Giovanna Paponetti moves from the corporate world to the art scene

Giovanna Paponetti

Kamatics Corporation, a specialty bearing manufacturer and a subsidiary of Kaman Aerospace Corporation located in Bloomfield, Connecticut, is celebrating fifty years in business. They have invited their most outstanding former employees to an anniversary party. One of them is painter and UNM-Taos instructor Giovanna Paponetti.

Originally published in Taos News

Taoseños are already familiar with her artwork. Paponetti painted the Taos Historical Timeline Murals on an exterior wall at the Town Hall. In 2004 The Taos News commissioned her to paint an oil portrait of the Citizen of the Year and other honorees for the Tradiciones issue. She was also included in the book Remarkable Women of Taos (Nighthawk Press, 2013).

Paponetti was commissioned to create twenty-one oil painted panels on the life story of Kateri Tekakwitha for an altar screen by St. John the Baptist Church at Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. She also wrote and illustrated the book Kateri, Native American Saint. In 2004 she was invited to the Native American Department at Stanford University.

“They wanted to meet me and felt that I portrayed their people in my paintings in an honorable way,” she said.

Her work has been included in documentaries and shown in The History Channel and PBS, among other media outlets.

Working at Kamatics

Though she is currently a fulltime artist and art teacher, Paponetti had a nine-year stint in the corporate world. From 1983 to 1992 she worked for Kaman Aerospace as an engineering aide and a graphic artist.

Paponetti is also a consummate storyteller. Here is her fondest memory from her time at Kamatics, in her very own words:

“I was sent, as part of the marketing team, to an International Air Show in British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada,” she said. “I designed the display with an image of the earth taken from space. During the show, a customer came up to our booth and told one Kamatic’s reps that the earth in our display was upside down. When asked how he knew it, the man replied, ‘Because I am the astronaut who took the photo.’ End of conversation.”

Paponetti was up for a promotion to run a public relations department and the graphic arts department before the company lost some government contracts in 1991.

“Instead I was laid off, along with many others,” she said. “I moved to New Mexico where I became a painter and professor of art at UNM-Taos. It has been 24 years

since I left but I am very grateful to Kamatics and the way they treated me. In a way, due to a twist of fate, I am here indirectly because of them.”

Inspiration in Taos

Paponetti traces back her interest in Taos to a class she took back in college, where her employer had helped send her.

“Kamatics Corporation always encouraged its employees to further their education,” she said. “In 1990 they contributed to sending me back to school to finish my Bachelor of Fine Art degree at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut. One of the courses that I took was an Anthropology class. I came with my professor and classmates to Taos Pueblo as part of the course. I was deeply inspired by the beautiful Deer Dance and my life was never the same.”

She returned home and wrote her course paper about the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

“I was also inspired to paint Native people,” she said. “I hadn’t painted in three years but I rekindled my passion in Taos. No wonder that, more than twenty years later, I was again inspired to write and illustrate a book about the first Native American saint. Nothing happens by accident.”

Upon the return from Rome, where she attended the canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in 2012, she gave a lecture and a PowerPoint presentation at Taos Pueblo.

“I showed the illustrations in my book, my photoshoots of the Mohawk people in Canada that I used as models as well as photos that I took at the canonization,” she said. “It was beautiful and I felt truly honored at Taos Pueblo. I also did a book signing afterwards and the money went towards a frame for a print of St. Kateri that I donated to the San Geronimo Church.”

Painting with Paponetti

Paponetti has been teaching art at UNM-Taos for fifteen years. During the 2016 fall semester she will teach a Realistic Painting class on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Additionally, she is planning to teach a small, three-hour private class.

“Students will learn to express their artistic creativity in subject matters and mediums of their choice,” she said. “The class will take place in a relaxed studio setting with beautiful vistas. The mornings will start off with a focus on a particular technique, artist or style and discussion. Students will then work on individual art projects with one-on-one instruction.”

To find out more about Paponetti or inquire about her classes, visit her website http://www.giovannapaponetti.com or email  giovannapaponetti@gmail.com.

