Source: The Taos News
Date: February 12-18, 2004
Weaving Southwest changes ownership
By: Cornelia de Bruin
When women much younger than the founder of a business say they are spending most of their time keeping up with the former owner, it’s a compliment.
But how else do you describe following in the footsteps of the Great Cahuna weaver of Taos?
Susan Meredith and Pat Dozier purchased Weaving Southwest from Rachel Brown Jan. 1. Brown founded the business 29 years after moving to Taos with her husband, Malcolm, and three young children in 1956.
“Rachel built the business up from ground zero,” Dozier said. “It is one of the most highly respected weaving establishments, and one of the last few weaving supply companies, in the country.”
Rachel Brown described the business as a baby she conceived 19 years ago, in 1985, and one she has been working hard to grow into one of the major weaving businesses in the country.
“I was looking to sell it…it happened serendipitously,” she said.
When visiting Meredith at her home in Espanola, Brown noticed the complex projects on looms in her home.
“I blurted out, ‘You and Pat should buy the business,’” Brown said. “They later said yes…it’s in good hands.”
After taking over following the sale, Dozier said she and Meredith “hope to keep it up to her standards.”
“Susan and I are trying to keep up with her; she is the Great Cahuna of weaving in Taos,” Dozier said. “She has taken us under her wing, and we are continuing the business under her wing.”
Meredith described Brown’s decision to sell the business to her and Dozier as “being given a gift.”
“I guess the sky’s the limit, but I feel like I’ve already been handed the sky,” Meredith said. “I feel fortunate we can carry it forward. Everybody, anybody who weaves, absolutely reveres her; she’s done a lot to promote New Mexico, its weavers and the weaving of the Southwest.”
The new owners do not exaggerate Brown’s reputation. She was ensnared by the warps and wefts of weaving after finding a broken loom in a shed behind the Craft House, an Arroyo Seco business she ran with a few other women. The find, ironically, came as Brown was moving out of the business because the building was too expensive to heat.
Learning to weave was just the beginning for Brown, who said she became “obsessed” by working with the fibers, twisting them, dyeing them, and creating designs and patterns with them.
The love of the medium is not Brown’s alone, and her efforts to preserve and encourage the work, and her work to support worker-owned wool growing will be continued by Dozier and Meredith.
“We use hand-dyed yarns,” Dozier said. “Our rug yarn is spun for us and hand-dyed with her recipes. It’s a long-lasting yarn; we also have tapestry yarn and apparel yarn, six different types of yarn in all that come in 34 colorss each.”
Meredith and Dozier buy their wool by the bale. To the uninitiated, a bale is 1,000 pounds of wool that “explodes” when it’s cut open. From its explosive start, the wool is custom-spun into yarns by Taos Valley Wool Mills in Arroyo Seco according to the blends and types of spins Rachel Brown created.
“We use wool from Connie Taylor, who supplies churro wool for sheep produce in Ojo Caliente,” Dozier said. “She also buys and re-sells yarn from sources on the Navajo Reservation; we are one of her few customer.”
Dozier said the supplier also carries trading post yarn.
Besides continuing Brown’s established focuses, Meredith and Dozier are incorporating teaching at the gallery. They have already begun loom classes.
“Hopefully we will get other people coming up behind us; the best way to bring something forward is to have people learning about it,” Meredith said. “Fiber art, just in the last 10 years, is being viewed as fine art. It’s not being viewed as a craft anymore – that’s why we’re retaining the gallery and supporting the artists.”
Dozier began her weaving career in 1980, not long after she was assigned to copy something created by a master. She was taking art classes in college at the same time, and chose as her master the creator of a Navajo Rug.
“There are so many facets to weaving,” she said. “My passion is to weave tapestries.”
Tapestry weaving uses the same techniques as run weaving, but with a different “intent” on the part of the weaver. Dozier explained the process includes an idea, intent to create a piece of work and a design.
