The Past Revisited
Indian Market, an annual arts and crafts event held every August, has been attracting tens of thousands of collectors and Native American art enthusiasts to northern New Mexico for 93 years. For over a decade, Chimayo Trading del Norte in Ranchos de Taos has added to the excitement with a coinciding event that has featured works by some of the most prominent and widely collected Native American artists in the region. This year’s exhibition will provide an extra dimension that promises to make it the best ever. “I want to continue making Chimayo Trading’s Indian Market exhibit one of the most attended in the state,” says the gallery’s owner, Gabriel Abrums. “So this year we are going to feature the early works of Taos’s own R C Gorman.”
A Taos icon and artist whose works appealed to a worldwide audience, R C Gorman painted, sculpted, printed and entertained his way into the annals of Native American art history with a captivating personality and an amazing collection of art that has continued to be sought after long after his death in 2005. “In many ways the show will be a tribute to R C,” says Abrums. “In the late 1960s he made Taos his home, and from then on his runaway popularity helped add to the ongoing history of the Taos Art Colony. In turn, this brought unprecedented popularity to Taos as an important destination for art collectors around the world.”
Gorman’s presence in Taos was so indelible that even now, almost ten years after his death, Taosenos continue to recall his own Indian Market celebrations with fond memories. Each year, following his annual show at Navajo Gallery, Gorman hosted an elaborate open house at his beautiful home north of town. Abrums wants to bring that tradition back this summer.
In his New York Times obituary was a Gorman quote, the honesty of which revealed why he was so beloved. Referring to his renderings of Native American women who were more often than not portrayed sitting or resting outdoors surrounded by bouquets of gladiolas, poppies or marigolds, or baskets of corn or chile peppers, he remarked, ”I don’t draw the ‘ideal’ woman who would fit in Playboy bunny underwear. Most women aren’t like that. I draw beautiful women who are sometimes fat and have calluses on their feet.”
Abrums says that most of the Gorman works in Chimayo Trading’s exhibition this summer are pieces that will especially appeal to serious collectors, mainly earlier works created as lithographs and woodblock prints from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
The Abrums family’s connection to Gorman goes back several decades. Gabriel’s grandmother, Louise Abrums, owned Brandywine Galleries in Albuquerque and featured historic paintings by the Taos Society of Artists and Taos Moderns as well as representing Gorman. Over the course of their working relationship, Louise hosted several exhibitions of Gorman’s work that included some of the pieces that will be part of her grandson’s show.
Now in its thirteenth year, Abrums says of Chimayo Trading’s Ranchos de Taos Plaza location, “It is one of the last real holdouts of historical plazas in the area.” And it is in the gallery’s historic adobe building that Chimayo Trading del Norte has developed its reputation for exhibiting some of the finest examples of authentic regional and New Mexico arts found anywhere, and represents several of the most accomplished artists in the area. (Gabriel’s father, John Abrums, owner of Chimayo Mercantile in Chimayo, New Mexico, was among the first to represent Pueblo and Navajo artists and craftspeople.)
Chimayo Trading’s Indian Market 2014 show is sure to give Gorman collectors and fans a sense of the artist as a young man. Some of the paintings are originals, while others are linocuts (made from linoleum) and lithographs, works significantly different from those created in his later years and that earned him an international reputation.
Included in the exhibit will be Navajo Mother in Supplication, Walking Women and Three Taos Men, each distinctive in its execution and all created in those early years. There also will be two rare woodblocks prints, Yuyake and Maya, completed by Gorman during a visit to Japan in 1980 and 1981.
In addition to his role as Chimayo Trading’s owner and director, Gabriel Abrums finds time to explore his own creative passion, that of making exquisite jewelry. Most of his works, including wedding sets, engagement rings, necklaces, bracelets and pendants, are one-of-a-kind creations rendered from 14 karat gold, Australian opals and rare turquoise. His turquoise stones are so rare that they are not available anywhere else in the world as the mines from which they were taken from have been depleted for years. His jewelry-making talent was recognized by the prestigious Taos Fall Arts Festival when they named him one of the Living Masters of Taos.
Chimayo Trading del Norte is located at #1 St. Francis Church Plaza in Ranchos de Taos. Chimayo Trading’s 2014 Indian Market exhibition opens August—and runs through August—. 575.758.0504. chimayotrading.com.