Show Preview | Pastel Legends

Santa Fe, NM
Ventana Fine Art, September 15-27

Margaret Nes, Green Road by Mountains, pastel, 19 x 25.

Margaret Nes, Green Road by Mountains, pastel, 19 x 25.

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

Collectors and artists alike revere Mary Silverwood and Margaret Nes for their deep mastery of the pastel medium. Legends in their own right, both women have distinct, signature styles that are on display at Ventana Fine Art this month. The show, Pastel Legends, opens with a reception on Friday, September 15, from 5 to 7 p.m., and runs through September 27.

“Calling this two-woman show Pastel Legends is not hyperbole, as both artists show complete command of the medium,” says Wolfgang Mabry, a fine-art consultant at the gallery. “Both have earned the admiration and respect of their peers and countless collectors over long and distinguished careers.” Mabry says that pastel is having a resurgence of interest within the art community because the compressed, pure pigment allows for long-lasting color with minimal medium or binder. This quality allows the matte surface of a pastel painting to stay lively and bright over time.

Nes, who creates bold and geometric works, says she feels most inspired by the adobe buildings of the Southwest because they are reminiscent of her childhood in northern Africa. After visiting a friend in New Mexico when she was 18 years old, Nes decided to move to the Southwest permanently. “I put one foot in New Mexico, and it looked like Morocco to me,” Nes says. “The crisp, clear light and the lack of humidity—I found a kinship right away.” In fact, Nes was so inspired by the adobe buildings and variety in the land that she set out to build her own cabin-style house near Taos and lived there for 30 years before it was consumed in a fire in 1996.

Nes, who is mostly self-taught, prefers pastels because of their tangible quality. She has a natural tendency to use her hands. “Pastels are almost sculptural,” Nes says. “They’re pure pigment and everything, including sharp edges, is blended with my fingers. Brushes feel more distant.”

As a complement to Nes’ bold, bright works, Texas-born Silverwood’s art brings a light, airy quality to the show. Silverwood, who died in 2011, spent much of her life painting in California until she visited New Mexico in the late 1980s. The representational artist loved the colorful land and eventually moved to New Mexico permanently. Silverwood’s textures, paired with strong shadows and highlights, create interesting patterns on the painting’s surface and help to
create the illusion of spatial recession in each of her landscapes. For Silverwood, composition and color were the most important aspects of a painting. “I find the high-desert landscape endlessly fascinating,” she once said. “The great configurations of mountains, arroyos, mesas, ravines, and compacted vegetation against the azure sky are powerful, and I have drawn strength from them.” —Katie Askew

contact information
505.983.8815
www.ventanafineart.com

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

MORE RESOURCES FOR ART COLLECTORS & ENTHUSIASTS
Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook

COMMENT