Vertu Fine Art Gallery

by Emily Van Cleve


Vertu Fine Art

AN INSPIRING landscape teeming with wildlife drew painter Georgette Evans Grey and her hus- band, Prescott Grey, to move to Socorro, NM, 10 years ago. Last year the couple opened Vertu Fine Art Gallery in the heart of this vibrant community that has an active local music scene, fine restaurants, and a strong scientific and technological tradition. "I love Socorro for many reasons," Georgette says. "Above all, it's a very warm and friendly community. It's also becoming an art collector's haven."

The Greys named their gallery Vertu, a French word that means a love or knowledge of fine art, to honor their dedication to showcasing the talents of two dozen artists, most of whom live and work in New Mexico. "Excellence in Southwestern Fine Art" is their motto. Located in a historic area of Socorro, the gallery's home is the Juan José Baca building. This mid-19th- century adobe structure, constructed in the New Mexico Territorial style and adorned with holly- hocks, once housed a general store and the family that owned and operated it.

Vertu Fine Art Gallery's four rooms display a selection of paintings, pottery, sculpture, weavings, photography, woodcarvings, and jewelry. The East Gallery, the largest room, also serves as Georgette's painting studio. Known for exquisitely colorful watercolors that communicate her passion for flowers, animals, and the land- scape-from Yosemite National Park in California to Cold Stream Pond in Enfield, ME-Grey focuses most of her attention on the beauty of the Southwest. "I feel so happy to be able to live in such a magnificent place that constantly in- spires my work," she says. "I adore watching all the flowers that bloom-flowers have been an important part of my life since childhood-and the lizards and roadrunners that live in the area." Grey's paintings are displayed throughout the East Gallery, Little Gallery, Baca Gallery, and Praxis Gallery along with works by gallery artists including Michael Goettee, Virginia Unseld, Linda Giesen, and Sharon Fullingim. "Michael Goettee, who won Best in Show and First Place in the Artists Guild of Northwest Georgia in 2011, and whose painting WESTERN STORIES was used as the banner for the Western Writers of America convention in Las Vegas, NV, last year, may be from the Southeast, but his soul is all Southwest," says Prescott, who manages the gallery. Like many of Vertu Fine Art Gallery's artists, Goettee, who calls Atlanta home, exhibits his work nationally and internationally. Among his favorite subjects are cactus, western animals, and quaint Santa Fe adobes.

Virginia Unseld, Serenity, pastel, 12 x 16.

Virginia Unseld, Serenity, pastel, 12 x 16.

 

 

Georgette Evans Grey, Bosque Dawn, watercolor, 15 x 22.

Georgette Evans Grey, Bosque Dawn, watercolor, 15 x 22.

A resident of Colorado, Unseld has been painting western landscapes in a contemporary impressionistic style for more than 30 years. Enjoying the plein-air process, she often sets up her easel in a meadow or next to a stream and works quickly with soft pastels to capture the constantly changing light. Scenes of New Mexico, from the cottonwoods at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu to the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos, have been the source of much of her landscape painting for several years. An award-winning artist, Unseld has been honored with the 2013 Best of Show in the Evergreen, CO, art show called Colorful Colorado and First Place in the 2013 Pastel Society of Colorado members' show. Her painting BEDAZ- ZLED was featured in the December 2013 issue of Southwest Art.

Las Cruces resident Giesen began weaving rugs on a Rio Grande-style walking loom that is the traditional Spanish treadle loom introduced into the Southwest 400 years ago. Giesen's designs are influenced by southwestern cultural traditions and inspired by the high-desert land- scape. They capture the beauty found in a desert mesa at sundown or a stretch of white desert sand against a dark sky. Giesen's work WHITE SANDS was accepted into the American Tapestry Alliance Biennial exhibit, which highlights artistically and technically excellent, contemporary hand-woven tapestries from around the world. The selected tapestries will be displayed in venues in California, Ohio, and Nebraska in 2015.

Living near Socorro and close to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge has given Fullingim an abundance of material for portraying domestic and wild animals, including horses, ravens, and sandhill cranes, in both bronze and limestone. Fullingim has produced many public commissions including bronze sculptures at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa in Bernalillo, and the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. She is a member of the Society of Animal Artists and the National League of American Pen Women and an associate member of Women Artists of the West. Her piece BUD 'N ZONA won First Prize in 3D at the 2012 Women Artists of the West exhibit.

"What I love about our artists is that they're the cream of the crop," Georgette says with pride. "I'm so impressed with their abilities. They have an in-depth knowledge of their media." Gallery artists periodically offer lectures, demonstrations, and workshops in Vertu Fine Art's Praxis Gallery space, which also serves as the gallery's classroom.

Every three or four months, the Greys rehang the gallery around a particular theme. Subject matter is broad enough to encompass the imaginations of their eclectic artists. Themes have included The Cowboy Way; Local Landscapes, Local Colors ; and From the Heart. Usually, one to three guest artists are invited to be part of the gallery shows. This summer Jean Newcomb, who has lived in New Mexico since 1972 and creates dramatic landscapes in oil, and Joel Smith, who focuses on florals in oil and watercolor, are welcomed into the gallery for a special show opening in mid-June.

Vertu Fine Art Gallery is located at 113 Abeyta Avenue in Socorro. It is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday; from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday; and by appointment by calling 575.835.4487. For more information about upcoming shows and to purchase work online visit www.vertuarts.com.


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