Two Women At Magpie

Yesterday, a new show was installed at the Magpie gallery in the Overland Ranch Complex.

Two of the most accomplished women artists here in Taos have their powerful work in Georgia Gersh’s Magpie nest for the next month. The show opens this coming Saturday, September 9th. Georgia suggested I pose the same questions to both Maye Torres and Gretchen Ewert, and so I did. You can read their answers below!

1) You are both accomplished and highly acclaimed artists, yet nether of you rest on your laurels  – what keeps you moving forward, pushing the boundaries of art and life in order to continue being inspired and productive?

Maye:There so many things that keep me moving and creative. My children and family, amazing friends, dogs who adopt me, Solitude, The Vast Infinite Universe, Patrons. Sometimes though I don’t want to move at all. I just want to watch the clouds in the sky.Watch the day go by like John Lennon said, I try, but inevitably something pulls me back to the process of art making. It’s some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder or an honorable curse. The Evolution of the art just seems natural, Some sort of self competition,trying to top your last work of art or last series. Sometimes it feels impossible. Sometimes I don’t want to do it any more. But the studio and the process, like a giant magnet, continually pulling me back in, to manipulate materials and spin them around with ideas that reference our time. Born an Art Slave… Some of the work in the show is the result of a Hatchfund Grant focused on the exploration of my drawings. Larry Bell was one of the major donors. The Audience definitely inspires and keeps the creative wheels turning, without them the creative endeavor would be futile.

Gretchen:   I think working is a little like exercise say doing a regular yoga practice, moving keeps the juices flowing. It feels good. Like many artists I work in several mediums in clay, on paper. That shifting offers relief plus freshness when something feels stale. needs a rest. Revisiting old ideas can also be interesting. I’m looking at a tile project that never left the drawing board. It combines design with clay and now it feels like the right time to proceed.  I should add that interacting with a community is very helpful. I don’t do enough, but even a little bit of interaction feels like coming out of the crypt. My friend, ceramic artist Sang Roberson gave a wonderful demo/talk at the TCA. It was warm, lively, and a complete departure from the stiffness of  art history lectures.  If I had a name for my work it would probably be “Earth and Sky”. The drawings are about the goings on of the cosmos, the heavens. I’m not sure about spiritual, but it is definitely cool and always has my attention. I have plans to do a series of drawings about the Carrington Event of 1859  (185 BC – this one is an obsession i admit) when the sun sent out the biggest solar flare ever recorded. The entire sky glowed with auroras for three days so bright and gorgeous that night became day— oblivious to the human chaos taking place on earth.

2) From what I’ve seen of the work you are showing at Magpie this September, it appears to be quite mythic – taking on archetypes and Nature with a post-modern point of view – can you tell us a little about what inspired you to make these pieces?

Maye:Ted Egri, one of my mentors, stressed the importance of the artist recording the times they live in, not just painting a still life of flowers or an idyllic landscape. Watching our world change because of the invention of cell phones, computers, iPads…has harkened a new age, just as the total eclipse did this month. “They”have us enslaved to a device that is 3″ x 5″, a little rectangular device that contains vast amounts of knowledge. People don’t look up anymore, we are addicted as a society to our devices and some of the drawings in the show represent that dance.

Gretchen:My animals and plants are the terrestrial part, I agree distilled into archetypes. This particular body of work evolved into an overall bird theme, one piece led to another. With earthy stuff I like the interface between stillness and the next motion, a sort of stop motion. These are also all vessels. Vessels are the metaphorical body so I can make them stand in for anything as makers have done for centuries.  I make a pitch for beauty. Even artists/people in freighted situations seem to want it like sunshine and rain.

3) As women artists working in America at this particular point in time, how to you see our current POTUS’ agenda affecting the Arts in the years to come?

Maye:  As a woman artist today during the times of the most controversial President in US history, I feel that we are all being called to arms, the pen being mightier than the sword, whether we are female or male artists doesn’t matter. I believe that the imagery and the explosion of imagery that is about to occur will be driven by the existing POTUS. It will be an Artistic Renaissance the World has never seen. It is grass-roots and underground, yet in full view, it’s very exciting and we have nothing to lose and total unity of humanity to gain.

Gretchen:    I take away an observation from an old gallerist friend who commented that Emperor Qin’s terra cotta army from 2200 years ago will still be there long after the Trump portraits have found their way into the trash bin. Emperor Qin was the first modernize/uniter of China.  A cautionary tale since Qin had a reputation as a harsh ruler. It took 30 years, 700,000 craftsman to make those 6000 figures, tomb and no one can say whether the work was voluntary or what conditions were (judging from the archeological remains surrounding the Pyramids not good), but the results are still extraordinary and still here.  

This truly extraordinary show opens this Saturday, September 9th at Magpie, in the Overland Ranch Complex, with a reception for the artists from 5-7pm. This show is in conjunction with the Envision Gallery’s opening for Reto Messmer at the same time. It’s bound to be quite a bash, so if you are in town,  don’t miss it!

For more information about the artists and the opening, please visit Magpie’s site linked below this post.


All images c/o Magpie