Fine art

Masters at their craft

Gretchen Ewert and Maye Torres co-exhibit recent works at Magpie in El Prado

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This co-exhibit of Gretchen Ewert and Maye Torres’ work is an opportunity for art lovers to witness two prominent artists at the top of their craft.

The exhibition featuring these two well-known Taos artists is set to open with a reception  Saturday (Sept. 9), 5-7 p.m., at magpie, located in the Overland Compound, 1405 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, El Prado. Admission is free and the public is invited.

Ewert was born in Northern New Mexico and has lived and worked elsewhere. At the Harwood Museum of Art, her work is included in the permanent collection. She had a solo exhibit (“Paper, Skin, Air: New Drawings”) in 2007 in the museum’s Foster Gallery and participated in the Harwood’s 2016/2017 “Continuum: Art-as-Art” group show. The press release states that Ewert’s work is also in the Albuquerque Museum, The New York Museum of Arts and Design, as well as the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

For this co-exhibit at magpie, Ewert is displaying her animal-themed ceramic sculpture – about 10 pieces. “I can’t remember when I got the idea to make animal vessels,” she said, “but certainly before I made art, saw them.”

She explains that the sculptures are formed by hand, pinched out of earthenware clay slabs and finished with underglazes, slips and nonceramic artist materials, such as paints, powders and metallic leafs, including real gold.

“I draw on them,” she said of her sculptures. “They are a combination of fired-on surface and applied surface after firing. I seem to be the only one who does this. People have taken classes with me at Santa Fe Clay and Taos Clay.”

Although this is her first time exhibiting her fine art in the gallery at magpie, she has sold her jewelry through the store. When Tempo asked about the impressive spanning of her career as a professional artist, Ewert said, “I’ve been doing it for a really long time – longer than a lot of people – and I owe it to yoga.”

Ewert points out that the ceramic sculpture pieces on exhibit are newly created – within the past 12 months. “I hope to get more people seeing my work; magpie is great, it’s joyous. My work is colorful and it sort of goes with everything there. It fits, it feels comfortable. The sculptures will like it,” she says.

Torres had a solo exhibit at the Harwood Museum of Art (“Maye Torres: Unbound”) in 2012 and 2013. Locally speaking, this co-exhibit will be her first show since then. But she has been very busy elsewhere. For example, she has been showing in California – Venice Beach, San Diego and downtown Los Angeles.

“I had a piece that was just returned from the Ethiopia ambassador’s residence that was on loan to them through the U.S. Department of State,” she said.

For this co-exhibit, Torres is displaying a selection of graphite drawings. Some have pastel or color pencils or gouache for highlights of color. The drawings come in a range of sizes.

“Like with every art show that I do, this is the completion of the art, when the audience actually sees the work,” Torres said.

She explains that it is exciting to see people’s responses. “There is an interpretation of what I’ve drawn. This is a visual means of communicating different thoughts. And everybody interprets them differently. There’s a magic to an art exhibit with everyone’s different points of view,” she said.

Torres is part of the local 13th Spanish generation; she’s a descendant of Padre Antonio José Martínez and hails from the Torres family in Ranchos de Taos. “I never changed my maiden name. I kept it the whole time,” she said.

The press release states that her figurative drawings reflect our high-tech society with classic figures chosen from famous artists of the past: “An Ingres inspired drawing of a woman with branches for horns, with an electronic device, stares directly at the viewer. A Rembrandt inspired Adam and Eve, under the tree of life, struggle for the remote control. A woman in Renaissance style dress with an iPad, mindlessly focused, as a rattlesnake crawls beneath her skirt.”

Torres says she is juxtaposing classical imagery with modern-day technology. “It’s because one of my favorite teachers, [the late] Ted Egri, insisted that artists are here to record our times,” she said.

Georgia Gersh, magpie gallery owner, grew up in Taos and is the daughter of the late “outlaw” artist Bill Gersh. She said, “When I started booking shows – I’m booked a couple of years out – I was keeping in mind Maye’s drawings and Gretchen’s ceramics. They are both such diverse artists; they’re both incredibly fluent.”

The store portion of the venue represents 80 local artists and focuses on offering small, functional, affordable work. The gallery is for fine art – with exhibits that run from four to six weeks, April through November. While the store is colorful, the gallery is a totally white blank room for the presentation of fine art.

Gersh said, “Gretchen’s work is precious and delicate, so we’re building custom shelves for it to set against the wall. Maye’s drawings will be mounted on panel, with a combination of framed and unframed.”

When asked why she is hosting a co-exhibit of prominent artists, Gersh said, “These two women are masters at their craft. Their works are museum-quality art.”

For more information, call the venue at (781) 248-0166.

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