"When you live in 300 square feet, you can't get by without a solid partner in crime and a belief that life takes you where you need to go."
So said multimedia artist and Taos newcomer Howard Weliver, referring to the three-year odyssey with his wife, Lauren, in an RV nicknamed NoshBus that traversed 30,000 miles and 28 states, that moved his focus from commercial art to fine art and that happily settled them here in Arroyo Hondo. If there ever was an incredible journey, this may surely qualify.
This week, the Taos Center for the Arts welcomes Weliver's exhibit "Let There Be Light," which will be on view in the Encore Gallery at the Taos Community Auditorium through April 21. An opening reception for the show is Thursday (March 7) from 4-6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The Center's Executive Director Colette LaBouff said, "It's exciting to have the first solo show of 2019 in the Encore Gallery be [that of] Howard Weliver's. He and his work, both new to Taos, bring amazing light and color for the community."
"Let There Be Light" is guaranteed to be an ingenious and innovative display, with a mash-up of abstract, street, graffiti, folk and pop art that Weliver likes to call "abstreet." Working with half-inch gessoed particleboard, he cuts channels into it which house conceptual shapes of LED neon lighting. The boards are then finished with traditional graffiti materials such as brightly colored acrylics and enamels, paint markers and ink mops.
Yes, the paintings will be plugged in, Weliver laughed when asked. "On the beautiful white walls of Encore there should be quite a glow happening," but noted the low electric draw of the LEDs will be less than one typical gallery spotlight.
The introduction of light into his paintings was in part inspired by his visits to the Burning Man festivals, where electroluminescent (EL) wire is a frequent component in the event's many installations. "We're in an era where art and technology can play very nicely with each other," Weliver said.
"I'm always searching for something different; not just to be different, but to uncover something else in myself." With a degree in advertising design and a master's in design communication, Weliver puts his training to good use in simplifying ideas and concepts and translating them artistically.
Heavily influenced by Picasso and Warhol, he also cites famed street artists Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and, in particular, Banksy. "His shredded art is so cerebral," noted Weliver of the enigmatic British artist, activist, and film director. Weliver enjoyed a successful career in the commercial arts world, working with the food and beverage industries when he met his wife. "Lauren was also a graphic designer at the same firm and was working with restaurants and high-end resorts, so we decided to open our own specialty design firm," he said.
Prior to their move to New Mexico, Nosh Creative operated mainly in the Dallas area, providing comprehensive branding services for new restaurants and bars, or those undergoing renovation. "We do a complete package," Weliver explained, "including logos, signs, custom menus, business and gift cards, and T shirts."
"Since we're both foodies who love great beverages, Nosh Creative is a perfect fit for us."
Their three-year hiatus from work and their epic road trip was a bold move. "We sold our Dallas home and practically everything we owned to do it," he said. "The experience is hard to characterize. This country is an amazing place; so much nothing in between, but all of it is beautiful."
The self-described epicureans have found in Taos an abundance of all that they love. "We met up with full-time RV friends here, and that was it. For a small place it has so much creative energy, so much inspiration, so much history and such beautiful scenery. And great food."
Weliver is looking to branch into several different directions with his art, including a study of urban sprawl and a typographically, politically based platform. "Some people might be offended, but, hey, it's where I'm going." And in April he will be releasing his first down-tempo electronica single called "Fire in Your Brain." Clearly, 2019 promises to be a busy year for him.
The artist is represented by Vagrant Heart Gallery, where he has found a community of kindred spirits. He also expressed his gratitude to the Taos Center for the Arts for "keeping the spirit of Taos alive."
"I think I'd like people to come away from my work feeling, just like many other artists that have had shows at the Encore Gallery, it's representative of the vast array of creativity living here in Taos. Artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe helped pave the way in nontraditional, Northern New Mexico art. I think we need to celebrate that innovativeness as we move forward as a community and collective consciousness while not losing the connection to the past," he concluded.
On view through April 22.
The Encore Gallery at the Taos Community Auditorium is located at 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For more information about "Let There Be Light" and the hours during which it is available for viewing, call (575) 758-2052, or visit tcataos.org. For more information about Howard Weliver, visit weliver.com.
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