Phone: (575) 779 9839

Creative Framing reopens under new ownership

Jim Cox in studio

Creative Framing, a shop that has been a Taos fixture for over thirty years, has a new owner and a new location: James “Jim” Cox has reopened in The Enchanted Plaza, on the corner of Salazar and Paseo del Cañon West.

“New people and new place, but same great service,” Cox said.

Originally published in Taos News

The artist

Cox grew up in the Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico areas. He went to college to be an architect but changed paths and decided to become a painter instead. He apprenticed with an established artist, Dalhart Windberg, in Austin, Texas, during the 80’s.

“He encouraged me to attend the Schuler School in Baltimore,” Cox said. “It was there where I learned the Flemish style and the Hudson River genre of painting.”

Cox lived for around fifteen years in Baltimore, where he kept a teaching practice and also learned how to frame. But he didn’t stop painting.

“It was good because I had these three options to make a living,” he said. “And I liked all of them.”

He also worked on commissions and created some big murals, something he expects to do in Taos soon.

The entrepreneur

Cox and his family moved to Taos in 2002.

“We vacationed here,” he said. “My wife and I honeymooned here, and my parents retired in Angel Fire. We wanted to raise our children away from the Baltimore/DC metro mentality, and, after witnessing 911 up close, we decided to move to Taos.”
In 2004 he bought Taos DIY from Frank Fell.

“Frank had started it as a special service to artists who had some experience with framing and wanted to cut corners in the labor cost,” Cox said. “He and his wife opened the business in 2001 because nobody in Taos had anything like that and many local artists couldn’t afford retail framing. It was a very special niche.”

When Cox got the business he incorporated a fine art element, selling his own paintings and other artists’ works.

“The business was located on the Plaza as Taos Fine Art & Framing for two years,” he said.

Later he started working with Creative Framing, helping owner Renze Nesbit run the business and eventually buying it from her.

“Renze and her husband had opened it in the 80’s,” he said. “Creative Framing had a long standing reputation and was a successful moneymaking business, which is rare in this town. Renze’s husband died a few years ago and when she was ready to retire, she sold the building, and then sold her business to me.”

Cox left the Plaza shop in October 2015 and spent the last three months of the year finishing Nesbit’s orders and closing her store.

“She turned to me a lot of her clientele, her inventory and her worktables, which I didn’t have, as well as the computer programs,” he said. “Now she is happily retired.”

Creative Framing Services

A question that people often ask is, “Why framing at all?”

“The right framing can make a piece of art come to life,” Cox said. “Proper framing not only accentuates the piece’s best features, but also protects it from damage by light, dust and moisture.”
Cox offers custom framing and matting with archival, conservation, and museum grade materials as well as hand-stretched canvas.

The store carries different kinds of frames: traditional gold, silver, black, and a variety of natural woods.

“Natural, rustic and distressed looks are very popular in Taos,” he said.

He gives his customers the choice of UV blocking glass (to protect the work of art from the sun’s harmful rays) and regular glass.

“We also love working with artists and helping them on a DIY basis,” Cox said. “Besides, we can do artwork installations in museums, homes or any other space.”

The teacher: painting workshops

Cox has been offering painting workshops at the Blumenschein Museum courtyard studio.

“My shop is more a production space,” he said, “but I like to get out and paint in the open air, then bring the work back to the studio and finish it here.”

Cox considers himself most adept in oil painting but he has taught acrylics, pastels and watercolors too.

“I can also teach people how to make sketches and create pencil and charcoal drawings,” he said. “This will be very useful for beginners and then we will transition into painting.”

He plans to start a summer painting workshop soon.

To find out more about the workshops or have your artwork framed visit Creative Framing at 1027 Salazar Rd, Suite G or call 575 758 3317 and 575 770 7960.

https://www.facebook.com/taosfineartandframing/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE

Tracy Olson: the painter mariposa

Originally published in Tempo

Painter and jeweler T.D. (Tracy) Olson gets her creative energy from the night sky, the phases of the moon, rusty things and seeds. She is also inspired by her own lungs, which in many of her drawings appear transmuted into butterflies.

