Pop Surrealism

Celebrating the high art of Lowbrow in Taos

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A refreshing current pulses through Taos these days – a vibrant Post Pop Art stream rising from half a century of Disney, hot rods and a rousing tattoo culture. 

You won’t find hollyhocks or adobe walls here, unless they are part of a Day of the Dead motif or flanking a heavily bearded Frieda Kahlo. Here is a mixing of media, genres, sensibilities, and an undercurrent of sly self-mockery puncturing the preciousness of the very thing the artists celebrate. 

Chief among the galleries focusing on this Pop Surrealism movement in Taos are Greg Moon Gallery, FaraHNHeight Gallery and Orale! Gallery Art For The Revolution – the latter capitalizing on ¡Orale! Kings and Queens of Cool,  the hugely successful show at the Harwood Museum of Art in the fall and winter 2014-15, when this so-called “new” genre became officially recognized by the art powers that be here in Taos.

In 1988 The Stables Gallery put up a low rider show epitomized by Española’s car culture and parts of Taos, but it’s taken almost 30 years to be legitimized by the museum culture – and that’s still not a done deal, as would be expected of any self-respecting new art movement worth it’s power to upset the status quo.

Greg Moon Gallery

First on the lowbrow scene in Taos was Greg Moon, who created Taos’ first Lowbrow show per se in 2012. Moon and other Taos artists and gallerists associated with Lowbrow helped curate the the Harwood ¡Orale! show.

“A lot of people didn’t want to be associated with the car culture of Lowbrow so they came up with Pop Surrealism or Post Pop,” Moon said of the movement’s naming genesis. “Post Pop is more associated with the Pop Art movement, because it doesn’t tend to have the sense of humor and sardonic wit like Lowbrow – where you’re poking fun at The Establishment, like Dada [artists] putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa.” 

The gallery showcases Greg Moon’s work, as well as the work of Marvin Moon, Sam Yeates, Joel Nakamura, Dennis Larkins, Esteban Bojorquez, Holly Wood and Vanessa Moon.

Online, Moon says his own output is “split between several diverse bodies of work that reflect his varied aesthetic tastes and interests.” It ranges from nostalgic 1960s comic memes to witty found-object assemblages, mixed media and exquisitely moody water colors, gouache and oils. His preoccupation with night time reveals “serene to somewhat menacing” values for both he and the viewer, but all encouraging a rapt reminiscing exodus from the daily grind.  

Greg Moon Gallery • 109-A Kit Carson Road • gregmoonart.com • (575) 770-4463

Orale Gallery

Tre and Lizzy DeCosta opened Orale! Gallery Art For The Revolution on July 2, 2016. The couple originally moved to Taos seven years ago to open Taos Tattoo & Body Piercing Gallery and, of course, helped curate the Harwood show of the same name.

“All the halls of the Harwood were ‘tattooed’ for the show,” Tre De Costa recalled proudly, noting that while they curated the show the pair realized there was basically no gallery in Taos supporting Lowrider and Lobrow art – other than Greg Moon, who does more popular culture than car culture.

In addition to Lowbrow, Orale! Gallery notes it is also an alternative art space concerned with local, unconventional work, the majority of which is Hispanic, like El Moisés’ “badass folk art”; and Native work, like famed Pueblo flautist and flute maker Robert Mirabal’s multi-metal handmade jewelry in gold, silver, platinum and tufa.

Orale! artists include Ed Delgare, Jenny Inge, Michael Martinez, BB McIntyre, Terra Muskrat, Anita Rodriguez, Heather Ross, Rabbit Before Horse Strickland, Tomas Vigil and Lyna Jasper Vogel.  

Orale! Gallery • 114 Kit Carson Road • oralegallery.com  • (575) 770-9247

Farahnheight Gallery

“The stuff coming out of Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe are from some of the smartest, most sarcastic, technologically superior artists around,” Greg Moon said, referencing FaraHNHeight Gallery of Taos, which specializes among other things in Indigenous Pop.

One example is artist Gregg Deal of the Paiute Tribe of Pyramid Lake, a “provocative contemporary artist-activist,” FaraHNHeight gallerist Greg Farah says, noting how Deal’s work focuses on Indigenous identity and pop culture, touching on race relations and stereotype.

“I want to focus on what makes The Land of Enchantment special,” Farah says, pointing to works by R.C. Gorman, Fritz Schölder, Frank Howell, Sari Staggs, Earl Bliss, even a rare piece from a Taos Pueblo great, Pop Chalee, just a few among the many, many on display. 

Currently exhibiting through March is regionally acclaimed painter and “jokester” Carlos Sandoval, Farah said, referring to Sandoval’s droll wit. “His Indigenous American Series is a contemporary celebration paying homage and respect to the Native peoples; their traditions, their culture, and their lifeways. Carlos moves freely between two distinctly different cultures and has captured a style unmistakably authentic and Native, modern and American.” The artists FaraHNHeight represents are simply too numerous to list. 

Be sure to block out two or three days to explore these burgeoning artists strutting their stuff in Taos and beyond. 

FaraHNHeight Gallery • 311 Paseo del Pueblo Norte • www.facebook.com/farahnheight • (575) 751-4278

 

 

 

 

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