Izumi Yokoyama and Theresa Gray belong to the continuum of artists who have followed the call to come to the High Desert since Bert Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein’s wagon wheel broke, stranding the two young East Coast artists in Taos.
That was a century ago, and the stream of artists that arrive in Taos and stay, remains steady.
Izumi Yokoyama first came to the U.S. as an exchange student. She wound up just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas and suffered a severe case of culture shock. She returned to go to graduate school at the San Francisco Art Institute, met the father of her two children and stayed.
A multimedia artist who now lives and works in Taos, Yokoyama was born in Niigata, Japan in 1980. Her 2019 show at the Harwood Museum of Art “In Birds of Appetite: Alchemy & Apparition,” brought her greater recognition but she has been showing in Taos for some time.
Her intricate line drawings and haunting installations “explore and embrace human struggles within the context of nature.” The dream-like imagery in her works are both darkly prescient and transcendent; the artist explores a fantastical, almost hallucinogenic world of visionary grace.
The work is characterized by her persistent use of negative space.
Her solo show, Dreamer on the Mesa, at Magpie in 2017 remains a seminal moment for Yokoyama who says “that show was indeed the new beginning for my art journey. I was waiting tables next door at the Japanese restaurant, when Georgia told me she liked my work.”
Still mothering toddlers, Yokoyama was hesitant at first, but “ I finally got up enough courage to ask Georgia to give me a chance to show my works.”
She continued. “Taking years off as an active artist after San Francisco sure took away my confidence and need for such expressions, but I was secretly desperate to find a thread for a new path for my art and life.”
Yokoyama says that both she and her work has grown here in Taos, along with her children who live with her in the house that currently houses her studio, in Arroyo Seco.
A tiny space, perched at the top of a narrow, spiral staircase, it is a fitting spot for this dreamer of dreams, this bringer of visions. Like her newest series, the phoenix in its nest, high on an unreachable precipice, Yokoyama’s eirie affords her the solitude and space, to take flight into the vast unknown.
We are in turn rewarded by these flights of fancy and fear. Transcendent in their final execution.
Both Yokoyama and Theresa Gray frequently show their work at Magpie and Studio 107b in Taos, both in group shows and individually. You can visit both artists online and make appointments to visit their studios.