El Prado Art Walk: buy local, have fun

Originally published in Tempo, Taos News

Brandi Jessup has only been in Taos since September 2013. She took over Taos Clay in April this year and now offers classes, workshops and residency opportunities at the community studio. She is also the organizer of the first annual El Prado Art Walk that will take place on December 13th, when a number of businesses and galleries will feature new work and have all sorts of specials, snacks and beverages available.

Among the participating businesses are Taos Clay, Elevation Coffee, Red Arrow Emporium, Blue Fish Clothing, Nature’s Emporium Soap Company, Farmhouse Cafe and Bakery, Overland Sheepskin, Magpie Gallery, and Envision Gallery.

Michelle Lewis, owner of Nature’s Emporium Soap Company, plans to take ten percent off the merchandise in her store. She has soaps, candles and lotions with Christmas-y names like Cookies for Santa, Hot Cocoa and Gift of the Magi (naturally, made of frankincense and myrrh).

Red Arrow Emporium will also serve drinks and snacks. The full design center, famous for its custom furniture, has “something for everyone,” owner Phyllis Tutor said.

Jimmy Murray, owner of Envision Gallery, will have hot cider and “something sweet” ready for the visitors.

“This event is a great idea,” he said. “It will give people the opportunity to buy art as a gift. Art is the kind of present that lasts forever.”

Edible art

Elevation Coffee, that won the first place of the 2013 People’s Choice Awards for Best Cuppa Joe, will also have all the art on the walls for sale. It features the work of local artists like Jon Sorghum, Terry Wolfe, John Fulbright, Gary White, Robert Fitch and Janet Boccelli.               “We will be serving complimentary coffee and cookies from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.,” said owner Janet Boccelli. “And anyone purchasing a latte or mocha will be treated to a latte art design.”

Make your own ornaments

Georgia Gersh, owner of Magpie, will serve cookies and have a table set up so visitors can make their own holiday cards and decorate Christmas ornaments. Cards are free and ornaments can be purchased for five dollars and painted there. There will be sales throughout the store as well.

“If you are looking for Christmas gifts and decorations, I have everything from handmade paper Lady of Guadalupe and wooden hearts decorated with tin and copper to locally made papier mache and felted birds.” Gersh said. “I also have a beautiful collection of ceramic juicers, cups and pitchers for holiday margaritas…the perfect decorative and functional centerpiece for any gathering.”

Taos Clay Studio will offer free throwing and raku firing demos.

“Raku is a quick firing process,” Jessup said. “People can make a small piece and take it home right away. They are around three inches tall and three inches wide and can definitely be used as Christmas ornaments. Some of our resident artists will be here helping visitors create their pieces.”

There will also be a gallery event featuring the new work by Abby Salsbury, Carole Epp, and Ian Connors.

Jessup will serve free sugar-free cookies and coffee from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The gallery will be open until 8:30 p.m.

Candles, cookies, carrot cake and more

Micah Roseberry has several activities planned for the Farmhouse Café.

“We will make beeswax candles and decorate cookies,” she said. “There will also be a fun and colorful trunk show with The Kangaroo Girls, who make beautiful scarves with pockets.”

The restaurant will showcase its new winter and holiday menu that includes dishes like pozole made with corn from Santa Ana Pueblo and a bison red chile stew.

One of the featured items is Farmhouse Café’s carrot cake, made with locally grown carrots (harvested by the UNM-Taos Sustainable Farming class), New Mexican organic pecans and flour from the Sangre de Cristo Wheat Co-op.

“We will have free samples of food and lots of hot chai,” Roseberry said. “You can stop by for a quick dinner and go on visiting other businesses.”

Holiday cookies, frosted pecans and raspberry cheesecake will be available too.

“We hope to show the community all the wonderful things we have here in El Prado,” said Jessup. “In the end, this is a good excuse to meet people and have fun.”

For more information about the event, call Brandi Jessup at 307-272-8388 or email her at taosclay@gmail.com

Connected Warriors founder holds free training session in Taos

Connected Warriors 1

Story and pictures originally published in Taos News

Since Connected Warriors was created in August 2010 in South Florida, the nonprofit organization has been offering free yoga classes to veterans to help them recover from trauma and live fuller, happier and more productive lives.

