Art

Spark of the night

Greg Moon Gallery offers another artistic walk on the wild side with 'After Dark 8'

By Dena Miller
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 3/20/19

With daylight saving time in effect, the evening's curtain of darkness may be drawn closed a little later, but the waning of light isn't the only harbinger of murkiness. "Besides …

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Art

Spark of the night

Greg Moon Gallery offers another artistic walk on the wild side with 'After Dark 8'

Posted

With daylight saving time in effect, the evening's curtain of darkness may be drawn closed a little later, but the waning of light isn't the only harbinger of murkiness. "Besides nightfall, there's dark humor, dark fantasies, dark matter," said artist and gallery owner Greg Moon with an affable laugh that belied the subject matter of his latest exhibition.

All this and more will be on view when "After Dark 8" returns to Greg Moon Gallery on Saturday (March 23) with an opening reception from 4-8 p.m. The much-lauded event features juried works from artists across the country, spanning genres and invoking Moon's self-described "continued fascination with all things nocturnal." Admission is free.

Contemporary styles such as realism, retro-pop surrealism, outsider and lowbrow art are represented in all paint media, photography, sculpture, mixed media and assemblage. At the risk of hyperbole, the provocative works will have you alternately gasping at their audacity and connecting with the commonality of their conjured emotions.

Janet Webb -- a 2018 Taos Unsung Hero -- and underground artist Isabel Samaras served alongside Moon as jurors in the blind process that applied aggregate scoring in its evaluation process.

"Using the platform called CaFÉ, a request for submissions for the show reaches a national audience and crosses many genres," Moon said. "We juried 465 submissions from 27 states and selected 47 pieces for inclusion in this show that's going to throw a little shade — pun intended — on the bright light of Taos as an art destination. It's such a reliable and all-encompassing way to get the word out as to what we gallery owners are planning here, but it also gives the submitting artists a sense of who we are, what type of art we typically represent and whether they think they'd be a good fit. So, everyone wins."

What Moon said he found interesting about the ultimate result of their selection was the number of New Mexican artists who were blindly accepted, and that more female than male artists made the final cut. "We also got more figurative work than we expected to see, and less photography, which is usually the medium expected to capture 'dark' moments," perhaps a shift in paradigms and perspectives."

Greg Moon Gallery, on historic Kit Carson Road for nine years, has been widely hailed as the place to go for art of whimsy, politics, statement and, yes, fun. Much of the art hanging on its wall evokes not just wide-eyed admiration but outright laughter as well.

"Hey, I love if people come in here and 'get' it," Moon said. "This is art that, regardless of your background, is recognizable to your emotions or experiences on some level. You may not know Warhol but you know a can of Campbell soup and can appreciate the riff on it," he noted, pointing to a pop-art themed retablo whose contents says "posole."

That is not to say there isn't seriously significant art within its walls, because there is. Moon represents such stellar talents as Santa Fe artist Dennis Larkins, whose reputation built upon illustrating and theme-designing for the likes of the Grateful Dead and Walt Disney Imagineering has bestowed worldwide credence upon his idiosyncratic and engaging 3D pieces.

"Growing up bathed in the glow of the Atomic Age is bound to scramble any thinking person's circuits. From the time America started planting its own mushroom forest out in the vast deserts of the West, I have been turning to art to heal my radiation burns," Larkins wryly said in his artist statement of his New Mexico upbringing.

Anthony Ausgang is another notable artist in Moon's representation, recognized as a principal influence on the movement of lowbrow art out of Los Angeles and onto the international streets. His commercial clients such as MTV, Sony Music and David Lee Roth are drawn to his paintings whose primary subjects are cats but "wide-eyed, with a kind of evil look in their eyes," according to a Fender magazine review. One could liken them to a psychedelic Merrie Melodies' Sylvester.

Moon's own work is in itself an enormous draw for the gallery. His oils and watercolors are both shadowy and illuminated; his mixed-media pieces have "an almost nostalgic quality [where] the use of night totally changes the context of any memories or associations the viewer might have," he explained.

This is the bedrock of his "After Dark" exhibition series. "Having something that seems familiar in the context of night alters perceptions and makes emotional responses more profound. This quality, for lack of a better term, can be anywhere from serene to somewhat menacing. These inherent emotions are affected as much by what the viewer brings to the piece as they are by what my intentions were. Both viewpoints may be equally valid from my particular viewpoint."

Beyond Taos' relative isolation and small size, Moon expresses wonder at the standing of the town which remains both a mecca for those interested in the history of American art and a magnet for the next generation of creative genius.

"There is no question that, around the world, Taos has a world-class reputation as a hotbed of art, from the Taos Society to our very real place in the movements of modernism and abstract expressionism and realism. When [my wife and I] visited the Stedelijk [Museum Amsterdam, the Netherlands] whose works did I first see when we walked in the door? Larry Bell and Agnes Martin," he recalled.

"But we need to emphasize that we've got more going on, we need to disarm visitors and develop a new collector base for the incredible talent that is still attracted here. There will always be interest in Taos as an art destination. But now we need to make the case the great outdoors isn't our only 'experience.' The energy of our community is itself the experience, as much as anything else."

His passion to that end sees Moon collaborating annually with his Kit Carson Road neighbors, Wilder Nightingale Fine Art and David Anthony Fine Art, to stage "Art Insurgency," a three-gallery show that likewise attracts artists nationwide who wish to be included in the legacy of the new Taos art scene. If the success of Kit Carson's galleries are any indication, then that legacy is ensured.

"After Dark 8" will be available for viewing through April 13. Greg Moon Gallery is located at 109A Kit Carson Road. For more information, call (575) 770-4463, or visit gregmoonart.com.

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