“My inspiration is the vastness of the universe in contrast to a tiny chrysalis,” she said. “I love transformation and the cycles of nature—everything from tree branches to technicolor sunsets.”

Artist TD. (Tracy) Olson 1

On Saturday August 13, the Pompadour Gallery at Salon X will host an artist’s reception of Olson’s work, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Here is her personal invitation to the show–watch the video on Facebook

The hair salon is already brimming with the colors, textures and evocative pairs of wings created by her.

‘I love the idea of exhibiting my art in this beautiful space,” she said. “Pompadour Gallery is always full of people: all the clients who come to get their hair done and spend hours browsing around. This is a special home for my art and I feel honored to have so many pieces displayed here.”

The artist: a steward of her land

Olson was classically trained at Georgia State University and holds a BA in fine art, drawing and painting.

“I feel connected to the abstract expressionists of the 40’s and other artists that blur the lines of art making and art showing,” she said.

She has been an art teacher at elementary schools, camps and privately.

Her work is part of private collections, colleges, universities and the Harwood Museum of Art.

A rare genetic lung decease brought her to Taos in 2001 and she has made it home ever since.

“I had actually come for the first time in 1996,” she said. “I fell in love with the vastness of the sky and the clean air. I was so happy to return and get established here! I have also been a picture framer for 25 years and thought that Taos would be a perfect match for me.”

Since moving to Ranchos de Taos, where she has a home and studio, Olson developed a strong sense of responsibility to the land, which is in turn reflected on her art.

“The dessert has influenced my palette: I use more white and black now, with lots of light” she said. “The materials and my style changed drastically because I am the steward of my little plot of earth. I love gardening, planting and discovering new plants and the landscape I can see from my home.”

In fact, a mountain outline that appears in many of her paintings is the view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from her studio.

Olson’s work is grounded in her connection to the natural world, with some personal touches and hidden meanings that are distinctive of her creative process.

“I enjoy painting over older paintings and adding text or secret messages to them,” she said. “I have always been interested in installation art. I like pulling the viewers in so they enter a space where they can stay and see what is around them.”

The show

The show at Pompadour Gallery is called “Gestures” and aptly so.

“It is a (literal) expression of ideas and emotions intended to convey a state of mind,” Olson said. “The show has a lot to do with the fact that I like the quality of a fast simple line in a drawing…it’s very expressive. Also, we use ‘gestures’ to talk with our hands and I am a talkative, expressive person myself. A very curious girl indeed!”

“Gestures” will showcase pieces from Olson’s personal collection and some of her more recent works, which she created specifically for this show.

“The evolution of Olson’s art mirrors her own personal metamorphosis from her

previous life in Atlanta to the high altitude desert of Taos,” said show curator Alan Vetter. “The paintings have become her markings along the way, with each new piece flowing out of the previous one.”

The show will feature around one hundred pieces. Part is her personal collection framed art, part abstract trees, mountains and seeds, and an installation of sketchy lung drawings.

“It’s really a retrospective of the last few years,” Olson said. “When I was hanging up the pieces, I felt as if I were in my own studio. It is a real glimpse into my creative process and interests of the past few years.”

How the exhibit came to be

The artist met Salon X’s owner, Delta Bayer-Trujillo, at a UNM jewelry making class.

“Delta has been cheering me on and encouraging me to show my art for years,” Olson said. “Then Alan Vetter, who is like a family member, helped me curate it so the show is a real collaboration of art and space. Come join us at the reception to see how beautifully we all worked together!”

The exhibit will run until December 2016.

The Pompadour Gallery at Salon X is located at 226 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte

Phone: (575) 758-1584

 

 

Interview with Jonisha Rios

jonisha

Jonisha Rios is a graduate of American Musical and Dramatic Academy and the University of Connecticut. She is an award-winning actress and the writer and solo performer of the critically acclaimed one-woman-show Nude in New York. In November of 2007, Lions Gate released her first written feature film A Wonderful ChristmasFeliz Navidad. Jonisha is in pre-production for both her comedy DVD’s Blame it on Rios and The Curse of the Blue Panties and she will be starring in a pilot set to shoot this year for a major TV network. She also produced the award-winning short film Racket, co-wrote, and produced the award- winning short film Sweet Tooth. She also wrote and starred in the award-winning short film Saved by the Pole.

