Nichos at the Denver Art Museum

Sacred Spaces July 3-July 17 Denver Art Museum, Demo weekends July 7, 8 and 14, 15.  

Nichos are spirit homes for your home.  They are a folk art of new and old Mexico and provide a niche at home for spirits to live, protect, and bring fortune.  My nichos change up this folk art form which traditionally houses Catholic saints.  I create my nichos to house the astrological signs of Chinese zodiac and Buddhist and Hindu deities.  East meets West. 

How did I come by this art form?  Growing up in the southwest, I have seen these little tin boxes my whole life. November 2012, I was attending first Friday in the Art District on Santa Fe, Denver.  I went into Chac Gallery at 8th and Santa Fe Dr and noticed the nichos in the gift shop.  I was so inspired that I went home and googled "tin Mexican boxes."  As the search results poured in, I learned about the folk art.  I even found a place to buy the nichos:; I placed an order and pondered how I would make them.  Once I received the shipment, I began creating.  I had done some shopping at Yeti Arts in Boulder CO and found wonderful post cards with different Buddhist and Hindu deities.  Wanting to know more about the deities, I used them in place of the traditional Catholic saints.  I have been making nichos this way ever since.  Creating a home for a spiritual energy takes reverence and consideration for these special energies.  They need the perfect home to feel comfortable to do their work.    

May 2014, I received my 200 hr yoga certification from Shambhava yoga at the Konalani Ashram in Kona, HI.  This 21 day intensive changed my life.  I fell in love with the practice of Kundalini yoga, Babaji, the ashram, and Sangha, finally I found what I had been looking for.  I was introduced to the practices and teachings of the deities I had researched for the nichos.   

I was drawn to nichos, not only for their uniqueness and beauty, but their connection to my own native ancestry.  My mother's family is native to Colorado from when it was Mexico.  Our family came from Spain in the 1700s and settled around Taos, NM.  We then migrated to San Luis, CO.  As the Spanish and American boarders shifted, we became American citizens.  Today, our family lives all over Colorado, and mom grew up in Rocky Ford, CO with 12 brothers and sisters.  We have always been farmers and artists, with a close connection to the spirits of the Earth and cosmos.  Even though Mom grew up working the fields, she raised my brothers and I in Boulder CO.  She rose out of intense poverty to become a Social Security Disability lawyer and appellate counsel for my Dad, James Noel, who is also Social Security Disability Lawyer.  Mom works with the Federal courts and Dad does cases at the state level.  

Back to the museum, I had such a great time making these treasures in the 3D studio of the Denver Art Museum.  Everything from painting nichos, telling the story of my family and the folk art, to putting glitter on 50 plus little kids made the two weeks unbelievably magical. 

Thank you to the Denver Art Museum for hosting me and my nichos!

Thank you to everyone who came to visit, you are a true blessing in my life.  


Visiting Family

I’ve done these drives my whole life.  This Memorial Day weekend, Dad and I went down to Colorado Springs from Denver, then turned on Platte Drive and onto Hwy 24.  With Desert Dwellers as the soundtrack, the expansive Colorado skies and open planes.  A place of my family: half land, half sky brought  me deep within myself.  I remembered being a 4 year old Dragon child, co-piloting the car with my mom, observing my surroundings. Oddly enough, HWY 24 hasn’t changed much, but I sure have. 

We arrived at the family plots in the cemetery at Punkin Center.  The family plot full of Montoyas with my Grandmother’s plaque on the wrought iron fence my mom and uncles put up a few years ago.  Dressed with white rock, the family plot stands proud.

We continued into Rocky Ford and had lunch with my Auntie Sally.  Born year of the Fire monkey, her house and food brought comfort, and so many cousins to play with, I was never bored. We enjoyed lunch and went to get coffee at the Coffea Shop, owned by my cousin Evan Bacca, sally’s son.  The Coffea Shop is the hippest spot in town: art, music lessons, organic coffee and treats.  Uncle Randy and I got iced mocha’s with cayenne and cinnamon; iced black tea for Sally.  Sitting in the coffee shop, the locals told stories of the business that had come and gone through downtown.  Across the street, the boarded up apartment windows caught my imagination: artist collective.  Rocky Ford has so much creative potential! Leaving the Coffea Shop, we played outside with all the little cousins, Evan’s kids.

That night, mom and I stayed in La Junta, like we used to when I was a little girl, co-pilot on our monthly road trips to visit mom’s family.  We stayed at the Midtown Motel and I got dinner at Mauricio’s while Mom slept off a day of activity.

