Chad Manley was born in 1969, at the very end of the decade that was to change popular culture forever.
A freewheeling, Bohemian childhood spent in the untamed, sun-bleached mountains of Pecos in Northern New Mexico not only informed his imagination and artistic eye, but also enabled him to benefit from traditional apprenticeships with a diverse group of local artists who were the foundation of his education in “craftsmanship, skill of hand, and love of studio work.”
After graduating from High School, Chad attended the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., immersing himself in an inner examination of process and method, along with an outer awareness of the history of arts and design Chad ventured back west “by thumb and by freight.”
Settling in Portland, Oregon, inspired by the city’s “great, industrial bowels,” he found a studio tucked in an 1800s foundry that had at one time, served as one of the North West’s oldest and largest industrial recycling facilities.
The work he began making there, turned to an artistic exploration of the history of human industry.
“The dynamic co-evolution of people, our tools, and the objects we live with.” He says now.
Through this artistic exploration he was drawn irrevocably to design as a functional art form.
Years later, once he had moved to New York City, he continued working in design fabrication, prototyping and creating production protocols, and it was through this work that he gleaned a deeper understanding of the design world and the creative workings of “the trade.”
In NYC, Chad developed his first collection of furnishings that fundamentally blurred the lines between art and design.
Chad returned to Northern New Mexico in 2000, with the tools, machines, and a unique understanding of industry, choosing Taos as his home, where he continues to live and work.
Chad is married to the equally talented and wonderful Juniper Manley, the Harwood Museum of Art’s new Director, whom I will feature here in the next couple of weeks. Ironically, although both grew up here, they met on the Northwest Coast years before they became a couple. They have two sons who are being raised, as were their parents, in the Enchanted foothills of the Sangre de Cristos mountains.
Of his work, Chad says, “I hope and believe that by making objects that exist outside the box of ‘normal’, I will entice the world around me and the people who live with these objects, to themselves think outside the box in whatever they do and make their lives extraordinary.”
“Here in Taos I am grateful to join so many others that came before us and those who are working today in this effort to make Taos and this world, unique and interesting . With all the other creative minds I see around me today it feels like Taos is just that. It’s a beautiful thing to behold and it makes this town a wonderful place to live.”
Even as he continues to “work quietly away,” as he puts it, the greater world is not unaware of his considerable talent. He was recently featured on the NYC website Design Milk in a piece on Northern New Mexico.
Sue Westbrook, the owner of Taos Blue, who early on showed Chad’s work at her Lo Fino Gallery, says, “not only is he extremely talented, he is also a very special and rare human being.”
I couldn’t agree more.
A new show of Chad Manley’s extraordinary work opens on Friday May 3rd at OTA Contemporary Art on Canyon Road, in Santa Fe.
For more information, please visit the sites linked below.
All images thanks to Chad and Juniper Manley