In Curse of the Blue Vagina and Other Stories, Rios adapts her favorite plays into two fun novellas and a collection of monologues inspired by live interviews and conversations with women from all walks of life. Here is what she shared about the collection, her writing process, advice to other writers and more.

Enjoy!

¡Que lo disfruten!

Hola Jonisha! Gracias for accepting this interview.

Bueno, let’s start with the conception of the book as such. How difficult was to adapt a play into a narrative format?

It was definitely a process adapting my plays into narrative form.  For me dialogue is king so when I started the book adaptation, I went from writing short action descriptions with witty character dialogue in my plays, to having to delve deeper and create the details that lead a character to think and speak the way they do. It was a tremendous experience.

To watch a video of her book party, click here

You did it very well because I felt as if I were right there, in the middle of things. Is Cassandra based on a real person or a composite…or just a figment of your imagination?

Cassandra is a figment of my imagination and yet so much of what she experiences I can relate to.  It was fun going on this journey because I got to explore what she would do in situations that are all too familiar for many women in relationships today. I always like a character that just tells it like it is, which I do as Jonisha at times, but not as freely as these characters too.  They have no filter.  It’s a blast being that blunt, at least on paper lol.

We all have a little Cassandra inside, que no? Of all the stories, do you have a favorite scene, one that you really enjoy writing?

I really enjoy writing short monologues. I seem to channel characters that have something to say and when I let that character speak through my pen or the computer, the end result always fascinates me.  There are so many pieces in the last part of the book titled “Exposed” that I had great time writing.  All it takes is me meeting someone and listening to him or her for about three minutes before I hear their voice reciting something that only they have the magic to share.  And so I’m looking forward to the production that is to follow this book.

All your readers are looking forward to the production, too! Padrisimo! Now, what was the most challenging story to write?

Nude in New York was tough because it was based on a real experience.  Living with my aunt as she battled ovarian cancer.  She was so strong and so inspirational and when telling this story, although of course it is exaggerated and comical to some degree, it was hard to be that open.  I tend to like to hide behind my fun characters and let them do the type of talking that I don’t have the courage to do myself at times. With this particular story that wasn’t the case.  It was all me, fully exposed.  In a way I always write from my heart whether it’s fictional or something real, it’s important for me to give a voice to pain, humor, or pretty much any emotion that I need to release. There is no planning, I just go.

You let the muse take over! And it works very well. Bueno, I see most of your narratives are cuentos de poder, stories or empowerment. Was it your original intention?

I never set out to create empowering stories initially.  You see when I first start writing, my goal is usually to get away from the craziness of my life and just sit down and find a way to channel my energy in a way that makes me feel creative or makes me laugh.  Thing is something magical always happens.  The stories take over and in the end they are empowering. I think we as women go through a lot, there’s a lot that is expected of us and I truly believe that all we really want is to be loved for who we are-every part of us- the good, bad, ugly and creative.  The feminine voice is finally emerging in a big way.  So being vulnerable in my writing is the key. It’s refreshing and we are starting to wake up to the idea that maybe the love we so desire is something we emanate from within.  My stories speak to that.

El amor viene de adentro. I love that concept. When you write, do you get your inspiration in images or words?

All of it just depends on the moment.  Inspirations for me can be anything from a song, to certain key phrases, to even something that pisses me off. Also meeting new people who just have a unique way of seeing the world always gives me a bit of a thrill. It’s fascinating for me.  Recently I did a reading of my play with ten fabulous ladies and when I heard them read my words I couldn’t wait to get home and tailor the pieces even more to fit them each. I love my sisters out there.

I think we all should have a circle of sisters in writing. And how difficult (or easy) is to combine your careers of writer, actress and comedian?

Now that I have a little boy, it’s really hard! I mean I don’t sleep and I have to prioritize.  I want to be out there more and yet lately the question is how can I serve and create in a big way without sacrificing time with my son.  And the answer is, keep writing, set aside one day a week to meet with the girls and just take at least one bubble bath a week. Take time for you and you will know how to combine your talents in a way that works.

