What inspired an interactive event with the unlikely juxtaposition of "Print and Piano" in its name? "It's all about alliteration," quipped artist and Studio 107-B proprietor Maye Torres. "Aren't alliterations always a perfect poetic process?"
Torres hastened to explain that there was, of course, a more meaningful method to the multidisciplinary madness.
"What we're trying to do is start getting artists in all different art forms working together again, collaborating in the shop and talking together," Torres said. "Combining the arts rather than keeping them separate. All my kids were musicians, so I always had live music at home and that seemed like a great addition. We wanted to engage the public and other artists with the process of printmaking. Almost every artist that comes through Taos does some sort of print. My son Zachary is a pianist and offered to come and play. So, we borrowed Joel Larson's piano for the run of the show, and master printmaker and artist Michael Vigil brought his etching press. We've invited artists and musicians, and we're welcoming all visitors to come in and print and play."
"Print and Piano" opened July 5, and will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Tuesday (July 17) at the gallery located at 107-B North Taos Plaza.
Invited artists, including Jim Wagner, Leonard Salazar, Gretchen Ewert, Christopher Taylor, Pat Woodall, Anais Rumfelt, Sharon Dry Flower Reyna, J. Matt Thomas and others, will be in-house at various times creating original works of art that will be for sale at affordable prices.
"I haven't printed before, and I'm excited to just take a look and give it a try," Thomas said.
On the show's first day, Torres and Vigil demonstrated the process with their own prints and overlays then assisted some fascinated children and adults in painting onto plexiglass and hand-pressing prints of their work.
Invited artist Katie Woodall stopped by to participate on Friday and described the experience. "While I was there, a young girl pulled a print. She loved it. Jim Wagner did a monoprint portrait. Juanita Lavadie did an etching. I did a print that let me go directly to open space where I could find color and abstraction to pull out feeling and even clarity. The music was turned up and Michael (Vigil) offered anyone the chance to play with the immediacy and spontaneity of printmaking. Maye makes a happening all the time in there!"
Vigil co-conceived the event with Torres. He has been creating art and printing in Taos since moving here from Anaheim, California in 1983. He and his artist brother Dan began their printing apprenticeship as young children, learning the ropes from their father, the late world-renowned artist Veloy Vigil.
"Our dad was very prolific," Michael Vigil said. "My brother and myself pulled a lot of editions for him. We were in high production and good quality. Then where we lived, there was a tradition where artists would decorate these gift boxes for charity every Christmas. One year, when they came to give my father his box to paint, they gave one to my brother and me and we collaborated on it. Someone at a gallery saw the box and asked to see more of our work. That was the gallery where I had my first one-man show, and it came close to selling out. My career started taking off from there."
His work has since been shown in prestigious art galleries and graced venues from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix to a solo exhibition of sports-themed prints at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. His home base is the Graphic Impressions printing workspace and adjacent Michael Vigil Studio gallery at 107 Morada Lane.
"This event here will be a reunion of sorts," he said. "Maye and I, and many of the artists we've invited, we go back a long way. We used to pool our money and go print our work together. Anyone who comes in, I can give them some simple instructions, let them know the different tools available. It's an educational thing to get them into the printing process. And at the very least we're just going to have fun."
He spoke about the process as he painted a detailed railroad scene onto plexiglass then carefully reversed it onto water-treated paper and rolled it through the press. "You have to watch the pressure you're applying all the way through."
"Digital prints are more common now, or giclées," Torres said. "This is more of an old-fashioned process of printing, more painterly. There's something pretty meditative about it."
Torres' son, Zachary Torres-Trujillo, has been composing and playing piano since the age of 10 when he first heard jazz legend Dave Brubeck. His influences since that early inspiration have ranged from classical music to Phillip Glass and Scott Joplin.
His piano performance will accompany the printing work as visitors move through the gallery. Other musicians taking part in the event include Matan Rubinstein, a composer based in Massachusetts who is here in Taos on an artist residency with the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation.
"This is a way to bring people together," Torres said. "Years ago, we used to do a lot more collaborating. One year we got together and made what was, at the time, the world's largest print. We pressed it with an actual steamroller. Then we all got busy with our studios and families. It feels like full circle now to do things together again. The creative renaissance is what we need in the world now. Revolutions are too bloody, and creating is more powerful than 'resisting.' More and more artists are working together and crossing disciplines, like the First Friday events that are happening all over the country. We get so locked into our phones and gadgets. It's powerful to be making art with our hands instead. It's important to keep our culture alive, to keep teaching things that promote imagination and creation. We're trying to bring the 'kind' back into humankind through art, music, working and laughing together."
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