Judy Weaver, Connected Warriors founder and director of education, offered a free workshop on Thursday, November 20th at Aurafitness. The four-and-a-half hour session was designed to teach Yoga Alliance certified teachers how to best work with veterans who may be suffering from PTSD or simply want to reap the many benefits of yoga.

“Yoga postures, as well as breathing and relaxation exercises, help people learn how to handle stressful situations in a relaxed manner,” said Weaver. “Yoga quiets the mind and fosters positive thoughts and self-acceptance.”

Once the yoga instructors take the workshop, they are encouraged to teach free classes to veterans and their families.

“Right now we are hoping to create awareness about our organization and establish a core group of yoga teachers and veterans in Taos,” said Weaver.

The gym

Aura Garver offered her studio, Aurafitness, free of charge for the session.

“I am always interested in hosting events that contribute to our overall wellbeing and the health and happiness of our community,” said Garver. “This is an opportunity to honor our veterans and support them with the deeply nurturing practice of yoga in an environment that is safe, healing and inspiring.”
Garver just finished training a group of new yoga instructors who received their teaching certificates on November 8th.

“I encouraged all of them to attend the Connected Warriors training as an important enhancement of their skills and knowledge as teachers,” she said.
Living in the now

Many Connected Warriors students have had life transforming experiences, Weaver said, and that has inspired her to offer the training nationwide.

“Soldiers are taught to be present in times of chaos and war, but not how to be present in times of peace, so they often have problems adjusting back to civilian life,” she said. “Yoga training gives them the tools to live ‘in the now.’”

Weaver considers that trauma isn’t necessarily the result of personal injuries or stress—it can also be passed down from parent to child in the body’s cells.

“It is a generational condition as much as a psychological one,” she said. “That’s why cognitive therapy isn’t always effective. In fact, talking about traumatic experiences may make the person feel even worse. On the other hand, a mind-body discipline like yoga can be more helpful because it reconnects the mind and the body, which have been separated due to trauma. Once the connection is reestablished, people can be fully present in the moment.”

The classes

Classes are designed for military veterans, active service members and their families. They are all free. Participants also receive a yoga mat and a t-shirt.

“Our classes allow veterans to establish a close-knit community when they can meet others who have had similar experiences and enjoy a special sense of camaraderie,” said Odette Artime, a Connected Warriors board member who is also part of their fundraising committee.

Artime can attest to the crucial role that such closeness plays in recovery. Her father, Manuel Artime, who was part of the assault brigade of Cuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs invasion, was captured and spent nineteen months in a Cuban prison.

“Once they came back to Miami, he and other soldiers often met to have dinner and spend time together,” she said. “They were like family, always helping each other, and that contributed to their recovery. It isn’t easy for many veterans to get that sense of community, though here in Taos Not Forgotten Outreach is doing a great job at it.”

The yoga teachers

Twenty one yoga instructors participated in the workshop.

Among them was Carrie Leven, who has been teaching veterans free weekly yoga classes at the Questa Health Center for several years.

“I am so happy that they will also be available in Taos, where there is a large veteran population,” she said.

“Yoga is a wonderful tool that can help veterans and their families immensely,” said Bob Foeppel, a US Navy veteran that has also studied with Leven. “I know it first hand, and I am planning to offer classes soon.”

“The practice of yoga helps veterans sleep better, concentrate and manage anger and depression,” said Kirsten Wing, a counselor who currently works at the VA Hospital. “It has been proven to be a significant part of their recovery.”

“The training that they received today will allow yoga teachers to be sensitive to the special dynamics of individuals who have been at war,” said Don Peters II, Not Forgotten Outreach executive director, who also participated in the training. “They learned how veterans react to different situations and can now help them even more.”

“A big part of yoga is seva, or selfless service,” said Artime. “Carrie Leven has been doing it for a long time, but now we all need to pitch in and support her efforts. Use two of the most powerful words that exist—‘I will’—and commit to helping our veterans.”

To find out more about Connected Warriors, visit its website http://connectedwarriors.org

Call Judy Weaver at 954-278-3764 or email info@connectedwarriors.org

Judy Weaver 1

Skiing for a good cause—the Ben Myers Ridge-a-Thon

Originally published in The Winter Guide, a Taos News publication

Image published in http://raisetheridge.com/

Every year, a popular extreme ski / snowboard event and fundraiser is held at Taos Ski Valley.

