Michael McCormick is a born storyteller; thanks to his Irish Heritage, he has the gift of gab and then some!
He can entertain for hours with his tales of adventure, drama and intrigue, so it’s not that surprising to discover that McCormick, long a fixture on the Taos Art Scene, in fact holds an MFA in English Literature and originally intended to become a writer.
His namesake gallery (situated in the former J.C. Penney’s building on the Paseo), has long been a destination spot for contemporary art lovers travelling to Taos, but his own personal journey is a story in itself, involving both luck and timing, especially in regards to his involvement in the Art World.
Michael McCormick was born and raised in the American Heartland. He went to school in a small agrarian community in Michigan before receiving his MFA from the University of Montana, where he studied literature and art history. From there he went to England, following a dream of becoming a poet (and indeed, a rather fine poet, he happens to be), before heading to Mexico City where he worked for the United Nations Security Council and briefly, for the C.I.A.
His clandestine involvement with an underground South American political movement, is yet another chapter in the book of Michael’s life, (which if written would read like a Tom Robbins novel), but Mexico City is where he met his beautiful Japanese wife, Yumiko, who was studying at the University there. Together they eventually moved to Taos, where they settled, and raised their three children.
Personal loss has been an unfortunate hallmark of their lives in Taos. Michael and Yumiko endured a horrific tragedy with the premature death of their son Ryoji, and come out of it stronger, wiser and even more compassionate than before. I’ve known the family for years and whenever bad luck has befallen them, Michael bounces back like a cat with nine lives. The proverbial Luck of the Irish is Michael’s Ace, always.
Michael’s charmed life has brought him into contact with many famous and infamous people. In Taos, through his childhood friend, the renowned artist, Jack Smith, Michael was introduced to former actor and Buddhist monk, the late Bob Watkins, who was part of Dennis Hopper’s intimate circle of friends. In short order, Michael would meet and befriend the who’s who of Taos, which has served him well in his years here as one of the foremost gallerists in the South West. An accidental career which has become a life-long passion.
Long involved in the community as a philanthropist, giving much of his proceeds to charity, Michael is perhaps best known for the work he did as the co-founder of Childrite throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Michael is also the original founder of the annual Spring Arts Festivities here in Taos.
The Michael McCormick Gallery is a treat for the senses. The stunning collections of the artists he represents, hang salon-style in the high ceilinged rooms, covering every inch of the loft-like space. There is so much to take in, one needs to be prepared to spend a little time in here, especially if you manage to engage Michael in conversation!
The names of the artists are well-known; Miguel Martinez, Malcolm Furlow, Tim Tate Nevaquaya, Michael Archuleta, Jose Canencia and Bill Baker among others, are all stellar artists, among the best in the country, but Michael also has private collections of rare Bill Ranes, Michio Takayamas, R.C.Gormans, and Rembrandt etchings pulled from the Master’s own plates, part of a Requile published in the 18th Century.
Jen Weddle, a young and very talented silversmith from Texas, also shows at Michael’s gallery. Weddle’s work is unique and its sculptural quality is a good fit with the other works shown here.
Michael’s openings are legendary in Taos, full-blown affairs complete with refreshments, food and often entertainment, they draw crowds who linger long after dark. The gallery has hosted book signings and other receptions which have included musicians such as Jimmy Stadler, Robby Romero, Robert Mirabal among others.
Jamie Garrison the gallery’s Director and Curator (and very talented photographer – she is responsible for these images), is Michael’s right hand these days, but his hands on approach is really what makes his gallery stand out in a town filled with art and artists.
His Irish roots have bestowed him with his poetic, slightly melancholy bent, his unique way of looking at the world, and Art.
“I believe in balance, in reconciling opposites, in symbiotic relationships, in the harmonious; the healing effects of colour, light and shape, symbols and innuendo,” says Michael.
“Most people are afraid to listen to their own hearts; they’re unsure of their own authority, but, and this is important, it’s not necessary to know the reason we love something.”
“Art is like Religion… Elusive and magical.” He notes.
“For the faithful, if the eye is the window to the soul, then Art is definitely in the eye of the beholder.”
For more information on the Michael McCormick Gallery, please visit their site linked below this post.
All photographs of the McCormick Gallery, revellers at a recent Artist’s Reception, Gallery mascots Meownet and Pixle, and Michael with Micki Free and Michael Archuleta, by Jamie Garrison.