Fine art

Arte de Descartes announces awards

Annual show of works made from recycled materials continues through Sept. 9.


Organizers of the 17th annual Arte de Descartes exhibition have announced award winners.

Selected for first place was, “Heads of State,” a sculpture by Mark Asmus. Second place winner is Leighanna Light for her piece titled “What Are You Hiding?” And, Third Place went to Scott Randall for his piece titled “Security, My Deer.”

Honorable Mention Awards were given to Terrie Miller for "Old School,” Nancy Lay for "A Little Piece of My Heart,” and Debra Villalobos for "Requiem for Spring Song.”

This year’s People’s Choice Award went to Robin Stanaway for "Cosmic O in Cobalt Blue.”

“We thank all the artists for their unique creations and everybody who helped make this show possible,” a statement from exhibit co-founder Melissa Larson reads. “We thank the band ‘boom BOOM’ for the vibes they provided for the (Aug. 26) opening reception and all who helped prepare and provide food, including Cid's Food Market. We are grateful to be able to do this annual show, and of course thanks to everybody who came to see the show.”

The show features artwork created by reusing, recycling and repurposing 90 percent discarded or found objects. Organizing the show is a months-long process orchestrated by Larson from her Wholly Rags textile recycling business in Taos.

Although created from materials that might, at one time, have been called trash, walking through the show one is struck by how opposite can be that impression. Works range from the cute and delightful like Stuart Wittwer’s “Lizard,” made from a furnace baffle, measuring spoons and a screen door spring; to the politically provocative like the aforementioned award winner by Mark Asmus and “Borneo Schoolgirls” by invited artist Erin Currier. There were also several that tapped the mysterious and slightly disquieting, as in Leighanna Light’s “Head in Hand.”

There is a remarkable degree of imagination and quirky sense of humor that goes into each of these works, of which interestingly there are very few uninteresting pieces. The materials used to make each one are apparently enjoying a new life, grabbed from the trash pile to become something desired, something an art lover would love to have in their homes. In that way, the show does a great service, by illustrating in a very tangible way the importance and vitality of recycling.

During conversations with Larson about the errors in the story Tempo published on Aug. 31 — for which we deeply apologize — she mentioned how this might be her last show. We hope it isn’t. This annual show is one to which locals look forward, not just because it’s fun and helps promote reuse and recycling, but because of what it expresses about the boundless imagination of Taos artists.

Incidentally, the full error-free version of the original story is online at

Arte de Descartes continues through Saturday (Sept. 9) at the Stables Gallery of the Taos Center for the Arts, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Admission is free. Works are for sale. The show is open daily during normal business hours. For more information, call (575) 758-2052 or 751-9862.