Artists 'get their twigs in order'

Magpie kicks off the season with group show 'Nest'

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Since Georgia Gersh opened Magpie, her gallery at the Sheepskin Compound, in April 2014, it has quickly become an important landmark and a haven for the Taos arts community.

Gersh's years of expertise have found perfect expression here. As the daughter of artists Bill Gersh and Annie Degan, she was accompanying her father to art openings from the time she could walk. As a young woman on her own in Boston, she developed her innate business sense by managing a fine dining restaurant while teaching arts and theater and raising two children.

She returned to Taos eight years ago, and opened the Magpie gallery in El Prado soon afterward. Her affordable art and personally curated shows have become a fixture on the Taos art circuit. We asked Gersh for a preview of the 2020 shows.

"The first two shows are going to be big group shows. I'm going to have 40 or 50 artists. Jim Wagner, Greg Moon, Izumi Yokoyama, Maye Torres, Margaret Nes, Reina. They're all important, some really well-established Taos artists and people who've been working here for 50 years, and some underrepresented artists who are just starting to get some recognition," Gersh said. "And really, I was kind of inspired to do this because Maye Torres has been talking about 'Renaissance 2020.' A creative renaissance for all of Taos."

Gersh told us the idea of a group show was a new one for her. "I haven't done a big group show with a theme, and I decided it would be fun to invite a lot of artists that are not ones that I normally represent. And having a theme kind of helped me figure it out. One that they might interpret literally or not. So the theme is 'nest' because it's spring, we're ready to build things, create a nest. The theme is somewhat obvious as Magpie's tagline is 'wonderful things for your nest.'

"I am asking my artists to interpret and let this word and all that evokes to inspire them, in many cases to work outside of their familiar subject matter, genre or even try a different medium. What I find most interesting about this process is giving artists an opportunity to kind of work outside of their familiar context. I'm not accepting any functional art in this show, but the functional artists are welcome to step outside their comfort zone and submit something else. A nice way to take things a little less seriously."

The next show, also a group show, will be in May. Explained Gersh: "It will be called 'Bloom.' It'll be most of the same artists with some additions. Probably even bigger. Kirk Buchanan, Nicki Marx, Bradley Sleep, Gail Russell. At any rate it'll be interesting!

"Initially I was going to do three big group shows, one a month, in March, April, May. And then I thought, 'I can't do that! ' So I decided to extend this first show through April 20. It gets a longer run, and I give myself time to hang the next big show. Two big group shows, and then shift gears back into doing one show a month through October, mostly two-person shows. At least two of the in-between shows will be husband and wife: Theresa Gray and Peter Halter, and Nina Anthony and Randall LaGro. This wave of filling the room, and then giving some nice space."

Gersh herself will be contributing to the show. "I think I am going to work on a papier-mâché piece for 'Nest.' There's a sentiment of 'I don't know what I'm going to do but I'm going to do something.' Less pressure -- actually no pressure. All of the artists I represent love making art. It's fun. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece.

"In here, I'm going into my seventh year, and I'm mostly at a place where I have about 80 artists that I represent all the time and that's including jewelry, pottery, glass, I consider them all artists. And that's enough! Because I want to be able to have them bring in new work when things sell, rather than take on new artists. I want to continually promote their work and their evolution. I think I started with 12-18 artists and they were all family and friends, and I had a third of the space. We've grown and expanded organically. The group shows allow me to take a piece from an artist and not have to carry them. Everything in here, either on the walls or the shelves, I have hand-selected. So it's kind of a gamble that people will share my taste."

About 'Nest,' she said, "I think it's been a long hard winter -- nationally, globally -- and I think I'm ready for spring. I'm ready for color, I'm ready for crocuses, just to zap that reset button."

FYI

Opening reception 'Nest - A Group Show'

Saturday (March 7), 5-7 p.m.

Magpie Taos

1405 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, El Prado

Call (781) 248-0166

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