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NeoRio 2019: Universal Elements

Where: Montoso Campground, Wild Rivers, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument
When: Saturday, September 21, 4 – 9 pm (see schedule for specifics)
Price: Free and open to all. Donations appreciated. Camping $7/night.
Shuttle: $25-Taos, $20-Hondo, $15-Questa per person
More Info: (575) 224-9066

NeoRio offers thought-provoking art installations right on the rim of the Rio Grande gorge, along with a farm-to-table feast, poetry and music. The outdoor contemporary art and community event offers the opportunity to discover the sublime Wild Rivers area of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, or, to experience it in a whole new way. Now in its 11th year, this annual event offers a unique experience every year.

NeoRio 2019 will take place at Montoso Campground at the Wild Rivers Recreation Area on Saturday, September 21, from 4 to 9 pm.

Each year, NeoRio features a different theme. This year’s theme is “Universal Elements” and coincides with The United Nations’ “International Year of the Periodic Table of Elements” and the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Periodic System by Dmitry Mendeleev in 1869. Works and activities at the event will tie into this theme through creative interpretation by visual and performing artists and contributors. The theme encourages both scientific and philosophical perspectives. It is an invitation to: get curious and embrace Universal Elements in our everyday life; marvel that we are truly “made of stardust”; appreciate the genius of the periodic system; and explore perspectives of Universal Elements through wisdom traditions. The event will host featured artists, Cynthia Moku (Boulder, CO), Sarah Parker (Questa), Laurianne Fiorentino (aka Lauria, Santa Fe) and additional local and regional contributing artists and projects.


Featured artist Cynthia Moku has a distinguished career painting in contemporary and traditional formats, including a large scroll painting acquired by the Denver Art Museum for its permanent collection of 20th CE Buddhist art. Cynthia’s contemporary ink-art paintings reflect her unique and singular training in Asian calligraphy. From this foundation, she developed Indelible Presence© contemplative brushstroke practices connecting wisdom traditions and communities through the arts; done within annual meditation retreats and more recently in large, public cultural events.

As a guest artist at NeoRio, Cynthia will bring her contemporary Indelible Presence work to the Rio Grande Wild Rivers environment, leading an outdoor community brushwork performance called “One Continuous Gesture” (OCG) with an 8’ bodybrush, and in honor of the great river of the north. About this performative, contemplative work, Moku says,

“‘OCG’ honors the intention of the no trace ethic and embodies the universal elements theme of this year’s NeoRio event through a spontaneous ‘passing of the brush’ linking the cultural community of the festival in making a large extended calligraphy together.”

Coinciding with the Indelible Presence work, she will also present a visual dialogue of her ink-art universal element paintings from the series, Flying White, in the evening.

Featured Artist, Sarah Parker’s passion lies in radio production, printmaking, and interactive community art projects. She has produced independent pieces for community radio stations since 2005. Parker uses interactive art projects to begin conversations about community and our roles within them as individuals. She currently teaches Special Ed in a small Northern New Mexico elementary school.

NeoRio will host her piece “Elements of Community.” This interactive, community art project guides participants on a quest for chemical elements in the rugged Wild Rivers area to create a collaborative periodic table. Part scavenger hunt, part collaborative artwork, “Elements of Community” sends participants, via clues, in search of chemical elements throughout the NeoRio event site, then asks them to creatively interpret their finds in drawings or words to add to the Elements of Community Periodic Table. Parker says about her work,

“It’s all about community. I am committed to affirming the importance of communities’ voices and the dissemination of these voices. I believe that our stories are what connect our common experiences and distinguish our unique perspectives.”

Featured Artist, Laurianne Fiorentino is a singer-songwriter with over 20 years of experience writing and recording original material. She describes her music as “Americana soul” and is the recipient of multiple nominations and awards. She currently hosts the Elemental Concert Series at the San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe with cellist Michael Kott, taking the audience through the Periodic Table of Elements, delving into the personality of a single element at each concert. She brings this unique musical exploration to NeoRio. About the project, she says,

“Each of the 118 elements in the periodic table can be viewed personally: as if each element has qualities of a human being. Through that prism of identity, original music (and perhaps a cover or two) explores that elemental facet. So if you ever wondered, down to the atomic level, what it might be like to reflect on the RUBIDIUM in you (volatile, precise, excitable, rare, specific, highly emotional, silver-haired, old soul, incompatible, loner/hermit, clown) or HYDROGEN etc. come on out to NeoRio!”

“One Continuous Gesture” Detail, Indelible Presence© 2018, Dairy Center for the Arts, Boulder CO

During the first part of the afternoon, guests are invited to participate in Moku’s “One Continuous Gesture” performance and interact with other art installations and projects including the family-friendly, hands-on, activities offered by LEAP and collaborators as part of the “Intersecting Art and Science Elements Education Program.” The Elemental Concert by Featured Artist Lauria will begin at 5.

Mark Dudrow & Justin Dean

Music from Mark Dudrow and Justin Dean will usher in the evening festivities at 6. Enjoy a locally-sourced, northern NM, fall Feast from the Questa Farmers Market growers, cooks and bakers. The Feast is coordinated by the Questa Market manager, Gaea McGahee and contributors to the feast will be familiar to those who have visited the market. At dusk, on the heels of dinner, portable solar power provided by PPC Solar will enable NeoRio featured artists to offer short, informative, illustrated talks.

NeoRio is a BLM National Public Lands Day event and embraces the no trace ethic and its seven principles. The event is organized by LEAP (Land, Experience and Art of Place, a program of Localogy) in partnership with Questa Creative Council, Bureau of Land Management’s Taos Field Office and others.

Claire Coté, LEAP director, says, “We hope that a kind of alchemy occurs with the confluence of art, environment and this year’s fascinating NeoRio theme.”

NeoRio 2019 Schedule, Montoso Campground, Wild Rivers:
4 pm: Art Installations and Activities (including Moku’s “Once Continuous Gesture” performance)
5 pm: Elemental Concert by Featured Artist, Laurianne Fiorentino
6 pm: Farm-to-Table Feast and Music by Justin Dean and Mark Dudrow
7 pm: Artist Talks by NeoRio Featured Artists
8 pm: Campfire

Arriving at NeoRio

Please carpool if you can; parking is limited. Or take the NeoRio shuttle ($25-Taos, $20-Hondo, $15-Questa by reservation). Get the shuttle in downtown Taos, Hondo or Questa and ride care-free to enjoy NeoRio for the afternoon and evening and then be delivered back to your car.

This is a free event; donations are much appreciated. NeoRio is made possible by individual donations, local business and media sponsorships as well as generous grant support. This project is supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts with additional thanks also to grants from Taos County, Chevron Questa Mine Grants for Good, and Questa Economic Development Fund and sponsorships from PPC Solar, Zia Event Design, North Star Toys, Taos News, Beyond Taos, Questa Farmers Market, Walking Bear Farm, Cerro Vista Farm, and others.

Click HERE to Donate to NeoRio or call Claire at 575-224-9066 to volunteer. It’s community event and we could use your help! Or just come to enjoy. See you there!