Two shows opening in Taos this week - "Borders and Bounty" and "What Is Love?" - both take on global and political themes from an emotional point of view.
"Borders and Bounty; A Retrospective of Drawing" by artist Andrea Vargas and a group show at Studio 107-b both explore matters of the heart - one individually, the other through a collective lens of diversity.
The University of New Mexico-Taos Atrium Gallery is proving to be one of the premier exhibition spaces available to artists working in New Mexico.
Nikesha Breeze's breathtaking show, "Ritual and Remembrance," which opened in January and was featured as a cover story in Tempo, was a hard act to follow, but "Borders and Bounty; A Retrospective of Drawing" by artist Andrea Vargas, manages the virtually impossible, with its powerful political themes and painterly gestures.
This solo exhibition features drawings spanning the last 13 years of Vargas' career as an artist. In this show of over 20 pieces, the press release for the exhibit notes "there is no shortage of dramatic compositions, provoking content or gestural vignettes of the beautiful"
"Borders and Bounty" includes many of Vargas' signature pieces and life-size drawings, as well as drawings she has never shown publicly. This body of work is in fact, Vargas' response to "violence, suffering, environmental degradation and migrant children in U.S. detention camps."
The graphic content of Vargas' drawings depict recent tragedies of gun violence, nuclear catastrophes and other crimes against humanity, but they are equally filled with the artist's capacity for hope, optimism and compassion.
Vargas was born and raised on the California coast, where the urban environments she grew up in were rich with community murals and creative diversity, all of which has influenced and informed her work.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley, she began to travel between desert landscapes and coastal cities - the nexus for "Borders and Bounty."
As she traverses new territory, exploring unfamiliar landscapes and communities, Vargas continues to produce artwork and installations that focus on ecological relationships, shifting light and all aspects of transformation.
Second: Tomorrow, on Valentine's Day, "What Is Love?" opens tomorrow, on Valentine's Day, at Studio 107-b, from 4-7 p.m.
"What Is Love?" is the title of the first group show of 2020, at Studio 107-b, focusing on the definition of love according to each artist's point of view.
"Bring your sweetheart, come find a sweetheart or just enjoy the delicious sweets and spectacular entertainment by Terri Ellis, Sambhu, Reuben Medina and Joel Huston - all Taos musicians," said Maye Torres, the curator of the gallery collective, when she told us about the event.
Artists who will participate in this show include Larry Bell, Ron Cooper, Dan Enger, Lázaro Cardenas, Norlynne Coar, Margaret Nes, Juanita Jaramillo-Lavadie, Isaiah Trujillo, John Suazo, Aaron Freeland, Sarah Parker, Victor Goler and of course, the immensely talented Torres herself.
"The beauty and magic of the group shows we have here is that the work comes together like pieces of a puzzle that were meant to be," Torres said, "The art organizes itself with a deep meaningful message that is truly moving."
As for the title of the show, it's a question. "What Is Love?"
"At this time of war, accepted hate, chaos, economic and political upheaval and human struggles, one asks, 'How can we bring more love to the world?'" Torres explained.
Andrea Vargas' 'Borders and Bounty' retrospective
Thursday (Feb. 13) from 5-7 p.m.
Atrium Gallery at UNM-Taos Klauer Campus is located at County Road 110, Ranchos de Taos
'What is Love?'
Friday (Feb. 14) from 4-7 p.m.
Studio 107-b, 107B North Plaza
Call (575) 779-7832