The Ben Myers Ridge-a-Thon was started in 1997 to assist with medical expenses for Ben Myers, a beloved Taos skier who passed away from cancer when he was twenty-six.

“The Ridge-a-Thon helps others like Ben, who struggle with medical costs,” said Caitlin Legere, Taos Sports Alliance Executive Director and Taos Community Foundation communications consultant. “It makes direct impact on lives of families in our community by covering the cost of purchase of durable medical equipment and non-medical health care needs. The funds raised on this year’s event will benefit Taos’ Emergency Medicines Fund.”

How it works

Participants can compete in two categories—Most Funds and Most Runs.

“Participation at the level of our top teams, competing for the Most Runs, is a testament to strength, endurance, bullishness, pride, and for a few, the memory and honor of a dear friend,” said Legere. “In contrast, teams of many ages and abilities compete to raise the Most Funds, and may complete just one, or a few hikes over both days, enjoy the weekend on the mountain with friends, and help out a great cause in our community.”

One would think that the competition is geared toward young athletes but this isn’t always the case.

“Our ‘Grannies’ team is made up of a bigger group of savvy skiers who are hiking and shredding even in their golden years,” said Legere. “They enjoy an afternoon hike out and then ski to the Bavarian to enjoy their delicious traditional German fare.”

Changes on the way

As the Taos community already knows, there are many changes taking place at Taos Ski Valley this year.

“We are working closely with the staff during their transition to new ownership, and the inevitable changes that come with it,” said Legere. “They have always been so supportive of the event and we are looking for opportunities to keep it fresh, exciting and rewarding for our participants.”

The lift to Kachina peak is one very glaring change on the landscape of the Ridge-A-Thon event, yet the mountain itself remains the same and the hike is no less challenging, or awesome.

“So the changes don’t actually affect the event as such, with the possible exception of a busier Mainstreet—the run down the face of Kachina,” said Legere. “But once you come off the top of the peak, down to the top of the lift service, you have to start to come back to earth anyhow.”

Other changes this year include a partnership between Taos Community Foundation and Taos Sports Alliance. Taos Sports Alliance will run the event-side planning and marketing, while Taos Community Foundation maintains control over the donations side of the event.

The Ridge-a-Thoners speak

Ross Burns, who skied and worked with Ben Myers, has participated four times in the competition. Three of them, he has been with his children.

“It’s amazing to realize you can do things that you didn’t think you could do,” he said. “One day, I finished twenty-one rounds. And former governor Gary Johnson, who is over sixty years old, completed forty-eight.”

Some people compete every year, so many of the participants get to know each other quite well.

“There is a lot of camaraderie,” said Burns. “This is a friendly, very encouraging crowd.”

Eliana Lerman has competed three times and raised almost 3000 dollars.

“Two of those times, my boyfriend Ryan DeBue and I were partners,” she said. “It was awesome to participate in such a great event with someone else, and also to have their support. During the 2014 season Ridge-a-Thon, Ryan and I hiked thirty times in total and raised over a thousand dollars. The best part, for me, is being able to contribute to a good cause while doing what I love.”

“My first season skiing at Taos Ski Valley, I grew immensely as a skier,” said participant Michael “Red” Wagener. “The Ridge, which at first was off limits for my abilities, became a rite of passage in my second season, and I couldn’t hike it enough. It became an obsession, and I hiked it daily to push my physical abilities and hone my rough self-taught skiing on the steep, tight chutes which descend from it.”

That spring a coworker persuaded Wagener to enter the Ridge-a-Thon, and he won.

“I tied Gary Johnson’s record!” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to defend that title five times since, and push the record to 52, but most importantly, raise thousands of dollars for an amazing local cause simply by doing something I love. The event is supported by so many kind, and generous volunteers, that leaving some sweat (and one year blood) on the Ridge to raise money for such an important fund that helps local people in need is the least I can do.”

For more information about the Ridge-a-Thon visit taoscf.org/ben  and raisetheridge.com .

Ways to get involved

Participate as an athlete by registering and raising at least $200 in donations/pledges before the event and showing up on one or both days to participate.

Volunteer to assist with the event registration, scoring, support, or set up and take down.

Donate to any team or athlete in any amount, or directly to the Taos Community Foundation.

Sponsor the event. Businesses can donate food and drinks, core support, prizes and gift certificates.

