It was always his plan to be an artist. As a student in art school, Charles Collins made a name for himself by being highly focused and meticulous in developing his skill as a painter. All that hard work paid off as Collins settled in Taos in the mid-1970s and began a foundation built upon that skill that resulted in him becoming the most awarded artist in the history of the Taos Fall Arts Festival.
Collins is taking note of a major milestone this week: His gallery is commemorating its 40th anniversary. The occasion will be celebrated with special receptions Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 5-6), 2-6 p.m. each day. The Charles Collins Gallery is located in McCarthy Plaza, just off the southeast corner of Taos Plaza.
The date of the event is particularly special because Aug. 6 is also the date in 1999 that former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson declared “Charles Collins Day in New Mexico, ad infinitum.” Johnson once told Collins that he sees the Taos artist as a “bright light shining for everyone.” “That just blew me away,” Collins shared. “I’m still trying to do that.”
Collins is also the only sculptor to win the Taos Fall Arts Festival’s “best of show” honor and was recognized as a Taos master by the Millicent Rogers Museum.
One of the ongoing themes in his work is the interconnectedness among all peoples, according to an article in the summer 2017 Discover Taos publication of The Taos News. In it, he said, “We all have so much in common. And the Red Willow people [of Taos Pueblo] give so much to us.” Native Americans are often subjects in his work. “There’s something about them and their respect for the land, and so many things that our society today doesn’t even think about,” he expressed. Many people come into his gallery and comment that they see “the power of love” in his pieces. Much of the inspiration for his work comes from dreams and things he reads, like ancient teachings of Christ.
Unlike a lot of artists, Collins can often be found in his gallery ready to talk about any and all of his work with everyone who enters. Is that due to choice or a deemed necessity? “It’s my choice, but I think people really like to meet the artist. Some artists in New York don’t even go to their openings.”
If he weren’t an artist, he would be an architect, which he gladly admitted is still artistic.
Collins, ever the philosopher, offered this quote from Chief Seattle: “At night, when the streets of your cities are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful world. The white man will never be alone. Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead or not powerless. Dead? I say. There is no death. Only a change of worlds.”
Call Charles Collins Gallery at (575) 758-2309 or visit charlescollinsgallery.com.