Show Preview | Walt Gonske Retrospective

Taos, NM
Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, through January 7

Walt Gonske, Campo Santo, 1979, oil, 18 x 30.

Walt Gonske, Campo Santo, 1979, oil, 18 x 30.

This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

In the winter of 1970, a young New York City fashion illustrator traveled to Taos on a family vacation. “I came out here to visit my sister, and I saw the Southwest for the first time,” says Walt Gonske. “I fell in love with it at first sight.” The trip would change his life. “When I was back East,” he says, “I hadn’t been thinking about fine art at all.” But after saving enough money to make a transition, in 1972 Gonske closed up shop on illustration and headed to Taos to capture the light and drama of the Southwest. He never looked back.

On view now at the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, The Art of Walt Gonske: A Retrospective traces “the evolution of an important artist’s work, as well as his path through the landscapes of the Southwest,” says V. Susan Fisher, the museum’s executive director and curator. As one in a series of special exhibitions featuring the work of living Taos artists, The Art of Walt Gonske features 40 artworks completed over more than 40 years. It offers a unique perspective on the artist’s work because all but two of the paintings are from the artist’s collection—personal favorites he’s put aside over the years.

The show allows viewers to see how Gonske’s landscapes have changed over time, from the more detailed ALONG THE RIO PUEBLO—TAOS (1979)—a piece that took the artist five frigid January days to paint while standing at an easel set up on a snowy back road—to the looser approach seen in TAOS WINTER (2004). “There’s a big difference in those two paintings,” Gonske says, and while TAOS WINTER contains all the necessary information to give the essence of the scene, “it’s kind of a shorthand. I am simplifying.” Gonske now completes his paintings in a single session. Aside from that change, the work in the show is marked more by pendulum-like shifts than by progressions. “It swings way out with really radical drawing, color, and value, then it comes back to something more conservative, quiet, and certainly more finished,” he explains. At its core, though, “This show really is about the Southwest and northern New Mexico and my love of it,” says Gonske.

After the museum exhibit closes on January 7, the works travel directly to Nedra Matteucci Galleries in Santa Fe, which has represented the artist for 30 years, and portions of the show will be on view and available for presale until June, at which time the gallery will present the entire show and a sale of the paintings. “I am proud to have worked these many years with Walt and congratulate him on a milestone exhibition that recognizes his dedication and exceptional accomplishments in art,” says gallery owner Nedra Matteucci. “Walt’s true passion inspires each new canvas, and led by his powerful brush, we look forward to sharing the thrill of his
discoveries.”

When asked why he’s decided to sell these works now, Gonske says, “I have been able to enjoy these works all of these years, but I am still painting. I need to make room for new works.”
—Laura Rintala

contact information
575.758.2690
www.taosartmuseum.org

This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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