'First Saturday Art Walk' kickoff

Showcases Taos galleries, artists

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Every summer, the Taos Gallery Association organizes a series of "First Saturday Art Walks" along Paseo del Pueblo, Ledoux Street, Kit Carson Road, Bent Street, Taos Plaza and the John Dunn Shops, among other areas where local artists sit outside to paint and interact with passersby. The events take place the first Saturday of each month, from 3-6 p.m.

The first one of the season happened on June 3. They will go on until the first week of October.

"We invite people to explore some of the galleries and studios that they may not have yet seen," said David Mapes, owner of DAFA (David Anthony Fine Art) and one of the most active participants of the event.

The Mobile Art Gallery - the ARTAOS vehicle that functions as an art gallery and workshop - was parked in front of DAFA on Kit Carson Road.

Jason Rodriguez, ARTAOS founder and owner-operator at 555 Editions-Fine Art Publishing, had a showing of prints by Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890-1918), a somewhat controversial painter considered an early exponent of expressionism.

"Schiele created several thousand drawings during his brief career," Rodriguez said. "His work has been in my family's collection for close to 70 years. I inherited it from my grandmother, who came to the United States from Austria after the war. I remember looking at this piece since I was 5 years old."

Rodriguez plans to exhibit the work of many Taos-based artists in the Mobile Art Gallery, but he also wants to show pieces by others who are not from this area - or this time.

"That will be a way to inspire people to explore different styles, techniques and processes," he said. "We will be doing showings until the end of June and visiting a couple of senior centers and galleries in Taos and Santa Fe, then we will plan something special for the Fall Arts Festival."

The Mobile Art Gallery doesn't have a set schedule. Rodriguez's intention is to surprise people when it shows up.

"We just pop up somewhere and invite people to come in and see what it is all about," he said. "That's why the [First Saturday Art Walk] was perfect for us."

Director Thea Swengel announces inside DAFA that Ann Huston, who has been in Taos for a long time, is now represented by the gallery. There are also new pieces by Sarah Stolar, known for her large-scale images of women, who was having an exhibit at the Harwood Museum of Art at that moment. Other artists are expected to be creating works outside the gallery for the next First Saturday Art Walk.

Across the street, at Bryans Gallery, Kelly Pasholk says that gallery is also inviting many of the artists it represents to do demonstrations.

"We may get Taos Pueblo potter Dawning Pollen Shorty, who creates beautiful pieces with micaceous clay," she said.

At Wilder Nightingale Fine Art Gallery, which is currently celebrating 26 years in Taos, sat Jim Cox, Creative Framing owner and also an accomplished artist. He was painting a scene of Cottam Road that he had started a few days before.

"I was driving on Blueberry Hill and had to pull over and stop when I was passing by," he said. "It was so beautiful."

Jeanie Fontana, a University of New Mexico-Taos art student, stood nearby watching Cox work.

"He's so good. Look, I can see Truchas Peak in the horizon," she said quietly. "I'm hoping to be an artist someday."

Cox says that he enjoys creating art in public spaces.

"I love the positive comments and the good reinforcement I get," he said. "It makes me feel more appreciated."

"We have opened up the [First Saturday Art Walk] to any artist who wants to be part of it," Rob Nightingale, owner of Wilder Nightingale Fine Art, said. "This is a special opportunity for Taoseños and visitors to get acquainted with local businesses and the art community. And we hope everybody jumps on board!"

The next First Saturday Art Walk will take place July 1 from 3-6 p.m.

To find out more about the event, visit Taos Gallery Association's website at taosgalleryassoc.com.

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