Aponi Kai and the business of modeling

Originally published in Taos News

Though you may not know Aponi Kai in person, it is very possible that you have seen her face.

She was the image for Gertrude Zachary Jewelry, displayed on billboards and on the side of buses throughout New Mexico. She has also modeled for Fuller Cosmetics and the Wall Street Journal and has had television spots on E! Entertainment as the face of different spas.

“I routinely model for Cowboys and Indian Magazine, Aspen Magazine, Silver Creations from the Southwest, Vintage Collection Designs and many jewelers like, recently, Claireworks from Arroyo Seco,” she said.

She has also modeled for clothing lines and done catalog work for various beauty products.

“I never sought out to become a model because I was focused on my music,” she said. “Eventually, I needed more income and so I accepted jobs. It started when people would see me out and ask me to model their clothing, jewelry, or make-up line; it all began very naturally.”

Small jobs turned into bigger jobs, she said, and what started as references and word-of-mouth became a lucrative career.

“I am not very tall so the focus is usually on my facial structure and petite frame,” she said. “That’s why I have done more print work than runway, which requires a taller frame.”

Working with agencies

Aponi has worked with national and international agencies. Many are Miami-based, like the Green Agency, but she has also been represented by agents in Mexico, Italy, New York City, Los Angeles, and here in New Mexico.

Connections to modeling jobs have often come about in conjunction with her singing career, as both industries are linked in certain aspects.

“Sometimes work came directly through designers or photographers themselves who spotted me on the street, or through friends, and I acted as my own agent,” she said.

When models represent themselves, they do not pay the standard 15 to 20 percent fee to the agent, depending on the agency and the state.

“I’d say that it is not necessary to have representation,” she said, “but it certainly helps a model, because it connects her to the industry.”

Necessary skills

When asked about the skills that a model should have to make it in the business, Aponi mentions discipline, flexibility, patience, punctuality, a sense of humor, self confidence, and self care.

“A fitness regimen, good diet and nutrition, and taking care of skin, hair and nails are all very important issues,” she said. “Emotional and spiritual balance, humility, and being able to take directions from photographers and designers are fundamental too.”

She recommends being open-minded as to how a model’s image will be presented to an audience.

“The model has no control over this,” she said. “Artists are using the model’s image to create an idea, and modeling has less to do with a personality and more to do with creating a message. The model is an element of a total message, so he or she must remain fluid, open, and take directions well.”

Models need to keep a sense of humor about it all.

“I remember sitting on sharp rocks in the snow in the freezing cold, hungry and covered in makeup, powder, tape, fabric and gauze…and trying to look attractive and alluring while people were fighting and disagreeing on an artistic direction,” she said.

Preparing to shoot

Like all models, Aponi prepares herself carefully before shoots, which means that those days she doesn’t eat as much as she would like to. She works out, rests, takes supplements, eats more protein and green vegetables than usually, and avoids sugar and alcohol.

“I also do yoga, walk, do all the classic things to look beautiful like getting manicures, pedicures, hair treatments and facials,” she said. “As I get older I am more relaxed about it though, because the female form is most beautiful in its natural happy and healthy state.”

Her most memorable shoot happened with Nico and Nena, her hybrid wolves, when they all were modeling for Cowboys and Indians Magazine.

“We could not get them to stay in the poses and they wanted to chase rabbits, yet Nena, who is now 17 years old, was a natural model,” Aponi said. “She loved to be in all the pictures. I just couldn’t keep them from howling and stealing food on the set.”

Focusing on her art

As a singer— her number one calling, as she describes it—, Aponi used to perform other songwriters’ work, but she is now in a different stage of life.

“Like so many artists, in Taos or anywhere, I am focusing on my own art, rather than singing someone else’s music,” she said. “I am writing my own songs. I’m in the process of fulfilling a dream of completing my own CD, Arroyo Woman, that embodies all the things I love about New Mexico.”

She will launch a Kickstarter campaign when she is ready for the final stages of recording.

                                    The Mexican connection

Hands-on work south of the border also holds an appeal for Aponi Kai. She is director of Dos Manos, a nonprofit organization based in San Pedro, Mexico.

“I am collaborating with Mike Odom, the founder of Dos Manos,” she said. “We are focusing on improving education, delivering clean water, and supporting sustainable agriculture to indigenous villages in the mountains of rural Chihuahua.”

