Charles Collins moved to Taos in 1976 as a working painter and potter and has worked here for the past 41 years.
To celebrate the achievements of his long tenure, he is hosting an opening reception at his eponymous gallery at 115 East Taos Plaza Friday and Saturday (Aug. 3-4) from 4-7 p.m. "I'll be serving refreshments and a smile for everybody," said Collins with his trademark good nature.
Back on Aug. 6, 1999, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson declared "Charles Collins Day in New Mexico, ad infinitum." So on Monday (Aug. 6) this year, Collins also plans a celebration at his gallery. To view more of his art, visit charlescollinsgallery.com.
"What has changed about Taos is that a lot more people have moved in. But the core of the town and the spiritual nature of the community is the church and the (Taos) Pueblo. They have held the place together in a good way," Collins said.
Collins acknowledges the beauty of the natural surroundings in Taos but also points out that inspiration has to come from within. He taps into this inspiration with meditation, reading and listening to music.
Collins started doing mastermind sculptures in 1996 along with a series of mastermind paintings inspired by the teachings of Jesus Christ, most notably: "Where two or three gather in my name" (Matthew18:20).
"The mastermind series expresses that when we come together as individuals, we create something much stronger than ourselves singularly," Collins said.
In a statement, Collins explained that he has previously done mastermind sculptures of Washington, Lincoln, Jesus Christ, Shakespeare, Beethoven, da Vinci and President Obama.
His latest sculpture is of Albert Einstein, the "mastermind" of physics. Collins shaped Einstein's face with the figures of Madame Curie, who is in front of Galileo Galilei (who holds a sextant for his work with mapping the stars and the universe). Also represented is Sir Isaac Newton for his work with the law of gravity and the creation of the refracting telescope. Together they comprise the mastermind of physics.
"I've been working with the lost-wax process for years. Most of my materials come from supply warehouses. I'm doing the sculptures the same way as the Romans and Greeks did. I make a mold of the wax and I make a silicone form around the wax. Then I burn it out of the cavity and what is left is the original form," Collins explained.
Collins works on his paintings and sculptures at his home studio and in his gallery.
"I have a certain classical and spiritual vision. When visitors come into the gallery everybody says, 'You're doing something so unique and different.' Their jaws drop open. It's so rewarding," said Collins.
Indeed, Collins' art career has been richly recognized and highly awarded. His biographical sketch states that he has worked with famous artists R.C. Gorman and Amado Peña Jr. as a collaborator on etched glass drawings that have been collected by people all over the world.
His bio also notes that he has won the most "Best of Show" awards, more than any other artist in the history of the Taos Fall Arts Festival. In the year 2000, the festival selected one of his works for its millennium poster art.
Collins has a formidable list of world-famous collectors, including Neil Young, Joan Baez, Pierce Brosnan, K.D. Lang, Dwight Yoakam, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Paul Horn, Arlo Guthrie and Michael Martin Murphey, to name a few. He's created art for Guthrie and Murphey album covers.
His artwork is also in the collections of the Museum of New Mexico, Millicent Rogers Museum, Harwood Museum of Art and the Guthrie Center.
With his gallery situated right in the heart of the Historic Taos Plaza, Collins has a front-row seat to The PASEO street art festival that pops up each year.
"I enjoy seeing all the different expressions of art in Taos. I think it's great if it can touch a person's heart," he said.
Originally from Wyoming, Collins moved to Taos to pursue his life as a working artist. His mother (a painter and potter herself) passed away a few years ago. "She told me: 'At least I can say I brought more beauty into the world than when I got here.' Consciously, that's what I try to do every day, when I work on a painting, when I work on a sculpture -- it's to bring more beauty," said Collins.
Collins also shares his gallery with Abrial Mondragon, Laurie Hill Phelps, Gene Van Natta, Timothy Bunn and Arlo Guthrie.
For more information, call (575) 758-2309.