Taos Ceramics Center Exhibition: “Open to Interpretation” | Arts

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic these days. On the one hand, winter is on the wane, and behind it lies the promise of the colorful arrival of spring.

If, however, you fancy a shot of that sunny palette before the calendar page turns, you should plan a visit to the Taos Ceramic Center’s TCC Gallery, where works by sculptor Andrea Pichaida and painter Armando Adrian-Lopez are featured in an exhibit called “Open to Interpretation”.

“The Pichaida and Adrian-Lopez exhibition offers a welcome respite from the dark days of winter with an explosion of color, imagination and uplifting imagery,” enthused Jules Epstein who, with his wife, Georgia, owns and operates the new center. This, he noted, is the first time that famous New Mexican artists have been featured at Taos.

The gallery will host an artist reception for Ms. Pichaida on Saturday (February 26) from 4-6 p.m., at which the public is welcome. Light refreshments will be served and admission is free for all. A “Meet the Artists” event is also scheduled for March 12, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., which will be attended by Pichaida and Mr. Adrian-Lopez.

It is difficult to imagine that the two artists have never met or shown together because their works are undeniably synergistic. Vibrant with complementary color and spirit, “together the artist’s works create a palpable energy in the gallery, a very joyful feeling,” noted Mr. Epstein, who is the TCC’s curator.

“My art is inspired by my life journey as a woman who lives between two worlds – my native Chile and my new home, Santa Fe – and by my perception of nature itself, with its shapes, lines, texture and its colors that invite me to create suggestive pieces that aim to speak a universal language, in which viewers can hopefully relate to their own experiences,” explained Pichaida.

The resulting works, in a palette that weaves together “high mountain foliage and otherworldly jungle flowers,” are abstract yet accessible; whimsical but grounded. “When teaching students, I have often entrusted them with the exercise of working with the symmetry of a tree branch or a leaf, because we are human beings and our brains are wired to receive the lessons that nature gives us about perception,” she reflected.

“Just Be” is a piece that, for Pichaida, conceptualizes the quiet joy of “simply being grateful to be alive; to be outdoors; enjoy the beauty of nature. Its dimensionality of form and movement, and its luminous colors change with the light and the orientation of the viewer. “In it you will see what your heart brings to it.”

Other works carry a more direct message. “Our Differences Bring Us Together” is a set of five pieces cast in different shades of clay but inside feature the same colors and shapes. “Growing up in Chile, there was discrimination based on class, but not on the color of your skin like we see here,” she said. “We really are all the same on the inside, and I wanted to talk about that.

Pichaida was an associate professor, vice-president and head of the sculpture department at the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile, from which she obtained her master’s degree in fine arts in 1987.

His work has won numerous awards of excellence and is part of leading collections in Chile, Argentina, Germany, Brazil, the United States, Canada, Spain and the Vatican. She moved to Santa Fe in 2010 and found “a new community” of artists when she joined New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists, of which she is now president.

Adrian-Lopez brings a similar aesthetic to his mixed media paintings and sculptures, born out of his upbringing in Purépecha, a small village in southwestern Mexico, and the joy he derives from working with his hands.

“My grandfather was a master of everything”, remembers the artist. “He was the only one in our family who knew how to read, so he read to everyone. He was a basket maker but made everything for us with his hands. When I was four or five years old, I wanted to make dolls like hers, where you could see every little detail. I brought one to my mother and she said, “Good, but your grandfather’s are better.” So she taught me to be better, myself.

Today, his highly collectible mixed-media assemblages combine found objects with grasses, sticks, flowers—pieces of the Abiquiu farm he lives on—in whimsical sculptures that pay homage to his personal history.

But he also considers himself a spiritual storyteller. “A lot of this stems from my interpretation of the Mexican worldview and of the New and Old Testaments. Narrative allows me to tell stories that I am not the only interpreter; the viewer is also an interpreter. through this unspoken dialogue, an intimacy arises and the space to dream, imagine, contemplate – that, for me, is freedom.

Consider the finesse of Adrian-Lopez’s approach to oil painting and the inherent joy in his palette, which belies the fact that he is self-taught. In “La Anunciacion”, he offers the viewer a stylized and tranquil tableau, his gentle nod to the mythological enhanced by moody and luminous colors.

“I apply the paint as under the paint, then as many opaque layers on top [and] many transparent enamels added to this. It…gives the paintings an inner glow which I think helps communicate the inner world to the viewer,” he explained.

Available until April 2, “Open for Interpretation” is a can’t-miss feast for the eyes and a balm for the soul. Be sure to visit the TCC Gallery, located at 114 Este Es Road, Taos. Call 575-758-2580 for more information or visit taosceramics.com.

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