Magpie: Torchbearer for a generation

Georgia Gersh, owner and director of Magpie Gallery in the Overland Ranch Complex in El Prado, is wrapping up the season with an eclectic exhibit.

“It features seven artists who deserve wall space and attention. All of these artists have been living and creating in Taos for decades,” she said.

Although the show will be open Wednesday (Oct. 12), the gallery will host a reception for the artists on Saturday (Oct. 15) from 4-6 p.m. The show will include artists working in the mediums of watercolor, graphite, ink, pastel, acrylic and oil. Prices range from $28-1,600.

Gersh is considered a torchbearer for the 1970s art scene in Taos. You might be tempted to use the word “hippie” to describe that particular generation, but you’d be off.

Gersh said even her father, legendary “outlaw artist” Bill Gersh, disliked the moniker and would tell people he was more of a beatnik than anything else – a nod to an earlier generation still. It’s like Frank Zappa, who was “never a hippie, always a freak.” You might think the 1960s and 1970s slang “head” meant pot head or drug head, but in some circles it meant you were “mental.” You read books. You weren’t in it for the money.

Georgia Gersh chuckled and said she is not an intellectual by any definition, but understands the important distinction. “I don’t think of myself as intellectual at all, but I am surrounded by them. Maybe something will happen by osmosis,” she said, joking.

“I have this great collection of artists that I want to showcase before the season’s over. I’ve gone over their artist statements and looked at their works and I’m excited,” she said.

“Larry Audette has been living and working as a musician and painter in Taos for nearly 40 years. Although his visual art is less represented than his jazz bass playing, it is equally as accessible,” she said. “His misty landscapes, inspired by our own, as well as classical painters of the past, evoke both stillness and a longing for adventure. They are at once contemplative and evocative.“

“Annie Degen, who happens to be my mama,” Gersh added, “has lived a simple life in Lama for 45 years. She moved from the Bay Area as part of the hippie movement in 1969 and has been rooted since. Also a multi-talented artist and musician, playing accordion and piano, she has been playing in watercolor for many years. Her work is just that – playful. Degen’s colorful landscapes are inspired by her eastern mesa views of Tres Piedras, Ute and Pedernal, as well as trips to India’s Arunachula mountains. At 77 years old, she paints nearly every day and is able to largely support herself with her art,“ Gersh said.

Theresa Gray is Magpie’s newest artist and Gersh adds, “I am so thrilled to include her oil paintings in this group show.”

In her artist’s statement, Gray has written, “Something has shifted. Inspired by nature, my work has always focused on my surroundings: the simplicity and strength of dune grass, the vibrancy and allure of poppies, the power and mystery of a single feather. “

“Ivan Locke is honestly one of my favorite painters,” Gersh said. “His rich and skilled palette knife work, mostly in oil on metal, draws the viewer into his wide landscapes.”

In his artist’s statement Locke writes, “It is almost like a haiku poem, where size dictates the composition to a great extent, and creates an intimate space for contemplation. I began to use more and more impasto in the images, finding that the palette knife stroke and resulting texture add so much to a landscape. It is a bit like sculpture, where I can bring shapes out of the flat surface, the subtle tones of snow, the folds, and drips of an icefall, or the shapes of a rock face.”

“Anne MacNaughton, another long-time Taos local, works in watercolor, charcoal, graphite and photography as well as being an accomplished writer and poet. She integrates these disciplines beautifully. MacNaughton will be showing her beautiful watercolor landscapes and gesture drawings for this exhibit,” Gersh said.

“Margaret Nes is one of the gallery’s most established artists. Her masterful work in pastel is both subtle and exact, each blended curve an invitation to gaze and admire her landscapes, still lifes, portraits and architectural images. The palette ranges from the richest and most luminous orange and turquoise to the most delicate gray and sepia hues. Nes will be showing two acrylic paintings along with her pastels,” Gersh said.

“April Werner has shown at Magpie since the very beginning,” Gersh said. “She works in wide range of mediums, size and content, all rich in self expression and exploration.”

Werner has written in her artist’s statement, “Having lived in Taos half my life, I am grateful for the expansive, visual beauty of this place. Having been disabled for decades, my world has become small.  I paint my interior life, no mountains, no mesas.” 

This show will be on view through Nov. 28.

Magpie is located at 1405 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in the Overland Ranch Compound in El Prado. Call (781) 248-0166 or visit for more information.

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