Source: The Pueblo Star-Journal and Sunday Chieftain
Date: April 18, 1982

Spinning…New Mexico woman champions her art
By Mary Jean Porter, Scene Editor

Rachel Brown is not the spinner of fairy tales, not an old woman bent over a creaking wheel. She is bold and dynamic – much like the art she loves.

The Arroyo Seco, N.M., resident was in Pueblo recently to conduct a two-day spinner’s workshop at El Pueblo Museum. Surrounded by piles of sweet-scented wool and treadling the sleek wheel she helped design, she was the furthest thing imaginable from a fairy tale character.

Spinning Sunday article 1

Rachel Brown at her spinning wheel

Lean, with bright blue eyes and weathered cheeks, Ms. Brown looks like the Southwest which has inspired her work. She speaks softly yet knowledgeably and almost crackles with energy – energy she says she gets from spinning.

The spinner said her art has changed and is beginning to get the recognition it deserves. There is new equipment available to do the tedious work of carding, there are new wheels available that allow the spinner to spin various weights of yarn without changing spindles. Some wool growers, too, are beginning to cater to the hand spinner and are producing the long, course, clean fleece needed for hand spinning.

Spinners are spinning wool from the Southwest, silk from China, alpaca from South America, cotton, flax and even dog hair. The art of spinning has become so popular that a Wisconsin spinners’ guild – which has more than 200 members – has a side guild of 26 members who spin dog hair.

“It used to be that spinners did not have the stimulation, the supplies weren’t available, nobody had wheels. That has changed. Spinning today is at the level weaving was 25 years ago,” Ms. Brown said.

That was when she moved to Arroyo Seco from New Hampshire, homesteaded land and began weaving and spinning. “I knew right away this was it,” she said about spinning.

“I do consider it my art form. I get energy from it. It’s very relaxing – I can’t stay away from my spinning wheel.”

She spins because she loves it but also because she wants to make the yarn she weaves. And to be sure it is the color she wants, she dyes all her own wool, sometimes using natural dyes.

When people began asking questions about her work, she wrote “The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book.” She also operated her own shop with eight apprentice wool dyers and worked with a Santa Fe equipment manufacturer to produce the spinning wheel she uses.

“One of the most valuable things I have to contribute is to try to dispel the fears they (beginning spinners) may have – that it is time-consuming and difficult. They can spin any way they want.”

To illustrate her point, Ms. Brown quickly spun a handful of silky multi-hued karakul sheep wool into yarn. “All it is is the drawing out and twisting of fibers,” she explained.

The revolving wheel did all the work, and in no time the thick gray-brown yarn was wrapped around the spindle and she was reaching for more wool.

“I want to make people realize it’s not for a little old lady sitting in the corner by the fireplace for weeks. We’re now spinning great big gloppy yarns for weavers to weave into rugs,” she said.

Ms. Brown said she can spin about three pounds of “jumbo” yarn in about an hour, and can spin the yarn for a 4 -by 6-foot rug in less than a day. Another two days at her loom, and she has completed the rug.

“Some weavers and spinners complain that they aren’t recognized. But it really is becoming a wonderful medium for artists to work in. I think there’s as much worth in a nice striped rug as in a fancy sculptural piece for a gallery.”

“’There are no politics in the world more important than spinning,’” Ms. Brown quoted Mahatma Ghandi.

“Ghandi spun an hour every day. He figured that was what it took to make the clothes to keep the economy going. So you see, it’s not just for dumb little old ladies.”

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Source: Rio Grande Sun
Date: July 21, 1983

During Santiago Fiesta…
Weavers Plan Open House
By Maria Varela

The historic T.D. Burns Mercantile Store in Los Ojos will be the scene of an open house Sunday for Tierra Wools, a spinning and weaving studio.