Excellent advice! I really like the idea of a relaxing bubble bath between stories. What is your writing process like?

I don’t really have a process per say but I do have a schedule.  That is what I would say is super important to creating anything.   If I could put words to what I do to write, I would say that pretty much anything inspires me to create so I guess that is what my process could be –  to let the inspiration lead the way.  On another note, when I don’t schedule my writing time – then it becomes a hobby that I do here and there.  Thing is, if you want a career that pays you need to take your art seriously and create a concrete day to day routine. Once you set that up, the process unfolds and it could be anything.  Some days I dance, and play music before I write, so long as I know when I’m writing—that is all that matters.

It’s a discipline thing! Any other piece of advice for aspiring actors/ writers?

Be clear on what you are called to do and what you are meant to do.  Some people want to create to become famous and if that is your thing, own it and be consistent. I have been called to write and for a long time I wanted to do everything but that.  Thing is I realized writing came easily for me when everything else I pursued always seemed like such a struggle.  Once I surrendered to my genuine talent (and yes we all have many talents) that is when things started to flow for me.  Also, as I said above, stick to a schedule, use any excuse to carve out some time to write or do what you are called to do. And most importantly, don’t wait for anyone to “make you”.  You do the work, do it well, and believe me they will come to you.

Muchas gracias, Jonisha! Y lots of luck with all your projects! Adelante!

To buy Curse of the Blue Vagina and Other Stories in Amazon, click here

curse cover

Cuban Stowaway

Last May, three Cubans were found hiding in a cargo ship traveling from Cuba to South Florida.

According to an NBC Miami report, “Port Everglades spokesperson Ellen Kennedy said three Cuban nationals were found by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials hiding in an auto carrier aboard a cargo ship Friday. The cargo ship was carrying movie equipment for the movie `Fast and Furious 8′ from Cuba to Port Everglades.”

“In 2000, 24-year-old Roberto Viza Egües survived 14 hours as a stowaway inside a cargo container on an Air France flight from Havana, Cuba to Paris. He was exposed to freezing temperatures and low oxygen levels and a few hours in suffered an extreme nosebleed. When two Parisian grocers to whom the container had been sent discovered him, he was covered in blood,” said a CNN report

 

Inspired by these creative ways my compatriotas  resort to, in order to come to the States (and a true story shared by a friend) I wrote “Guaguancó trasatlántico a dos voces.” The story was originally published in French by Magellan Editions, as part of an anthology entitled Nouvelles de Cuba (March 2016).

Faced with the task of translating the title, I felt great sympathy for my translator Anne Casterman. How do I say “guaguancó” in English?

Bueno, it’s a Cuban rhythm, sort of like rumba. So a (very free) translation may be something like “Dancing Rumba across the Atlantic.” Uff.

I just entered the original version in Spanish into an online contest

http://freeditorial.com/es/books/guaguanco-trasatlantico-a-dos-voces

Enjoy!

The “visual aid” comes from actual transatlantic trips Gary and I have taken. But we have never encountered a Cuban Stowaway in them!

 

Lending an ear

IMG_8540

Standard poodle boosts students’ reading skills

Originally published in Taos News

Children may be shy, or not totally sure of how to pronounce certain words, but when they read to Troi they know they have an attentive, non-judgmental listener. They go ahead confidently and become so engrossed in the story they are reading that their inhibitions just vanish.

Troi is a four-year-old standard poodle that visits Arroyos del Norte Elementary School once a week with her handler, Annette Rubin.

Teacher Claire Briggs calls Rubin “fantastic” and her work “highly motivating” for her and her students.

“Not only Miss Annette brings in her valuable experience as a retired teacher, but she is also a great mentor for both the students and myself,” said Briggs. “We all look forward to working with her.”

“Having a child read to a dog has many benefits,” Rubin said. “Dogs won’t correct them or laugh at them. Children, in turn, don’t feel nervous or intimidated; they can relax and enjoy the reading experience without pressures.”

A session with Troi

Before a session starts, Briggs gives Rubin a profile of the children she will be working with so she can assess what their needs are. Then the students take turns, individually, reading to her and Troi.

