Fine art

Solid, yet impermanent

The artists of Dixon’s ‘STEEL’ represent a vivid frontier aesthetic


Steel is everywhere. Images of men coaxing shape and utilitarian form out of steel have been symbols of industry, progress, empire and war. In this century, the era of steel goods is being replaced with waves of intangible data while our plowshares of the past rot in the field.

In Dixon, a 12-artist show is exploring that dichotomy. “STEEL” is showing at Studio 207 and will be on view Saturday (April 15) and April 22 from noon to 4 p.m. The show was also on view last weekend.

Lynn E. Alden, the curator of the show, said, “Even though the weather was kind of crappy, we got a good number of people here for the first weekend.” She explained that the show hadn’t really been promoted in Taos, other than people being notified during an annual studio tour.

“I would say I knew about 75 percent of the people who were here. That reflects what we’ve been seeing with about three-quarters of the folks coming through are locals and the rest are traveling between Taos and Santa Fe,” she said.

“There were a lot of reasons to do this show, including the fact that [it’s] not at the time of the annual studio tour. You’re not confused. We don’t have that many public venues here. If we want to be shown, we have to show it ourselves. That’s how all this started. We want people to see our work, but we don’t want to leave the house,” she said, only half joking.

Confirming rumors of what has been said about people in Dixon, Alden explained, “Here in Dixon, people like to get together because they like to party,” she said, saying that having a show like this makes it possible to have a reason to congregate. “This is the most social town of hermits I have ever met.”

But aside from being an excuse to throw a party, the idea for the show had an intellectual purpose.

“Steel, crafted in an alchemical process, an essential component of Empire, towers of strength and sharpness of blade. The rusting forms in our yards returning to Earth. ​Impermanent. This paradox intrigues me,” she wrote on the exhibit’s website.

The artists who are participating in the show are Bob Brenden, Willa Brenden, Faith Gelvin, Sheena Cameron, Violet Hill, Ron Monsour, Judy Pearson, David Rigsby, Jeanne Treadway, Clay Walker, Pete West and Alden.

Bob Brenden moved to Dixon in 1977. He was an original member of the Dixon Studio Tour when it began in 1982. He has worked as a silversmith, potter, stone carver and sculptor, as well as a restorer of old adobe houses.

Gelvin is a multimedia artist and educator. Her sculpture reflects a strong connection to her New Mexican roots with influences from European, Hispanic and Native American cultures. She works particularly in ceramic, metal and wood media.

Cameron moved to Dixon in 1981 from Boston, Massachusetts. She received a bachelor’s degree in ceramic sculpture from Massachusetts College of Art. She was also a participant in the first Dixon Studio Tour 35 years ago. A jeweler in the early years of the tour, Cameron is now is a clay artist working primarily in raku.

Her “Messenger Horses” are symbolic ceramic and mixed media pieces that open to reveal aspects of inner life. Cameron also makes figurative clay sculptures and wall pieces. She shows in her studio/gallery, which is open year-round in Rinconada. She is also represented by Copper Moon Gallery in Taos.

Hill said she began working in her father’s studio as soon as she could pick up a pencil or paintbrush and has been painting ever since. She graduated from University of New Mexico’s School of Architecture. Architectural detailing, painting and building have been her main life occupations.

“I was delighted to be asked to think about steel and imagine works for this show. Steel is not only created by all of the elements – earth, water, air and fire – working together, but is also a product of advanced technology and requires a great deal of energy to produce,” she said.

Monsour said he is in love with nature and his subjects, giving him a special eye. Beauty in everyday objects is made accessible to us through his photography. His use of angles, natural light, contrast and setting set his art apart from the rest. He calls art without Photoshop effects “organic art.”

Pearson studied ceramic arts at Rhode Island College. She is a ceramicist and founder of Happy Rat Studio.

“Steel pushed me to work in glass for the first time, though I’d been threatening to give it a try for years,” she said.

Rigsby said he ended up in Embudo 50 years ago because of mechanical failure in 1967 and hasn’t looked back.

Alden, the curator of the show, has a master’s degree in art from Antioch and wears many hats in the community. She is an artist, sculptor, theater designer, builder, fine woodworker and cabinetmaker, gardener, farmer and more. A longtime resident of Dixon, Alden’s public work is visible on the front of Dixon Cooperative Market. She has designed and produced theater and museum settings in St. Louis, Missouri; Seattle, Washington; Santa Fe; Dixon; as well as other venues.

Studio 207 is a collaboration between Alden, Rigsby and the Dixon Community Players. At any moment, you might find the floor covered in stage drops waiting to be painted or one or two figurative sculptures in process, along with other projects destined for shows and productions throughout Northern New Mexico.

Dixon is located 26 miles south of Taos via State Road 68 and State Road 75. For more information, call (575) 224-9884. On Facebook, search for “STEEL” or check out