Next morning, wake up.  The kids upstairs are bouncing a ball like they were the night before.  Mom’s been up for a while and I was making up for the hours I stayed up the night before.  Meditation then street cloths, we need to be at Uncle Greg’s by 11 am.  Mom hadn’t eaten dinner the night before and I needed breakfast.  Small breakfast at Lucy’s Taco stand and an errand to Safeway for cold medicine, I had the sniffles, and we took off for Uncle Greg’s house in Rocky Ford. 

Uncle Greg lives in my grandma’s old house, thank goodness! I would miss it too much otherwise.  Memories of eating Mission Deli and watching westerns on Grandma’s couch.  Her terrarium of a front room with plants and folk art.  Uncle’s house is more open now, the energy can pass through and it’s comfortable.  The kitchen is still the same though.  Lunch starting with Mexican wedding cookies, pork chops, hot dogs, Italian sausage, potato salad, beans, and I made squash succotash with guacamole. Auntie Maxine, a water tiger like my Uncle, brought her parents when they all finished at church.  Oreo, the puppy who’s feet looked like crushed up cookies, joined us for lunch showing off his intellect and good manners for 4 months old.  Raindrops and wind, but no big storms. 

It was time to see Maria Lopez, she’s and Artist and friend from the Denver Art Society and lives in Pueblo.  Since I don’t have a car, I like to visit when I am in the area.  On our way to see Maria, mom and I drove to the cemetery to place flowers and I read astrological signs of the relatives: many born year of the pig, snake, rabbit.  My great uncle Saqueo Montoya, buried with his brother – Maxine pointed out “Saqueo” is an Indian name.  Thinking that if I ever have a son or another doggy, Saqueo would be the name.

Off to see Maria in Pueblo.  Once we arrived, her house and family were warm and inviting.  Maria has been commissioned by Eva Montoya to do a mural on the East Side of Pueblo called the East Side Story.  She offered to collaborate with me so we talked details of the project. We decided to meet again in June to discuss our plans. 

Mom and I stayed for an hour or so with Maria then one last stop to see Auntie Abby.  She had been in the hospital due to a bad pneumonia infection.  Abby was resting and happy to have the company, no one likes being that sick!  We then began our drive home to Boulder for mom, and Denver for me.  I am so grateful to live close to my family.  Their support makes my dreams of being an artist come true.  

Sparks for healthy eating

My friend Sparks asked to write you a letter about healthy eating habits for Pehi, a movement towards bettering ourselves and others through happiness *PehiMVMNT*.  In this letter, I will let you in on my daily habits and how they have formed over decades.  Did I tell you that I kinda geek out on nutritional knowledge? Well I gained it over the passed 20 year being a vegetarian.  Yeah... I'm 30 now April 2018, so how did a 10 year old decide to go vegetarian around a family of meat eaters?  Well, growing up in Boulder, Colorado is the answer, all my friends and their mom's were doing it, literally!  10 year old Gracie thought, "I don't want to kill aminals to eat them!"  I also agreed that testing on them wasn't nice either.  So there you have it! My activism days start in fifth grade, primary target: cruelty towards animals, then later people and the planet. 

It did take me a while to figure out how to eat right though.  I usually ate the same thing, just, "without the meat please."  One time my dad made fun of me, "you sure you don't want to leave off the salad too?"  Well that's just it? What do I eat now and how DO I stay healthy?  This brings us to the rainbow, don't ya know?!      


To begin, follow the Ayurvedic Diet, which I learned from my yoga teacher trainings of 2014 at Konalani and Shononi Ashrams.  First start with the sweetness of fruit red delicious, oranges, bananas.  The fruit will inspire the digestive enzyme Amylase.  Amylase will be so hopped up on sugar, she will go and tell the stomach and intestines, "nourishment is on the way!" 

The stomach will then prepare an acid bath to take on the beets, meats, grains, and fats.  The small intestine will take on breaking down food to tiny molecules over miles of digestive tissue.  Leafy greens, blue berries, and leafy purple kale get the gall bladder going signaling the end of digestion and time to soak up some vitamins. 

Of course, variety is key and a routine of desert first, delicious home made meal with sweet ginger tea, and salad will make the belly happy.  Limit the dairy and carbs, they make it too easy.  Probiotics: Kimchi, Kombucha, yogurt, supplements! 

Finally, be mindful of the how everyone: the plants, animals, people, and mama Earth, all contributed to your meal and were their treated lovingly?  Give thanks and give it often, it makes your inner light glow.


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eARTH Day!


I am running an eARTh Day promotion!  The first 3 prints of Expect Resistance of Expect Resistance sold by May 5 will be discounted to $50!  The funds raised will then be donated to The Arts District on Santa Fe Nonprofit to help match the recent $10,000 grant from the Denver Arts and Venues, woo hoo!  Thank you for your love and light!  


