Fifth annual TCA ‘Members Open’ exhibit

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The art of installation is the last work of art to be created in this year’s fifth annual Taos Center for the Arts (TCA) “Members Open” exhibit, opening with a reception Thursday (Jan. 19) from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Encore Gallery of the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

Just two days ago, some 60 pieces of art measuring 20 inches by 20 inches were scheduled to arrive at the Encore and the six-person Art Committee had basically one day to sort, analyze, discuss and ultimately create a coherent and compelling installation piece of the two-dimensional, multimedia art squares created by TCA members.

At press time, the Art Committee members who created this year’s installation are reported be: Taos artists Patti Day and Ann Cole, Judith Kendall (art appraiser and owner of former Fenix Gallery of Taos), Jane Farmer (former career curator for the Smithsonian, United States Information Agency/USIA and other venues), Carloyn Haddock (owner of the Taos Inn and TCA/Taos Inn exhibition curator) and TCA Executive Director Deborah McLean (an “artist in retirement,” she says, because all her creative energy goes to the TCA).

“In the past our Members Open was exhibited in both the Encore and Stables Galley,” said McLean in an email last week. “This year we wanted to exhibit only in the Encore Gallery, which created a challenge for the Art Committee. ‘How do we fit upward of 60 works of art in the Encore?’ The solution?” Math.

“The committee determined a size and shape that would allow 60 works of art to be hung in the Encore. The bonus is that the [20-inch-by-20-inch]-square format allows for creative hanging in grid patterns creating a second level of art – art within art, or art from art.”

Adding to the concept of a show within a show, Mary Bruschini’s Vocal Group with Taos Youth Music School will perform at 5 p.m. The students’ repertoire includes classical, gospel, pop and Broadway selections. Some students will perform samples accompanied by Bruschini on keyboard.

McLean said the 20-inch-square format was embraced by artists and, as a result, new works of art were created specifically for this exhibition – in contrast to previous years, she noted, when many of the pieces were taken from artists’ inventory.

Some work available at press time includes “The Protectors” by Donna Dufresne. Reached by phone, visiting from Southern California, Dufresne said the work came about as a reaction to the Nov. 8 election.

“The three figures are protectors against fear,” Dufresne said. A student of Buddhism, she said the three figures are a “dakini” of Buddhism, Our Lady of Guadalupe of Christianity and an American Indian petroglyph-inspired guardian. “All three are my interpretation of abstracted spiritual entities. The 20-by-20 format was very inspiring.”

Margaret Mathis’ “Wood on Wood Panel” is a meditative display of 400 wooden balls in near-perfect lineup on the 20-inch-by-20-inch board. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do. The only meaning it has is multiplying 20 by 20, which is 400,” Mathis said – perfect synchrony.

T.J. Mabrey’s multimedia on embossed archival paper is both quieting and evocative at the same time. Formerly established in Italy as a marble and stone sculptor, her works on paper represent the same aesthetic. “I’m still the same person looking for beauty.” Of her piece titled “Four Squares In Square (Green X),” she said sometimes she just gets excited about a piece of crumpled paper, the way light catches it. “It’s just magic, mesmerizing!”

Bob Parker, McLean’s artist husband, presents the first of a triptych, titled “First Stage for Performance Architecture,” acrylic on wood on wood panel, part of a new series exploring 3-D aspects common to art and architecture.

“Based on a painterly approach,” Parker says in an email, “the use of neutral colors allows for the expression of surfaces to prevail over what would have been less obvious with the appliqué of color. Shadows help to distinguish the subtle layering of forms and give the sculpture a presence that would not have been possible in a painting rendered as a flat surface.” Parker’s stylistic approach is “hard-edge geometric abstraction.”

Leather artist Judy Crouch entered “Boho Bag,” a bohemian leather bag embellished with a few antique trade beads. Working with leather and beadwork for the last 15 years, she says she does so primarily for herself. Leaving a piece for sale on exhibit is always hard for her, she says, “like letting go of one of my children.” For starters, she’s not interested in taking orders. “What I really enjoy doing is creating something. It’s a passion. I’m like Georgia O’Keeffe, who didn’t want to sell any of her stuff!”

It promises to be another stellar exhibit of member and Taos talent.

The exhibit goes through March 13. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, contingent upon available staff and volunteers. If closed during this time, drop by the office off the Manby-Thorne Building courtyard.

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