This has been the year of Zoom meetings, which has worked well as a substitute for an office setting, but for those whose livelihood relies upon an abundance of tourist and foot traffic, this has been a particularly challenging time.
The Taos Arts Council, ever mindful of supporting the many artists in Taos County, took matters in their own hands to sponsor the holiday show “Taos Today.”
Hosted by Western Gallery, an online gallery based in Dallas, Texas, “Taos Today” is a virtual juried exhibition and sale exclusively featuring select works from Taos artists and galleries.
Western Gallery owner George Irwin curated the several hundred submissions that were received in response to the call for artists and ultimately selected 104 pieces by 52 artists currently working in Taos County. Paintings, sculptures, jewelry, fiber arts and more are available for your consideration through Jan. 5, 2021.
“Western Gallery curates distinct perspectives of the American West, from abstract to photorealistic and classic to contemporary,” said Irwin, making this venue a perfect match for the Taos artists he has chosen to represent for the show.
“To be able to bring the wonderful and varied artworks of Taos – one of the most famous art colonies in America – to the rest of the world is a dream opportunity,” Irwin continued. “The modernist works of the Taos Society of Artists were a big part of my inspiration to start the gallery, and it’s fun to connect the dots between that group, the influence of Pueblo artisans, the wider contemporary art world and the work being made in Taos today.”
Irwin’s curation is both sophisticated and discerning, so your visit to this virtual exhibition is guaranteed to be a cornucopia of visual delight.
During the 1970s artist Ruchell Alexander lived with his family in the Magic Tortoise commune of La Lama, Taos, where he met and was influenced by the late Taos artist Bill Gersh. According to Alexander’s biography, the study of Gersh moved him from “early magic marker period” to “late magic marker period,” and ultimately attracted him to the immediacy of acrylics. His submission for this show – “Jam in Brooklyn” – is a riot of bold color and shapes with both Afro and Native American vibes.
The entry of award-winning Taos Pueblo sculptor and drum maker Sean Rising Sun Flanagan is a powder-coated steel sculpture named “Northern Deer.” Irwin was particularly taken by its stylized contemporary form and sense of boundless movement – a fluidity that defies the rigidity of its composition.
“Having always been drawn to paintings and drawing as a medium, I appreciated the painterly, expressive technique demonstrated by Claire Brandenburg,” Irwin noted. Her oil on canvas, titled “A Place of Peace,” is a tranquil landscape study from the painter/children’s book author/illustrator/jeweler.
“But, really, every entry that I selected for the exhibition is a stellar example of the work that is alive and well in the Taos art community today,” Irwin added.
The other 49 artists represented in the exhibition are Kari Bell, Katherine Bensusen, Jeff Black, Denny Borski, Steven Bundy, Christie Bundy, Rupert Chambers, Terry Davis, David Douglas, Peter Gilroy, Sarkis Gorial, Elida Hanson-Finelli, Kathryn Hayden, Stephen Jatho, Lydia Johnston, Elizabeth Jose, Jivan Lee, Brian Long, Joan Norris, Glory Penington, Robert Perez Jr., Cheryl Price, Marise Riddell, Gail Russell, Ed Sandoval, Suzanne Schleck, David Sockrider, Jane Starks, Robbie Steinbach, Josh Tafoya, J. Matthew Thomas, Terry Thompson, Peggy Trigg, Tracy Turner Sheppard, Stephen Vaughn, David Vedoe, Leolyn Wood and Jinx Wright.
Along with Max Jones, C. S. Talley, Jeff Cochran and Peggy McGivern are featured from Jones Walker of Taos. Wilder Nightingale Fine Art successfully submitted Don Brackett, Bob Cooley, PJ Garoutte, Valerie Graves, Dorothy Lampl, Bernadette Pino and gallery owner Rob Wilder Nightingale.
Sonya Davis, president of the Taos Arts Council, said, “Because of the negative impact the pandemic has had on tourism dollars coming into our community, we wanted to find a way to take our artists out into the world. We are very pleased to have found George Irwin and Western Gallery, who has provided an avenue to promote the working artists of Taos.”
Board member and project director Cindy Atkins was equally enthused. “It was challenging to figure out ways to bring ‘eyes’ to our community’s art scene during these times. George has been very successful in developing a large following of collectors for his virtual gallery so we’re confident that a whole new audience for Taos art can be achieved.”
It’s all about fortuitous timing, Irwin mused. “Instagram has been a game changer,” noting that it has facilitated his discovery of new artists to feature that align with the inspiration he’s attained from his many visits to New Mexico. “This has just coincided well with the pandemic, if there’s any silver lining to be seen.” Prior to curating “Taos Today,” Irwin has also been featuring “Taos Tuesdays” on his Instagram account.
The Taos Arts Council, founded in 2012, is a nonprofit organization working to ensure that Taos County has a vibrant, vital and active arts environment. TAC’s mission is to promote awareness, understanding, appreciation and development of all the creative arts (literary, visual, tactile, musical, performing, etc.) and to play a role as the central hub in support of our arts and artists community.
To receive an invitation link to “Taos Today” events, join the Western Gallery guest list here: western.gallery/taos-today. You may also call Western Gallery at (512) 693-8787 or Cindy Atkins at (210) 288-9336 for more information.