Explore 'Seeds ~ Semillas' at NeoRio 2017

TAOS, N.M. — NeoRio offers thought-provoking art installations right on the rim of the Rio Grande gorge, along with a fall feast, and music. Now in its ninth year, this annual event is truly a unique experience. The outdoor contemporary art and community event celebrates the beauty of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. It will take place at Montoso Campground at the Wild Rivers Recreation Area on Saturday, September 16, from 4-9 p.m.

The event is free and open to all. Donations are appreciated. Camping is $7/night.

“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,” said Monument Manager John Bailey.

Each year, NeoRio features a different theme. This year’s theme is glorious and fascinating seeds, a natural follow-up to last year’s focus on pollination. Seeds will inspire the art installations and activities throughout the afternoon and evening at NeoRio.

Not only are seeds essential to survival, provide food, and shape the 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; “get our own hands dirty,” planting seeds! NeoRio explores and perpetuates the valuable cultural and agricultural practices of local communities. The art installations and activities will highlight native plants and their roles in the ecosystems here, in northern NM and beyond.

The event will host featured artists, Kaitlin Bryson and Hollis Moore, as well as contributing artist, photographer Geraint Smith and exciting interactive projects, each approaching this year’s theme of seeds in a unique way.

Featured artist Kaitlin Bryson is originally from Reno, Nevada and 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 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. As it falls apart, native seeds will be dropped in a swale to grow in the spring.”

Featured artist Hollis Moore, fell in love with the West during her undergraduate studies at Colorado College. Now she also lives in Albuquerque and is a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of New Mexico in printmaking. Hollis seeks personal and collective journeys, exploring how the environment shapes her creativity and how her imagination lends a voice for the environment. Her work is rooted in traditions of printmaking, natural materials, fiber arts, and found objects. Her current research and creative practice focuses on the Colorado River Delta. Moore will bring her current project, Pulse Flow, to NeoRio, including, a 16 ft. paper maché canoe and a participatory papermaking and printmaking station.

She said: “I will use the NeoRio site at Wild Rivers as an outdoor studio to work towards completing the canoe’s construction...The Rio Grande’s National and Scenic River designation, will prompt conversation about the management of our rivers in the arid Southwest. How can we preserve sections of free-flowing river, like the Rio Grande in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, whilst supporting the needs of water-users? NeoRio’s theme, “Seeds ~ Semillas” relates directly to these questions as many riparian plants sync their seed broadcast with spring floods.”

Both Bryson and Moore have a unique relationship with and love for northern NM and Wild Rivers in particular.

“In September of 2016, we visited Wild Rivers with the Land Arts of the American West Program, in which students work collectively to investigate place-based land issues in the Southwest bioregion,” said Moore.

“I am thrilled to be coming back to work in the gorge again and an make offering to the landscape,” said Bryson.

Work by NeoRio contributing artist, Geraint Smith will also be included in the event. His beautiful photo transfer series on the milkweed plant and pods will be installed on site. Two of his works will be raffled-off to two lucky winners and others will be for sale. All of the proceeds will benefit LEAP, thanks to Smith’s generosity.

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

The seed-inspired late afternoon poetry and music salon, at 5 p.m., is a new element of this year’s event, featuring a curated series of poems by Deborah Pender Hutchison and Gabrielle Herbertson with related musical interludes by Jonathan Hutchison.

Music from the High Desert Acoustic Duo (Justin Dean and Mark Dudrow) will usher in the evening festivities. Enjoy a locally-sourced, northern NM Fall Feast from the Questa Farmers Market growers, cooks and bakers. The feast is coordinated by Gaea McGahee, manager of the Questa Farmers Market and contributors to the feast will be familiar 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 brief visual tours of past works.

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, said, “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.”

NeoRio 2017 Schedule, Montoso Campground, Wild Rivers:

4 p.m.: Seed-Inspired Art Installations and Activities

5 p.m.: Poetry and Music Salon

6 p.m.: Local Fall Feast and Music by Justin Dean and Mark Dudrow

7 p.m.: Artist Talks by NeoRio Featured Artists

8 p.m.: Campfire and Music (bring an instrument!)

Please carpool if possible; parking is limited and it’s better for the planet! 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; special thanks to grants from Questa Economic Development Fund, Chevron Questa Mine Community Fund and Taos County and sponsorships from PPC Solar, Common Fire, North Star Toys, KRZA Radio, Taos News, Cid’s Market and others.

Find out more about NeoRio at www.LeapSite.org or call Claire at 575-224-9066.

Caption: Geraint Smith’s “Milkweed Pod,” photo transfer series will be installed on site during the NeoRio event in northern New Mexico. Photo courtesy of Geraint Smith