Fine art

Local color

Annual exhibit features familiar places rendered in water media


Jinx Wright is the oldest member of the Taos Watercolor Society. She paints the melting adobe structure across from the San Francisco de Asís Church in Ranchos de Taos and has been doing so since moving to Taos permanently five years ago. She paints the adobe structure because, in her words, “I kinda relate to the old adobes because of my age. This is a part of life. It’s the way it’s going to be. Don’t worry about it.”

Wright, a retired public art teacher, has shown in more than 30 national juried watercolor shows. She will show her melting adobe work in watercolor at the Taos Watercolor Society’s event, “The Best of the Southwest 2017,” the group’s annual exhibition at the Stables Gallery of the Taos Center for the Arts, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

The show will open with a reception Friday (Aug. 18) from 3:30-7 p.m. Live music will be provided by Melody Romancito (who is married to Rick Romancito, Tempo editor, and also contributes to Tempo as a freelance writer). Romancito is a singer-songwriter who performs original music and what she terms “classic blues and Americana” from Bill Monroe to Tom Waits, Mavis Staples to Ani DiFranco.

The purpose of the Taos Watercolor Society is to “encourage and promote the production of professional quality watercolor. Watercolor is defined as any water media on paper, including but not limited to watercolor, acrylic, ink, distemper, casein and mixed media.” The group started in 1992 and evolved in membership to the open society it is today.

There is a mentorship program for budding artists to work side by side with established professional watercolorists, and the group meets regularly to paint together and provide camaraderie. Watercolorists work in a medium that doesn’t get the visibility of other mediums, especially in the Taos and Santa Fe communities, according to TWS member Carol Doughty. “Watercolor is popular in other parts of the country, but not here,” Wright said. “A lot of people don’t like the glass we must use to frame our work; it’s too reflective. I think the glass gives us an advantage because of that sparkle that other mediums don’t have.”

The attraction for artists to work in watercolor varies, but a common theme is the challenge. Wright explains, “Everyone has painted in watercolor. You did it as a child, and you never know what the results will be. I like the mystery.”

Taos artist and Chicago transplant Victoria Park said, “Working with watercolor is more intuitive and spontaneous. Serendipity plays a role, and you’ve just got to go with it.”

Artist Linda Grams-Henderson, also showing her work in the upcoming exhibition, said she is fascinated by how water and color pigments work together to make it look real. “Accidents can be good. I always pick difficult over easy. Watercolor is very challenging.”

Bob Cooley, a commercial artist before moving to Taos, said, “During my days as a commercial artist, I could stow a work-in-progress watercolor away at work and paint on it when I got a break. [There was] no sticky oil or acrylic to deal with. I like the freshness of watercolor.”

TWS President Karen McCurtain-Blair adds, “Watercolor is overlooked, and we need to do something about it.”

She also describes the magic of watercolor and the “happy accidents that are profound, and I just go with it.” She lives in the northern Taos County community of Costilla and has a deep emotional connection with “what’s right outside my window.” One of the pieces she plans to show is called “The Seed Keeper.” It shows heirloom seeds, something Blair is passionate about. “The more the rest of the world goes with GMO, the more precious the little pockets of pristine organic farmlands are and the importance of preserving these pockets.”

Blair came to Northern New Mexico in the late 1980s for the art. She studied painting in the United States, as well as in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Argentina and Puerto Rico. Her work is collected internationally and has recently been described as “Northern New Mexico Americana.”

The backgrounds of the artists are varied and as colorful as their work. Artist Diane Binder studied at the Cranbrook Institute of Art and the University of Michigan. She sailed from Mexico to Ecuador, and the influence from Central and South America can be seen in her work today.

Cooley is a master of watercolor. He has painted and shown across the U.S. and the world. Works influenced by his most recent travels to Africa will be available at the event.

Doughty studied watercolor in Seattle, Washington, as well as Tucson, Arizona. She is a juried member of the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild and the Taos Watercolor Society. Her work is in collections all over the world. Doughty says the biggest compliment for her as an artist is “if you paint something and it has personal meaning to a person. I painted some old tractors and during a show, people would tell me how they remembered a family member or time in their lives looking at my work. That is the highest compliment.”

Grams-Henderson is a nature enthusiast from childhood; she has traveled and worked in national parks throughout the United States. Her current body of work portrays scenes of Taos Ski Valley. She says a watercolor “can take anywhere from 10 to 50 hours to complete.”

Artist Gayle Fulwyler-Smith has taught watercolor and drawing and has been juried into regional and national shows, including “Watercolor West” and “Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Exhibition,” and has won many awards. Her work was featured in the International Artist Magazine, The Best of Watercolor and Landscape Inspirations.

Diana Jane Smith, a native of Buffalo, New York, started her career as an artist at the age of 14 working as an advertising graphic artist. She later attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Smith won two national awards for architectural redesign and corporate imaging, and she designed and illustrated the 1995 Ryder Cup (PGA) poster and limited-edition art print.

Marilyn Price-Reinbolt moved to New Mexico as a young child and later attended the University of New Mexico, majoring in fine art and special education. She can be seen painting with others along the roadsides and byways of the Taos area throughout most of the year.