Southwest Art Magazine Previews: Taos Group Show

Show Preview | Taos Group Show

By: Southwest Art | August 15, 2017

Los Angeles, CA
Maxwell Alexander Gallery, September 23-October 7

This story was featured in the September 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  September 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Maxwell Alexander Gallery’s annual destination-themed group shows have presented fresh, artistic takes on the majestic Grand Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs, and Monument Valley. This month the show returns with a spotlight on the more intimate but equally cherished setting of Taos, NM, through the eyes of 10 western painters, including G. Russell Case, David Grossmann, Logan Maxwell Hagege, and Tim Solliday. “We’ve invited some of the most well-known contemporary artists who paint this location,” says gallery director Beau Alexander, “but we’ve also included a few artists who traveled to the area for the first time.”

The show opens with an artists’ reception on Saturday, September 23, at 6:30 p.m., when the gallery unveils one or two new paintings by each participating artist. Visitors can expect to see wide-ranging interpretations of the northern New Mexico town and neighboring Sangre de Cristo Mountains. “It’s fun to get a new perspective on such an iconic location,” says Alexander. “Taos will forever hold an importance in the western art market. The Taos Society of Artists were among the most important figures in the western art movement, and many of the artists we represent are influenced by their works.”

That’s particularly true for Utah artist Brett Allen Johnson, who has long been inspired by the Taos Society artists. The landscape painter visited the town for the first time in May with plans to portray the landscape or perhaps the historic church at Ranchos de Taos. “Taos is very beautiful,” says Johnson, “but I left with the impression that the most special thing about it wasn’t the hills and the sage. Native life here was, and is, so thoroughly woven into the land itself, both in utility and spiritually. I knew that the land alone was a very incomplete picture.”

Thus inspired, the artist set out to complete his first finished figurative painting, EARTH AND CLAY, in which he portrays two Indians standing before an adobe structure and mud oven in the centuries-old community of Taos Pueblo. “I hope viewers might feel the connection to the earth, to the soil,” says Johnson of the scene, “but I also hope they will see two individuals with lives and emotions that are more complicated than the stereotypes.”

New Mexico native John Moyers brings two paintings that portray Native Americans against distinctive Taos backdrops. In MEN OF IMPORTANCE, the silhouette of Taos Mountain rises up behind a group of sharply dressed Taos Indians on horseback. “Everything in the painting is authentic, down to their hairstyles, the white blankets, and the leggings they wore in the late 1800s,” says Moyers. “I try to pay really close attention to that.”

The Santa Fe artist has frequented Taos since he was a boy, and he regularly revisits the town’s people and history in his work. “When I was a kid, you still saw the men in the white blankets and the horses around the plaza,” says Moyers. “I consider myself lucky to have seen it. You can’t stop progress, but it’s still a neat place.” —Kim Agricola

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