To know more about Aponi Kai visit her website http://aponikai.com/

Laugh yourself healthy: the many benefits of Laughter Yoga

Laugh yourself healthy

Photo: Katharine Egli

Story and images originally published in Taos News

Do you think you have nothing to laugh about? Try a session of Laughter Yoga and you may change your mind.

“Laughter yoga, as an established practice, was developed in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor in India who was researching the effects of laughter on the human body,” said Valerie Clote, a certified Laughter Yoga leader. “He found out that the human body wasn’t able to distinguish between real laughter and fake or intentional one: the benefits were exactly the same, no matter if the people were really laughing or pretending to do so.”

Such benefits include a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, increase in feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins, and improvement of the respiratory, digestive, immune and cardiovascular systems.

“Besides these wonderful physical effects, laughter also helps people achieve better emotional balance,” said Clote. “It relieves anxiety, alleviates depression and fosters a positive mental attitude. This is no laughing matter is today’s stressed our world!”

A funny workout

Laughter Yoga incorporates play, laughter and deep yogic breathing, or Pranayama. Unlike traditional types of yoga, it doesn’t require people to learn difficult postures or hold them for any length of time.

“And yet Laughter Yoga is a form of aerobic exercise,” said Clote. “Only ten minutes of laughter is equivalent to thirty minutes on a rowing machine. It increases circulation and the supply of oxygen to the body.”

Laughing together

The exercises can be practiced alone or in a group, though the collective format tends to produce better results, said Clote.

“Laughter is highly contagious,” she said. “It’s difficult to see someone laughing and not laugh yourself, even if there is no particular reason for it.”

Laughing together establishes a special connection among fellow laughees, a link that goes beyond cultures and languages.

“Naturally, many people feel awkward at first because they think it is a silly thing to do,” Clote said. “But when they realize how much better and lighter they feel after a session, they come back. It’s that simple.”

Breathing and laughing

Sessions start with a series of warm-up activities and then proceed to the laughing techniques interspersed with deep breathing exercises with calming movements.

As a rule, the idea is to keep moving, but the exercises can be adapted to people’s specific needs.

“If you’d rather sit down during the class, you can do that,” Clote said. “What matters is that you laugh. Belly laughs, in particular, are great for toning your abs and circulating oxygen to all parts of the body.”

A session of Laughter Yoga

After a brief explanation about the origin and benefits of Laughter Yoga, and some deep-breathing, Clote guided the class through a number of exercises.

“Ho ho, ha ha ha!” she chirped, clapping and jumping around the room.

People looked at each other, mildly embarrassed, but that feeling dissolved soon as we all got into the laughing games.

In “balloon-popping laughter” we tried to pop each others’ imaginary balloons that were supposed to be attached to our ankles.

In “cha cha ha ha” we laughed while dancing cha cha. (In my case, it was rumba ha ha; I have never been good at cha cha).

“Embarrassing scenario” had a healing purpose. We were prompted to recall an embarrassing incident and laugh at it as a way to let go of hurtful or upsetting memories.

The “pound-your-chest laugh” encouraged us to guffaw while acting in a Tarzanesque manner. Clote explained that this motion helps activate the heart chakra and to stimulate the thyroid.

With “birthday candle breath” we pretended to blow out a birthday candle while making a wish. It included some visualization, since we were encouraged to focus on something that we wanted to accomplish.

“Though they may look goofy, there is a goal behind each exercise,” Clote said. “It’s just presented in a playful manner.”

Toward the end of the session we practiced laughter meditation, resting on yoga mats and laughing for several minutes.

We closed with a relaxation meditation.

The instructor

Valerie Clote has an eclectic background. She holds a BA in Geology and worked as a lab technician at the Oregon State University in Corvallis for two years. Other earth-science related occupations include field surveying in forestry and geophysics, and working in computerized mapping for over four years.

Clote became interested in Laughter Yoga when she was going through Hatha Yoga teacher training.

“I needed to add some workshop hours to my curriculum,” she said. “Then I remember seeing an interview with John Cleese, when he talked about Laughter Yoga. That was such an unusual topic that it stuck with me. I discovered that there was a weekend Laughter Yoga certification training in Portland and I went, though I really didn’t know what to expect.”

At first it was quite awkward, she admits.

