Membership has its rewards

For those of the Taos Center for the Arts, it means a special exhibit all their own

By Dena Miller
Posted 4/24/19

There's light. And then there's the much-lauded Taos light.An art exhibition titled "Taos Light" will shine brightly today (April 25) in the Encore Gallery at the Taos Community …

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Membership has its rewards

For those of the Taos Center for the Arts, it means a special exhibit all their own


There's light. And then there's the much-lauded Taos light.

An art exhibition titled "Taos Light" will shine brightly today (April 25) in the Encore Gallery at the Taos Community Auditorium. That's when the seventh-annual Members' Open Exhibition is unveiled by the Taos Center for the Arts. An opening reception from 4-6 p.m. will be your introduction to the art community's interpretation into the many facets of our relationship with light. Admission is free and open to all.

"The [Taos Center for the Arts] is really excited about the Members' Open show because it's a community exhibition, a genuine opportunity for artists right here in Taos to participate together, side by side, and celebrate their work in the Encore Gallery, a space we all value greatly," said the Center's Executive Director Colette LaBouff. "We were eager to see how the theme -- something that means different things to each of us who live here -- would be interpreted by the artists in this show."

Susan Nuss, the center's office manager, concurred. "What's fun about this particular exhibit is that we opened up the subject to our member artists that allowed both literal and figurative interpretations of light so we've received a broad and imaginative array of submissions. It's a wonderful show, both representational and abstract.

"This is the seventh exhibition as it stands now, although the [center] has had several Members' Open exhibitions since [the organization] began in 1954 as the Taos Artists Association," Nuss noted. "Most Members' Open shows back then were held in the Stables Gallery, but nowadays we hold it in the Encore Gallery, although there were years when it spanned both venues. But the exhibitions only recently involved specific themes. In 2017, we decided to require that the entries be 20-by-20 inches in size. Since it's a size that isn't as commonly used as others, we thought it would spark the artists' creativity by challenging them to work smaller, or larger, or simply with the square shape.

"Then, in 2018, we kept the 20-by-20-inch requirement and added a theme of 'Math and Music.' This year, our 20-by-20 collection is obviously themed, as well."

Elise Covlin is one of the artists represented in the show. She will be exhibiting an acrylic painting she chose to name "Clap On Clap Off," a television commercial slogan which most would recall with perhaps a roll of the eyes. Yet, to the contrary, her subject is neither flippant nor humorous.

"The woman in my painting represents all women who, through their lives, are caregivers, setting themselves aside for the benefit of others and living up to those obligations," Covlin said. "It's like turning yourself off until you can turn yourself back on."

A resident of Taos for 33 years, Covlin has worked in a wide variety of mediums including furniture, clay, oils, watercolors, acrylics and paper cuts. The artist, educated as a petroleum engineer, said she found her true home here. "Yes, the light here is magnificent, as it is throughout the clear skies of the Southwest, but so much light also shines from the different cultures and different languages," she remarked.

Howard Weliver is another Taos Center for the Arts member who is represented in the show. His first solo show, coincidentally titled "Let There Be Light," recently concluded at the Encore Gallery, and this entry is a departure from his signature "abstreet" style incorporating elements of LED lighting into his works.

"I was going to do a literal interpretation with my neon with a portrait of Dennis Hopper, but I was looking for something with a deeper implied 'light,' " Weliver said. For this show, "I was looking at light meaning more of a spiritual passage. Taos seems to have an amazing connection to the animals that share our spaces. They light and lift us up as we pass through life together," he explained of the painting named "Raven," which is from his new "Spirit Animal" series.

Weliver, a recent transplant to Taos from Texas, found the center immediately upon arrival and quickly recognized its value to the area's artists and the community at large. "I'm grateful to [Taos Center for the Arts] and the Encore Gallery for doing stuff that is different, and for keeping the spirit of Taos alive."

The Encore Gallery at the Taos Community Auditorium is located at 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For more information about "Taos Light" and the hours it is available for viewing through June 2, call (575) 758-2052 or visit


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