Fine art

A shared love for the people

TCA presents ‘Tales From El Norte: Meredith Garcia and Tera Muskrat’ at the Taos Inn

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Fine art photographer Meredith Garcia and painter Tera Muskrat have collaborated on a norteño-themed show as part of the “TCA Exhibits” series at the Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

Both are considered emerging artists in Taos and they have been poster artists for the Taos Fall Arts Festival. Garcia was poster artist in 2015 and Muskrat in 2016. They share a love of the people and culture of Northern New Mexico.

“El Norte” will have an opening reception for the show June 9 from 4-6 p.m., although it is on view beginning Monday (June 5). The work will be on display through Sept. 11.

Garcia is a fine art photographer in Taos whose usual medium is black-and-white film photography. She produces silver-gelatin prints in her own darkroom. The majority of her work to be presented at the Taos Inn – color digital photographs — represents a departure from the ordinary for her.

The show was her idea and started with the seed of the fact that they are both what might be called “nontraditional” Taos Fall Arts poster artists and how they felt a kindred bond. “My poster image was an abstract black and white, and you know what Tera does,” Garcia said, referring to Muskrat’s bodacious subject matter of beautiful, full-figured women in powerful aspects. “I felt a bond with Tera over that because we’re both sort of ‘in your face’ and not doing what everyone else is doing.”

Garcia explained that after meeting Muskrat, she remembered she had a trove of colorful digital work. Muskrat’s work is intensely colorful, so the collaboration made sense. They put in a proposal for it and it was accepted. 

A former research scientist, Garcia took up photography in retirement, which began a life-changing adventure in photography in 2011 under the guidance of the late Judith Vejvoda. Her photographs are mainly abstractions of larger objects, taking them out of their usual context and seeing them in a new way. Garcia’s work has been exhibited in group and one-woman shows throughout New Mexico, at the New York Center for Photographic Arts in New York City and at the Fourth Biennial for Fine Art Photography and Photojournalism in Berlin.

She was a finalist in fine art photography in 2015 and won the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, an international competition for women photographers. She is represented in Taos by Wilder Nightingale Fine Art and by ¡Orale! Gallery/Art for the Revolution.

Garcia is showing photographs from a suite of work titled “Española Redux.” She taught for several years at Northern New Mexico College, where she said she learned to love and appreciate the people of Española and their distinctive lifestyle. “If Taos is the ‘soul of the Southwest,’ Española is its viscera,” Garcia has said. “With its people steeped in the traditional culture of Northern New Mexico, with the accompanying blood, sweat, toil and tears of its agricultural and blue-collar roots, the heart of Española beats to a different drum.”

Several of the subjects of her photographs have disappeared since she took their images – most notably, the iconic watering-hole Red’s Bar, now replaced by a gas station – and others have closed and are suffering demolition by neglect, such as the Arrow Motel. Her work is a celebration of these elements of norteño culture. For more information on Garcia, visit her website at taoslightandshadow.com.

Muskrat is a painter whose works are all acrylics on 30-inch-by-40-inch canvas. She uses metallic and glitter-infused paints, which make her paintings very special by changing their look throughout the course of the day as light sources change. Light also touches the subjects in a different way and gives them a quality and warmth that give them life.

Originally from Kansas, Muskrat fell in love with New Mexico. In her words, “New Mexico is a place where you are always confronted with experiences that you want to hold on to forever. A face, a color, a curve, a feeling, a taste, a smell, a home, it is unlike anywhere else you would ever be. It creates a desire to share that moment before it flees forever from your memory.”

In her paintings, Muskrat tells these stories through paintings of everyday life in New Mexico. Her emphasis is on color and emotion. It conveys a true experience of that moment in time. She is represented in Taos by ¡Orale! Gallery/Art for the Revolution, where she has been the featured artist in several shows. Muskrat has commented that she has truly become a New Mexican and as an artist, she “has managed to paint daily life in a very authentic manner that expresses the real dignity and beauty of the people with whom she has become friends and family, with an emphasis on women.”

Her “New Mexico Calendar Girls” are considered celebrations of the strength, durability, power, diversity and uniqueness of the women here, inspired by the calendar artists of Mexico from the 1930s and ‘40s, along with the the folk artists of Northern New Mexico. She pushes at the boundaries of the Taos art scene. “The women I have chosen to capture for ‘Tales From El Norte’ embody the wild spirit of the women here. They are fearless in their sexuality, confident in who they are and ferocious in their life intentions. My hope is for everyone to find a piece of themselves within the paintings and to embrace and celebrate their inner norteña,” Muskrat said.

The “TCA Exhibits” series provides established and emerging visual artists opportunities to promote, exhibit and sell their work. Through a public and private partnership with the Taos Inn, the Taos Center for the Arts has expanded its venue opportunities for artists. The exhibit is on view through Sept. 11.

For more information, contact Susan Nuss at susan@tcataos.org or call (575) 758-2052.

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