Faith and structure

Mark Goebel’s photo exhibit, ‘New Mexico Churches,’ on view at The Taos Inn


Beginning in 2010, Mark Goebel became drawn to photographing the exquisite beauty of Christian sanctuaries in New Mexico. For his exhibit at the Taos Inn, he has selected 43 photographs to represent this body of work (which totals three times as much).

An opening reception for the show is today (Sept. 14), 4-6 p.m., at the Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Admission is free; all are invited.

“New Mexico Churches: An Elemental Phenomenon” is the title of Goebel’s exhibit. He explains, “I gave it that name because that’s my sense of how these churches are built by artisans with special skills. I watch and see if I can discern a special personality of a church. In post-processing, I try to emulate what that church would look like in print and the many elements involved.”

A press release states Goebel sought out the more famous structures, as well as humble and modest churches often found in rural areas.

When asked about the religiosity associated with his chosen subject, Goebel says, “I’m not spiritual at this point, but I was when I was younger.”

His digital photography is a mix between color and black and white. The “moon shots” – that is, those lit by the moon – he generally likes in color because “the colors are a little bizarre and most people think they are paintings,” he says. An example of a colorful output would be his photo, “Penitente Morada Abiquiú.” This 40-inch-by-60-inch print will hang right next to the fireplace in the inn’s Adobe Bar.

Other photos, such as “St. Francis Snow,” are shot in black and white. “With the black and whites, it’s more of appreciating a structure,” says Goebel. “Not having the color focuses the viewer on the design.”

In going through his editing process, his primary choice is black and white. Of the 130 church photos he has shot, only a dozen are in color.

As a regular course of his promotion, Goebel posts his pictures on his Facebook page. According to him, “I use my Facebook account as a metric. I can see the pictures that have been popular.”

Goebel runs his own gallery, Mark Goebel Photography, across from Orlando’s restaurant in El Prado. He says it’s a small gallery with a lot of framed prints on the wall and note cards for sale. He keeps the windows blacked out and all of its lighting is from hung chandeliers. “I’ve been told it’s like a French gallery,” he said.

At the Taos Inn, his black-and-white and color photographs come in various sizes and will be hung throughout the bar area in no predetermined pattern. This is Goebel’s first time exhibiting his work at the Taos Inn. “I’ve been submitting ever since I’ve been here in 2012. They just picked me this year,” he said.

The show is part of the ongoing “TCA Exhibits” series at the Taos Inn.

Deborah McLean, executive director for the Taos Center of the Arts, explains that Goebel’s work was chosen for a couple of reasons. “First and foremost for the quality and execution of his work and also because his subject matter was a natural fit with the historic Taos Inn. His images capture the spirit and personality of historic New Mexico churches. As he says, they portray an elemental phenomenon. The historic Taos Inn, for many, also emanates a spirit, a safe place, a meeting place, as well as a place steeped in history. Thus, there was a natural synergy between place and art.”

The series provides established and emerging visual artists opportunities to display and sell their works. This public-private partnership with the Taos Inn and the Taos Center for the Arts has expanded its venue opportunities for artists. The press release notes that showing at the Taos Inn also allows for easier access to the art due to the hotel’s open hours and provides a more convivial atmosphere, with its soft adobe walls, refreshments and live music.

Goebel agrees that the Taos Inn is a good place to show his work. “I’ve been to all the exhibits. I’ve always been admiring of the work in there. I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to showing there.” The photo exhibit hangs at the Taos Inn through Jan. 15, 2018.