“When they read to Troi, she listens to them,” said Rubin. “You look at her and you can see she is really attentive.”

Sometimes, after the students have read, Rubin tells them that Troi is not sure what the story is about. Could they explain it to her in their own words? So they retell the story and show their comprehension of it.

“They build a relationship with Troi and feel confident that they can explain to her what they already know,” Rubin said. “She is receptive, open and unconditionally loving.”

Briggs said that a huge benefit of this activity is its emotional component.

“The children learn to trust the dog and, in the process, they learn to trust their own abilities,” she said.

Once the students finish reading, they get to ask Troi to do a little trick for them—she can high five and sit, among other skills. When she does, they say “good girl” and give her a treat.

“It’s all relational,” said Rubin. “They see how well she responds to a positive approach. They do the same.”

Troi knows how to perform nineteen different tasks. She can even “speak.”

“She barks in a very low, ‘indoor voice,’” said Rubin, “because she knows we are in a classroom. Nothing like her ‘outdoor voice’, the one she reserves for chasing prairie dogs and bunnies near our house.”

Rubin has been volunteering at Arroyos del Norte for two years.  She works with three to six students in any given day.

“The best thing is that I see the best of the children,” she said. “They are always happy to meet Troi and work with her. She loves them too. When summer comes, she looks at me, points to the door and the book bag and seems to ask, ‘Why aren’t we going to school?’ She misses the children!”

The handler and the dog: a shared journey

Rubin was an elementary school counselor and has over twenty-five years of experience in education. She also worked with early childhood special ed programs, gifted children, and science and math teachers.

She and her husband Richard Rubin discovered Taos in the summer of 1968 but didn’t start living here fulltime until 2012. It was then when they got Troi.

“It was our intention for her to be a therapy dog,” said Rubin. “As soon as we met her, at the age of seven weeks, we knew she was special. She was very sensitive, even at that young age. She was bred for personality.”

The dog was named after a character on Star Trek, The Next Generation.

“Counselor Deanna Troi is a highly empathic woman, with long, brown, curly hair,” said Rubin.  “She is the ship’s counselor, highly competent and beautiful. Her big brown eyes seem to see right to the heart of her crew, especially when they are distressed. Troi lives up to her name beautifully.”

Rubin started training Troi when the dog was two years old.

“I went to a handler’s course,” she said. “The exam was ten days later and I had to train her for all nineteen skills in that short time.”

They both worked hard together but Troi didn’t pass the test. Undeterred, they did more homework.

“The second time she passed the test with flying colors,” said Rubin. “So that has become part of her story. We need to prepare, to practice over and over in order to achieve the desired results. We share this with the students.”

Now Troi is registered as a therapy dog with Pet Partners, a national organization that helps train handlers and dogs as a team.

“We are certified to come to schools, nursing homes and other places,” said Rubin. “It’s a very satisfying kind of activity that we both enjoy doing.”

To find out more about Pet Partners visit https://petpartners.org

 

Tea-o-graphy: the art and science of tea

Dana Blair, owner and founder of Tea.o.graphy, harbors such a passion for tea that she has built a whole business around it.

Originally published in Taos News

“Tea has a place in the heart of almost every culture and is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, next to water,” she says. “It even surpasses coffee and Coke, and is finally gaining wide acceptance in the United States.”

               Between Georgia and New Mexico

Originally from Georgia, Blair came to Taos in 2009.

“Since then, I have boomeranged somewhat between the two places,” she said. “I left Taos in 2011 to work on a wonderful, family-owned grass-fed beef farm around Athens, Georgia. There were mornings I would wake up in the small farmhouse I lived in—the light shining into my bedroom at such an angle, with just the right golden affect—thinking I was here. Taos was inside of me; it has a way of creeping into your bones and your soul.”

Therefore, when Blair felt ready to put down roots and start her dream of a tea business, she chose Taos.

A journey towards tea

Though Blair started Tea.o.graphy as an official business in April 2015, she began working with tea a long time ago.

She describes herself as a “diehard coffee fan” until around nine years ago. But when she had to quit drinking coffee for health reasons, tea was the natural alternative.