Weavers plan open house article

WARP AND WOOF – Acclaimed weaver Rachel Brown of Taos explains some of the principles of the use of traditional looms to members of Tierra Wools, a weavers’ studio located in the northern Rio Arriba village of Los Ojos. Members of Tierra Wools will hold an open house at the T.D. Burns-Mike Neal Mercantile all day Sunday in conjunction with the hundredth anniversary celebration of the founding of San Jose Parish. Revival of traditional weaving practices and the northern New Mexico sheep industry are among the goals of the weavers’ group and a related agricultural development corporation, Ganados del Valle. (Photo by Maria Varela)

Hosting the open house, scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the mercantile, will be Ganados del Valle, an agricultural development corporation which has as one of its goals the revitalization of northern New Mexico’s sheep industry.

The open house will be held at the same time as San Jose Parish’s 100th anniversary celebration of the Santiago Fiesta, and the Burns Mercantile, which once was the marketing center for the sheep industry in northern Rio Arriba, was chosen as Tierra Wools’ new home for its historic significance.

“We have a lot of hopes for the weavers and spinners,” said Antonio Manzanares, one of the founders of the corporation and the Chairman of the Board of Ganados del Valle. “They seem to have the talent and commitment to make a go of the business.”

MAIL ORDERS

Tierra Wools plans to market primarily by mail order, both wholesale and retail, hand spun yarns in natural nad dyed colors, hand-woven pillows, wall hangings, decorator throws, purses, ruanas (ponchos), stoles and one-of-a-kind tapestry weavings.

Its location in the Burns store will provide the opportunity for the public to see spinners and weavers at work. The store will be the only retil outlet for Tierra Wools products in the state and all items sold out of the Taller (studio) are available at 25 percent discount.

The spinners and weavers who presently  make up Tierra Wools are Kika Chavez, Los Ojos; Rosalia Chacon, Llaves; Angie Serrano, Los Ojos; Molly Manzanares, Canones; Avenicia Martinez, La Puente; Laurita Martinez, Los Ojos; and Gregorita Aguilar, Los Ojos.

Members of the cooperatively owned and run Taller, after a period of apprenticeship are free to spin or weave at home or in the studio. Many of this group have been weaving at the community weaving center in the old school of San Jose Parish in Los Ojos.

“We owe a lot to the parish for providing the space and looms for the community,” said Angie Serrano. “Many of us would never have had this opportunity to go into weaving as a career if we hadn’t been exposed to it here in our own community.”

ALTAR PIECE

As an expression of their appreciation for the Church’s sponsorship of the community weaving center, Tierra Wools has commissioned member Rosalia Chacon to weave an altar frontal piece for the 100th anniversary celebration of the founding of San Jose Church. The celebration will be a part of the annual Santiago Fiesta on July 23 and 24 in Los Ojos.

The large tapestry has been hand spun, hand dyed and hand woven primarily from fleece grown in the Tierra Amarilla-Chama Valley. The 38” x 67” weaving is bordered on either side with traditional Rio Grande stripes and features the historic church in the center. The group estimates that this one-of-a-kind tapestry would bring between $500 and $600 on the retail market.

Tierra Wools sought and received funds from small foundations in New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco to provide start-up assistance for the cooperative and hire professional consultants.

The taller has retained Rachel Brown of Taos to train spinners and weavers as well as to provide design and marketing assistance.

AUTHOR

Brown is the author of “The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book” which has gained her an international reputation.

“The talent in this community is enormous,” said Ms. Brown, “and I consider this a unique opportunity to work with an organization taking an integrated, cooperative approach to the art of weaving. They have integrated the sheep growers into the same organization as the weaver and spinner. They work together to strengthen the sheep and weaving industries which traditionally have been a strong part of the area’s culture and livelihood. I think this is why they have attracted national interest from funding sources, government and industry leaders.”

Since May, Tierra Wools has purchased nearly 2000 pounds of wool, of which roughly ¾ has been from Northern New Mexican sheep growers. The weavers estimate that as yarn sales grow, they will need a minimum of 4000 pounds of fleece a year to keep the spinners supplied.

“We will pay a grower from $.95 to $2.50 a pound for clean, long staple wool,” explained Molly Manzanares, a spinner-weaver and member of the organization board. “We can use fleece from cross breeds, western white face and will pay a higher price for colored specialty fleece such as Karakul or Navajosa.”

