Work by Women: Zoe Zimmerman

Zoe Zimmerman was born on May 24 1965  in NYC.

That same year another Zimmerman (Bob Dylan), released Bringing It All Back Home. She Belongs To Me was the second track on the album.

The odd coincidence that they share a birthday as well as a surname aside, the song’s refrain, “she’s an artist, she don’t look back,” could have been written expressly for Zoe right now, at this time.

The Lower East Side informed her childhood and Taos is where she grew up. Her life has seen tragedy and triumph, joy, sorrow and all the in-between; challenges and hardships most could not endure, but Zoe does. Beautifully.

Rising to every occasion elegantly and with dignity, Zoe lives her life artistically. And she doesn’t look back.

An incredible artist – she uses her camera to create portraits and mise-en-scene still lifes- that beckon the onlooker to, in turn, gaze deeply at and into the subject matter portrayed, until one discovers even more than the eye alone, can see.

Her exquisite eye has fixed its gaze on men and women. In the studio, posed and poised as well as out-of-doors, caught in motion.   Her camera never far from her side, Zoe captures magic in the ordinary  wherever she travels. From Paris to Morocco or Turkey, her singular vision sees things most miss. And in turn, once again invites the viewer to step through a timeless window.

Zoe’s mother, Nora Anthony is also an accomplished artist, and clearly, in more ways than one, the apple did not fall far from the tree. Nora (who’s work is also included in Works by Women), declined to be interviewed with Zoe, but I will be featuring her when she has her own, solo show at Magpie later on this year.  

For now, she says she wants her daughter, (and frequent taoStyle contributor) Zoe, to shine. To have this moment be for her. Nora’s generosity of spirit is that of a mother’s unconditional love and Zoe, in turn, transfers that same love to her own children.

Work by Women embodies this same spirit.

Zoe and I met at the Manzanita Market one sunny day in January. I was chatting with Jen Hart when she glided in, every inch the New Yorker, yet somehow managing to get away with it in Taos.

It meaning she was dressed to the nines, polished perfection from the shoes to the shiny coiffure. Her emerald-green wool dress zipped up the back from hem to neck. A big blanket shawl was nonchalantly thrown around her shoulders and she wore her signature red lipstick. It was noon in the High Desert.

If I walked out my door looking like that at noon in Taos, I’d probably get laughed at. Zoe gets admiring glances from both men and women, who I daresay are also a little envious of her ability to pull of haute chic, aqui en Taos! Most of us have two wardrobes; one that centers around boots that can take the snow (when we have any), and the inevitable mud that follows, and another, featuring “real” shoes, for travel to “civilized” destinations.

Not Zoe.

A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (and East Village streets), Zoe’s impeccable taste informs both her own sense of style as well as her powerful work.

Over the years, watching her evolve as an artist, her voice getting stronger and her vision, sharper, with time and experience, has been a joy! I’m an enormous fan of her deeply feminist, yet profoundly feminine sensibilities; her ability to celebrate women and girls for their beauty as well as their fierce determination and strength.

I also love that she loves men, in all their incarnations and transformations. And that in her work, she has always acknowledged and embraced a true androgyny and gender fluidity that goes way beyond trends.

We were sitting outside in the sun, bowls of bone broth and rice were on the table, along with a pot of tea, which we shared. I ate. Zoe barely touched her food. She lit up a cigarette as our friend Kevin Cannon arrived. He was having lunch with another friend, but sat down with us while he waited for her.

We poured some tea for him and continued talking. Kevin knows each of us so well, he didn’t bat an eye, nor miss a beat as we carried on with our informal interview, but simply turned his ageless face to the sun and smiled, interjecting here and there.

“Have you seen the Invitation (for Work by Women), yet?” She asked me.

“No,” I lied. Gina Azzarhad sent me the images earlier, making me promise to tell no one I’d seen them.

“They are using mine for the cover,” she said.

“Of course they are,” said Kevin.

“It’s a fold out card with the other work inside,”

“It’s a nude.” She told us, sounding surprised.

In her image for this show, a  young woman sits facing the camera, her nudity rendered secondary by her shaved head and faraway eyes, Her vulnerability exposed.

“It’s a bold choice,” she says.

All the bolder now, at this time, in the wake of the “Me too” Movement, the marches and the outrage (at last), at the ongoing sexual crimes against women by men from every quarter.

Janet Webb the co-curator of this show, with Judith Kendall, is someone Zoe has known for most of her life. Larry Bell’s longtime partner, Janet and Larry’s shared home where they raised their three children, neighbored Nora’s. Their kids grew up together.

“Janet is someone who has been looking at art for most of her life.” Said Zoe, when I asked her how she felt about Janet moving into curating at this point in her life, after having such a successful business and earning acclaim and awards for her contributions to Fine Art related Tourism in New Mexico.

“And not just any art.” Kevin chimed in.

“Quite,” I replied. Quite without irony.

“She knows what she is looking at and has an incredibly discerning eye.” Zoe continued.

“I think she should be doing this, being a curator is perfect for her now.”

And about her (Zoe’s), inclusion in this important show?

“It’s about time, maybe a little late.” She smiled as she stubbed out the cigarette.

“But for me, it’’s the perfect  time.”

For more about Zoe Zimmerman and Work by Women at the Harwood Museum of Art, please visit the sites linked below.

Harwood Museum.


Photograph of Zoe Zimmerman and the nude study on the Harwood Invitation, by Zoe Zimmerman

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