Nora Anthony has lived in Taos for several decades after moving here from NYC.
She grew up in the city immersed in Art – it was a given that she would choose it as her path forward in life.
I was introduced to Nora by her daughter, Zoe Zimmerman soon after I moved back to Taos (from NYC), in late 1990. I was inspired by her relationship with her daughter as well as her choice of a lifestyle that afforded her the ability to make art along with bringing up kids. I was looking for role models back then, and Zoe and her mother represented both the familiar and the unknown.
Nora raised her kids here in a charmed Talpa enclave, which at one time included Larry Bell and Janet Webb and their children, along with a couple of other close friends and fellow artists who lived near by.
Rambling old adobes set in the bucolic, fertile, verdant Talpa valley, replete with fruit trees bending at the bough with the weight of their bounty, and iris and daffodils blooming in the springtime among dewy green grasses, made this a garden paradise for the children growing up here.
The children went back and forth between the homes – Rachel Bell has told me that Zoe Zimmerman is her oldest friend – Zoe says she was Rachel’s first babysitter.
All of the children grew up with artist parents (Janet was a Fashion Illustrator before she reinvented herself in Taos), and all of them have grown into creative adults. Their childhood in that enclave was rich with cross-cultural exposure and Bohemian joie de vivre.
Nora’s contribution to this paradise has continued; she still lives and works in the same house and studio, even though her neighbors have long since moved on.
When the Work By Women show went up at the Harwood (co-curated by Janet Webb and Judy Kendall), Janet sent me Nora’s email along with the other women she wanted featured in the piece. Nora told me she’d rather wait till her June show at Magpie so that “Zoe could shine.”
I was taken back but not surprised by her enormous humility, her quiet fortitude. Like the quiet strength of her work. Nora has seen the best and worst of everything life can throw at one in her years here in Taos, and she keeps on keeping on, like the poet sings. What else does one do when one is an artist?
And Nora is very much an artist. Her work is painterly with masterful composition and mostly tremendous attention to light. To color and light, which are in any event, one and the same. Her paintings are alive with both. In her artist’s statement, which is a lesson in understatement – she says “Always painting, searching for the right color, the right light.”
I was going to visit her this week, but came down with a cold I didn’t want to pass on, so I emailed her a few questions in lieu of a visit. She responded promptly and mentioned a drawing she made of me when we first met.
“I still run across a drawing I did of you at Cafe Tazza years ago in an old sketch book.” She wrote.
1) Your Artist’s statement reads like a prose poem. It covers a lifetime of making art with a few broad strokes – do you write as well as paint?
I am a Haiku lover. Short and sweet is my preference. Here is one.
Her Halo peeking
Above the crumpled hillside
2) I met you soon after I came back to Taos in late 1990 – in fact you even made a drawing of me once – Zoe introduced us – and I’ve long admired your work. Besides nature (and the Taos light), what inspires you to return to the canvas day after day?
Compulsion…a lifetime of trying to solve the color problem. You do it until it does you.
3) You’ve lived here in Taos for years – you’ve raised kids here, experienced all that life could possibly throw at you, yet you continue in the most graceful way, to quietly make art while being the most serene and steadfast matriarch (of your family) imaginable! How do you do it all?
No choice. One foot in front of the other (just as you do Lynne.)
4) You have two seriously accomplished kids and grandkids who appear to be following suit – how do your family continue to inform your life and work?
Love is the answer. Endless curiosity. Willingness to work hard and keep on working.
Wise words. Words to build a body of work on.
Nora Anthony’s show is up at Magpie through the month of June.with an opening reception for the artist on June 9th from 5-7pm.
For more on the show, please visit Magpie’s site linked below.
Portrait of Nora Anthony in her garden, by her daughter, Zoe Zimmerman
All images thanks to Magpie.