Alex Chavez of Taos is representative of the talented artists showing at the event. He grew up in Los Angeles, but his mother is originally from Valdez, a small village near Taos. She followed her older brother to the coast, where she eventually met Chavez’s father, who also had artistic talent but never pursued it professionally. “He usually gave away everything he made,” says Chavez, who adds that his father mainly liked to draw and create metal artwork. “There are a few pieces that me and my sisters still have. I inherited his talent.”
When Chavez was a second-grader, his teacher would have him outline a picture on the blackboard with chalk. The rest of the class would then color in the scene with colored chalk right behind him. “It was like a coloring book,” Chavez laughs. The budding artist eventually graduated from California State University-Fullerton with a fine arts degree.
In 1997 Chavez and his wife son and daughter bought some land and moved to Taos, where he dabbled in acrylics, watercolors and digital art before settling on oil as his primary medium of painting. “Oil is the most challenging thing,” he says. “It’s a whole different animal!” And loosely imitating his second-grade self, the artist likes to take a digital picture of a project once it’s started. Then he digitally experiments on it with different colors before deciding on a final concept.
He first juried into Contemporary Hispanic Market in 2008 but took a five-year hiatus after 2013, when a lot was happening in his life, including moves back to California to care for elderly relatives, then relocation to Albuquerque and Santa Fe before finally coming back to Taos.
“This year, Chavez won Contemporary Hispanic Market’s Poster Artist Award for his oil painting Opal.”
The painting is also depicted on a banner hanging from a light post in Taos as part of an extensive art installation featuring 60 artists. “I’m right there on Kit Carson [Road],” he beams. “I got a lot of exposure from that image. I’m very grateful!” Chavez says that he still owns Opal and has purposefully kept it out of the public eye until this year’s market, where he will put the 12-by-12-inch oil painting on a wood panel up for sale.