Armstrongs enjoy leisure-learning classes twice

Alumni encourage others to visit Taos

Bill and Roberta Armstrong knew little about the Doel Reed Center for the Arts before they received an email two years ago promoting classes for lifelong learners. When the Stillwater-based alumni saw one course was about author and Oklahoman Tony Hillerman, they quickly enrolled.

Roberta Armstrong They spent a fun-filled week in July 2015 studying “Shamus and Shaman: Tony Hillerman’s Dance Hall of the Dead and A Thief of Time,” taught by Brewster Fitz, OSU professor emeritus.

They had so much fun that they returned last July for “New Mexico Farm to Table,” taught by Barbara Forsberg, owner of nearby Brett House Catering. They were among the record 31 participants in four courses that session. They spent time in Forsberg’s commercial kitchen honing their cooking skills, visiting with a local farmer at his property, utilizing a wood-fire oven in a beautiful local home, and cooking dishes such as paella and pizza.

During the Hillerman course, they enjoyed reading the books – as Bill had already done numerous times – and then watching a film adaptation and highlighting the differences between the versions. There was also a visit to a Santa Fe museum, where a local expert spoke to them about Hillerman and his work.

“During class, we sat outside under a huge willow tree and had great discussions,” Roberta said, adding they learned more about who Doel Reed was and bought in to the purpose of the Doel Reed Center for the Arts.

“The courses are so well-done,” Roberta said. “People ask which course was better, and I just can’t say. Everyone we talked to said they wanted to take another one. You have such a good time in these great class sessions, and you also have plenty of time to go do other things while you’re out there.”

Bill enjoyed visiting beautiful northern New Mexico and the sense of camaraderie they built with other lifelong learners.

“We spent the Wednesday we were out of class floating down the Rio Grande. It was peaceful and fun. You have a lot of opportunities like that,” he said. “And then there are some events in the evening when you get together with everyone from all of the classes. It’s a great trip.”

In fact, the Armstrongs plan to make the Doel Reed Center for the Arts a more regular destination.

“There are so many classes we want to take,” Roberta said. “We both are interested in another cooking class, and another Hillerman class, and a bunch of others that have been offered.”

Carol Moder, director of the Doel Reed Center for the Arts, said the Armstrongs’ experience is typical for those who have taken the lifelong learner courses.

“We have found good instructors, both among local experts and OSU faculty,” Moder said. “Some participants like more academic-based content, and others like activity-based classes where they get out in the environment in Taos. We are scheduling options for both this summer, and people who would like to participate need to enroll soon to save a spot.”

Course enrollment is currently open with six offerings for July 24-28. Each course is $600, or $550 for those enrolling before March 31.

Ecology and Visual Landscape of Northern New Mexico, taught by Dave Engle and Marty Avrett, professor emeriti

Art & Literature in New Mexico Post 1940, taught by Ed Walkiewicz, professor emeritus

Taos Photography & Solar Printmaking Workshop, taught by Jennifer Lynch, master Printmaker

Fly Fishing (Beginning and Intermediate), taught by Marc Harrell, Taos native

New Mexico Food & Culture, taught by Carol Moder, director, Doel Reed Center for the Arts

Fashion Studies, taught by Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, assistant professor

For more information or to enroll, click here.

The leadership of the Doel Reed Center for the Arts is also considering offering a long-weekend leisure-learning opportunity in late September or early October. If you are interested, contact Moder at or (405) 612-8295.