The Sublime and Songster Sextet, Clutter Funk and KCEC Pariahs

By: Contributor
29 April, 2017

Taos Sublime

The current Harwood show features “The Taos Sublime” in “Continuum: Light, Space & Time: Blumenschein to Bell.” Not only has Harwood Director Dr. Richard Tobin and his team curated works from many of your favorite artists in the collection, the indefatigable Richard has published a brochure on the show, explaining the history and aesthetic of Taos artists and art.

In effect Tobin re-interprets the traditional notion of the “sublime,” a concept representative of awe, terror, and the puny place of humans vis-à-vis overwhelming natural wonders. He follows the history of the sublime as the concept evolved through variations down through the centuries and finds in Taos a fusion of the sublime-humble style represented by Taos Pueblo and Hispanic traditions. As well the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, referred to in the near-by and far away or Agnes Martin’s move from the “plain” to “plane” define the new sublime. (There’s a new to Taos Agnes painting of the sublime.)

Paraphrasing Tobin’s remarks and research, you could say the land itself shaped the life and the art to a degree, while artists from Frederic Remington to the Broken Wheelers, Taos Art Colony, Moderns and Contemporaries all responded to the lack of a middle distance, a condition attributed to the particular effects of the light itself in Taos, which, in turn, affected Taos artists working here, resulting in the particular Taos aesthetic aka Taos Sublime.

The brochure itself is the best synopsis I have ever read on Taos art and speaks to the incorporation of ideas and images in a way that is as eloquent and insightful as the light itself. Look at the art. Read the brochure. Look at the art.

The Sextet


While looking at the Harwood show on Friday afternoon I noticed familiar figures flitting through the shadows to the auditorium. Then I heard sounds nearby, some lyrical, ricocheting off the far away. I peeked in and to my surprise saw the now legendary band, aka “Rick and the Re-Rites” rehearsing for a sold-out benefit at $25 each, tonight.

IMG_0533Among the instruments and grizzled faces, I saw John Nichols, Morten Nilsson, Craig Smith, Chipper Thompson, Sean Murphy, and Rick Smith, the latter a mild mannered bookseller and real screamer on the banjo, who can make that mouth organ whine. Caveat: they won’t let John resume playing the boogie woogie on the piano like he used to do every Sunday at Dori’s. But if you’ve got a ticket, you’ll enjoy the tempestuous pleasures of the runaway Cajun sounders, “Ricky and the Re-Rites.” (Photos by Mary Lutz)

Town Clutter-Funk









(Graffiti above and on the right Street People Order out.) 

On Friday I made a limited tour of Kit Carson Park and Taos Plaza, checking the semi-permanent scaffolding meant for summer concerts, a giant erector set stretched out to mar the serenity for morning walkers in Kit Carson Park and noticed the ugly green electric drop boxes nailed to the aging trees in the central historic Plaza since Dec. 2015. Beauty has no place in the Town of Taos lexicon.

The Plaza itself is an amalgam of elevations, uneven steps, and pitches, public monuments and unauthorized private memorials, grassy plots and dirty bricks next to decaying walls and historic sites. The contributing and non-contributing features on the Plaza include the Civil War 24/7 American Flag, the WWII Cross and memorial, the Bataan remembrance and the disproportionately small bronze figures, all presided over by a disproportionately oversized Padre Martinez bronze figure. The amalgam of Funk is anchored by the Copper Roofed Gazebo with its metaphysical black orb at the peak, peeking into the heavens.

At the Town of Taos Historic Preservation Commission meeting, Town of Taos Parks and Events Supervisor Mitch Miller, former DJ and Party House entrepreneur, presented a “sketch” for a stage extension to the Gazebo. He repeatedly referred to the Plaza as a “gem” or “jewel,” perhaps he was referring to a form of costume jewelry, something you buy at the Dollar Store, not Artwares.

In reality Mitch proposed more Clutter to amplify Plaza Funk (I don’t mean the fabled Clark Funk, longtime sidewalk sweeper). The “temporary” (eight-months a year?)) extension to the Gazebo, for “Thursday night live” and the Fiesta, functions so that musicians can be seen as well as heard.

Apparently the Town doesn’t have the manpower or money to erect and take down a temporary bandstand. Mitch alluded to removing the ugly “green electric boxes”… someday. He said nothing about the unsightly metal scaffolding in Kit Carson Park. Given the rise of sandwich boards and neon, plastic signs with indirect lighting, new stop signs, directional signs, and unsightly and unnecessary historic markers, the Town seems bent on increasing the twisted and unsightly look of the historic district.

The Historic Preservation Commission’s David Henry, an architect, expressed skepticism about the “plan” due to its questionable non-contributing and unappetizing appearance. But a meeting has been scheduled for May 23 to hear and see the final “sketch.” The Planning Director and Town Manager made clear to the Commission that the town’s appearance and the request was an unnecessary pro forma gesture. In the interests of “transparency.”

Ninety percent of those, who enjoy the quiet beauty and cultural significance of Kit Carson Park or Taos Plaza, whether tourist or local, appear each day when there are no “special events.”

BTW: Mitch’s every word was closely monitored and/or further clarified by the Town’s “Mother Hen,” disguised as a long-haired pot-bellied aging rock’n roll impersonator. The Valley Girl, who presided over the Commission, obtained a promise from Mitch to water the flowers. So there will be some beauty in the midst of Funk.

Funk, the historic juxtaposition of contributing and non-contributing features, of Beauty and the Beast, is the single standard of consistency in the Town of Taos.

KCEC Pariahs

Manuel MedinaDavid TorresYou probably missed the announcement but the KCE Coop is holding elections on May 9, a Thursday, in the greater Town of Taos area. Members will choose two of two candidates from a slate that includes two incumbents, Manuel Medina, left, and David Torres, right. There are no challengers. According to Friction sources, KCEC members are boycotting the Coop elections because the Trustees are seen as ethically challenged: increasing electricity rates to pay (partially) for Broadband, bilking members retroactively, and mortgaging the Coop to a Florida financier.


On Thursday, May 11, 2017, members in northern Taos County will choose two trustees from among three candidates: (incumbent) Bobby R. Ortega, pictured,  candidates Mr. Bobby Ortega 2014 1Bernie A. Torres and Daryl J. Ortega in Questa. The Man from Cerro, Virgil Martinez, lower right, a longtime trustee, was beaten down physically at a coop meeting by a fellow Trustee, and has retired.


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