Admirable works: Total Arts Gallery, the oldest art spot in town

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Next year, Total Arts Gallery will be 50 years old, making it the oldest, continuously occupied, owned and operated art gallery space in Taos.

Situated on one of Taos’ “gallery rows” east of Historic Taos Plaza at 122-A Kit Carson Road, Total Arts Gallery is typically part of the first walking tours around the Historic District that most folks take on their hunt for exciting and high-quality fine art: a piece they want for a special place set aside in their home or collection. Whether a newbie or an old-hand collector, Total Arts Gallery’s stable of artists is a must-see.

The gallery occupies six rooms of an adobe hacienda built in the 1800s. It opens into an inner courtyard, inviting visitors to tarry awhile to get a heightened feel for Taos, which emanates from the more than 200-year-old mud and straw walls.

First opened in 1969 by current co-owner Harold Geller, the gallery is a labor of love by a close-knit trio of Geller, his business partner and best friend, artist Teruko Wilde, and Teruko’s daughter Emily Wilde.

Their stable of artists represent world-class achievements in a wide range of techniques and media from traditional to contemporary, paintings to sculpture, including Art Students League of Denver instructors Doug Dawson and Kim English; Taos favorites Barbara Zaring, David Leffel, Ken Daggett and Sherrie McGraw among others; and super popular internationals Zaoming Wu and Huihan Liu to name a few of nearly 40 Total Arts artists. Total Arts also has special guest artists throughout the year.

Teruko Wilde’s art alone has been represented by U.S. galleries from Hawaii to Florida. Further, her work has been in invitational group exhibitions in Australia, China, Thailand and London.

Before landing in Taos in 1986, she was the owner of a fine art gallery and framing shop from 1971 to 1985 in Willard, Ohio; was co-publisher of the regional arts magazine, Prism; and co-publisher of the Willard Times Junction newspaper in Ohio.

She told The Taos News in 2017 the “hero” in her life is her “mentor, my mother, Moto. She was a very strong, independent, intelligent woman who was ahead of her time. She lost everything, including her husband, my father. She raised three children during and after World War II without any government assistance. Yet, she was a generous and kind person who shared with others even though she had little for herself.”

Staying power

“Our staying power can only be attributed to our, our clients’ and our artists’ appreciation and respect for the years of discipline required to master the skills required to create admirable works of art — oh, and sheer stubbornness, at least on our and our artists’ behalf,” Emily Wilde says on the gallery’s website, partly in jest, but primarily in earnest. “We think of our artists and clients as family and pride ourselves on letting the work speak for itself.”

On tap

This season’s gallery events include the multiple-site exhibition Celebration of Clay 2018: “contemporary ceramics informed by tradition,” sponsored by the Taos Gallery Association through May 30. The closing reception will be the Saturday (May 26) on Memorial Day weekend, 4-6 p.m. Maps for the event are available at Total Arts, David Anthony Fine Arts, WilderNightingale and Copper Moon galleries.

“Sara Lee D’Alessandro will install some large work in the courtyard,” Emily Wilde said. Also this season, Total Arts will have a solo exhibit of Teruko Wilde’s work from July 13 to Aug. 5, followed by Huihan Liu and wife Weizhan Liang’s work in a show opening Aug. 17 through Sept. 9. A special 50-year celebration is being discussed for 2019.

For more information, see totalartsgallery.com, email totarts@newmex.com or call (575) 758-4667.

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