Fine art

'Taos Moderns' featured at Stables Gallery

Show highlights need for Taos Center for the Arts venue to be renovated

By Dena Miller
Posted 10/19/18

Taos is a patchwork of diverse cultures and heritages, beliefs and traditions, and the thread that in part keeps together, our fabric as a community, is the preservation of its …

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Fine art

'Taos Moderns' featured at Stables Gallery

Show highlights need for Taos Center for the Arts venue to be renovated


Taos is a patchwork of diverse cultures and heritages, beliefs and traditions, and the thread that in part keeps together, our fabric as a community, is the preservation of its history.

From our network of fine museums, historical societies and landmark buildings, to ghost walks and our famous, or infamous, hauntings, we have daily reminders of the richness of our stories.

The Stables Gallery, itself a grand piece of local history, nevertheless often falls under the radar if one is scouting the places in which Taos, as an art colony, flourished. This weekend that's about to change when the "Taos Moderns Return to the Stables Gallery."

An opening reception for the show is planned Friday (Oct. 19), 5-8 p.m., at the Stables Gallery, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Admission is free.

The exhibition is part of a major special event sponsored by 203 Fine Art Friday through Sunday (Oct. 19-21). It will feature works by artists Thomas Benrimo, Emil Bisttram, Louis Catusco, Edward Corbett, Lawrence Calcagno, Keith Crown, Andrew Dasburg, John De Puy, Adeine de La Nöe, Ted Egri, R. C. Ellis, Louise Ganthiers, Barbara Harmon, Cliff Harmon, Bea Mandelman, Lee Mullican, Robert Ray, Louis Ribak, Wesley Rusnell, Oli Sihvonen, Clay Spohn, Earl Stroh and Michio Takayama.The Stables Gallery is managed by the Taos Center for the Arts. What is really exciting is that a portion of all sales during the weekend will be dedicated to the renovation of this remarkable property.

"The purpose of the show is twofold," said Eric Andrews, co-owner with partner Shaun Richel of 203 Fine Art. "One, we want to highlight the historical significance of the gallery and its artistic legacy, and, two, we want to raise revenues and create a movement dedicated to keeping the space alive for future use in presenting the visual arts."

Plans under consideration for the facility's restoration include renovating floors, replastering the walls of the exhibit area and upgrading the lighting. "We would also like to tackle the exterior and hopefully re-stucco."

The Stables Gallery is part of the original Arthur Manby compound, next door to The Taos Inn. Manby was a notorious English rogue who moved to Taos at the turn of the 20th century, and the 19-room adobe hacienda he built, replete with courtyards, gardens and a stable, was thought to be the finest in the area.

Initially admired upon his move here and ultimately reviled for his corrupt schemes, Manby made and lost a fortune. When a mangled, beheaded body was found in his home July 3, 1929, no one could be sure if karma had finally brought Manby down, or if he staged his own death to escape harm.

With no Manby heirs, the property fell to a Dr. Victor Thorne, who held a note upon it. Thorne's housekeeper, Helen Williams, valiantly tried to return the property to its original splendor by working with master WPA furniture maker, Max Luna, and ultimately inherited the property when Thorne died.

Spurred by the enthusiasm of Emil Bisttram, a coalition of local Taos artists purchased the property from Williams in 1952 with the purpose of creating the first dedicated art center in town. The Taos Artists' Association, as it was then known, included Ted Egri, Barbara and Cliff Harmon and many others who were part of the abstract expressionist movement.

"There was nowhere for these artists to show their work," explained Andrews. By forming their own association, whose members were voted in, their activism formed the first real space showcasing a movement that had taken the country by storm but left Taos still torn by the romanticism of realistic landscapes and figurative works that were the calling cards of the Taos Society of Artists.

The Taos Moderns, as they came to be known, rose in prominence during the early to mid-20th century, their burgeoning success signaling a shift from nonfigurative work to the abstract. It was, in fact, a complete redefinition of the light, colors and landscapes of New Mexico, reflecting such influences as Josef Alber's "Interaction of Color" treatise and the harmonious design and function aesthetics of Bauhaus.

Much like its beat movement counterpart in literature and music, abstract expressionism initially confounded and defied description. It grew up in a cultural climate that had weathered the Great Depression only to be catapulted into a global conflict, and now in its young adulthood, represented a radical attempt at interpreting and understanding the new order. The avant-garde movement resonated profoundly across the country's art scene from New York to California, and settled into the walls of Stables Gallery.

Therefore, this weekend's exhibition is both a homecoming for the artists, whose works haven't hung in this property for decades, and a time capsule for visitors, who may be unfamiliar with this chapter of Taos art and the role Stables played in perpetuating it.

"Visitors will get to experience Stables as it was in its heyday," said Andrews.

"On Saturday at 2 p,m,. we will also be hosting an artists' discussion on the history of the Stables Gallery and the Taos Modern movement," he continued, noting that artist Barbara Harmon and author David Witt will be among the roundtable speakers. "It's vital the community understand the historical perspective of Stables and how important it is to have the Taos Moderns return under their original roof."

The show can be seen Friday (Oct. 19 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., Saturday (Oct. 20) from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Sunday (Oct. 21) from noon until 5 p.m. Admission for all is free.

For those who are unable to attend the pop-up, donations for the renovation may still be made. "Send a check to TCA with the memo 'Stables Gallery,' and those monies will be dedicated to our efforts," Andrews said. Those checks can be mailed to the Taos Center for the Arts, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM. 87571.

For further information, call (575) 758-2052, or visit Or, you may call 203 Fine Art at (575) 751-1262 and speak with Andrews or Richel, who will guide you through this weekend's main event.


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