“I felt pretty silly laughing at nothing,” she said, “but it was a safe environment… everybody was doing the same! Then I noticed blocks of energy moving up and out my spine and that was powerful. I was hooked.”

She became certified in 2012.

Laughter Yoga in Taos

Clote moved to Taos in February 2014.

“It has a rich cultural past and the people have been incredibly friendly,” she said. “I also think Taos is the perfect place for Laughter Yoga groups.”

She has worked with the local Cancer Support and Parkinson Support Societies, teaching patients the basics of Laughter Yoga.

“It is the easiest, fastest and most fun way to increase health and become highly energized,” she said. “Come by and give it a try.”

Valerie Clote teaches Laughter Yoga every Saturday at noon at Santosha Yoga studio. To contact her directly call 541 829 2939.

Santosha Yoga Studio is located at 1203 King Dr.

Laugh yourself healthy

Photo: Katharine Egli

Las Pistoleras Cultural Institute to host poetry reading

Originally published in Tempo, Taos News

Culture, food and feminine power are the themes of the poetry reading “In this kitchen breathes a sensuous woman.”

The event has been conceived to empower community and familial identity. It includes poetry by women of northern New Mexico, music, refreshments and promotion of Las Cabras and Que Linda chemical-free products.

The reading will take place on Saturday November 22nd from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte, a business and educational space created by Dr. Theresa (Tessa) Córdova.

“Tessa arrived at the title of the event from a magnet with those words, given to me by my mother-in-law,” said her mother, Kathy Córdova. “I am in the process of writing a poem about it and I will read it at the event. Anna Martinez and other poets and writers plan to present as well. It will be a fun night.”

The Institute’s founder

Tessa Córdova earned a Bachelor of Criminal Justice from New Mexico State University, a Master of Arts degree in Southwest Studies from New Mexico Highlands University, and a doctorate in American Studies with an emphasis on culture from the University of New Mexico.

She currently teaches American Studies and Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She also performs in productions sponsored by Sangre de Cristo Liturgies, a company devoted to the preservation of the history, traditions and culture of New Mexico.

“I have played the part of Gila, a young shepherdess, in ‘Los Pastores’ for many years,” she said, “but now I am now more focused on the music. I am the musical director and co-direct the play with my father, Arsenio Córdova.”

El Instituto

The name “Las Pistoleras” stems from a poem about strong women written and performed by attorney Anna Martinez of Albuquerque.

“I come from a family of educators, culture bearers and artists,” Tessa Córdova said, “and I wanted to share my cultural values with the community so I decided to create the Instituto and named it after Anna’s poem.”

Artist Leo Romero made the outdoor sign which depicts two women, each carrying a rifle.

“If you look closely enough, you will notice the strong resemblance that one of them bears to my late grandmother, teacher, principal and author Josephine Córdova,” said Tessa Córdova.

The Institute serves as a dual-purpose space for culture and business. Besides featuring art exhibits and readings, it is also a store when people can buy herbs like sage, lavender, cedar, and products from Taos Herb Company as well as wreaths, books and specialty baskets.

“We also carry handmade pottery, jewelry, benches, quilts, pillows and knitted items for consignment,” said Córdova.

The walls display the art of photographers and artists.

“This shop illustrates the talent that exists in the area,” said Córdova, who often changes the artwork to reflect a specific theme of the season.

She has had La Virgen Show for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and has also created altars for the Dia de los Muertos.

“All the cultural activism that occurs inside reflects my love of sharing our rich culture and traditions with others,” said Córdova. “I invite the whole community to our poetry reading. Los esperamos!”

Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte is located at 1219 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in El Prado, (next to Camino Real Imports and across the street from Red Arrow Emporium).

Final Eyes: old-world skills, new-age technology


Originally published in Taos News

Barbara Scott, owner of Final Eyes, an editing, proofreading and typography service, started early in the business.

“I began in 1981,” she said. “It was just a type house and all I did was typography, but I learned a lot from the art directors and designers I worked for. Then I started hiring people as the business grew.”

Her first client was Westword, a Denver-based alternative newspaper.

“It was the perfect first client,” Scott said. “They recommended me to a number of arts and cultural organizations in Denver…my business grew totally by word of mouth.”

The importance of being kind

Obviously, people get into business to make money, but doing things for free, or almost, can also take an entrepreneur a long way.