BENEFITS

Gumercido P-Salazar of La Puente, vice-chairman of the board of directors of Ganados del Valley-Tierra Wools, described the economic benefits that the weaving and spinning cooperative brings to the sheep industry:

“Let’s say that Tierra Wools pays a grower $1.00 a pound for their fleece. When you add onto that the wool incentive which right now is at 135 percent, the grower received $1.35 on top of the $1 a pound. Beisdes that, you save the gas money on taking the wool out of state to sell it. This year we only received $.58 a pound for our wool.”

“It is more trouble to sell to the hand-spinners,” commented board secretary and grower Beth Rhodes. “The wool has to be free of burrs and manure. …and you can’t include the short wool from the legs, belly or from second cuts. It means that some of us will have to change a little in the way we manage our flocks and shear. But it will be worth it in the end. Not only will we get more for our wool, but our wool will be bought by an enterprise which is providing more jobs or income for the people here.”

SPECIAL LOOMS

Working with loom builder Cruz Aguilar of Los Ojos, Rachel brown has specially designed several looms based on the traditional treadle loom of the area but with modern improvements to speed up production. At least one of the looms will be on display for the open house on Sunday.

There also will be spinning demonstrations throughout the day as well as an exhibit of antique weavings traditional to the area. The group plans to have a limited quantity of hand spun yarns and weavings available for sale.

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Source: The Taos News
Date: March 26, 1992

Story intricately woven around three lives
By Deborah Ensor

Joan Potter Loveless weaves a beautiful tapestry in her new book, “Three Weavers,” published by the University of New Mexico Press.

Three weavers article

From left, Rachel Brown, Kristina Wilson and the author, Joan Loveless

In the book, Loveless reminisces about the lives and work of three craftsman: herself, Rachel Brown and Kristina Wilson. And though the book is an inspiring guide to their work and their imagination, it also is a romantic, insightful look into the real lives of three creative women.

A book signing is planned Sunday (March 29) from 2-5 p.m. at Weaving Southwest in Yucca Plaza.

Beginning with her arrival in Taos some 40 years ago, Loveless chronicles her love for the land and its seasons. She arrived here fresh out of Black Mountain College, where she studied weaving with Anni Albers.

“As we watched the changes over its breadth we became acquainted with illusion,” she said of the scenery she witnessed in her first few weeks in Taos, “with transformation, with vacancy, with large serenity, with some faint comprehension of reality as an unending interplay of forces and elements that allowed us to experience the beauty and wonder and to feel ourselves part of the mystery that we witnessed.”

Against this backdrop, Loveless began to experiment with weaving and color theory, obviously inspired by the land and its enchantment. It’s no wonder weaving is such an impressive craft in the Taos valley -according to Loveless and many others, the dramas of light and weather are played on the sky, like wool across a loom.

As Loveless goes through her life, in a simplistic, yet heartwarming, diary-like form, she also describes some of the intricacies of weaving.

“On this simple principle of ‘over and under,’” she says in the beginning of the book, “is based the whole history of textile making, varying in both time and place as to its appearance, its cultural significance and its level of development.”

In addition to the story of their friendship, “Three Weavers” is the story of the evolution of their work, a relationship with wool that is unique to each weaver but for each, intimately related to northern New Mexico.

Through a discussion of her friends’ projects, she gives a clear picture of the talent, creativity, dedication and pure love for the craft that these women share.

In one chapter, Loveless talks about how Wilson had gotten together some funds to work with eight disabled people.

“She usually sets up the looms for people,” Loveless writes, “and most of them also had to be sat with as they worked; they were either retarded or physically handicapped or both. Some of them were eventually able to work on their own. One of the most successful was a man, paralyzed on one side of his body, who had learned to weave many years ago in a WPA program but hadn’t done anything since because he had no money for a loom or materials.”

Loveless talks about the beginning of Wilson’s Twining Weavers: “There being such a rich tradition of Spanish weaving in the Arroyo Seco area, their plan was to try to involve local people as weavers and this worked out beautifully.”

