Taos has long enjoyed a reputation for attracting visionaries who, through their work, have evinced profound and positive regional impacts. That's a given.
What is also equally true is the depth of political responsibility that resides here: a recognition of being merely one speck in the larger global community but intrinsically connected to all.
It's no surprise, then, to hear that Taos is settling in as the home base of a global philanthropic crusade whose mission - "protecting the world's endangered species through the beauty of art" - forges together the best of who we are.
The endeavor, "Endangered," is a collaboration between Untitled Fine Art, Untitled Editions and a powerhouse including worldwide wildlife conservation charities, prestigious fine art galleries, internationally renowned musicians and top-notch videographers joining in a call to action for the preservation of biodiverse ecosystems and habitats. It is an extraordinary amalgam of talent, artistry and, mostly, passion for giving.
"Climate change is destroying our planet and the biodiversity essential to life. If we restore the climate but lose biodiversity, we've failed. 'Endangered' is an inspirational campaign focused on harnessing the power of fine art to help protect and support the world's endangered species," noted artists Kimberly Webber and K. C. Tebbutt of Untitled.
Tom Eddington, co-owner of Untitled Editions and widely hailed for decades of philanthropic work, joins the two in spearheading the drive. And its scope is extraordinary.
"In 'Endangered,' we're putting together an entire campaign-within-a-campaign for each animal identified as endangered," Eddington explained. "An original fine art painting of that animal will be pledged to a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of that animal.
"Then we're backing the official release of the painting with an accompanying original song and video for worldwide distribution."
Principal musical artists from across the African continent are on board for not only creating a dedicated song but also for the song, "Endangered," which will feature over 50 musicians including high-profile notables from the United States. "We're currently in negotiations and are looking forward to making an announcement," said Eddington.
In the upcoming week, sound and video production is set to begin in Namibia, where Webber's painting "The Edge" - featuring an achingly beautiful and majestic cheetah - is dedicated to the Cheetah Conservation Fund, a renowned worldwide research facility that reaches thousands of farmers, tens of thousands of students and hundreds of thousands of online supporters.
Ultimately, "the total of paintings will comprise an exhibition that will travel to partner galleries around the world," said Eddington, with dedicated edition museum-quality archival prints of each available for sale. Seventy percent of sale proceeds will support the charities, with an anticipated projection of $1.5 million per organization.
"'Endangered' will enjoy an initial audience of approximately 175 million viewers around the world," he continued, the result of his contacts within a vast conglomerate of nonprofits and such media outlets as Mongabay (the world's largest environmental science news platform with over 500 reporters on the ground) and PBS.
"The intentions for this program are set with the knowledge that its ongoing growth - and it's growing every day - won't reside with just one artist or a related group of artists; it's a whole global community coming together," explained Eddington. But the germ of this idea springs from Kimberly and K. C., and "we intend it to remain a Taos-based campaign with a local presence that will attract talent and jobs as an added benefit," Eddington remarked.
For more than 20 years Webber has painted images of animals and archetypal figures and donated a percentage of her proceeds to a wide variety of charities protecting animals, forests and wild habitats.
At the same time, Eddington - long known as a "titan of global mergers" - was advising business leaders in 35 countries until personal tragedy and a prolonged illness sidelined his career. He emerged from this period of darkness with a new business paradigm: conscious leadership. Likening corporations to natural ecosystems, Eddington began consulting clients in an adaptation of "work-life balance" where intention and spirit are its holistic markers.
Two years ago in Santa Fe Webber and Eddington met by chance. Neither foresaw the business partnership that would spring from the serendipity of their meeting.
Eddington said of Webber, "Her paintings are exquisite and I felt they deserved to be seen on a world stage." He was instrumental in having "Ocean's Call," Webber's 15-by-6-foot painting, loaned to the San Francisco Aquarium, where it remains today.
As Eddington called Webber with the news, the artist recalled she was struggling with a painting unlike anything else she had ever conceived, and confided its archetypal depiction of Mother Mary as the divine feminist spirit "probably should go to the Vatican." Between her intention and Eddington's intervention, she traveled to Rome last year and personally presented "Pia Mater" to Pope Francis.
These unexpected turns of events were enough to convince them to join forces in their mutual commitment to preserving the environment.
Webber and Tebbutt have partnered since the early 1990s, each classically trained in fine art and proficient in thousand-year-old Eastern techniques. "The overarching thesis of our work, and thus the gallery, is the embrace of light; the mandala; sacred geometry; and, for me, the archetypes," Webber explained.
Gold leaf, pure earth pigments, archival inks and "an alchemic blend of pitches, waxes and oils" in sheer, deep layers create contemporary yet timeless works of organic abstraction. Their practice, Tebbutt noted, recalls that of the early Transcendent movement in Taos, when artists such as Emil Bisttram depicted spirituality in abstract form that was strongly influenced by the ethereal light for which the region is famous.
Webber and Tebbutt are the new generation of painters working with that light, as are the other artists represented in their gallery: Antonio Arellanes, Randy LaGro and Peggy Griffey.
As Taos prepares for the regional release of 'Endangered,' it's worth your while to visit both venues. Untitled Fine Art is located at 133 Kit Carson Road and gallery director Tebbutt will be happy to personally share with you their many nuanced works.
Untitled Editions has recently settled into its new home at 115 Bent Street. Many of the "Endangered" prints are available, as are others from the collections of Webber and Tebbutt. It's a wonderful place to browse and learn more about the upcoming campaign.
For more information, call (575) 758-3969 or visit untitledfineartgallery.com.