The Ice Cream Olympics
Where: Locations in and adjacent to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument
Event Cost: FREE (entry to Wild Rivers is $3/car on Sept. 14th and 21st, free on Sept. 28th, camping is $7/night)

Join in the fifth annual NeoRio with this year’s LEAP residency and celebratory event, ‘The Ice Cream Olympics’ on Saturday, September 28th, 2013. This year’s theme, “Intimate Ecologies – Tastes of the Monument” features a series of events and workshops leading up to the final NeoRio event on September 28th, Our dynamic visiting artist from Ireland, Anita Mckeown will present ‘The Ice Cream Olympics’, part of the on-going TASTY! series in collaboration with Good ™ and the people of Taos County.

What does ice cream have to do with the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument? Ask artist in residence and project leader, Anita McKeown and you’ll soon understand the connection.

On Saturday Sept. 28th, Anita will present her work and the residency that has created the Ice Cream Olympics in an artist talk at the Wild Rivers visitor Center at 2 pm followed by The Ice Cream Olympics participatory event.

At 6 pm the festivities move to Montoso Campground for the NeoRio evening celebrations on the rim of the gorge, featuring delicious food, music, poetry and a campfire.

Hosted by the BLM Taos Field Office and OCHO Art Space in Questa, NeoRio is organized by LEAP (Land, Experience and Art of Place, a program of Localogy). NeoRio 2013 is supported by the BLM Taos Field Office, Questa Economic Development Board, Questa Public Library and other organizations, individuals and local businesses.

According to LEAP founder, Claire Coté, “NeoRio is about creating opportunities for innovative contemporary artists to interface with and celebrate our communities, rivers and wild lands. This year we have something really exciting to celebrate, the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and TASTY!’s residency and “The Ice Cream Olympics” skillfully present us with fun and delicious ways to engage with its ecology while at the same time touching on big issues.”

The project is intended to playfully engage the people of Taos County and beyond with local and wild food cultures and the related bio-cultural diversity of the areas surrounding the newly designated National Monument,” says NeoRio 2013 project leader and TASTY! founder, Anita McKeown. “What better way to be engaged with a place than by deliciously exploring it through local ice cream flavors?!”

The Ice Cream Olympics residency, which officially began July 1 has provided the platfor for the September 28th Olympics through a series of participatory workshops and activities, an exhibition and open lab all culminating in the celebratory community “Ice Cream Olympics,” playfully exploring local food culture and the ecology of the new National Monument through making ice cream.

“Many people in Taos County know and use the lands in the new National Monument, but this residency provides unique and innovative ways to connect to a landscape that we already love,” says John Bailey, BLM spokesman for the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

Built on extensive local research, DIY ice cream making methods and collaboration with local groups, local artists and experts, these workshops and events will be the platform for participants and “Olympic teams” to develop their own ice cream flavors for “The Ice Cream Olympics” at Wild Rivers on September 28th. With a bit of shake, rattle, and roll, some dribbling and maybe an obstacle course or two, Anita hopes that  some new summer flavors from the Monument will be created.

Anita McKeown, the first Rio Grande del Norte National Monument artist-in-residence, works across a range of media forms, including digital technology and performance to create context-responsive, ecologically sensitive interventions that often develop over a number of years. For the NeoRio 2013 residency, “Intimate Ecologies: Tastes of the Monument,” she will be drawing on her 3-year research-based relationship with the Taos County area.

Anita, who is from Ireland, first came to Taos in 2010 for a research residency related to her PhD, which challenges the “monumental trend” in the public art sector. Through a situated practice that is context-responsive and grounded in the ecology of the location, her research considers how such interventions contribute to intimacy; a detailed process that shares the existing knowledge in a location and produces new knowledge through the remixing and re-imagining of that knowledge base. From this perspective “The Ice Cream Olympics” event and the “Intimate Ecologies: Tastes of the Monument” residency, is an open source public art project that explores some of the key concerns Anita has been addressing within her PhD.

The evolution of “The Ice Cream Olympics” is in itself an example of open source culture. Inspired by the Surrealist game, Exquisite Corpse, Robin Salant’s 2009 project, “Exquisite Ice” encouraged intercultural dialogue through producing gelato using flavors blended from various cultures.  Anita and Robin took an Ice Cream ball (a canister for ice cream ingredients surrounded by ice and rock salt within a plastic ball)  to the Taos Archaeological Society potluck in 2010, and made Green Chile and Piñon ice cream, to rave reviews. Anita then evolved the idea to become “The Ice Cream Olympics,” a concept on which she and Robin will continue to collaborate through the NeoRio residency.

New Mexico’s unique food culture is a fusion of Pueblo Native American, Spanish, Mexican, cowboy chuckwagon, ranchers and eco-hippie transplants. This history, the host of untapped edibles available in the wild and the abundance of local produce motivated the project. It is estimated that New Mexico produces more than fifty edible crops, most of which are exported, yet New Mexico has just been ranked 50th in food security with the highest national statistics of children who are food insecure.

Recognizing that food sovereignty and security are complex issues, in this residency, TASTY! seeks broad participation to provoke deep discussions, all with a light touch. Through the development of local ice cream flavors and playful participatory events, the project offers an accessible, fun way to engage with place and facilitate the sharing of knowledge held within local communities.

According to Anita McKeown, “Whether or not you decide to take part in “The Ice Cream Olympics” event, what you know about local and wild foods is important to the project and Northern New Mexico and we want to hear from you!”

If you want to learn more, are interested in getting involved, have a recipe or local food story to share or are able to support the project in anyway, please contact Anita: 505-433-1880, or learn more online at

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