“My pride and joy is the tapestry gallery (of Weaving Southwest),” Dozier said. “We have 15 artists represented; all of them are from New Mexico, and all of them use hand-dyed yarn.”
Both Meredith and Dozier assure the weaving community that the main focus of Weaving Southwest will remain the fine art tapestry weaving.
The focus on homegrown and hand-dyed yarn involves the inclusion of a large part of the post-Spanish history of the Southwest. The Spanish settlers who followed the Conquistadores north from what is now Mexico brought sheep and introduced wool weaving and pedal looms to the area.
American Indian weavers, who were already weaving cotton and using Navajo-style looms, incorporated the techniques and material into their own weaving styles. With the change came the entire process of using native plants to dye the wool, including the life cycle of sheep into their own rhythms.
Brown was honored last year as a Taos Living Treasure for her work to support and continue the culturally historic weaving traditions of this area. She founded Tierra Wools, a worker-owned woolgrower business that provides natural products for the weaving tradition.
Metalwork – Textile Show at Gallery
Silk-screen textiles and metalwork are combined in the new Garret Gallery show, opening at 8 p. m. tomorrow is the Studio Center, 126 North Cascade Ave.
The work of two young New Yorkers, Rachel Miller, textile designer, and Ann Bower, silversmith, the show will be up through July 2, free to the public from noon to 5 p.m. daily.
Newcomers to Colorado Springs, Ann and Rachel are graduates of Radcliffe and Sweetbriar Colleges. Rachel also studied architecture at Harvard’s graduate school of design and at Cooper Union in New York.
Ann studied at the Craft Students League and NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, both in New York, and the Cleveland Institute of Art. Both girls worked at the Metropolitan Museum with Leonard Heinrich, famed armorer and designer of Ingrid Bergman’s Joan d’Arc costume.
In establishment of their new business in the useful arts, the girls have been seeking to produce creative merchandise typical to the region without duplicating Indian and cowboy design.
Source: The Taos News
Date: July 2, 1987
Brown Shows Woven Art
By Jean Nathan
Some say timing is everything, and Rachel Brown has it.
Brown has just realized a 10-year old dream to have a place where weavings would be displayed in a gallery setting as works of art in their own right.
Last month, she opened “Weaving-Southwest” a gallery next to her weaving supply shop on Paseo Sur. The response, she says, has been overwhelming.
The world may be ready to see tapestry and wall-hangings as something other than a cover for a blemish on a wall.
Aside from her mission to equate tapestries with art, Brown says a renaissance in Southwest tapestries is taking place.
More and more Hispanic weavers are reviving the weaving tradition of their parents and grandparents, creating entirely new motifs. Navajos and other Native American weavers are producing new and different designs, Anglo weavers continue to be influenced by this Southwestern tapestry tradition, and with their new approach to design and color are, in turn, influencing the more traditional weavers.
Brown says cross-cultural influences in weaving techniques and designs in the Southwest have played a role for more than two centuries.
Brown, who came to Taos 30 years ago, the same year she began weaving, is considered by many to be the weaving expert. Her Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book is a bible for weavers all over the country.
As a reigning expert, Brown explains tapestries in the Southwest are a separate and different technique from the European tapestry tradition where a design from a drawing or painting is created and then the tapestry is simply executed.
In the Southwest, Brown says, tapestry has always been an art form in itself, with the discipline of the weaving itself dictating design and form. Most weavers in this area, she said, dye their own yarns, and many hand-spin the yarns from the raw fleece shorn from the sheep of their own flocks.
Connie Taylor is a local weaver who does all the wool work herself. Taylor’s work includes abstract designs and pictorial tapestries, many of them with a strong political twist.
Her “Northern New Mexico Packaged for Sale” is a strong design created from handspun wool from her own flocks, with a black and white price code woven in the bottom corner.
Kristina Wilson’s works are brilliantly colorful animals and other creatures poised in whimsical stances.