Always go to Jiu Jitsu

Went to Randoori yesterday at Easton's Boulder Gym.  I kinked my neck somehow, seems to be the trend amongst fam and friend.  When I got to the family brunch, my Auntie and Uncle were visiting from Denver, Auntie Vi just could not stop complaining about her neck and headache from being sick with a cold the last 3 weeks.  Seems Chiron's last visit through Pisces brought out some deep wounds.  I think my cousin Chris has felt it too - a neck ache so bad he bought a new bed, lol.  Granted he was sleeping on my old futon mattress with a crater that could kill dinosaurs.  Its time to get our heads on straight, do whats right for us I guess.

This brings me back to Jiu Jitsu Sunday Apr 15.  Ouch, me neck hurt from rolling.  Still does today, Monday.  However, the trade off is better posture, reinforcing my joints and activating under resourced muscles.  How?  using all those resources makes the neck ache duller!  Oh yes the pain is still there, and Pneuma Chiropractic will happen 1:40 pm Earth Day, followed by massage Apr 27 1:30 pm with Zap Zing Body Works.  Daily icing, topical analgesic, and restorative yoga as maintenance. 

Brass tax: these injuries make us stronger.  The wounds heal so long as they are treated with love, and always go to jiu jitsu.  I've been training since Jan 3, 2017 and it has done wonders for me.  I showed up to the Boulder Easton Academy after celebrating the New Year with my cousin Chris and three hours of sleep, not to mention terrified.  I knew I had to learn how to defend myself though, especially due to the current culture and political climate towards women.  When Trump was elected, I decided to start taking self defense lessons.  I asked around and the answer was one I definitely didn't want to hear: Jiu Jitsu.  Why not ninjitsu or karate, aikido or judo?  My chiropractor Dr. Adam Thom, of Thom Body Theory, put it simply, grappling skills are best for women in times of sexual assault.  Alright, time to sign up since my goal was so clearly outlined by Dr Thom's reasoning, oh and did I mention he's a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu... Yeah...

Jan 3, 2017 was a game changer though, I loved my first class so much, I kept training.  Yes, I still have that resistance to attending class, its a scary and strange activity to voluntarily go do with people. The benefits out way the anxiety and I've built a community who cares about me and my training.

Since I began training, I am a calmer, more relaxed person and have come to grips with my sense of fear.  My consciousness has expanded by way of better reflexes, clear mind, and patience.  In some ways I am more bold and feel like a super hero even though I am just a four stripe white belt. Ultimately my training has taught something most would find counter intuitive: aggression and will power will only get you in trouble.  Jiu Jitsu is a matter of strategy and a dance between two opposing energies.  The art? Go with the flow, slow is smooth, smooth is fast.  

I look forward to training with you some day, since I am not just an artist, but also a martial artist. Always go to jiu jitsu.

Back from NYC

There's a terrible longing in my daily actions for NYC.  Living in Brooklyn, training at the Renzo Gracie Academy,  all the Unicorns?  Its just that, all the Unicorns.  Denver is full of them for sure, just NYC has more of them!  I liked the crowds, bold speech, and fast pace from one thing to the next.  See, that's just it... Where is everybody in NYC going?  And why so fast?? All these unicorns are galloping too and fro, on their own time? I don't know...  We're all working for ourselves, so watch how our light surfaces and glows.  No one's there to drag us down, so its time to go, I guess.  This is mostly insight for myself, since many of you were right, "you're going to NYC? You'll fit right in!"  

On the airplane ride home, I read Faith Stone's Rudi and the Green Apple, cover to cover, surprisingly for this slow reader! The story had all my favorite characters, descriptions of incredible Hindu and Buddhist art, and took place in Manhattan and Rudi grew up in Brooklyn.  The book was a perfect ending for my recent trip to NYC.

Why though?  Well a theme powerful for me was loving the self amongst all the energies that distract us and dampen our light.  Persuading a horizontal exchange of energy, rather than vertical can leave one depleted, constantly reaching for more light externally, instead of internally.  Faith suggested (paraphrasing) to imagine a delicious fruit in your chest, where your heart is.  Every time you think of that fruit, a ripe papaya with lime after surfing in Kauai is what I chose, it reminds you life is to be enjoyed and your juicy sweetness comes from inside.  What is inside becomes outside and without it, the body dies. So when I look into your eyes, I see the light that resides.

Its good to be home, NYC can't resist me and all I have to offer so I know I will be back to Brooklyn soon.  Meanwhile, I am supported and loved by my colleagues in Denver and Boulder.  There is much to do busy with the Art District on Santa Fe Dr, a demo at the Denver Art Museum first two weeks in July 2018.  Spectra's 420 show install... pause... one shout out to Spectra: I have the best experiences there!  Such a great vibe, crew, and they have great taste in art!  Oh and Pancakes and Booze was wonderful to see familiar faces and meet new ones.  

