Fine art

'Sight Unseen,' a mystery lover's delight

Annual exhibit is a benefit for Taos Center for the Arts


Would you buy a piece of art if you didn’t know who made it? Do you think you could guess who made a piece of art based on its style and feel? The annual “Sight Unseen” and The Taos Center for the Arts fundraiser may make art collectors ask questions like these.

The event starts Sunday (March 12) at 4 p.m. with refreshments and a cash bar at the Encore Gallery in the lobby of the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. At 5 p.m., doors open for the “Sight Unseen” show at the Stables Art Gallery next door.

This will be the fifth “Sight Unseen” event. This year, about 100 pieces of artwork, each 6 inches by 8 inches, are created by recognized and collected Taos artists. The pieces are on sale for the same flat price of $135 each.

Deborah McLean, executive director of Taos Center for the Arts (TCA), explained how the event works: “The pieces are 6 [inches] by 8 [inches], so they are miniatures. We provide the panels and then the artists can do whatever they want on the panels, so they can be multimedia. We’ve gotten about 20 pieces in early and they are incredible collector items.”

The catch is no one knows who created the work of art until after the piece is purchased; all works are signed on the back, thus “Sight Unseen.”

“Each year ‘Sight Unseen’ artists pour their heart, soul, and creative talents into creating little gems. Many play with new ideas, media, and techniques, thus works may or may not be easily recognizable. Collectors choose with their heart as they see the piece that captures their eye. Whether chosen for the story the piece tells, for the craftsmanship, for pure aesthetic or all such reasons, one thing is for sure, this is a rare opportunity to own a Taos original for just $135,“ the event’s press release states.

The art will be exhibited at the Stables Gallery, but not seen by the public until the designated hour of 5 p.m., when doors will open for viewing and purchasing. Show organizers have taken steps to keep the work unseen.

These precautions include papering the windows of the Stables Gallery so no one can peek inside prior to the event. Similar to previous years, entrance to the gallery will be by a numbered pass, which is available during the preceding reception that begins at 4 p.m. in the Encore Gallery – across the way in the auditorium lobby.

“The number on your pass also dictates where you are in line,” McLean explained. “So the earlier you get there, the better it will be for selecting works.”

Participants are advised to come early to not only secure a pass, but to also enjoy food, cash bar, meet a number of the artists and get a sneak preview of a few of the works of art.

“People line up in front of the Stables and it’s been sectioned off like it would be at Southwest Airlines. We don’t open the doors until 5 p.m. and then everyone enters en masse,” McLean said. “If you see something that you like, you better get that tag off the wall.”

McLean said, “It’s a great way to collect beloved Taos artists in miniature. There are a lot of people who have come to the event from year to year. I’ve visited with them in their homes and they’ve made a wall of these 6-by-8 works. And every single one of these pieces sold. The money all goes to the TCA. It’s one of our signature, major fundraiser events.”

This year, as a little pre-event teaser, art handlers will walk a number of 2017 “Sight Unseen” artworks through the Encore Gallery during the reception. Other than the art handlers and artist who created the work, no one will know whose work it is or where it is hung in the Stables.

For more information, visit or call the Taos Center for the Arts office at (575) 758-2052.