Wednesday, July 11, 2012

James Havard Santa Fe

 Circumstances led us to a Santa Fe day trip yesterday. An appointment with my cardiologist for a stress test 3 months after I suffered a series of 4 heart attacks over the course of 9 days. The tests went quite well and from the Doctor's point of view I should live another 30 years or so with the 3 stents he placed in me on April 15. This by the way is my round about way of writing something about this whole unexpected dilemma. Holly was with me to disseminate the rapid fire descriptions of what was and is currently going on with my heart. After 3 hours of tests we were able to take a bit of time to stop in to see the James Havard exhibit at the vast Zane-Bennett Contemporary Art Gallery at 435 South Guadalupe St. 
We spent almost an hour there as it was difficult to tear ourselves away from viewing these master works. This is a 'survey' of Havard artwork, that is to say Mr. Havard's work through the years. Most artists prefer to exhibit the most current work, and I'm certain if he was up to it there would have been mostly new work here. Yet, he too has had recent health scares and thus the Gallery is exhibiting a bit of work from different time periods. Thank you to the ZaneBennett owners and staff for doing so. As far as I'm concerned this is the exhibition of the year in Santa Fe you should be very proud and I hope that people are turning out to see it.
Southwestern Galleries and Art have the stigma of having to show and be about "landscape paintings" it's a rare treat to see real Contemporary Art and in a gallery that is all about viewing the art.
 Much of the work is presented in shadow box frames due to the layering of artifacts/items onto the surface of his base, whether it be a cardboard box or a heavy artist paper. Most of you will not have the opportunity to view this exhibit, it's only up for 2 more weeks, but there is a lovely 20. catalogue which you can purchase through Z/B. There is also a "James Havard" monogram book in 2 editions a pricey limited edition which comes w a print and the regular hardback by Hudson Hills Press 2006. Pricing of original art begins at 5,000. for masterworks such as these they may be the last bargain to be found in any Santa Fe art gallery! There are also large stretched canvas works, which I did hesitate to investigate pricing of, (the last image here is one of the large early pieces).
 Pages from books with images of masks, pre-Columbian figures or any survey of art history images may adorn the surface. There's also a wonderful 3 dimensional effect he's able to create sometimes with a spray painted shadow below a thick straight from the tube line drawn in space. The series of assemblage boxes with thick paint and artifacts is not like traditional assemblage box art at all, you'd never think of it when viewing these, we viewed them as complete paintings. He seems to stay away from kitsch as a natural instinct, even with the repetitiousness of some of the imagery using words, paintbrushes, picture postcards and even Navajo medicine bundles these never become quaint and ordinary, they are every one extraordinary.
 Although it is never touted as such, Mr. Havard is of Native American descent, of which tribe and to what percentage seems to make no difference to anyone who loves his artwork, (his bio lacks this information). This makes him more endearing to me, he's just James, like him or not. Author Jamake Highwater includes an early work in his book "Arts of the Indian Americas North Central South Leaves from the Sacred Tree" 1983 Harper & Row
 I first saw a few of Mr. Havard's paintings in the office of Ray Trotter of R.B. Ravens Gallery in Ranchos de Taos (although he does not have any of them on the website). Inquiring minds would love to know more and from speaking with Ray about this artwork I learned more. Mr. Trotter has a knack of acquiring art that he loves by people that he loves, it just seems to go hand in hand with him. A few years later we had dinner at Trattoria Nostrani a wonderful Italian Restaurant in Santa Fe, there adorning the walls are a few of the paintings of James Havard, (these with a definite food theme, probably purchased in trade for a tab), worth a look and worth a reservation to visit, or choose to sit at the bar. 
When I look at this artwork I see a kindred spirit someone who loves and respects world culture, but also someone who was more than likely influenced by an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC "Primitivism in 20th Century Art" 1985. Seek out the catalogue of the same title it's well worth owning (we do currently have a copy available at Two Graces) In the catalogue you'll find comparisons of Modern Art to the arts and crafts of world cultures, the influences of world culture on a wide range of artists.
 Often times words and writing on paintings bring to mind the artwork of Jean Michel Basquiat, when you actually explore a bit more of art history you'll find early David Hockney and Andy Warhol using writing, go back further and you'll learn about Illuminated Manuscripts. So is James doing his version of Basquiat? The answer is a definitive no, James is doing James and what he loves best and he obviously loves 'Primitivism' and how that has influenced art through the years. With the image below you may notice more of a Bill Traylor style of work, the strong Cobalt color, the primitive style of drawing as in the look of an 'Outsider Artist'. Mr. Havard's paintings are very colorful from his use of Cadmium Red, Yellow and Orange along with the Cobalts of Blue and Green. He doesn't scrimp on his art supplies whether he's using oils, acrylics or pigments and tearing pages out of art books can get very expensive as well.
 The newest work is reminiscent of figures by Romare Bearden, again this is not a bad influence the paintings are very much James Havard paintings. The one major disappointment to this exhibit is the lackluster sales, I noticed one 'red dot' on a description card signaling a sold painting, that's not a whole lot of sales for a High End Art Gallery. Z/B has a top notch sales staff, Christian Cheneau, Mark DiPrima and the ever present Nancy Boshers will always speak to you, even if you are just visiting to see the art and not make a purchase, (who knows perhaps someday you'll want to return and make a purchase when you are feeling flush, and no please don't use the old 'when I win the lottery' excuse).
Introduce yourself, tell them I sent you.
The James Havard exhibit "Staying Ahead of the Beast Paintings, Works on Paper, Archive Boxes" is on view at Zanebennett Contemporary Art in Santa Fe June 29-July 20, 2012
It would have been nice to attend the opening and finally meet Mr. Havard, but I feel fortunate and exhilarated that we were able to take a moment while in Santa Fe to see it, thus this post (normally I don't write posts about other people's galleries).
This is a collection of masterworks by a more than talented artist, a rare treat, try not to miss it, (the clock is ticking).

