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NeoRio 2017: Seeds ~ Semillas

NeoRio offers thought-provoking art installations right on the rim of the Rio Grande gorge. Now in its 9th year, this annual event is truly a unique experience for the Taos area. The outdoor contemporary art and community event will take place at Montoso Campground at Wild Rivers in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument on September 16, from 4-9pm.

NeoRio 2016 installations

“NeoRio gives us an opportunity to see the natural world through the eyes of gifted, creative artists, and their visions take turns surprising, amazing, or entertaining me,” muses Monument Manager, John Bailey, reflecting on the annual event.

Each year, NeoRio features a different theme. As a natural follow-up to last year’s focus on “Pollination,” this year’s theme is glorious and fascinating seeds; they will inspire the art installations and activities throughout the afternoon and evening. Not only are seeds essential to our survival, provide our food, and shape our world, they are also incredibly beautiful and mysterious sources of life. The miracle of seeds and the global importance of healthy seed diversity are driving forces of this year’s theme. It is also a local call to action to “get our own hands dirty,” plant our own seeds, explore, learn and perpetuate the valuable, cultural and agricultural practices of our local communities and learn about native plants and their roles in the ecosystems here, in Northern NM and beyond.

The event will host multiple featured and contributing artists and projects, each approaching this year’s theme of seeds in a unique way.

Featured Artists

Kaitlin Bryson. Originally from Reno, Nevada, Bryson now hails from Albuquerque, where she is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Art & Ecology from the University of New Mexico. She works with natural materials to illuminate the processual nature of life, and to call attention to the agency of the non-human environment. Her artwork is made to allow the materials involved to unfold and transform, living out their own dynamic processes.

About seeds and her work for NeoRio, she says: “A seed is a container of pure potential. When the time has come, it threshes off its hull and is born into a radicle – the plant embryo – and begins to simultaneously grow upward and downward, reaching towards the light while also rooting deeply into the soil. The story of the seed, with its radical breakthrough, has shaped my artwork and inspired me to cultivate similar moments within my own life. The piece presented at NeoRio 2017 is made to signify the moment of the radicle breaking free from dormancy, while also calling to the potentiality stored in material breakdown. It is made from dried flowers, soil, and other natural materials, and as it begins to fall apart, native seeds will be dropped in a swale below to grow in the spring.”

Hollis Moore fell in love with the West during her undergraduate studies at Colorado College. Now she lives in Albuquerque, NM where she is also working towards a Masters in Fine Arts at UNM. When she is not teaching or painting in her studio, she is endlessly exploring any hiking, running, or biking trails that lead to water in the desert. Moore will bring a new project that she is working on to the site for NeoRio, which involves a full-size, 16 ft. paper maché canoe. Stay tuned for more details!


Both Bryson and Moore have a unique relationship with and love for Northern NM and Wild Rivers: “In September of 2016, we visited Wild Rivers with the Land Arts of the American West Program and are thrilled to be coming back to work in the gorge again and make an offering to the landscape,” describes Bryson.

NeoRio 2017 Event Description

During the afternoon, tour the art installations and projects and explore the family-oriented, hands-on “Seed Sensorium,” a collaboration with SEED Taos and the “Questa Seed Exchange,” a collaboration with the Questa Library.

The seed-inspired afternoon poetry and music salon is a new element to this year’s event, featuring poets Deborah Hutchison and Gabrielle Herbertson with musical interludes by Jonathan Hutchison.

Music from the High Desert Acoustic Duo (Justin Dean and Mark Dudrow) will usher in the evening activities. Enjoy a locally-sourced, northern NM Fall Feast featuring the Questa Farmers Market growers, cooks and bakers. The Feast is coordinated by Gaea McGahee, organizer of the Questa Farmers Market and contributors to the feast will be familiar faces to those who have visited the market this season. At dusk, on the heels of dinner, portable solar power provided by PPC Solar will allow NeoRio featured artists to offer short, informative, illustrated talks, giving behind-the-scenes looks at the onsite artworks and a brief visual tour of past works.

NeoRio 2017 Schedule, Montoso Campground, Wild Rivers:
4 pm: Seed-Inspired Art Installations and Activities
5 pm: Afternoon Poetry and Music Salon
6 pm: Local Fall Feast and Music by Justin Dean and Mark Dudrow
7 pm: Artist Talks by NeoRio Featured Artists
8 pm: Campfire and Music (bring an instrument!)

Organized by LEAP (Land, Experience, and Art of Place) in collaboration with the BLM and others, this event celebrates National Public Lands Day, and is a great chance to discover the Wild Rivers area of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, or, see it in a whole new way.

Claire Coté, LEAP director, says, “The vision for NeoRio is for people to experience the ‘confluence of art and environments’ through the lens of each year’s theme. The combination of art and wild places can be an exciting recipe; at best perception-changing and heart-opening and at least entertaining, novel, and fun. With NeoRio, it’s also about community, the place and artworks together with a delicious meal and beautiful, fall sunset.”

LEAP (a program of Local nonprofit Localogy) brings innovative artists to the monument each autumn, transforming the Montoso Campground with surprising, site-specific art amid the piñon and cliffs.

Please carpool if you can; parking is limited and it’s better for the planet!

This is a free event, though camping fees of $7/night per vehicle still apply. Donations to support LEAP are appreciated. NeoRio is made possible by individual donations, local business sponsorships and generous support from the Questa Economic Development Fund, Chevron Questa Mine Community Fund, Taos County and others.

To volunteer, make a donation or find out more about NeoRio, call Claire Coté at 575-224-9066.