“In 2008, I moved to China as an English teacher,” Blair said. “When I wasn’t in the classroom, I was in tearooms. I began cultivating an interest for tea and knew that I wanted to work with tea on my own.”

She later moved to Santa Fe and worked at The Teahouse with former owner Dionne Christian, a master tea blender. The experience further inspired her passion for tea. Once she left The Teahouse, Blair started “geeking out on tea.”

She created her own little “laboratory,” experimenting with new blends. Her first blend was Café Sans Café.

“I was still missing the bold character of coffee, so I created a blend that could stand up to coffee-like preparations,” she said.

Café Sans Café is a deep, dark, bold brew with hints of caramel and chocolate. It contains roasted chicory root, Assam black tea, and vanilla bean.

“It is by far one of my most popular blends,” she said. “I carry it both in black tea (caffeinated) and herbal tea (caffeine free).”

What’s in a name?

“Tea.o.graphy is a play on the word ‘geography,’ which reflects the global aspect of tea—the many oceans and borders tea has crossed over centuries,” Blair explains. “But to delve even further, the suffix -graphy is defined as ‘a combining form denoting a process or form of drawing, writing, representing, recording, describing, or an art or science concerned with such a process.’ Tea is both art and science: it is also muse to the written word, to artistic expression. It is history, it has lived and traversed time, continents, oceans, times of war, times of peace (sometimes serving as the catalyst for both)… So much sitting there in your teacup!”

Where to find Tea.o.graphy teas

They are now available at Gutiz, the winter market, the farmers market in the summer, Cid’s, Taos Market, Taos Herb Company, The Bavarian, Elevation, Casa Gallina, The Love Apple, Aureate Plum, Sol Food, Noula’s coffee shop, Taos Cow, Pärcht Bottleshop and Bites, El Meze, World Cup, Taos Clay, Rottenstone Pottery, Bent Street Deli, Made in New Mexico, Shree Yoga, Ennui Gallery, Wired and Blair’s website www.tea-o-graphy.com.

They are also sold in all the La Montañita locations and will soon be available in the Ski Valley restaurants as well.

Products: types and flavors of tea

Blair carries a selection of about thirty teas ranging from herbal or tisane teas (caffeine free) to green teas, black teas, and specialty teas.

“All of our teas are organic and fair trade,” she said, “and locally sourced when possible.  We use only the most pure and sustainable ingredients, with no artificial scents, chemicals or harsh additives.”

Among the most popular herbal teas are Café Sans Café (without caffeine), Honey Lavender, High Desert Sage (inspired by the Taos Mesa after a rainstorm), The Cats Pajamas (a bedtime blend), and Ginger Spice, which she calls “my medicine chest.”
As for green tea, she has Matcha Mint, which makes a great mojito, and Fleurs de Provence (floral with handled jasmine pearls).

Black teas include Café Sans Café (with caffeine), Forest Floor, Lady Grey and Art of Flying’s Earl Grey, inspired by Taos’ own Art of Flying band.

Her specialty teas include Chocolate Rose and Sandia Rose, inspired by New Mexico and the Sandia Mountains.

“Many of these blends have applications outside of the teacup,” Blair said. “They can be used in cocktails recipes and culinary dishes.”

The sounding boards

Although most of the time Blair’s business is a one-woman show—she can be found making sales calls, marketing, blending and packaging teas at TCEDC, and more— she also credits many people without whom she could not carry out her business as effectively or smoothly as she is doing now.

“My apprentice Camille Cooper is invaluable, sharp as a whip and super creative, with a great taste for tea,” she said. “And Steve Chavez, his two children, and of course, my family back in Georgia… They are my sounding boards, sage advice givers, and my support.”

Tea of the Month Membership

The Tea of the Month Membership allows people to explore the culture of tea. Each month, members are sent a box containing three samples of teas following a theme (February’s theme was the Queen of Hearts.) They also receive an extra bonus tea or tea-themed item.

Members also receive an exclusive 15% discount on any of the month’s featured teas and a 40% discount when ordering in bulk. They also get first insights to any new products and discounts on them.