Work by Women: Maye Torres

The Harwood Museum show, Work by Women, would not be complete without the inclusion of one Taosena in particular.

A daughter of the Conquest, tracing her roots back to Padre Martinez and beyond, with a family genealogy well documented and fiercely guarded for generations up here in Northern New Mexico, before the artists came from elsewhere and claimed the mythical light as their own, Maye Torres also happens to be one of Taos’ most accomplished artists in her own right, and in my humble opinion, she’s a National Treasure.

Rarely in this day and age do we see someone with Maye’s drawing skills. Her renderings are masterfully executed, and her sculpture is magical. When she decides to incorporate colour, it explodes off the canvas. Maye was born to make Art.

Her work excavates and explores the clash of culture, myth and tradition in this post-modern world, like an archaeologist digging for truth. Maye’s compositions, although literal and figurative, never veer into the illustrative, but remain in all their ethereal, poetic beauty, floating eternally in Fine Art’s rarefied atmosphere. Maye Torres is the real deal.

When I first came back to Taos in 1990, Maye’s mother Cecelia, had a gallery on Taos Plaza. At the time I worked for Duane Hopper at his gallery, The Buffalo Dancer which was directly opposite Cecelia’s New Directions. I got to know the lovely and very elegant Cecelia, during slow times when I’d go outside for a smoke and she’d see me and come out to chat.

We liked each other right away, and after Anita Rodriguez introduced me to Vicente Martinez, Cecelia’s brother, (who told me their first ancestor to arrive in New Mexico, one Jose Espinoza, was arrested and sent to Mexico City to be tried by the Inquisition for “Judaizing”), we’d joke that we were long-lost “primas” both having Espinoza ancestors from Cordova in our respective family trees.

Cecelia unquestionably had the most interesting gallery in Taos at the time – she showed contemporary art and artists, among them, Larry Bell, and the late Bill Gersh, as well as work by her daughter, Maye.

Graphite drawings so classical and intricate, it was hard to believe they were made by a modern hand. Indeed they were, and soon Cecelia introduced me to Maye herself, whom I found just as wonderful as the provocative yet whimsical work, she makes.

Very recently when Frank Seckler vacated the space, Maye moved into her late mother’s old gallery. Naming it Studio 107-B; she has ensconced herself and her art right in the center of town, along with a few other fellow travelers she feels a creative kinship with.

I’ve featured Maye here on the blog before, Once after she returned from a trip to Ethiopia, and again last year when she had a show with Gretchen Ewert at Magpie. Maye’s accomplishments are myriad and impressive; her inclusion in the Harwood Museum show, Work by Women merely icing on her (proverbial) cake.

1) You’ve recently made a big new move – into your late mother Cecelia Torres’ old gallery space. New Directions, has a brand new direction! Can you tell my readers a little about Studio 107B?

Studio 107-B is an experimental gallery/studio space on historic Taos Plaza. It is in the same spot that my mother had New Directions gallery for 17 years. She exhibited experimental and innovative artists from Taos, including Larry Bell, Ted Egri, John Du Puy, Ann St.John Hawley, Bill Gersh, Agnes Chavez and many more. Before it was New Directions Gallery, the space was Fernandez de Taos bar owned by my grandparents Arturo and Teodora Martinez y Salazar, (also know as Tano’s Bar and Ramon’s Lounge in the back.)

It was lively and legendary in its day.

When I walked into the vacated space, I could hear voices of my ancestors calling me. They said it was my turn to do something here. So, I got a core group of artists to pitch in on the rent and make it happen. Frank Seckler, Izumi Yokoyama, Isaiah Trujillo, Michael Naranjo and myself are the core 5. Each artist will have a one person show during the year. We will be curating themed shows as well. The first one coming up will be an Erotic art show (also opening February 10 from 4 to 7.) It is a group of 22 artists exhibiting work about love and/or eroticism, dont worry it’s not going to be as x-rated as The artist list includes: Larry Bell, Gretchen Ewert, Jonathan WarmDay, Anita Rodriguez, Brian O’Connor and Iva Morris (from Veguita, NM), Stephen Kilborn, Tammy Dobos and Michael Vigil.

Studio 107-B will also be a working studio, and we will be offering art classes, and various live musical events.

2) Your stunning work is now upfront and center aqui en Taos, how does it feel to have it hanging back in that space on the Plaza?

It is awesome to have my work hanging again in the 107-B space! People who haven’t been to the plaza in years are coming in to see the art and enjoying the contemporary and innovative work we are showing. It Feels like home. It is home.

Taos is one of the most creative vortexes in the world and we are excited to exhibit the world-class art being created in Taos in a multicultural format. The excitement is contagious and spontaneous gatherings are already beginning to happen between artists and musicians!

3) You’ve had a lot of success already and have had the huge benefit of living in and traveling to, other countries, cities and towns outside of Taos – what keeps you here?

I’ve had the good fortune to travel throughout the United States, Latin America and to Ethiopia in my life. I have seen many beautiful places and met amazing people. Taos is magical, it is home… A person becomes addicted to the turquoise sky, our sunsets and amazing landscapes. Taos has always had diverse, creative self-sustaining people, and is visited by people from around the world.

We are blessed to have Taos Pueblo, the Rio Grande, the wild Land, Spectacular Churches, Nature, deep family roots, passionate caring friends.. I love Taos, every time I travel and return to Taos, my heart explodes and opens up when I see the gorge and the Taos Valley, That is why I don’t leave. I also accept being battered and bruised when the mountain believes I need that.

4) Your work is included in the Work by Women show at the Harwood, that opens this week. How do you feel about the show and your inclusion in it?

I am so honored to be in the show at the Harwood Museum!!!! It is the first museum show that I know of, that is entirely focused on work by Women Artists! Taos is a hub for pioneering, intelligent women who innovate, create and invent. We are strong because we have to be, the elements are harsh in the high desert. A Renaissance is brewing and we are its heart.

For more on Work by Women, co-curated by Janet Webb and Judith Kendall, opening at the Harwood Museum this week, and much more on Maye, please visit the sites linked below this post.

Harwood Museum.



Editor’s note: When Maye sent her responses, I decided not to edit them. It was clear her words had intention so I left them alone.

All photos taken on my iphone

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