Santa Fe, NM
Winterowd Fine Art, April 22-May 5
This story was featured in the April 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
“I do love the pure potential of spring. Each year, we plant a garden, and the process of a seed developing into a plant within its season is creativity at its best,” Suzanne Wiggin says. The Taos, NM, artist captures these vernal shifts—and the blossoming potential therein—in Wellspring, her solo show featuring a dozen new paintings and monotype prints. The show opens at Winterowd Fine Art this month with an artist’s reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 22. The show’s title reflects both the season and the font of inspiration it provides, which the artist has drawn upon during her 30-year career.
“She really captures the feeling that there’s life springing forth,” says gallery owner Karla Winterowd. “One of the things that’s really hard to find in an artist is that she sees the landscape as alive and growing. When you’re looking at one of her landscapes, you can see the tree well-rooted in the earth, the branches stretching toward the sun, the air between the branches. It’s easy to want to paint like that, but it’s hard to achieve.”
Known for atmospheric landscapes, Wiggin has an epic view just out her window. From there, she watches storms form in the shadow of Taos Mountain and blow across the mesa. This season, however, the storms are more subtle, the light and color palette more muted than in others—qualities that play out in the resulting paintings, too.
Wiggin has a press in her studio and often creates monotypes as a sort of sketchbook. “I like the pressure of the press and how colors blend. There’s a rawness to it that I try to keep alive in the painting,” she says.
Though she experiments in the studio, her relationship with the landscape, with the moment, is primary. She calls herself something of a Transcendentalist, always seeking what is striking. “When I see something that’s beautiful, I try to capture and re-create it—not just what I saw by being there, but being present and the essence of that experience,” she says. “For me, I get my solace from being out in nature. Being outdoors—that’s my church, if you have to use that word. It’s where I feel most alive.”
The body of work for this show is not a departure but rather a gradual evolution in the artist’s career. Inspired by the Hudson River School and luminism, Wiggin wields the master techniques of oil painting with her own finesse. “I’m just responding to what I see. I’m not really here to be clever in my art. I’m just being human and responding to the world around me,” she says.
Winterowd observes, “She’s at a peak period of her painting career. Maybe they’ll get better as she grows older, but the paintings she’s painting right now are exquisite.”
Wiggin shrugs off the compliment with the grounded response of a creator in love with her art, in every season. “I just like to play with paint. Any time I sell something, I usually just go buy myself some more paint.” —Ashley M. Biggers
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