Arts

It's all about the light

Plein Air Painters of New Mexico mount signature and master signature members show

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 11/7/18

The Taos Art Museum at Fechin House is looking forward to a good winter by featuring an invitational exhibit of works featuring members of the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico.

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Arts

It's all about the light

Plein Air Painters of New Mexico mount signature and master signature members show

Posted

The Taos Art Museum at Fechin House is looking forward to a good winter by featuring an invitational exhibit of works featuring members of the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico.

The show is slated to open with a reception Saturday (Nov. 10), 3-5 p.m. in the Fechin Studio at the museum located at 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Refreshments and live music by Omar Rane also are planned.

Signature and Master Signature Members of the organization take center stage for this show that will be on view through March 31 of next year.

John Meister is president of the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico. Tempo asked Meister about his organization, the plein air genre and the Fechin House exhibit. Here are the highlights:

Tempo: What is your affiliation with Taos Art Museum and Plein Air painters?

John Meister: I am the current president of Plein Air Painters of New Mexico. PAPNM is celebrating its 10th year as a nonprofit membership organization of almost 400 artists who are interested in pursuing, preserving and promoting the tradition of painting en plein air -- in the open air or outdoors. Thirty percent of PAPNM's membership lives outside the state of New Mexico but is drawn to the Southwest for its beauty and painting climate. The Taos Art Museum approached PAPNM about the possibility of having an exhibition of plein air work as it continues to tell a story from a contemporary perspective that is rooted in the Taos tradition of painting.

Tempo: Is this the first time for an exhibit of these painters at TAM?

Meister: PAPNM has never held an exhibition at TAM before although some of our individual members have exhibited there before.

Tempo: What was your curatorial process for this exhibit?

Meister: Since TAM is a museum, we wanted to have a "museum quality" exhibition. This meant controlling the quality of the work somehow. Normally we would have a jury process to do this, but since this exhibition is right on the heels of our annual juried member show in Santa Fe, we decided to ask our Signature and Master Signature members only. As artists, they have already proven the overall quality of their work. It was also a way for PAPNM to honor these members with a museum level show just for them, something we had never done before.

Tempo: Please explain the different categories represented in the exhibit.

Meister: PAPNM is rewriting our qualifications this year for both categories. Signature Members are members who achieved certain accolades in their careers. These include achievements, such as regular representation in a gallery, feature articles about them in art magazines, solo exhibitions of their work and awards of merit. Master Signature Members have achieved similar accolades to those above and have obtained a certain level of mastery of their craft that is recognized at a national or worldwide level. This, is a subjective thing to prove, so PAPNM is working on an "invitational" process for an artist to achieve this level.

Tempo: What is special about this genre?

Meister: Painting en plein air poses many challenges to the artist, other than those that he or she faces in the studio. Plein air painters may have to contend with changing light, fleeting subjects, difficult access to painting location, temperature extremes, wind, rain, show, bugs, animals, tourists, etc. Most plein air painters feel that these are worthwhile, however, to be closer to their subject in the environment. Through painting outside regularly, the painter learns to see subtle color accurately and can better expect how light plays across the subject.

Tempo: The exhibit is up until March. Is it an exhibit that could be taken in multiple times?

Meister: Experiencing art more than once can be very surprising and transformative. Things such as a time of day, who you are seeing it with, discussion of a piece, one's own mood can alter one's opinion of a piece. The viewer might see something they missed the first time. This exhibition is in what was a working artist's studio. It has both natural and artificial light so the time of day can influence changes in each piece.

Tempo: Anything else you think is important for our readers to know?

Meister: Many of our participating artists will be at the opening reception for this show. A lot of them have achieved great notoriety or fame with their work.

It will be an opportunity for visitors, patrons and collectors to see fantastic work by skilled artists working at a high level in their craft. Visitors will also discuss the artist's process with them and learn the background stories of the exhibited works.

Knowing something about the history of a painting can make the appreciation of the work more enjoyable.There aren't many opportunities to see a show like this in a community such as Taos, known for its painting history, never mind the fact it is exhibited in a beautiful artist's studio. It promises to spur emotion in the viewer. I have no doubt that many of these painters would have been members of the Taos Society of Artists, had they been their contemporaries.

For more information, call (575) 758-2690 ex.101 or visit taosartmuseum.org.

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