One of the biggest accomplishments of this trio of weavers was Brown’s work with Tierra Wools…“the village of Los Ojos, which in the fall of 1982 became part of Rachel’s orbit.”

This orbit involved setting up a successful weaving cooperative.

“Maria (Varela) and Rachel hit it off immediately, and in their first meeting in Taos dreamed up many possible plans, deciding that the best beginning would be some kind of spinning cottage industry, using locally gown wool.

“The wool of these Churro sheep was a very high quality for spinning…They made plans to begin with a spinning workshop as soon as possible…the response to the workshop was surprising. There were about 15 participants.”

The cooperative has grown and grown, and Loveless chronicles the ups and downs of making a dream a reality.

“The creation of Tierra Wools has also, I think, been a tremendous accomplishment for Rachel,” she writes. “Her experience with shoestring beginnings for craft enterprises, her utter devotion to the weaving craft and her ability to share her love of work toward a goal have all been crucial in making Tierra Wools first a believable dream and then a reality.”

“Three Weavers” also contains numerous color plates showing the work of all three crafts people. In addition, it has scores of black and white plates chronicling the women’s lives.

This book is a delight, because not only is it a private insight into the minds of three talented weavers, but into their hearts as well. The three share a love for the New Mexico landscape, their work as weavers and spinners and the joys and sorrows of children and grandchildren. As Loveless shares all of this, the reader may feel intricately woven into their lives, into the enthusiasm of their creativity and into the space that is New Mexico.

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Source: The Taos News
Date: Thursday, September 27, 1984

Weavers, growers meet

While Taos sheep ranchers are getting bottom dollar for their wool, local weavers and spinners are paying high prices for imported wool.

Weavers, Growers meet wool festival article 1

Rachel Brown

“We need to get the two groups together. Something wonderful could happen,” predicts weaver and author Rachel Brown.

Sure enough, the Mountain and Valley Wool Association got a few sheep ranchers and a few artisans together and something wonderful is happening. It’s the Taos area’s first Wool Festival at Kit Carson State Park, Saturday (Sept. 29), 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sheep ranchers, wool artisans and the general public will come together to browse, buy, learn and enjoy some good food, Brown said.

Wool, in all its various forms, will be displayed and sold. A fashion show is planned along with spinning and weaving demonstrations.

AT THE FESTIVAL, artisans can look for suitable fleeces and yarns and at the same time sheep ranchers can find out directly from weavers and spinners what kinds of wool are needed by the local market.

“What they will discover,” said Brown, “is that weavers want wool with body and luster. By introducing appropriate breeds into local flocks, the wool here could be made more suitable for local craftspeople, yet still produce good carcass yield for meat.”

Brown mentions Border Leicester and Karkul as breeds that might be suitable for this area.

The prevalent breed, Rambouillet, produces a fine-textured wool that has previously brought good prices from big wool mills. Lately, however, sheep ranchers are grumbling about the low prices they’re getting for their Rambouillet fleeces, and craftspeople are equally discouraged by the high prices they are paying for imported wools.

The reason for this became clear last spring when Brown was on a marketing trip to New York City.

“The gray flannel suit styles made from the Rambouillet fleeces are definitely out,” she said. New York designers are showing courser wools with a hand-woven look.

This new hand-woven look will be featured in a free public fashion show as part of the festival. Coordinated by Coral Barnes, a weaver and clothing designer, the show has received some interest from New York fashion writers.

In addition, hand-woven clothing will be sold from individually operated booths to the general public.

THE TREND toward coarser wools has been an advantage, however, to the few are sheep ranchers with old herds.

Apparently, the original breed in the area was Churro. This course wool is what we see in the old Navajo and Spanish weavings.

Until very recently flocks with remnants of the old Churro line have been spurned by the industrial mills in favor of the finer Rambouillet fleeces. The picture is changing, however, and local sheep ranchers with coarser wool of the old Churro sheep are getting higher prices for their fleeces.

Brown uses some local wools in her weavings and would like to use more as they become available. She wants her work to be as simple and direct and obvious as possible. “Working with local wool fits that philosophy,” she said.

