Natural connections

Four women explore their creative energies in 'Forces of Nature'


Four women artists all feel a strong connection to nature and to each other. They've come together to spread their wings and try out some new ideas. Each artist is experimenting, taking new journeys and exploring new ways of working.

These artists, Beverly Branch, Shera Maher, Noel Anderson and Kimberly Henkel, are featured in a new exhibition titled "Forces of Nature" that opens with a reception Saturday (July 14) from 5-9 p.m. at the Stables Gallery of the Taos Center for the Arts, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Music and refreshments will be included.

Each artist has exhibited in various Taos galleries for some time. All have expressed their desire to showcase their work in a new light. They'll each take turns gallery sitting at the Stables to speak with visitors about their work during the exhibition's run.

Branch has been the artist-in-residence at Jackie's Trading Post, where she regularly paints portraits and commissions. Branch said Stables gave her more space for her work as opposed to exhibiting at the gallery on Taos Plaza. "Part of it is that it is hard to find space to hang work in an environment that has a lot going on," she said. "I want the work to stand out and have space around it. I can't fill the walls of the Stables on my own."

So, she invited three artists she admires to join her at the Stables showing. As Branch put it, "We're all friends, I love these artists. They are vital to the arts community of Taos."

Branch is showing oil paintings which feature contemporary Native Americans through her own perception. Her preferred subjects of women flicker with light and celebrate a connection to the earth. Branch said she strongly believes "the pendulum is swinging back to a more traditional type of art being appreciated once again."

Maher has been exploring new directions in her oil paintings through a loosely abstract manner. She is showcasing paintings of animals and pure abstractions of nature with an energetic brushwork.

Her latest paintings were created using a vibrant color palette. About the ongoing shift in her style, she said, "Personal changes have put me into a place where I'm working more from my heart." She explains the new work as abstract impressions of the natural world.

Anderson is best known for her charming architectural assemblages that are painstakingly carved, stained and painted. Anderson works nonstop. Her home is her studio and her studio is home.

Her portion of the Stables Gallery space will be an installation of standing and hanging sculptures. Her works are "not necessarily in the vein of my normal aesthetic," she said. "This is a very new way for me to exhibit, with materials, format, style and scale, more environmental and interactive. A very different execution." To see examples of her "normal" artworks, visit Magpie at the Overland Ranch complex in El Prado.

Henkel is exhibiting jewelry and small cast sculptures (she too regularly exhibits at Magpie). Henkel's day job is as education outreach director for the Bureau of Land Management. She works in nature on a regular basis and finds inspiration while at work.

Through the casting of actual small animals, Henkel creates a type of contemporary fossil out of bronze. She also teaches metalwork at University of New Mexico-Taos, where her philosophy is to "offer guidance, to encourage expressive and realistic creative thinking."

In her jewelry work, she includes local stones of staurolites, garnets, lepidolite, petrified dinosaur bone and turquoise. Henkel's inlaid cuff bracelets speak of the earth and of the sky.

Maher sums up the exhibition in her statement. "Nature can inspire, stimulate healing, excite and mystify," she writes. "It is one of the most profound tools we have. The word "force" connotes a pushing, demanding or even violent action. Generally, there is a sense of benevolence in nature, yet we know somewhere on this planet volcanoes and the cracking and splitting of the earth can be happening, perhaps even right now. All four of the women artists in this show honor the land and the creatures bestowed upon us, and we hope you are reminded of the special and unique place New Mexico is."

"Forces of Nature" will be on view each day from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. through July 21. For more information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit


Opening reception

Saturday (July 14), 5-9 p.m.

Stables Gallery, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte

Free admission

(575) 758-2052