Taos’ art scene is fairly reputable for hollyhocks and sunsets, however in the heart of Arroyo Seco a gallery is pushing the boundaries of what it means to be creative.
Local Cecilia Cuff opened the nonprofit gallery, Parse Seco, last year in July at 487 State Road 150 in downtown Arroyo Seco. Later, professional skateboarder Joel Meinholz joined the initiative and the two have been running the space out-of-pocket and through donations since.
Growing up in Chicago, Cuff’s love for art stemmed from peers. At a young age she contemplated the divide and differences between a struggling artist versus a financially successful artist and the idea of an experimental, inclusive and communal space sparked her initiative to get involved in art galleries. She wanted to handle the business so the artists could create without any thought to finances to free them for pure creation.
Meinholz, from the East Coast, arrived in Taos six months after Parse Seco started up. Well-known in the skateboarding collective, he previously worked in booking and filming for profit and was interested in the ideas produced if money was removed from the equation.
“Being in its rawest form a space for events, the focus is a lot more amazing. It’s fun. The egos are pulled out. It’s a breath of fresh air. They’re [artists] doing it because they want to do it and not because they’re getting paid to do it,” Meinholz said.
Through mutual friends and past travels, Cuff and Meinholz teamed up and are in full pursuit to establish Parse Seco as an expressive and therapeutic art factory dedicated to developing creativity and healthy expression through art, an area they feel is neglected by the state in education – leaving the youth at stake.
A sister gallery of Parse Nola, located in New Orleans, which opened after hurricane Katrina, the innovative gallery is following the “open arms” policy. The gallery extends invitation without discrimination, guidelines or censorship to all who want to participate in the world of art, whether it be creation, cooperation or observation.
Cuff and Meinholz desire to perpetuate camaraderie, imagination and freedom of expression for artists, the local community and youth.
“Instead of us taking money from our artists like most galleries do we ask them to donate to a local kids charity that perpetuates art or supports the art programs for kids; or we ask them to do hands-on work with some of the kids in the community in workshops,” Cuff said.
Parse Seco provides workshops for each artist which they rotate monthly. The gallery strives to give a location, open dialogue and access to inspiration to encourage creativity in each workshop. Previously the gallery had a zine exposition and workshop, materials were provided for interested locals to create the small publications that advocate for expression and counterculture.
“We had 150 zines from all over the world here for the show on display, and it’s the way the ideas end up working here, bouncing ideas back and forth,” said Meinholz as he discussed the previous workshop, philosophy and strategies of Parse Seco to establish a platform for “the underrepresented.”
“The way we work the gallery — it definitely works with the artist and pushes them to open up to a creative space to feel comfortable and then develop those ideas, and getting them the confidence to go with it,” Meinholz said. “Because normal galleries, normal spaces, a lot of the art product is for profit, where this space — the product is creativity and it’s about how that creativity influences the people around you and that ends up being what this space is about,” he said.
Cuff added to the mission of the locale, “To evoke emotion, to step outside ‘the norm,’ to say society shouldn’t dictate what your creative process is.”
Previously Parse Seco has showcased the work of artists Josh Row, Rachel Brown, Eric Cade Schoenborn, Angel Brynner, Avi Farber, Dave Greber, Allison Hester and Dyanna Annai Belight, and involving various mediums such as film, fiber work, painting, mechanical and installations.
Truly welcoming all walks of art, the venue also serves as a performance space for various musical acts such as local band Mirror Travel, country and roots-style artists Julia Lucille and Moses Nesh from Texas, Zelosis and Waul of the Weald black metal, neo-folk musicians from California, electro-exotica group from DC, Stronger sex, ambient cello Teach Me Equals out of Washington, and ethereal Taos folk Ruby Oland and many more.
For the future the gallery will continue musical performances. Saturday, Nov. 25, Parse Seco will welcome the work of Jenna LoSavio in a show described as ,”The mystery and messages of dreams and dreaming, with video capturing fragments of time and the visual pathways and storylines we create to play out our shadows.” The show will incorporate both audio and visual video elements.
The gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 5 p.m. and is always accepting donations and newcomers, visit facebook.com/parseseco/ to learn more about upcoming shows, artists and events.