BROWN IS founding member of the Mountain and Valley Wool Association, a nonprofit organization spanning 10 counties in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado that is dedicated to expanding local wool markets and resources.

Her work and copies of her book, The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book, are for sale at the Solabra Gallery in Taos.

The Wool Festival is funded with a grant from Gov. Toney Anaya’s fund for Market Development, administered by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture; the New Mexico Department of Economic Development and Tourism, headed by Alex Mercure; a $4,000 grant from the Parks and Recreation Dept.’ and a $3,250 grant from the American Sheep Producers Council.

………………………………………………………………………….

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Source: The Taos News
Date: October 2003

Living Treasures
Author: Rick Romancito

There are probably a hundred metaphors for weaving – how it interconnects different colors and textures, how it blends the origins of many elements into a strong and beautiful fabric. But if any one could be applied to artist and businesswoman Rachel Brown, it’s how precious gems were entwined in the yarn that made a singular and vital human being, one who is being honored this year as a Living Treasure.

Living Treasure article 2

The 17th Annual Living Treasures Honorees: Eloy and Mary Jeantete, Alfred Lujan, Julia Jaramillo and Rachel Brown. (Photograph by Greg Kreller)

While Brown may have been amazed when told of being chosen for the honor, a lot of weavers in New Mexico won’t be terribly surprised. To them, Brown is already known as somewhat of a goddess.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1926, Brown started out her professional life as an artist after stints at Radcliffe College, Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Art Students League and Cooper Union in New York. It was, however, as a silkscreen printmaker. It wasn’t until she was in her 30s that she and then-husband Malcolm Brown (who died July 4) moved to Taos and she discovered weaving. Or maybe weaving discovered her.

At the time, the couple had just built a house out in Arroyo Seco, she said from the showroom of her well known tapestry gallery and studio called Weaving Southwest at 216B Paseo del Pueblo Norte in Taos. She and a few other women ran a small business called the craft House, but the bills to heat the place were a little too much. Just as they were moving out, a disassembled loom was discovered in a shed.

Told it would “just get used for fire wood,” Brown took the pieces home; she and her husband put it together – “and that’s when I started weaving.”

She immediately became obsessed with the medium.

“The magical twisting of glossy fibers, dyeing them and then intertwining them with the warp definitely became a satisfying art form for me,” she says in her artist statement. “Luckily, I was impoverished at the time so spinning and dyeing my yarns was also necessity. (She also had three kids to raise.) Since then, I have become spoiled and cannot weave unless I have an extensive palette of hand-dyed colors with which to work.”

Living Treasure article

Rachel Brown (Photograph by Greg Kreller)

Her first exhibit was in 1964 at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. Since then, her work has been shown all over the nation and resides in collections in the United States, Canada and Europe. Eventually, as she became familiar with not only the hundreds of weavers in the Southwest but the rich and varied textile tradition among the American Indian and Hispanic natives of the region, she found that venues to show these woven works of art were a rarity.

Saying she’s always been “business minded,” she began a small gallery in Seco, which eventually grew to become Weaving Southwest here in Taos. Along the way, she also wrote “The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book,” which was published in 1978 by Alfred Knopf, now in its impressive 20th printing. Also, 20 years ago this year, she helped found Tierra Wools, a worker-owned wool grower business that continues to provide natural products for the weaving tradition.

Because of her efforts to promote, preserve and encourage innovation, Brown was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993 from the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington. She was among 37 women in the craft arts who were honored for “making a difference” in their fields.

Although one might assume that someone as deeply immersed in the textile tradition would evaluate weavings on extremely technical terms, when asked what she looks for in a weaving, she replied, “Visual impact.”

It’s not the number of threads per square inch nor the some arcane method. It’s how the piece strikes her upon first impression. The same is true of her love of old classical Navajo weavings. “The simplicity can’t be beat,” she said.

Until last year, Brown said she used to make about five to six full tapestries per year. “I used to be able to stand at the loom for 10 hours a day,” she said. In more recent years, along with help from her good friend, Ann Huston, she used to hand dye about 150 pounds of yarn between dawn and dusk. These days, she has to take it easy, but the people surrounding her still work in collaboration with Brown to produce weavings of singular beauty, along with organizing regular exhibitions of works by regional weavers.