Update: Sadly I noticed on my last trip to Santa Fe that ZaneBennett Contemporary Art is now closed.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mary Witkop Taos Pottery at Two Graces

 Mary Witkop was more than a remarkable woman of Taos to me, she was a dear friend that I selfishly miss. Day after day she was in her studio working, mixing the local micaceous clay, building pots, burnishing, polishing, coloring and polishing some more. Carefully loading up her rickety truck to take the latest finished pots to her Pilar studio where she would fire them and add horsehair or feathers to put a unique finishing touch on her creations. She did it all herself, she resisted help, even if we just offered to carry clay or a bag of dried cow pies, she had to do it herself. That’s what being a total artist was to her, she did it all from start to finish.
a mango pink coloration with black 'clouds' and a bit of corrugated design at the neck 
Green pot with corrugated crimping and horsehair 
pinks, blues, lavenders enhance this pot with a small spout 
 Every now and then she’d come over for a visit, or after selling one of her pots I’d go to see her in the studio to pay her. Then I could choose the next pot that she would allow me to have for sale. She’d say ‘go ahead, and pick one out’ in return I’d ask her which was her favorite, she’d pick up a beautiful jewel-like pot, hand it to me and tell me why this was the one I should have.
these 2 pots are rather dark with a bit of color, much like an evening sky here in Taos, with the glittery micaceous clay creating a solar system of stars
Milky Way
an extremely rare 'black' pot
these are both 
 The high polish, the array of coloring and the cloud marks were her trademarks. When visiting a friend in Taos you can spot a Mary Witkop pot in someone’s home rather quickly, they are as unique as the most famous Pueblo potters.
Before her passing we had been talking about having a big exhibit of her work, she dreaded the idea and loved the idea. It would be an honor, and it would be a lot of work. Mary would begin working on 2 large pots for her annual contribution to the Taos Fall Arts exhibit up to 6 months before the opening! For many years she was awarded the Best of Show for her pottery in the Fall Arts exhibit until she asked the committee to start giving the award to someone else.
Solstice pot with Lawrence Herrera silverwork medallion
this pot was displayed in Mary's studio for many years where I always admired it, drawing me into it's magnificent beauty. Mr. Herrera attended the opening, I picked up the pot to show him that his name had been inscribed onto the bottom alongside Ms. Witkop's name.

a bit of carving and blue linear lines on this pot enhanced with ostrich feathers 
lavender pitcher w/handle and spout 
This pot won Best of show in the 2004 Taos Fall Arts exhibit 
a lavender colored 'flying saucer' pot 
A large blue 'flying saucer' custom ordered pot 
 In memoriam to this wonderful artist and with support from her family, we are pleased to announce the exhibition “The Pottery of Mary Witkop” opening Friday, May 25 and on display through August 24, Two Graces Plaza Gallery, 68 St. Francis Church Plaza, Ranchos de Taos. There will be an opening reception on Friday evening from 5-8PM, we hope that people will come out and share their own stories and experiences about Mary. This is our tribute to Mary Witkop, we hope you will join us. For more information about this exhibit please contact Robert Cafazzo at 575-758-4101 or at

as we had predicted many of the smaller pots have sold quickly, please contact us ASAP for availability, (there may be more pots added to the exhibit, you never know...)

