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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16 Highlights

Highlights,original tapestry by Rachel Brown, 1992. Hand-dyed wool. 59″ x 43.5″

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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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3 Amazing Marigold

Amazing Marigold,original tapestry by Rachel Brown, 2001, 40″ x 40″

 

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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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09 Baroque Landscape

Baroque Landscape,original tapestry by Rachel Brown,1997. Hand-dyed wool. 71″ x 31″

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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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2 Blue Lightening

Blue Lightning by Rachel Brown

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Back in the 1960’s my Grandma, Rachel Brown, started her first fiber business here in Arroyo Seco… The Craft House. About 50 years later, I feel we have come full circle. When we decided to move Weaving Southwest from Taos to Arroyo Seco, we weren’t sure what to expect. However, to Joe and I (and my entire family) it felt really good. A year and a half has passed and we couldn’t be happier! Weaving Southwest has found its home in the little Quonset hut, directly across the street from where my Grandma started The Craft House about half a century ago…

Source: The Taos News
Date: Tuesday, January 11, 1968

Craft House Offers Choice Work by Many NM Craftsmen
Author Unknown

Craft House Offers article

The rich color and texture in bags of hand-spun and hand-dyed wool, by weaver Kristina Wilson, left, intrigue Betsy Cogburn as she views the many items by 80 New Mexico craftsmen at Craft House, Arroyo Seco. With other directors and exhibitors Mrs. Wilson takes turn as shop attendant while continuing with her weaving.

 

Craft House Offers article 5

Rachel Brown displays the luxurious, and at the same time decidedly practical, blankets and throws she has woven of hand-spun mohair in delightful colors. Mrs. Brown, who also helps with shop-keeping, is among directors. She is finding Craft House of much interest to skiers stopping in as they travel the road to Taos Ski Valley.

Craft House Offers article 2

Betsy Cogburn’s fresh-baked horno bread is another treat. Here Betsy holds a loaf from the big basket on the counter, as Mrs. Oli (Joan) Sihvonen, well known for her woven wall hangings, looks on.

Craft House Offers article 6

Stacked High within an interesting circular structure of native aspen poles are Kristina Wilson’s pillows, all of hand-spun, hand-dyed wool in lovely colors. Miss Alice Farrell, left, Taos Art Association executive secretary, favors the sunny orange tones of one held by Mrs. Wilson.

Craft House Offers article 7

Alyce Frank, exhibitor and director, stands beside a pale beige hand-spun caracul coverlet by Mari Grassi of Albuquerque. In the background are colorful handwoven ponchos by Jacqueline Bachels and bright-hued shirts by Evelyn Berdel of Valdez. Represented with items are craftsmen of the Taos area, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Vegas, but other New Mexico craftsmen interested in a permanent outlet may contact Craft House.

Craft House Offers article 8

Admiring an unusual pottery jar by Neal Townsend of Albuquerque, president of New Mexico Designer Craftsmen, is Grace Parr, whose handicrafts are available. The handcarved chair in Spanish-colonial tradition is by George Sandoval while the cradle board above is by Steve Hinton of Ranchos de Taos.

Craft House Offers article 10

Ceramics, woodcarvings and other widely appealing objects will the shelves, beside which Rachel Brown stands.

PS Did you ever visit The Craft House? We would love to hear your story! Special bonus points if you happen to have photos of that era!

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When I came back to Taos in 2008, I was looking for work to fund my travels. My Grandma, Rachel Brown, hired me on to weave a rug for her at Weaving Southwest. It was the first time I had spent time at the shop (and woven a large piece) since my second year in college, six years prior.

When coming up with the design, my Grandma pulled out a section of the Taos News called The Tempo. There was an ad inside for Buffalo Thunder Resort that had an interesting black and white boarder. She said she had noticed it when it was sitting on her coffee table, half covered by the rest of the newspaper. We drew inspiration from that for our sections of tapestry.

When choosing the colors for the rug, my Grandma suggested using all the yellows in one portion of our sample card. (She knew I loved working with bright colors!) Below is what came of our collaboration… Thunder!

Thunder, handwoven rug, designed by Rachel Brown and woven by Teresa Loveless

Thunder, handwoven rug, designed by Rachel Brown and woven by Teresa Loveless

Ciao,
Teresa and all of us here at Weaving Southwest

PS Do you like this piece? We would love to hear what you think! Leave a comment to let us know…

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