The threads of her life have been varied and richly spun, the colors still vivid and enduring. For Rachel Brown, a true Living Treasure, the weave is a tight one.

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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?

Pat WS article 3

(Submitted photo)

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.”

Pat WS article

Pat Dozier, owner of Weaving Southwest, teaches a class on basic rug weaving. (Greg Kreller)

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.

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Source: Unknown
Date: Unknown

Metalwork – Textile Show at Gallery
Author Unknown

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.

Metalwork RB article 1

Rachel Miller and Ann Bower stand over a length of cloth on a 25-foot silk screen table while they apply a second color to the textile design. Their exhibit will open at 8 p. m. tomorrow in 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.

Metalwork RB article fabric

Metalwork fabric by Rachel Brown

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.

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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.

Brown shows woven art article 1

Rachel Brown

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.

Brown shows woven art article

Works by Lisa Trujillo (left) and Rachel Brown

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.

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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.

DC Exhibit article 3

A photograph of R.C. Gorman, Rachel Brown and Veloy Vigil taken by Paul O’Connor to be used to promote the “Live from Taos” show on the East Coast.

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.

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Rachel Brown, 1978

As some of you may know, my Grandma, Rachel Brown, founder of Weaving Southwest, passed away recently. Though she will be greatly missed, the whole family is at peace with her passing.

Thank you all who have sent your condolences. Your cards and the stories you have shared have been greatly appreciated.

If you would like to send a note it can be addressed to Lorelei Loveless, PO Box 2897, Taos NM, 87571. If you would like to share a story or photos here, please email Teresa Loveless at traelove@gmail.com. In lieu of flowers, please contact Teresa at 575-758-0433 regarding a memorial fund.

We will be announcing the date of Rachel’s memorial shortly. Below is Rachel’s obituary, published in The Taos News last week.

Rachel Brown passed away peacefully on January 31, at the age of
85.  There was a small, family burial at the north end of Las Cruces
Cemetery in Canyon.  A memorial open to all those who cared for
Rachael will be held in May, on a date to be announced.
    Rachel is survived by her daughter, Lorelei (married to Keith
Loveless); her two sons, Seth and Kinlock Brown (married to Weiping);
four grandchildren, Teresa and Tyler Loveless and Meili and Kaili
Brown; and a blossoming great grandchild soon to be welcomed into this
world by Teresa and Joe Barry.  All live in Taos and Arroyo Seco, as
did Rachel since 1956.
   Rachel was known for her kindness and generosity and for her
tremendously productive life.  She was a seminal figure in the world
of weaving both in New Mexico and nationally.
   She was trained at Radcliffe College, the Harvard Graduate School
of Design, the Art Student’s League and at Cooper Union in New York.
   Over the years, Rachel taught weaving workshops all over the
United States.  She helped found the Craft House in Arroyo Seco in the
1960’s, taught weaving at Tierra Wools in Los Ojos, NM and at Ramah
Navajo Weavers Assoc. in Pine Hill, NM in the 70’s and 80’s and became
Head Teacher in textiles/weaving at the Taos Institute of Art.   In
later years in Taos she founded Weaving Southwest and Rio Grande
Weaver’s Supply.
   One of Rachel’s most notable achievements was her writing and
illustrating of The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book (published by
Alfred Knopf, NYC, now in its 11th printing) that has become a kind of
bible among weavers.
   In 1993, Rachel was honored to receive a Lifetime Achievement
Award from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, in Washington, D.C.
   Perhaps Rachel’s greatest gift to the world – in addition to her
family – has been the great number of exceptionally beautiful
tapestries she wove, now owned by collectors all over the country.  In
the opinion of this writer, she was a genuinely great artist and very
fine person.  Her contributions to the world will live on.
– Bruce Brown

Rachel and Her Family: Seth, Tyler, Keith, Rachel, Kinlock, Teresa, Lorelei, Meili, Kaili and Weiping