IF you own a pot that you would consider selling with us, please let us know, the sooner the better!
this large smokey red oxide pot is one of the 5 large pots 
Small pot with blue spots 
all 5 of the pots at the front of this display

one of the large colorful carved pots 
 We are grateful to the Witkop and Hopper families for allowing Two Graces Plaza Gallery to exhibit and sell this beautiful body of work. 
So many people attended the opening reception last night, TGPG would like to thank all of you for making this an event we will never forget. Old friends mingled with people who had never met Mary, all awe inspired. A moment in Taos where the 3 cultures came together to once again celebrate an artist who stood among them and who we all admired.

This fall the Pilar Studio Tour will be dedicated to the memory of Mary Witkop, (the organizers came by to take photographs of the exhibit)
This unglazed Bean pot was made in a group of pottery done for a Christmas exhibit sale it is priced at 200. it is the only 'functional' pot we have available, meaning it can actually be used to cook in on the stove top or in the oven (gas or electric)
iron oxide pot 
iron oxide with a hint of green
I can hear the horsehair sizzle and burn onto this pot as she tossed it on
pot to the left with green and blue coloring Indonesia green pot
the green pot here and above were inspired by a trip to 
Indonesia where much of the pottery is colored green the pot to the left white with blue, & green seed pot
Lavender pot
a few additions
Green w/horsehair medium size medium size Blue w/feathers small Blue w/feathers
"Adoration of the Cross Ladies" medium size white w/feathery clouds
(please note this pot is unsigned and has no identification of the collaborator who carved it, therefor a very special price point)
* please note: Mary always warned not to use her pottery as a planter, she would often place a feather or leaf in a pot, nothing more than that.
This exhibit runs through August 24, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Taos Lilac Festival (a 2012 preview)

All photographs Robert Cafazzo copyright 2012, 
if you would like to use any of these images please ask first, thank you.
"Lilacs against Adobe"
In May 2013 The Taos Lilac Festival will take place as an annual event you will find more information as it becomes available here: 
(They also have begun a Facebook page)

 "Lilacs with clouds"
This Spring in Taos we have seen a wonderful array of colorful flowering fruit trees, apples, apricots, and a few peaches. They even survived the early Spring snows with trees now beginning to bare little green nuggets of fruit. Over the past 2 weeks the Lilac bushes and Forsythia shrubs have been in full bloom, along with Tulips, Daffodils, & Grape Hyacinth. Now the large Bearded Iris are blooming and some early Oriental Poppies in all their glory.
Along with all the flowering wild flowers, people have been saying this is the prettiest Spring they've seen in Taos in over 12 years.
 Although there may be 1,000 types of Lilacs, in Taos we tend to see 4 of these, the classic medium colored Lilac, a paler softer Lilac, a deep intense almost purple Lilac color, and a white Lilac, which most people plant as a group with the medium colored bush.
 All over Taos you'll find Lilacs blooming at this time of year, a real treat for your eyes and nose. 
 Stop and listen you may hear buzzing bees, and chirping birds, I love the sounds of the Red Winged Blackbirds as they fly from bush to bush with their trill voices calling to one another.
 Now today being May 8, 2012, and the Lilac Festival dates being May 17-June 3, 2013 I won't make any promises for next year for these dates, I say come early, the first week of May which has been prime viewing for our spectacular flowering Lilac shrubs. 
(Please note: last year very few lilacs bloomed due to an extreme lack of moisture)
 In Ranchos de Taos & Llano Quemado there are Lilacs everywhere!
 "Soft lilac coloring at the Taos Art Museum"
 I took this shot of Lilacs in the sunshine growing over a fence nearby, the house where these are located has painted purple doors and window frames!
 "Storm over Lilacs"
 Ooooh, I wonder what Lilac Honey would bee like???
 "Bunches of Clouds and Lilacs"
 "Lilac with Horno (adobe bread oven)"
 "White Lilacs with soft color" 
Are they still Lilacs if they are white?
Bring your camera, or if you forget to, snap some pictures with your smart phone!
 A vase of Lilacs on your Dining room table or on your Bureau will add a lovely fresh fragrance of the outdoors to the room. Remember to ask first if you are picking a bouquet from a bush that is not yours.
 I took most of these photographs on a 1.2 mile walk from my home in Llano Quemado to the Ranchos Plaza, there's a lovely group of bushes here by the Church and in the backyard of our store Two Graces Plaza Gallery.
As children we would suck the sweet nectar from as many of these little flowers as we could!
Get out and enjoy the lilacs!!!