Unquestionably, Taos has been a center for artists and art lovers for over a century.

From the arrival of the first members of the Taos Society of Artists 120 years ago, to the seminal movements of modernism, abstract expressionism, and minimalism which flourished here, this little mountain town has been far from soporific in exhibiting its riches behind every museum and every gallery door.

Events such as as those sponsored by the Paseo Project, or the Harwood Museum of Art's "Orale! Kings and Queens of Cool," have driven even more life into the town's 7,000-foot high atmosphere, rocking lowbrow and pop-surrealist artists, as well as techno, installation, performance and projection forms.

And with a burgeoning, reinvented springtime schedule of festivals, craft fairs, gallery walks, and literary and musical events, a new national juried exhibition will be opening on Saturday (April 21). The "Taos Art Insurgency: The New Protagonists" will introduce the next wave of artists that will keep Taos in the lead as one of the world's premier art destinations.

Opening receptions are planned at three participating galleries along Kit Carson Road. They are Greg Moon Art at 109 Kit Carson Road, Wilder Nightingale Fine Art at 119 Kit Carson Road, and David Anthony Fine Art at 132 Kit Carson Road. Receptions at each venue are planned Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. Admission to all is free and light refreshments will be served in each location.

"The word, 'Insurgency,' itself implies an uprising, a revolt, a pushing against the norm," Greg Moon said. "But it's not necessarily confrontational. We view the creation of art as an insurgent act, which should be embraced in the sense of creating beauty against the backdrop of our divisive times."

David Mapes, of David Anthony Fine Art, agreed. "I think the message of this exhibition is opening our ears to the voices across the board, the strata of which encompasses things beyond traditional Southwestern art, to the abstract, the color-fueled, the contemporary."

All three gentlemen, including Wilder Nightingale's Rob Nightingale, juried the submissions without regard to artist information or statements.

Nightingale said, "It was a blind process. Our jurying was purely image-driven, and what we, as gallery owners, felt had relevance not only to Taos but to the art world in general."

Entries were accepted in painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, mixed media, fiber arts, digital printed media, and assemblage, with giclees being restricted to the photography and digital media categories. All USA-based artists over the age of 18 were encouraged to enter, which resulted in almost 600 pieces from 28 states being submitted for consideration. Sixty-nine ultimately were selected and are being showcased across the three venues.

The overwhelming response to its call for entries is a tribute to Taos as a mecca for those serious about their art, Moon noted. "Taos has an international reputation as an art colony, one that exceeds Santa Fe and even more urban destinations, such as New York or Chicago. Wherever you go in the world, when someone hears you're from Taos, there's an immediate recognition," he said, adding that during his first visit to a gallery in Amsterdam, he found himself face-to-face with works by Larry Bell and Agnes Martin.

But the gentlemen are not approaching this exhibition as simply gallery owners. "We are all also artists, after all, and see Taos beyond the esoteric and into the marketable. We want to share the joy of art," Nightingale said.

That is the struggle of artists, in general. Art is meant to bring joy to one's life, a smile to one's face, and a light to one's eye. "Do we want to sell? Of course. But what's truly important here is spreading happiness. Don't treat a gallery like a museum; see it as a great opportunity to find something that lifts your world," Mapes said.

And Moon noted, "This is an opportunity for edgy new artists to use the cache of Taos for breaking into the mainstream, and we are quite moved by it. There's no restriction on the age, sex, or ethnicity of someone who can create the excitement of a revolution in how we perceive art."

Mapes concurred. "This will be an event other galleries will center their own shows around and will make for an extremely energetic spring for Taos and its artists. We expect the 'Art Insurgency' to be the cornerstone of Taos Spring Arts going forward in years to come."

"Taos Art Insurgency: The New Protagonists" is waiting this weekend for you to have your own revolutionary moment. Come out with your freak flag and enjoy. The shows will remain on view through May 12.

Greg Moon Art is located at 109 Kit Carson Road, any may be reached at (575) 770-4463. Wilder Nightingale is located at 119 Kit Carson Road, and may be reached at (575) 758-3255. David Anthony Fine Art is located at 132 Kit Carson Road, and may be reached at (575) 751-0075.

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