Fine art

Art for the revolution

For its first anniversary, Orale! Gallery debuts three maverick exhibitions

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‘Taos was built on revolts, rebellion and revolution,” said gallery owners Tre and Lizzy DeCosta, “and we are bringing that attitude to the fine art world.”

Here comes “Art for the Revolution.”

This Friday (June 23), Orale! Gallery celebrates the mavericks of art, the solstice of summer and its own first anniversary with an artists’ reception featuring the paintings of El Moises, the photography of Meredith Garcia and the mixed-media works of B.B. McIntyre. Festivities begin at 7 p.m., with live music by O’Duffy’s Lament. Admission for the event at 114 Kit Carson Road is free.

Sterling Moon Tarot of Denver will also be on hand. A workshop, “Tarot 101,” will be given from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For a fee of $75, attendees will learn the basics of tarot card reading. Afterward and throughout the evening, private readings with Sterling Moon will be available by appointment at $35 for a 30-minute reading and $70 for an hourlong session.

The show’s featured artists are also guaranteed to generate much of the evening’s energy with their unusual stories and unconventionally masterful works.

“El Moises on the Mountain” incorporates four new pieces by the renowned artist whose oil paintings — dazzling in rich color and bold in often surrealistic imagery — encompass Chicano, American, Native American and Mexican cultures. In a 2014 interview with Lowrider Magazine, El Moises credited the late Gilbert Lujan with helping him find artistic self-worth. “My art wasn’t accepted by everyone or everywhere, and he was the one artist who told me it was OK for my art to be different, and that it was cool to be different.”

Garcia is a former neurobiologist who spent much of her career taking black-and-white photomicrographs of the brain, “arguably the most beautiful and complex structure in the known universe,” Garcia said. But since 2011, she has traveled throughout Northern New Mexico, vintage cameras in hand, capturing its profound quirkiness. “Bad Boys of El Norte” spotlights acquaintances of the photographer. “Oh yeah, they’re all really bad,” she confirmed, laughing.

With her topsy-turvy spin on the mundane, McIntyre challenges reality in her role as “found objects master.” A self-proclaimed “lover of found objects, collector of leftovers and producer of stories,” the mixed-media artist moves between assemblage, collage and fragment art, each existing within an “invented environment of hopeful intrigue.” Her works may confound, but will surely mesmerize and entertain the viewer.

As much as the word “orale” communicates a gamut of ambiguous yet lusty emotions, so do the collections of these artists, who defy the boundaries of fine art and leave one with a delightfully messy notion of what fine art is and what it can be.

“That’s exactly the point of Orale!” said Tre DeCosta. In addition to the three, the gallery currently represents Robert Mirabal, Nicholas Herrera, Scripture, Tera Muskrat, Gregory Segura, Heather Ross, Michael Martinez, Thomas Vigil, Adair Ferdon, Jenny Inge, Christopher Lattanzio, Rita Martinez, Ed Dilgarde, Carlos Rael, Rabbett Before Horses Strickland and Lynda Jasper Vogel.

“We wanted to give a voice to these amazing artists, who have been turned away from the traditional fine art marketplace and galleries,” he continued. “Some are emerging, and some are established, but all of them are powerfully artistic. They show the art world that it’s not about a collegiate degree anymore. It’s a modern movement that reflects what America is: its politics, its struggle, but also its beauty.”

Opening such a gallery might seem challenging in an iconic American art colony such as Taos, especially as the town is so steeped in history and heritage.

However, Orale! is not the far reach one would think because history, ironically, drives this gallery, as DeCosta explained.

“We live in Ralph Meyers’ home,” he said, “and with the help of his family, we were able to restore this space back to its original glory. Obviously, this is a very significant building that played a major role in the history of Taos,” referring not only to Meyer’s own stature in the art community, but also to the company in which Meyers kept himself: patrons Mabel Dodge Luhan and Millicent Rogers; fellow artists Joseph Sharp, Walter Ufer, Herbert Dunton, Ansel Adams and Nicolai Fechin; and writers Frank Waters and D.H. Lawrence, among others.

After assisting with the curation of “ORALE! Kings & Queens of Cool” — the wildly popular 2015 exhibit at the Harwood Museum of Art — the DeCostas had an epiphany. “That show made such an impact on us and our community,” DeCosta said. “As owners of Taos Tattoo & Body Piercing Gallery, we felt a responsibility to make sure Taos had a gallery that welcomed this genre of art and artist.”

Sharing a part of their living arrangements with the local community and beyond to create a new home for Orale! then seemed to them a given. “These rooms were the center of activity during both the Taos Society [of Artists] and modernists’ movements, and we realized we needed to have a plan to bring that type of excitement and energy back to Kit Carson Road,” DeCosta said.

The space in which the gallery is now located “still has original floors, the vigas carved at the old Turley Mill, a fireplace hand-plastered by Ralph [Meyers] and friend Mabel Dodge Luhan and even hand-carved reliefs by Ralph done in the early 1900s,” he noted. Today, the walls in this atmospheric room are hung with radical and renegade artwork, providing a fitting juxtaposition that works exceptionally well.

“It’s really a way for us to pay it forward, to lift up these artists while holding on to that which made Taos what it is,” said DeCosta, with his wife, Lizzy, nodding in agreement. “The blend of old and new respects tradition, but shines on it with a contemporary light,” she added. “The gallery elevates the voices of the next generation of talents and the new wave of progressive art movements, which – here at Orale! – are surprisingly well integrated with the standard-bearers of Southwestern art.”

Orale! Gallery is located at 114 Kit Carson Road. For more information about the event, to reserve a seat at the Tarot 101 workshop or to schedule a private reading with Sterling Moon, call (575) 770-9247. Information is also available at oralegallery.com or by visiting its Facebook page.

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