Art

Artist proves there's no barrier to creativity

Being introduced to Jesse's world means opening a door to a brilliant imagination

By Virginia L. Clark
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 1/16/20

Ten days away from her solo art exhibition and Jesse is beside herself with excitement, her mother Stevie says, referring to her Taos Arts Council (TAC) sponsored show. Readers should note, only first names of Jesse's family will be used in this preview, to ensure the 37-year-old autistic artist's safety.

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Art

Artist proves there's no barrier to creativity

Being introduced to Jesse's world means opening a door to a brilliant imagination

Posted

Ten days away from her solo art exhibition and Jesse is beside herself with excitement, her mother Stevie says, referring to her Taos Arts Council (TAC) sponsored show. Readers should note, only first names of Jesse's family will be used in this preview, to ensure the 37-year-old autistic artist's safety.

"She has been working on this body of work for the past two years," Stevie says, "and it is all coming together in this wonderful show in the town hall."

The exhibit is part of TAC's Art in Public Spaces program and opens with a free, festive artist reception with refreshments Friday (Jan. 16) from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Taos Town Hall, located at 400 Camino de la Placita.

Music will be provided by "The Nicks," Jesse's brother Nick and his bandmate, singer-songwriter Nick Han, playing ragtime blues and old time fiddle tunes.

Autistic, legally blind, with a mild case of cerebral palsy, Jesse began painting about 12 years ago after Shirley Woske, one of her 24/7 "care buddies" who is well-schooled in art therapy, introduced art into Jesse's world - and she has been painting ever since.

Energetic splashes of brilliant tempera on matte board followed by oil pastel and watercolor marker rubbings reveal an ecstatic inner vision of abstraction, though the flowing strokes in one piece, titled "Horse Feather," reveals an objectified horse with an eye and flowing mane.

"Jesse follows her own intuition in selecting colors and their use in her work," Stevie says in a press release. "She expresses a freedom to paint and use her oil pastels as her own mind directs. In addition to using paints, Jesse employs colored markers to create overlapping lines and curves, rapidly moving from one color to another, with hundreds of marks on the paper. She has an unlimited supply of new ideas she brings to her painting, but to be clear, no one is going to tell her what to paint. It is all her own creative process and her own wondrous result."

In "Sangre de Cristo," an all-tempera piece, a gorgeous fiery crimson blast dominates. "Fire in the Forest" is another color extravaganza of tempera, oil pastel and watercolor marker. Her detonations of color are basically due to her fewer small motor skills, her mother explains, though she shows a delicacy and light touch in the two watercolor pieces she has created.

Concerts at Crooked Creek, up Taos Canyon east of Taos in Valle Escondido, are so pleased with her work, Stevie says, that they have asked her to decorate the back of their performance stage.

"It takes a village to put on something like this event," Stevie reiterates, "and the greatest credit goes to the Taos Arts Council and the town of Taos to feature such an unusual artist in a region that we know is chock-full of many very talented artists. Kudos to them for recognizing diversity within this community." Hence the title in the exhibit "Taos Celebrates Diversity," which Stevie and TAC President Paul Figueroa came up with.

In addition to Taos County's forward thinking, Stevie says the state of New Mexico is rather amazing in its approach to people with developmental disabilities. Twenty years ago the state changed from traditional Medicaid and group care to self-directed care. With the help of a Mi Via consultant, participants develop their own plans for functional, social and medical needs.

"She and her circle of support are involved in doing the planning that fits with who she is and what she wants to do, all of which keeps her happy and healthy," says Stevie.

"Gov. Michelle Luhan Grisham has known Jesse for 20 years and helped develop the program," Stevie says. The governor was not available at press time to confirm Stevie's statement.

As of Jan. 1, 2020, Stevie notes, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) "Final Rule" states individuals with disabilities cannot be kept in homogeneous groups as before. States must now use self-directed care and if they don't comply, the states will not get their CMS funding.

"The town of Taos is ahead of the [self-directed] trend and New Mexico has one of the best programs in the nation," Stevie says.

The exhibit is also a nod of gratitude to the town and very forward Taos business owners who hire Jesse, including veterinarian Ted Schupbach, Wanda Lucero State Farm Insurance, Habitat for Humanity and Taos Ski Valley's cafeteria.

"Taos Ski Valley just gave Jesse a 30 percent raise!" her mother says proudly, deeply grateful for the kindness and goodness of people who realize how important being appreciated is, especially so for a developmentally disabled individual.

"We don't know much about how a person with autism's brain works, and accordingly we don't know how Jesse comes up with her creations," Stevie continues. "We can't tell her what to paint, and she usually can't tell us what she has painted. We just know that she adores color and uses striking color combinations to express her inner thoughts. It just flows out."

This solo exhibition showcases Jesse's 49 to 50 originals and giclees, where originals have been sold.

"For many years Jesse has entered work in the annual Taos Fall Arts Festival, it's always exciting to see her arrive and produce stunning abstract works for the largest art show in Taos," Figueroa says. "We are very pleased to feature her work at Taos Town Hall where a constant flow of visitors will enjoy this fascinating Taos artist." Several works in the show are on loan from private collections and others are available for purchase by contacting TAC.

TAC is a nonprofit organization advocating for the furthering of creative expression and appreciation throughout Taos County and Northern New Mexico. For more information, visit taosartscouncil.org.

Jesse's work will remain on view at the Taos Town Hall, Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until March 27. Jesse's work is also featured at Box Canyon Gift Shop at Taos Ski Valley. Call (575) 776-1256.

Comments


Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.