Art

Paseo Norte Gallery takes a hands-on approach

A venue for local emerging artists

By Virginia L. Clark
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 1/23/19

Paseo Norte Gallery opened quietly last summer and is just now setting about the "business" of art - building a website, creating artist statements and bios and the like. Gallery owner-artists Lore …

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Art

Paseo Norte Gallery takes a hands-on approach

A venue for local emerging artists

Posted

Paseo Norte Gallery opened quietly last summer and is just now setting about the "business" of art - building a website, creating artist statements and bios and the like. Gallery owner-artists Lore Kasper and Kitti Ryan are just not that "into" the business side of the art world. They're so busy creating art they pretty much leave the marketing to son Benjamin Ryan (also a photographer and painter), who is "getting around to it," according to Kasper, during a mid-January interview at the gallery.

Formerly a physician-scientist and med-school professor for the past 40 years in both Chicago and Vermont, Kasper has been painting for 60 years.

"I did my first painting when I was in kindergarten - in crayon," Kasper recalls with amusement. "It was a tropical scene. I entered because the winning prize was a parakeet. And I won! The parakeet died after about a year, though."

What with choosing med school and then becoming a research physician and professor, Kasper opted out of fine art studies, taking only one watercolor painting class in college. But painting was always an intense and ongoing "pastime" - a pastime that at once filled a garage to bursting with 1,600 paintings - and counting.

"I've never been in a gallery before, because I didn't want to deal with all the politics of having a [curriculum vitae]; I don't have all that art background that galleries expect. I took some of my work down to Santa Fe and got 'bupkes.' I want to help people who don't have all the 'right' credentials like they want in Santa Fe. That's why we are sort of running this gallery like a collective; only it's not a collective, but I like to think it is."

The gallery's emphasis then is local, emerging artists. Besides gallery partners Kasper and oil-watercolor painter Ryan, the artists currently represented at Paseo Norte Gallery are ceramist, musician and ski instructor Josh Berman; Justin Fantl, who does phenomenal shots of Kachina Peak and more for Nike and other big names; Avi Farber, a ceramist and official forest service photographer who also is a ski instructor; Lydia Johnston, who does colorful abstracted oils - she recently moved to Taos from Vermont; and Deborah Rubin, internationally recognized for her stunning watercolors, and whom Kasper knew, oddly enough, from high school, where they graduated together.

Kasper first found Taos, during a ski visit 45 years ago.

"My father was in sporting goods and knew [Taos Ski Valley founder] Ernie Blake. Ernie came to Chicago back then to check out the Chicago ski equipment stores. Emil Hirsch introduced him to Ernie. My dad knew Howard Head, Abel Rossignol, all the ski-equipment pioneers. I wanted to come to Taos to have huevos rancheros, which I'd heard about. One day after skiing we came out onto the Rim Road [that overlooks the valley of Valdez] and it was just brilliant with sunshine. I took lots of photos and I said then, 'This is where I'd like to be.' About 10 years ago I said it was time to do something about that, and I bought a house in Valdez, right on [State Route 230]."

Upon finally retiring from teaching, Kasper and former registered nurse Ryan set up a Keystone Symposium at the Harwood Museum, which centered on the gut microbiome connection to central nervous system diseases, like multiple sclerosis, that the pair had discovered and researched over the years.

Over the past decade, however, Kasper and Ryan quietly focused on their artwork, finally opening Paseo Norte Gallery last September 2018, when the site became available. Kasper also works in wood sculpture and tempura. And the partners also reproduce their lovely imagery on art scarves and tote bags they carry in the gallery.

Iconic imagery is probably Kasper's primary inspiration for paintings and sculpture.

"Something will catch my eye, something I'll turn around in my brain for a while, and what I paint is basically what I saw. Or sometimes I'll just be looking at a blank canvas and start painting. Depending on the subject, I go with what the subject suggests."

Working in both oil pastels and oils, and occasionally watercolors, Kasper initially blocks in the color with oil pastels for structure and balance and then "washes" the pastels with mineral spirits, highlighting weight and tonalities, followed then by thickly applied layers (three to five layers) of oils.

Kasper's low-key approach to art, life and running an art business reminds me of that quote by Robert Henri: "The end will be what it will be. The object is intense living, fulfillment; the great happiness in creation." ("The Art Spirit" 1923)

What a great way to be in Taos.

Paseo Norte Gallery is located at 218 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in Taos.

For more about Lore Kasper's work, see llkasperart.com. And do drop by the Sweethearts Reception for Valentine's Day, Feb. 9, from 4:30-7 p.m., or call (802) 356-3769.

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