“I once did a postcard for an indie bookstore and only charged the owner ten dollars,” Scott said. “It just seemed the right thing to do — plus it was fun. Well, the owner recommended me to the art director at the Denver Tourism Bureau, and I got a $50,000-a-year account from that one $10 job.”

During the ’80s Scott continued growing her company, Scott Group, and added production and editing to her services.

Then the Mac came around…

The Macintosh designer tools made it possible for many design firms to start typesetting their own text.

“Most of them did a pitiful job of it, because they were visual people, not detail oriented,” Scott said. “The typography, for example, was just awful. But we kept losing clients until one day, when I said to my last employee, ‘These people just need a set of final eyes!’”

That was how Scott Group became Final Eyes. A perfectly smooth transition, said Scott, who now edits and consults on typography and design issues.

“I transitioned from typography to the Mac without major stumbling blocks because I decided to incorporate new technology into my work,” she said. “If you want to stay in the game, you can’t be afraid of technology.”

Ink in the blood

Scott’s father was in the printing business.

“He gave me my first job,” she said.

Scott’s parents were middle-class and well-off but they refused to send their daughters to college.

“They wanted us to learn a trade instead,” she said, “so I learned typesetting, which has made me more valuable in my business and has taken me further than any kind of formal education could have.”

Later in life she finished a Bachelor of University Studies at UNM-Taos.

“I took my first linguistics class with Larry Torres when I was 53 years old,” she said. “My fiancé, Michael Burney, suggested I might like it. I ended up that semester taking Latin and philosophy, as well, and loved all three!”

She went on to earn a master’s from St. John’s College in Santa Fe.

“I’m happy I went to college at the time of my life I did,” she said. “Since I was older, I had a context and a foundation for understanding everything I learned in the classroom.”


Final Eyes offers editing services, “not to change the writer’s voice but to make it sound better,” Scott said.

She deals a lot with punctuation, grammar and spelling issues, but she also looks at pieces designed by someone else and tells the designer what to do so it looks more professional.

“I bring not only my technical skills but also my esthetic sense to the project,” she said.

She does layout (the interior design of a book, which usually means converting it from a Word document to an InDesign file), editing, copyediting, and typography.

When clients are interested in self-publishing, Scott uses CreateSpace, an Amazon print-on-demand publishing service. Sometimes she partners with Rebecca Lenzini, owner of Nighthawk Press, and Steve Fox, whom she relies on for final proofreading.

“Along with Bonnie Black, who does content editing, and Lesley Cox, a designer, we have a great little publishing team here in Taos,” she said.

Scott can do everything for a book, from editing to formatting to getting it published.

“It all depends on what people need,” she said. “My niche is narrow and my services unique because I combine an extensive knowledge of typography and design with an understanding of contemporary discourse and language in general.”

The best piece of advice she can give to a young entrepreneur is: “Never complain to your client. Behave as if no matter what kind of problem he or she has, you can solve it — then figure it out. And always, always be grateful for the work people are giving you.”

The biggest challenge in this business (besides wearing many hats, as Scott does) is never knowing exactly what your income is going to be.

“But I love working in this field, with language and design and writers,” she said. “I also like bringing something important to fruition. To witness a writer’s joy at having a finished, published book is my greatest satisfaction in this profession.”

Satisfied clients speak

Scott has clients in Colorado, California, Chicago, Atlanta, and even Canada. She also works with local authors.

Bonnie Lee Black is among the local writers she has worked for. Scott took the manuscripts of How to Cook a Crocodile and How to Make an African Quilt, imported the text from a Word doc, designed the interior, imported photographs, and put it all together in a book format. She hired a Denver designer to create the cover.

“I have been a writer and an editor for a long time, and I think that Barb is world-class,” said Black. “She is painstaking in her care of every aspect of the written word.”

“Barbara Scott worked as consulting editor on the Remarkable Women of Taos book,” said Liz Cunningham. “When she edited my foreword, she not only caught punctuation and capitalization errors, she improved the text with suggestions that included a more fitting word or making an awkward sentence read more fluidly. I appreciate such an editor, one who makes my words sing.”

To find out more about Final Eyes, visit Scott’s website, http://www.finaleyes.net/, or call her at 575-758-4846.

Bonnie Lee Black reading at the Moby Dickens Bookshop about her book “How to make an African Quilt – The Story of the Patchwork Project of Segou, Mali”