As you can see, I'm a very busy Unicorn galloping from one place to the next.  Thanks for reading and being part of my adventures through the Rainbow.


Pancakes and Booze tonight

Back to Denver after two weeks of adventures through the NYC art scene.  My art stimuli are blown open wide and my vision much broader and slightly exclusive after NY.  Definitely savoring the experience and hungry for more.  Denver and Boulder are home however, and tonight is Pancakes and Booze Denver, 8 pm - 2 am, Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom.  See you there right?!  Waiting in the April sunshine made me glow like a gnome happy to be home.  P&B brings together so many artists from not just Colorado, but I've met Unicorns from Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, and Montana.  Its going to be a wonderful spring evening with free pancakes and toppings washed down with drinks and an affordable door price of $10!  

After install I had a lovely brunch at the Mercury Cafe, a Denver Institution!  My craving for Eggs Benedict had carried over from Thursday morning in Williamsburg.  Thankfully, the Mercury cafe's delicious hollandaise sauce quenched my craving.  Creamy and thick with homemade hot sauce.  On my way out, the door had my favorite poster about How to Build Community surrounded by the vibrant souls who have passed through the cafe.  Next to it was another poster I hadn't seen before: How to Build a Global Community.  Just so beautiful to have the two posters side by side met by barrels of spring flowers as the door opened to the sidewalk.

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Supporting Unicorns and their Adventures: The Wealth of NYC

Been enjoying Williamsburg, Brooklyn for two weeks now.  The mission?  Set up an international networking and exhibition space for artists through the Artifications Studio at 63 N 3 St, basement. 

Something that struck me, as I commute around the city, is the incredible sense of wealth of resources.  This wealth feeds a fantastic culture of supporting fellow Unicorns and their magical adventures.  Anything in this city can be acquired for free given time, creativity, and resource-fullness.  Here's a story... We had our Artifications Digable Weekend exhibition Apr 5 - 7.  As the exhibit concluded, we needed packing material to return artwork home. I was walking back from jiu jitsu at the Renzo Gracie Academy, the best training yet, and found some thin packing foam, rolled up and ready for trash pick up.  Seeing as the foam had rolled into the walk way, I decided to pick it up and move it.  Recognizing its usefulness, I carried half of the bounty back to the gallery, yay!  To complete my goal of mailing artwork to our lovely artists, I selected the appropriate sized cardboard from the stacks outside nearly every business.  My urban foraging trip saved the gallery money and tidied the streets. 

Thanks NYC, you make dreams come true in the spirit of supporting fellow unicorns!  


Denver Art Society

The Denver Art Society is an entirely volunteer run Arts Education Nonprofit that was established in 2009 in the La Alma neighborhood. The La Alma Neighborhood includes Denver's culturally most diverse area for many decades with a large immigrant population.  The Denver Art Society (DAS) brings together a multitude of membership from all economic, social, and political backgrounds.  We provide a venue for a diverse group of artists to use as performance, teaching, and display space while volunteering in the Denver Community.  An influential project of the Denver Art Society has been the monthly Alley Rallies, which turns cleaning up the alley and gallery into a community event.  Alley Rallies are all day events one Saturday per month where local visual and performance artists attend to paint murals, perform music, and collaborate on beautifying the alley behind the Denver Art Society.  All artists and residents of the neighborhood help pay for the cost of trash removal and volunteer their labor for clean up.

As a member of the Denver Art Society for four years, Grace has been on the Steering Committee from 2014-2017 and was recently appointed to the interim Board of Directors Jan 2017.  She has been an activist in Colorado and Oregon for mental health, sustainable/affordable food and housing, and art for over a decade.  Equal representation and access to the arts is Grace's passion and she spends nearly every day working towards building community through art.

Drawing 101 Class

ANNOUNCEMENT! I will be teaching Drawing at Denver Art Society, Sundays 5-7 pm through the month of March. 

 What we'll do
Beginning Drawing Class

Goal: learn how to draw, make drawing fun and accessible.
Session 1

Gesture Drawing
Blind contour
Expressive line
Weight of line and shape

Session 1 is the first in a 4 week class providing a comprehensive overview of drawing. This class will hone anyone's drawing skills no matter your experience level and supplies will be provided as part of session tuition.

• What to bring
Supplies included: full pencil set 4H through 6B hardness, newsprint sketchbook, vine charcoal

• Important to know
Everyone can draw and I am excited to meet you!

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Surrender the limitations

The magical side of reality is being brought to Boulder.  I just broke into the scene yesterday at Umba ( and Old Tibet, wow, SO grateful and honored.