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Know Your Neighbor: Georgia Gersh

By Kathy Córdova
For The Taos News
Posted 12/12/18

Gersh, a Taos High graduate, grew up in art circles in the Taos community. Her dad, the late Bill Gersh, spent much of his life as an artist.

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Column

Know Your Neighbor: Georgia Gersh

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At this time of year, residents and visitors spend time, energy and money seeking that perfect gift for a special person. Phrases such as "shop local," "functional beauty," and "affordable" exist to help temper the shopping frenzy if shoppers take the message to heart.

Georgia Gersh of Magpie, located in the Overland Sheepskin Co. Compound in El Prado, tries her best to make all of the above-mentioned phrases come true in her customers' shopping experience.

Gersh, a Taos High graduate, grew up in art circles in the Taos community. Her dad, the late Bill Gersh, spent much of his life as an artist.

Georgia's mother, Annie Degan, is a talented artist, working mainly in watercolor. "I grew up during the peak of the art scene in Taos in the late '80s. At the time, great galleries focused on abstract, contemporary art by big-name artists," related Gersh.

This exposure formed a cornerstone of her Magpie business. "I didn't want to sit around waiting for people to buy $20,000 paintings," she explained.

Gersh lived in Boston for many years. During her time there, she used her creativity for various activities.

Gersh worked in an arts program for elementary school children. For two school productions, Gersh wrote and directed the playes and designed sets, a feat considered "labor intensive." In addition, Gersh worked at an after-school and adult art program. She also spent much time managing a fine dining restaurant.

After 11 years in Boston, Georgia Gersh decided to return home to help her mother. She did so six years ago.

Upon her return to the Taos area, Gersh tended to family and prepared for Magpie, the next chapter in her life. Besides her mother, Gersh's family includes two children, an aunt, nieces and nephews and a significant other.

Her son Santiago Cadena is completing his first semester at University of New Mexico-Taos. Daughter Gabriela Cadena recently received her bachelor's degree from the UNM in Albuquerque and has applied to graduate school. Gersh's sister Rachel Gersh married Hugo Sena and lives in Santa Fe. Her aunt, artist Roberta Cookingham, resides in Colorado and presents her work at Magpie.

Gersh credits her significant other/companion, Ben Shriver, with helping a great deal with Magpie. She said the display of furniture art is Shriver's contribution.

During the interview, Gersh described the premises: "I've been in business for five years. The first year, the business was small, or whatever I could afford. In the second year, the person who rented the space next door left, and I took over that space plus the one I already used.

"This was great because it opened a gallery annex to showcase art. I offer a different show every month, and I represent over 75 local artists plus some from Colorado and Santa Fe.

"From March to December, I offer a reception each month to showcase featured artists. Much of the work is original and one of a kind. I place as much art as possible during the exhibits.

"My focus is small, affordable art and a huge selection of handmade gifts. The inventory includes soap, lip balm, lotion, pottery, jewelry and baby gifts- something for everyone. Prices range from a $1 postcards to $3,000-plus for pieces of the large assortment of my late father's works."

Gersh opens Magpie daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Thanksgiving and Christmas when the store is closed. During a slow or quiet season, Gersh closes the shop, and she encourages interested persons to consult the website magpietaos.com or Magpie on Facebook for an updated schedule.

When someone asks Gersh about the origin of her business name, she responds: "When I lived in Boston, one of the things I missed the most about this area was the beautiful, smart and mischievous bird called Magpie. The birds are treasure seekers; they like shiny things. I think this is an appropriate name for my shop."

When she's not working at or on her gallery/shop, Gersh remains busy, oftentimes in the art world. Living in Lama provides opportunities for hiking, walking and enjoying nature in that area. She likes to spend time with family and eating New Mexican and other cuisines prepared by Shriver.

Her personal artwork includes creating and selling jewelry. Gersh completes collages, papier machė and other works. In the past, she created paintings but currently does not do so.

A more recent endeavor involves Gersh's vast years of experience. "Now, I'm focusing more on consulting with clients on how to acquire and present their art," she said. "It's important to properly place and hang artwork for maximum exposure. I recently completed this type of work at Hotel Edelweiss at Taos Ski Valley. I want this aspect of my work to grow."

Gersh's message to holiday shoppers?

"There are many wonderful places to shop for Christmas," she said."Mine is another venue to showcase art. I consider Magpie as affordable aesthetics being realized and enjoyed. It's a nice environment in which to shop," she said. "People are always welcome during business hours, but I'm especially inviting those interested to my holiday party at Magpie Saturday (Dec. 15) from 2 to 5 p.m. It will be a fun community gathering. I'll have refreshments, sales and hopefully help shoppers find the right gift."

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