Pat Woodall has brought Taos’ famous Rock House back to life. Originally a 1917 McCarthy homestead, the house on the main road sat empty for several decades.
As if being a one-man stable of multi-genre art, as well as a renowned framing business of Taos for over 30 years weren’t enough, Pat Woodall Fine Art and Carmen Woodall’s Southwest Framers have brought Taos’ famous Rock House back to life. And the ghosts of hundreds of Christmases past are clearly delighted, as are the Woodalls.
“We took 45 truckloads of debris from the yard,” Pat said of the circa 1917 McCarthy homestead. It sat empty for several decades until the Woodalls moved in September 2018. Until then, locals and visitors were only treated with occasional peeks inside the gorgeous four-bedroom home during estate sales and charity benefits.
“The way this house was built is magnificent,” Pat says, pointing up all the dark wood wainscoting, huge stone hearth fireplace, cozy wood stoves throughout; noting too, it boasts the first indoor toilet in Taos and houses a large basement.
“One woman visiting it broke into tears,” Pat recalled, “because her mother had the same wallpaper” as seen on an original wall in his studio.
Situated across the street from The Historic Taos Inn, the Woodalls display Pat’s amazing range of artwork in every room of the Rock House, matching his desire for buyers to experience his work in a home setting, rather than a relatively sterile gallery.
Pat’s studio takes advantage of the Rock House’s prized north-light bank of windows, almost a de rigueur building component back when visual and literary artists were increasingly arriving, originally through the Taos Society of Artists, officially adding a 20th century art colony to the historic Taos Pueblo village and Hispanic surrounds,.
Pat Woodall’s art is so wide-ranging it almost defies characterization, something he and most fine artists prize – not to be pigeon-holed as one thing or another. That’s why he works in five different mediums – oil, acrylic, monotype, pastel and watercolor, using everything from palette knives to brushes to dead credit cards – “because it’s fun!”
His child’s play trusts his inspiration and uses whatever speaks to him in the moment. He loves his “Masterprint” – the result of four or five prior images of different subjects on a monoprint plate “that creates a rich field of different effects, ‘subliminal images,’ is what I call them. You take a chance and tie it all together with an iconic image. I have no desire to make more than one. That’s why I work in all those mediums.”
Whether it’s a Kachina Peak oil that you fairly dance down on inner skis, black-and-white monotypes with embedded found organic matter, to watercolor, oils, ink, graphite, pastels and full-color monotypes, there is exuberance and excitement.
“Water is the life of a monotype. Sounds determine how wet or dry a piece is,” he said, demonstrating how a scraping sound means a piece is too dry, compared to a moister, sludgey sound. “There’s so much abstraction to this medium you could work in black and white the rest of your life.”
When the sound is rich and full, then you put it on the press, he says, “then you can add to it – like when I used the plants, are they flowers? Or tree trunks? I used chamisa and Christmas cactus on the (Plexiglas) plate. But you never know what you’re going to get.”
To keep things exciting, he never draws anything. He lets the piece suggest itself as he goes along. “It’s all about getting the paint on the canvas and moving the paint around.”
“There’s lots of subject matter in Taos,” he said. “It’s such an inspiring place. You don’t need to copy what you see. It’s all just shapes and values that juxtapose and show one another. “
Since he started doing monotypes in 1998, he was gratified by yet more pure artistic experimentation. He has worked with many Taos printmakers, including Michael Vigil, Jennifer Lynch and Gary Cook, among others, and is gratified to have large pieces kept wet and the press clean during various manipulations.
“It’s great working with master printers in the print room. You set yourself up for the best possible result and then nod to the gods,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to get. And that’s why I love it so. It’s mysterious and somewhere between light, medium and dark. It fills up your days, and you can’t wait to get up in the morning.”
Pat Woodall Fine Art Gallery and Southwest Framers are located at 122 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Visit patwoodall.com or contact the gallery at (575) 758-3445 or the frame shop at (575) 758-3320.
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