Fine art

Annual self-portrait show at the TCA January 10

Introspective expression

By Dena Miller
Posted 12/31/18
The artistry spans the disciplines of photography, drawing, painting, sculpture and mixed media, and with all demonstrating an unabashed approach to personal storytelling.

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Fine art

Annual self-portrait show at the TCA January 10

Introspective expression


The new year has arrived and with it comes a flurry of resolutions, a succession of affirmations and goals and an inclination toward self-reflection and reassessment.

There's no better time, then, for one of the most popular exhibits showcased by the Taos Center for the Arts to arrive. "TCA Presents: Self-Portrait Show," hosted by the Encore Gallery of the Taos Community Auditorium, is celebrating its ninth year.

"This show is a fantastic opportunity to see how individuals portray the self and how those responses span the possibilities: deep, reflective, fun, quiet, the gambit of how we are human and present in the world," Colette LaBouff, executive director of the TCA, enthused.

The premier lineup of entries will be installed at the Encore Gallery Monday (Jan. 7). Then, the opening reception is scheduled for Thursday (Jan. 10) from 4-6 p.m.

Admission is free, so take advantage of this late afternoon event to meet the artists and learn more about their juried works. You'll also have the opportunity to cast your ballot in the People's Choice award competition.

LaBouff noted, "The Self-Portrait Show received many entries this fall (November 2018), and the jurors expressed gratitude at the many responses to the call and the opportunity to select pieces for inclusion." Approximately 30 pieces of 49 submissions to the Call for Artists were selected by jurors Tom Azzari, Sarah Hart and Frank Purcell.

Among the selections, the artistry spans the disciplines of photography, drawing, painting, sculpture and mixed media, and with all demonstrating an unabashed approach to personal storytelling. Susan Nuss, TCA's office manager, noted this year saw an unprecedented diversity of works to be considered.

"For example, we had an unusually high number of sculptures submitted, including those of metal and ceramic and, surprisingly, wool," she said, referencing a piece by Mary Hoffman titled "At the Gorge Bridge." Another happily unexpected submission was from Susan Pasquarelli, consisting of a 74-image slide show, with slides advancing at five-second intervals.

"A natural materials and acrylic paint collage called 'If I am not of the earth, who am I?,' by Sheila Grace Wellspring, is another beguiling entry," she continued. "Even though the show was always open to all, we've expanded our outreach for the call to the exhibition, and we're getting more entries. That's resulted in a show that is more interesting and more representative of our community."

With an expanded audience, the jurors themselves noted that selection is a difficult process in the face of uncensored creativity.

"Art is art and, being a very personal thing, it is difficult for someone else to critique any one submission," Azzari said. "One thing we can guarantee is that every submission was the epitome of personal expression and, despite being unable to include every one of them, we could enjoy, appreciate and respect all of the conversations put before us."

Above all else, "The self-portraits show demonstrates the scope of Taos and the depth of art here," Azzari continued. "It's a true exercise in self-expression and not so much in the literal art of self-portraiture, because the artists worked in abstract or expressionistic forms as much as representational ones."

Those whose works are on view at Encore Gallery may be names you will readily recognize and those you may not, but all bring thoughtfulness, innovation and grace to the walls of Encore Gallery. In some cases the artists have shaken up their established norms to welcome 2019 in an entirely different direction.

"Raising Gamayun" is a metal sculpture by Christina Sporrong who, part of the powerhouse Taos couple with partner, Christian Ristow, is experimenting with scale and the fascination of working in a divergent method.

'My submission is diminutive in size compared to most of my works," she said, referencing her juried sculpture of a folkloric bird maiden who is mythologically believed to be a messenger of peace and a sage of the spiritual. "After Christian and I returned from an extended stay in Barcelona and Berlin, we have been experimenting with a change of perspective, which is both humbling and scary and, yet, also freeing."

Ristow, known internationally for his kinetic sculptures and robotic performance art, is also included in the show with a graphite on paper two-face studied drawing that defies the work to which one would associate with him.

"It's nice to play, and it's okay to be vulnerable to new things. I think that opens us all up to being more than we already are," said Sporrong.

The exhibit continues through March 3.

The Encore Gallery at the Taos Community Auditorium is located at 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For more information aboutthe show, call (575) 758-2052, visit, or stop by the TCA office at 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.


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