Santa Fe, NM
Manitou Galleries, June 30-July 14
This story was featured in the June 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art June 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Don Brackett and PJ Garoutte are veterans of working together. This year they’re celebrating 41 years of marriage and a collective lifetime of artistry between them. To honor them, Manitou Galleries in Santa Fe is featuring about 15 impressionistic landscapes from Brackett and 15 colorful works from Garoutte in a special two-person exhibition at its Canyon Road location. An artists’ reception is on Friday, June 30, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Brackett, a third-generation New Mexican, attended the University of New Mexico to study fine arts under Kenneth Adams, the last elected Taos Society of Artists member. Brackett’s work reflects the quiet villages and mountainous landscapes that surrounded him growing up. Missouri-born Garoutte’s paintings echo a diary, featuring the wildflowers of her home state and the gardens her mother tended when Garoutte was a child.
The couple met in the then-newly formed New Mexico Watercolor Society in Albuquerque in 1970, when they were both specializing in watercolor painting. “There was immediate approval when we met,” Garoutte says. “It was a silent reckoning, like we were soul mates from the beginning.” They switched from watercolors to oils in 1980 and moved to Taos to become full-time painters in 1988. Since then they have traveled the world together for art, painting in France, Italy, and Mexico and using their van to paint their way through the West. They even lived seaside in Hawaii for nearly two years.
“We worked in watercolors for 15 years, which gave us a good foundation for oils,” Brackett says. “Oil is just a more fun, tactile, and responsive textural medium.” But the impressionistic painters do have their differences: Brackett prefers to move the oils around on his canvas—something he couldn’t do as much with watercolors. He also likes to build the painting using thick brush strokes as he goes, whereas Garoutte builds the painting in her mind before setting brush to the canvas, preferring to paint alla prima.
After spending a lifetime looking, observing, and making art, the couple, now in their 80s, says that they’ve grown together in art through their marriage. “Marriage has been a really good thing for both of us,” Garoutte says. They critique each other’s paintings, seeking valuable input since they gravitate toward the same style and techniques. “The way you put the elements together on the canvas, the design, and the composition are first and foremost for both of us,” Brackett says. “But really, a work of art either works, or it doesn’t.”
Although their days spent tramping through fields in search of the perfect landscape may be over, that doesn’t prevent them from creating new works every day. Garoutte creates her landscapes with the viewer in mind: She wants people to walk through her paintings, not just look at them. “Don says that we’ve filled our gourds with plenty of images,” Garoutte says. “We take the brush to canvas and it just flows from us.” —Katie Askew
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