Irvin and Lisa Trujillo of the Centinela Ranch in Chimayo, some of the most well-known weavers in the Rio Grande tradition, both have interesting works in the gallery. Lisa Trujillo’s Saltillo design is dazzling. She is the only contemporary weaver working in this technique.
Weaving-Southwest, representing 40 New Mexico weavers, also sell rugs and apparel, but the emphasis is strongly on the tapestries.
Source: The Taos News
Date: Nov. 7, 1991
Taos Artists Get Ready for D.C.
Author: Deborah Ensor
Many of Taos’ best artists are about ready to make their debut in the nation’s capitol.
In conjunction with the “Tree in D.C.” project, 44 Taos artists will have the opportunity to have their work seen in the Rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building.
This collection of art first will be unveiled at a fundraiser hosted by the Chefs of Taos at the Design Center of New Mexico. The show opens on Friday (Nov. 8) with a buffet from 5-8 p.m. Tickets are $15.
The evening, which includes entertainment, food and door prizes, is to raise money for the Chefs of Taos. The chefs are putting on another reception in Washington on Dec. 11, after the official tree lighting ceremony of the live Taos tree. The funds raised here will help to defray expenses.
Also at the fund-raiser, the official “Tree in D.C.” poster will be for sale. Titled “Getting the Tree,” it is an 11×14 inch woodcut by Angie Coleman, depicting an old pickup driving up a mountain road with a tree in the back. Cost is $10, $15 signed.
The art show will hang at the Design Center from Friday through Dec. 1. It then goes to the Russell Rotunda from Dec. 9-13. The art show will be on view for all to see during the Dec. 11 reception in the caucus room adjacent to the rotunda.
The show then will travel across the river to Alexandria, Va., to the Buffalo Gallery, where it will hang from Dec. 16 through mid-January.
According to Bill Staniforth and Grace Rogers, co-chairmen of the exhibit, the exhibition was envisioned as an opportunity to use the rotunda outside the reception room for an exhibit.
“What more could we send from Taos than art?” Staniforth said. “The idea is to promote Taos, and New Mexico, and when it gets right down to it, Taos is art.”
The show is invitational, mixing traditional Hispanic art work with landscapes, sculpture, Native American works and contemporary Taos art.
“It is a cross section of works,” Rogers said. “Besides beautiful New Mexican landscape paintings, we wanted to see some contemporary work. I think we accomplished that.”
The show is dubbed “Live from Taos,” and features only living Taos artists who have distinguished themselves in the art world here. Due to space limitations in the rotunda, the show had to be limited to 44 artists. The committee chose living artists to dispel the myth that much of the eastern United States holds – that Taos art is comprised only of masters like Couse, Berninghaus or Sharp.
Both Staniforth and Rogers will be going to Washington to help install the art show.
“We’re trying to get some of the best art of Taos all together in one place, in a different place,” Rogers said. “We wanted a good, high quality art show of Taos in our nation’s captiol.”
The show is funded in part by artists’ contributions, private donations, the Tree in D.C. committee and “we also found many angels to help us,” Staniforth said.
Participating artists include William Acheff, Larry Bell, Rachel Brown, George Chacon, Angie Coleman, Leslie Crespin, Keith Crown, Robert Daughters, Robert Ellis, Alyce Frank, Lydia Garcia, Rod Goebel, Walt Gonske, R.C. Gorman, Valerie Graves, Chuck Henningsen, Fola Jaramilla, Scott Jennings, Jerry Jordan, Gene Kloss, James Mack, Miguel Martinez, Ila McAfee, Ed Morgan, Margaret Ness, Tom Nobel, Paul Pascarella, Bill Rane, Ed Sandoval, Veloy Vigil, Ray Vinella, Rory Wagner, Jim Wagner, Barbara Zaring and Melissa Zink. Invited sculptors include Ron Copper, Ted Egri, Bill Gersh, Clark Jensen, Juan and Patty Navarrete, Aliah Sage, Leonard Salazar, Robert Shorty and Ben Wade.