Three artists tap into friendships for ‘Otherworldly’ exhibit

Their longtime camaraderie is what has enabled them to grow as artists

By Tamra Testerman
Posted 8/8/19

Creative people coming together to share ideas and common concerns is not unusual.

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Three artists tap into friendships for ‘Otherworldly’ exhibit

Their longtime camaraderie is what has enabled them to grow as artists


Creative people coming together to share ideas and common concerns is not unusual. When friendships deepen and last for decades in a complicated art world, it is “Otherworldly” – an apropos title for the upcoming exhibit by Taos artists Gretchen Ewert, Kathleen Ferguson-Huntington and Paula Verona

The show will be on view starting Friday (Aug. 9) in the Encore Gallery of the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. A reception for the artists is planned Aug. 15 from 4 to 6 p.m. Libations and nibbles will be available and there is no charge to attend.

The three women have known each other since the 1990s. What they hope to offer is a fresh take on nature, and something new for the Taos art scene by showing the vision of their work, together.

How did they navigate the shoals of the complicated art scene in Taos and nurture friendships with each other all these years?

Speaking for the trio, Vernona said what brought them together as artists in the ‘90s was their mutual enjoyment of each other; “We came together because we enjoy each other’s aesthetic and gain from discussing the artistic process exploring the use of various materials and encouraging each other’s career aspirations. Why friendships click and survive is a mysterious and fortunate chemistry, but as artists we stayed with it with personal contact, which we feel makes all the difference.”

She said this “camaraderie has enabled us to grow as artists since artists require the support of other like-minded people. Even though our work is different, we feel comfortable in our personal relationships and respect for each other’s work has evolved. We visit each other’s studios. When you have been an artist for a long time as we have, there is often a digression from where you started. One travels into different mediums; the degree doesn’t give a fixed identity. You move into different areas which each of us has. We support each other in our continued evolution as artists.”

Beyond the work of being an artist, Verona said, “We love to sit together over food, having rich discussions in a frank setting with humor. Our friendship is about the easy rhythm of listening and talking. Living and working in Taos is complicated for artists,” Verona continued. “This environment encourages creativity and the community is supportive but we have all had to seek representation outside of Taos. We have each had far-flung lives with Taos as a base, but not the central inspiration for us. It is important to occupy the studio as a quiet place without other agenda/static so living in Taos has provided that.”

When asked what three things inspire the trio, Verona responded, “Nature, nature, nature. We are all inspired by nature and natural phenomenon. All of us have traveled throughout the world and have lived and worked in foreign countries. Our rich travel experiences have informed our work.”

Ewert has lived and worked in Vietnam and Africa; Ferguson-Huntington has lived for over a decade in Qatar, where she taught at a university there and traveled the Silk Road. Verona has traveled throughout Europe and Asia and has a special connection to India.”

Verona said the “Otherworldly” title for the show fit for the three women.

She elaborated, “Ewert is inspired by the night sky. Her work in the show comes from sitting on an Eames chair watching the sky from a 360 degree unobstructed view, moving from late afternoon to night time – not a video, more like snapshots of mental travel. For the pieces in the show, she used textiles in a digital format with superimposed elements drawn with technical pens.”

She added, “Ferguson-Huntington is inspired by biology and cell structure. Her work in the show is the series, ‘Matisse on Steroids’ in dense layers. Her work is intricacy, detail, color almost at a cellular level.”

A recent trip to Sicily to the top of Mount Etna, still an active volcano, inspired Verona. Her work “takes in large expanses of color, earth, horizon or just distilled land mass, depicting the dramatic, rugged, ‘otherworldly’ landscape of Mount Etna as menacing as it is beautiful.” She juxtaposes encaustic and cold wax mediums to set up a dynamic tension, the layer upon layer of wax resonates the volcanic landscape, the sheer force and beauty of nature’s power, she said.

“There is a propensity for visual art to be intellectualized,” Verona said. “However, visual art is a heartfelt endeavor. It is a direct visceral experience. The more we talk about it, the less we experience. The viewer brings his/her experience to the work they encounter which could be intellectual but is an emotional response. Time will select what lasts, has value.”

She continued, saying, “As visual artists, we always want to have a viewing public to enjoy our work. The Encore Gallery of the TCA offers a beautiful venue to showcase our work. We are grateful to have been selected for this exhibition in Taos, our hometown. We are all established visual artists with long creative histories. We have all shown nationally and internationally and have our work represented in museums, corporate and private collections throughout the world, and we have all received many awards and grants over the years.”

For more information, call the Taos Center for the Arts, which manages the auditorium and the Encore Gallery, at (575) 758-2052.


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