The art banner fervor running through Taos these days brings downtown galleries and studio artists into high relief, nicely punctuating spring skiing enthusiasm with exquisite proclamations of our year-round artist colony persona. That shouldn't be a surprise except to the newer millennials venturing into the Southwest for the first time.
While looking into the artists behind the banner imagery, be sure to check out two new exhibits of photographic love (referring to Ansel Adams famous quote, "When I make a picture, I make love …") being featured on Kit Carson Road through April: the work of photographers Dane Spangler at Amoré Gallery and Elida Hanson-Finelli at Dragonfly Blue.
Hanson-Finelli has an eye for the delicious and the long view. Titled, "The Beauty of Heaven is Spread Upon the Earth," her exhibit opened Feb. 4 and runs through April.
"My photography skills grew primarily from passion and inspiration," she notes in her artist statement online, adding in an email after our interview that her focus is now pure beauty.
"Most of the subject matter I have exhibited since starting this portion of my life and creative journey has been about documenting the beauty I see around me," Hanson-Finelli said. "It is the emotion I feel, translated into the prints when first coming upon a scene. I have endeavored in times past to cover the heartache and more downtrodden parts of the world, but it seems not to be where my heart is nor my forté. Others have excelled at it, not me. I feel my place, at least for the moment is to document the beauty that surrounds us and is often overlooked. Also, these places will eventually disappear!"
Retired to Taos after 45 years as a TWA flight attendant, Hanson-Finelli began photography midcareer, but traces its earliest and perhaps deepest influences to childhood, to her father's avid amateur photography and the creativity sparked by a dark room's technological intrigues.
"I made the digital transition around 2004, and although there are still aspects of film I miss, the presence of digital in our world and the diversity of control it has afforded my work makes it my current medium." That, plus she found herself without her own darkroom and hated sending her work off to be "touched" by hands other than her own, shows the depth and breadth of her commitment to be true to her art.
Equally committed to personal vision and excellence, Dane Spangler's work reveals an unending expansiveness at the threshold between his inner eye and so-called outer world. Here are practically Tolkienesque sensibilities married to off-world planetary explorations, all found here on Earth but translated through a highly romantic explorer and visionary lens.
"I seek moments when sky engages land in amazing ways," he said during an interview at Amoré, adding, "if there's nothing happening in the sky, there's no shot."
He once waited five days for a shot to develop in the Tetons with no luck. Then, on impulse, he drove 500 miles in the pouring rain and got nearly a 360-degree rainbow "stitched" together from the rich red rocks of Canyonlands, Utah.
He ascribes his most successful work to synchronicity: being in the right place at the right time, such as being in Taos. "One gets called to Taos," he said, noting how three rainbows over San Cristóbal pointed him toward his current abode.
"Taos is a super-normal kind of experience," he said, visiting here before starting his career as an architectural illustrator. "Taos has always been a place I loved, and then I moved here almost 20 years after first seeing a sunset in the Rio Grande Gorge."
He's extremely choosy: "If it doesn't "blow my socks off I don't put it on the wall."
"I use a high-resolution professional digital camera and a panoramic tripod head to create ultra-high resolution images. This enables me to print very large and retain a truly amazing level of detail. All photographs are minimally adjusted to obtain the most natural color and tone. In an age where digital manipulation can make anything possible," he said, "I want to find 'impossible' moments that are real: to present images that remind us that the natural world is an awesome, luminous story, a dynamic living entity of wonder and power."
Works for me.